Category Archives: Knitting

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.

Twelfth Night I Think

Could be last night or the night before, depending on who you ask.  Whichever, the Lord of Misrule must be setting up the weather.  Minus 7 F and bitter windchills.  This was most welcome to sit and knit and read by:


The Holiday Recap: Present-making was limited this year, as those adult children have such busy lives.  We did one big gift.  This was the inspiration, a fake advertisement:

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IMG_2210I did socks, some of which didn’t quite fit and now have to be adjusted.  It adds to the legend when you say you can do that, of course.  My goddaughter said the ones I made her from leftovers  are her favorites of all the ones I have ever made her.  (She is a big charity shop devotee.)  I meant to get  an Esther Williams type photo of all the feet but the mayhem was too much.


My basic sock over 48 sts with a K3, P1 rib.  The yarn is leftover sport weight sock yarn Supersocke 6-Ply Wohlfühl Color, now discontinued. I wish I had bought more. Here’s a pair made from one skein.

basic socks sport

I did some hats, too. Action shots from our mid-day walk, with a bit of freshly falling snow for atmoshphere.–  a Big Flap Hat in Rasta, from Malabrigo.  (Such lovely yarn!)  And a Hugs and Kisses Hat in Cascade 128 superwash.


A slightly better shot of the little hat, with the back of my husband’s Nansen I knitted a zillion years ago:


Now to my favorite time of winter, no fuss, no muss, no gardening, just reading and knitting and trying to stay warm.  Best wishes to all of you for 2015.




Stick a fork in it – the pompom, that is.

Yesterday was another Pompom Popup at the Yarnery.  It was a sell-out.  What could be more fun in the midst of crazy holiday frenzy than a room full of people who want to learn how to improve their pompom skills?  One non-knitter wanted to make her granddaughters some last minute stocking stuffers – pompoms for their ice skates.  I suggested she needed to track down some jingle bells for them as well.  All the cool girls had them.  (I didn’t.)  Everyone applauded and ooohed and ahhhed at each finished item.  And now the non-knitter decided she is ready for her first lesson, since knitters are such fun people.

pompom popup

Pompom pride!

Hard to imagine we could improve on last year, where I learned how to steam a pom pom.  This year, I managed to get to the mini pompoms made on a fork.

fork pompomsYou need either a four-tined fork, or one of those old two prong meat forks.  I didn’t bring that one to class.  It seemed a bit dangerous to put in my bag.

The photos above illustrate the process – it’s pretty simple.

  1. Wrap a bunch of yarn around the tines of a fork.
  2. Cut a piece of yarn to tie around the bundle.
  3. Cut the ends on either side of the fork.  Be careful not to cut the yarn tying it together.  (I demonstrated how not to do that in front of the class.  On purpose, of course.)
  4. Fluff and trim.  Steam if you so desire.  Warning – these are addictive.

Another student tip – if you are afraid your yarn is acrylic or blend you don’t want to steam, spritz it with some water and let it dry.

Here’s an idea for bigger pompom presents – a basket of indoor snowballs! (photo

indoor snowballs

Next year, I’m going to bring little jingle bells.

Knitting, Walking, and Memory

I’m sure most knitters/crafters have had this experience – you pick up your work and start knitting, and as you knit, you remember last night’s movie, or meeting, or conversation with friends. A bit of online searching turned up many scholarly research papers on topics such as “multisensory associative learning.” I don’t have the stamina to follow these up at the moment (or probably ever) but since what we learn enters our brain through sensory channels, such as sight or smell or touch, the ability to remember when that sense is stimulated makes, well, sense.

Last Sunday morning I picked up a sock, the second of a pair, and found that my careful grafting and weaving in of ends was time wasted. I had to pick it apart because it was shorter than its mate. I’m not all that fussy, but really, a pair of socks that will be a gift should be at least close to the same size. As I was putting the sock back on the needle, I had the familiar sensation of remembering the movie I was watching the night before. Now, of course, I can’t tell you what movie it was.  (The socks in question are the purple stripe.  This is the pile of Christmas socks finished to date.)

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Later that same day, I had a more surprising memory experience. I went for a walk into a wooded park area, not far from home. The winter my horse died I walked in there frequently. I needed more time in the woods, something riding had provided me. My foster horse now gets me into the woods, so I hadn’t been there much since then.  It was a grey, miserable afternoon, but I needed a walk break. As I stepped onto the lightly snow-covered path, Dickens came flooding back to me. (That winter when I walked that path often, I had been listening to an audiobook of Our Mutual Friend.)  All of a sudden, bobbing to the surface of my brain was the Golden Dustman, the River Thames, and especially a very funny scene where a semi-literate market stall owner is hired to read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire to the illiterate Golden Dustman.  Is walking also a pathway to memory?

winter walkrosehips

I think 19th Century giant novels like Dickens make satisfying audiobooks. Since they were often published in serial form, they work well as chapters picked up here and there, say when going for a walk on a cold, grey day. There is very little effort required to keep track of the goings on –

“But in the nineteenth century, breaking down the novel’s bulkiness into twenty snippets of entertainment allowed readers to “inhabit” a world, like a television soap opera, in manageable segments. Deprived of the luxury of installment reading, readers today find features of Dickens’s prose overbearing that would be much more appealing if read, especially read aloud, over a year and a half.”  Robert L. Patten

I don’t typically listen to modern novels as audiobooks. Somehow they don’t work for me. I just finished Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which really enjoyed, but can’t imagine it as an audiobook.

What do you listen to when knitting, or driving, or walking?