Monday, August 30, 2010

One Of Those Days

When I woke up this morning, I didn't know what day of the week it was.  I was hoping it was still the weekend, but I was wrong.  Since apparently I'm going to have one of those days, I  offer . . . 


~ If you want to see some cute animal pictures, hop over to Juniper Moon Farm.  The goats have been sheared and baby chicks are hatching.  Susan provides updates on a regular basis - sometimes more than once a day.  And she blogs about other useful and sometimes random information.  Her blog is a good read.

~ This past Saturday was the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.  Patti Digh, author of Life Is a Verb, has compiled a list of her own dreams.  You can find the list on her blog.  I found her extensive list of dreams to be far reaching, thought provoking and empowering.  Now I feel compelled to write a list of my own dreams.

~ I've taken syncing my electronic devices to a new level.  As luck would have it everything is running low on power at the same time, but there is only one outlet available for charging.  The maze of extension cords is expanding.

~ If you're a fan of flamingoes, you might like this free pattern from Spud and Chloë.  While you're there, check out some of the other free patterns.  The cupcake pincushion is especially cute.

 ~ I'm fascinated with time-lapse photography.  Recently this clip from the the Minnesota State Fair came my way.  What I wouldn't give to move at that pace for just a day or two.

~ I always enjoy the colorful lawn ornaments on display at a farm we frequent.

They change direction with the breeze.

This one resembles one of our cats. 

See the cardinal in the basket?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Signs Of The Season

It's late August . . . the last chance to vacation before the fall frenzy. Everyone is away relaxing and recharging their batteries before the mad, crazy sprint to the end of the year.  Since I'm not vacationing, I feel like the kid who has to stay after school and clap erasers while everyone else is free to go and play.  But I'm making the most of my time.

The signs of fall are all around, some earlier this year than others. The leaves have been changing color for a while now.  I'm noticing lots of brown, dry leaves - the result of the parched summer we've had. There is evidence of back-to-school merchandise everywhere - even the grocery store.  The daylight is shifting, the temps are cooler. 

Before long it will be time to pull out the woolens.  Time to knit replacement mitts and socks.  Better do it now before the first chilly day dawns.  For pattern ideas be sure to check in with Anne Hanson at Knitspot.  She has plenty of patterns to choose from plus a new mitt under construction.

The acorns aren't falling just yet, but I came across these charming ones.  Click on the link - you won't be disappointed.

And pumpkin beer is available.

It's been on the shelves for a couple of weeks already.  So many varieties to choose from . . .

The produce at the farmers' market is changing - fewer tomatoes, more root vegetables.  We're savoring the last of our summer peach haul.

It's no surprise that my color inspiration for the week is . . .

. . . just peachy.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Knitting And Education

Recently I was in a discussion about knitting and education. How do we interest the next generation in knitting and fiber arts in general? Granted there's been a huge resurgence in fiber arts, and knitting has never been more popular.  But how do we maintain that interest?  How do we make sure that a century from now knitters don't go the way of the Shakers, reduced to just a handful who are more a curiosity than anything else?

I teach knitting and must say that my students represent a wide cross section - male, female, young and old.  If I did the numbers, I would say that most of my students are in their 20s and 30s.  I guess the real concern is how do we make sure that school age kids have an opportunity to experience the fiber arts.

I know a man in his late 70s who was taught to knit in public school. I'm curious if there were other schools at the time that taught knitting. I do know that in some countries knitting is part of the school curriculum.  

Over the years I've taught many children to knit.  All of my own kids know how to knit . . . not because I threatened them with a knitting needle but because of exposure.  Living in a house full of wool with a mother who knits every day, being dragged around to every sheep and wool festival in the region . . . you have to at least give it a try, right? But not everyone has a wool-obsessed mother.

One model that I'm aware of is the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center. This center offers a full range of fiber arts classes for both young and old.  In the summer they have a wonderful fiber arts camp for kids. With the budget cuts that most schools are facing, it's not likely they can add fiber arts to their curricula.  I know that many yarn stores offer knitting classes, but their mission isn't fiber arts education.  Fiber arts centers like this one seem like a good alternative to reach out to the next generation of fiber artists.  If you know of a similar center or some other model, leave a note in the comments.

I don't have much in the way of pictures.  I've been busy . . . 

. . . busy brewing new colors.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Fun

Sometimes my to-do list can be so long it's overwhelming.  Inertia settles in, and I can't make any progress.  Nothing gets crossed off the list.  Instead more things are added to the list.  And I get more and more bogged down.

Eventually something gives me a kick in the pants, and I start making progress on all that needs to be done.  I've found that one of the most effective motivators is a deadline.  With the end of summer fast approaching I'm coming up on deadline to accomplish everything that I had intended to do all summer long.

I've been crossing off items on my to-do list, plotting out my life for the fall and organizing my chaotic house.  While the house still isn't in order, I've always considered that a work in progress.  And then there are the fun things on the list.

Trip to the beach . . . done.

Multnomah was my companion at the beach.  I was able to knit a few rows.  It's an easy, relaxing knit - perfect for sun and sand.

Red Sox game at Fenway . . . done.

Of course I wanted to knit something red.  A red sock would have been ideal, but it wasn't in the cards.  Instead I went with this red scarf.  It will probably be donated to The Red Scarf Project.  

I caught a glimpse of the Canadian Mounties waiting during the first rain delay.

The Red Sox were playing Toronto, and the Mounties were on hand for the national anthems.

You can see the rain in this picture.  It was a chilly, almost raw day. After the second rain delay and a dry shirt I was still feeling damp around the edges.  I wrapped the scarf around my neck as I was knitting.  It helped keep out the chill.  With the two delays it was a long afternoon into the early evening.  But well worth it as the Sox won.

It's that time of summer when the peaches are ripe and ready.  We can't seem to get enough of them . . . pie, cobbler, sauce.  Eating them with yogurt or just plain by themselves.  One of our favorites is peach pie with ginger crumb top.

Peach pie . . . done.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Glorious Garter

Garter stitch is comfort knitting.  One stitch, one motion over and over.  Garter stitch is like listening to running water from a fountain - in the background yet ever-present, calm and peaceful.

The last couple of days I've had waiting time . . . time to fill with garter stitch.

Multnomah is coming right along.  The yarn is from Liz at MacKintosh Yarns.  This is Iona, colorway Midnight Rose - 80% sw merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon.  This tightly plied yarn makes for smooth, soft knitting.  I've moved into the border, away from the steady stream of garter.  While I'm sad to leave the comforts of garter, I'm anxious to watch the rest of the design unfold.

I've allowed myself to daydream.  Wishful thinking can be restorative on many levels.  At the top of my wish list is Lucy Neatby's Yukon Adventure Knitting.  What an amazing experience this would be!  The only problem I can see is that I probably wouldn't want to come home.

And here is my inspiration for the week.  For several days I drove around with a friend in the back of my truck.  Her work was tough and resilient, but eventually it tore.

A little bit of lace.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I've been making a concerted effort to clear up lingering projects. Finish them up or rip them out is my motto.  I had made considerable progress when I was derailed in my quest.

The other day I looked at the remaining pile of projects and pulled an almost finished sweater for my daughter.  All that was left was to finish the two sleeves under construction and put it together.  Piece of cake, right?  This project was a cinch until I started to look for the needle tips to complete the project.  The sleeves were on an interchangeable cable.  I had taken the needle tips for some other all-important project, but now when I needed them I could find only one of the tips.

I spent way too much time looking for the missing tip - searched through boxes, bags, baskets and bins.  And then something snapped. I lost all hope of finding the needle tip, and the momentum to finish up projects already underway was lost.  Instead of being industrious and picking up another unfinished project, I decided to start something new.

These socks had been hovering near the top of my list for some time.

The pattern is Sleepy Hollow Socks.  I'm intrigued with this design - heel flap with no gusset stitches to pick up.  I'll let you know how it goes when I get that far.

I had already started this new project before my little meltdown.

My obsession with shawlettes is still going strong.

This is Multnomah.  I had to rip out a couple of times - I blame it on the challenges of counting to 5.  I'm on track now and loving this pattern. This will be my traveling companion for the week.
I've been inspired by the story of Pennies in Protest . . . the dramatic impact that comes from turning negative energy and action into a positive outcome.  This is a powerful example of being the change you want to see in the world.  See the video clip here.  And for more information on the story and the mission, see Pennies in Protest.  It renews my faith in humanity.

I was gifted with this bag by a student and knitter friend.  It makes a nice addition to my collection.  My only fear is that one of my daughters will make off with it.

Whimsical and charming.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Color Selection

I spend a lot of time looking at, playing with and thinking about color. As a dyer I try to be all inclusive when it comes to color.  Even if a color doesn't grab me personally, someone else may really love it. Right?  And when it comes down to it, there really isn't a color that I don't like.

What intrigues me is how people, knitters in particular, make their color selections.  Do you choose colors because they are fun and exciting?  Do you choose certain colors because you wear them well? Or do you choose colors that somehow speak to you - even if those colors aren't complimentary for you to wear?

I guess it's always a balancing act.  We all have a comfort zone with colors.  But what pulls us out of that zone?  Maybe it's the fiber content and qualities of the yarn as much as the color.

Case in point.  I recently made a pair of socks for myself out of a light, pastel blue.  Normally I am not a pastel person, but I thought the yarn composition was a good match for the pattern.  And it was.  The socks are beautiful, and I'm sure I'll wear them a lot even though they are a powder blue.

Why do you choose the colors you do?  I don't have the answer, but it's something to think about as you make your color choices.

My sister recently treated us to these.

Lego candy.  I'm probably the last person on the planet to find out about these.  Over the years my kids have had thousands and thousands of Lego pieces.  I can't tell you how many times I have cried out in pain after stepping on Legos.  But these candy Legos brought a smile to my face.

And look . . .


. . . you can even stack them like the real thing.  Very clever.

A recent trip to the blueberry patch yielded buckets and buckets full. We picked close to 30 pounds.

Whenever we pick blueberries, I'm reminded of one of my favorite children's books, Blueberries For Sal.  The picking always starts out slowly . . . kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!  Before long we're on a roll, and the berries no longer make noise dropping into the bucket.

And that's not all we found in the blueberry patch.

Another inspiring color combination.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simple Things

My current knitting obsession is shawlettes . . . you know that cute, almost lacy, sometimes sexy accessory that's a bit more than a scarf, less than a full blown shawl and takes one skein of sock yarn. Oh, I still have a couple of socks going and a sweater that's growing so fast I think it must be on the equivalent of knitting steroids. Even with all that other knitting I'm still fixated on shawlettes.  I never leave home without one in my bag.  

Just a couple of short days ago I started this little number.

This is Simple Things Shawlette by Mary-Heather Cogar.  The yarn is Fleece Artist Sea Wool, color Mermaid.

As the name implies it is a simple thing - not completely mindless yet somehow comfort knitting.  Easy to pick up, easy to put down, almost always the same.

My personal challenge is to use the whole skein of yarn or as close as I can get.  I was successful this time around.

Before too long I found myself here.

I confess that I added a couple of extra rows to meet my challenge and then found myself without enough yarn to cast off.  Rather than take out the extra rows I decided to use a crochet cast off.  For those unfamiliar with this cast off, you can find good step-by-step instructions here.  I worked the last row with a bigger needle to ensure a loose cast off.

Mission accomplished.

Mostly stockinette with a few garter eyelet ridges.  Another shawlette for the "to be blocked" pile.  I can't stop . . . which shawlette should I start next?

I'll be the first to admit that I have a thing for coffee mugs.  This one came home with me last week from the farmers' market.

It's the work of Kate at Golden Egg Farm.  It's not on her website, but she also has yarn for sale at the farmers' market.  Eggs, pottery and yarn - what a well-rounded combination.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Colors Of The Rainbow

Recently I went on a dyeing spree.  I dyed close to three dozen shirts of various shapes and sizes.

All that white just begging for color.

I mixed the dye, spread out the newspaper and enlisted the help of the kids.

The first method we did was scrunch dyeing.  This method uses one color and produces a gradation of color on the fabric.

After adding the dye the shirt is kneaded like bread dough.  The fabric absorbs the dye in uneven, random fashion producing a color with lots of depth and dimension.

Next up was the classic tie-dye.

The shirt was twisted up and held in place with rubber bands.  We applied the first color with a squirt bottle.

When we got tired of the first color, we applied a second color.

Of course half the fun of this whole process is that we don't really know how it's going to turn out.  The shirts have to sit for 24 hours and get a thorough washing before we know what the finished product looks like.

The final method we used was good old-fashioned tub dyeing.  If I'm dyeing a large quantity of shirts with this method, I'll use the washing machine.  For smaller batches I use a bucket.

The result of this method is even, uniform color throughout.

After all the squirting, stirring, waiting, washing and rinsing . . . 

. . . it's time to dry.

Fresh colors . . . 

. . . blowing in the breeze.

A kaleidoscope of color.

We all had fun mixing and matching colors.  If we hadn't run out of shirts, I think we would have kept on dyeing.

And here is my color inspiration for the week.

Gingered plum sauce.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

New Beginnings

Welcome to my new home.  Setting up this blog has reminded me of moving.  Over the years I've moved my family more than a few times. As part of our moving ritual we perform a smudging ceremony in our hew home to cleanse the space we are about to inhabit.  Smudging is a Native American practice used to remove negative energy and spirits from a space.

And so it is with this new blog.  After performing a smudging ceremony I am ready to inhabit this new blog space with positive, creative energy.  Here I will chronicle my adventures with dyeing, knitting, color and more.  I'm sure other things will happen along the way - life is funny like that.

A special thanks to Dye Dreams blog readers for stopping by.  Stay tuned - the adventure continues.