Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Beads for my sister.
Green beads, along with turquoise and blue ones not seen here,
made by Scott and six novice beadmakers, including
my mom, brother-in-law, nephew, 
and the four members of my family.

Neckwarmer for my mom.
Spun by Jesse,
plied by me,
knit by Leah,
floral buttons made by Scott.

Even Hawkeye's in on the knitting fun.

Back to sewing on Sylvi's petals.
Fastest sweater-coat EVAH!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

with a little effort

It's been a while since Leah did any spinning, so when she sat down recently to spin yarns for an intended xmas gift, she was a bit rusty. Thick and thin chunky yarn, not what she was aiming for but still perfectly usable. This skein includes some C*eye*ber Fiber BFL Leah received as a gift from our favorite LYS, Creative Fibers, and also some angora. And some plying by a friend.

By the second skein, she was getting back into the swing of things, putting more twist in, drafting better. This skein includes angora rec'd as a gift from Chris at Woolybuns when Leah wrote an article about angora rabbits for Spindlicity a couple of years ago, and also some llama down received as a gift from Lars and Gayle at West Mountain Farm.

And by the third skein, big improvement! This is alpaca that Leah received as thanks for being a spinning demonstrator at Burgis Brook Alpacas' open house last year.
All three skeins were given to a friend yesterday. On the way home from a knit night with friends, which followed a knitting afternoon at a local NICU with a friend and her wee preemie, Leah told me she already started spinning something else. She raided the fiber stash and chose a beautiful pound of roving that we got at the Fiber Twist this fall. She says spinning is the perfect thing to do while listening to Louisa May Alcott books on her iPod, courtesy of Librivox.

I, meanwhile, am enjoying a lull in the workload, happily knitting along on Sylvi. I'm almost to the halfway point on the back and expect to finish the second sleeve today. Not bad for only being a week into this project! The flowers will be added as surface decoration later. I'm up to the 2nd flower, the one toward the right at hip level. I'm using the mindless sleeves as social knitting and working on the back when I can concentrate on the chart.

Xmas-induced vagueness alert: Yesterday, I again experienced the wild and wonderful generosity of fiber fanatics. This time, I met up with someone for one thing and left with significantly more than expected, because yarny people are just nice like that. :-)

Y'know what I did on Sunday? All of the past year's knitting projects that didn't have a specific destination were placed into a box and offered for anyone who wanted them at the xmas festivities with Scott's side of the family. There were stranded mittens, a lace wrap, two pairs of socks, a few scarves, and a bunch of neckwarmers. What fun to see the ensuing feeding frenzy! Such a great feeling to see many of those things adopted by people who love them and will put them to good use!
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Monday, December 22, 2008

if at first you don't succeed

On the first try, this stitch pattern wasn't quite working out for Leah. We tore that attempt back and I tried the rows along with her. We found out that she was twisting the lifted stitch when she put the bead on it. Once we kept it straight, the rest was smooth sailing!

Faberge Neckwarmer
Araucania Nature Wool
Peacock iridescent seed beads
Glass buttons made by Scott
Leah's gift to her Grammy
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

winter wear

Snow on Friday

means shoveling on Saturday morning in new mittens

and 1.5 sleeves and 7" of the back of Sylvi finished by Saturday evening.
I hurt my left shoulder while shoveling, so that's putting a crimp in my style. Luckily, it doesn't hurt to knit. :-)

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Thursday, December 18, 2008


Flutter scarf by Miriam Felton,
a pattern I could not have enjoyed more and plan to knit again

knit in Classic Elite's Alpaca Sox yarn,
mostly while we were at Cape Cod in August

sent off to my awesome Gram as a big warm hug all winter long!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

FO: edelweiss mittens

It all started back when my Gram gave me a bag of wool that's been marinating in her cedar chest for years. Then it came here and marinated for a while longer. Then we dyed some of it with Kool-Aid.
When Rosie's Yarn Cellar blogged about a new free pattern for Edelweiss mittens, I grabbed three colors and cast on the same day. Yes, it was nearly July, but I wanted to start mittens that very day! The pattern is well written but took some concentration, so I only worked on them when the time was right.

They have wonderfully long cuffs, each mitten measuring something like 17 inches in length (knit on size 1 needles), a perfectly welcome feature when those winter winds coming whipping. I've been adding a few inches of twisted cord on the end of each mitten/glove I make, so they can be tied into a pair when they go into our winter wear box, or can be tied together through a buttonhole on a coat so they don't get lost. I think the only modification I made on purpose was to stop short so they're a little more rounded at the tips.
Notice how I said the above modification was on purpose? That's because I also made an unintentional modification, a single cream colored stitch where one absolutely does not belong. At first, I couldn't believe I made such a mistake and didn't notice it for many rows. I planned to eventually snip it, pick it out, and replace with a stitch the correct color, but I didn't. You can see it in the pic above, in the right hand mitten (that's tilted w/ top to the left), a single cream stitch in between the two cream-colored motif centers. No doubt about it: Made by hand, boo-boos and all, and that's okay with me.
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how to make a knitter squeal

Just send a link to an album of recent family photos and let the knitter spot one of her projects being put to good (and long-term) use!

Seriously, I am such a dork that I actually squealed while browsing the pics sent by one of my high school friends, in which her adorable and festively adorned daughter was sporting a hat I knit almost two years ago. It's getting a little bit on the small side now, but I know it's gotten good wear because I saw another pic of her wearing it about a year ago.

Nothing more satisfying to someone living a handmade life.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

in between the secret stuff

We have a supercool xmas gift in progress around here, but I can't talk about that. And there are a bunch of things recently finished, but I can't talk about them either. And a few things that aren't gifts, but I don't have pics, so I can't really talk about them. And beads/stitch markers galore coming out of the glass studio, but they haven't gone through their Etsy process yet, so no point in saying much about them. Let's just say we always make a lot of things around here, but lately we're making stuff in overdrive!

Until I can spill the beans, here are some projects I can share. First is a tippet Leah knit for herself. One of the costumed interpreters at Old Sturbridge Village was knitting a wedge for one this summer, told Leah the recipe, and the girl set out to make her own. She plans to someday add a knitted or crocheted decorative edge, but for now, it serves its purpose when she wants just a bit more warmth or fancies herself transported in time to the 1840s...

Where she just might be invited to join in a social dance with live music, in the parsonage barn at Old Sturbridge Village. Yet another wonderful evening spent there for Christmas By Candlelight last weekend. Full moon, roaring bonfire, horse-drawn carriage ride, holiday music performed by a Celtic group, mulled cider...peaceful and beautiful and festive. Ahhh. Noticing that the four members of my family were wearing a total of something like a dozen handknit items to keep us cozy on that chilly night certainly warmed this knitter's heart.
When the kids both had friends over a couple of weeks ago, Leah's pal was wearing legwarmers. Next thing I know, a certain somebody's digging around in our yarn, pulls out a bunch of leftovers, and sets to work making this stripey cheerful set. Destined for one of her friends who doesn't read this blog. :-)
My work is finally at a mellow pace again and I'm enjoying the breather immensely. Scott requested a simple pair of mittens, so I've taken to working on them while doing online reading, waiting for files to download, being on hold on the phone, etc. I'm practicing my knitting-without-looking, definitely getting more comfortable with that, and astounded to have nearly finished a pair of mittens over the past few days, mostly knit during those little wait times.
I have some Viking knitting to show you too. Did some at craft night last week and one of my friends gave it at try at craft night yesterday, with equal enthusiasm about the results.

I'm also expecting to finish the first Sylvi sleeve while we're out with knitting friends (a mom and her two knitting daughters) and aquaintances this evening.

Oh, and Edelweiss mittens, complete!

Yes, yes, yes, Makestuff Overdrive, happily so! More to come, for sure.
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Sunday, December 14, 2008


In May, I started a sweater for Jesse, based on the Durrow design. I used mystery wool, 4 cones obtained for a grand total of $8 at a weaving group's yarn tag sale in the spring. (They're the four brown cones to the left of the red skeins in the first pic of this post.) I knitted 2 strands at a time because the yarn is fairly thin, but thank heavens I washed and blocked my swatch, as it bloomed tremendously with a good washing -- softened, fluffed up, changed from rough to wonderful. The yarn might appear to be a solid brown in these pictures, but there are tweedy flecks of red and green mixed in there too. Jesse wasn't too fond of the cable in the original Durrow, so we switched to the Genesis Hall cable pattern chosen from Vogue's cable Stitchionary and I knit all in the round.
Made the sleeves and body longer than called for in the pattern, to accommodate Jesse's height, and added some short rows so the back wouldn't ride up. I had never done a saddle shoulder before and the instructions as written didn't work out for his build. After tearing back to underarms, I added even more inches to the body and sleeves, then subbed in Elizabeth Zimmermann's saddle shoulder guidelines, which worked beautifully. I just love how the cables carry up the arms and across the shoulders. Believe it or not, I didn't tap into the 3rd and 4th cones of yarn until well into the yoke/saddle shoulder -- AMAZING how much yarn is wound onto those cones.
After a couple of good soaks in hot water and detergent, a spin-out of the excess water in the washing machine, and a few good thwacks to fluff up that yarn, we had a finished sweater met with greath enthusiasm on all sides. Jesse was perfectly cozy in it, combined with his beloved Habitat hat, for our Christmas tree hunt yesterday.

In the end, the only bit of the original Durrow pattern that remained is the 4x2 ribbing that makes up the body and non-cabled portion of the sleeves. :-) So a dash of Durrow mixed with a hefty scoop of personal tweaks and a heaping helping of Eliz. Zimmermann's guidance, simmered for a few months with lots of other projects mixed in, resulted in one very pleased young man and a mom who was happy to oblige.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

hold that thought

Sorry, can't come to the blog right now. Swatching for Sylvi.

How do we love the stash? Let us count the ways!

Best yarn candidate: the 5 cones of heathery blue/purple in the top right of this pic.

Santa Baaas is on its way to the Rabid Crafter!
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Monday, December 08, 2008

growing pains

Leah is a fairly adventurous knitter, often just trying things on her own and seeing what happens. She recently saw the Faberge neckwarmer pattern and was curious about the stitch pattern and learning how to place beads onto knitting with a crochet hook. I've never done either of those things and was busy finishing up Jesse's sweater(!), so she toodled off on her own to give it a try.

Close, but not quite right, so we'll aim to sit down later today, rip back, and see if we can figure it out together. I'm not sure if the stitch repeat is being done wrong or the beads aren't the right size, or a combination of the two, but I know we'll both learn something along the way. And it's nice to know we can always put a call out to the blogosphere, Ravelry, the knitters we'll be with tonight, and/or the designer of this neckwarmer if we need a hand!
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

early morning

After a raucous evening of sleepover fun, including karaoke, baking, games, face painting, hair-doing, and who knows what else (but I suspect not very much sleep), this is how Leah and a friend spent some quiet time early this morning.

Leah had spun the singles in the past couple of days and plying was the perfect thing for her friend to try, having never used a spinning wheel before. Nice teamwork, nice yarn!
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Friday, December 05, 2008

elsewhere in the elves' workshop

Well, there are still Mysterious Goings On in the secret workshop of a certain little elf, so we'll just have to find blog fodder elsewhere 'round here. Luckily, that's really not very difficult. :-)

First up, by popular request, a couple of Santa Baaas helpers on Etsy. (See? They have to be helpers, since the *real* Santa Baaas is being given away below.) Gosh, those little fellows are mighty cute.
Next, a wavy feathers wimple/cowl I made out of leftover Silky Tweed. It seemed too small when I was knitting it, but it blocked out to be just right.
Can't see the stitch pattern very well in that pic, so here's another to show off the lacy waves. Leah also likes to fold it in half and wear it as a headband/earwarmer. Think we have enough of this sort of thing yet? Um, no.
Last, a few more of the big-holed beads, on request from my sister. There are other beads that I'm not showing because we need to keep some surprises for when Brenda opens her gift on Christmas morning, but we'll hand this set over to her soon so she can wear it over the next few weeks.
With any luck, I'll have a pic of Jesse modeling his newly finished sweater by the end of this weekend!
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Thursday, December 04, 2008


This blogging in December thing has its challenges. Soooo many things can't be shown quite yet. Here, though, is something with no particular destination, except possibly around my neck.
This is the Ilean neckwarmer stitch pattern, done in Misti Alpaca, but I didn't have enough yarn to do the whole thing and prefer neckwarmers that button around my neck (instead of cowls that pull over my head), so the pattern's actually been morphed quite a bit. Supremely easy stitch pattern, perfect for social knitting situations. I added three of Scott's buttons and have so far come up with at least three ways of buttoning it through the countless holes for different wearing styles. I'm not sure if it shows in the pic (since I can't figure out if this pic is overexposed or underexposed -- curse those dark wintery afternoons), but the purply/blue misty swirls in the glass beads coordinate beautifully with the navy blue yarn w/ finest hints of purple blended in. Best of all? Alpaca. 'Nuf said.

Donna at Knit1Spin2 sent out some kind words about Leah's projects, which certainly put a smile on her face this morning. Funny, though, that nobody's seen much of what she's doing lately. She is clearly in elf mode, holed up in her room with gifts-in-progress, only emerging to rummage around in the yarn/fabric/thread stash and then smugly close her bedroom door behind her again. She's working on legwarmers for herself, inspired by the legwarmers of a friend who visited here last weekend. Those she'll knit in public and among family members, but everything else is hush-hush.

Well, almost everything. I did notice some predrafted BFL and angora/merino spread out on a table this morning. The angora blend was a gift from Chris at Woolybuns when Leah interviewed her for a Spindlicity article way back when, and the pinky-purply BFL was a gift from our fab-o LYS, Creative Fibers, as thanks for spontaneously helping some customers while there. Hmmm...busy little elf!
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Oh, I can't help myself. There will be spacing doodads and crystals and silver still to come, but...
Aren't they beautiful?!

Yay, beadmakerbaker!

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don't be a grump

I saw a cool picture on Ravelry yesterday morning, posted by someone in Australia, showing how the moon, Jupiter, and Venus are aligned right now in such a way that it makes a smiley face. When Leah and I were heading out yesterday evening, we noticed that, from here, it's an upside down grumpy face!
What's a sure fire way to turn that frown upside down? Craft night!

After a steady stream of celebrations and visits with friends this past long holiday weekend, it was nice to wind down with some friends and their works-in-progress last night. I am *finally* moving forward on the saddle shoulders of Jesse's Durrow-like sweater again, using EZ's saddle shoulder construction guidelines. It's slow going and bulky to maneuver, but I am again psyched to see how it'll turn out.

Thanks for all the comments so far on the santa sheep giveaway and your Christmas traditions. Such fun to read!

p.s. ohmigosh, you guys, wait till you see the beads Scott made this morning. GORGEOUS! Pics soon!
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