Monday, November 29, 2010


These days it's all about crafting - discussions about crafting, articles about crafting, ideas for crafting.  And then there is Pinterest.  I can't go there for fear of losing a day or two.  It must be the season.

We seem to have caught the crafting bug here.  One of my daughters has been hard at work on these.

Needle felted acorns.  Yes, those are real acorn tops.

I have several knitting projects in the works, but I managed to make time for these.

Wee people.

And so they wouldn't be lonely . . .

. . . more wee people.  I am enamored of these little gnome-like creations - they bring a smile to my face.  If I didn't have so many other pressing projects, I would sit and make them all day long. Maybe I can make a deal with myself and ration them out like candy. If I finish all my work for today, I can make three wee people.  

In the spirit of knitting small things I have to share this article with you.  Barbara Walker used to knit doll clothes for fun and relaxation. Schoolhouse Press has acquired her doll collection and has posted an online gallery of some of the dolls.  Be sure to take a look at the pictures.  The details and creativity are amazing.

I leave you with music on a Monday morning.

Way to go ladies!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Savoring Leftovers

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and the pace is more relaxed.  I do most of the cooking, and while I enjoy it, I also appreciate the leftovers and a couple of days off from kitchen duty.

Our Thanksgiving has a decidedly southwestern taste.  

The turkey is prepared with a chile pepper rub, and the stuffing is made with green chile and strips of corn tortillas.

We had many more traditional side dishes.

Butternut squash with cranberries and orange juice.

Wild rice with mushrooms.

And there was dessert.  Pies are one of my favorite things, and I go all out at Thanksgiving.

"A" is for apple.

With juice overflowing.

"B" is for blueberry.  No, I didn't work my way through the entire alphabet, but there were several more pies.

And now the long weekend stretches ahead with both work and knitting on my list.  This is when the leftovers come in handy.  

These days it's very stark and gray outside.  While we wait for snow to brighten the outdoor landscape, it's harder and harder to find much in the way of eye-catching color.  My neighbor's yard has the last glimmer of the fall hues - my color inspiration for the week.

Tiny orbs of golden yellow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Take A Moment

Like many of you I've been on the run the last couple of days.  After various lists and several stops at the grocery store it's all done but the cooking.  I think the hardest part is collecting all the ingredients for this holiday.  The cooking and baking will be a breeze by comparison.

Somewhere along the way while I was picking up, dropping off and waiting I finished the stockinette section of Little Colonnade.

Next up is the lace section, and I'm ready for something a little less mindless.  I'm looking forward to working on this and another project or two over the long weekend.

Over the years I've come to appreciate the Thanksgiving holiday as an opportunity to pause and reflect on what's important in my life.  Take a moment.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Making A List

Over the weekend I decided to get a jump on my holiday knitting by making a list of possible ideas.  I guess if I were really getting a jump on it I would have done this in July, but for me anything done before Thanksgiving seems like a bonus.

I looked at patterns on Ravelry and consulted a short list I had compiled.  One idea led to another and another and another.  Before I knew it I was flooded with possibilities.  Then I hauled out my stash and began sifting and sorting. If nothing else it was good to take stock of my inventory.  It's nice to be reminded of what I do have.  No, I didn't take pictures and post it all on Ravelry.  That would have required all the time I have available for knitting holidays gifts - and then some.

In the end I was left with a list of real contenders for holiday gifts.  And the best part is I think I can make them all from stash.  Here are some of the ideas swirling around.

Hand coverings are at the top of my list.  The Fletcher Mittens caught my eye.  In addition to using variegated yarn they can also be made with two solid contrasting yarns.  Many options with impressive results.  Then there is Douglas - beautiful colorwork mittens with a liner.  The Bittersweet Vines pattern from Anne Hanson is another option.  This looks to be a quick knit with the added bonus of a neck warmer.  I'm also considering thrummed mittens using a pattern of my own creation.  They provide extra warmth with an inside layer of fiber.

I'm contemplating a couple of scarves.  There is the Carnival Scarf, a feminine little something with a simple pattern repeat.  I have a specific request for One Row Handspun Scarf so I know I can't go wrong with that one.

Then there are the tried and true felted slippers.  I've lost count of how many of these I've made over the years.  Very Warm Hat is also on my list.  And when I've run out of ideas, there is the pattern roundup list for further inspiration.

In addition to thinking about knitting I did some actual knitting over the weekend.  I'm on a roll with Man Mitts, another pattern that will probably make my list of holiday knitting.

I am further along than this picture shows.  I have the index finger done and am waiting for another try on to check the length.  Fingers are a bit of a nuisance but not too tedious.

I wanted to share an update shot of my Little Colonnade but that will have to wait.  I worked on it during a movie in the theater.  Knitting for more than two hours in the near dark was slow going, but I did make progress. Toward the end of the movie I could feel that something was off.  The light revealed an extra yarn over, and I had to rip out one row. I was pleased it wasn't any more than that.

And now I'm off to make another list - what I hope will be my final grocery list for the upcoming holiday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Marking Time

Whew!  It's Friday already.  Where did the week go?  It's that time of year when the days are in a race with each other, a race to see which one can whiz by the fastest.  In the end they all go by so quickly they are but a blur in my memory.

While I can't make time slow down or stand still, I can mark time with my knitting.  If I have a meeting or an appointment, I always know I'll have time for knitting.  The time spent waiting for kids is more time for knitting.  I've started to look forward to those meetings, appointments and waits as designated time for knitting.  While I can't always control the pace of my days, I can sweeten them a bit with time for knitting.

Last weekend I cast on another round of projects.  Most of them have received attention off and on over the week.  The Man Mitts are coming along nicely.  I don't have a decent picture - maybe next time. They seem like they will be a good fit, but only time will tell.

My obsession with Pogona is still going strong.  I made a Gourd colored one but am reserving that one as a booth sample.  I had no choice but to cast on another one for myself.

This gray colorway, Pumice, is equally as striking as the Gourd.  I had a bit of a hiccup while doing set up rows during a meeting, but I'm back on track now.  I love the rhythm of this pattern - relaxing but not totally mindless.  I'm about to start the third section which will carry me to the end.

My color inspiration for the week comes from a park where the wooden fence posts are covered with this moss-like growth.

 Day-glo green.  A striking contrast to brown leaves and bare trees.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


These days I'm in planning mode.  There are new yarn bases to consider, new colorways to ponder.  With so many options it's hard to make a decision.  Or maybe it's just that the process takes longer. I'm wading through patterns and designs for new additions to the booth. What would I do without Ravelry?

I'm also in the midst of scheduling fiber events into next fall. Scheduling my life that far in advance contradicts what goes on with the rest of my life.  I rarely pull off one day in the here and now as scheduled. Instead I'm always rearranging my days on the fly.  I've come to think of the events as anchors in my life - the fixtures around which everything else must revolve.

With all of this planning the dye pots are quiet.  For the moment. And that's as it should be.  While things may seem quiet, there's plenty of activity simmering beneath the surface.  It's all part of the process. For today I have a bit of . . .


~  I love to see men knitting; they are an important part of knitting history.  All my sons know how to knit, and I've had an increase in male knitting students in the classes I teach.  I was delighted to come across this photo gallery of men knitting.  

~ And here's an Icelandic man who knits and crochets.  This video clip is charming and instructional.

~ There's an interesting knitting/craft project just getting started in Turkey - a bridge between East and West.  It's encouraging to see women from such different cultures uniting around a common passion.

~ WEBS is having a celebration of the 200th episode of their Ready, Set, Knit! Podcast.  The celebration involves prizes, and you can find more information here.

~ And finally, this display of wool felted sails in western Massachusetts makes me want to take a drive just to see them. There are more photos of the installation here.

In the mist of all this planning I've found that stopping to knit for a bit can help with the decision making process.  Project update to follow. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Plenty Of Projects

I'm coming off a fiber filled weekend.  Last week I told myself I was going to devote one weekend day just to knitting.  I did that and more. On Friday I went to the Common Cod Fiber Guild meeting.  The guest speakers were Debbie Brisson (aka Stitchy McYarnpants) and Caro Sheridan (aka Splityarn).  They told the story of how their book, Knitting It Old School, came to be.  They discussed their passion for vintage knitwear and how they wrote and re-wrote the book proposal. Then they talked about the writing, the designs, the samples and the photography sessions in LA.  

As one of the door prizes they gave away a signed copy of their book. Since I had already scored a Bob Hope parking spot for the evening, you can imagine my surprise when I won a copy of the book.

Thank you!  I appreciate vintage knitwear and will enjoy this book of updated vintage patterns.  Debbie and Caro were very entertaining and witty.  If you get a chance to hear them talk, you won't be disappointed.

This weekend included one day to focus on knitting without cooking, cleaning, laundry and driving.  One day may seem like a lot, but when I began to survey all the projects and all the potential projects there suddenly wasn't much time.  My strategy was to spend a bit of time on a couple of projects rather than work exclusively on one.  I started off by finishing my Maine Morning Mitts.  Sorry I don't have a photo - there wasn't a model available.

From there I moved on to Man Mitts.  I had a request for fingerless mitts with this specific yarn, a Shetland wool from Scotland.

I had an issue with gauge and had to knit the cuff twice.  Once I started the thumb gusset I decided to turn my attention to another project.

I've been stuck on Stephen West designs, and that theme continued this weekend.  This yarn has been teasing me for the last month or so.  

Gray has become one of my favorite colors, and I love the variation in this colorway.  This is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lillian, colorway Pumice. I had it earmarked for Pogona so I cast on.  I didn't do much work on it other than to knit through the set up rows.  Pogona is my designated companion for all the meetings and waiting time this week.

Finally, I contemplated this pattern, one that has been on my list for a while. Rather than fight it, I decided to go with the flow and cast on one more project.

More Stephen West - this time Little Colonnade.  This yarn is the mohair/cormo blend from Buckwheat Bridge Angoras.  I love the little orange flecks and can't wait to watch this one unfold.  Now that my needles are stocked with new projects, I should be busy for a while.

I leave you with this pattern to ponder - Knitted Kaleidocycles.  If you want to see them in action, go here.  I'm fascinated with the math and the construction involved.  Hours and hours of entertainment, both in making and in using them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend Retreat

This is the weekend for knitting retreats.  Here in New England Clara Parkes is holding her annual Knitter's Review Retreat.  Clara has a weekend of classes, shopping and entertainment lined up for attendees.  Half way across the country there's the Mitten School, a weekend devoted to mittens with Adrian Bizilia.  How cool is that?  It sounds like an intense, stimulating and fun weekend.  And finally, on the West Coast there is the Silk Retreat hosted by Stephanie and Tina. You can bet there's all kinds of wild craziness going on there.

In the spirit of this knitting retreat weekend I've decided to have my own mini retreat. For one day this weekend I will do nothing but knit and relax, possibly with a bit of spinning thrown in for good measure.  I will put the rest of my life on cruise control.  The last two months have been crazy busy - like a merry-go-round out of control.  It's time to take a break.

To prep for this mini retreat I've had the swift going.

'Round and 'round she goes.

There are many projects I could work on, and I haven't even contemplated holiday knitting.  Are there really only 42 days?  

I've started to line up a couple of options, but somehow I don't care so much what I'm working on.  It's more important to enjoy the moment, relax and catch my breath.  It's good to step off the merry-go-round once in a while.

For those of you in the area tonight is the Common Cod Fiber Guild meeting.  We will be treated to Knitting It Old School with Debbie Brisson (aka Stitchy McYarnpants) and Caro Sheridan (aka Splityarn). What a great start to the weekend!

By way of follow up the name that turkey contest has been closed. WEBS has released the pattern as a free pattern, and you can find it here.  While the name #351 Knit Turkey is a bit disappointing, he's still adorable.

I leave you with my color inspiration for the week.  Most of the leaves have fallen, brittle and decaying. 

Like leather.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Contest Talk

Fiber festivals are a wonderful place to meet people - people with whom you wouldn't connect otherwise.  This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Christiane Burkhard of Lismi Knits.  Christiane has designed several patterns including Patches Baby Sweater for the new Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders book.  If you haven't seen this book yet, it's definitely worth your while to take a look.

Christiane showed me one of her new designs, a shawl.   I loved the pattern, and we were discussing it.  The pattern doesn't have a name, and Christiane is running a contest to name it.  One thing led to another, and before you knew it we had collaborated on the naming contest.  The winner of the contest will get a copy of the pattern and a skein of Dirty Water DyeWorks yarn.  Pop on over to Christiane's blog and have a go at naming that pattern.

There's another contest underway - a turkey naming contest.  WEBS has an adorable turkey pattern - almost as cute as the penguins and polar bears.  Name that turkey and win a prize.

Even though my shopping time at Fiber Festival of New England was limited, I did manage to come home with a couple of items.  Near the end of the day on Sunday I dashed to Buckwheat Bridge Angoras for a little something.  Buckwheat Bridge is a sustainable farm that is solar and wind powered.  Their products are made only with the fiber they produce on their farm.

This is a Kid Mohair/Cormo Wool blend.  They had a whole wall full of tempting colors.  It was a hard decision, but I fell for the splashes of orange in this colorway.  This yarn is calling me, and I think I may have to cast on . . . soon. 

I have a weakness for coffee mugs so when I stumbled across these at Hither and Yarn I just had to get one.  It's in keeping with my orange theme and has a great message.

Knit Happy.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend Reflections

It's the Monday after Fiber Festival of New England.  Recovery from events is a combination of exhilaration and exhaustion.  On the one hand being exposed to so much fiber and creativity for two full days is inspiring.  I want nothing more than to sit, knit and start six new projects.  On the other hand I'm completely exhausted from the weekend.  Setting up and running the booth only to tear it all down again is tiring.  Not to mention the rest of life I came home to - dirty dishes (really, they couldn't run the dishwasher once while I was away?), piles of dirty laundry and an overflowing inbox.

It will all get sorted out in the next couple of days and life will return to normal.  But on this raw, wet and windy morning I'd rather settle in with coffee and knitting than deal with any of the other things.

Here's a recap of Fiber Festival of New England.

All set up. Ready and waiting.

A new yarn.

Alpaca Blend.

I had a wonderful neighbor.

Ken from Dorchester Farms.  Ken has rabbits and uses their fiber in his yarn.  It's always helpful to exchange ideas and information with other vendors.

My time to wander the market was extremely limited.  These caught my eye.

Sock monkeys with hair and tutus.  

I spotted these at Hope Spinnery.

Needle felted lady bug magnets.

And for the holidays . . . 

. . . one-of-a-kind ornaments.  Hope Spinnery had a beautiful display.  I wish I had taken more pictures.

This booth was closed when I made my early morning walk through the market.

I love buttons and thought this name was clever.  I didn't have time to visit Button Pie when they were open, but I hope to see them at another event.

Also for the upcoming season.

Felted snow people from Maple View Farm.

Such charming details.

And of course there were animals.

Bunnies to cuddle.

The alpacas and llamas were all on the move.

This one stood still just long enough for me to get a shot.

There were sheep.

Light colored ones.

And dark colored ones.

These eight month old Shetland sheep are from Cobblerock Ridge.  

And finally, herding with a twist.

Yes, this dog was herding ducks.  The indoor space was too small for a sheep herding demonstration so the shepherd used ducks instead. Highly entertaining.

The weekend was a wonderful opportunity for socializing - seeing old friends and making new ones.  Thanks to everyone who came out for this event.  Several customers commented that even after all the other fiber events of this fall, they appreciate the wealth of vendors this region has to offer.  They don't take it for granted and came out to show their support.  

On a cloudy day the sun broke through just long enough for me to capture this shot of downtown Springfield.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Weekend Preparations

I'm in the final stages of prepping for Fiber Festival of New England. No matter how organized I think I am going into a show, no matter how hard I try to have everything ready so that I'm not running around like a crazy woman I always seem to be working up until the final minutes.

Yesterday there was yarn to label.  

I can cross that off my to-do list.

Today the bulk of the work is done, but there are still odds and ends that need to be taken care of.  Most of my time today is taken up by the rest of my life so I'm sure some of these loose ends will have to wait until tomorrow.  I've come to accept that part of this whole enterprise.  Some days this business is like being back in school - there's always homework to do or a paper to write or a final to study for.  There's always work to do.  The one difference from those school days - I no longer pull an all-nighter.  And somehow, miraculously in the end everything is done.

In the midst of all this planning and packing I decided to tackle one more booth sample.  I couldn't resist.

This is Curling, the latest from Anne Hanson.  The yarn is Paula, colorway Storm.  I'm about a quarter of the way done.  With lots of waiting time on my hands today I'm confident I'll have it ready for this weekend.

My color inspiration for this week caused me to pull over, get out of the truck and take a shot.  This was taken a few days ago, and I'm sure the tree is naked now.

Orange-red at its peak.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gearing Up

Mark your calendars.  This coming weekend is the inaugural of Fiber Festival of New England.  Fiber enthusiasts in New England have been binging all fall.  This event is the icing on the cake.  Dirty Water DyeWorks will be there vending in booth 424 East.  If you're in the area, stop by and say hi.

This means a short, busy week tying up loose ends before I hit the road on Friday.  All of the dyeing is done.  Now to label everything and pack up.

I finished knitting and blocking another booth sample.

Yvaine is complete.  Shown here in Dirty Water DyeWorks Bertha, colorway Seaweed.

I added one stockinette/seed stitch section to the pattern recommendations.  Then I knit the garter border until I ran out of yarn. This design has just enough texture to add interest without detracting from the movement of the colors.  

The combination of design and yarn creates a garment with beautiful drape.  This is one soft, comfy shawlette.

I had made a deal with myself.  If I finished Yvaine, I could cast on another Pogona.  But I've been distracted by another booth sample.

Pogona will have to wait.

We had a wonderful weekend full of celebrations.  The party continues with Day of the Dead.

A time to honor and remember those who have passed before us.