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Posts from February 2007

More on My Adventures in Spinning

I plyed my first hand spun yarn today. 


It was magical seeing it twist together and become, in my eyes at least, beautiful yarn.  In this yarn are my first attempts at spinning.  It is from the roving that I bought at Rhinebeck along with my spindle.   When I brought it home I just jumped in.  I didn't know anything about what I was doing.  I didn't even know what it meant to draft the wool.  The results range from very thick to sewing thread thin.  Plyed together though, it is mostly a chunky weight yarn.  Someday it will become a hat.  For now though, I will admire it.


I've discovered that winding the yarn off my spindle onto the back of one of my kitchen chairs, gives me a nice consistent tension to set my spin.  I leave it on the back of the chair and spray it with a water bottle until it is soaked through.  (The furniture is secondary to process, the chair will survive the occasional drenching.  The floors?  They are brick and indestructible.)  Once it is dry I wind it off the back of the chair.  So far this has worked out pretty well for me and it makes an interesting decorating accent.


Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post and told me about your socks in progress.  It is nice to know that I am not alone in having so many going at a time.  The only sock not in the current rotation is Embossed Leaves in the Cabin Cove yarn.  I love the pattern and the yarn.  It just got stashed away last fall when something more pressing presented itself, and I never got back to it.  The winner of the contest is Jennie.  I chose her name using the latest high tech tools.


Fess Up Friday

How many pairs do you have on the needles?


Embossed Leaves
Yarn: Cabin Cove Mercantile


Embossed Leaves
Yarn: My own hand painted


Slipped Stitch Pattern of my own design
Yarn: Sundara given to me by Keohinani


Simple Cable
Yarn: STR Chanticleer


Chevron Mitt (okay, not technically a sock) inspired by these
Yarns: STR Farmhouse and Lemongrass

Four out of five of these are in active rotation.  Guess the one that is not and I will put your name in a hat for a prize - yarn of course.

Oh, and don't forget to tell me how many pairs you have on the needles.


One of my childrens' music teachers and his wife are expecting their first child in April.  What better news is there for a knitter?  An excuse to knit adorable baby sweaters is always welcome.

Of course the knitter can never go wrong when they look to Elizabeth Zimmermann for a pattern.





Pattern:  February Baby Sweater from The Knitters Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn:  Cascade 220 Superwash; color #847 (purchased at Modern Yarn at their Superbowl Sunday Sale)
Needles:  Lantern Moon US size 7 circulars
Buttons:  From M&J Trimming - I'll be going back tomorrow to buy one more

Comments:  This pattern, as with all EZ patterns was very logical and straight forward.  I would absolutely make one again.  Especially after seeing Jared's.

Treasures in the Attic

A few weeks ago Megan, the Knitting Philistine, and I arranged a swap.  I had some Rowan Scottish Tweed and a bit of Sweet Georgia yarn that she admired.  She had her beautiful soaps and some Yarn Pirate that she offered.  Yesterday my package arrived.  I wish I could let you smell these soaps.  They are amazing.  The good news is that you can order some of Megan's soaps yourself from her Etsy shop.


My parents are in the process of moving out of the home I grew up in.  There are years of family history there, along with countless boxes brought in when each of my parent's families moved out of their homes.  I have been going down help my mom pack as much as I can.  My dad isn't well enough to do any of the work.

On each trip another memory is rekindled. 

Last week it was the rich family history I have of art and craft.  There were many who came before me, on both sides of my family, who were artists or dedicated crafters.  The most amazing box we discovered was filled with my Great Aunt Teresa's weaving supplies.

There were spools of glorious threads and yarns.


Her shuttles and books.


My Aunt Teresa never married.  She and her sisters, Mary and Dorothy, never left their family home, they cared for both of their parents until the end. 

Once their parents were gone, my Aunts lived together on the old farm, filled with antiques.  They were the heart of the extended family.  Everyone loved to visit the "Farm".  There was always lively conversation, laughter, a passing on of family history, wonderful food, and creativity of every kind.  These women were  intellectuals, college educated - rare for their generation.  In 1925, my grandmother the oldest daughter in the family, graduated from Pembroke, which later became a part of Brown University.  She earned a degree in biology. 

My Aunts' interests reflected their active minds.  They became experts in antiques and horticulture.  They were painters, and knitters and crocheters.  As I discovered last week, Teresa also became an accomplished weaver.  My mother remembers the blankets, tablecloths and placemats Teresa used to make.  I loved and admired these women.   They had a huge impact on the person I am today.  The box filled with spools means much more to me than just the yarns it contains.  It represents the passion three great women had for everything they did.  It is a treasure.


These beautiful yarns have been in the box since the mid 1950's.


The colors and textures look fresh enough to be from 2007.


Laying Bricks

The new Yanival is up.  I'm in it!  Yay!  Thanks to The Purloined Letter for editing it this month. 


I've always wanted to learn masonry.  There is a spot in my garden which would benefit from a nice little outdoor fireplace.  I've built stone walls, I've made hypertufa troughs using Portland cement.  It's just a matter of combining skills and working with rebar. . .

For now, I'll be content with knitting hats which have a brick motif.


There are mittens to match.


The brick hat is DD#1's new favorite.


I'm still working on my Demi and my Celtic cables.  I just need small quick projects like these for the massive amount of time I spend schlepping kids here and there.


Brick Hat & Mittens

Patterns:  My own
Mitten and contrast yarn:  Malabrigo Merino Worsted, color: Stonechat; purchased at Modern Yarn (Where I spent a very pleasant Superbowl Sunday knitting, and indulging in their sale table.  No, the Malabrigo wasn't on sale, I'm just weak.)
Main color yarn on hat:  Patons Classic Wool, color: Worn Denim (Such a good all around basic for a very reasonable price.)
Needles:  US 7 Addi Turbos

Just Add a Bit of Bass


For Valentines Day, my knitting group exchanged "Secret Valentines".


My giftee was my friend Susan.  She is a lover of the color pink.


It is a perfect color for a Valentine scarf.


DD#2 gladly modeled it in her own special way before I gave it to Susan.


DS kindly lent us his favorite bass.


Susan's Valentine Scarf

Pattern:  My own

Main Color Yarn:  Artyarns Supermerino; color #128 purchased at the Point

Ruffle Yarn:  Claudia's Hand Painted Fingering; color Freesia

Needles:  US 8 Addi Turbos

Oh, and the hat DD #2 is wearing is a gift for my friend Bob.  He asked me to knit something for him.  I went with the conservative, solid charcoal gray.  The best part of the hat is how it feels.  It's Rowan Cashsoft - heavenly.

My Sockret Pal has struck again.  This time she sent the most decadent treats!  MarieBelle Chocolates - Divine!  Trust me when I tell you that they are as delicious as they are beautiful!  Thank you once again, Pal!



New Friends

I had the pleasure of meeting Spinneret yesterday afternoon.  She was kind enough to offer to help me with my spinning.  I had no idea what a wonderful, generous, creative group of knitters and spinners she would introduce me to.


She and her friend Angie had bags of roving for me to try.  Quite a bit of which they sent home with me.  The bags were all neatly labled; baby camel down, suri alpaca, guanaco, cormo, merino, targhee, silk hankies.  It was amazing.  I'm still taking in all of the luscious treats I got to bring home to play with.

Spinneret even let me take one of her spindles home to try out!  She said it would assure that we would meet up again to spin!


The beauty on the right is hers.

They gave me my first ever lesson on a wheel .  Spinneret's friend Gail was also learning, so I had someone to laugh with at our chunky, over-spun, first attempts.  I wish I'd remembered my camera so I could show you that homely, precious yarn.

I'm hooked.  Now I need to save up for a wheel, and more fibers to spin, and more spindles.  They had so many beautiful spindles.  It's even got me thinking about the fiber I might be able to get from my bunny.  He's no angora, but twice a year he really sheds. . .




Back in November & December when I knit all of those hats for Dulaan, DD#1 had a favorite that she really wanted to keep for herself.  I told her we couldn't keep it, but that I would make another just like it.  One day last week as she was walking out the door to school, she dropped the hat into my lap and said it's time I keep my promise.  I spent the day knitting, making a few improvements to the original, and by the next day she was able to wear her own version to school.

I thought this would be a good time to post this pattern.  It is Fair Isle February after all, and the Stranded Colorwork Challenge* is still in full swing.   So I give you Mirelle.  You'll find the pdf in the sidebar.  Since it's DD#1's hat, I let her name it.  She's calling it Mirelle.  She doesn't know why, she just likes the name.



Thank you to everyone who offered photography advice on my last post.  I am eager to learn more about getting the most out of my camera.  There were many wonderful tips and suggestions.  Today it was a little cold as we took the photos of Mirelle, so we rushed through the photo shoot.  But I did take the time to tinker a bit with a few of the adjustments on the camera, and am happy with the resulting colors and exposure.  DD#1's static filled hair could use a bit of work, but one step at a time.  Her hair always has had a life of its own. . .

*If you follow the Stranded Colorwork Challenge link, be sure to check out the Flikr group.  There are some amazing things being knit.

Dragon Lore - Perhaps the Gods Can Help

There is much I need to resolve about my knitting and my photographs.


First the photos.  I struggle with lighting and exposure.

When I take my photos on cloudy or overcast days, they are flat and dull.  When I take them on sunny days they are too contrasty and overexposed.  I play with aperture, white balance and doctor them up in iPhoto.  (I know, I know, I have Photo Shop.  I just don't think my poor little laptop can be pushed any further.  The whole thing may crash if I try to load the program. Besides, the photos should be better right off the camera - not requiring major surgery!)  I just can't get that same amazing quality that I admire on other blogs - like Cara's, Jared's, or countless others.

Can anyone recommend any photo books, or blogs or websites, with good, easy for the lay person to understand information?  I've thought of taking a photo class, but fear I would have to sit through countless hours on composition (I've been through four years of art school), or worse, how to load photos onto a computer.  What I really want to know is how to manipulate light to make it work for, not against me.

The dragon above, according to DD#1, is Japanese.  She can tell from the number of toes, three.  He's a sea or river god.*  In eastern lore dragons also symbolize change.  That makes sense, since water often brings change, rebirth, cleansing, but water has a dark and dangerous side too.   I'll keep this dragon by my side as I knit.  I need his help, to change my wandering ways.


You see there was Demi.  At first she was so seductive.  But those twisted stitches, how they taunt me.  Then, cleaning through my WIPs I came across this lovely Celtic cable that I started last winter.  I put it aside in the spring when the weather got warm.  Now its calling me back for a quick fling.  But Demi deserves better, she is so beautiful.  Oh, my restless heart.


So what do you think?  Do I finish Demi, push through my mental games and finish her?  Or do I follow my wandering heart and and finish the Celtic cable?  I will follow your collective advise.

*See Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" .  You won't regret it.