Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Finished in the Nick of Time

Dear Mom,

I had my doubts. Could I finish knitting the long vest I hoped to wear to church on Christmas Eve? I had selflessly put that knitting on hold to finish weaving dishtowels, baking scones, wrapping gifts, and all that other stuff on my Christmas to-do list. But what to wear should I not finish that vest? I had no back-up plan. Every free moment in those last few days before the 24th were spent knittingknittingknitting. Not all bad, and I'd be the only one disappointed if I didn't finish- no body would be going without a gift.
In the wee hours of Christmas Eve (1:30am, to be exact) I put the last blocking pin in, turned the ceiling fan in the guest room on HIGH, and went to bed hoping the thing would be dry before church services in the afternoon.
It was.


I modified this pattern , adding length. I am pleased with the results.

The yarn I used is Misti Alpaca's Hand Paint Baby Suri Silk, which I am not finding on the Misti Alpaca web page, so it may be discontinued. Nice stuff, though, and it took 5 skeins for this project. I bought all that I could find when a local yarn shop closed a few years ago, and still have 4 skeins left. Enough for a simple turtleneck or pullover, maybe.
I started 2011 with the goal of knitting a pair of socks each month. Some month's socks were a little delayed, but I have so far managed to finish knitting 11 pairs of socks. The first sock of pair #12 is halfway done and I feel confident that I'll get this last pair finished before the ball drops on the 31st.

Will I knit another 12 pairs in 2012? Probably not. But I did like this goal and it did help me work my way through my sock yarn stash. I have other little projects and the yarn for them that I'd like to get done and right now I am thinking I may alternate those with socks each month. I need to organize the inventory and see what I come up with.

I am enjoying these last quiet days of 2011, resting, reading and knitting. I probably think this to myself at this time every year, but I really need to learn to slow down and savor the important moments. I am forever thinking about what comes next, what the next project or book will be, what tasks are waiting for me to manage them,and how to efficiently multi task them all.... and some of that has to be. Family and Home obligations are important, and I don't mind being the person that oversees laundry, meals, and schedules.  And I don't want to waste time. What I am guilty of is pressuring myself into doing more and not fully enjoying the thing I am doing NOW because I am bothering myself with NEXT.
I believe that The Best is Yet to Come. I just need to slow down and wait for it to get here rather than rush for it.


Friday, December 23, 2011


Dear Mom,

On Sunday afternoon, MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit and I gave Fig a test drive. We watched a few you tube tutorials on drum carding and then started playing.
With Fig clamped to the kitchen island and all of us surrounded by a variety of fibers and roving, we selected colors to blend.
We carded a combination of bright blue, walnut brown and natural to create the batt you see to the left of the picture,

and then a combination of grey-brown, chocolate brown and grape.
There is a definite learning curve, but we're getting things figured out. Cleaning the carder for the next batch of fibers seems to be the hardest part. We had a better time with the second batch and discovered that the longer fibers were easier to pull and clean off the carder.
I've gone on to card two more batts of plain vanilla. The grape combination has been spun but not plied, and with such a little batt there won't be much yarn created to do much with, but when it is plied and skeined I'll show you what I/we made.

Next step?

Watch out.

And if you see me with stained hands and clothing, you'll know why.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emergency Substitution

Dear Mom,

When you don't have the wooden pick you need for that part of the recipe that says "or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean",

a size 1 bamboo sock needle (clean) works just fine.


Friday, December 16, 2011


Dear Mom,
Meet the newest member of my fiber family!
She is an Ashford Drum Carder and her name is Figment Imogene.

MelissaWhoSpinsbutDoesNotKnit and I hatched a plan awhile ago to be on the lookout for a used drum carder that we could purchase together and share. We had our hopes on acquiring one, only to have the negotiations fall through. We refused to be discouraged, but did wonder if really possessing a drum carder was all a figment of our very fertile imaginations. Through the wonder that is ravelry I found hermajestymargo, who really must be one of Santa's helpers, because here we are with a freshly delivered drum carder. And she is real. As Bonnie Jo would say, "She is a BEAUT!"

So "Figment" because she is no longer a figment of our imaginations, and "Imogene" as a spin on imagining because we imagine so many possibilities with her.

Fig will have an extended family of rug hooking and spinning fiber at Melissa's house, and the knitting, spinning and weaving goings on here.

Daphne Joy and Donna Reed already like her.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ready or it comes.

Dear Mom,
The tree is up and decorated.
Pine needles litter the floor and Mr. Dyson has ingested his fill.
Gifts are not wrapped. Some gifts haven't even been purchased and others still wait for me to finish (or start) them.
It only occurred to me last night that I hadn't even given a thought to holiday baking.
And this one is giving me no help at all.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

November's Socks

Dear Mom,
November's socks are finished in mid-December putting December's socks in serious jeopardy. At best I hope to start them after Christmas. I am feeling hopelessly behind on all my Christmas gift projects!
These are from Nightfall sock yarn- hand dyed and cleverly wound and packaged to produce a nearly identical pair of socks.
Hand made Christmas gifts make for poor blogging. But behind the screen there is a flurry of fiber-related activity going on here!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coupon Code

Dear Mom,
It seems that a few people have had trouble with the coupon code for the Long Nights Cowl pattern. After a tiny bit of investigating and experimenting (and can I say it is a little weird to try buying your own pattern?) I've figured out that the coupon code "warm thoughts" must be entered like this:


no spaces.

Hit 'apply code' and it should work!


Monday, December 5, 2011

A Christmas Gift

Dear Mom,
With Christmas less than 3 weeks away, and knowing that there are plenty of knitters out there scrambling to get their Christmas gift knitting done, I've finished writing the pattern for the cowl from my last post and published it on ravelry.
The Long Nights Cowl is a quick, easy knit and can be finished in one evening if one is able to sit down without interruption.With the demands of the season, it is quite likely that two evenings will be required if baking cookies, keeping up with the laundry and letting the dogs out are competing with knitting time.
The pattern is available for purchase HERE. As a gift to all our blog readers, I am making the pattern available for free until Christmas. Simply enter warmthoughts in the coupon code at check out. Edited: don't put any spaces in the coupon code- sorry for the confusion!

p.s. Yes, that is a ReLinkWish fastening the cowl in place!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Discombobulated and trying to stay focused

Dear Mom,
Step away from the blog for a couple of days and the next thing you know a couple of weeks have flown by.
I've been busy, distracted, fragmented, productive (in an unorganized way), panicked- in other words, the Holiday Season is Upon Us.
Most of the past two weeks in not blog worthy, or I've been too unfocused to blog about it, or I cannot show it here lest it spoil Christmas.
I will take a pretty safe bet that The Young Man doesn't read this blog and show you a hat I knit up for him in about 5 hours. He admired some hats similar in style at the Meijer and no way was I going to let my son wear a store-bought, cheap acrylic, knitted hat on his head. I've lined it in a soft fleece and it will be stuffed into a stocking or find itself under the tree on Christmas morning.

The pattern is loosely based on this one and used up some left over bits of Lopi (gray), Classic Elite wool bamboo (black) and Briggs and Little sport weight yarn (red). The Young Man wanted a crazy pompom on the top- hence the crazy pompom. I figure that is easily removed (or trimmed) if he has second thoughts.

At November's Spin In, Mary Alice shared some of her walnut "tea", and while we sat spinning, various fibers steeped, becoming rich shades of brown.
I took about 600 yards of some already hand spun yarn. I'd used a good portion of it last summer when I knit my To Eyre shawl.

This photo shows the walnut dyed wool laying on top of the To Eyre Shawl so you can see the color change.
I've long admired this scarf, have the pattern booklet on my shelf, and should have just enough walnut dyed yarn to make it. I will muster all my will power to put off starting it until AFTER all my Christmas projects are finished.
The only other thing I can show for my blog absence is the following.

Remember the bungee cord over-twisted purple/copper penny yarn I spun?
I've turned it into a springy, spongy warm cowl.

Yes, that is a ReLinkWish you see there.
This is a quick, relatively simple garter stitch, moebius cowl with a placket of sorts (thus the ReLinkWish)- I'll try to find the time to make another and write up the pattern. I did this one in an evening, and that was while figuring it out as I went, so the next should go faster. Good short notice gift, or an instant gratification knit (because sometimes that is just what you need).

Lots more happening behind the scenes. And even more that I'd like to accomplish. All shall be revealed in time.
Be warm. Snow is on the way. I'll try to remember that without cold weather, wool hand knits would not be so appealing.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ginkgo Shoulderette Shawl

Dear Mom,
One of the knitting goals I'd set for myself this week was to finish knitting this shawlette.
MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit purchased this lovely NightFall yarn at SAFF last month, and in exchange for a delicious home cooked Stir Fry dinner for my family of four, I've had the pleasure of knitting this shawl for her.

The Pattern is Ginkgo Shoulderette Shawl. The only modifications I made (and the pattern includes instructions for this) was to increase the body of the shawl to make it a little bigger AND to use up as much of this yarn as possible. The yarn is hand dyed to create this gentle, magical change from light to dark within the skein.
Melissa also brought home some Nightfall sock yarn. Again the colorway works itself from a lighter shade to almost black and the sock yarns are packaged with two identical skeins making it easier to create an identical, rather than fraternal, pair of  socks. Those socks are the next on my list of knitting goals for the week- they'll count as my November socks, and the first of that pair is already finished!

I've added SAFF to my bucket list. After seeing Melissa's show and tell and hearing about her trip, I wondered if I would have noticed this wonderful yarn. I would have been attracted to the color, but may not have taken the time to notice how special it is. I tend to get completely overwhelmed when I shop and can easily shut down to the point of not seeing anything. It's like I need extra time to become acclimated to the sensory overload and to quiet all the ideas in my head that squawk for attention like a nest of hungry birds. On a previous little fiber excursion, Melissa and I discovered that we each gravitate to very different colorways. We helped each other see more of what is really there. While Melissa was disciplined enough to "shop outside her comfort zone" while she was at SAFF, I am pretty sure I would need someone there to physically point out what I was missing.

Keep warm! It is definitely feeling like November out there today!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Shipshewana Part 2

Dear Mom,
The rest of the Shipshe weekend had a bit of the expected- the cheese shop, the bakery, bulk foods and JoJo's pretzels, but the highlight for me was our stop in at Ruth's Weaving.
If we lived in Shipshewana, Ruth would be our friend. Our short visit with Ruth in her weaving shop touched our hearts and her gentle spirit left an unforgettable impression.
Ruth weaves rugs and her shop is filled with handmade baskets made by her daughter. But the LOOMS in that small shop! I don't have the words to describe the beauty of those looms.

In my conversation with her, Ruth told me that she is learning to spin and will work at becoming a better spinner this winter. I just wanted to plop down next to her right there and then and spend the rest of the weekend talking about spinning and weaving and nothing else. Part of me has just fallen in love with Ruth.

After reluctantly leaving Ruth's Weaving, we drove into the very crowded downtown Shipshewana. My favorite purchase of the trip is some softsoftsoft alpaca/bunny roving to spin. Once I got home I couldn't wait to give it a "whorl" and spun up a little bit....

Dreamy. Soft, easy to spin. Beautiful shades of smokey gray and black.

I've set some pretty lofty knitting goals for myself this week that I Must Accomplish before I will allow myself to sit down and spin any more of the heavenly fiber.


P.S. My etsy shop is stocked with ReLinkWishes and notecards!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Shipshewana Part 1

Dear Mom,

Thanks to the miracle of antibiotics and lots of napping, I rallied and our weekend in Shipshewana went as planned.
Wedged into the back seat, and with Bonnie Jo behind the wheel, we departed on schedule Friday morning. A slight detour to Culver for a quick errand and some lunch had us arriving in Shipshewana mid afternoon.

We did a tiny bit of shopping before checking in to our B&B, and then made our first attempt at meeting up with the gentle, kind Amish lady who would be finishing a quilt for CarolWhoseHouseGotStruckbyLightning. This was my Main Mission. It took us a couple of tries (and would have taken only 1 attempt had I rung the doorbell that first time.) We eventually met with her on Saturday morning, so all ended well.

Our generous B&B hostess directed us towards Emma's Cafe for a light dinner Friday night.
It was the perfect place, with good food and atmosphere- a kind of general store/soda fountain, oil cloths on the table
 kind of place. The old jukebox played a wide variety of oldies and soon Rockin' Robin had us swinging in our chairs. (4 obviously not Amish, non-local women DANCING might have been too much, so we kept our fancy moves confined to our seats, swaying from the waist up. Plus we didn't want to hurt ourselves.)

Bonnie Jo and I ordered tea, and after our first sips, realized that our tea was instant, not brewed.
A little doctoring was required and we decided to turn our teas into Arnold Palmers. Behind our table was a refrigerated case with a variety of juices and soft drinks. No lemonades.
But! There was a raspberry lemonade and we decided we could make do with that.
Not exactly an Arnold Palmer....

An Amish Palmer.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's time to call "Uncle"

Dear Mom,
When I am too tired to knit and Don't Care, I know it is time to seek medical intervention for the cold that is now a sinus infection. Hot tea + antibiotics + lots of rest = I'll be feeling better soon.


P.S. I did manage to knit about 1/2 a sock while waiting in the medcheck last night.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Done and Done

Dear Mom,
September's socks.
Late, but done.
October's socks- done with time to spare!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I learn a new trick

 Dear Mom,
When I was Up North earlier this month, and while visiting the charming Melissa at Wool and Honey, I noticed an attractive, funky bracelet on Melissa's wrist. Our conversation was moving along at such a pace that I neglected to ask her about the bracelet.
When week 3 of The Twelve Knits of Christmas rolled around I was happy to see the bracelet kit as that week's offering. I ordered the kit and received it a few days later.
I was taking a Giant Step out of my comfort zone with this one. It is crocheted, not knit. But Melissa's directions were easy to follow and during last week's Project Runway episode I crocheted not 1, but 2 cuffs! (The kit has ample wire for more than one cuff, but just enough freshwater pearls for one cuff. I stocked up on a variety of beads from Michael's before beginning that first cuff. Foolish, maybe, but determined and optimistic.)
Here are the results:
Crocheting will never be my "thing". I decided to try knitting them. Much faster, the knitted ones.
Here are the two I've knitted:

I'd show these around a wrist, but it happens that photographing your own wrist is harder than it sounds.

I've not just been knitting wire bracelets. These have been a little interruption to my devotion to finishing 2 pairs of socks this month (September's AND October's). I've finished September's pair, and October's socks have the first sock finished and I turned the heel on the second sock last night. My plan is to finish that sock during tonight's Project Runway finale. I'll definitely show both pairs when that they are all finished.

I've also been putting the finishing touches on an idea that has been brewing in my brain for a while now.


ReLinkWishes are the answer to committing an expensive button to one sweater, or to being able to close a shawl or scarf with something other than a shawl pin. I've affixed a variety of beads, buttons, and found objects to cuff links backs, which can then be slipped through a knitted scarf or shawl or sweater and used as a closure or as an adornment.
My plan is to offer them for sale on Etsy. The problem there is that etsy is so big and things tend to get lost in the crowd.

Here is a sneak peak at what I've created so far-


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Patsy learns a new trick

Dear Mom,
As if it weren't enough that Patsy can open all the interior doors- (that's easy enough, after all, just stand up press the handle down and let her weight push the door open)- last weekend Patsy demonstrated a talent for PULLING open exterior doors and letting herself out.

I thought it was a fluke the first time it happened. I told myself that the door was probably not closed tightly and that is how she came to be with me in the back yard.

A short time later, it happened again. "Did you know Patsy can open the back door", My Hero asked.
"I was afraid of that", I replied with resigned breath.

The third time it happened I was home alone and sitting in a separate room when I heard the back door open. It has been rather damp and chilly. I KNOW that door was shut tightly.

So. Okay. I'll look upon this as a little less dog maintenance if she can let herself out. Even better if she lets Bumper out, too. The trouble is, she doesn't close the door behind her. Yet.

Last night I watched Patsy open the garage door. I recorded it.

To set the stage- My Hero, The Young Man and Uncle Eggie were all in the garage having some sort of manly conversation. I was seated at the kitchen table watching Patsy prancing around the door, head cocked and listening intently. Fun stuff might be going on out there and she wanted to be a part of it.......

You'll have to take my word for it that there was no assistance on the other side of that door.
As we would have said in grade school- "I swear on a holy stack of Bibles."


Monday, October 17, 2011


Dear Mom,
Meet Chloe Noel.
I've updated a personal favorite from The Young Lady's preschool years. Back in the days before Tights became the Enemy and she wore whatever I put on her cute little body. Back before she learned the phrase "it itches".  I do not lie when I state that even a soft cotton itched that kid. I think she saw me approaching with a handknit and decided it itched before it even touched her.
Do I sound bitter? Or scarred?
Clearly, I am not Over It, because here I am, designing and knitting sweaters for imaginary little girls....


This is a pretty quick knit, and a speedy and/or dedicated knitter could easily turn one of these out in plenty of time for Christmas!
More details and the link for purchasing the pattern can be found over at the Warm Thoughts Blog, or on ravelry.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Bungee Cord

Dear Mom,

I think I've discovered how to spin bungee cord.

It's pretty bungee cord, though.

I decided to spin some grape roving, ply it, and then cable ply that to the copper penny yarn that had me tied up in knots last week.

Seriously over twisted. I think I'll make a cowl and hope it doesn't strangle me.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

This time last week....

Dear Mom,
This time last week I was on my way to the paradise that is Northern Michigan, in the company of 3of my knitting friends, for a long weekend of bliss.
We were blessed with beautiful sunrises every morning.

Most of the weekend looked like this:
And if I wasn't knitting lake-side, I was knitting right here, on the porch.
We nestled in, enjoyed hearty soups and good wine, laughed hard and often, and knitted.

Finished projects were modeled on the rocks.

We left the cottage just once during our stay.

To go to our favorite yarn shop.

Wool and Honey is located in Cedar, Michigan and the owner, Melissa, is an absolute delight. I've often wished that Wool and Honey weren't 7 hours away, but Wool and Honey is now open 24//7 thanks to the internet.
Melissa does a clever thing at this time every year. It is practically a public service for knitters. I may be wrong, but I think this is her third year of "The Twelve Knits of Christmas". For each of the 12 weeks before Christmas, Melissa has a knitted gift idea - something that can easily be accomplished during that week - and she has the yarn and pattern kitted up and ready for purchase. Brilliant. Plus it's a gentle reminder that Christmas is coming sooner that we'd like to think. FYI- The first two weeks have already passed....12-2= 10 weeks 'til Christmas. I am sure there is a spot on the website to sign up to have the 12 Knits reminders emailed to you.

I arrived back home late Sunday afternoon, and it has taken me this long to find the time to sit down here and blog about the weekend. Re-entry wasn't as smooth as Departure and this has been a busy week.

Ill take a gamble here- I am pretty sure the Young Lady is not a blog follower- and show you the poncho I knit for her while I was Up North. This is getting hidden away for a Christmas gift.
The poncho is not an original idea. I've loosely based it on a poncho I'd seen a few years ago. It is a very simple knitted project- basically it is a long rectangle, folded in half with a short seam on one side, leaving an opening for the head to pop through. Before binding off I dropped a stitch in 3 evenly spaced locations. Tied on some fringe and tah-dah! A poncho fit for a teen.

As you can see, when I started to set up Elle for the poncho photo shoot, I had some "helpers" who were quite interested in the view out the front door.

I have another finished project to show you- one that I finished before I left- but I still need to take some decent pictures and write up the pattern. First I need to attend to some laundry, but I should be able to have something to show you early next week. And if I work real hard, maybe sooner!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Spinning my wheels and chasing my tail(s)

Dear Mom,
Well, September flew past. And so did my September socks.....
This is how much I've managed to knit
and I'm pretty sure this didn't get started until the last few hours of September. I'll do my darnedest to get both September's and October's socks done this month.

My absence here on the blog only means that I've been busy - with things that are too mundane to be considered blog worthy, or things that are top secret and cannot be shared here. Yet. Let's just leave it that I have had some serious bouts of creativity interspersed with the last tennis matches of the Young Man's high school career. And thanks to all the good rain we had last week, that last match took three days to complete!
Thanks to a tip from Bonnie Jo, MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit and I went to the Hoosier Llama and Alpaca Association show at the county fairgrounds on Saturday morning.

In addition to the llamas and alpacas, there were a few vendors and I managed to bring home some snow white alpaca roving to spin, some colorful Shetland wool roving to spin (which I've already done and am extremely disappointed in myself. Note to Self : No good ideas come after 10 pm and spinning at 2 am is never gonna be good.) In my defense, I never intended to be spinning until 2 am, but was so tangled up in "my good idea" that there was no way to stop. And when I say tangled up, I mean TANGLED UP. Knees and teeth, in addition to both hands and feet, were occupied with plying. It was like Lucy and Ethel Learn to Spin.
I also brought home some wonderful ceramic buttons. All reasonably priced and there was a very healthy selection of buttons from which to choose.
Can you blame me for trying to figure out how to get around the neighborhood covenants, re-fence my yard and build a shelter for a couple of these guys?