Thursday, March 29, 2012


Dear Mom,
One peek at my dining room table and it will be clear that I have more ideas than time. Or sense.
And while I can't seem to make progress as quickly as I would like, I can show you some happy endings...

First, the coral yarn is now a sweater.

I finished the knitting during a road trip last weekend and purchased the buttons on a detour to Ewenique Knits, in Royal Oak, MI. It's hard to see in the photo, but the buttons have a soft leafy florally thing in shades of coral, spring green and periwinkle. Exactly what I wanted!

the Polska mittens (started over a year ago) are finished. There is nothing like an important birthday for motivation. 
Those mittens were some seriously fiddly knitting, but totally worth it. Especially when I saw how happy the Collector of Polish Pottery was to receive them!

Of course there are new projects on the needles, dye experiments on the back porch, books, roving, and fabric on the dining room table. And the grass is growing. Oh! And the dogs are shedding. Focus, Kim. Focus.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Swing Coat

Dear Mom,
Top Down Swing Coat
It took eleven days of monogamous knitting, but the Swing Coat sample for the Village Yarn Shop is in place. I taught the first of three classes for this project yesterday afternoon.
The coat is knit from the top, down, making it possible to try it on as you knit, adjusting the length of sleeves and body as desired. Once you get past the collar and set up the points of increases and decreases, this is a pretty straightforward knitting project. Thankfully, it is knit at a gauge of 3.5 stitches per inch, making my 11 days with this project an exercise in focus, but not a crippling marathon.

And yes, last night I cast on the coral cotton yarn, completely ignoring the other projects I've already started. This too is a bulkier yarn and I am convincing myself that I can finish it quickly and get back to my other projects before they miss me.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Finished but shelved

Dear Mom,
Just in time for record warm weather (yahoo!), I've finished two wool sweaters.
One is a sample for a class I will begin teaching today at the Village Yarn Shop, and I was in such a rush to get it finished and in the shop I neglected to take a photo. I'll take one today and post it later.
The other sweater is for me. I'd wanted a navy pullover for myself, tunic length, with pockets just because I like them, and had plenty of Cottage Craft wool, color St Croix Navy, in my stash.
I chose to knit a deep rib and place the pockets where the ribbing ended. The pockets have buttonholes to keep them closed, as a nice finishing detail, and because I like buttons. In this case I couldn't decide on a button and tada!, a ReLinkWish solves that dilemma.
In this case a nice plaid covered button. Another day it could be a pretty hand crafted clay button.

I will GLADLY wait until November before I wear this. Or December even.

I've got a chemistry experiment going in the garage ( I'll show you that another day), a small project to finish and some design ideas swimming around in my head, but what is really jumping up and down, waving its hands and calling "ooo!oo!ooooo!Pick Me!! I want to be a cardigan!" is this:

Classic Elite, Sprout, beautiful warm coral color.....
Like the baby bird that gets fed first because it is the loudest, this one may push all other ideas to the back of the line.

Excuse me, I have some knitting to do.


Thursday, March 8, 2012


Dear Mom,
After the Kool-Aid dyed wool had been rinsed and dried, I couldn't wait to spin some of it. I had a silk hankie from KnitPicks that I wanted to spin and thought the colors of the hankie would look nice plied  with the darker of the two batts I showed you in my last post.
I hadn't spun a silk hankie before, or anything 100% silk for that matter, and probably won't ever do it again. It spun nicely, but those fine silk threads wanted to fly away and stick to everything. Give me a good scratchy wool and I'll be happy.
To make the hankies, silk cocoons are stretched out and layered on top of each other and then dyed. They are squares and about the size of a ...... hankie. Each layer is tissue paper thin- well, even thinner, really. Very pretty.
Here is what my bobbin looked like after I'd spun a few layers.

Once that was finished, I spun the wool batt and then plied the two together. I thought the bobbin of silk was very pretty and the bobbin of wool was, too. 

But plied together? In my opinion, the sum didn't equal the beauty of the parts. Still pretty, but a tiny bit disappointing. One thing I seem to be VERY slow to learn is combining colors to their best advantage, foreseeing how yarn will look once it has been plied together. I'll keep learning and experimenting. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Dear Mom,
MelissaWhoSpinsButDoesNotKnit invited me over for a dye day on a Saturday last month. We weren't quite Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory, but we were definitely two novice dyers with enough knowledge to be a little scared and potentially dangerous, but mostly adventurous.
We had some good results, some not-so-good, and some that had us patting ourselves on the back, inwardly squealing like little girls and snapping an insane amount of photos of colorful wool locks. I won't bore  you with all 30 of those pictures, but I will share some- as proof that we did it.

Melissa took notes.

Thankfully there were no accidents, and excepting some dishtowels that may never be the same again, at the end of the day Melissa's kitchen was still white.

Inspired by our Saturday, I dyed two batts of wool I'd previously carded with Fig. I'd read about a Kool Aid dye technique and wanted to try it. Kool Aid is not a scary dye - unless you have toddlers and white carpet (which I don't). I don't drink it, but if it is considered 'safe' to drink, I don't feel like I am bringing poison into the kitchen like I would with some dyes. Plus, this is good practice for when I use the Greener Shades dyes I have. I'll be using those in the garage.
I'd read that I could sprinkle the powdered Kool Aid directly onto the pre-soaked wool in the dye pot. As the wool steeps in the simmering water, the Kool Aid dye slowly dissolves into and through the batt of wool. I did one batch in my Goodwill crockpot ($4.99- to be used exclusively for dyeing wool), sprinkling Orange Kool Aid on one end of the batt and Cherry on the other end, leaving the middle naked. The result is the batt you see on top in the photo below.
I did something slightly different with that second batt. I used Grape, Cherry, Orange and Lemonade Kool Aid, sprinkling the powder directly onto the soaked wool, but instead of steeping the wool in the crockpot I  steamed it in the microwave, checking the wool every two minutes or so until the water was clear and the dye had been absorbed by the wool. Makes me feel like I am working magic. I was pretty happy with both batts, but the crockpot was definitely easier and the dyes stayed where I put them. The dyes from my microwaved batch swam together more- maybe a result of more water and movement, and the Lemonade color was completely overwhelmed by the other flavors.  But the results were still pretty. Experimenting, taking notes, learning, getting braver.

I dyed another batch of roving in the crockpot last weekend, again using Kool Aid. And let me just say that Tropical Punch Kool Aid may be in a BLUE package, but it is NOT blue. So what I thought might be a pretty combination of green, blue and purple turned out to be Santa's Tropical Thunderstorm.

Right now I am just hoping this will be prettier after spinning. Because right now it is....not.

I am gathering materials and courage to start mixing dye stock. This is getting serious.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Fiberholics Anonymous

Dear Mom,
In her post titled "Hello My Name is Christine and I am a Fiber Fanatic" , Christine writes about the fiber she had blended and spun from her sheep and alpaca. It is beautiful. It haunted me. 

I stalked Christine, offering to take some of that fiber off her hands if she would be willing to part with just a little bit. 

She was. ( or I bugged her enough that she sold me a cone just to shut me up)

Last week my cone of yarn arrived. This is a 70/30 blend of Blanche and Sammy. (wool and alpaca)
It is absolutely beautiful and I have special plans for this yarn. In the meantime, I am keeping close while I daydream about what it will be someday and to admire it. 

To me, this is as pretty as a bouquet of flowers.

See how pretty it is outside with the crocuses?

For inspiration, it watches Downton Abbey with me.

It hopes to be a pretty lace stole someday......


Thursday, March 1, 2012


Dear Mom,
It would seem that too many ideas and the full-time job of keeping up with the dog hair around here has kept me away from this blog for too long!
I won't regurgitate everything I've done all in one post. I'll stretch it all out a bit and (hopefully) have a more constant blog presence.
Today I want to share with you these pleasant, happy blooms I found in my front yard this past week.

In the Autumn of 2010, I planted 100 crocus bulbs in the front lawn. I used all the crocus bulb colors I could find (white, yellow, purple and that stripe-y purple) and randomly scattered them through the turf. That following winter was a tough one, and I didn't see my first crocuses emerge until late spring. I had almost given up hope.
Last autumn I planted 100 more, again scattering them all over the yard, using a mix of colors. Our front yard is small- our pie-shaped cul-de-sac lot gives us a huge back yard with plenty of room for shade trees, gardens and playing fields, with a front yard that gently slopes down to the street. I had long imagined that gentle slope filled with blooming crocuses in the spring and finally acted on realizing that image.
Our mild winter and the warmth of the past days coaxed some of these buds into bloom. I cannot begin to describe the cheering happy hopeful feeling that finding and seeing these tiny, brave little flowers gives me!
I'll keep adding bulbs every fall until the lawn is absolutely saturated with blossoms in the spring. So far, three yellow crocuses have emerged. Plenty more to come. I'll share photos if Mother Nature rewards me with a lawn filled with blooms.