Thursday, December 30, 2010


It's that time of year.  We're getting ready to close the books on one year and start fresh with a clean slate.  I've been busy organizing my desk and work space - creating order out of chaos and gearing up for another busy, productive year.  At least I know I'll be off to a good start in the new year. 

I'm not one to make resolutions for the new year.  I prefer to take it as it comes, to roll with the punches.  I try to value each and every day because today is all I have and tomorrow may never come.  This past year was loaded with many challenges and obstacles.  There were decisions that had to be made, and I had to make some difficult choices.  Life is full of choices - some easier than others.  While I have no regrets and won't dwell on the negative aspects of 2010, I'm more than happy to bid this year adieu.  I have vowed that I will leave 2010 reflecting on the positive.

Thankfully my most pressing choice this week has been deciding which color to use for my new booth sample.

The downside to being a dyer - if there is one - is that I have so many color options.  I'm surrounded by different yarn blends in an array of colors.  At times there are too many choices.  I've narrowed it down to these four and will see if I can settle on one by the end of the day. These are the fun choices in life.

Mother Nature did not disappoint with the storm earlier this week.

The winds piled up a snow drift in front of a second floor window and created many beautiful snow sculptures.

The storm provided my color inspiration for the week, a gray and white combination that is seen only in winter.

Icy lace.

Wishing you all the best in the new year.  May your choices be easy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reality Check

With the holidays behind us there's a sense of relief.  And freedom. While I have a couple of gifts I need to finish knitting, I feel I can start a new knitting project without any pangs of guilt.  I suddenly feel I have more time on my hands.  If I stop to think about it, I realize I don't have more time - but I can dream.

Yesterday I started contemplating new projects.  I want to start a new sweater in the worst way, and I have yarn for several sweaters ready and waiting.  The reality is I need a new hat, and a pair of mittens would be nice too.  The reality is I have a couple of new booth samples in the works and loads of yarn to dye.  So I've scaled back my ambitions - for the moment anyway.

I have to share this knitting related discovery from the world of Lego. My daughter was examining a Lego set in the Harry Potter series.

This is Mrs. Weasley.  In the Harry Potter books Mrs. Weasley is a knitter.  If you look closely, you'll see knitting needles and yarn in her apron pocket.  Kudos to Lego for attention to detail. 

The winter storm that started yesterday continues to snow and blow today.  This was the scene from my front steps earlier this morning.

A winter wonderland.  It's a good day to start that new hat.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Of Baking And Blocking

'Tis the season for baking.  Baking and eating.  We have a long list of cookies that we bake every holiday season.  One of the cookies I enjoy baking is springerle, a German cookie made with molds or a rolling pin.

I use a rolling pin.  

There are hand cut impressions all around the pin.



The owl is one of my favorites.

First I roll out the dough with a smooth rolling pin.  Then I use the springerle rolling pin.

Little cookies ready to be separated.  The cookies sit for several hours before baking.  I grew up with anise flavored springerle.  The cookies are placed on a baking sheet that's been sprinkled with anise seed. The anise seed bakes into the bottom of the cookies.  Not everyone in my house appreciates anise seed the way I do, so I'll probably make another batch with either almond or lemon flavoring.

When I haven't been baking, I've been knitting.  The Cabled Keyhole Scarf has been my friend.  Earlier this week I started one at knit night. By the end of the evening it was done except for a couple of rows. We won't discuss the fact that I discovered - after it had been blocked - that I had knit it with two different size needles.  I can't tell the difference and I'm sure the recipient, a non-knitter, won't be able to either.

Two of three.  The third one is still on the needles.  And I've been blocking, but I still have a couple of things left.  I can't decide if secret knitting or secret blocking is more challenging.

I have elves (kids) lined up to wrap presents.  There's the matter of bringing in the tree and decorating it.  And I should do some cooking unless all we want to eat is cookies.

This season is magical, but it requires a lot of work.  And so I remind myself . .  . amidst the flurry of activity be sure to take time to savor the moment.  

Monday, December 20, 2010


I've fallen hard for a new pattern.  I don't know how this happened.  I made a slight substitution in my gift giving list, and now I'm obsessed. Anne Hanson recently released Cabled Keyhole Scarf.  I looked at it a couple of times and decided to swap it for another Anne Hanson scarf on my list.

I started Cabled Keyhole over the weekend and can't get enough of it.

It has a small number of stitches and a fun, easy-to-memorize pattern repeat - all the ingredients for instant gratification.  If you're in the market for a last minute gift, you might want to consider this pattern.

Since this one will be finished later this morning, I had to line up a couple more.

Because one just isn't enough.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Time And Effort

There are times when you can be very busy and industrious but not have much to show for your work.  That's where I'm at this week.  I've played around with dyes and new colors, ordered yarn for a new line of yarn and searched new patterns for booth samples.  But I don't have much to show for all my time and effort.  At least not yet.  That makes today a good day for . . . 


~  'Tis the season for wreaths.  I've seen many wreaths that you can make yourself, some better than others.  If you like felted balls, this wreath is for you.  I appreciate it when items are recycled, giving them a new life.  This wreath recycles old sweaters.  Very creative.  Last but not least, a new use for coffee filters.  This coffee filter wreath can be made in either brown or white.  Scroll down to see other creations made from coffee filters.

~  In another lifetime I used to embroider.  Then knitting took over and there wasn't enough time for the smaller needles.  My embroidered projects seem very primitive compared to these embroidered works of art.  Painting with embroidery.

~  How about a knitting store/school on wheels?  That's what SweaterGirls provide in Albuquerque.  They are regulars at the farmers' market and various events around town.  I love the trailer - so New Mexico.  It's like the bookmobile for knitters.

~  Barb Parry of Foxfire Fiber & Designs is having a Sheep Share giveaway.  She is giving away two 2011 Sheep Share memberships. Spread the word and enter to win.

Speaking of contests thanks again to all who entered the Celebration Contest.  It's not too late to enter.  The contest closes tonight at midnight.  Leave a comment and enter to win.

I've been watching the river that flows not far from my house.  Ice has been forming.  Geese and swans still swim in the frigid waters.  The light is dim; the trees are bare.  The water is like glass with reflections that are dark and cold.  My color inspiration for this week comes from another reflection, a picture taken before everything froze over.

Glass with the last colors of fall.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Splash Of Color

Lately I've been knitting with darker colors - blue, brown, charcoal. These colors have been requested for most of my holiday knitting. While I admit that these colors can be hard on my eyes, especially late in the day, I don't mind working with them.

But I think deep down I've been hungry for a splash of brighter colors. Yesterday I dyed some multicolored skeins.  I started with this.

Naked yarn begging for color.

So I added color.

This one reminds me of traditional tie-dye.

I mixed and matched various colors.

This two color combo produced a more subtle mix.

Before I knew it time was up.  I could have played around for a couple more hours, but the rest of life was calling.  And now I have several more color combinations swirling around in my head, waiting for the next opportunity to come out and play.  Maybe later on today.

Thanks to all who responded to the Celebration Contest.  I've enjoyed reading what everyone is working on.  There's still time to enter.  The contest is open until Friday, December 17.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Element Of Surprise

I've been working away on my holiday knitting.  My biggest challenge with this undertaking is not deciding on the pattern or the yarn but keeping it all hush-hush.  Since most of the recipients are members of this household, I try to knit in secret - get up extra early, stay up way too late, steal a row here or there when no one is looking.   

The other day a light bulb went on.  I had the realization that if I didn't have to keep this all secret, it would be so much easier to make progress on these projects.  I wouldn't be burning the candle at both ends.  I wouldn't have to lock myself in a room for private knitting time.  Why not knit these projects in plain view?  That way they might actually get done in time.  I could wrap finished projects and put them under the tree.

I floated this idea to a few family members and was loudly voted down.  It seems they like to be surprised by the pattern and by the yarn.  Even if the gift they receive is on the needles.  Who knew? Personally I think they have a hard time breaking with the tradition of receiving a half-knit gift still on the needles, but I'll go along with it. My secret knitting continues.

For all the knitting I've been doing I don't have many finished projects to show.  These were completed for a birthday gift.  They are huge before felting - I've included a shoe for scale.

My daughter requested these felted slippers and picked the yarn from my stash.  The irony is that I had bought this yarn a few years ago for my own pair of slippers and hadn't gotten around to making them yet. That will teach me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Celebration Contest

Some projects are worked in phases.  For example many sweaters are knit in pieces - back, front, sleeves.  Once the pieces are done they are assembled to create the finished garment.  It's kind of nice to work on a project this way - it's not as overwhelming.  You work on smaller, manageable pieces, and in the end you have a whole sweater.  

Creating the Dirty Water DyeWorks website has been like working on a sweater.  It's been worked piece by piece, and each piece has been added to the website. Yesterday the last piece was completed.  The garment is finished. 

Paula is now available on the website.  This yarn is 100% Superwash Blue Faced Leicester, 100g / 410yd.  Paula has a wonderful luster that produces rich, vibrant colorways.  Stay tuned.  There are more yarn lines coming, and they will be added over the next couple of months. 

In case you're wondering the yarn lines are all named for women in my family.  I started with four yarn lines named for my grandmother and her three sisters.  Paula was my grandmother.  Great-Aunt Bertha taught me how to knit when I was a young girl.  Great-Aunts Lucia and Julia rounded out the first four lines.  All four women were strong, independent and creative in their own way.  Lillian, another great-aunt, was recently added to the mix.

To celebrate the completion of the website I'm running a contest. Leave a comment and share what's on your needles.  It's always interesting to find out what others are working on.  The winner, chosen at random, will select a skein of Dirty Water DyeWorks yarn.  The contest will close on Friday, December 17.

My color inspiration for this week reminds me of twisted strands of yarn.

Party pink.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And Then There Were Five

I've been busy finishing up the website.  I say finished although I realize it will never be completely finished.  I've come to think of the website as a work in progress with ongoing changes and updates. Being able to add, delete and change is part of the process.

Lucia has been added to the website.  Lucia is a blend of 75% Superwash Merino and 25% Nylon, 100g / 464yd.  This is a great yarn when you want something that's a bit more durable.  I will be adding more Lucia colorways in the new year.

That leaves one more yarn line to put on the website.  There are just a few more pictures to get ready.

Five to be exact.  And I will be adding more yarn lines in the coming months.  That's the fun part.

If you're looking for holiday ideas, you might want to check out the Christmas issue of inspired ideas.  This ezine has lots of projects from simple to complex.  It's a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

Recently I was gifted with this.

Corny Goodness, 100% corn fiber.  It's a bit rough, but I've heard it softens after washing.  I'm looking for project ideas.  It's not that I don't already have a long list of projects, but my mind wanders.  If you've used this yarn, let me know what you made with it.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

Lillian Goes Live

Here we are - another Monday morning.  The website has been updated with Lillian.  This is the yarn that I used for my first (and second) Pogona.  Lillian is 100% Superwash Merino, 100g / 400yd. This soft, bouncy yarn has the benefit of a firm twist for additional strength.  All shipping charges are free.

I have knitting progress to report but can't share it just yet.  In addition to the holidays I have two December birthdays I'm knitting for.  'Tis the season of secrets.

While I've done very little when it comes to holiday shopping, I did treat myself to a couple of things over the weekend.

Hand rolled beeswax candles and a bag for knitting notions.

The candle maker also had pieces of molded beeswax.  

The beeswax can be used on sewing needles to make them glide.  Or rub it on drawers to make them slide more smoothly.  I think it's pretty just to look at.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Finding Enough Time

I've just finished a big project and think I have a little breathing room. I can catch up on housework, play with new dye ideas, maybe even grab some concentrated knitting time.  Is that asking too much? Apparently so.

I've made a commitment to help my kids with a big project.  It's loads of fun, and I enjoy doing it.  While I thought I could squeeze in some other things first, I have to face the fact that there just isn't time. How often does that happen?  I'm very clever when it comes to juggling schedules, fitting in one more thing, multi-tasking to the limit. But sometimes the best laid plans don't work out.  Every once in a while I have to admit that I can't fit one more thing into the schedule.

So the dyeing will have to wait until next week.  It's not the end of the world.  I've consoled myself with the notion that sometimes it's best to let ideas marinate a little longer.

As for knitting I've had to pacify myself with these.

More wee people.  Still charming.

My color inspiration for this week comes from the sky.  I love the early morning light this time of year, so subtle and soft.

Gray trying to be blue. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


It's been crunch time the last couple of days as I've scrambled to meet a self-imposed deadline.  Writing, rewriting and rewriting yet again.  I am often a victim of the eternal edit.  And then somehow, miraculously it's time to let go.

The Dirty Water DyeWorks website is up and running.  Pop over and take a look.  To celebrate we are offering free shipping.  This is a work in progress.  More products will be added soon so be sure to check back.

Meeting a deadline like this reminds me of pregnancy and birth - fun and exciting at first but towards the end you just want it to be over. And it's always such a relief when it finally is.

While I feel I've earned some uninterrupted knitting time, now I must catch up on all the things that I let slide.  There's a mountain of dirty laundry, and I hear rumors that there isn't any food in the house.  It's enough work to make me wish I were still facing a deadline.  Almost.