Monday, April 29, 2013


This past Saturday I was at Connecticut Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival.  It was a wonderful day - chatting with people whom I see every year at this event, catching up on the latest with other vendors, admiring the parade of beautiful handknits.  To top it off the weather was gorgeous, and the sweet sound of baaing lambs could be heard all day.  Spring at its finest.

For all of that I don't have any pictures to show.  One day events move at breakneck speed - driving in the early morning hours, setting up in record time, nonstop busy in the booth.  Before I knew it, it was time to tear down and pack up.  You'll just have to trust me when I say it was a picture perfect day.

Yesterday I was in recovery mode and was sifting and sorting through the leftovers from Saturday.  I was reminded of a color combination that had grabbed my attention a few weeks ago.  At that time I almost pulled a couple skeins for myself but had a moment of practical honesty.  There was no way I had time to start a new project.

And I probably don't have time now either, but I'm going to take some time.  After four consecutive weekends on the road, I've earned it.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pink On Parade

It's spring, and pink is everywhere.  It's a welcome, cheery color full of hope after the stark, gray days of winter.  

One day in late winter a friend and I were considering colors for a new child-sized sample.  Without too much discussion we settled on pink. I wish more decisions were that easy.

If this design looks familiar, that's because you've seen it here before. This is the kid version of Low Tide Cardigan, knit by one of my sample knitting friends.  As a bonus this pattern comes in a wide range of sizes, and I couldn't resist showing it off for little people and big people.

The yarn is Lillian, colorway Desert Rose.  This Superwash Merino is practical for kids' garments.  Lillian is full of spring and bounce and creates a cushy fabric everyone loves.

Low Tide is finished with a few buttons for detail.

If you're headed to Connecticut Sheep, Wool and Fiber tomorrow, stop by my booth in the Green Barn to see both the child and adult versions of this sweater.

My color inspiration this week is in keeping with today's color theme. These buds remind me of popcorn.

Pink popcorn.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Farm To Fiber

Life goes on, and today I'm returning to regularly scheduled blog posts.

This past weekend I made my way to Greenfield in western Massachusetts for Farm to Fiber.  It was the first time for this event which was created to replace Fiber Twist, a fall event held in the same area.

I drove out in the wee hours on Saturday morning and made my way to the Franklin County Fairgrounds.  Farm to Fiber was held in conjunction with a home show, a green fair and a tasting from local cider, beer and mead producers.  All of this combined for an event dubbed the little e, not to be confused with The Big E.

Fiber vendors set up in the Roundhouse.  Yes, it's round.  This is a view of the ceiling - tiny slats of wood around and around and around all the way to the top of the dome. 

Farm to Fiber featured a diverse mix of fiber goodness.  


Rug hooking.


Dyed fiber.

Natural colored yarn.

Vintage buttons.

From the goat's milk soap to the vibrant woven garments to the detailed rug hooking Farm to Fiber had a little bit of everything.  Not bad for a first-time event.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pondering Normal

It's hard to imagine that life will ever be normal after the bombings and manhunt of last week.  We will return to our normal routines, but we've witnessed and experienced a series of events that will remain with us forever.  Bombs and gunfire, lockdowns and evacuations, shelter in place orders.  The horrors that strike other places have now happened at home.  Crisis situations like this spur people to action.  We rush to care for immediate needs all the while wondering how and why did this happen.

It's a sad story that has affected countless lives, and the situation is still unfolding.  In the immediate aftermath it has united us and made us stronger.  The outpouring of positive energy has been overwhelming and has renewed my faith in humanity.  The apprehension of a suspect brought a sense of calm.  Now we can focus on picking up the pieces.

Sometimes situations warrant that we suspend normal activities.  I didn't post to the blog on Friday.  It seemed trivial in comparison to the events that were transpiring around me.  And I was extremely distracted.  Access to instant news on Twitter and other social media can be a source of anxiety and relief all rolled into one.  No longer do we wait for the morning newspaper.  We read the front page story as it's being written.

It seems insensitive that we rush back to normal routines too quickly. I had planned to post about this past weekend's fiber event, but it can wait.  I need to pause just a little longer.

On Friday evening when the suspect was apprehended, we exhaled. But we haven't fully processed all that happened last week.  That will come only with time.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Monday was a festive day of celebration that turned ugly.  My heart is heavy from the day's events, and the story continues to unfold.  It was a day of sickening dread as families and friends reached out to connect . . . a time to check in and make sure loved ones were safe. Sadly, for some the news was not good.

In the midst of the overwhelming news reports on Monday, the words of Elizabeth Zimmermann came to mind.  "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises."  I've taken her advice to heart.

Seeking solace in the quiet rhythm of my needles.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Picture Perfect

When an event moves to a new venue, I never know what to expect. Will the layout be challenging?  Will the lighting be awful?  Will people come?

Yesterday The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl wrapped up a weekend of fiber festivities in a new location.  This year the Market was held at Mount Hope Farm.  We were in a restored barn on beautiful grounds with the ocean as a backdrop.  I don't think anyone was disappointed with the change in venue.

Follow along for a photo tour.

The grounds are full of impressive stonework, including this column.

At the end of the drive you'll find the ocean.

Just hanging out above the barn doors . . .

Animals inside.

Animals outside.

Top it all off with lovely spring weather, and you have a perfect afternoon.

Today there's an air of festivity in Massachusetts as we celebrate Patriot's Day and Marathon Monday.  With back-to-back shows I can't take the whole day off, but I will mark the holiday.  A round of coffee and knitting with a friend sound just about right.

Friday, April 12, 2013


The other day I was busy with the dye pots and decided to experiment with a few colorways.  I took colorways from one base and used them on a different base.  I started by selecting a handful of colorways from Lillian - 100% Superwash Merino.  I dyed Lucia - 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon - with the exact same dye formulas as the Lillian colorways.

As a general rule I don't expect colorways to look the same from base to base.  They all have different fiber content.  Some bases are tightly plied, others are more loosely plied.  All of these factors have an impact on the finished product.  But no matter what the outcome, it's always fun to experiment.

I started out with March Sky.

Lillian is on the left, and Lucia is on the right.  These two are almost identical.  Twins.

Then I tried Apricot.

Again, Lillian is on the left, and Lucia is on the right.  Same formula, different result.  These two share some of the same characteristics. Siblings.

And then because I got tired of repeats, I tried something new.

I want to cast on with this nameless colorway right now, but first I have to decide . . . socks or a shawl?

Rhode Island-area knitters are hot on the trail this weekend.  The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl is in full swing with knitterly fun and games all weekend long.  I'll be at Mount Hope Farm on Sunday to wrap it all up at the Marketplace.  The Rhode Island knitters know how to put on a yarn party.  If you're in the area, venture out for some of the festivities.

What a difference a few days can make, especially in spring. 

Just the other day these branches were bare, and now they're full of blossoms.

My color inspiration for the week.

Just a hint of pink.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Shape Of Things

Knitting can be boiled down to two ingredients - the knit stitch and the purl stitch.  It's the extended techniques that make knitting so intriguing.  For example, take short rows.  They are magical.  Short rows allow for shaping and adding extra fabric just where it's needed.

Lately when the situation calls for short rows, I've been experimenting with German short rows.

Draupner has a series of scallops along the bottom edge, and the scallops are constructed using short rows.  I opted for German short rows since they are so neat and tidy.  If you want to see step by step instructions for making German short rows, check out a previous blog post.

I've been making scallop after scallop after scallop.

My cable is full of scallops.  I think it's time for a scallop count.

Speaking of shapes take a look at the work of Kiyoshi Mino for detailed needle felted animals . . . lovely works of art.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yarn Party

Yarn shop parties are usually a blast with plenty of yarn, prizes, snacks and knitting time.  What's not to love?  Saturday I was on hand at Sisters of the Wool to help them celebrate their two year anniversary.

Sisters of the Wool is a cozy shop with comfy seating, good lighting and a nice selection of yarn and books.  I brought a sampling of kits and a few yarn blends to add to the festivities.
People were coming and going all afternoon.  I met a man who took up spinning three years ago as a form of physical therapy.  Kim, one of the teachers at the shop, also does sweater repair and finishing. Several people talked with her about sweaters in need of help, and she left the shop with a couple more projects in tow.  I discussed ganseys with a knitter who is plotting his first gansey sweater.   Somewhere in between all the talking I gave demonstrations on thrumming.  Beware. There's a new wave of inspired thrummers on the loose.

And of course there was time for knitting.  Saturday morning on my way out the door I grabbed my Grayling.  This sweater is really too big to be a handy on-the-go project, but it was near the top of the pile.  I'm glad I took it.

The body is finished and the edge detail is done.  Just a couple more rows and I'll be binding off.   Bring on the sleeves.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Blocking can make or break a knitting project.  I love blocking - I really do - but sometimes there are obstacles along the way.  I have to clear a big enough space, the pins go missing and they must have kidnapped the yardstick because it's nowhere to be found.  But once I have the necessary ingredients assembled, blocking is magical.


A crescent shaped shawl.

Light and airy.

A perfect little wrap for spring and summer.

Yarn overs create a lacy contrast to the garter stitch, and the outer edge has a small picot detail.

I followed the pattern as written except for a slight adjustment I made with the help of an Anne Hanson technique.

On the garter edge I worked the first stitch by wrapping the yarn twice. The double wrap gives the garter edge just a little extra when it comes time for blocking.  I found that I only needed this extra wrap on the increase section.  On the decrease section I worked the first stitch as usual with a single wrap.

The pattern starts with the increase section.  As I worked through this section I weighed my ball of yarn.  I wanted to use half the yarn before switching to the decrease section.

For once my calculations were right on target.  I added one more of both the increase and the decrease repeats and ended up with just enough yarn to spare.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Paula, colorway Orchid.  Blue Faced Leicester is one of my favorites to work with - smooth and strong yet almost silky.

I always enjoy a new traveling companion. and Picabeau will be with me tomorrow as I head to the trunk show at Sisters of the Wool.  

There isn't much color outside, but once the temps warm up, I'm sure we'll have an explosion of color.  I was lucky to find this bright little patch - my color inspiration for the week.

A glimpse of green.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

In Spite Of The Weather

We won't discuss the fact that yesterday I saw a few snowflakes falling.  Perhaps the flakes were to commemorate the April Fool's Day Blizzard.  Sixteen years ago we were still digging out.

It's better to focus on the potential for spring-like weather.  For a few weeks I've been brewing up a bit of spring in the dye pots.

These colors and more are now live on the website.  Lillian, Lucia and Paula all feature new colorways.  There will be a few more fresh colors trickling in over the coming weeks.  Stay tuned.  Spring is just getting started. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Weekend Observations

I came away from the weekend with several observations.  A strip mall parking lot can be entertaining if you're people watching - loud teenage boys piling into a car, barking dogs left unattended in a car, excited children skipping into the pet store.  It can also be a good spot for production knitting while waiting for kids.  There's nothing like a few hours in a confined space to add several inches to the latest knitting project.

My Picabeau is off the needles and next in line for a good blocking.  I'll share pictures in a later post.

Since one project was off the needles, I had license to start a new one.  In case you're wondering, that's our communal Easter / Spring basket in the background.  That was one of my better ideas over the weekend - throw a bunch of candy in one basket for all to share.  I don't know why I didn't think of it years ago.  My not-so-good idea was leaving two teenage boys with potatoes, peelers and a pot and expecting that it would all land on the stove ready for cooking.  You win some, you lose some.

Next up on the needles is Draupner.  I would put this in the win column.

This shawl has a short row, scalloped bottom edge.  Draupner is worked from the bottom up, so right now it's all about the scallops. I came up with a production system on the first scallop.  One down, ten to go.