Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

A Bayberry candle burned to the socket
brings health to the home
and wealth to the pocket.

Wishing all a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

brown paper packages tied up with string...
these are a few of my favorite things

Dear Mom,

I love these quiet days after Christmas.
The reward for surviving all the preparation and frenzy of the weeks before.
And a well-timed snow storm gave us an extra day and a very good excuse to stay home and relax.

On Christmas morning, we had waffles made from scratch. Far more delicious and more filling than the Bisquick waffles that are so easy to make.

Olive has been entertained  obsessed distracted  occupied by the squirrels on the bird feeder. Back and forth from the window to the back door. Desperately wanting to get those varmints when she is on the inside, then sloooowwwlly stalking them when she gets outside. Sneaking up on them, getting with in a few feet of them..... and then freezing in place. Waiting for them to make the next move. Or maybe giving them a chance to escape, because maybe she knows she really doesn't want to catch one!

The Amaryllis is just beginning to bloom. 
It almost looks artificial.
And a gift opening itself after all the other gifts have been opened.

This photo was taken through a window blurred by melting snow-
the cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches and squirrels are striking in their beauty.
Like Olive, I can't help but stop everything to watch them.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Olive the Other Reindeer

Dear Mom,
She is a very good dog to be putting up with this.

But she has been the best puppy.

And Olive has skills that Bumper and Patsy didn't have-

And pretty much the naughtiest thing she has done was trying to bury her toys in a potted plant.

And chew the corner off the down comforter to make it "snow" inside.

And eat that Christmas ornament made by the Young Man in 2nd grade. 

And despite being too wiggly to get a good focused photo...

Olive is A Very Good Dog.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Worth Reading!

Dear Mom,
I want to shout a great big AMEN! to this post

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Weaving

Dear Mom,
Donna Reed and I had some time to spend together this past week and will ya look at what we finished?!

the small bits of sparkly stuff I blended into the batt before spinning looks like a touch of frost
This scarf used up some leftover Silky Wool and the yarn I spun from this experiment. I selected a weave pattern from my Handweaver's Pattern Directory, did some math, and ended up with a long, warm scarf. It just happens to go well with My Hero's winter coat, which he quickly pointed out, so I guess I know who will be using it. He's gonna have to wait for Christmas, though.
Okay, and because I can't leave without pointing out the flaws....yes, I need to perfect my selvage edges. I used a floating warp but didn't foresee how the weave pattern would look on the edges. Nor do I quite know how to correct that in the future. But I will learn!
And, as you can see from that middle photo, I will NOT be weaving this week, but will be raking leaves instead. (We are those people who wait till all the leaves have fallen before we rake them up.) While I rake (and call it exercise), taking in the fresh air and sunshine, I have no doubts that my mind will be wandering and planning my next projects.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Giving Thanks

Dear Mom,
The next few days will probably be too busy with pies baking, turkey roasting, and everyone home, so I am seizing what may be my last quiet moment to share a deliciously simple recipe.
This one came from our favorite, and now, very sadly, closed, gift and tea room, Helio's.
Helio's was the scene of countless birthday lunches, just because lunches, and the traditional day after Thanksgiving mother/sister lunch. It is the place my Young Lady called "The Tea Party Store". It was a place filled with the sound of happy female chatter and laughter. And many good memories.

Helio's was the place where, for us, everyone knew our names.

Here we are celebrating her 10th birthday!

The basic menu never changed - which is a good thing, because I walked in knowing what I would be eating- my chicken salad croissant lunch and hot, spiced tea was all part of my Helio's experience! But the desserts did vary, with special offerings during the holidays. This recipe is one of those holiday offerings, which they also graciously shared with their customers.

Pumpkin Spice Crunch
from Helio's Tea Room
Carmel, IN

1 (30 oz) can Pumpkin pie filling
1 (130z) can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 box spice cake mix
2 sticks of butter, melted ( I used Smart Balance butter blend)

Combine the first 3 ingredients and spread into a greased 9X13 pan. 
Sprinkle dry cake mix over the top and drizzle this with the melted butter.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Knitting Class

Dear Mom,
This fall I've been teaching lots of knitting classes and have been blessed with full classes, adventurous knitters and new friends. My favorites are the sweater design classes.  I enjoy challenging and enabling the knitters in my classes. Their successes are particularly satisfying, and in the past two months I've witnessed some heartwarming triumphs.

My last scheduled class for 2012 finished up this morning. Over the past 5 weeks, the ladies in my class designed and knit fair isle sweaters. For some of these ladies, it was their first attempt at fair isle and one lady told me today that it was her first sweater! I took lots of photos of the finished (or nearly finished) projects today and want to share these lovely images with you. I am so proud of what these ladies accomplished!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Where I learn that Pretty Yarn is Reason Enough

Dear Mom,

I will back track to explain how I got here, but let me just start at the end, because it is the end result that makes this a worthy blog post...

Beautiful yarn, dyed by me, with natural dye stock produced by plants from your garden!

Now, back to the beginning.

It started back in January, with my purchase of the book The Dyer's Garden .  My decision to buy the book was sealed when I saw that Purple Loosestrife was included. You and I both have Purple Loosestrife growing in our gardens, carefully transplanted from house to house, the original parent plant having grown in Grandma's garden.
The instructions say to harvest the whole plant tops when the flowers begin to fade. I asked you to save your plant cuttings for me, and between us I think I have 3 garbage bags full of cuttings. I used one of those bags in my first batch of dye stock, which yielded about 2 1/2 gallons of rich, dark coffee brown dye broth. As soon as I have containers to hold it, I will brew up some more with the rest of my plants.

I didn't have a specific project in mind, just knew that there is plenty of roving to dye on hand when I am ready to use it. I'd been tossing different ideas back and forth in my brain, wondering whether to dye roving and then spin it, or spin and dye later....

And Then.

On Sunday, at spinning, MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit presented me with a cone of yarn, gifted to the two of us to share by MyWeavingBuddyCynthia. Cynthia told me in an email that the wool is from her very own North Country Cheviot sheep which she had commercially spun by Ohio Valley.
In other words, this is a very special cone of yarn.

I took the cone home, weighed it, and wound my half of it into a rather tight ball.

I then heated up enough of the Purple Loosestrife dye in one of my smaller dye crockpots to submerge the ball of yarn about 1/2 way. I did not pre-mordant the yarn, and the ball of yarn was dry. I wanted the dye to wick up into the wool, hopefully giving me a gradient effect.

The yarn simmered in the crockpot for an hour, then sat in the juice, cooling off and soaking until the next morning.

When I pulled it out, it looked like this:

 So far so good!

I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed until the rinse water was clear, then put the ball into a mesh lingerie bag, securing it very tightly at each end with rubber bands so the ball could not become unwound, and put it into my front loader to spin out the extra water. I then wound the ball into a skein to speed up the drying process (and to let me get a good look at how it turned out!). The result? A rich, warm, honey brown.

I was so pleased and proud of that yarn, you might think I had given birth to it. I took about as many photos of it as someone would a newborn baby.
And for document's sake, I took a close up of the dyed fibers next to the original undyed wool, just to show off the color and how nicely the wool fibers bloomed in the dye bath.

I have no plans for this yarn. Yet. For now I am happy to walk past it, admire it, fondle it, and smile at it. Which totally justifies MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit's reason for spinning and dyeing, but not knitting or weaving..... It just feels good to make pretty yarn!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Creative Pursuits

Dear Mom,
Wayyyy back in April, I purchased a Quilters Jelly Roll with the idea in mind to use it in a weaving project. I thought that having the coordinating fabrics already picked out would give me a head start for what I wanted to do.
The plan......placemats. But not just your normal sort of place mats. I wanted placemats that would extend across the width of the table, shared by the two people seated across from each other. I wanted them to have a rag rug look.
With good advice and patience from Linda at Tabby Tree Weaver, I chose 3 colors of rug warp to coordinate with my fabrics. I learned that using 3 warp colors ( the warp is the up and down threads in weaving) helps the warp to disappear into the background, where one warp color kinda stands out on its own.
I chose brick red, natural and olive green warp colors. 
I cut the jelly roll strips in half ( 1.25 inch width) and then realized that one jelly roll's worth of strips was not nearly enough for what I had planned. Off to the quilt store for supplemental fabrics. I learned that next time I will not bother with the jelly roll. It was just as easy to pick out fabrics, get a yard or whatever of each and cut that into strips.
I took my strips and folded them in half and pressed them so they would stay that way- no wrong sides showing when I wove them. I then put the strips in piles according to color family - reds, blues, greens and creams. I wanted the strips to be randomly woven into the placemats, but at the same time I wanted the colors somewhat evenly distributed. I then made smaller bundles of 20 strips per bundle, each bundle having a fairly equal number of strips from each color family. I did not worry about the prints on the fabrics being evenly dispersed.
So as I wove, I grabbed a bundle, randomly selected a strip from that bundle, wove it in, selected the next strip, etc.
I finished the weaving last night and the hemming today. The placemats are not perfect- one is longer than the other- but I am happy with the result.  They are just as I imagined them. Well, almost. I imagined them to be exactly the same length! But I learned a lot, and can think of several things I  might like to try doing next time......


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

When Two Blogs Collide

Dear Mom,
Knowing she is new to Hamilton County, Indiana, I invited Christine, of Front Porch Indiana to join the happy group of spinners on Sunday's monthly Spin-In at Tabby Tree Weaver. Christine blogs about it here, and her photo is much more flattering (in other words, my double chin is less doubled than any photos I have)- so go look there before and after you look at this next picture because I am swallowing what little pride I have left in order to post it.....

I may never wear a turtle neck sweater again.
 And Such is my Horror that I actually EXERCISED today.

As testament to the power of blogging, meeting Christine for the first time was like seeing a friend you just haven't seen in awhile and picking right up where you left off. She is every bit as nice and funny in real life as she is in blog life, and even more so.

Hopefully, it was the first of many more happy get togethers.


Friday, November 2, 2012

Friendly Reminder

Dear Mom,
Tomorrow is the big day!
Hopefully you will have a great turn out at what may be the First Annual Craft Bazaar.
Anyone interested in getting a jump start on holiday gifts will find a nice variety of hand crafted items.
The bazaar is off Allisonville Road, in Fishers, across from Conner Prairie. Just follow the signs!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween

Dear Mom, 
When you are just a puppy, 

this :  




Monday, October 29, 2012

Start your holiday shopping early....

This Saturday!

Dear Mom,
Your sewing circle has pooled their impressive creativity and put together their first craft bazaar. Elle will be there modeling your aprons. In addition, there will be some of your original art notecards, some of my knitted jewelry and handpainted mugs. Anyone in the central Indiana area who is interested in some special, one-of-a-kind gifts will do well to stop in and have a look.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Good Dog

Dear Mom,

She might not be the smartest dog I've had, or the biggest, or the prettiest, or the softest.
But God knew that Olive is just what we needed, and she is growing up to be a Good Dog.
And I love her.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Dear Mom,
Last spring, inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, I decided to try growing potatoes in my garden this year.
The idea was to build a "potato tower", which would (I hope) allow me to grow potatoes above ground level, using up less square footage in the garden and making the harvesting easier.
I built a cube with some cheap garden fencing, lined it with straw, and built up layers of dirt and seed potatoes as I filled the cube.  The potato vines would grow through the straw and the potatoes themselves would all be contained within that cube.
Easy enough.
I planted 5 lbs of seed potatoes. I'll be honest and admit that I told just about everyone who was unfortunate enough to bump into me  about my Potato Tower. I envisioned having such an abundance of potatoes that I would have a serious problem storing them.
This weekend, when I cleaned up my garden, I harvested my potatoes.

Net yield from 5 lbs of seed potatoes? 1 pound of potatoes. Some of them smaller than a grape.
(Such was my determination and dedication to those potatoes that I rooted around in the dirt ( literally ) for grape sized potatoes.)

Our hot, dry summer may have had something to do with my results. I may try again. Maybe.

Last night we had our homegrown potatoes for dinner. I announced the fact to the Young Lady and My Hero and I broke out in laughter when, in unison, we said, "ALL of them!"


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Dear Mom,
Like most moms, I pray that my children will grow up to be healthy and happy. I also secretly....well, maybe not so secretly..... hope that one day they will WANT me to knit something for them.

Let me qualify that statement.

I want them to want me to knit them something I want to knit.

That hope was fulfilled a few weeks ago when the Young Man, home for Fall Break, asked if I could knit a scarf. For him.

Within 24 hours I had that boy in the yarn shop.

Having grown up in this knitter's house, he knew the right answer to question #1, "Will you be taking care of this scarf, or throwing it into the washing machine?", which allowed him to choose some baby alpaca for his scarf.

I used three skeins of Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky Paints and a size 9 needle. I found a simple reversible slip stitch pattern in one of my Barbara Walker stitch treasuries (Row 1: *k3, sl 1 wyb* rep bet we *'s to end of row, ending with k3. Row 2: K1, *sl1 wyb , k3 to end of row, ending with k2), cast on 31 sts and a scarf is born.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Best Halloween Decoration, ever

Dear Mom,
I drive past this house on my way to and from the yarn shop.
I love their Halloween decorations!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

In which my absence is explained. (a little)

Dear Mom,
Teaching 4 knitting classes and knitting samples for said classes, knitting for gifts,

 Young Man home on fall break, jury summons,

Annual Up North trip,

fall yard clean up, and an obsession with James Fraser have kept me away from the blog a little too long.
I'm back now.

p.s. Olive is well and has My Hero properly trained.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dear Aunt Bonnie,
I am sorry I scared your chickens. I just wanted to play! I thought they were having fun when that one jumped up so high and gave me her feathers. Mom says chickens aren't supposed to do that and that it maybe hurt her drumstick when she landed. Mom says I can't go back there until I am better at Leave It and have more Self Control.
She also says that those girls were Bawking like Sailors and I am too young to be exposed to that kind of language.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blak Beest

Deer GramUdder,
A big blak beest kam to our koop.  
Ant Kim sed "Oluv leevit"!  The beest triid to get us. 
Gloria ran so fast that she got a kramp in her drumstik.  We hided in the koop.   Gloria wus SO SKARD!
We r  O K.  Mom sed the beest kant visit us eneemor.  Just chikins.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Elle gets Attitude

Dear Mom,
I promised a photo of the latest Color Addiction  Aggression Affection Shawl. Elle was agreeable (she has nothing else to do) and the day is pleasant, so out to the back yard we went.

"I always stand like this," pouts Elle.

"Can't we please try something different?" she whines.
"How will I ever make it to the pages of Vogue or Rowan Knitting magazine if you keep taking the same old boring shots?! YOU are holding ME BACK!" she shrieks.
(I think she may have even rocked to the side a little in an effort to stamp one of her three wooden feet.)

"Much Better."


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bird Brains

Dear Mom,
Lots of finishing happening here. Over committing myself in the knitting department will do that. And of course those projects that have been limping along are somehow suddenly more appealing than the projects demanding my immediate attention.
Freshly checked off the list:

 Bird saw these Brain Hats on the internet a long while back and asked if I would make one for her and one for her Colonel.  I had plenty of time. Deadline: Halloween.

This is a more accurate color.
Nothing about these hats was difficult. Stitching the icord to the hat was daunting at first, but breaking it down into small bites made the process manageable. If they occupied my kitchen table for much longer I was going to have to give them names and start setting places for them at dinner. Bird, the hats are on their way to you! Send photos!

Also off the needles recently, a baby blanket for a neighbor's soon-to-be first grandchild.
This is Oat Couture's Prairie Blanket. This may be my new go-to baby blanket pattern. I used Encore Chunky for this one and was able to start and finish the blanket within a week. Oh. Yeah.

Hot off the needles last night and currently blocking is another Color Affection Shawl. I'll have to show you that one another day- it is not ready for the camera just yet. I'll try to post a photo tomorrow.

In the mean time, Olive's Cone of Shame is making all of us NUTS. The staples and stitches come out on Thursday morning at 10:30. The Cone is now embellished with DUCT TAPE. Little Miss Bludger just plows through anything and everything, cone be damned. The backs of our legs may never be the same.
Here we see Olive and Cone caught between the couch, trunk,  and My Hero's legs. Notice the pretty bow is now missing. Notice the lovely the duct tape. And the general beat up condition of the cone. Notice we are not helping her move. Moving means bumping into something else. Two. More. Days.