Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Update

This has been a week for dyeing.  Every day there's something new and exciting coming out of the pots.  Mid-week we had unseasonably humid weather that slowed the drying process.  It's crunch time for an upcoming event, and I have a schedule to keep.  There's no time for a lag in production.

Here's a sample of what's been brewing.  This one reminds me of berries mashed and mixed together.

Reminiscent of the summer gone by.

And a cheery blue.

Subtle variation with hints of green.

On the needles . . . I'm finishing the garter border of Yvaine. Mindless, comfort knitting is good at a time when everything else requires more focus and attention.  Out of necessity I started a new pair of fingerless mitts.  The cold, early mornings have been too much for my hands. Crazy as it seems I have been unable to locate one pair of mitts for myself in this house filled with wool, so the only option was to make a new pair.

I considered several patterns but time was a-wasting.  In the end I settled for an old standby that fits well, knits up quickly and is practical.

This is the beginning of a pair of Maine Morning Mitts by Clara Parkes. The yarn is Bartlettyarns worsted weight, colorway dark heather.  This hard wearing yarn with colorful flecks is produced locally here in New England.  These mitts are a great one skein project.  Note to self - it wouldn't hurt to have more than one pair.

Our neighborhood is gearing up for the festivities this weekend, my own yard included.

There's talk of adding lighting.  Every year our display gets more elaborate.

While I'm on the subject of spooky, take a look at this creation.  I am in awe of the detail - bones, vertebrae and even teeth.

Welcome to those who popped over from Knitspot.  If you have questions about yarn or anything else, you can contact me by following the profile link at the bottom of the right sidebar.

My color inspiration for the week comes from the neighbor's yard. There was a bold, dazzling display of color that lasted for a day or two. And then it was gone.

A reminder of how fleeting the season is.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I don't have Pogona out of my system.  I'm smitten with the way it wears and would love to have it in a couple of colors but am resisting the urge to cast on another one.  I'm feeling weak in the resistance department so will see how long I can hold out.  There's a beautiful gray I took out of the dye pot yesterday . . . 

Instead I've picked up Yvaine, the cozy shawlette I ditched for Pogona.

Yvaine is a trusty traveling companion, pictured here on the road. Forgive the poor lighting and somewhat off colors.  

This design is really what I need right now.  I'm gearing up for another event, and life is a bit more chaotic.  Yvaine is  straight ahead, cruise control knitting; the yarn, Bertha, is a dream to work with.  What more could I ask for?  I've modified the pattern with one more stockinette/seed stitch section. After that it's all garter to the finish line.  Full steam ahead.

I love DPNs.  I love gnomes.  Imagine my delight when I came across these.  Go ahead and take a look.  Be sure to watch the charming video clip.  While I want some gnomes in the worst way, I'll have to satisfy myself with buying the pattern for now.

And in the kitchen . . . I'm always on the look out for new and interesting recipes.  I don't like complaints about boring food, so I'm excited when I find something that looks like it will go over well.  Some recipes make the cut, some don't.

My latest find - sweet potato biscuits.  I love them.  I love them so much that I don't care if anyone else likes them.

They are perfect for the season with a taste that is not too strong, not too bland.  This recipe is a keeper.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pogona Perfection

Last week I was mesmerized with Pogona (Ravelry link).  The magic lasted through the weekend.  Before I knew it, Pogona was off the needles - a limp, lifeless heap in my lap.

Without wasting a moment I gave it a bath and put it on the wires.

Time to dry.

Over the years I've used different methods for blocking.  For a long time I loved using all pins.  I think it reminded me of a past life when I had time for sewing.  Then I used a combination of pins and thin, smooth yarn as a guide.

Lately my preference is blocking wires.  They work especially well with a piece like Pogona that has straight lines and a geometric look.

Pogona has side-by-side panels of knit and purl.

The perfect combination for contrast and texture.

By the end of the day Pogona was dry and ready for wear.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lillian, colorway Gourd.  Lillian is 100% Superwash Merino, 100g / 400yd.  Lillian is firmly plied creating a yarn with spring and bounce.  You may remember seeing this same colorway in Paula.  I liked it so much I had to repeat it.

Pogona is a delightful pattern to work.  It was my traveling companion for a week and was easy to pick up and put down.  And yes, I could talk and work on it at the same time.  

I can't say enough good things about the finished product.  Pogona has wonderful drape and can be worn several ways.  The design is practical yet elegant.  With the geometric shaping it stays in place. There's no need to constantly rearrange it.   I will definitely make Pogona again.

This past weekend was the annual Head Of The Charles Regatta.  It's the world's largest two day rowing event and attracts people from all over the world.  As the name implies it's held on the Charles River.

Rowing may look easy, but it's hard work.  Those rowers are in excellent shape.

And for those of us who don't row, it's fun to watch.

You can't beat a walk along the river on a nice fall day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Knitting With A Hook

I recently came across a discussion about knooking - knitting with a hook.  Using a crochet hook that has been adapted with a cable on the end it's possible to knit and purl with the hook.  The cable acts like the second knitting needle and holds the live stitches.  Someone was thinking outside the box when they came up with this one.

I haven't thoroughly explored knooking.  For instance I'm not sure if it's possible to do all the knitting techniques with knooking - increases, decreases, cables.  If you're interested, there's a Ravelry group devoted to the technique, and YouTube has video clips of knooking to create the knit stitch and the purl stitch.  Maybe one day I'll have time to play around with this intriguing technique. 

On the needles . . . I've been cruising right along on my latest obsession.

This is Pogona (Ravelry link) by Stephen West.  A while back I made Herbivore (Ravelry link) also by Stephen West.

As with many shawl-type garments the construction starts small and grows larger.  Stephen has fun with geometric shapes to create interesting yet practical garments.

Pogona is basically a two row repeat.  Once I established the repeat, it was smooth sailing.  

Now I'm at the point where the stitch count has increased significantly and the rows are taking longer and longer to complete.  A single two-row repeat increases the stitch count by 14.

A view of the center section.

It reminds me of a giant piece of candy corn.  At this rate I'm sure Pogona won't be on the needles much longer.

One of our fall rituals is roasting New Mexico green chile.  If you're ever in New Mexico in the fall, you will see large roasters at grocery stores and farmers' markets.  You can get fresh green chile roasted right there on the spot.  The air is filled with the pungent, smokey aroma of the roasting peppers.

I always order fresh green chile in the fall.  This year I kept putting it off until one day I realized (with prodding from my friend Martie) that the end of the season was upon us.  I placed my order just in time and yesterday received my shipment.

Fresh and shiny and green.  But not for long.

This week my color inspiration is green chile from the Land of Enchantment.

Let the roasting begin!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Make This

It's the middle of a crazy, busy week - a week stacked with too many appointments, meetings and just plain running around.  I'm ignoring an irritated, scratchy throat on the verge of becoming a full blown sore throat.  I know I'm due to come down with something, but I've convinced myself that if I ignore it, it will go away.  At this point all I can do is hang on for the ride and stay focused on the weekend.  Truth be told my weekends are no different than my weekdays, but it's a psychological thing.  And so for today I have tidbits of . . . 


~  I love to see dogs wrapped in wool on cold winter mornings.  This design is cute, and the model is so well behaved.  An accessory that every dog should have.

~  I am often amazed and in awe of what some people feel inspired to knit.  Take this knitted timepiece.  It really tells time.  While I would love to have one hanging on my wall, I know I can't devote precious knitting time to making one.

~  And how about this car sock?  Notice the windows.  Even the wheels are covered.  This is the work of fiber artist Olek, and you can find more of her work here.

~  And finally, 'tis the season for candy corn.  Candy corn with eyes.  I might have to give this pattern a try - too cute to resist.

There's knitting progress to report, but that will have to wait until next time.  Instead I leave you with this.

Freshly brewed from the dye pots.

Shades of blue.

Monday, October 18, 2010


As sometimes happens knitting projects are started only to fall by the wayside or to the bottom of the bag.  Such was the fate of my Sleepy Hollow Socks until I resurrected them.  I don't know when I started these socks - I should keep better notes.  I was enamored of this design when I started it, and it didn't fall out of favor when I put it down.  I think I encountered some kind of knitting emergency that moved these socks down a few rungs on the must-knit-now ladder.

In any event I'm one with them now and loving every minute of it.  The element of these socks that has captivated me is not the lace pattern throughout the leg or the seam-like ribbing down the back of the leg. Rather, it's the heel flap that doesn't require picking up stitches.

The heel flap stitches are to the left.  The section of purl bumps is the gusset that is worked right along with the heel flap.  While I can knit a heel flap and pick up the stitches in my sleep,  this all-in-one method requires a bit more concentration.  I'm completely absorbed by the process.  Very clever indeed.

The gusset stitches are set aside.

The heel is turned.

After a series of gusset decreases it's just a matter of knitting the foot.

I'm in the home stretch and already looking forward to starting the second sock so that I can repeat the process all over.  And I'll probably use this method again with other socks.

Since I have Sleepy Hollow under control, I rewarded myself with a new project.

Given my recent history it's no surprise that it's another shawlette. Details to follow.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Of Patterns And Pumpkins

The last few days have been a whirl of pattern ideas.  Mixing and matching yarn to pattern.  Some combinations work, some don't.  I don't want the pattern to get lost in the yarn and vice versa.  It's always a balancing act.

For starters I have this new project on the needles.

This is Yvaine (Ravelry link).  I needed a project that was simple but not completely mindless.  A traveling companion.

I needed a pattern that wouldn't detract from the yarn, something that wasn't too busy.  Yvaine is simple stockinette with a few rows of seed stitch thrown in for texture.  It fits the bill.  

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Bertha, colorway Seaweed.  Bertha is a blend of 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon.  It's deliciously soft for next-to-skin wear.

I have a short list of projects that I'm anxious to start, and Yvaine will soon have to share my time with another.  I'm just waiting for the yarn to dry.

In the midst of my pattern search I stumbled across these oak leaves. Be sure to check the sidebar for more ideas.  The acorn gnomes are particularly cute.  I haven't made any of these yet, but I'm tempted. Even though these are wee little projects, I know they could easily consume all of my time.

I saw this sign on a recent trip to the orchard, and it made me smile.

Remember to be considerate of pumpkins.  Until you carve them.

My color inspiration for the week is no surpise.

Pumpkin goodness.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Down On The Farm

Some of you may be familiar with Susan Gibbs and Juniper Moon Farm.  Susan raises sheep on her farm and offers the wool from these sheep in the form of a CSA (community supported agriculture).  The CSA model is commonly used with vegetable farms where people buy a share of the farm and receive produce as a return on their investment. Susan adapted the CSA model to accommodate her sheep farm.  People who participate in her CSA buy a share of the wool for that season.  After the sheep have been shorn and the wool spun and dyed, they receive yarn as a return on their investment in the farm.  

I first crossed paths with Susan when she had her farm on Martha's Vineyard.  Since then she has moved her farm to Virginia.  This week Susan and Juniper Moon Farm are in the news.  You can read all about it in Country Living.

In other farm news Barb Parry from Foxfire Fiber & Designs is running a campaign, Flock For Healthy Hearts.  As the survivor of a cardiac incident, Barb is working to raise awareness of women's cardiac risks and to promote healthy living.  Barb's campaign includes a giveaway. Be sure to read all about it.

I captured this cat in more ways than one.  The other day when he escaped through an open window onto the third floor roof, I rescued him. And then I caught him in one of his more reflective moments. You'd think he'd want to stay away from windows.  Cats and curiosity.

Shadow play.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Tour

The weather was beautiful this past weekend, perfect for a drive.  I did the New Hampshire Wool Arts Tour and managed to hit four of the six stops.

A couple of the stops are off the beaten path - down dirt roads that twist and turn through the woods.

Across bridges.

Narrow bridges.

One way traffic only.

The Wool Arts Tour celebrates all the fiber arts.  The Fiber Studio had a little bit of everything.  In addition to being a fully stocked yarn store, they have a wonderful, unique button selection.  They also offer fiber, spinning wheels and looms.

There was weaving on display.

And there were several looms with works in progress.

There was needle felting.

I feel in love with these two.  The curly locks, the expressions, the noses, the details.

We went to this stop.

The huge barn at Spinner Farm  was full of vendors.  It was fun to see some familiar faces.  In addition to vendors they had food, ice cream, sheep shearing, pony rides and animals.  This was a full service stop.

During the day I spotted a couple of vendors with these.

Nesting balls.  These open air balls are filled with bits of fiber.  Hang the ball from a tree and the birds will come and gather the fiber for their nests.  Clever and colorful.

There were animals to be seen.

Sheep at Spinner Farm.

And animals to be heard.

Gobbling turkeys at Windfall Farm.

Thanks to all the organizers who made this event possible.  It was a most enjoyable outing.

On the international scene this week marks The Campaign For Wool in Britain.  This event is spearheaded by HRH The Prince of Wales who is promoting wool as a natural, sustainable material.  This campaign is unique in that it has a multi-industry focus - everything from building to fashion.  As their website says, Live Naturally . . . Choose Wool.

Friday, October 8, 2010

For The Weekend

Fall is a beautiful time in New England, and it's extra special for fiber enthusiasts.  There is a fiber event somewhere in the region almost every weekend.  We are definitely spoiled.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the New Hampshire Wool Arts Tour, a Columbus Day weekend tradition.  Just as the name says it is a tour, a tour of various farms and studios.  This year there are six stops on the tour with several booths at each stop.  There are animals, demonstrations, goods for sale, yarn and fiber aplenty.  It's a beautiful time to be driving the back roads of New Hampshire.  The Tour is an inspiring celebration of the fiber arts community in New Hampshire.

Since I'm talking about events, if you happen to be in the area of WEBS on Saturday, they are having a trunk show for Knitting It Old School.  This book is the collaboration of Stitchy McYarnpants and Caro Sheridan and features vintage inspired patterns.  Sounds like fun.

In the spirit of the season I'm feeling compelled to make some crochet acorns and felted pumpkin bowls.  Go ahead and click on the link. There's a step-by-step tutorial.  Aren't they adorable?

My color inspiration for the week comes fresh from the orchard.

Apple red.

Enjoy the long holiday weekend, and Happy Thanksgiving to our neighbors to the north!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Buy Handmade Revisited

Buy Handmade.  Remember when that campaign was started a few years ago?  I thought it was a good idea.  Promote the crafts and the people who make the crafts.  I considered it another way to Buy Local.

I've been reading an interesting post on the topic of Buy Handmade.  It seems that too much of a good thing has flooded the market and, in some instances, has forced the prices of handmade items to ridiculously low, Made in China levels.  While that wasn't the intention of this effort, that's the result of our economic system at work.

It appears that now the challenge is to market and sell those handmade products just like anything else out there in the marketplace.   It's not enough that it's handmade.  If given the choice between two handmade products, why should I buy one over the other?  What are the benefits of one over the other?  Convince me.

Here's the message I take away from all of this.  If you're in the business of selling handmade, it's time to start making that sales pitch.  Over and over.  There's a lot of competition out there, and you can't hide behind the Buy Handmade slogan any more.  If you want to read more about it, go here.  Food for thought.

And while I'm on the subject of selling, I've had a lot of inquiries about my online store.  Yes, there will be one.  And yes, it's still under construction.  I'm working as fast as I can.  I will announce the grand opening here and in my Ravelry group.

To whet your appetite, here's a taste of things to come.  

Paula, 100% Superwash Blue Faced Leicester, 100g / 410yd; colorway Gourd.  

And there are more colors on the way.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vermont Review

I'm still recovering from a whirlwind weekend in Vermont.  We had perfect fall weather in a beautiful setting.  Who could ask for more? Come along for a photo tour.

As I said the scenery was picturesque.

As I faced the mountains the sun was rising behind me, burning off the clouds and mist.

I had the booth set up before the gates opened.

A close-up of the new samples.  They drew lots of attention.

Of course there were cute animals everywhere.

It wouldn't be a sheep and wool festival without a sheep herding demonstration.

This alpaca was so friendly.

If I had room, I could have been persuaded to bring one home.

Take a look at this cage full of bunny.

Talk about close quarters.  

And then there were the goats.

Looking through the fence.

Posing like a model.

Have you any wool?

Big bags full.

I was delighted to have a visit from Dona Cerulee.

Dona is the mascot of the Fishnet Crocheters of New England who make their home just down the road from me in Lexington, Massachusetts.  Donna travels, attends conventions and has met several fiber celebrities.

These events are a good time to check in with other vendors.  Judy from Ball and Skein was across the aisle from me.  Judy always has lots of goodies in her booth.  This weekend she was featuring Lillian Fay, a new pattern by an up-and-coming designer.  Be sure to take a peek.

As always David Paul from The Merlin Tree drew quite a crowd.  He was demonstrating his HitchHiker wheel all weekend long.

Cindy from Ewe and I Farm was there.  I came home with a skein of her wool/mohair blend sock weight yarn.  Another project to ponder.

And the friendly folks from The Yarn and Fiber Company were on hand.  If you're ever in the Derry, NH area, they have an inviting store with comfy couches.

We had a really good turnout this weekend.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi.  And now I'm back at it, planning for my next event.  It's time to get the dye pots going again.