Sunday, November 30, 2008

who what where?

Somebody's triangle loom shawl fit in nicely over her cape at Old Sturbridge Village on Thanksgiving day.

Somebody was fiddling with her camera and snapped an accidental shot that illustrates why it's good to be a knitter in New England in the winter. (gloves here, sweater here, scarf here)

Somebody's weaving sampler is being used as a window scarf/valance.

And somebody turned 14!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

swirls hat 2

Ever since Leah's first stranded colorwork back in 2/07, she's been enjoying 2-color knitting, but lately she's nuts about doing colorwork. She was so happy with the way her first swirls hat turned out, but it was out the door as a friend's birthday gift so fast that she decided to make another one right away. She chose another skein of Noro and plucked a skein of purple wool from the yarn tag sale bonanza stash, and a few days later...
Again she went with the happy accident bucket hat style that happened on the first go-round. We both love this one every bit as much as the first. There are two more skeins of Noro in the stash and I have a feeling it won't be long until she has a third hat on the needles. Seeing how the contrasting color yarn works up with the Noro colorways is So. Much. Fun!
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Friday, November 21, 2008

a path less traveled

This morning I was reading the blog of a new knitter who is having trouble with a new project and is, understandably, frustrated. All I could do was smile and commiserate. Let's take a look at my current works in progress, shall we?

1. Brown sweater for Jesse: Yoke and saddle shoulders torn out. Slowly moving forward again, but ready for this project to be off the needles, since it was thiiis close a couple of weeks ago and had to take a major step backward.
2. Navy alpaca neckwarmer: Not enough yarn to finish it and I'll be damned if I'm going to buy yet another skein when there's so much here already. Need to either modify the design or abandon entirely. And plan better in the future.
3. Burgundy lacy cowl: A little too snug around the neck, maybe? Pattern requires some concentration. Not a take-along. And exactly how many of these neckwarmer thingies do I need, anyway?!
4. Mittens for Leah: Stalled because I'm trying to focus on the other projects and can only do this pattern when able to count and concentrate.

So, as of last night, a bump in all roads currently being traveled. Full stop.

Consulted no maps. Did not stop to ask for directions. Changed course in the most random possible way.

Dug out the glass scraps and made little xmas trees with Jesse! They're amateur as can be and we were bumbling idiots in the process, laughing at ourselves every step of the way, but I love them beyond reason.
(The swirl on the blue one is a soldered-over squiggle from Fiber-Craft Day workshop with Leslie Wind.) Aren't they fumbly bumbly fun?! Gotta start somewhere.

Then on to a warm spot near the wood stove, curious to see just how fine this newbie spinner can spin. Two oz. of merino-tencel blend from the stash and, ooh, that's pretty!
Knitting problems? What knitting problems?!
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

this old house

Contrary to the way it might seem when viewed through this blog, our lives are not entirely filled with fiber- and glass-related activities. 

Sometimes we also play with wood.
(Scungy, raggedy old doorway on world's ugliest porch, before.)

(Rehabbed door, scavenged pretty doorknob, new clapboards and trim. Ahh.)

And sometimes we play with hot, bendy metal. Well, Jesse does.

But there's usually a little fibery fun going on somewhere 'round here too. :-)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

deja vu

Leah started weaving the triangles for this wrap about a year ago. 

She had only three pieces done on her triangle loom at the time and wanted to wear it for her character in a play she was in, so we kind of cobbled together an oddly shaped shawl then. She was in another little play last weekend and her character again was someone who could wear a shawl, so she dug out another ball of Scott's handspun yarn and wove a fourth segment on her triangle loom last week. We took apart the old one and put together the four triangles for a 6-ft. wingspan shawl that softened and bloomed beautifully upon fulling and blocking. Worn with the spiral shawl pin rec'd as a gift from our friend Leslie Wind a couple of years ago, it was perfect for her character on stage and apparently also perfect for her character off stage, as I noticed she wore it for a little extra warmth while reading a book yesterday afternoon.

Here I'd like to introduce you to my newest favorite knitting tool. 

Yes, it's a wood stove. How does it have anything to do with knitting? Well, see, its dry heat made it possible for us to block something overnight. Helpful, since there was a deadline for the project and we were cutting it close! And how does it have anything to do with the deja vu title of this blog post? That would be because it was installed in a new location in our house recently, but it was actually here when we first moved in. We removed it many years ago and passed it to a neighbor. The neighbor never got around to installing it and we decided this summer that we'd like to have a wood stove again. Neighbor (who is rarely home and had admitted that he would likely never get around to installing it) happily helped us move it back over here. Scott slowly but surely figured out how to install it properly and safely, so now we have a nice heat source and a convenient addition to our blocking processes!

The last deja vu of this post is a picture you saw only a few days ago.

Leah decided at the last minute that she wanted to knit another cashmere neckwarmer, since we had a second skein in the stash (purchased just in case we needed a little extra yarn for the first neckwarmer), this time for the director of her play, who is always cold. She set to work on it late Fri. afternoon and cast off by bedtime. It blocked overnight near the warmth of the wood stove. Buttons were sewn on Saturday afternoon and it was in the recipient's hands by Saturday evening! Same yarn, same stitch pattern, similar mother of pearl buttons, but we didn't snap a pic of the second one before it was wrapped and out the door.

Wait till you see the hat she's working on. I think she's on the crown decreases now, so pics soon. It's a winner!
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Sunday, November 16, 2008


Stash goodies rec'd in exchange for some glass buttons.
Cute dress my mom knit for coworker's daughter. Tiny knit bunny in the pocket!
Sweet hat to use up leftovers from the hat, also made by my mom.

This would be the same mom who told me almost two years ago that she's only a seasonal knitter (meaning occasionally), but has had a project in progress fairly continually since then. Yeah, right, mom. Whatever. You know you're hooked and you love it. Resistance is futile. :-)

Unused doorknobs and plates snagged from my Gram's basement when she was getting ready to move to an apartment, shown before polishing and after, in prep for installation on our spiffed up back door.
I thought they were pretty enough in their tarnished state, but what an awesome degrungification transformation!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


Hmm. The munchkin has been indulging in the high end fibers lately and she likes them. A lot.

First there was the cabled neckwarmer she made out of a silk blend.

Then a Noro and alpaca hat that was expected to be a tam, but didn't turn out that way, but we like it this way better anyway.

Then she plowed right on into the big time -- 100% cashmere. There's no turning back now!

Luckily, between the kindness of assorted knitterly folks, and her income from selling the neckwarmers she makes from her own designs, and the bartering power of some pretty buttons and silly stitch markers, and our enthusiasm for repurposing yarns, her taste for the good stuff doesn't break the bank.

Total cost to us for the above three projects? $8.

Entertainment/social/experiential value? Priceless.


Whew! I think I'm caught up with the FO parade now. Good thing too, since there's something blocking at this moment and an excellent knitting road trip on the calendar for later today. 
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When we were headed for x-rays of Leah's foot a while back, I knew there was a potential for some wait time, so I quickly grabbed a small ball of leftover handspun and a ball of mystery gray wool leftover from who knows what. I also printed the free pattern for Brooklyn Tweed's Turn A Square hat.
Upon casting on in the waiting room, I realized that my yarn was significantly thicker than the pattern calls for, so I cast on 68 stitches, I think, instead of the suggested number, and went from there. I may also have been using a different needle size, but I don't remember now. Just winged it, knowing it would fit someone, somewhere. Sho' 'nuf!
Another day, when in need of a quick and simple project, I printed out the free pattern for this cute baby sheep hat.

I grabbed 4-5 small balls of leftover sock yarns in greenish colorways, a little leftover natural alpaca, and a bit of the Blue Note colorway from The Painted Sheep. I used three sock yarns at a time, adding in a different ball whenever I ran out of one of the strands. The ivory alpaca was knit 2 strands at once and the blue is a worsted weight, so 1 strand at a time for that one. The black (2 strands Dalegarn Baby Ull) is duplicate stitched in afterwards and the whole thing is thick and squishy. It's toddler-sized and the sheep are fuzzy soft. Adorable, I think!

Again I have to cheer for knitting -- flexible enough to go anywhere, fit into moments of free time, and make useful items from little bits of leftover supplies!
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the gimpster knitter

When last we saw our Intrepid Young Knitter, she had a newly diagnosed avulsion fracture of her left foot. A visit to the orthopedist provided her with a whole new level of stylish footwear.

And how does any serious knitter respond when advised to keep her foot up and rest? "Woo Hoo! More knitting time!"

Like a happy cat in a warm sunbeam, she settled into a comfortable chair with an ipod full o' fantastic podcasts, some semi-solid Araucania yarn, and her cable needle necklace received as a gift from our friend, Leslie Wind. It's pretty enough to wear as a necklace and convenient to use because it's always right there, hanging from its cord.

The cable-crazed kid combined some cables and garter stitch with a funky button from Dad's button stash to come up with one of her newest neckwarmers. The gimpster's on a roll...more to come.
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Singles spun by Jesse, age 13

1 ply handpainted BFL from The Painted Sheep, 1 ply angora/merino blend from Woolybuns

Plied by the mom

Skein wet finished

Soft and fuzzy and barberpole stripey!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the secret handshake

Yesterday afternoon, I headed to Mass. to meet up with someone. I knew she had some sort of interest in the fiber arts, but I didn't know details or extent. I walked into her house and our very pleasant conversation began. Since there is no official secret handshake for fiber freaks to exchange upon meeting, we both pretended to be normal ;-) and talked about our dogs at first, since hers looked like a miniature version of mine and that was a natural starting point.

After a while, I noticed a spinning wheel in the hallway.

And circular knitting needles on an end table. And a big quilt hanging on the wall.

And then she showed me her loom room...and the wall of yarn...and the bead spinner.

While she showed me something in the basement, I noticed an inkle loom off to the side.

Back on the first floor, I noticed two cones of thread/yarn on the kitchen counter.

Then she revealed that the large, many-drawered cabinet in the foyer is where all her beads are stashed and she showed me a gorgeous jacket made from her handwoven fabric.

Once we got going, we couldn't stop. We chatted. We bopped around her house. She's not knitting much anymore, so she asked if she could send me home with a box of leftover yarn for Leah's stash:
Yeah, that's about 20 skeins of Dalegarn Heilo, five skeins of a black and gold silk/mohair blend, two huge skeins of bulky hand-dyed yarn, some handspun wool, about 10 skeins of a rayon/cotton blend, a bunch of odd skeins, a cone of laceweight natural wool, a few big cones of chenille, and more. Just because. From someone I had known for less than an hour. Wow! No secret handshake necessary when enthusiasm and generosity are as obvious as they consistently are among fiberfolks.


Coming up soon: A parade of FOs. Just waiting for the knitter of a good many of the items to come home from her third sleepover in four nights, so she can model her most recent projects (and squeal upon sight of this pile on my desk)!
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Friday, November 07, 2008

so close and yet so far

It's tough being the knitting mom of a big guy.

See, Jesse's only 13 years old, but he's over six feet tall. I knit inches longer on the body and sleeves than suggested on the Durrow pattern that I'm vaguely following and it's still not enough. I added something like 3 inches to the sleeve before starting the decreases and saddle shoulder shaping, and it's still ending up only reaching halfway across his shoulder, with a way too wide neckline. :::sigh:::

Others on Ravelry noted similar problems with the neckline being too wide. I now remember reading some of those comments way back when I was considering making this sweater, but forgot about it somewhere along the way. I've come too far on this giant sweater knit on size 4 needles to cheese it up now, so last night I bit the bullet. Disconnected the sleeve and ripped all (front, back, both sleeves) back to armpit level. Will add even more inches to all, then try the shoulders and neck shaping again with Eliz. Zimmermann's seamless saddle shoulder construction.

i love this boy i love this boy he's a pain in the neck sometimes but i love this boy. :-)
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Monday, November 03, 2008


A long time ago, I saw pictures of a technique called Viking knitting. It's also called trichinopoly. It's pretty. It's been in the back of my mind for years, one of those things I was planning to figure out someday.

Saturday was someday. I was thinking about signing up for a Viking knitting class at a local community college, but decided I could probably figure it out without a class. I found a few excellent online tutorials and was further motivated by some Viking knit Etsy offerings. When I realized I already had all the basic supplies here -- not optimal supplies, but good enough to give it a try -- I couldn't resist.

Basically, you use some waste wire to get things set up. Then you make twisted knit stitches with wire, "stitching" around a dowel or pencil.
When you've gone far enough, you take the thingamabob off the dowel and pull it through a draw plate, which is nothing more than a piece of wood with holes of various sizes, starting with a hole on the bigger end of the spectrum and gradually moving through smaller holes. This elongates your work, evens out your stitches, and work hardens the metal so it's stable but pliable.
I'm sure anyone with experience in this is cringeing at my newbie stitches with too fine wire, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. So then I dug around and tried the same thing with some much thicker bronze wire that Leslie Wind gave to us in Mass. a few weeks ago.

Each little bit approximately doubles in length when you pull it through the draw plate holes. I like the idea that I don't need to do a full bracelet/necklace length to use this stuff, but can use segments of it with large-holed slider beads on them. Hmmm...beads...I wonder if I can find a few of those around here... :-)
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