"Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber." Proverbs 31:19 NLT

Friday, May 30, 2014

I ♥ Table Linens

This post is not about spinning or knitting. It is about placemats. I love table linens, especially placemats and my absolute favorite set of all time is this set:

As is obvious, this set is quite worn but I just keep using them because I really like them. They make me feel Tuscan or Greek or something "other worldly."

I have looked and looked to replace them but can never find anything comparable. The fabric is rather like denim, various shades of denim. So after about 2 years of looking, I realized I was going to have to sew something.

I have looked for fabric for about 1 1/2 years. Sometime in that time, I came to learn that the fabric I wanted was likely going to be "chambray." The closest prints I could find were always fish or lake related - definitely not the look I was going for. I've googled chambray and denim fabric many times but the last time I was finally directed to Fabric.com! Whoda thought? At Fabric.com, I found this fabric.                                                                  

It is definitely not the same but I liked it - more than any other I've seen. So I ordered it and also some light weight denim "shirting" for the back of the placemats. The print fabric said "Dry Cleaning Recommended," but is 100% cotton so I decided to take a chance. I mean, who would ever have dry clean only placemats. For eating on. When the fabrics arrived, I promptly laundered them to pre-shrink them. They were wrinkled after drying but pressed out nicely.

And I was pleased at how nice it matched some of my dishes. I realize it may be overkill at the table - to be determined at a later date. :^)

So I began the process of creating a pattern - not very difficult, especially using newspaper - two of the sides were already square. I basically measured one of my old placemats and added an inch to each side.

When I was cutting the pieces out of the fabric, I placed the pattern on the fold (which I had created by lining up the selvages and then pressing - something Mrs. Spilker stressed, back in 7th grade Home Ec.) That gave me double the length, so I cut them apart on the fold. I then had 6 pieces of both types of fabric.

I pinned them together, one piece of the print and one piece of the shirting, with right sides together. I stitched them all the way around, leaving about a four inch opening to pull the right sides through. I trimmed the seams and clipped the corners and then pulled them through the opening.

After pulling them through the opening, I pressed them well, pressing under the opening fabric so that it lined up with the sewn edge. I then top stitched twice with matching thread. The first, or outer top stitch seam was 1/8 inch from the edge and the second top stitch seam was ¼ inch from the first seam.

Once all the cutting and pinning was finished, the sewing goes very quickly. These are not what I was looking for but I think they will do very nicely. And I may just keep looking for the Tuscan fabric of my dreams.  :^)


On a side note, I mentioned in a previous post that I had purchased a Traditional Ashford spinning wheel on eBay. It arrived yesterday from New Zealand. I have not yet assembled it so here's how it sits right now. I think I will put a finish on it tomorrow. It has only been stained. But let me say, if you are in the market for a spinning wheel, check out this web page: http://www.vjhandycraftsandspinningwheels.com/ or find the business on eBay at
http://www.ebay.com/sch/rotjoa/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=    They really know how to pack a spinning for long distance travel and the New Zealand Post was mighty prompt. And they have great prices - refurbished with care.  :^)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Warm Heads for Mom & Dad

Dear ol' Dad & Mom
As I have mentioned in numerous posts (probably to the point of excess), I made a lot of Faire Isle hats in the fall for Christmas presents. And I've made a few more since then for next year's presents. And I've made a couple of baby ones. They go quickly and look like they take forever. They are easy and look very complicated.

When I was first making them for gifts, I asked my mother if she would wear one. I had maybe never seen her wear a stocking-type hat. Her hair is very nice, wavy and "poofy," - I couldn't quite see her smashing it down with a hat. And I was right - her reply was, "No - I look like a peeled onion with those things on!" I guess that answered that! No hat for Mom.

Then at Christmas I gave my sister and brother-in-law one each and sometime in late February while chatting on the phone with Mom, she said, "I've been thinking about it. I think I would wear one of your hats when it's cold. Other women wear them and besides, you made it." So I got busy and made her one. And then, so as not to leave out Dad, I made him one, too. 

For Dad - Go Vols 

Mom's original hat
What I chose for Dad were the Tennessee Vols colors - Orange and White! The colors I chose for Mom were browns and rusts because she has always liked those colors. But while I was knitting hers, I began second-guessing myself, realizing she had mainly liked those colors in her decorating. So by the time I had finished both hats, I decided to send her 4 different hats I had already knitted for presents.

Another choice
Love this one -I've since claimed it for myself
And this one. My son said this one is "hideous."
He didn't like how the red was only on the
tip-top and didn't match the pastels of the
rest of the hat. It is Gina yarn and that's

just what it did.

I told her she only got one, that she should pick what she likes best and save the others for me so I could gift them in December.

After she tried them all on and got opinions, she selected the last one shown here - the one my son called hideous!  But she was very pleased with how the colors "matched" her complexion and hair color. So there, #2 son!  :)

And, even though she got it late in the winter, she says that she's worn it several times already!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Re-purposing - Hand Spun Style or A LARGE Mistake

Let me tell you a story. It goes like this: Once upon a time I knitted a wonderful sweater from hand spun corriedale for my late husband. If you read about it here, you will know that it was a large, wonderfully warm sweater/jacket. That was in about 1986. Sometime after I finished it, I decided to knit myself something comparable. I was excited to have a nice warm jacket/sweater to wear along side him so I began the thinking part of the process. I don't know dates or years but I began looking for a pattern and found one I loved in an old McCall's Needlework & Crafts, October 1989 magazine. This was before Ravelry and all the other on-line pattern sources. I believe I had picked up the magazine at a 2nd hand store - as I am wont to frequent - and eventually settled on a pattern from it.

The selected pattern is called "Crafted from the Heart" and features a lot of motifs, similar to quilt designs, so popular at that time. I knew nothing about multi-color knitting then but determined to use some neat colored stripes around the sweater. So I began the spinning process, and as you can imagine from a sweater the size of this one, I would need a lot of yarn. ALOT. I used to try to have all the yarn spun before I began knitting so I could keep on truckin', so to speak, while knitting. And thought I'd get dizzy if I attempted to knit in the car on trips. (Now, years later, I like to have a knitting project going at all times, so I can grab it up and haul it in the car, when on the go - only if I'm not driving. I'm told that knitting while driving is a dangerous combination.)

Again, I don't know dates, but I do know that my boys were very young and our nephew had moved in with us to be in a safer situation, so I likely didn't dedicate large amounts of time to the process. What I know is that before my husband got sick and died, I had begun knitting and had the ribbing and 2 rows of stockinette done on the back of the sweater. He died in 2001.

It was several years later, maybe 2007 that I decided to resume construction of said sweater. Now, life has a way of changing a person, for the better, if you let it. I don't know if I let it, but I think I am different in many ways. And I know that I am more relaxed and more easy-going. (That may be as much from age as anything else.) BUT, and this is huge, I never bothered to check and see if I was a different knitter than when I began. I had notes on my gauge at the time I began and notes on my plans for the stripes, etc. so I just resumed. And I knitted and knitted and spun more yarn, and spun and spun and knitted and knitted and spun. I thought I'd never get enough yarn spun to finish this large project. It never occurred to me that the sweater might be too big. When I would hold it up, it seemed big but I would always think, "Oh well, I want it for a jacket anyway."

So I finished it and thought it looked a bit strange but when I would wear it for a jacket, I was usually in a hurry to go somewhere and didn't really give it much thought. Until a couple of years ago. I realized it DOES NOT LOOK GOOD ON ME!  ugh!!!  :^)

Since then, I have been planning to rip it out and put the yarn into a nice thick yarn vest. Re-purposing is a current term and I like it for this yarn. I'll re-purpose it! So I've been looking for a pattern but I was shy to mention it to my husband. He always mourns even when I have to take out a few rows of knitting to fix a mistake. He feels bad that all that work is just ripped out. So I was keeping the plan for this too-big sweater mum for the time being.

The other day I thought I'd blog about it so I put on the sweater for him to take some photos of it and I casually mentioned that I was going to take it apart. I thought he'd go nuts but when he saw it on me, he said, "Ehhhhhh."  HAHA  I was, however relieved that I didn't have to justify my plan. Even he could see the blunder.

So now I have begun the long process of un-making a beautiful sweater. The snarls and other tangles within wool knitting is amazing. My finger tips are already getting sore. And I haven't settled on a use for the yarn as of yet. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

I think the saddest part so far is ripping out those
lovely button holes...
Here's what it looks like as of right now, a pile of curly yarn and a
partial very LARGE sweater.


(In the meantime, I have a delicate lacy scarf and a tote on the needles for Christmas presents. I do love knitting. 

Remember, I'd welcome suggestions for some type of short sweater or chunky yarn vest patterns. Thanks!)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Baby Love, #2

As noted in a previous post, Baby Love #1, I had not ever knitted baby gifts until last summer. And as noted in a previous post, Fiber Snob, I am no longer a fiber snob after taking a Faire Isle knitting class where we made hats from store-bought yarns. So now I think I can make baby gifts. :^) 

These pictures are of baby gift 2 and baby gift 3, both Faire Isle hats for ~ a 9-12 month old, hopefully. The purple one is for a little girl, my only sister's only daughter's new baby. Her baby was born in April. The greenish teal hat is for a dear friend's yet-to-be-born baby boy. 

The yarn I chose was Cascade Yarns, 220 Superwash Sport, which is obviously sport weight. It is 100% Superwash Merino and is wonderfully soft. I love it. The colors are white, wistera (I think) and maybe dark aqua. But if you go to the link above or search elsewhere on-line, you will find a wealth of colors from which to choose. 

The color pattern I used in class was a copyrighted pattern, but I later began using this one and I really like it. It is especially cute on baby hats - and it's pretty nice on adult hats, too, like, say, mine. So I thought I'd share what I did in case anyone wants to make one or several, too. For the girl hat I used a braid edging which I think is pretty easy to find on line, like at this site. The one I used was actually part of the copyrighted pattern so I'm hesitant to post it but the link is about the same thing. If you have questions, or want to know how mine is done, ask in the comments section and I can accommodate you.  

So for both hats I used 12" circular (which are mighty short) needles, sizes 4 and 6. I cast on 92 stitches on the #4's and did the edging, either the *braid* or the *K2 P2 rib for 6 rounds*. Of course, use a stitch marker or small ponytail band to show where the rounds start. 

When the edging was finished I switched to the number 6 needles and during the first row of the body (which is a solid row of the MC [Main Color]), I made a stitch 4 times, evenly spaced out, making 96 stitches. (The main part of the color chart needs to be divisible by 6 but the top 2 sections of the color chart [the little 'v's'] need to be divisible by 12.  
( I changed the very top section of this chart in the actual hats. What I did in the hats was the same as the very first section of the color chart except the first and fourth rows of that section being the MC instead of the CC [Contrasting Color]). I'm sorry for any confusion - if anyone needs it, I can get you the right chart representation. But the chart as it reads works well, too.

After the first row of the chart (which is that increase row) continue on with the chart. After the last row of the chart, begin the crown decreases as such: 

NOTE: Change to dpns (dividing sts evenly between 3 needles) when there are too few sts to work with circular needle. And the crown will be done entirely in MC, so leave a 8" tail of CC and cut before beginning directions below.

Rnd 1-  *k6, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 2 and all even rounds, knit around
Rnd 3-  *k5, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 5-  *k4, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 7-  *k3, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 9-  *k2, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 11- *k1, k2tog; rep from * around
Rnd 13- *k2tog around

When finished, leave at least an 12" tail, thread the yarn through the remaining stitches (I usually go around the remaining stitches several times, tightening as I go, to make a strong, tight "tip-top".)  Then weave in all the ends. 

I always block these hats loosely on a balloon (don't stretch the ribbing or braid by a balloon that's too tight) and VOILA - you have an adorable baby hat. 

Let me know if you want to make one and my post was entirely too confusing. I'm sure I can straighten it all out!!!  :^)

And below you will find an adorable newborn in her adorable new hat - meant for her to wear next winter. The little boy's excited family has just a few more days to wait. 


Don't 'cha just want to kiss those baby cheeks?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Week-End Pics

A few odds and ends as the week ends...again!

1) I just got this in the mail today from my mom. She's been crocheting for a fund-raiser at her church and she sent me one of these unique book marks. I love the delicate thread crocheting. To see some of my mother's doilies from days gone by, go to this link.

 2) I also got these beads in the mail today from Beadhaholic.com. I got them for a lacy scarf for a Christmas present. The beads go on the ends of the scarf to be pretty, of course, but also to give the light weight lace some weight to keep it in place. BUT they are too small. I ordered the size the pattern says (8/0) but they won't work. Fortunately, the entire order was $6.00, including shipping. I guess I'll be making a trip to Jo-Anne's soon. I think they just may carry some beads. Must remember to take my lace weight yarn with me.

3)Got a faire isle hat finished this week for a grandson. 3 more to go. I'll be posting the color chart for this pattern next week.

4) I did something that's probably not very thrifty - with hubby's encouragement. I bought this on eBay just yesterday. An Ashford Traditional spinning wheel. I've been eye balling them for a while - it is like my very first spinning wheel which I gave away. I don't need it but it was a very good price - used and refurbished. It is coming from New Zealand, home of the Ashford wheel, so I won't get it for a while. But I'm not hurting for a wheel so that will be okay. It'll be for posterity. And for more authentic looking demonstrations. And I might be able to come up with a few more justifications - just give me time!

5) I'm toying with the idea of spinning a bit of yarn with my golden doodle's tail hair. Not sure if I really want to do that, but I've been saving it. It might be nice as a bit of trim in hand warmers.
Just look at that tail!

This is the approximate idea.

6) Got some coleus, sweet potato plants and snap dragons for the pots out front. Just need some short-ish grass to finish them off. But we had a light frost last night and another possible one tonight. Guess we'll be keeping them watered in their greenhouse pots and move them back and forth from the garage to the porch until planting time.

7) We've had a busy bird week. Just tonight we had 5 male Northern Orioles at the feeders and a female AT THE SAME TIME. Crazy!! And we've seen an orchard oriole several times, too. They are eating jelly like, well...like it's goin' outa style. (Fortunately for us humans, jelly is NOT going out of style.)
Male Northern Oriole

Male Orchard Oriole

We've had a nice, quiet week with few obligations. And it's supposed to be a bit spring-like the next couple of days up here in the Northwoods. You have a nice weekend, ya hear?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Baby Love, #1

Being that, for most of my adult life, I was primarily a "knitter from hand spun" and was, as previously noted, a Fiber Snob, I had not knitted baby things. Corriedale wool, while it's wonderful, isn't quite soft enough for baby things. I must say, however, that in recent years I have found good merino to be of excellent baby quality but items made from such are still not machine washable. And there's this: even though I have made full-fledged sweaters long before I made hats or knitted anything on Double-Pointed needles, I think I found baby sweaters and booties a bit daunting. There, I said it. I'm not sure why but I did. So I just bought baby things.

And then last spring one of  my dear friends, Catie, announced that she was expecting a baby. Very exciting news. Did I mention that my friend is also a knitter? ~gulp~ I decided I just had to do it - knit a baby sweater. It took me a long time to find a pattern. L-o-n-g time. But then I settled on this - Pink Lemonade Hoodie. In thinking about colors, I decided on a sage-y green because she hadn't yet learned whether she was having a boy or a girl and my friend loves greens.

The yarn recommendation on the pattern is for Lion Brand Baby Wool. (It appears that the color I chose is no longer available, at least at the link I gave.) And, as you can see, Catie learned the little one growing inside was a boy, so I got the same Lion Brand yarn in blue for the trim.

The pattern calls for garter edging for the sleeves and bottom but I decided to do a stockinette roll. Love that look!

The sleeves were the first component on the pattern so I dutifully knitted up two of the cutest little sleeves I'd ever made!!! They were so adorable. The body is knitted on circulars to hold the number of stitches but are worked back and forth, not in the round (it's a cardigan). I was about half way up the body when I realized the pattern calls for those cute little round sleeves to be attached to a FLAT garment. I had never heard of such a thing. So I sought help from a local yarn shop owner/knitter and she helped set it up. As it turned out, she had just finished a lovely adult sweater with the same instructions, or else she wouldn't have known what in the world it meant, either. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you do exactly that - you stretch out those sleeves to as straight a line as you can and put them on the needle at the right place on the body and knit. It's really hard for the first couple of rows and it did hurt these old finger joints of mine, but I got 'er done. However, let me just say, I don't plan on ever doing a sweater like that again!

With all that said, it is a very cute little hoodie. I didn't make it for a new born but more for a 12 month old.  However, the little guy was huge, 10 pounds of beautiful baby boy. And he's still a bruiser - an all smiles, happy, adorable bruiser. So the sweater is just about too small already - and he's only 8 months old. Heirloom, I say, heirloom.

I found these great little buttons to match the blue trim. Aren't they just the cutest? And one other thing of note, as you decrease above the sleeves to form the yoke, you get these great little puckers in a regular pattern which add so much charm. So with that, I'll just leave you with the rest of the pictures.

Here he is modeling for us with his adoring
Did I mention adoring?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's A Wrap - Again

Ree Drummond, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, says you should never blog about the same thing twice. But, well, I've just finished another Faraway, So Close shawl by Carina Spencer.  And I paid for the pattern so I might as well get my money's worth, right? And bore any readers with the same topic, right?

So, here goes: Of course it is similar to the shawl in this post of mine, but I made the shorter version and I'm definitely planning ahead - it's a Christmas gift! Although, I just realized the other day, it is already the 5th month of 2014 - just 7 months until Christmas!!! And it's still pretty cold from the last one up here in the northwoods. :)

This time I chose Cascade 220 Paints yarn and the color is Juniper Berries, 9997. It took almost exactly 2 skeins (as I finished up, I was afraid I would run out and have to break out another). This is a lighter weight worsted, #4 so I used a larger needle than last time - size 11. I believe the finished product is a bit larger than the dimensions given in the pattern, but bigger is better, right??? Hopefully the recipient will agree.

I did end this one a bit differently from the pattern recommendations. The pattern calls for a single garter row after several stockinette rows and my first one curls a bit too much around the edges for my liking. So this time I added 4 rows of garter and it blocked up much nicer.

There's not much more to add besides what I said in my previous post. Except to say, it is a great pattern and really fun to make. I highly recommend it. I'll simply show it off with these pictures.
Here it is while being blocked. I love the multiple yarn over

Never mind the Bucky Badger PJ pants!

Gotta go - I have another Christmas present on the circulars - and several more to go.  :)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Nests of Fiber???

I have been an avid bird watcher since I met my late husband back in college in 1973. He was a senior and we met just after he had returned from an inter-term ornithology class in the Florida Keys. He was so excited about all the birds he saw and passed that excitement on to me. Some of our dates were meeting EARLY in the mornings (like 5:30) to go, yes, bird watching. We did take some kidding about that.

While we lived on the "upper 40" all those years before his death, we always had bird feeders, bird baths and bird books available for us and them, faithfully marking in our Birds of North America book any new ones we saw and when and where.

Somewhere in those years, our dear elderly neighbors (although they were probably about my current age when we met), gave us tips about feeding our avian friends. The Mrs. was also a spinner and weaver and encouraged us to put out natural fibers with which the birds might build their nests. She said bright colored yarns might enable us to see the nests up in the trees later on. We did but it didn't. :) I don't believe we ever saw any of our contributions to nests up in the trees.

Move ahead here with me some 15 or so years to last year. My second husband and I had been in our new home almost 3 years and up to that point, we had not put out any yarns for the birds since moving in. He remembered that we should be doing just that so I gathered up some hand spun corriedale yarns in about 3-4 inch lengths and some colorful Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarns that I have used to make knitted dish clothes. But it never appeared that any were taken and we definitely never saw any in nests. Actually, we never saw ANY nests. Just the babies later on.

So this year my husband decided to tackle this situation head-on. He purchased this beast (right hand pic). :)  He is trying to convince himself that things have been taken from it and we will definitely have the thrill of locating nests from afar. I lovingly pat him on the back while thinking, "I believe all the rain we've had has tamped down the fluff."  I guess we'll see...or maybe not.

Meanwhile we have had a cold and rainy spring, with little bird activity. Then all of a sudden this week, we've had all our migrating friends return back to their summer homes.

Of course, all winter we have seen the usual year round cardinals, black-capped chickadees, goldfinches [dulled in color], tufted titmice, various types of woodpeckers, both white-breasted nuthatches and the smaller red-breasted nuthatch (although I'm not sure the red-breasted nuthatch stays here all winter). But this week we've been regularly visited by breeding pairs of:
Male and Female Rose Breasted Grossbeaks
Hard to see, but 2 pairs of brightly
feathered Gold Finches

A pair of Northern Orioles eating jelly
A pair of Eastern (Rufous-sided) Towhees

Mrs. Bluebird and...
Mr. Bluebird   :)

We still have not seen the female Indigo Bunting,
though she is hard to distinguish from small
sparrows.This is a male.
And just this morning we spotted this Orchard Oriole
eating jelly, alongside Mr. Indigo Bunting.  
It has caused quite a lot of excitement around here as hubby scurries around to keep the feeders and jelly dish filled and I scurry around to get photos before they fright and fly off.  Still no signs of nests...not to mention, nests of fibers. We'll see...or maybe not.