Monday, November 28, 2011

Virginia Cowl

I love it! I love everything about it. The fiber: cashmere. The source: reclaimed yarn from a favorite sweater belonging to my Mom. The pattern: a design original. The purpose: a birthday gift for my dear Mom on her 85th. Happy Birthday Mom!

The lace pattern is called Feather and Fan and is a lot easier to knit than it looks. The Virginia Cowl pattern is available as a free download here.

The Comforts of Home

I've really been enjoying the entries in the Wovember gallery, celebrating wool and all it's wooly comfort. This one by Chantelle Jelley hit the spot!

Her caption: “Ancient Comforts In a Time of Smartphones and Fast Food.”

Photo used with permission

She Said Yes!

We had the family up this past weekend for our Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a couple of firsts.

Hollin and Kim announced their engagement. We're thrilled and so happy for them!

And baby Evan joined us at the table.

Our family is growing. We are blessed that they all live close enough to get together and that everyone wants to spend time together! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Does Wool Come From

 Photo by Joe Snyder

The month of November is Wovember, celebrating that real wool comes from real sheep. You might want to check out Needled’s blog. The textile industry is advertising garments made from cotton and/or synthetics as ‘wool’ when there’s little or no wool in the garment. If you think this should be addressed, there’s a petition. Check out the gallery at Wovember too. Wow! The page took awhile to load, but was well worth it.

Autumn Gold

The autumn sunshine just keeps pouring down. Day after day of glorious, golden glow.

Love what it does to my neighbor's poplars about 3:30 every afternoon.

Live and Learn

I continued on with my lace swatching. I didn't like how small and tight it was on the size four needles the pattern recommended so I did another swatch on fives. I also read this great Lace 101 tutorial. That made all the difference in the world. Suddenly my lace was looking like something. You can teach yourself most things by trial and error but what I didn't know about reading a lace knitting chart was that the rows read right to left and then left to right.

Makes a bit of a difference in the outcome. =D

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

It's All One

Once morning chores were done and the fire was built, I sat down with the four-ply merino to knit a test swatch for a lace pattern.

Lace knitting is new to me so three rows into the chart it became clear that a magnet board might be useful. I think I have one around here somewhere.

Twenty-something years ago, when my sons were in grade school, I used to be an avid counted cross-stitcher. It was creative, colorful and portable. I never went anywhere without a cross stitch project. But as my sons got older, quilting gradually took over where cross stitch had been. Now where was that magnet board, it has to be here somewhere.

I went into the sewing room to look for the magnet board and saw all this quilting stuff - fabric, notions, books and patterns, quilts yet to be made. But I was looking for a tool from two hobbies ago, to use with my current love interest - and I wondered - is quilting going to go the way of counted cross stitch, displaced by knitting; why does that bother me? Because I have a *whole* lot of quilting supplies in that room! I found the board and returned to my knitting.

More than a little time later I had a 2 inch swatch of lace that worked up pretty good despite my lack of experience knitting from a chart. But really, it wasn't that different from following a counted cross stitch pattern, maybe I could knit lace after all. I'm glad I made a swatch though, turns out I didn't like the look of the pattern after all.

But I learned a lot.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Creative Juice

I'm still recovering from the dizziness and fatigue that I've had since early August. Some days are better than others, but I find sewing and quilting just aren't happening right now. I go into the sewing room and just stare at the current quilt in progress on the design wall, move a few things around, and leave. I love quilting, it's seen me through good times and bad for almost 30 years. Where's my creative juice?

I saw a physical therapist for a seemingly unrelated jaw problem, which got us talking about my neck injury two years ago. Come to find out neck and jaw problems can cause ear stuff and dizziness. He thinks he can help, which is more than the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist had to offer. I have new hope I'll recover sooner than later.
In the meantime, I found out you can BUY mojo. I'm gonna get me some!

More Reclaiming Yarn

Thrifting can be so satisfying sometimes.

I found this 100% Italian merino sweater for $1.00 at Salvation Army.

I use the power drill to wind a bobbin as I frog the ultra fine yarn.

These two are from the sleeve and a 1x1 rib cowl. The food scale I ordered from Amazon helps me estimate grams, and from there yards. These two weigh nearly the same.

I used a hand cranked ball winder to ply the two together. Now I'm ready to cast on. I'm beginning to think I'm really a spinner at heart!

Out Like a Whisper

Lila Roberts. August 1995 - October 2011
She came into our lives at a gallop.
She left us like a whisper.

I loved the way she would appear out of nowhere whenever I was stash diving in the sewing room. She would weave in and out against me as I sat on the floor in front of the fabric tubs pulling out colors and trying to decide. Thanks Kittygirl.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Local Harvest

A scene from our daily walk.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Casting On

I haven't found anyone that casts on for knitting the way I was taught many years ago in junior high. So when Kim asked if I could send a YouTube tutorial reminding her of the way I'd shown her, I decided to try and make my own. This is the left handed version of the method. :)

I searched YouTube's casting on videos and found the two needle method. Wow! that looks so easy. I should probably break down and learn another method because you don't have to estimate the length of your starting point with the two needle or long tail cast on. But for now, I still use this because it's what I know.

Gray Puma

Who's that huntress in the tree?

I don't think I've ever raised a cat that was such a climber. Spunky will dash across the yard, straight up the 6 foot fence and leap into the tree without missing a beat. I have come across her eating finches, so I guess occasionally she bags her game.

Family Visit

DS2 and his girlfriend came for a visit last week. It was in honor of my birthday in September. Don't you love it when birthdays last days or even weeks?

She brought a beautiful bouquet that was 360 in design. The fragrance filled the house for days.

She said she loved the knitting I was working on and had always wanted to learn. I pulled out a pair of needles and we gave it a whirl. She did really, really well - especially since I was showing her how to cast on left handed. She translated my actions and took to it like a natural.

Happy new knitter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What's Your Favorite Flavor?

My first effort at Kool-Aid dyeing was so much fun I wanted to try other colors. But I didn't have anymore reclaimed wool. That didn't stop me. ;) This is Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool.

I borrowed a niddy noddy from a spinning friend and found making skeins with it much easier than the lap board. I measured 50 yards for each color.

In the dye.

Almost all the dye has been absorbed.

Yum! The colors are so fun. I've been scouring the grocery stores for Blue Raspberry. I know it exists but so far, no luck.

Dyeing Comes On The Heels of Reclaiming

I am completely captivated by this new fiber adventure! By now I have several different sweaters at varying stages of being reclaimed. Once I reclaim the yarn, the possibilities seem almost endless. I joined the Unravelers forum and found the members friendly and so willing to make helpful suggestions. Such as, if I don't like the color of the reclaimed yarn I can over dye it. Well... dyeing seemed like a whole other craft, but Kool-Aid dyeing makes it sooo easy! And it doesn't cost a lot to experiment.

100% worsted wool

Approximately one packet of drink mix per ounce of yarn.

The yarn completely absorbs the food coloring in the drink mix. You know it's done when the water becomes clear.

Cherry. But I bet you guessed that.

More Reclaiming Yarn

I'm gradually getting better and am less dizzy, but I'm still not strong enough to go into the studio and work on quilts. So in the meantime I've been enjoying reclaiming yarn from thrift store sweaters. I reclaimed my first sweater last spring with this one because it was hand spun, 100% wool. But since that time I've found the Unravelers forum on Ravelry. Oh my, there are many knitters that are *seriously* into this. Reading the forum has taught me a lot and I now know you can find many fine quality sweaters to reclaim at thrift stores; merino, cashmere, silk, linen, alpapca, etc. Wow!

This is an Italian cotton that was a woman's large. I forgot to take a before picture. It was a challenge because it was machine knit with two strands running back and forth. Here I'm skeining the front to my lap board.

All skeined except this sleeve.

Once it's all unraveled I give it a wash with shampoo or a little dish soap. So many thrift stores treat their clothes with Febreze, the smell is just too much. I hang it with a weight to relax the 'yarn ramen', all the kinks from being knitted. I've estimated yardage from this sweater: 1275. Not bad for 4.00 a little effort. :)

One More DIY Yarn Winder

At first I thought I might be able to skein around the dasher in the ice cream maker, but when I tried it, I found the canister turns and the dasher stays still. Ahhh...

It unravels as it winds, which makes reclaiming the fine gauge yarn go that much faster. I do need to help it along sometimes if it sticks at the selvage edge. But if it breaks, I can split splice it easily, since it's 100% animal fiber.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


More than 25 years ago I remember attending a living history event that featured tools, activities and crafts of the last century. Several women sat and demonstrated picking a fleece, carding wool and spinning yarn. I was fascinated and kept coming back to their booth throughout the day to sit and watch. But I was already sewing quilts, collecting fabric and making plans. I remember walking away and telling myself, "You already have a major hobby. Stay focused, you don't want to divide your energy."

Recently I've been recovering from a viral inner ear infection. I'm passed the worst of the dizziness, ringing in the ears and lack of balance, but I still move slowly and need to take things easy. Knitting has become my pastime while I wait for my health and equilibrium to return. The feel of the yarn in my hands is so calming.

I've been reclaiming yarn to be reworked into something new. There are tools available for what I'm doing, but I'm still not driving much due to the dizziness, so I've been 'making do'. It's kind of fun to see what you can come up with when you have to. Today I wanted a way to ply four strands of yarn into something I can knit with comfortably.

It worked! It helps if the drill has variable speed and can stand on the table. Now instead of lace weight yarn I have a nice four ply. I wonder what my great, great grandmother would think?