Monday, December 31, 2007

Will I ever be a weaver?

I am having a great time with my new rigid heddle loom. But what a lot to learn! I took a few weaving books out of the library just to familiarize myself with some of the terms. I think it will be really good for me to crack open the rusty old brain and try to gain some new skills.

In the meantime, however, this is some pretty sorry-looking weaving --

Selvedges are clearly not my friends.

I am taking the occasional break from weaving to take comfort with my old friend knitting. Since Christmas, I've made myself a pair of felted mittens to match my daughter's. So quick! So warm! So easy!

And I've begun the Ice Queen from Knitty -- I'm using a warm red Kidsilk Haze and some size 8 beads in almost a matching color. They add a little sparkle without being too glitzy.

Tomorrow, we take a break from all things fiber for our traditional New Year's Eve celebration. Karen and David will be coming over for an hours-long, multi-course dinner of wild mushroom crostini, consomme, shrimp salad with lime-ginger dressing, (the wonderful palate-cleansing citrus sorbet with its generous helping of tequila), beef wellington, grilled asparagus and lemon sponge pudding with raspberry sauce. I shall obviously be spending time cooking tomorrow -- and enjoying every minute of it. This is our favorite way of ringing in the New Year -- friends, family and good food. (And champagne!)

Wishing all of you a wonderful 2008!


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Day after Boxing Day

I've always loved the day after Christmas. In fact, all the days between Christmas and New Year's Day are among my favorites. The house is clean and nicely decorated. There are plenty of cookies already baked to serve when people come over. The stress of the holiday itself is over.

And there are toys to play with!
Christmas was wonderful -- over many days, we saw friends and family. We went to Greenfield Village for the Holiday Nights extravaganza. (Of course, on our chosen night, Dec. 23, there were wind advisories and a wind chill factor of -1F. But hey, that's what wool is for, right?)Gifts were finished on time. Scott loved his vest. (Perhaps not quite as much as his new Nikon D40x digital SLR camera, but close) Caroline loved her knitted, felted mittens. Ileana was happy with her alpaca scarf.
And Andrew's socks were a hit, except for a bit of bagginess around the ankle. His legs are slimmer than his size 13 feet would suggest. So, I'm going to try a bit of fulling. I'd better not over-shrink these, because I dread the idea of making another enormous pair.
Kathy's felted tote, filled with handspun yarn and crochet materials, was well-received. And everyone loved their ornaments. All in all, a good gift-giving holiday.

And a great gift-getting holiday. Among many lovely things, I received some Schaefer yarn and a knitting bag from the Point in New York, courtesy of Ileana. (coincidentally, we got each other's names in the family name-draw. No, really, the fact that I was the organizer of the drawing is just serendipity. )
My son gave me Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop DVD, my daughter gave me a knitting book.
And my darling husband gave me a 32" rigid heddle loom!
I have wanted to dabble a bit in weaving. Nothing too much. Perhaps. In any event, after warping it wrong -- and then figuring out my mistake, cutting off all the yarn and warping it right -- I have started playing with weaving. There is nothing like trying to learn a completely new skill to appreciate how much I don't know. But hey, it will keep my mind sharp, right?

And even though this one was finished this summer, I never took a picture of it. So, here is the beaded evening bag I made as a wedding gift for my new sister-in-law, Cathy. It's 100% silk, lined with velvet. And was a bit of a pain to knit.
Hope you all had a wonderful, peaceful holiday and wishing you a fabulous new year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas countdown

Ack! We celebrate Christmas tomorrow with my family, and I still need to bake cookies (peanut blossoms, butter cookies with icing and gingersnaps to replace the ones my son apparently found). I have a squash casserole to make, and not a gift has been wrapped.

Oh, and the knitting.

Scott's vest is still not finished. I had picked up all the stitches for the buttonband the other night, when the cable for my Knitpicks Options needles snapped. And stitches slid smoothly off that nice flexible material. Sigh. I'm hopeful this is just a fluke with one cable, and not indicative of a problem, because otherwise, I love these needles. No snagging at the join, smooth -- love them.

I have now picked up the dropped stitches, knitted past the buttonholes-- and just need to do a couple more rows on the button band. Then the armhole bands, the side seams, sewing on the buttons and blocking!

I also have to put the cuffs on these --

Felted mittens for my daughter.

Although I feel slightly overwhelmed, I realize my knitting schedule is nothing compared to Stephanie's. I figure if she can get all those projects finished in time, then I too should be able to travel through a rift in the space-time continuum and do the same.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sometimes I love winter

Like many people in the Midwest, we had a few inches of snow on Sunday. Fortunately for us, we had none of the negative power outages or tragedies that many others experienced. Instead, we are left with this ---

It looks like Christmas!

I finished the felted tote for Kathy. Remember that I did not buy nearly enough yarn for this when I was at Fingerlakes Fibers in Watkins Glen, NY? So, I had Matt from ThreadBear in Lansing order me some. Not only did it come in time, it was the SAME dye lot. I felt like Julie Andrews singing, "Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good."

Since Scott was around all weekend (which is a good thing and yet makes gift knitting so hard), I got a chance to knit up a pair of felted mittens for Caroline

I just need to add cuffs and they can go in the stocking on Christmas morning.

Now, if I can just get back to Scott's vest.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How many knitting days until Christmas?

This has been a week of major progress. My sister-in-law's felted tote is finished and successfully fulled. Yessss! It is in the dryer even as I type. Photos to come.

Ileana's scarf is finished --

And Scott and I have finished about a dozen of these (I know the picture is not great -- in an unusual moment for Michigan, there was too much sunshine. I couldn't bring myself to close the blinds -- we may not see the sun again for months.)

They are knitted, beaded ornaments with turned finials and icicles. We actually got enough of them finished to give away for Christmas. (Of course, we didn't finish any in time for the Spinner's Flock annual holiday sale, but there's always next year, right?)

A few years ago, I made this for Scott

and I love it. So, when I was on my birthday yarn crawl this year, I bought a complementary kit for a stocking for me --

Since I made a Norwegian stocking this year (that is still hanging in Carol's store), I don't think this one is a rush. But I'd like to have it for next year -- so if I actually started some time before next November, that would be good, yes?

I also bought a copy of this almost two months ago, and I am getting itchy to start some of these socks. If you haven't looked at this book, it's mind-blowing. I cannot wait to try out some of the techniques in it. Perhaps I'll get a chance over my two-week Christmas break.

We're all waiting for the blizzard "they" have predicted will be hitting us overnight. I'm grateful to be home, warm and safe -- and with my Christmas shopping finished!!! Tomorrow, I'll enjoy the snow and bake cookies with my daughter.

(The astute among you will notice that I did not mention Scott's vest during this post. I am in denial. The number of hours left to knit and the amount of knitting actually left to do may not exactly correspond to reality. Perhaps the wool elves will show up during the night and finish a few rows for me. Or the big guy in the red suit himself?)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Panic Knitting

The panic has officially begun! I have two weekends prior to the first family Christmas celebration. And those weekends are filled with Spinner's Flock and knitting group parties, Christmas parades and Christmas-tree-setting-up.

And let's not forget weekdays filled with work. It is at these moments I wish there was more mass transit -- I could get a lot of knitting done in the three-hours total that commute each day.

And Scott's vest still needs a right front, and the neck and button bands.

My sister-in-law's felted bag is still more like a do-it-yourself knitting/felting project.

I was hoping to make some felted mittens for someone's stocking -- but I'm not sure it's going to happen.

Take a deeeep breath.
It helps to make the scream louder.

Monday, December 03, 2007

It would help if I read the pattern ...

I was busily knitting away on a felted tote for my sister-in-law, when I realized there was no way I was going to have enough yarn.

I don't mean I was a little short -- I mean I only had about half of what I need. I have no idea how I did this. I bought the yarn (Lamb's Pride Worsted) and the contrasting yarn (Noro Kureyon) and the pattern (Fiber Trends) all at the SAME place -- Fingerlakes Fibers in Watkins Glen, NY.

At first, I thought maybe I just started knitting the wrong size. But no, I don't have enough for even the smallest size and I know that wasn't what I intended anyway. The Kureyon will be fine -- it's the Lamb's Pride I'm woefully short of. I think I need about 1400 yards, and I have 600.

Obviously, I did not read the pattern.

At all.

So it was off to ThreadBear in Lansing today. GREAT place, if you haven't been there. Matt is ordering my yarn. And with any luck, I'll get it in time to finish the bag.

If not, my sister-in-law will be really happy with her "make your own felted bag" kit, won't she?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas knitting

Thanksgiving week was wonderful -- a poetry reading by Laura Kasdorf on Monday, time with my daughter, family on Thursday and on Saturday.

And fiber-wise, I finished five more knitted and beaded ornaments -- ready for Scott to add the turned cherry finials and icicles. And Ileana's scarf is finished, grafted together and blocked. The back of Scott's vest and half of the left front are finished too. And yesterday, I spent some time demonstrating at the Spinner's Flock Holiday Fair in Ann Arbor. It's always inspiring to see what beautiful things the members of our guild make -- and I succumbed to some socks (all my handknit socks were in the laundry basket) and some handspun to give as part of a Christmas gift.

Hoping everyone's Thanksgiving was filled with peace, friends and family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I learned a very valuable lesson last night.

When you leave a knitting bag on the seat of your car, it is important to check that these
are not poking through before you sit on the bag.

And I have definitively determined that you really can penetrate flesh pretty far with an Addi Turbo.
Just a word of warning.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Birthday stash!

Yesterday was my birthday -- we won't say which one -- suffice to say it ends in "9."

In a sequel to last year's fabulous yarn store crawl, Scott took me on another tour -- this time of shops in Northwest Ohio (and one in Michigan that was almost in Ohio)

First, we went to Vintage Yarns in Lambertville -- what a great store and lovely people. I bought an Elegant Heirloom stocking kit (The Hapsburg Santa). I made the Christmas tree version for Scott a few years ago and loved it, so I'm making one for me.

Then it was off to Marblehead, Ohio, home of an old lighthouse and some fascinating history involving the Revolutionary War, cholera and the first woman lighthouse keeper. You should look it up. We visited Just for Ewe, a really cute little shop --

packed with lots of yarn --

I bought some of the Noro Kureyon -- for socks!

There were also some hungry fiber animals --

and who am I to resist making a llama smile?

And some not-fiber animals, but cute nonetheless.

Christi has lots of gifts and Christmas ornaments, and she's a knitter and spinner. What's not to love?

After lunch overlooking the marshes, we headed to Perrysburg and visited Dale Ann and Bobbie at Yarn Haven, which is located in a little house on Second Street. They are warm and friendly, and helpful without being pushy. I bought Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters and Knitting Memories (on CD, so I can listen in the car.)

Last was FiberWorks in Toledo. Packed with great stuff, and now missing a few skeins of Rowan's KidSilk Haze.

After all that yarn, we had to get sustenance. So we headed to Barnes and Noble to make shameless use of their restrooms to change into our clothes for dinner. And of course, we were in a bookstore, so I had to buy Knitting America --
and then it was off to Diva in Toledo for one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Absolutely fabulous food, and a lovely wait staff.

And dinner with the person I love most in this world.
Truly a happy birthday.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dyeing and carding

Last week, I decided to do something with the walnuts I've been collecting. They'd been soaking for a while, so I had some nice dark "dye liquor." When I went to drain off the liquid, I noticed some splash marks and a few nuts lying outside the container. I've been watching the squirrel feeder to see if one of these has darker-than-usual feet.

There was plenty left for me, however, so I strained out the solid bits, and brewed up the liquid on my trusty dyeing grill -- and then added some Rambouillet.

Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it?
While it was simmering away, I thought I'd card some of the wool I'd dyed the week before. I like carding outside when the weather permits; all the yucky stuff blows away instead of embedding itself in my dining room carpet.

I started with this --

Then did this --

And ended up with this --It has a few noils, but I picked most of them out while I was pulling it out into roving.

Meanwhile, Scott decided to try tinting some of the ornament finials he'd turned by dipping them in the walnut dyebath

We could tell it was really fall, though -- I needed this to keep me warm enough to card.

The walnut-dyed fiber came out of the dyebath and onto screens, but a week later, it is still wet. So tonight, it is naturally staining our basement floor while it dries.

And then -- I card it, spin it, and knit it into something to wear with my Civil War era garb.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Works in progress

Christmas is coming -- like an out-of-control freight train heading at me in the tunnel.

The Novemberness of today is frightening me -- so much to knit, so little time.

I've made progress on Ileana's scarf, but of course, no photo. Scott's vest is still looking frighteningly like this --

I have to remind myself that last year, I was steeking the sleeves of this the day before Christmas Eve.

So, it could be worse.

I haven't even begun a couple of gifts.

And these have been languishing on the needles for almost a year.

So, am I knitting?

No, of course not.

I'm spending all my time on Ravelry!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A walk in the woods

Today was beautiful. I mean, incredibly beautiful. The kind of day you try to recreate in memory when the skies are slate and the slush is falling.

Scott and I took a walk in the woods at Hidden Lake Gardens --

I knitted some more on Ileana's scarf--
It was a perfect day.