Category Archives: Knitting

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.

In the Bleak Meteorological Mid-Winter

Frosty winds are making moan at my house.  I saw this on Weather Underground the other day, the difference between astronomical winter and meteorological winter and figured it would make a good lead-in for a long overdue New Year post.

First of all, the annual present making with the mostly grown up children went well, one of the best efforts.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of all the candles we made, because the team got them packed and wrapped before I remembered.  It went so well, and their mother uses so many candles that we talked about a repeat for next year.  They could each search for some cool containers ahead of time.  (Yeah, right….)

Here’s an action shot of the crew at lunch – surrounded by our still unpainted dining room walls.  Those are sparkling juice bottles, BTW.


I didn’t get pictures of all the gifts they made for one another, since some of that action took place elsewhere, and some of the phone camera shots aren’t very useful.  There were, however, some cute hippo slipper(s), even if not quite finished:

hippo2 hippo

And some of the gifts I made them:

Popm poms, of course!

aman 2 Aman   Billy

Socks and infinity scarves

T's sox


This is the infinity scarf in its first incarnation, a Honey Cowl.


I was clearly not going to have enough yarn, and I was using stash, a skein of Casbah carried with a skein of Kid Silk Haze, so there was no more to be had.  I ripped it out and used a stitch pattern with a much less compressed row gauge.    Here’s what I had left after the new version:


And for the one teen aged boy I know who likes to dress up:


He appears to be checking out my workmanship, I hope I passed the test.  That is a newish pattern, Adair, the grown up version of the Avery vest.  I used some JoSharp DK that was in my stash, and Mr. Style has worn it quite a few times already, so I hear.

There is also a shaped option with sleeves for women.   The yarn is the Pediboo Worsted, the grown up version of Pediboo.  It is lovely stuff.

Adair front view

I thought I might do a knitting year in review, for my own record keeping, but this post is already too long .  For those down under, keep cool.  For the rest of us, snuggle in and stay warm and dry.  Happy 2014 to all.

Steam that Pompom!

Or pompon, whichever you prefer.  It’s been a crazy crafting month here, but in case you have last minute items that need pompoms, I have to share this new technique:  steam them!

I taught a PomPom Popup at the Yarnery last week.  I didn’t think anyone would come.  It was cold.  It was snowing.  It was Saturday morning.  It was a one-hour class on pompoms and tassels.  Plus, everyone knows how to make pompoms and tassels, right?  Well 16 people showed up.  Everyone had made pompoms and tassels, but everyone felt theirs were weak, lackluster, missing the oomph that is the very nature of a pompom.  My two top tips: Use LOTS of yarn.  Much more than you think. And use one of these gadgets:


I am not typically a buyer of gadgets, and I’ve made many successful pompoms with the good old cardboard circles, but these babies are fast.

The real top tip, though came from a student, who clearly had no business being in the class.  She told us she learned to steam them in Campfire Girls.  Good idea.  Let’s try it out.  I ran downstairs and borrowed the electric kettle from the kitchen.  I had a few forks for showing folks how to make tiny pom poms on a fork, (which we never did) so we stuck a fork in it and it was done!

Happy students with their pompoms:

Photo Dec 13, 6 34 40 PM

Here is the brief photo tutorial I make at dark o’clock to show you how it works.

Pompom in Lamb’s Pride Bulky*, almost ready for a Christmas gift, but untrimmed.   Notice that it is stuck on a fork being held over a pot of boiling water.

Photo Dec 22, 2 29 02 PM

Lightly steamed and gently fluffed:

Photo Dec 22, 2 32 45 PM

Trimmed and ready for the hat:

Photo Dec 22, 2 36 32 PM

So happy pompoms to all, and to all a good night!

*I’d be careful with steaming acrylic or blend yarn.  I’ll have to try it out and let you know.