Spinning. If you can call it that.

I have avoided spinning for many years.  I have too many hobbies and commitments already.  Husband, house, horse, job(s) — spinning will have to be for my next life.  But a bit of drop spindling for fun?  Well, why not.  Hanging around with spinners and yarnie geniuses in Maine, I suddenly acquired a drop spindle on long-term loan, beautiful wool to spin, and a couple of teachers.

Sadly, my product didn’t measure up, being much less than the sum of its parts.

Sad yarn:

first try

No better:

jani's wool

I thought I might have sharp dressed dudes checking me out while I spun:

watching men

Instead, here’s me looking at my yarn.  (And I use the term yarn  loosely.)


This is no reflection on the team that tried to get me going.  Yarndude has offered to give me a lesson in exchange for teaching him how to make Yorkshire buttons.  He’ll be wholesaling product before I have something worth showing, I’m sure!

Green Pepper Sandwiches and Borscht Concentrate

Green pepper sandwiches were one way my mother handled the bounty from the garden.  We loved them.  Sliced green peppers on white bread with  Miracle Whip.  I cannot imagine eating that now, but I do have garden harvest to handle.  (Just not seven kids to feed, thank God.)  My most recent brainstorm was borscht concentrate.  Soup takes up lots of space, and my freezer size is limited.  I have a lower drawer in my fridge and a small dorm fridge size freezer.  I experimented with making a sort of essence of borscht with very little stock and roast beets figuring I could add the stock and cabbage and potatoes after defrosting.  Who knows.  But how can anything this beautiful be bad?

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I also have massive amounts of broccoli every few days, no idea why, so if anyone has genius ideas on that, I’m open.  My neighbors are tired of getting it, I think.

I had the good fortune to teach at Fiber College in Maine again this year.  I took a bag of sliced peppers and some other garden goodies to eat on the plane because I have so much – the people around me seemed to feel shamed.  One woman looked at her Cinnabon and then at me and muttered – “I’m eating crap.” So funny.  I leaned over and told her I had a giant chocolate bar in my carry on.

I taught Broomstick Lace, a chilly day but a warm group.

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I’m a bad photographic record keeper, especially when surrounded by people like Gale Zucker, who document beautifully all the time.  I shared a a house with seven fun, talented and inspirational women.  Here’e one picture I did take of the hippy Rugosa Rose next to the porch – I almost gathered some to bring home.  They were bigger than crabapples! Our roses don’t have full hips like these.

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I had to spend some time working on edits with my co-authors, and missed some fun classes.  Jackie Ottino Graf, the genius yarn maker and dyer at Swans Island, taught an all day-class on Madder.  One dyestuff, many add-ons and mordants.  Here’s a a house-mate’s result:

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My flowers are still hanging in there.  I stopped planting Morning Glories, although I love them, because they are invasive little self-seeders and come back as purple sports after a few seasons.  It’s the blue I love.  But year two can be pretty, as well.  These invaders from next-door are trying to cover the grill to hang on to summer.

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Thanks for all the comments on the last post.  Although, as Chris said, there are all those other forums out there, I enjoy the longer chats from time to time.  Please lets keep talking.

Are you still talking to me?

I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how to restart the conversation here on the blog. It’s like getting together with friends you haven’t seen in a while – in some cases I’ve visited you but it has been mostly a one way visit.

I feel as though I have so much to say, but no idea where to start.

The biggest factor in my silence has been THE BOOK. Yes, all my excess energy has been going into preparing a manuscript and patterns for a knitting book for Random House/Potter Craft. It has been a blast, but exhausting. The fun part has been working on it with friends – Gale Zucker and Kirsten Kapur. Here is a picture from the photoshoot in Connecticut last month – I wish I had more that didn’t show projects, since those have to be top secret until the big reveal, which will be in September 2016.

it's a wrap

I’ve been putting pictures aside to post of garden life,


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and screenhouse knitting.  That was much of my summer, too.2015-08-01 07.52.04


I’ve composed lots of posts in my head about working with linen, testing the different button band pick up formulas, and what I’ve been reading.  I just finished the two Robert Galloway/JK Rowling books, and quite enjoyed them.  What’s your summer wrap up?

The mystery of spring gardens

For me, the mystery is what-the-heck did I plant there?  Did we move that?  Will those bulbs survive the harsh winter with little protective snow cover?

I’ve stayed away from the blogging because of some chronic shoulder pain.  I had a huge writing project at work and tried to avoid computer use when away from the office.  I could knit, thank heaven, but mostly on things that are, for the moment, under the cone of silence.  So boring.

But SPRING!!  All you UK types have had lovely flowers for months.  Not here in the upper midwest.  But now – the mysteries of spring commence.  Mr.  Guy planted all 100 squill bulbs that I brought home last fall and ta-dah!


Two years ago, all my daffodils died over the winter, for no good reason. Daffodils are survivors – I never worry about them.  I couldn’t believe that all of mine died.  I ordered more bulbs and waited.  And worried.  But the March of the Daffodils returned!  The early bloomers – next year, with luck, this bed will be packed with them.

IMG_2371Early spring flowers are subtle, for the most part.  The Bloodroot makes slow and lovely progress.  The leaf wrap itself around the flower bud, protecting it from our spring cold. Each day, it slowly opens to give the flower sunlight and warmth. I wish I were a better flower photographer.


Bloodroot is used in traditional Cherokee basket-making.  I am fortunate enough to have a friend who is a Cherokee who makes baskets. (I hesitate to describe him as traditional….) This one is sitting on my kitchen table as I write.  The color is from bloodroot.

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We gave him a bunch of bloodroot for his garden – I hope it is thriving.

Wild ginger is another treat to watch in the early spring.  Each stalk has a solitary reddish-brown flower that is hidden once the leaves open fully.


Species tulips are also tiny and sweet.


I do have the world’s ugliest full-size tulips.  In general, tulips fizzle out after a few years, but  the previous owners left these behind, and I cannot seem to kill them.  This is the only phase in which I enjoy them.  The flowers are red and yellow striped, a color combo that hurts my eyes.  No doubt it was listed in a catalogue as a ‘prolific perennial.’


I hope your gardens are growing as well as your knitting.

The Tapestry forerunner of “TheDress”


I saw this post from Victoria Finlay, author of the wonderful book Colour, A Natural History of the Palette, and figured I would share.   If you haven’t seen her book, it is so worthwhile.

.One of the 21 colour wheels

Originally posted on Victoria Finlay:

The DressThe furore around whether this dress, aka #TheDress is blue and black or white and gold (I say it’s white and gold. Obviously!) and the delicious vox pop videos the BBC and others are making of when they ask people about it (“you’re winding me up!??? Are you turning my spanner???”) makes me wonder what would have happened if there had been twitter and video in 1820s Paris.

That year the Gobelins Royal tapestry workshop in Paris had a problem. They were using the same bright dyes that they’d been using since the 1660s, and which they were famous for, and for which they were charging a fortune. The trouble was the coloured threads started coming up grey on the tapestry.

A dress manufacturer could just change the production line but these guys only managed about a square metre in a year (tapestries were about 12 feet high and longer across…

View original 338 more words

Hat and Horses

I lost my favorite hat while in Lincoln. I think I left it in the Chapter House of the Cathedral, so maybe it will be there as a relic, years from now.  I set out to make a warm, stranded-color-work-in-worsted-weight-yarn replacement.  I used some Swans Island worsted in natural gray, and some Malabrigo Rios that I had from an unhappy hat that had been ripped out and rolled back into a ball.

Pine point preview collage

As long as I was doing that, I figured I may as well make a pattern that would be a nice intro to stranded colorwork for some students who want to dip a toe in the watery wastes between Fair Isle and Norway. I named the hat Pine Point, after the park where I ride.

In keeping with the hat’s Norwegian roots, I found the perfect setting for the money shot:

Pine point with ZannahIt really isn’t easy to get such a sweet, calm look, especially on a very cold and windy day.

Pine point CollageThis version of Pine Point was made in two colors of Liberty Wool, a solid and a self-striping color.  It is really fun to watch the color changes.  The students in question are on their second versions of the hat, so I think it is easy enough.  The biggest compliment was from a more experienced color knitter, who liked it because “I can actually talk to someone while I’m knitting it!”

Details on Ravelry or Patternfish (which handles the EU/VAT problem for the knitter.)

My sister went to Australia…

And all I got was this gorgeous yarn:

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I had never heard of Biggan Design, yet now I’ve seen it, and Biggan Ryd-Dups in several places.    Look at these colors – I couldn’t figure out a way to put them on the page here.  The yarn is merino crossed with Border Leicester.  According to the website it offers the “softness of merino and the durability of the Border Leicester’s longer, stronger fibres. The result is a yarn with a wonderful buoyancy and spring that makes it fun and easy to knit with.”  It certainly feels like it will be.

There was also a post card in the package from the shop where she bought it,   The Button Bar, in Adelaide Arcade.  Oh my, I would love to be able to shop there, wouldn’t you?

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I can’t wait to start swatching.  A  hat, a cowl?  Do I have enough for one of Kirsten Kapur’s fabulous designs?  Or maybe I’ll just pet it for a while.