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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2 Needle Mitten Pattern

Because this year's knitting has been focused on Christmas gifts, I haven't done much spinning, which I am missing. But back in July I posted Spinning - A Break from Knitting. The yarn I spun at that time has been waiting for me. So after I finished another hat a few days ago, I grabbed the newest hand spun yarn. I was hoping I had enough for mittens because I wanted to wear the "yarn" on my hands to be able to look at it. The colors are so pretty. Here it is.

Because it was spun quite thickly, I was having trouble finding a good double pointed knitting mittens pattern. It just wasn't working out, gauge-wise and knitting nicely on DPN's-wise. I found a "chunky yarn" mitten and fingerless mitt pattern but after starting both several times, neither one was pleasing me. My husband couldn't believe how many times I ripped out the beginnings. 

Finally I remembered a pattern that I had made way back in the early 90's with home spun yarn. I dug through my "soon-to-be organized patterns" and located the one I needed.  Ah-ha - Success on finding a pattern to use with my thick hand spun! The pattern is called The Candide Mitten; Five Sizes for the Whole Family. 

I got busy and man-o-man, do they knit up fast.

Unfortunately, the pattern is copyrighted, out of print and seemed to be unavailable on-line anywhere without paying for it. And the yarn is also no longer made. But I dug and dug and finally found a pattern on Ravelry that appears to be the same one. Except that this one is for both DPN's or 2 Needles. It can be found here at Free Vintage Knitting. God bless them for the effort of getting this great pattern on-line.

The 2 needle version is really great for beginners who haven't yet used DPN's. Just tell them to do it step-by-step and to do a gauge swatch. My original pattern knitted up a bit large, but again that may be from using hand spun yarn. I knew nothing back then about yarn weight but did try to do the proper gauge.

So here are the newest 2 Needle Mittens.

I'm really pleased with the color variations in them. At first I wanted them to be somewhat close to identical - the obsessive/controller part of me wanted them to be alike. But the relaxed, enjoy-the-craft part of me ultimately won out, keeping me from ripping out the top half out of the second one. Maybe I'm maturing. Or maybe it was because my son said, "that would be just psycho."

And here are the older ones I knitted so long ago. The blue striped ones were originally knitted for my late husband. They were very large for me and he had worn them so much that they were almost thread bare around the index and middle fingers. So I needled felted some similar colored roving to the thinning areas, as I showed in this previous post. And then threw them into the wash to felt them to my size.

 And the ones I had knitted for me were quite large, too so when I machine felted the blue ones, I also felted these. I think they are a bit small now but are soooo thick and warm.

If you click on the link for the pattern, you will see sizes for children as well. I did make a pair for my little one who is no longer a little one, also with hand spun. I forgot about them when I was taking pictures, but when he wore them, they were toasty warm. It is really a wonderful pattern and so versatile.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Easy Hat Pattern (Great for Beginners)

I have been waiting to do this post until my friend, Catie, found the "Perky Hat" that I made for her about 2 years ago. Finally, after several months of her hat being AWOL, I found it in our church Lost and Found - after she had worn it ONE time. Hmmmm  Well, I can't really explain that but it looks sooo cute on her. However, I also couldn't seem to get her to send me a photo of her wearing it.  Hmmmm  Well, I can't explain that either but it is so cute, especially on her. Really. Trust me.

So, here is her hat, not on a head, along with the first one I ever made, in about 1990. Both are from hand spun, approximately worsted weight. My friend's hat is on the right.

What's fun about this pattern is that you knit the crown sideways and then pick up stitches for the very top and then for the brim. It's a clever design. The fit is a bit like a stocking cap with a nice brim. Plus, this is super easy and great for beginners, with a little help on a couple of terms.

When I made the first one, I thought the brim was too floppy so I made my friend's brim with double strands of yarn. It gave the brim more body and still has some "flop" left.

I got the pattern from a magazine in 1989 and I do not see it anywhere on-line. So, here is the pattern, the way it read back in 1989:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Conductive Gloves" - Great Idea!

A couple of years ago, I was browsing in the clearance racks at Kohl's, a favorite department store here in the U.S., and found these gloves. They were labeled as Conductive Gloves, to make using a SmartPhone possible outdoors in the winter time. Of course, they are targeted for kids who text 24-7, which I am not and do not. But I thought they would be great while walking the dog when my husband and I need to communicate. I had never heard of such a clever invention - well, besides the invention of the SmartPhone - so I bought both pairs that were left.
Notice the different color thread in the
thumb and index finger.

I offered a pair to my sister but she wasn't too interested so I kept them both. And eventually bought a couple more pairs for my step-step grandaughters (long story there) for Christmas gifts. They would be among those that text, maybe 24-7.

By now, most of you have likely heard of these types of gloves, but did you know that knitters can buy the thread to knit into your hand knit gloves and even to sew into already made gloves. Check it out! (I linked to Amazon but maybe your local shops have it or could get it.

I heard about it the other night at our local yarn shop, for you local people. The owner, is carrying it, I believe. I have never tackled knitting gloves yet and now I have 2 pair of store bought Conductive Gloves. But I am going to get some of this Conductive Thread and stitch it into my favorite pairs of mittens. I think a wide enough patch might just work at least for answering these complicated phones while wearing mittens.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Saturday Afternoon Field Trip

View out of my bathroom window
this morning.
This morning dawned clear and sunny, which was nice after 3 days of awesome rainy fall days. This last Saturday was a clear, cool, sunny autumn day, too, which made it a great day for a field trip. And that is exactly what the local knitting group did. We met at the local yarn shop, and carpooled to two yarn establishments and 1 fabulous restaurant.  Our destination: Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin and, oh, what a beautiful drive it was. And it was great to chat with fellow knitters (one being a fellow) and to knit, too.

Our first stop was out in the country near Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin to Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. This is a family run business and has equipment from huge commercial woolen mills of the past. Ann, one of the owners, began as a hand spinner and, starting back in the late 80's, turned her love of fiber into a means of livelihood. I'll share some pictures of their equipment, which they use primarily to fill orders from shops and vendors of yarns. They also have a small shop right there, where individuals can buy exquisite yarns and fibers, patterns, and other items of interest. And they have an internet order business, so be sure and visit their web page. If you purchase yarn from Blackberry Ridge, you will not be disappointed. Ann is quite selective about the wool producers from whom she buys and is careful not to "scour" or harm the fiber. Plus, she is very careful about the dyes they use and the color formulas for the purpose of replicating, all ensuring the finest of yarns and fibers. (I believe they also process wool into roving for hand spinners, with a minimum of 2 pounds.)

So here are some photos of the Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. Somehow I neglected to get photos in their shop area so, again, be sure and visit their web page. The wool yarn I got there is soooo soft and in beautiful colors.
Ann, one of the owners of Blackberry Ridge,
is on the left, giving us a tour. It began in the end
room that houses washing machines for soaking
and spinning out wool, and a kitchen range for
setting the dyes of their paint yarns - in the oven.

Merino wool air drying after cleaning.

Here is a large hank of dyed wool
dripping over the dye bath.

And then drying, hung over PVC pipe.

Here are gears from some huge machine sticking
out of a hole cut in the wall to accommodate them. 

The fiber fuzz is cleaned every week from every
nook and cranny. 

One of the 2 carding machines. From this

.....it goes to this one. When it is done here, the wool
is in very fine, untwisted strands and put onto huge
"bobbins," that word being used loosely.

The "bobbins" or rolls are on top of this green machine.
Here the strands are twisted into single ply yarn.

From the rolls, to twisted and then wound automatically
onto the wooden bobbins.

And this last machine,though not a good picture, is where
the single ply yarns are plied.

And here the camera is getting a stare-down.

Our next stop was in downtown Mt. Horeb to The Cat and the Crow. Now, how's that for an awesome shop name? This shop was new (to me) and it is de-light-ful! When you first walk in the door, there is a sittin' & knittin' area and beyond that, rows and racks and walls of yarn, fiber, knitting gadgets, felted bowls (felted on balloons), and Oh My! on and on. And in the back is another sitting area with a table, likely for classes. I will include some pictures from there but be sure and visit their web page, too. (They also have a great Facebook page here and they have wonderful pictures on their page.)
This sitting area is what greets you right
inside the door.
The woman on the left is one of the co-owners,
showing something on her needles.

And here is the other co-owner. Just look at that great
"pig-tail hat" someone knitted for her.

The centerpiece of the class area.

Felted bowl - using a balloon.

Our last stop, well besides stopping for gas on the way home, was to The Grumpy Troll, also in downtown Mt. Horeb - just around the corner from The Cat and the Crow. There we had a very nice selection of menu items and, even though the place is extremely popular and a bit loud, we had a great time talking and laughing. And I heard no complaints about the food, only raving. YUM!

And here is our group, courtesy of a busy, friendly

Here is a re-cap of my day: I finished a fair isle hat
on the ride over, bought several patterns, and
bought some yarn. The large,
colorful skein is what I got at Blackberry Ridge.

It was a fabulous day for a field trip with friends.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Trip and a Bluegrass Festival

We just got home last week from a trip to my high school class reunion in Indianapolis, Indiana, to a little visit with my family in the hills of eastern Tennessee and to the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Celebration in Rosine, Kentucky. It was an 11 day trip and I took a variety of knitting projects to work on. We had been to the bluegrass festival before and I knew there would be a lot, I mean A LOT, of sitting, so I wanted to be prepared.

The festival is adjacent to the home of Bill Monroe, who is said to be the "Father of Modern Bluegrass." I have always loved bluegrass and wish I had a picture of my paternal grandpa playing his banjo on his porch swing. I remember a few evenings where a couple of his friends came down to that porch with their instruments and they "made music," and occasionally my quiet grandpa would get up and do a sort of shuffling jig. So I do feel a connection to bluegrass, even though I play no instruments. My husband is a guitarist, bass player and drummer from wa-a-ay back and he has come to enjoy bluegrass along with me.

Anyway, I think I will just post a few pictures here of the trip and show the knitting projects that I finished. Enjoy the ride.

Look at all those old(er) people at
my class reunion.
The view from very near my parents' home
in eastern Tennessee

The lake we walk around when visiting them.

When you park at the foot of the hill at the bluegrass
festival, you will find a variety of modes
of transportation up to the festival itself.
Here is a tractor pulling a large "cart."

They also had an older school bus, labeled
"Bluegrass Shuttle."
They even had about 7 golf carts. And, let me tell you,
those cart drivers tore around like mad-men.

One of the many bands, Cumberland Highlanders.

Phillip Steinmetz and his Sunny Tennesseans

This is only a portion of the large crowd in attendance
at the 5 day festival

Ronnie Reno and the Reno Tradition

The first day I finished 4 knitting projects.

Then that night we had a good rain. Husband and I were cozy
warm under his very large golfing umbrella, raincoats on our
legs and hats and gloves.

The next day dawned clear and cold. I put the knitting
away to focus on keeping warm.

I finished these 2 fair isle hats for
Christmas presents

The knitting on that
green thing will be like this
when finished, featured here.

And I finished this black
dish cloth to match my kitchen, shown

 And before I end, I want to post a few videos of some of the bands at Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Celebration. These videos are from You Tube and not from this year's festival. Bluegrass at its finest. Maybe.

We had a lot of fun on this trip and, as usual, were very glad to get back home.