Sunday, December 22, 2013

For Mom

My mother hinted the other day that she was tired of seeing the same post so I figured it was time to pull my socks (handknit, of course) up and get something posted.

Actually this post carries on from the last post.  I have done a number of other projects since the last post, way, way, way, long ago, but I can't show all of them because some are gifts and some because of other reasons.

But for this post, I show this:
This is a sample knit from the various yarns I've spun for my fair isle sweater which is no longer going to be a sweater.  I've decided that it's going to be a poncho so I can #1 - know that I have enough yarn (I don't think I have enough for a sweater and while I have more off the green and chocolate brown, I've spun all the fiber I had in the other colors) and #2 - better show off the bulky yarn.

Yes, the yarn came out a little bulkier than I'd originally anticipated but that's okay.  It's going to be cozy warm and I really like the idea of having more use out of it as a poncho than I might have had with a sweater.  I think, too, as a poncho, it won't have as much wear and tear, with accompanying pilling, as it might as a sweater.

That's what I've told myself anyway.

The plan as it stands right now is to do a wide border similar to this sample, then a large band of fair isle and then this sort of striping around the neck.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Catching up

Things have been so busy this year that I've been really inconsistent with posts.  But now that I've got a little time off, not only am I going to post, I actually have things to post about and have time to take the photos.

First.  Natural color fair isle sweater.
One of the projects I've had on my plate for a while now has been spinning yarn for a fair isle sweater using natural wool colors.  Quite a while ago, I finished a large hank of chocolate colored wool (which, of course, I can't find now but it will turn up).  Just this past week or so, I've finally finished 2 other of the colors.  I thought I would use a natural white for the background color and an Ashland Bay "Apple Green" color for the "pop" of color.

 The 2 skeins are the ones I finished this week, the brown and the white are the fiber for the other yarns and the green is the apple green.  I've got almost 2 full bobbins of singles of the white finished and about half a bobbin done of the green so I'm not all that far off.  Of course, the freezing weather is giving me a lot of incentive to get the yarn finished so I can get started on the sweater. 

Another project I got finished was a cloud of fiber I bought recently at the Bishop Hill Spin In from Fae Ridge Farms in Iowa.  I've done a number of these clouds from her.  She uses a number of types of fiber, each of which takes the dye differently and she adds some interesting highlights to give the spun yarn a lot of depth and texture.  See what you think:
It didn't make a lot of yardage but I'm interested to see what it will decide it wants to be.  This is one of those yarns with an opinion.  It's completely useless to try to decide what to make from it because it will only be what it wants to be.  Once it makes up its mind, though, watch out!!

And finally, this.
A friend of mine told me a few weeks ago that he wanted a scarf for the cold weather so when I was looking through the stash and found this yarn, I decided it would be perfect for him.  It's Elspeth Lavold Silky Wool in 2 shades of gray.  But I wasn't sure what pattern to use.  That's when it's time to go to the stitch dictionaries.  I knew I wanted something that would be reversible and something I wouldn't have to worry about having a pattern in front of me all the time.  When I came across this pattern, it just reminded me of the number of knitting geniuses there are.  It's simple and elegant and here's what it is:

Row 1:  Knit 3, purl 3 across the row.  It's a 6-stitch repeat so I cast on 48 stitches.
Row 2: Knit 1, purl 1 across the row.

Repeat the 2 rows.

That's it.  That's absolutely all there is to it.  It allows for a nice transition from color to color, it's reversible and it's an interesting texture.  What more could a guy ask for?  Right?

Now I'm off to keep knitting and to finish the flax I'm spinning for a friend and to finish the white for my sweater.  Of course, it would be nice to find the dark brown, too.

P.S. The project bag is from my friend, Karen at Karen Poulakos Studios.  If you're anywhere near Arkansas, she'll be at the Arkansas Fiber Arts Extravaganza on December 5-6.  She's got some great project bags, knitting needles and other fun stuff.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mom's Slippers

The other day my mom made a comment to me about her feet starting to get cold and wondering about getting some warm socks that wouldn't bother her feet.  I had already been thinking about spinning her some cushy yarn for slippers so this was my push to try something.

After I figured out how I wanted to make the slippers, it was time to try one.

It came out okay but not exactly what I wanted and it was sized more to fit my foot than my mother's.  But now I had a plan.  The second one was better so I made a copy of the second one to finish the pair for my mom.  But now I had a single slipper that fitted my foot.  What was I supposed to do with my other foot?  Go cold?  I think not.

I still had some yarn left so I embarked on the final slipper.  I was okay up until the final band.  Then I realized it was going to be a very close thing indeed. 

So the band on mine (on the right) is a little mismatched but I'm happy with the pattern.  My mom's pair is turned with the stockinette side turned in so it will be softer on her little tootsies but we'll have to wait to see if they fit and if they're soft enough.

I should say that the yarn was spun on my Fricke wheel, on the largest whorl, so it would be a soft, open yarn.  The fiber is a cashmere, silk, merino mixture that will, if nothing else, keep our tootsies warmy and cozy!

Mom, I'll have them in the mail tomorrow.  Enjoy!

In case anyone would like to make your own slippers, here's what I did.

I was thinking sock, without the cuff.  So I started with the heel.

This was a medium yarn so I used size 4 double points, although circular needles would work just as well.  In fact, you could use straight needles up to the toe section.  On second thought, you could work it flat all the way around if you don't mind having the top and end of the toe seamed. 

So here goes:

Cast on 14 stitches and knit in stockinette stitch for about 2 inches.
To do the heel shaping, knit 9 stitches, then K2together. Turn.
Purl 3 stitches, purl 2 together.  Turn.  (there should be 3 stitches left on the needle)
Knit to the K2 together. Knit that stitch together with the next stitch (to close up the gap).  Turn.
Repeat this process until all stitches have been incorporated.  There will be 6 stitches on the needle.

Knit across all stitches and then pick up 9 stitches along the left side of the heel. Turn.
Purl across all stitches and then pick up 9 stitches along the right side of the heel.  With the double pointed needles, I spread the 24 stitches evenly across 3 needles and worked stockinette stitch for maybe 4-5 inches.  Stop when the slipper is about 2 inches from the tip of the toes. 

Increase 2 stitches each end on the next 4 rows and then join and begin to knit in the round with 8 stitches on each needle.  Work in the round for about an inch and then begin to decrease for the toe.

A number of decreases will work for this toe, including a round toe decrease, but I worked it like this.

I moved 2 stitches from each side needle onto the top and bottom needles.  So it was 12 stitches on the top needle, 4 on the side, 12 on the bottom, 4 on the side.  I worked the decreases at the beginning and end of both the top and bottom needles every other round until there were 6 stitches on the top and bottom.  At this point, I decreased the side needles by K2together, SSK, leaving 2 stitches on each side needle.

The I divided those stitches onto the top and bottom needles and then used a Kitchener Stitch to finish the toe.

For the band, I'm afraid I wasn't very consistent here.  On mine, I picked up 30 stitches along each side 8 across the back heel and 14 across the toe.  I worked K1, P1 ribbing around, decreasing the stitches on the toe end on almost every round until there were only 8 stitches on that needle.  On mine, I bound off by knitting 1 stitch and slipping the previous stitch over the one just knitted.

For Mom's, I did a single crochet across the toes, decreasing as I went across, then with the knitting needle, I picked up as for mine - 30 on each side and 8 across the back.  I did a stretchier bind off for hers because I wanted to make sure it was stretchy enough to fit her foot without binding.  Then I sewed the beginning and end of the ribbing to create the little keyhole at the foot.

The nice thing about this pattern is that you don't really need measurements or gauge because you just fit the foot.  If it's not as wide as you want, knit the ribbing longer, etc.  I have some other yarn that I may try another pair with.  Plus it goes really, really quickly.  I easily made a slipper in an evening, and that was with plotting and trying to figure out what I was doing.  Use a chunkier yarn and bigger needles and I bet you could easily make the pair in an evening.

Have fun!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Day After

Yesterday was the annual Bishop Hill Spin In.  This year they had it in a nice hotel conference space in East Peoria and it seemed a much better space for the vendors, although it seemed to be many fewer vendors than in past years.

That's not to say there weren't enough vendors.  It's a good thing I didn't need any fiber, I can't imagine how much I would have come home with if I'd actually needed more.

The most interesting purchase of the day was a fleece from a Finn sheep.  I found out about it from an encounter that started in the bathroom.  Before your imagination runs away with you, it was a very normal sort of encounter.  I went into the Ladies and there was a lady with several fingers of fleece.  She'd been washing them at the sink and was drying them to see the clean colors.  Now who hasn't had such an experience in a public restroom?  Right?

We got started talking and she was showing me how beautiful and soft the fiber was.  Her fleece had a bunch of browns and grays but by the time I'd thought about it and decided my life would be richer for the experience of cleaning, preparing and spinning a Finn fleece, there were only white fleeces left.

Actually they were a yellow color and the friend who was with me was asking if I was willing to have a yellowish yarn because this was not a white/white fleece.  Of course, I didn't care if it was purple polka dots so home it came with me.

Once home, I had to wash a bit just to see how it was going to spin.  Here's a picture of the unwashed fleece, a washed finger and a small bit of yarn spun from the lock.
Looks white/white to me!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Change of pace

I've got a trip coming up so I was trying to decide what projects to take for the long flight.  It's been a long time since I've had a pair of socks on the needle so I thought it would be good to do socks.  So what yarn do I use?

My favorite pair of socks are made from a merino/silk yarn so wouldn't it be great to do something along those lines?  But I don't have any yarn like that.  But I do have roving.  I have some amazing Blue-faced Leicester (which, while it's not Merino, it's either the next best thing or it's the better thing)/tussah silk blend roving.  THAT could make some amazing socks.

But of course, roving is not yarn.  Roving makes yarn but it's not yarn.

When you spin the roving, though, you can make the yarn.

So last night I started.  And tonight I finished.
My friends tease me about being a fast knitter but even I have never spun and plied a full skein of yarn in 2 evenings.  Can't wait to start knitting!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Three's the charmer

This was the fastest thing I've ever done, I think.
I'd got it to this point on Saturday night.  The columns and most of the first pineapples.  I wasn't sure how long the rest would take but I started on Sunday to work the second row of pineapples.  Once I'd finished the first row of them, I had to decide how long I thought it was going to be and whether I would need a 3 row of not.  I decided not.
Once I'd got to this point, each pineapple had to be worked on its own.  Something that took almost exactly 20 minutes per pineapple.  People ask me sometimes how long it took to do something and it's really hard to say because I'm usually doing multiple projects at once.  This, however, took 20 minutes per pineapple.  So there you go.
And here you go.  I give you pineapples...


In fact, I love this pattern so much that I've started the round tablecloth to match it.  I just couldn't help myself.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Pineapple

I was showing some friends my filet crochet curtain valance which started us talking about what I was going to do for the other windows in the living room.  One friend asked whether I was going to do pineapples for the window next to the door.  Oddly enough, I had found a pattern in the 1947 book, "Complete Book of Crochet," that featured pineapples.  The pattern was actually for a chair back (antimacassar).  As I started looking at the pattern, trying to figure out how to adapt it for the window, I started flipping through the pages until I came across a pineapple table cloth that looked so much more suited to the curtain.
It's been such an easy pattern that I'm halfway thinking about doing the table cloth.  I've got plenty of thread.  Surely it couldn't take long to do a full table cloth.  Right?

Why pineapples you wonder?  It all started during the Colonial days.  Here's the explanation from the website of the history of the pineapple: "In this manner, the fruit which was the visual keystone of the feast naturally came to symbolize the high spirits of the social events themselves; the image of the pineapple coming to express the sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection inherent to such gracious home gatherings."

It's a cornerstone of the crochet pattern library and everyone who's ever crocheted anything will have, at one time or another, crocheted her fair share of pineapples.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A lovely obsession with a typical ending

I've been tooling along and was thiiiiiiis close to finishing
 when the thread ran out.
Isn't that the most typical thing you've ever heard?  Hundreds of yards of size 30 crochet cotton and I run out with 2 inches to go?  Geez!

So off I go to hunt some more size 30 crochet cotton to finish my 2 inches of this...
I can see I'm going to have to starch the points to get them to lay flat but that's it.  That's my filet crochet double window valance.  It has been a lovely obsession.

Now to the 3rd window.  I'm guess it should be tatted.  I'm off to find my big shuttle and get loaded up. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Not so much

Making a piece of filet crochet is so intoxicating that I can lose all track of time.  Trying to see what the next line is going to make it look like.  I know that sounds stupid because I can see the x's on the graph that show me what it looks like.  There's just something about seeing it come to life.

I finally finished the second repeat of the pattern but it's still leaving me about 4-6 inches short.  So I've had to identify a section of the repeat that will fit into the bottom edge repeat that will fit in the distance I need to go to finish things off.  I think I've found it and it means adding about 30 rows onto each side.

So much for almost being done. Ha!  I've been reading the Yarn Harlot's blog this week where she's been talking about completely buying into the thought that should could knit a couple of sweaters on the way to a conference in an area that was going to be cool because she'd left all her woolens at the house.  Just in that little window of madness a knitter (or crocheter) really thinks that the laws of physics are optional and fingers and needles can reach mach speed and do what no one else on the planet can do.  I get it, I really do.

Deep in my heart I knew I wasn't really that close to being done with my curtain because after I've finished the length I need, I still need to crochet the border onto it.  After that I still need to add the top section that will fit onto the curtain rod.  You see, I'm not really that close after all.

But deeper in my heart, I'm thinking, "I really think I can do it."  Challenge on.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another day, another curtain

I got one of the valances for the smaller windows done and I was working on another, this time in filet crochet.  This is a pattern from a 1943 classroom book but it's a pretty typical filet crochet pattern of flowers.  I thought I'd be able to do 2 repeats to fit the smaller windows but it's not going to work.  One repeat isn't quite wide enough for the smaller window but 2 repeats, it appears is going to just a little narrow for the double window.  I can easily add some filler pattern to either side of the curtain or maybe just a nice wide border will do it and it will fit the double window perfectly.
You can't see the points very well but at the end, I will do a small border along all the edges that will help those lay flat.  Plus I'll starch the liver out of it.  That helps, too. Ha!

Filet crochet always feels a little like magic to me.  you work row on row on row, taking it by faith that you're going to wind up with something at the end.  Then you roll it out and step back.  BAM!  You've got something pretty.  I'm also thinking about doing a filet crochet antimacassar for my couch but I'll have to figure out what color to do it because I don't think white will show up very well on it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

And done.

I had an idea.  The idea was to learn a new lace pattern.  While learning the new lace pattern, I had an idea of making a curtain for my new house using the lace pattern.  Actually, the idea for the curtain came after I had ripped out and restarted the lace shawl I was making with lace weight merino about 8 times and the wool was frayed beyond use.  Cotton is much better for such an exercise and it's what I wanted to use for the curtain.  Necessity, invention.  So I had an idea.

Here's how it turned out and I could not be more happy with the results.  And I learned how to do the pattern so when I start back on the black merino lace weight (I did mention it was black, didn't I?), I'll make much better progress.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Dream big

I haven't been quiet lately because I haven't been doing anything.  I've been quiet because I just bought a house and I've been spending just about every free minute moving and trying to bring some sort of order out of a highly landscaped yard that's been allowed to run wild for 11 months.

As I've been moving over and putting things on the wall, one space has been challenging me.
It's over the mantle.  As you can see, I have a large clock there right now.  I have put off hanging it because I've had a plan to do a piece of bobbin lace to go in that spot.  At first I was going to work on the fan I've been planning to work for a little over a year but last month, I had a thought. 
I really wanted to have a representation of my time in Scotland somewhere in the house.  I've got a few things like the bear you see sitting on the side of the mantle.  That's Robert the Bear.  I'm not a teddy bear sort of person but this bear was given to me by one of my favorite people in Glasgow (named Robert, of course).  He's the father of my oldest friends there and he and I always had such a ball.  He also gave me a fridge magnet that plays "you take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland afore ye..." and a mini paint pot.  Long story about the paint pot but it made me laugh every time I saw it and makes me giggle even now.
So back to my point.  A centerpiece for my mantle.  Glasgow's motto is, "Let Glasgow Flourish."  Originally it was "Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Your Word and the praising of Your Name" but was later shortened to just "Let Glasgow Flourish."  There is a story that explains the  elements of the city's coat of arms:
The saint, the ring, the bird, the tree, the fish, the bell.  If you want to read more about the legends that make up the coat of arms, have a look here

When I was looking at the article above, I saw the photo of the street light.  That would be the perfect format for my special bobbin lace piece!  Around the bottom, I will add the motto.  I've started drawing it out and I've been thinking through what stitches I'm going to use to get the best effect for each of the elements.

I think this will be the perfect nod to my true home.  I can't wait to get started on it!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Rings and Rings

Right now at the Illinois State Museum, there is a display of Civil War era quilts and other textiles.  In one of the cases are several socks, mittens and doilies that have been knitted and crocheted.  My friend, Jane, brought it to my attention and she had the idea of seeing if they will let us try to reproduce the socks after the show is over. 

We had a discussion about one of the pairs of socks that has a mixture of patterns, one of which looks very much like tatting:

It had been a while since I'd seen them so I went last week to see if I could get some better photos like the one here.  See the little circles?  I knew I'd seen this pattern before and found it in the "Victorian Lace Today" book by Jane Sowerby.  It was from an 1860s shawl pattern from Mlle. de le Branchardiere's book, "The Abergeldie Winter Book."

I know that in all the patterns and books Jane and I have studied, this was the only time I'd seen this type of spider pattern.  The only thing we're going to have to figure out is how to intersperse the rings with the triangles (although I do have an idea about that).

It's a pretty tricky pattern and after 4-5 goes with black lace weight wool yarn, I decided I would try it with size 8 perle cotton.  Besides I have a new house that needs some curtains.  What better way to test it out!
I think this is going to do us very well with the sock pattern and I think it's going to be a very pretty curtain valance, don't you?  Although I think I've got the rhythm of it now, I did have to rip out about 3 times on the 2nd and 3rd rows.  But I still have to pay VERY close attention.  So if you hear someone walking around Springfield muttering, "ONE, two, three, FOUR, five, six...ONE, two, three, FOUR, five, six...One, two..." that'll be me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Perennial Workbasket

I never paid too much attention to Workbasket magazines before I learned to tat.  Oh, I knew about them and knew my Grannie kept them and used them from time to time.  But my notice never went beyond that.

That is until I learned to tat.  All of a sudden, Workbasket became my favorite publication.  There is at least one tatting pattern in every Workbasket, almost from the beginning of publication in the 1940s.  This most recent pattern was published in the October 1967 issue.  I kind of stumbled across this pattern the other day when I needed a new pattern to start.  I think it's the prettiest tatted doily I've ever made.

And it's been spoken for.  I was at lunch with friends the other day tatting away when one of them happened to mention that they would love to have a tatted doily.  Wasn't that good timing?  Me with a doily to finish and her needing a doily?!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


My friend, Karen, of Karen Poulakos Studios, was showing me the wooden-handled Chinese "crochet hook" yesterday.  I don't know what this Chinese company has against crocheters, but I'm sure you wouldn't be able to carry this crochet hook on an airplane!
Have a look at that hook.  Trust me.  It's just as deadly as it appears!

We were trying to figure out yesterday what you could actually use this implement for.  With fiber, that is.  Rug hooking? An awl for poking holes in linen?  Stabbing.  Oops, I mean, um, canvas work.  Hehe.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

And tatting again

I just can't stop.  After finishing the last doily, I dove into my Workbasket stash and came across a quintessential tatting doily pattern in the October 1967 issue.  Here's the start of it along with another project I'm working on with the bobbin lace.

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's been quite a journey

I'm FINALLY finished with this doily.  It took me 4 full days just to get around the next to last round.  But it's completely worth it, don't you think?
I don't know where I'll use it but I'm thrilled at how it came out.  I can't wait to start a new project.  The thread I used was Aunt Lydia's Crochet Thread in Extra Fine size 30.  It's the first time I've used it and it worked great for tatting.  Not all crochet thread is great for tatting because it's not always plied tightly enough but this worked great.  It's a nice size and feels great.
On the big next to last round, it took 4 full bobbins to get all the way around.  The easiest thing to do was to wind the bobbins from a second ball and keep the first ball attached.  That way I only had the one end to work in as I went.  This is definitely the largest tatting project I've ever attempted.  Now I'm going to my Work Basket magazines for another!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

5th times the charm...apparently

Tatting is beautiful.  I love tatting.  I love to look at tatting.  Tatting is pretty hard - at least when you're distracted while you're tatting.  At least when you're me and you're distracted while you're tatting.

I took on this beautiful oval tatted doily from The DMC Book of Charted Tatting Designs.  Absolutely nothing wrong with the instructions, clear as a bell.  Nothing wrong with the photo accompanying said instructions.  Ditto.  But with the round I just finished, I've had re-start it 3 times, cut out about 4 repeats, redo rings 3-6 times.  I finally thought I'd finished the round last night when my spidey senses warned me to lay it out and double check before I close up that last ring and finish.  Here's what I saw on the last repeat of this brutal round:
On the last repeat of the round, I discovered that I'd attached the ring to the wrong place.  Fortunately, I had not closed the ring so, once again, I took the stitches out, poked myself with the sharp end of the tatting shuttle twice and fixed it.  Now it looks like this:
Very satisfying.

Until I look at the pattern.  I have to finish this easy round and do one more round like this, simple ring/chain.  Then I have another round of the killer pattern.  The previous round had 20 repeats, the next one has 40 repeats.  I may be here yet awhile.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

At the auction

While I'm sitting at a day-long auction at Patricia Doyle's Auctions, I have had to entertain myself through the stuff I don't care about so here's what I've been doing:

This is going to end up being quite a large oval doily since I'm using size 10 crochet cotton.  I've worked my shuttle thread out and they've gotten to the furniture I'm interested in so I've set it aside but I think it's going to be beautiful.

I did find a cool bed this morning at an antique show being hosted by a local historic farm home.  It's a wooden spiral frame, in great shape at a great price.  I haven't gotten it, though, because it measures 51 inches wide so it's between the 3/4 and the full bed shape.  It wouldn't matter but it has side rails so I'll really need to get a mat-tress that will fit or some way to jigger something.  But the seller is in the area so I'll be able to follow up with him.  I wish I'd thought to get a photo of it but I was too busy sweating and hoping not to have to use the PortaPottie!

Here's the piece I wish I had room for:
Not a great photo but it's a magnificent burled walnut bed with 8 accompanying pieces.  So grand!  It will be interesting to see if it even sells.  Everything so far is selling way beyond what I'm willing to do but it's kind of fun to see how things go.  So far the most expensive thing of the day has been a paintin sold for $7,000!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Long lost blogger

I can hardly believe it's been so long since I've posted.  There just seems to be less and less time to spend.  Hopefully things will slow down a little this summer. (hahahahahahahaha)

OK, I'm back.

One of the reasons I haven't posted is time.  The other is the fact that the project I've been working on was for a friend that visits the blog from time to time and I didn't want to give it away before I gave it her.  You know what I mean?

Well, it's been duly given and so I present here.........

.....the Victorian Lady.

This is a bobbin lace piece that I worked from the Yusai Fukuyama book, "100 New Bobbin Lace Patterns."  I'd never done any pictorial projects before but when I was preparing for the bobbin lace class back in March, I pulled this book out and started playing around.  As soon as I saw this project, I knew I wanted to do it and I knew exactly who I wanted to do it for. 

I got everything prepared and started working in April and it was going well.  It was going well until I had baby knitting interruptus.  You know how that goes.  A baby needs knitting and all things fall away until that need gets satisfied.  Once I got started back, it worked lickety split and viola, as they say. 

I was absolutely thrilled with it and had to give it to her quick before I could talk myself into keeping it!  Now I've got the second project in mind and will try to get it started this weekend.

At least I hope I can get it started.  The intermediate tatting class I'm teaching as part of the LACE group's Lace Day is coming up quickly and I need to finish preparations for it.  June 8th is the day.  If you're anywhere near the Chicagoland area, stop by and take a class or shop at the vendor booths or just come hang out and find out about bobbin lace making.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wish this was how we always roll

I had a couple of things I wanted to get accomplished this weekend.  Normally how we roll around here is that I have things to accomplish and then end up doing everything but.

Not this weekend, though.  I actually got everything done that I wanted to do.

  1. Finish my handmade roller pillow.  A while back, a friend at work was able to score me half a bale of straw to make a roller pillow from her father-in-law.  I had no idea how much straw it would actually take so I got a bin and started preparing the straw.  But then we had tons and tons of rain and I had to travel.  I was waiting for a day with sun and without wind.  That day was today. 
 See the tub?  See the pillow in the tub?  There is 2 1/2 times the amount of straw that filled the tub in the pillow.  You see, the secret is in getting it as dense as possible so it will hold the pins properly as you work.  Like this...

2.    I wanted to finish the baby sweater I've been making.  I finally got the knitting finished but it needed something to finish it off.  I finally found just the right button but I still couldn't figure out what I wanted to do with the bodice.  I tried embroidering flowers as I'd planned.  No good.  I thought about sewing a pretty ribbon around that section.  No good.  Finally I decided to go with a crocheted edging.

I haven't sewn the edging on yet until the sweater dries but I this this is going to be the perfect finish.

3.  Although not on the initial list, I've had some Shetland wool on the wheel started but not very far along.  I've been spinning it woolen long draw.  Long draw has never been a strength of mine but this fiber changed all that.  Where cormo is just a tease with a promise of pretty wool only to be maddeningly hard to spin, this Shetland wool is a dream and has really just spun itself.  I had 8 ounces to spin of this color and I've just got half a bobbin to go to have all the singles done.  I always think the plying is going to go much faster than it does but I can't wait to get it done and show it off.  Then I just have 3 more colors to spin for the fair isle project I had planned for this yarn.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Getting closer

I don't know if it's going to be too big but it's definitely too cute!
I'm thinking it may be a bit too wide but I think I can fix that with the ribbon I'm going to run through the top of the skirt.  The band of green under the cable is going to get embroidered flowers and then there will be 2 ribbon ties, kimono style.  I haven't blocked the lace section yet but I don't think I'm going to block it very hard.  Really it just needs a hot press and that will open the lace up a bit.

There are a bunch of ends to work in so I won't finish tonight but I love how it's coming out.  Next I need to use heavier yarn and larger needles and see if I can't work out an adult version.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bobbins in action

I decided to try out my new bobbins tonight so I wound them up and started working. I just love the look of them and I was hoping that they would be functional as well.
So I wound the thread, and the first note is that on the next ones, I think I'll make the thread holding area needs to be a little longer.  Not much, just a little.

I think I will also add a bead half-way up the handle section.

But all in all, they worked great and having the open area allows you to tension them the a single finger.  They'll take a little getting used to but I think I can say they are a huge success!  I do have some glass beads bought for the purpose of the bobbins but not at hand when I sat down to work.

Now for a little experimenting!  hehe

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Change as good as a rest

Of course a rest is pretty good as a rest, too.  I was able to take a couple of days off last week just ahead of a business trip.  I took the opportunity to wander through the back roads of Massachusetts and added 3 states to the number I've been in - now at 34 states. 

I find driving very, very relaxing and, of course, everything in that area is so close together that it's only a short drive to be in another state.  While I was driving, I had a little epiphany while I was driving as to how bobbins for lace could be constructed:
This was after I saw a lace bobbin in an antique shop marked at $120.  I haven't tried using them yet so I don't know how practical they are but I really like the possibilities they represent.

To make them, I cut a length of 16 gauge craft wire to about 8 inches.  I settled a wooden bead about halfway and folded the wire on either side of the bead to hold it tight.  After shaping the wire, I folded the ends in and then hid them inside another bead.  To add some rigidity to the wire, I took the bottom bead off and hammered the wire down the length on both side to avoid the piece arching.  Now it will be a little more durable.

I just need to try them out now to see how they handle or if they need to be adjusted.  I've already got a number of variations in mind.

The other things I worked on while I was away was a baby sweater.  I have a feeling it's going to be way too large for the baby I intended it for but it's been an exercise in design.  I started with a pattern I found in a magazine but once I got past the bodice, I've taken it a completely different direction and I'm really liking it.
It's not actually wonky  like this appears - it's on circular needles so it doesn't lie very flat.  The band becomes the sleeves and I may add a little cap on them but I like it the way it is.  The little green band under the braided cable band will have embroidered flowers around.  It's a cardigan and is being worked in Mandarin Petite, a very soft cotton yarn.  Now with the flounce working in this lacy pattern, I think it's going to be a really sweet little item.

I'm very, very tempted to work one for me.  I think I have some handspun that would be perfect for this pattern.  But first I want to get this one done and any design issues worked out before I start on a larger version.  I actually think working this pattern on larger needles with a heavier yarn will work really well and won't need much tweaking for the larger size.

That braided cable band will certainly need to be larger needles because this one took FOREVER!  Kind of like knitting edging for a shawl!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Back to Knitting

It feels like I haven't knitted anything for a year.  It hasn't been quite that long but it's true that I've been focusing on other things lately.  But visiting the lovely knit shops in Nashville last weekend, I got inspired to get started again.  I have a lovely California baby to knit for that hasn't had anything since the beginning so I found some beautiful Mandarin Petit, a cotton yarn, that I thought would be beautiful and bright.  But I couldn't decide on a pattern.

Here's what I finally came up with:
It's from the Lanas Stop Bebe Baby 0-3 Book #120.  It's a very cool multi-lingual book of baby patterns that I just couldn't pass up. Because I don't have that many baby patterns. That's my story, anyway.

So on to the sweater.  I'm doing the main body in this chartreuse green and I'm going to do the cable band in yellow and then use yellow buttons.  I think it will be ever so sweet and will work for her in California.  It's knit from the top down with the cable band worked side to side. Should go pretty quick, too.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Day Out

Last weekend I took a trip to visit a friend.  It's been so cold around here do on my way back, I was so enjoying the rare warm day that I decided to doddle.  It was a perfect day for wandering off the beaten path and visiting some antique shops.  I've decided I need to start an antique shop blog, since I go to so many of them!

Anyway, I pulled into this little town in Kentucky but the first few shops I came across in their "historic" district were still shut.  Since I wasn't in the mood to wait around for them to open, I went a little further up the road to find a place to turn around, I came across a large shop that was open.  BINGO!

I wandered through and saw some interesting things until I came up to an area with a table that had a bunch of stuff on it.  Now, it's important to know that I usually power walk through these kinds of antique malls.  I'm pretty good at spotting things that might be of interest but mainly I just like to see what's there.

This time, though, I had to do a double take because there on the table, under a mile of dirt and grime, was a table loom.  I could see well enough to know that it was complete and sturdy.  Good bones.  This type of loom can run anywhere from $900-1,300 dollars purchased new and this one was a fraction of a fraction of that.  I didn't even have to offer the lady a lower price.  She volunteered that if I paid cash or check, she'd take 20% off the price.  There was no way in creation I could pass that up.  Deal!

I don't have any good photos of it with the pile of dirt but here's what it took to get it cleaned up:
I had brushes and cloths and furniture orange oil and canned air and screw drivers and more.  I spent almost 2 hours on the porch (where it was almost warm enough to sit on the porch for 2 hours) working on it, much to the confusion of my neighbors.  I'm still working on the reed and heddles but I'll finish those this afternoon. 

Just a note to say, I was thrilled that it came with a 15-dent reed, a size I don't have for any of my other looms.

Anyway, here are some pics of how it cleaned up.  I knew it was well made but I had no idea the wood would clean up this beautiful.

There are no company markings and as you look closely, you can tell it was all made by hand.  The only markings I found were some pencil markings on the back of the back support.  I can't read all of it and haven't got a good photo of it but the part that I can read says "William Workman."  A quick search didn't bring up anything about William Workman but I have access to some very knowledgeable people so I'll see if any of them are familiar with him.

I couldn't be more thrilled by this beautiful addition to my rapidly filling apartment.  Next time, I'll tell you the story of the half-bale of straw and the new bobbin lace pillow!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Bug

I must have the spring cleaning bug because I'm finally getting things straightened up and cleared out (watch out Goodwill!).  As I was running around this morning, I was trying to think what to do with the little round table in my living room and it suddenly hit me.  Actually I tripped over it on the way to the kitchen. 

I had my beautiful antique wheel that didn't have a place to live.  He was just getting moved from pillar to post.  Was the base small enough to fit on the little round table?
Ha!  It does.  Add one of the vintage drawn work tablecloths I scored a while back and jibledy flippit, I've got the little spinning tableau I've always wanted.  Now all I need to do is figure out what fiber I'd like to display with it.  Although this wheel works and I will use it from time to time in demonstrations, mostly it's pretty and unique and I just want to be able to admire it and for it to feel welcome here. 

Now I can! (and it can)

p.s. - Do you love the little vase with the double pointed knitting needles?  It's a lovely little pot I bought from a potter at the Midwest Folk and Fiber Festival last year.  So sweet. And the picture behind it that you can't see very well because I haven't hung it yet, is a photocopy of a page from a January 18, 1868 Harper's Bazaar magazine.  It's a poem and illustration called, "The Stocking-Knitter."  Since the wheel is probably at least that old, it seemed fitting to display them together.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I think I'm going to like this

I don't know what I'll ever do with it but this was a fun, quick project.  I've got a couple more prickings picked out to work.  They're a little more involved than this one but this was really good practice.  It measures about 7 inches tall and 4 inches wide.  Maybe I should do a little grass and frame it.  That would be a very Victorian look, wouldn't it.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Random thought #1 - I heard the most ironic statement today from our UPS delivery person.  He was telling someone that he'd been bumped from that particular route but they could just have it, he couldn't wait to get out of it.  This is the UPS guy that continually complains about the number of packages he has to deliver to our office.  Today when he was singing the same song, the irony hit me again.

Dude, you're a UPS delivery guy.  What did you think you were going to do when you were hired by UPS and they gave you a big brown truck?  Plant petunias?  Really?  I laughed all day long about that.

Random thought #2 - During the bobbin lace class a couple of weeks ago, one of the ladies had a book called "Bobbin Lace, A Contemporary Approach" by Brigita Fuhrmann.  I really liked the way it was laid out and the really good close-ups of the steps of each lace she was describing so I found it on Amazon. 

One of the types of lace I've been more and more interested in called Tape Lace.  It's the type of lace very common in Eastern Europe and Russia.  This book had wonderful descriptions of the various techniques used in tape laces. 
Here's the study from the book that puts together all the methods of turning corners and making sewings that she described so far in this section.  I'm really digging it.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it but I'm digging it.

You can see how you just use a few bobbins (in this case 5 pairs) and you follow the outline of the graphic, joining and turning as you go.  The next thing to go into is the various fillers that are worked when the tapes don't run so close together.

There's just always too much to learn, isn't there?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spania Dolina

Running away can do wonders for the mental state of a person.  It doesn't hurt when you are running to lace.  At the LACE meeting, the program was on a type of lace that originated in a Slovakian town called Spania Dolina.  The lace is what you would think of when you think of the beautiful folk costumes of Eastern Europe.  Here are some samples the teacher had:

Beautiful, isn't it?

Making the fans on the edge was the trickiest bit but the ladies who were helping us were very good at explaining what to do and we kept them hopping!

I only got a few of the fans finished by the end of the meeting so I had to come home and try to remember what I was doing.  I would work a section, realize it was wrong and take it out.  I won't tell you how many times that happened but let's just say, more than once and less than 105!

But I'm thrilled that I was finally able to get it finished.

I thought the yellow and white would be very springy, but a brighter color would probably looked a little more authentic.