Saturday, December 8, 2012

Treasure Hunt

I've had the most extraordinary antique mall visits lately.  I regularly make the rounds of the many around Springfield and whenever I'm out traveling but rarely find much.  I just enjoy the hunt.  Usually I'm looking for tatting shuttles (which I find from time to time), vintage craft magazines (which I find a little more often - I now carry a list of what I have so as to not end up with duplicates), lace bobbins (never found), and interesting textiles.  Up until recently the last category has been very few and far between. 

Then I found this:
It's a linen doily with a bobbin lace edge.  Obviously there is some damage but I realized that I knew how to do all the various elements and so I decided to try to recreate the pricking from the doily and see if I could work the edging.

The next week, I found a stall full of textiles.  The first thing I picked up was this:
A bobbin lace doily with, yes, butterflies creatively worked into the pattern.  It was worked with a thread that was a little too fine for the pattern. 

Detail of the butterfly.
Then I picked up... 
a packet with 2 more doilies of the same pattern!  These were each done with a different thread and, as you can see from the detail shot above, the slightly heavier thread fills out the pattern a little more.  Also, the center holes were more neatly done.  Practice makes perfect?
How fun is that to have the document of someone trying out a pattern with different threads to get the right one for the pattern!  I can certainly so all the techniques in this one so I'm going to work this weekend on getting the pattern pricked from the nicest of the doilies.  I think I've got the number of bobbins figured out and know how to start the work.  Maybe over the Christmas break I'll have the quiet time to get it started, at least.
But that's not all!
The last few weeks I've been working on documenting the vintage and antique craft magazines in my collection, especially focusing on the Needlecraft and Modern Priscilla issues.  Because most date back to the 1910-1939 time period, I wanted to minimize wear and tear but still be able to get to the articles and patterns, I've created a spreadsheet with the month and year and a note of each of the patterns or articles in each.  It's fun to see how different crafts came into and then fell out of fashion over the years.
I've been getting more and more fascinated by the needle laces that were so common in the period and these magazines have a lot of instructions for these.  I'm still delving into the Teneriffe Lace but I'm also fascinated by the drawn work. 

Lo and behold, what did I find?

Again, this one has some damage but it's exquisitely worked and I can't stop looking at it, trying to figure out how it was all done.  Jiminy cricket, it's beautiful. 

But that's not all!

I also found several examples (of varying quality) of Battenburg lace and cutwork.
I'll let you know what I come up with!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day - Heritage of Crafters

In documenting the patterns in my vintage magazines, I came across the following article.  It was first published in the November 1931 issue of Needlecraft - The Magazine of Home Arts and traces the history of the woman who is almost singlehandedly responsible for the annual celebration of a Day of Thanks, the only pure holiday left to us.

Why Thanksgiving Day is Perennial – A Quilt Expert Tells the Story of Sarah Hale

By Florence Yoder Wilson

An interviewer has to be adaptable.  Able to change at the slightest breath.  For instance, take the visit made to Ruth E Finley, of quilt fame.  I went to find out about quilts and came back with a Thanksgiving story that was so good that it became THE story, and both Mrs. Finley and the quilts and her lovely home all have to take a back seat this November whilst Sarah Josepha Hale, for fifty years editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, proudly marches through these pages and receives from each reader’s heart the applause long due her for putting Thanksgiving Day on the map, or more strictly speaking, in the calendar.

True I shall not neglect Mrs. Finley, either on persona, quilt, or Sara Josepha scores.  For it is she and no other who held me fascinated that torrid August day in Hempstead, Long Island, she who is responsible for the best book on quilts to be had, namely, “Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them,” and she who, in the course of her research on coverlids, met, and fell in love with Sarah Josepha Hale.

That love was no flash and disappear affair.  It developed into an absorbing passion, burned steadily for several years, and at last has blazed forth into another book by Mrs. Finley entitled “The Lady of Godey’s, Sarah Josepha Hale” (published by J.B. Lippincott Co, Philadelphia, PA), which is just in print this winter.

Mrs. Finley found Mrs. Hale while she was looking up quilt patterns for her quilt book, in the old files of Godey’s Lady’s Book.  Everyone whose grandparents, or even mothers and fathers, were born in this country must have at least a memory of this first woman’s magazine.

Reproductions of Godey’s colored plates of ladies’ fashions appear everywhere now, pasted on lamps, books, toilet boxes, match boxes and what not.  The age of hoops, and flounces, and delicate fainting females, is not likely to be forgotten, especially at the present time.  The little Eugenie hats, so popular this winter, are of that very precious period.  But whether you know Godey’s or not here’s Sarah Hale’s story, retold in my words, as Mrs. Finley told it to me.

Sarah Josepha Hale is to be reckoned as one of America’s foremost women for many reasons, but just at this time, her distinction as being the person responsible for Thanksgiving Day as we celebrate it, in unison, as a nation, is by far the most appropriate matter to discuss.

For thirty years, this indefatigable woman wrote to different presidents, the governors of states and territories, and to men and women in public life urging them to consider the value of a national Thanksgiving Day, proclaimed yearly a holiday by the government.

In the beginning as we all know, the first proclamation for a Day of Thanks was made by General Washington in 1789.  It is not so well known, however, that, following this time, there was no special date set for such a demonstration of gratitude to God for His mercies.  Each year, at variable dates, it was the habit for people to meet and keep a Day of Thanks.  Certain localities observed the custom regularly especially in the New England states, but all over the south and west, this occasion was sometimes celebrated, and sometimes not. In any event the dates varied greatly, and there was no national celebration of any kind.

Sarah Hale had an idea that a national holiday would unify the country, and draw it together in common bonds of prayer and gratitude.  It is hard for us to realize today, what this far-flung nation was before the Civil War.  Gravest doubts as to our ever being able to act as a unit assailed the most patriotic.  This state was like a European sovereignty, that state was tied up with two or three others, and seemed to have no identity; the west was divided into territories, and the far west was at best a grave hazard, against which the hardy forty-niners had thrown themselves, said some, in vain.

The deepest instincts of patriotism stirred Mrs. Hale to her thirty years’ endeavor.  But for her, Thanksgiving would have disappeared, or become merely a sectional holiday indulged in by a few New England states.

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln, acceding to Mrs. Hale’s earnest solicitations issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, and in the administrations following the custom has never been dropped.  Who was this Sarah Hale?  Oh, just one of our early school teachers, to begin with.  The kind that brushed the rattlesnakes off the front stoop before they went into the little red schoolhouse, and at lunch with the smallest children for fear the mountain lions would make their lunch of them.

School-teaching lasted seven years, and then came marriage, to David Hale, at twenty-five, and life began at Newport, New Hampshire.  Four children were born to the Hales and two weeks before the fifth child was born, Mr. Hale died, leaving his wife destitute – with five children to support and educate.

That word destitute has the same spelling it had back in 1826, but it hasn’t the same application and meaning.  Destitute in those days was destitute.  Sarah Josepha Hale had nothing, and no prospects.  Women did practically no public work in those days.  She tried millinery, and failed.

She wrote a book of poems, which was published.  Then she wrote a book called “Northwood,” which was also published.  Mrs. Finley says it is the first American novel by a woman, with something of the atmosphere of “Wuthering Heights” about it and that it has never been given its just due.  (Incidentally, I have never read it.  Will anyone owning a copy of “Northwood” by Sarah Josepha Hale, please communicate with me at once?) And “Mary Had a Little Lamb” – Everybody knows that poem.  Well, Sarah Hale is the author of that, too.

In January 1828, Mrs. Hale was made editor of the first real woman’s magazine ever published in this country.  The American Lady’s Magazine.  In 1837 Louis G Godey who had started a magazine of his own, tried to lure Sarah Josepha from her job, to be editor of his publication.  But she would have none of him, and so he bought the American Lady’s Magazine and consolidated it with Godey’s Lady’s Book, thereby automatically falling heir to Sarah Josepha.

Even Mr. Godey knew a real person when he saw one.  If you want to meet the lady more intimately, look for her in Ruth Finley’s new book, “The Lady of Godey’s.”  For fifty years Sarah Josepha Hale, was an editor and blazed more than one trail down which hundreds of American women walk to this day.

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's all about the journey

I have no idea why I ever wanted to do bobbin lace. I'd never seen anyone do it and knew nothing about it. But it's opened up my interest into other types of laces, particularly needle laces.

The latest experiment is Teneriffe Lace. It's a needle lace that is worked in medalians then, typically sewn to the ends of a doily or to a garment for embellishment.

Tools are simple: a small, fairly firm pillow; a long, large-eye needle; thread; long glass-head pins

Then you wind the thread and start working.  Here's a little part of my journey to Teneriffe...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Still here

Life goes on, right?  That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday night I did my first program on bobbin lace making.  The Prairie Weavers group asked me to give an overview of bobbin lace history and I thought I'd do a little practical hands-on as well.  I love doing programs for this group, they're always so involved in the programs and ask great questions.  I had a look at the tools for lace making like the various pillows and types of bobbins and then the types of lace made all over the world.
While I was preparing for the program, I thought I would do this little bookmark pattern as a sample.

When I was at the Vogue Knitting event in Chicago last month, I visited the Habu booth because I thought I might find some interesting yarn to use for bobbin lace.  I came away with a silk/stainless steel and a linen/stainless steel and a 100% ramie yarn.  With lace, you need a yarn/thread that will have some structure to it, which is why linen thread is so often used.

I tried the linen/stainless steel but it didn't work.  Too rough. But then I did this pattern with the silk/stainless steel and I LOVED it!  It's going to work great!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Meet the newest addition

I wanted to introduce the newest addition to my family.  This is my Harrisville loom I brought home yesterday.  It has a 36" weaving width and it's so beautiful.  It was owned by my new friend, Darlene, who got it back in the early 80's.  She decided that grandkids were more fun than weaving (and who could argue with that?) so it has gone unused for a number of years.
I already have some perle cotton pulled out to start winding the warp and I'll get Laurie to help me get that first warp on.  I can hardly wait except I'll be out of town for a week or so.  So I will wait but I'll be busily planning for my return!
I think I'm finally going to become a weaver.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Too cute to count

I had no idea it had been so long since I've posted.  There's just too much to keep up with. 
Here's one thing I've been waiting to share.  I didn't want to post this until the expectant mommy got her care package. A friend of mine is having a baby very shortly and I've been working on things since I first found out.  There was a blanket (of course, from a vintage pattern) and then this little outfit. 

The jacket is my take on a vintage baby pattern that I call Baby Seed Jacket.  The original pattern was written using Berroco Comfort but since I couldn't find any of the Berroco, I decided to use Encore.  It's the same weight, fiber makeup, etc.and it proved to be a successful substitute.  I think the Comfort gives better stitch definition and I would still chose to use it if I had a choice but this was fine.  You can't tell from this picture but this was a variegated heathered yarn that went from a light pink to a light grey and I was concerned about how long the color changes were.  I still prefer the shorter changes of Berroco but, again, this was fine.

There were supposed to be 2 rows of buttons but the button holes were too far down so I decided to add a faux row.  That is, I sewed the buttons on top and added snaps underneath.  I like using snaps near the neck because the buttons can come out of button holes with the moving baby and the snaps just make it a little more secure and less fussy.

I had only written the pattern for the jacket.  But I'd bought 2 balls of yarn and used only a little bit of the second ball.  I decided I had to have a hat.  So I cast on and made the hat.  I still had yarn left over so I decided I had to have booties.  And, ya'll, I love these booties beyond all reason.  the cuff can fold up or fold down, and they're actually shaped more like a little shoe.  I decided to work the heel a little differently.  I'm sure someone will jump up and say, "That's a so-and-so heel!"  But I just made it up because I thought it looked more like a shoe than a sock and this method seemed to work the best for that. 

I decided to knit the heel straight down using the stitches from 3 of the 4 needles (3/4 of the stitches, if you're using circs or magic loop).  Once I got to the bottom, I knit the stitches of the back needle in garter (for the sole) and at the end of each row, I knit 1 stitch from the back needle and 1 stitch from the side needle together.  That bound off the stitches of the side needles and that was my heel turned.  Then I started knitting in the round again by knitting the sole stitches in garter, picking up stitches from the side edge, knitting the top needle stitches and picking up stitches on the other side.  That gave me my heel turned and my foot stitches.

On the toe, instead of decreasing like a sock, I decreased on the top only, which gives a shaped toe but leaves the sole flat, like a shoe.  I really love how they came out.  If you want to try the Baby Seed Booties, here's the pattern.  At some point, I'm going to add the bootie and hat pattern to the jacket pattern but I haven't gotten that done yet.  In the meantime, enjoy:

Baby Seed Booties

2 skeins worsted weight yarn like Encore                  1 set US size 4 (3.5mm) straight needles
1 set US size 4 (3.5mm) double pointed needles      Tapestry needle (for finishing)
2 buttons (for cuffs)

Using straight needles, cast on 32 stitches.  Knit 10 rows in seed stitches (K1, P1, repeat across)
Left bootie: Bind off 6 stitches and knit across row, distributing stitches on double pointed needles this way: needle #1 – 6 stitches; #2 – 6 stitches; #3 – 8 stitches; #4 – 6 stitches.  (needle with 8 stitches forms the heel and, eventually, the sole)
Right bootie: Knit to end.  On next row, bind off 6 stitches and distribute remaining stitches on double pointed needles this way: needle #1 – 6 stitches; #2 – 6 stitches; #3 – 8 stitches; #4 – 6 stitches. (needle with 8 stitches forms the heel and, eventually, the sole)
Knit 16 rounds.

For the next section, you will use the stitches from all the needles except needle 1 (top of foot where flap is).

Distribute the remaining 20 stitches on 2 needles (10 stitches each).  (You can leave them on 3 needles but I find it easier to manage on 2 needles.)
Work 10 rows in stockinette stitch.

Knit to end.

The next section is going to form the heel part of the sole and turn the heel.  The sole of the bootie will be in garter stitch and the rest in stockinette.

Row 1: P6, K7, K2tog.  Turn.
Row 2: Slip 1, K6, K2tog. Turn.
Repeat Row 2 until all side stitches have been used. (8 stitches remaining)

You’ll now begin working in rounds again.

Round 1: K8 on one needle.  With the next needle, pick up 7 stitches along the side of the heel.  On the next needle, knit the 6 stitches that were being held in reserve.  On the last needle, pick up 7 stitches along the side of the heel.
Round 2: P8 on the “sole” needle, knit around.
Round 3: K8 on the “sole” needle to maintain the garter stitch pattern, knit around.

Repeat Rounds 2 & 3 five more times (12 rounds in all).

Begin decreases for toe.  You may find it easiest to keep sole stitches on 1 needle and divide the remaining stitches between 2 needles (10 stitches each).

(Remember to keep the sole stitches in garter.)
Round 1: Knit (or Purl) 8, next needle - K6, K2tog, K2, next needle – K2, SSK, K6.
Round 2: Knit (or Purl) 8, next needle – K5, K2tog, K2, next needle – K2, SSK, K5.
Round 3: Knit (or Purl) 8, next needle – K4, K2tog, K2, next needle – K2, SSK, K4.
Round 4: Knit (or Purl) 8, next needle – K3, K2tog, K2, next needle – K2, SSK, K3.
Round 5: Knit (or Purl) 8, next needle – K2, K2tog, K2, next needle – K2, SSK, K2.
Round 6: Knit (or Purl) 8, next needle – K1, K2tog, K2, next needle – K2, SSK, K1.
Round 7: Knit (or Purl) 2 together, K6, SSK, next needle – K2tog, K2, next needle – K2, SSK.
Kitchener the toe stitches together.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Diggin' the Cotton

I've been on a cotton bender lately.  A few weeks ago I demo-ed at a friends booth at an event and, once again, people were fascinated by the magic of cotton.  To me, that's the only word to use.  There is something so magical about how this stuff grows (the flowers change colors and the seeds burst their bolls), how it comes right off the seed and how it spins up.  It was very satisfying to have women and men stand by me watching it all happen and being as entranced as I am.  It's like we were all just standing back watching a wonder of nature unfold right before our eyes.
I was going to use this cotton in a particular baby item but found that the thread is not suited to the technique I was going to use so I'll need to figure out something else to do with it.  For anyone who has never felt handspun cotton and who only knows cotton as that heavy or rough stuff that usually comes from commercially produced yarn or thread, they would be even more amazed at how light and soft and cushy this stuff is.

On a more wooly note, remember the Polworth yarn I was unhappy with?  Here's what happened to it:
Still no better spun but as pretty as can be.  This is the advantage to the Navajo plying and keeping the colors pure.  You get great striping like this.  I'm the most pleased at the scarf and how perfectly these vintage buttons matched the yarn.

The scarf pattern is very simple.  I cast on about 24 stitches and worked K2, P2 ribbing until I almost ran out of yarn then I crocheted the edge, including 3 loops for the buttons.  I attached the buttons at an angle so it would sit right when around the neck.  Easy, peasy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Puzzle's the Thing

I love learning new things and I love figuring stuff out.  At heart, I'm a problem solver, I guess. 

I've done a couple of projects now from vintage patterns that include tatting a "frame" and then needleweaving inside it.  Generally the patterns have been flower shaped (more or less).  As I've been playing around with this, I've discovered what similarities it has with Reticella work.  Have a look here and here.  Although these are much more intricate than anything I'm doing, it still bears a resemblance to how it's worked. 

My friend Karen Poulakos is vending at the Round Bobbin show in St Charles, Missouri, this weekend and I told her I would come along and demo at their booth on Saturday.  (If you're in the St Louis area, be sure to stop by booths 308 and 310 and say hi.)  While we were talking about it, I made the comment of wouldn't it be fun to do specific demos at specified times so maybe people will come by more often throughout the day.  So we hit on doing the following:

  • 11 am - start spinning with a drop spindle
  • 12 pm - knit or crochet with unspun silk hankies
  • 1 pm - anatomy of yarns: tips to choosing the right yarn
  • 2 pm - spinning cotton from the seed.
  • 3 pm - needle weaving.
    Most of the subjects are things I can do with my eyes closed but the needleweaving was a bit of a challenge because I haven't done that much of it.  I needed some samples.  See what you think of this:
     You've seen the brown tatting project.  It's not yet finished because I'm going to use that for my demonstration on Saturday.
     The pink panel at the bottom was just a filet crochet "frame" (instead of the tatted frame) with 3 different designs worked inside.  Click on the image to see it more up close.
    The little medialian was done completely differently.  The frame was done by laying the thread out in a square, pinning the four corners, doing a buttonhold stitch around to make the fram and then working the leaves.  I wanted an example of more of a weaving base for the petals and this is what happened.  It has such an art deco look to it.  I can just see that sort of image being used for the Miami hotels or something like the Chrystler Building.

    Saturday, September 8, 2012

    Spin on

    I finally got a spinning project finished.  The other day when I spent the day demonstrating at the Historical Marbold Farm, I was determined to get this 4 oz of Polworth finished. 
    I fell in love with the colors but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it.  I knew I wanted to keep the colors pure so I Navajo-plied it.  I think I put a little too much twist in it - it's not as soft as I'd expected.  Now that I've started knitting it up, I think it will be okay. 

    But, regardless, I love the colors and the hat I'm knitting will show it up nicely, I think.

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    Variations on a theme

    I had certain things I wanted to accomplish this long holiday weekend. The biggest goal, finishing the warping of the loom, I didn't do. Demo-ing at the Historic Marbold Farm Ice Cream Social, I did. Tatting, I really did. I decided to do some samples of a project I'm going to do for a class. I thought it had a lot of scope for variations so I tried a few.
    At the top was the original sample in a plain single color.  It has 4 simple, small motifs in the middle with an edging around.  I decided to play with more small motifs in the middle with the edging.  I found this variegated green so I thought maybe I could play with a garden theme.  I did the 2 motifs in the pinks.  I didn't have a plan, I just started making motifs and putting them together.  Once I'd come up with this configuration, I wished I'd planned it better and done the 4 middle motifs in the colors and surrounded them with the green motifs.  But I didn't and I couldn't cut the 2 green ones out of the middle because they were foundationals motifs and had others motifs connected to their picots.  So I went ahead and finished the edging on it.  Pretty but I think I'd like to do it again with the pinks in the middle and the greens surrounding.

    I did another small version with just the variegated pinks.  With these last 2 versions, I did the tips in a different method than I did on the pink version.  This is the pattern that I didn't like the way the book had done the end so I've been playing with other combinations.  I think I like this version the best.  On the end, where I'm working between 2 picots on the same motif, I did 6 ds, small picot, 1 ds, large picot, 1ds, small picot, 6 ds.  This give a nice pointy end for the diamond.

    Thursday, August 30, 2012

    Rescue Scarf

    A friend of mine got very interested in weaving a couple of years ago and, encouraged by her niece, bought an overshot scarf kit from Yarn Barn.  Another friend and I helped her get her loom warped (actually it was my loom - long story).  However the threading was a little off, she thought, and she just never got back to fixing it and getting started.  After a (long) while, she decided that she had lost interest and gave me the loom back so I could do the weaving.

    In the meantime, however, the warp (which was a lace weight wool yarn) had weakened in the area where the heddle had been rubbing it so when I got it home, I realized I was going to have to rethread (to find the mistake in threading) and I might as well get the warp past the weakened area so I wouldn't have to keep fixing the broken strands.

    I finally got everything together last weekend and got this far:
    Not too bad until I realized that I had missed a strand between the 2 groups I'd threaded and had to rethread a whole section.  I finally got that done and here's where I am now:
    If that looks like the same place, it is.  At least I got back to the point where I was before I discovered MY mistake!  Now all I need is a little time and patience and I might actually get this sucker re-warped and going again.

    Wish me luck.

    Monday, August 13, 2012

    On to the land of tatting

    I've gone from babyland to the land of tatting, all with the little exercise of the making the samples for the LACE group.  I admit there had been a hankering for the tatting for a while but this got me going.

    After I finished the samples, I was looking through one of the books I'd been using and came across a pattern that was just like the one I'd found in the 1933 craft magazine (click here for more info on that one).  I'm so fascinated by this technique of tatting a pattern with an open middle and then needle weaving a pattern in the opening.  The pattern I just found is in a Dover publication but the original publication of the pattern was probably in this same time frame - early 1930's.  See what you think.

    First you tat the "frame."
    These are 4 identical motifs that were joined as I worked.  The way the pattern was written made the final join in the motif extremely challenging but I found that by changing the starting point from the ring in the middle of the side to the 4-ring motif in the corner, it solved the challenge and made it easy as pie.  It's easier and I'm allowed to do that. Working the following 3 motifs, getting the joins in the right place however, entailed the challenge of paying attention to where I was at all time and making consciously sure I was joining to the right picot (see previous post about "ripping out" tatting - not fun).  Of course, I had to test my powers of tatting by doing all this by watching the movie Inception.  I love that movie but I don't recommend tatting something complex while watching it.  That is, unless you've seen it more than 10 times. 

    Now that I have the framework in place, I can work the inner weaving patterns.
    Like this.  Isn't that interesting?  Click on the photo for a closer look.

    I've got it pinned to one of my bobbin lace pillows to make sure it doesn't get skewed in the weaving.  I also steam ironed it before I started.  The helps set everything in place.  Tatting's pretty solid but it just adds a bit of structure as the weaving is worked.

    The needle weaving is very relaxing and contemplative.

    I've been wondering how this could be worked with knitting (not sure how that would hold up) and crochet (I think crochet could totally work).  I even thought about the possibility of working this in a sweater or other garment.  You could certain even work the tatting and use it as a centerpiece in a knitted garment.  How about doing it in a circle and using it as the yoke of a sweater?  That could be very, very cool.

    By the way, for those that care, I'm working this using Lizbet size 20 Egyptian cotton in Mocha Brown Medium.  It's a 6-cord cardonnet thread which is more tightly spun than regular crochet thread and more suited to tatting.  You can use crochet thread but it doesn't hold up as well or have as much body for tatting.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Thoughts and conclusions

    I've been learning a few things lately and I've come to a few conclusions. 

    I've come to the conclusion that ripping out is easier with crochet and knitting than it is with tatting.

    I was asked by the LACE group in Chicago to do a tatting class during their  Lace Days event next June.  Since they want to approve the pattern (or choose the pattern - not sure what that's about), I've been doing some samples for them to look at. 

    One of the patterns, the one on the left here, is made up of 4 small medallions, put together with a border stitched around them.  I got the inner mediallions done, no problem.  I started working the outside border and started to have issues.  There weren't nearly enough stitches to make it lay flat and the original pattern had the double rings off to the side on the top and bottom (where here I've added the longer chains and little upsidedown ring).  Again, no problem, it didn't take long to do.  I'll rip it out and redo the border, adding more stitches.

    Now crochet is the easiest thing ever to rip out because you're only ever working with one live stitch at a time.  Knitting's not too bad either unless you're on a complex lace pattern.  But even then, you've put in life lines and you're okay or you can take it out stitch by stitch.  Not so bad, even if time consuming.

    With tatting there's none of that.  Here's what ripping out looks like in tatting...
    It's done with scissors.  You just snip it right off and start all over again.  And then you redo the border.  Easy.  But it sucks when you've made a mistake in the middle of a pattern.  Once you've closed a ring, the ring is closed and there's no way to change it.  Other than cut it off.

    The next thing I've been thinking about is the new exercise routine I've started with a program called TurboFire.  I've been thinking a lot about how I feel and how I feel about myself and I came to the conclusion that I don't care about the weight, I care about not being in shape.  I needed a kick in the butt and preferred to try this method rather than the personal trainer route.

    My goal is no longer to lose x number of pounds, it's now about fitness.  My goal right now is to be able to do 25 full plank push ups.  When I started 3 1/2 weeks ago, I could barely do 2 half pushups on my knees.  Now I can do about 10 full pushups on my knees and 3 plank half pushups. There's something about that change of focus that is motivating me to do the work and being able to feel and see the muscles starting to take shape makes me want to do more.

    I don't want to sound like an infomercial but here's what I like about this program.  Although it is a fnancial investment, it's a fully rounded program that provides both cardio, strength and flexibility training.  It comes with the "props" you use in the workouts like a lower body band, a toning band, a workout schedule for just starting out and for long term use, help with learning to use food to fuel your body instead of defeating the purpose (and a killer recipe book) and about 15 different videos with different types of workouts.

    Now here's another conclusion that I think I always knew but has been reinforced to me.  People with passion for what they do make the best teachers.  I think that's one of the big things I've responded to in the way the Chalene Johnson approaches these workouts.  There's a lot of butt kicking but you get so encouraged by her enthusiasm and passion that you don't even noticed you got your butt kicked until it's over!  Well, you might have a clue or two but you want to press through.  The vibe is so positive that you believe you can do it, even when you're panting and your legs are shaking. 

    There's always the understanding that you do as much as you can and then next time you do a little more than you did today and so on.  It's not for everyone but it will take you on a great journey and you'll feel like you've really accomplished something.  Music out.....

    And my final influence lately is a children's book called the Phantom Tollbooth.  Somehow I got through childhood and this far into life without coming across this book.  I'd heard an interview with the author, Norton Juster, because they've just put out the 50th anniversay edition of the book, and was intrigued by the interviewer's extensive quoting of the word play throughout the story.  Sounded like just my kind of thing.  It's been quite a journey with Milo and Tock and the Humbug.  So my thought here is that we underestimate kids.  We underestimate people that we know in just one context, only at work, say, or who are older.  We don't hold out the possibility that they have interesting interests or talents or have had interesting experiences.  Understand?  No?  Read the book.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    And Finished

    Just wanted one more shot of the finished sweater.  I just found out about another baby boy on the way so I'll definitely be using this pattern again.

    Sorry, for some reason the photo wants to be upside down!  There's no fathoming the ways of mobile posting.  We're knitters, though, so we can adjust.  Ha!

    Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Baby steps

    For some reason, I'm finding it very hard to focus on blogging lately.  It's not that I've forgotten you. I'll try to do better.

    In the meantime, here's the next step in the baby stuff.  This one's for wee Mason in Florida.  It's probably going to be big for him right now but hopefully will be ready for him as things cool down a little.

    The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Jeannee. 51% cotton and 49% acrylic so it can be washed and dried easily and it will be a little better for the warmer climate. I don't know if the yarn is even still made because I've had this in the stash for quite a while and I only had 1 skein each of the 3 colors.  Not really sure why I had these particular colors but I ended up with just a few yards of 2 of the colors left over and none, really of the dark green left over.  It still needs button but I wanted to get a quick photo done before I go on my next trip.  I may add pockets, which was in the original plan, but I think I just like it like this.

    If you could see it in person, you would see that it doesn't have button holes.  I've decided since this yarn is pretty thick and is half cotton, buttonholes would tend to stretch.  So I'm going to put snaps on and just sew the buttons on top.  I think they're easier to manage like that anyway but it will also mean I can do fun buttons that don't always work well with buttonholes.  I do plan to write this pattern out and will probably just publish it here instead of doing a proper pattern for it.  We'll see how much time I get to formalize the pattern. I actually went through several different iterations of this with different yarns.  I just couldn't get happy about the other yarns I was trying and finally came across these in the stash.

    It's actually pretty easy.  I cast on 96 stitches (with US size 5 needles) and did K2/P2 ribbing for about 8 rows.  I don't know what the gauge is but the yarn is worsted weight.  After the ribbing, I knitted stockinette stitch until the piece was 7 inches from the beginning.  To shape the armholes, I knitted across 20 stitches, bound off 6, knitted until there were 26 stitches left, bound off 6, and knitted 20 stitches.

    From this point, each section had to be worked separately.  I decreased stitches at the armhole twice on the knit row and at the same time started decreasing on the neck side.  I continued to decrease on the neck side until there were 12 stitches on the needle and then I knit straight until the armhole was 3 inches and then I bound off the 12 stitches. 

    On the other front, do the same thing, On the back, I did the 2 decreases each side of the back (4 stitches decreased in all) and then knit straight until the back matched the front.  On the last 2 rows of the back, I bound off 12 stitches at the beginning of each of the rows and put the remaining stitches on a stitch holder ready for the band.

    I sewed the shoulder seams and picked up for the band.  I didn't count but I did a strict pick up 3 stitches on 3 rows and skipped a row.  This is a pretty good way to make sure it lays properly.  When I got to the stitch holder, I knit those off and picked up the same number on the way back down the other side.  I did K2/P2 rib for 6 rows but I wish I'd done it for 8 to match the bottom band.  See what you like.  Then I bound off in the stitch pattern.  Remember, I didn't use buttonholes so if you would rather include them, I would recommend no more than 3 or 4 along the band, evenly spaced, inserted on the second of the K2/P2 rows.

    For the sleeves, I cast on 40 stitches and did the ribbing for 2.5-3 inches.  I like to have the band longer on the sleeves so they can be rolled up if necessary and still look well.  After the ribbing, I increased 4 stitches along the first knit row then I increased 1 each side of the sleeve every 6th row until I had 50 stitches.  I knit the sleeves until they were 6 inches from the middle of the ribbing section.  In other words, I folded the sleeve at the ribbing and used that as my beginning point.

    I did the same sleeve decreases as for the body (3 on each side followed by 1 decrease each side on each of the next knit rows).  Instead of knitting the final purl row, I bound off on that last row.  On my model, one more purl row was going to make the head of the sleeve just a little bigger than I wanted.  To adjust this in future, I'll probably do the sleeve increases to 48 stitches and include the final purl row (if that makes sense).  I think the sleeve with fit a little better that way.  It's okay but I think it would lay a little better with that little adjustment. 

    After that, I just sewed the sleeves in and worked all the ends in and it was done!  Very quick, very easy and would look great with a little fair isle pattern or worked in a variegated yarn so you don't have all the ends.  Just a fun, basic sweater.  I hadn't planned to put all this in tonight, but might as well since it's all fresh in my brain.  Have fun with it.

    That's 2 babies down (the other one is getting delivered this next week) and now for the next one.  I'm glad I've got some time to get the things done I've got planned.  Hehehe.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    Welcome to babyland

    The adventures in babyland have officially begun.  I found out about a month ago that one of my remote colleagues was pregnant but isn't due until December.  She doesn't yet know the sex of the baby so I've been sort of waiting for that before I start some of the small stuff.  The big stuff is being begun tonight as I've finally decided which of my vintage patterns to use.

    That being said, after I found out about that baby, I've found out there are 2 other co-workers with babies or grandbabies coming or just here so this weekend, I've been working on those.  Both include my Vintage Rocks Baby pattern but now I've added a pair of booties to the outfit.  I haven't got the booties added to the posted pattern yet but I'll be trying to get that done soon.

    I just love this pattern.  I also have an idea for soakers to go with it using the same feather and fan pattern.  I have 2 more skeins of this yarn so I may try to work on that this week.  These booties are based on a 1946 pattern but I adapted it to match the sweater and I think it makes such a sweet addition.

    I won't be mosting most of the other stuff since I have a suspicion that Mom peeks at the blog from time to time but if I do the soakers (and maybe a little hat to round it off) I'll be sure to get a photo of them, too.

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    I ran away from home

    Last week was such a hard week, I decided on Friday to run away from home.  I had friends who were vending at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Festival and this weekend was the monthly meeting of the LACE group in Chicago.  So I decided to go up for the meeting and then head further north for the festival.  There's no better therapy after a really hard week than being among my people - the people of the fiber.

    Unfortunately my weekend started at 7am with me at the ATM discovering I didn't have my checkbook with me.  I'd had it out the night before balancing it and hadn't been out of the house since so I knew it was in the house.  I went home to grab it and after tearing the house apart for an hour and a half, decided to go on without it.I never did find it and had to report a lost card to the bank this morning but the most important thing was that it made me late for the LACE meeting.  They were having a program on the crocheted "crocodile" stitch which sounded really interesting, even though I'm not that crazy about crocheting with yarn.  I got to the meeting as people were leaving but the lovely teacher (whose name I didn't even get) stayed and walked me through the beginnings and gave me a copy of the pattern.  See what you think:
    It's really easy (once you get the hang of which side of the work you're working on) and there are a lot of possibilities.  There's even a whole Annie's Attic book with projects using this stitch.  I haven't been able to track it down yet but I'll definitely have to find it.

    At the festival, I ended up getting the most beautifuly hand-thrown teapot (sorry, I don't have a photo handy) and fiber.  Lots of fiber.  19micron Merino.  Merino and silk.  Merino and kid mohair.  All in white.  I'll probably dye the merino/silk and maybe the merino but the merino/kid mohair is going to stay in the lovely natural white.
    I also got the most beautiful Driftwood Spindles spindle.  I don't remember the wood used for the whorl and can't find my card but the shaft, which is also beautifully detailed, is Mesquite wood.  Anyone from Texas would understand why finding that out confirmed my purchase.  It's extremely light and spins like the wind.  I've started on the merino/kid mohair with this spindle and the outcome is going to be breathtaking.  Yet another candidate for the white on white project.

    I can testify to the fact that if you get your butt kicked at work, what you need is fiber and people of the fiber.  That makes everything better!

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012


    This post is about determination.  Not mine but my yarn's.  This is Blue-faced Leicester wool, dyed by Frabjous Fibers, spun by me several years ago that I've attempted to make various things with. The last effort was going to be a Shetland shawl.  I got the middle done and 3/4 of the border before I realized I wasn't going to have enough yarn.

    One thing about getting fiber that's been hand-dyed.  It's never going to come out the same any two times, even if you have a recipe.  But I hoped against hope that it would work and ordered more of the colorway.  But there was no joy.  I got the new rope and, although deeply beautiful (as all their fiber is), it was not close enough even for government work.

    But I so wanted to knit with this yarn that I ripped out the border and started again on a wrap shawl with one of my favorite lace patterns, one that, once established, is really easy to work without having to reference the pattern.  I've just finished the yarn that made up the border and have a good 25 inches (unblocked but slightly stretched).  Now I'm going to join on the yarn from the middle section, which was knitted corner to corner.  I decided not to rip it out and ball it up first.  I'm just going to knit right off the previous knitting to cause the least wear and tear to the yarn.  It's a little wider than I intended but it will be fine.  The plan is to finish the main body and then I have some merino roving that exactly matches the turquoise in this variegated yarn that I am spinning to match and I will use that to add a wide border to each end of the shawl to finish it off.  I may even go crazy and add some beads to that!

    If you want to do this easy lace pattern, which creates a lovely wavy, leafy sort of pattern, here's what you do.

    Cast on in multiples of 8 with at least a couple of extra stitches on either side.
    The first half of the pattern goes like this:
    • Yarn over, SSK, knit 6, repeat to end and then do your extra stitches (I've got 10 garter stitches on either side)
    • Purl wrong side rows
    • Yarn over, knit 1, SSK, knit 5, repeat to end
    • etc.  Keep knitting 1 more stitch before the SSK and 1 stitch less after it until you get to
    • Yarn over, knit 6, SSK, repeat to end.
    For the second half of the pattern you reverse this, so you have:
    • Knit 6, K2tog, yarn over
    • Knit 5, K2tog, knit 1, yarn over
    • Knit 4, K2tog, knit 2, yarn over
    • etc. until you get to K2tog, knit 6, yarn over
    This way your traveling stitch (whether it's moving to the left with the slip, slip, knit 2 stitches together (SSK) or moving to the right with the knit 2 together (K2tog)) weaves back and forth.  Really nice and really easy.  If you lose count, just keep an eye on where the traveling stitch is and you can find your place again.

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    Play Time

    I finally got around to playing with my Fimo clay this weekend to make different configurations of spindles.  I'm not deeply satisfied with any of the efforts but it was kind of fun.

    I mixed a sheet of colors and did a few cut outs.  The little pieces in the front were cut from leftovers and I've made holes on each corner of the triangle spindle that I'm going to attach a little leaf to and see what happens when that spins.  The ball shaped one would have been prettier if the ball underneath had been a solid color and then had the colored leaves and flowers attached.  On the square blue and brown one, I added two smaller square pieces in the brown color underneath the blue to add some weight and that makes it a much better weight for spinning.

    Lessons learned. 
    1. It was fun to play with clay when I was 4 and it's still fun to play with it today.
    2. I need to get a handle on how much the hardened clay weighs so I can have an idea on how to design them so they spin right.
    3. I need to find a straw or something hollow to cut the holes instead of just poking the sticks through.
    4. When you lay out ropes of clay in different colors and  flatten them together, the color distribution is different on the bottom than on the top.  Check out both sides.
    5. All the shapes seemed reasonably well balanced except the ball.  (refer to #3)
    6. More play uhm, work needed.

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012

    I've been waiting to show you this

    I love spinning.  I love spinning with spindles.  I love drop spindles and I love supported spindles.  A few weeks ago I made a spindle from a clay whorl from Gambia (I think that's where it was from).  While I was spinning with it, I suddenly thought, what keeps me from making my own whorl.  I had a tub of clay that I've been using for another project so I got it out and started playing.

    First I made one that was sort of oblong, another was square and then I found some cutters and came up with these:

    With the round one, I did a little design before it dried all the way and I did a little something on the tip of the flowers but I haven't done any other decorating.  I need to get some paint to play around with now.  I love the retro look of the layered flowers.  They all spin reasonably well but I still need to finish the tops so I can spin of the end. 

    Next I'm going to play around with adding some beads to the clay but I'll need to get some varnish or something first so the beads can be set into the clay.

    In the meantime, I'm going to get started spinning.

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    Quick peek

    I've been very lax in posting the last couple of weeks because there have been a few things going on, including a quick trip to Paris.  Sounds very cosmopolitan, right?  Well, it was cool and it was quick (I had a day and a half to sightsee and a very, very looooong day in meetings with 3,000 people - company meeting) and I haven't quite caught up with myself yet.  It hasn't helped that I spent the entire weekend sleeping fitfully and sneezing and blowing my nose.

    But regardless, I got my beaded purse all but finished.  I don't think this is going to be the final handle for it but I've got it lined and attached to the frame and I wish I had somewhere to wear it!

    It came out far, far, far more fancy pants than I intended when I started but it started and there was just no stopping it.  I've got it hanging on my dress form just because the black showed up the beads better but it is carried by hand.  I love the clever frame that expands out to open.  Very Victorian.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    It's summer, right?

    Sorry, but blogging has taken a back seat during this time in my life to life.  There's still plenty going on but I'm usually just too tired to take pics and post.

    This weekend ended up being pretty productive, even considering all the things I had to get done for an upcoming trip.  I've been working on a beaded bag that got this far until I ran out of beads.  I had to wait for my favorite bead store to open after the holiday so I could go get another tube but darned if they didn't have any more of the beads I'd used for the bag.  But they did have something close, the beads you see in the fringe here.  Yes, I got this far, had to rip out, tread the new beads and got to the same point and ran out of beads.  But this time I only ran out of beads that were threaded.  Don't worry, I got 2 tubes of the suckers so I would make sure I had enough.  You can's tell too much in this photo but the new beads are a square cut and they have a little more shimmer color in them than the beads in the bag.  But I think it's going to work fine.  There will also be a row of loops about an inch from the top.  I'll have to save showing you the frame I'm going to use until I get it finished.  It will be lined and I already have the lining made.  It will just need to be sewn in. 

     Another project I started this week was an Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi Shawl.I found this fingering weight boucle (I think it's a JoAnn Fabric store brand) in these great spring colors.  You know I love the lime.  I thought this would be a great wrap for the warmer weather when you need a little something in venues with air conditioning.  It's only just begun and there's no way I'm going to knit a lace edging for it.  This one will have a crochet bind off and like it!
     And, finally, I have no earthly idea why I started this project other than I just really liked the pattern and I'm a sucker for color work.  It's just dawned on me that these 3 projects represent the 3 types of knitting I most like to do - beadwork, lace and color work.  Humm...

    I didn't have the light weight yarn the pattern called for but I did have a bunch of different colors of Brown Sheep Nature Spun (my favorite yarn) and I was able to approximate the colors from the pattern.  Mine's going to be much longer than intended but I'm probably just going to frame mine anyway (if it comes out alright, that is).  I just love the process.