Category Archives: Knitting

Stitching Failure in the Nation’s Capital

I have spent the last 5 days in Washington DC at a conference, which for most of the day means knitting.  A colleague from another state found me to say I had inspired her and this year she brought her knitting.  Yes.  As a token of her gratitude she gave me this button:

button gift

I did get a break between sessions and walked over the Key Bridge to Georgetown and back.  This is the river on a quiet weekday afternoon.

2014-09-30 16.24.52

Unlike Sunday, the boat and paddle board rental place had very few customers.

2014-09-30 16.28.45

So few, that as I hung over the bridge railing I watched the attendant entertaining himself.  He made it all the way to the end of the dock.

no customers

I walked into Georgetown to find some better thread to hand stitch the rolled hem on my scarf.  The fabric store listed on yelp and elsewhere had moved about 20 miles away.  Oh well.  I had attempted stay-stitching the edge before leaving home, without much luck.  I used different tensions, even remembered to switch to a brand new silk-appropriate needle.

2014-09-27 10.30.42

It still looked bad, so I gave up.

2014-09-29 16.55.11

My hand sewing in the hotel room after a long day wasn’t much better, so when I get home I’m going to look for finer thread in a slightly darker grey. That’ll do it. Sure.  No operator error on this end.

Bad sewing

All advice welcome.


Hand Sewing is the New Yoga?

I’m suddenly seeing hand stitching and sewing everywhere.  I blame Alabama Chanin, whose name is actually Nathalie, not Alabama, I recently discovered.  A number of my pals, online and otherwise, have fallen down that rabbit hole.  The two Gales are prime examples. One friend even said she wished she were getting married again so she could make an Alabama Chanin wedding dress.

UPDATE – the first post in five months from Mason Dixon is all about Alabama Chanin!

My hand sewing in the past century has been limited to hems, buttons, sweater seams and working on Christmas presents with the present gang.  (An aside, a woman approached me at a party whose daughter is friends with my goddaughter Teresa.  The mom said she learned to embroider from Teresa and thanked me!)  I have had a bag of these needles for several years.

parabola label fullParabola label

They seemed too important to just donate, but I didn’t know what to do with them, so they sat unloved and ignored in their zip lock bag in a drawer.  Eureka!  What hand sewer doesn’t want to make sure she isn’t sewing with “worthless, rotten, brass-headed needles?”  They came along as party favors of a sort, and are now living in new homes.

I haven’t sewn clothes for myself in years.  I nearly got sucked down the fabric rabbit hole when I was in Maine because we went on a field trip to the cutest fabric store I have ever seen, Clementine in Rockland. (Shop owner got some needles, too, of course.)

craft mob

Oooohhh – of course I’m going to sew myself several new dresses.  I need that washi tape.  I found some gadgets including ERASABLE HIGHLIGHTER!!  Then I had to copy all the cool kids and buy a yard of cotton-silk blend to play with in the dye tent.  Cotton and silk take colors in different ways, those in the know tell me, so how fun to test it out.

I bought a beautiful silver-grey, but because I was teaching all day Saturday, didn’t really have time to play with it.   The talented dye mistress of Starcroft Fibers , Jani, took pity on me.  Tied, dyed and stuffed in a mason jar for good measure.  It’s gorgeous.

scarf 1

Now I have to deal with the raw edges. Maybe I’ll use a fabulous Parabola needle.  So, here’s the big question – rolled edge, hand-sewn on a silk scarf.  Stay stitch, or not?

How did it get to be September?

A few minutes ago I was lying on my back in the snow, relieved not to be hurt.  Now I wake up to find I just came back from Fiber College of Maine, always held the weekend after Labor Day.

View from Porch 2014-09-05 07.42.11

I think of posts, but never write them down, just leave them drifting through my mind. So, at the beginning of what so many of us still think of as the new year with new notebooks, I am making a renewed commitment to posting more regularly.  One big reason for this is that I have just spent 4 days in the company of women I met via blogging, starting with Gale Zucker and Kirsten Kapur.  The connections keep flowing, and I don’t want them to stop.  So, I’m going to start again.  How about you?  What connections have you made through blog reading or writing?

At Fiber College I stayed in a house full of talented, funny women and shared skills in classes with wonderful fiber folks.  I have very few photos to show for it.  That’s one thing about being with a bunch of visual artists.  They take all the pictures, I just hang out.  Here’s the house of fiber folk, taken by Gale, of course:

House in Searsport Gale

Gale is not only a great photographer, but an excellent teacher.  I wish I had been able to take the Savvy Storytelling class she and Beverly Army Williams taught on Saturday, but I was teaching all day.  (Dorset Buttons and Navajo Knitting) If you are interested in an online class, Gale’s Interweave class on Photography for Knitters is on sale right now.

One of the most fun features of Fiber College is the Mentored Dye Tent.  Ellen Mason (taken by Gale) sets up all you need.


You can buy some yarn from her, or bring your own.  Overdye ugly stuff.  Dipdye an old sweater.  Look at this display Ellen set up to help you choose colors and see how they would affect your fiber:

Dye Tent 2014-09-06 13.33.37

or look at it taken by a real photographer.

I have been knitting, designing, gardening, riding and working like mad at the day job. When I got home from Fiber College I wanted a grasshopper day, but nature decided I had to be an ant.

produce 2 tavera 2014-09-08 14.06.15

Do you know that it takes a long time to shell Lima beans?

limas 2014-09-08 14.03.29


I won’t be knitting this

I seem to have lost my knitting mojo of late.  I’m still knitting, but nothing really turns my crank.  I’ve finished a few items I can’t post right now, but I’ve been reduced to plain vanilla socks.  At least I’ll have Christmas presents for next year.

I won’t be making this, however:

Twilley 400

Knitted in cotton – can you imagine?

I found it on ReKnitting , where Barbara says:

The cooler is actually supposed to be worn underneath a blanket rather than by itself, to allow the horse to cool off after exercise. And it is Particularly beneficial for nervous or excitable animals.”  The pattern has the usual warning that when you are buying cotton, you should buy enough to complete the article, as dye-lots vary. Obviously, it is important to avoid a stripe of a slightly different shade at one end of the cooler, especially if your horse is excitable.

My foster horse has been excitable – we call it the Spring Stupids.  It feels like spring to them, because of the daylight, but it is still winter, here, believe me.

2014-02-16 13.28.23

We had a little “episode” a few weeks ago that left me with bruised ribs and a hematoma on my chin.  I had to testify at the state legislature for work, and I swathed myself in a stole, hoping I looked more stylish Frenchwoman than someone who had been in a bar brawl.  I’m fine, just a bit sore on the rib cage, so I have to sit up straight when I’m knitting.  Not a bad side effect, I guess.  Lying there in the snow, knowing I was ok, I thought how life could change in the blink of an eye.  (Or bad judgement on a fellow rider’s part.)  I feel lucky and chastened.   I do always wear a helmet, and this was a reminder to keep up the practice.

I’m waiting for some yarn to arrive from the UK.  THAT should get my mojo cranking.  Stay tuned!

Blanket is Done

I have a phone photo of the blanket, I hope I get one of it in action soon.  I waffled on the color choice, should I leave out the orange?  Leave out the yellow?  I went with Robin’s suggestion of wider blue, left in both the yellow and orange.  I altered the stitch pattern, putting in knit in the front and back increases instead of yarnovers.  Since a little bit of yellow seems to go a long way, I put a stripe of yellow in at each end, so bright but not overwhelming.  Here’s the final product:

redone blanket

In case you forgot how ugly the original was:

ugly blanket

I was worried about the stitch pattern pulling in too much, even with the garter stitch stripes, but that is the beauty of slippery superwash wool – the photo is machine washed and dried, so I know that it will be ok when a non-knitting parent throws it in the laundry.

Yarn is Cascade 128 Superwash, two skeins of the blue, one of each of the other colors, with enough leftover to make a 70’s style baby sweater.  Not going to happen, really. Maybe a hat.

The Winner and the New Baby

The winner of the blanket kit is whatzitknitz – my neighbor to the east in Wisconsin.  I’ll contact you to get a mailing address.  The big news is that Aunt Lou had the date wrong – EJ was due in early February, not late.  Looks who is here ahead of the blanket:

2014-01-30 06.22.09

I think the bright colors will be perfect for him.   If I ever get it done.  Thank goodness it is bulky yarn.  I really appreciate all the comments and ideas.  I have to swatch to see if I like it better without the orange or without the yellow.  I am going to try Robin’s idea of putting the dark teal where the yellow was used. “The bigger stripes will be the bright colors and the darker blue will “tone” it down a bit. I think it would be fabulous that way!”  She may be right.

I’ve been distracted by a sweater for me.  In the fantastic Nash Island Light.  Nearly done picking up all the stitches for the button band/collar. (I will never purchase another of this brand of interchangeable. This has happened with all most of the longer lengths.  Maybe I just pull too hard, or perhaps this was the first version and they have improved.  )

broken needle

Ripped out collar twice.

collar 1

Another big oops when I tried it on to decide whether I wanted hems for cuffs or ribbing.

2014-01-29 08.19.43

How did I manage to make one sleeve 3 inches shorter than the other.  THREE INCHES!  At least it is stockinette and used a provisional cast on, so I can pick up and knit down.

Time to shovel snow.  More details on the sweater later.  The polar vortex appears to be hanging around enough for me to get lots of wear out of this if I ever finish it!  Thank you all for playing!

Baby Blanket Failure – a giveaway

I am excited to be a great-aunt yet again – those kids are more prolific than any of my siblings were.  I have been planning a baby blanket.   I love making baby blankets, cozy, cute, fast ones.  I don’t make heirloom lace gorgeous items to be used at a child’s wedding.  These are blankets to drag around, and nothing makes me happier than to see or hear that the blanket in question has made it to that stage.

A newly arrived neighbor baby got a blanket, (I can’t find a picture right now) and her 5-year old sister was feeling a bit miffed.  I told her that she had received a blanket from me long before this interloper.  Her eyes got bigger, and she asked if it was yellow and green – yes, it had those colors in it.  “I sleep with it every night!”  That really made my heart glad.

So, I thought I’d make little EJ to be something bright and fun. ( Soft, squishy, bright 128 Superwash from Cascade.)  You know how you keep knitting, even when something isn’t working out?  Like when the colors looked great in the skeins, but together are less than the sum of their parts?  I brought this blanket to the shop to get a second opinion, and yes, it was deemed irretrievably ugly.  I took it up to class.  (I think it’s always good for students to see me ripping out work.)  Before I displayed it, I announced that I was going to rip something out, not because it was technically wrong, but because it was hideous.  They all said, not, nothing can be ugly enough to rip it out.  When I did the TA DA, they all groaned.  Yep, ugly.

ugly blanket

On the other hand, If it made it, I could call it “That 70’s Baby .”

The lesson was then looking at the little balls of yarn  and seeing that they should have played nicely, but didn’t.  Was it tone?  Proportion?  Stitch pattern?  I especially love it when I have students who quietly confess they have art degrees and start explaining some color theory.    That’s the sort of thing that makes classes fun.  Otherwise, we could all sit around with you tube videos.  I may try something without the yellow, however, I’m open to suggestions.

This blanket, Terrace, I designed in the summer specifically for the Yarnery’s Shop Hop Yarn, Sprout.  It’s Superwash BlueFaced Leicester from All for Love of Yarn.  Details on Ravelry.

terrace web pic

It is bright and fun and not ugly.  And check out that cute model – he’s a neighbor, too.  Aren’t I lucky to have such photogenic kids around the ‘hood?  The problem is, they grow too fast!  The Yarnery has kitted up a pattern and two skeins of the yarn and I have one for a giveaway.  Post a comment by January 28 and tell me what baby items you like to knit.  Some lucky winner will have these in her mailbox, soon.