Category Archives: Knitting

What happens to donated yarn

If it is lucky yarn, it goes to someone like the generous soul who knits sets of hats and mittens in all sizes for the un-mittened of Minnesota.

Look at this!  And these are only half of the ones I shared last week.

2015-11-04 14.16.59.jpg

The knitter (unknown) of these even sorted them into bags marked small, medium and large.  Some sets went to a program for families fleeing violence.  The others went to this lovely lady:


Rayanne staffs the information desk in the courthouse where I work.  She knits, and takes donated hats and gloves as well.  When families come in and she spots children without warm gear (sometimes with socks on their hands!) she takes out the box and allows each child to choose a hat and or mittens.  She does this gracefully and the children love being able to choose.  I watched one day as some very serious, stressed out little faces lit up at being able to ‘shop’ for a hat.

I’m sure there are lots of places that take donated yarn near you if you are going all KayAnn.  Or Jean – who has found a woman’s program where residents are learning to knit.

I’d be proud to think that some of my stash ended up in one of these items.

Not so warm hat

This summer-like autumn continues unabated.  I wore gloves for the first time last night, but didn’t really need them.  I felt as though I were putting them on just because, like for church.  Thank goodness wearing gloves to be ladylike is a long-dead custom.  I remember wearing little white gloves to go to church on Easter.  I chewed the finger tips until they were grubby.  We also wore them for special scout events.

three scouts

Hats were de rigeur, of course, because we were Catholic.  (Anyone remember chapel veils?) I’m working on a hat that is a bit more style than substance right now.  It is fantastic yarn, Dune, from Shibui, but it is light and drapey, rather than super cozy.   A hat for looks, or maybe a bit of warmth in the fall or spring, but not winter in a climate of the Upper Midwestern persuasion.  Unless it is an El Nino winter.  My challenge was to design a hat that only used one skein of this gorgeous but no inexpensive yarn.  I really enjoy designing with a certain set of limits in place.  Is there a term of art for that in the real world?

dune hat in process

I worked on this hat in a darkened auditorium the other day.  Not a good idea.  I ended up ripping it back all the way to the ribbing when I got home.  I ended up with about ten yards left.  I’ll post a finished photo soon as I find a model.

My mojo for larger projects has waned post-book.  I’m working on smaller items, like socks for ME!

When I lived in Ottawa, I longed for a Hudson Bay Blanket coat, like this one, but they were waaaay out of my price range.

300hudson-bay-coat-hbc-classic-stripey-pure-wool-coat_7140021hudson bay sock

They don’t make them any longer, but I still think of them with nostalgia when I am freezing at a bus stop.  Then I saw the sock yarn, not sure where.  Susan B. Anderson?  Now I have little coats for my feet.  Sock selfies are a challenge – I just threw my leg up on the kitchen table on my way to put on my shoes.  Classy.

Is drop spindling haunting me?

I have been going through a major clean and purge for the past month.  I don’t know what it is about the autumn that seems to bring it out in me.  Maybe because I am indoors a bit more?  I took a before picture of my home work space, but I may not be able to bring myself to show it to you.  I hang my head with shame when I see it.  Maybe I’ll wait till there is a before and after.  I’m getting there.  I have donated three full bags, contractor-size, of nice yarn.  I have plenty left, believe me. (I have not gone the full Konmari, but fall somewhere between there and the KayAnn method.)

In a file of textile crapola, I found this:

invitation to spin

No idea where it came from, or how long I have had it.  It appeared to be mimeographed.  (Just kidding, probably on a Selectric.)  It went into the recycling bin, along with so much more.  This was also in the file, and I will keep it.  I still have the yarn I was planning to use – Harrisville shetland bought when Ram Wools in downtown Minneapolis went out of business…



I haven’t spent as much time indoors this fall as I would think.  A work trip to Salt Lake City was fun, and boy have things changed there in 15 years.  I didn’t make it to Blazing Needles, it was just too long a trip on transit.  The weather has been glorious.  We still have some roses hanging around.

ramblin red in the rain

And there is plenty of  chard, broccoli, lettuce and acorn squash.  These heirloom carrots are a bit scary.  They really are purple on the outside – that is not some sort of radiation poisoning.  I set the carrot on a step to give you an idea of how big it really is.  My beets are much smaller.

extreme carrot

I may try to roast one whole and see what happens.  Suggestions?

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?

2015-09-20 18.26.23-3

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.

2015-09-11 16.15.05

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.

2015-09-13 07.16.49

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:

2015-09-11 17.53.14

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.

2015-09-14 08.03.23

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,


2015-08-08 12.22.09

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.

2015-04-26 08.38.37

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.