Category Archives: Knitting

Craft Friday: The Magic of Making

Beverly at Pomogolightly is having another CraftFriday, instead of Black Friday. I avoid even grocery stores on Black Friday if I can help it. (For those fortunate enough not to know what that is – it is a push for sales the day after American Thanksgiving to get your books in the black.  It has gotten waaay out of hand.) I plan to shop in my stash. Although one must be careful shopping in stash.  I was working on a pair of mittens for the mitten drive at work using a ball of  lovely lovely turquoise yarn.  More than a few rounds into the second one, I realized it was not the same turquoise yarn as I had used for the first.  Some idiot had wound two different yarns into the ball of leftovers.  Some idiot too lazy to turn a light on in her workroom?  Fortunately, this same idiot had another ball of the right yarn.   Can you tell I worked on this second one at the office, while on a webinar?

emergency stitch holder

A paper clip makes quite a satisfactory temporary stitch holder.

I am also cranking out gift socks, resting up for more complicated labors yet to come.

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I am feeling a bit sad that I am too far away from my great niece to start the gift making traditions. There is such magic in making things.

I was pondering the magic part this morning when I serendipitously read two posts – one by Franklin Habit, and one by Donna Druchunas, both on the magical aspect of craft.  Donna quotes Neil Shubin, Your Inner Fish 

“The hand actually defines us in many ways. When you think about what makes our species unique and special, it’s having thoughts and being able to make those thoughts real. And the way our thoughts become real is through use of our hands to build things, to make things.”

And that is magic, of a sort.  Are you planning any magic?  If you need inspiration, pop on over to Pinterest and see Beverly’s Craft Friday board.

I plan to shop in my stash, but with the light on.

There and Back Again Part 2

On to Lincoln for the Tell Them of Us premiere. While wandering in York for a few morning hours before my train, I saw this, which seemed appropriate.

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While chatting with a Poppy volunteer in the York train station I mentioned the purpose of my excursion to Lincoln.  (She asked. Really.) She showed me her vintage Lincolnshire regiment badge, and told me of her long family history in Lincolnshire, then gave me a special centenary poppy pin, of which there are few, to give to a Crowder family member, which I did. That type of personal connection seems so much more evident in a small country, and I was touched, as was Mr. Crowder.

I am a bit late to the party on this one, photos and blog posts have been done by many. See Catherine, Liz Lovick and Juniper for some other stories and photos.

Friday night was a concert in the Chapter House of Lincoln Cathedral. Organized by the indefatigable Jane Lawrence, it featured two groups from local schools singing songs of WW1.  I understand there will be some of it available on the DVD.

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The singers wore hats and ganseys knitted for the film, quickly removed when it was time for cake.

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The Cathedral is stunning.

I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles’  -John Ruskin

Who am I to argue? (Taken right after the concert.)


The film premiere was held in a University auditorium and it was full, and buzzing. The film was moving, the costuming exceptional, and there was a roar of applause for the names of the knitters in the credits. There is still a bit of post-production work to do, so the film isn’t available yet, but will be.  I’ll keep you posted.

Tell them of US gang

Pauline Loven, the founder of the feast, took Jane, Liz and I for a drive out to Thimbleby Church and to see some of the filming sites. It was so kind of her, as I’m sure she was exhausted. Lincolnshire has its own style of thatched cottages, seen in the film and in these photos.  They even have a connection to Jamestown, where the first houses were built by a Lincolnshire builder.

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The costumes are now part of an exhibition at The Collection, the museum in Lincoln. There are items for children to try on, dolls to dress, and even a free book let of vintage children’s patterns. The exhibition is designed (by Pauline) to have a level of exploration and touching.  Even a vintage letter in Grace’s Cardigan pocket.

letter in pocket playing with doll

Jane and I attended Evensong at Lincoln Cathedral.  Jane not only has a wicked sense of humor, but is quite knowledgeable about cathedrals and music, which added to the fun. I must say, watching the little choristers was a treat. They behaved like such little boys, then when the moment was right, out came the voices of angels. The arrow is pointing to a man who was so happy to chastise me for taking a photo during the service, which was not, in fact, due to start for about 10 minutes. I’m sure it made his day.

bad girl

It was quite wonderful to be a part of this. Visiting another place with a purpose beyond seeing the sights, and with people to finally meet in person is the way to travel.  Speaking of which, after many years of virtual friendship, I had lunch with Jean.  It was delightful, we discussed everything but knitting it seemed.  Jean even shared a bottle of her precious cider with me!  Here she is, looking as though I might be about to tell her something awful, but wearing Relax.  It is a perfect name for such a lovely, cozy sweater.


There and Back Again Part 1

(With apologies to Mr. Tolkein.)  I wish I were better at making collages of these photos.  Never fear, I have signed up for an online workshop taught by Gale Zucker, and you can, too.

I hardly know where to start on my knitting-related adventure. But since it was related to WW1 Centenary I started with the poppies at the Tower of London. I walked along the Thames on a lovely day all the way from whatever they call where Parliament is –Embankment? It was a good thing, too, because the tube was mobbed with people heading up there. I had no idea how many people there would be, but so happy I went. Most of the people in the crowd were British, and had stories to tell of uncles, and great uncles, and grandfathers. Mostly I was eavesdropping, and what I heard was very moving.

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The next day, I decided to take a walking tour, and chose a London Walks tour that fit my schedule and was a bit different – I saw Little Venice/Maida Vale in the company of an entertaining and knowledgeable guide. I also went on a walking tour in York. I have never done walking tours before and it was really worthwhile. I would have walked past so many interesting places and tiny bits of interest.  Like these cabbie shelters funded by the Temperance Society so that cabbies could get warm without alcohol.

cabbie shelter

Plus, since I was alone and the few others on the tours were in a group, I got to walk with the guide each time and be the sucky teacher’s pet I was in 4th grade. Delightful. The one in London actually told me to ‘zip it’ when I knew an answer he wanted to surprise the rest of the group with – in the nicest way, of course. Let’s just say the answer was Alan Turing.

I did a quick tour of the Victoria and Albert, but some of what I went to see was closed for maintenance.  I saw these Dorset buttons, far more elaborate than the ones I make.  I’ll have to send this photo to my Fiber College students.


I loved the V and A, but doesn’t this Chihuly look just a tiny bit out of place?

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This mosaic was perfect for me the morning after the U.S. elections:


As it got darker, I made the pilgrimage to the dream of a bookstore:


I just had time to dash into the British Museum, ran right into the Rosetta Stone, and had some tea and cake while reading the brochure about why they still have the Elgin Marbles.


I have always wanted to see York, so spent a couple of days there before heading to Lincoln for the big show.  I went to Evensong at York Minster.


Saw some white roses, of course.  In November!


And took a shot of this holiday lighting for a friend back home:


This textile was in a shop window.  Stranded knitting?


More tea and cake.  This time, Parkin Cake, which the cafe owner told me I should have, because it was specific to Yorkshire, and I could get a scone anywhere.  It was delicious.

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On to Lincoln for Part Two.

Tell Them of Us

The last month was a blur of work, garden, knitting, and getting ready for my big trip to the UK.  I don’t think I got to posting much about it, but thanks to Knitsofacto Annie, I was involved in some knitted costuming for Tell Them of Us, a documentary about a family in Lincolnshire during the First World War.

The film was inspired by the war memorial in tiny Thimbleby Church.


window dedication

It is a time of history that has long been an interest of mine.  Combine it with knitting, and how could I say no?  I made a ‘Sport Sweater” from a 1912 pattern, greatly simplified.  I also ‘reverse engineered’ a sweater from a photo of Grace, the eldest of the three siblings in the family, and the main character in the film.


Here are the sweaters as worn by the extremely talented Victoria Rigby in the film

Horse sweater in film

Sport Sweater

There is even a book of the projects in the film.  Here’s Pauline Loven, the costumier:

As WAG Screen’s costumier I spent a year researching and gathering vintage resources to begin creating the costume for the film which would be set on the home front in WW1. One thing worried me though – I was aware just how much clothing was knitted during the period and I cannot knit. Knitting also takes a long time to create, but to only include sewn clothing would have been a distortion. So, one Sunday morning, I speculatively tweeted for a volunteer knitter – confident that my words would disappear into the ether. But I didn’t know then the character of knitters. Within an hour I had one hundred volunteers and quickly created a Facebook group to gather them in. In no time at all there were three hundred volunteers and a Ravelry group had been created too. Knitters, as I quickly discovered, are gregarious, generous and efficient, and a management system immediately evolved led by Liz Lovick, managed by Jane Lawrence and augmented by Judith Brodnicki. Out of the group we had over had over one hundred active knitters, designers, hookers and researchers and Centenary Stitches was born.

I received an invitation to the ‘premiere weekend’ in Lincoln, the weekend of Remembrance Sunday, and figured, why not?  It is such fun to visit another country and do more than simply look around.  I’m so grateful I was able to participate. Everyone was kind, welcoming and such fun.  My brain is so filled with the trip, sorting out, shuffling through, that I’ll have to take a few posts to write it down.


That’s been the theme of life for the past little while, things good and bad. The latest was having my wallet and iphone stolen. That commercial that asks “What’s in your wallet?” —  I couldn’t remember. Which cards? What ID? Not having a phone is really disorienting, but maybe in a good way. For instance, I am waiting at the Verizon store writing this instead of reading stuff on my phone or texting.

In the past month I’ve moved offices to a new ‘open office’ format. (Horrible. Maddening.) Had to replace my 15-year old car. (Nice new-to-me car, but unexpected change in the midst of being ‘unofficed’.) Travelled for work. (Good, but, you know, work.) Two funerals. (Sudden, tragic, sad.) Aforementioned stolen wallet. About the wallet, I am feeling grateful that it is not a time in my life, because there have been such times, when losing cash would have meant real hardship. I wasn’t hurt, I’m not sick, and I always have my knitting along for the ride. The banks, driver’s license folks, Verizon were all helpful and expedited where they could. Things could be much worse.

However, this has all left me feeling unfocused and vague. The other day I cut myself and put the band-aid on the wrong finger. (At least it was the same hand!) I stood by the wrong grey car trying to open the door with my new clicker. But seriously, since I bought a grey car, they are all grey.  I took this picture in the parking lot to prove it.

silver cars

I need to get grounded. Other than more knitting and breathing, all ideas and suggestions welcome. I’m thinking of going home and lying down in the garden.

garden veg Collage

I have no nice knitting photos for you because they were all on my phone, not yet uploaded. Those are a few vegetables I put in the freezer this past weekend, though, because no blog post should be photo-less. More to come, soon, I hope. It’s my turn …

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.

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

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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.

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It still looked bad, so I gave up.

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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.

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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.

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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?