Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is behind us and we are starting to get into the spirit of good will and cheer. I finished the Christmas stocking that I was working on:

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It's so pretty! I didn't buy the colors specifically for a Christmas stocking, but they work. I mostly used Arne & Carlos' Christmas Stocking, but I added Mary Jane Mucklestone's book 200 Fair Isle Motifs (#110, snowflakes) and Renée Kies socks pattern O Dennenboom for the Christmas trees.

I also updated the look of my blog. The flowers were looking a bit too flowery, so I streamlined the look, and made a new banner. I used a fabulous free font for the title: Kingthings Needles by Kevin King. There are lots of cool things on his site, and more fonts too. Go check him out!


So Much Fun!

I have had so much fun the last couple of weeks! 

First, the things I have knitted: not much, actually. I have my stealth knitting project almost completed. In fact, it will be finished this week probably, and I can go to Freeport at the end of the week with a clear conscience. I have, in addition, sewn up my Sylvi coat/sweater, woven in most of the ends, and am now working on the hood:

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It is kind of hard to knit because of the weight of the sweater and only having one and a quarter hands, but it is going slowly onward. I hope to finish it next week, after SPA in Freeport. At least Hillary will be able to wear it for a couple weeks before Spring!

Second is the goodies that I have bought.

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I pre-ordered MAINEknits by Beatrice Perron Dahlen a few weeks ago, and promptly forgot it, and then there it was! I wanted to get it when I realized that all of the patterns in it were in my favorites in Ravelry, which was a sign that the book needs to be on my shelf.  I was pleased to find that the book has really gorgeous pictures of Maine, a foreword by Pam Allen, and well-written essays by Sarah Kilch Gaffney, Julie Letowski, Samantha Lindgren and Beck Robbins in addition to beautiful, highly-wearable and desirable-to-knit patterns by fourteen excellent designers, including Beatrice Perron Dahlgren. 

The book is divided into three sections: Sea, Farm, and Wild, which is how I think of Maine too. I'm from Aroostook county, Maine, the wilderness was all around me in Portage where I lived, my father was a farmer, and now I live by the sea! There are five or six patterns in each section, totaling seventeen patterns in the book. Most of them are sweaters and accessories for women, but a few are unisex too, and one is photographed on a man and a child; that sweater can be made in children's sizes too. There is also a cowl in child and adult sizes as well. 

I also got some little colored stitch markers from Cocoknits.com. They are so pretty, I want to string them on a chain and wear them as a necklace! 

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I succumbed to pattern lust and bought the yarn to make these socks:

They are 173-45 Sleepy Sheep from Drops.

Karisma

They are so springy and pretty! I don't really need 450g of yarn to knit socks. I'll have yarn leftover, so maybe I will design something with Mary Jane Mucklestone's books that I have been looking over.

The best thing though is the fluff that I got from On the Round! It is soooooooo gorgeous! It makes me want to spin and spin and spin! 

Fluff

This fluff is hand dyed Corriedale top in a OOAK (One Of A Kind)  color. That means it is unique!  Rachel Jones does an incredible job of dyeing. Her colors are imaginative, playful, and creative while being harmonious too. It takes real talent to do that. I will wait as long as possible to start spinning this, but I think the beauteousness of the fluff will overwhelm me. It is sitting right beside my computer and I keep looking at it and sighing happily. I need to get a couple things done, but soon ... soon!

The third and final fun thing is ahead: SPA!!! Lynne and I are going to Freeport for the weekend (February 24,25, & 26) and we will have so much fun. We are staying at the Hampton Inn. SPA is a weekend of fibery goodness that is at three hotels in Freeport, but it really kind of takes over the town. It is like a convention of 1000 (maybe more) knitters and crocheters and spinners and weavers and felters and other fibery folk who show up for the weekend. Some people go for three or four days. Lynne and I will pretty much stay in the Hampton Inn; the vendor area doesn't really interest me much (see above) but there are many vendors and people who want their wares. Also Mother of Purl is in the area and there are a few things that they offer too this weekend, including an On the Round trunk show -- Rachel will be there in person to amaze and delight you! 

Pogo's Sweater

I haven't the heart to tell Pogo that the sweater isn't for her.


Sometimes a Trip Down Memory Lane Can Be Pretty Horrifying

From McCall's Needlwork & Crafts Fall-Winter 1961-62:

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From McCall's Needlwork & Crafts Fall-Winter 1964-65:

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From McCall's Needlwork & Crafts Fall-Winter 1971-72:
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And now, a word from a sponsor:

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As an excuse, I can only say, it's cold. The frost has invaded my brain!

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Project Peace

Blogger Christina is trying to change the world, and I think she is succeeding. Her blog The Healthy Knitter is having a 21-day tips for peace during December, and it coincides with a "Peace-along" on Ravelry, with her free pattern for a lovely cowl. My Daily Mindfulness blanket has languished but it will still be there in January. I'm going to join her for the peace-along, and I urge you to join me too! 

Project peace

So far she has gotten over 20,000 people to read her peace tips every day and join her peace-along. That is 20,000 individual people whose lives she has impacted in  a good way, a peaceful way. 

"And we need peace…with turmoil, and acts of violence, hatred and anger occurring daily in our country and throughout the world it’s time to take action. Often I think "but I’m just one person" but maybe, just maybe with Project Peace we can spread ideas on how to choose peace. Perhaps then, we can slowly make some changes. We’ll never overcome evil but we must find ways to cope with it."

from The Healthy Knitter, November 10, 2016

So, what do you do? Here is what she said back in November:

Here's how you join in:

  • Download the cover page of the pattern on Ravelry
  • This is only the cover page; the pattern will come to you as an update on 11/28.
  • Read the information about the project requirements
  • Please click on "fav" on Ravelry, begin a project page for the cowl, and join the Healthy Knitter group.
  • Beginning December 1, read the blog daily for 21 days to receive the tip of the day on how to infuse more peace into your life.

Will you help me promote this?

Here are some ideas on how you could spread the word:

  • Spotlight Project Peace on a blog post
  • Post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social media
  • Include in your electronic or print newsletter
  • Provide a give-away to those that help spread the word
  • Tell all your knitting friends, clients, customers, readers, family.

Also, there is a World-wide Knit-in for Peace on December 21. Will you will knit for peace on that day?

I think this is a great idea! It is sort of like SETI, but instead of helping to locate alien signals, we will be promoting world peace! Using knitting needles! I can get behind that.

My project for peace will be Christina Campbell's cowl knit in Wildwood Yarns Arcadia in a pretty blue-pink-purple colorway. To me, it looks like peace. 

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Heck, whatever you do to be mindful and peaceful would work too! Whether you draw, crochet, quilt, craft, sew, doodle, whittle sticks or make baskets, just do it. Be peaceful, and help others be peaceful too!

 


"Cap'n, There Be Whales Here!"

I love that Star Trek movie.  Heart-icon_21153857


OK, this post has nothing to do with whales or Star Trek, but it does have to do with sailing and something that all knitters need -- tote bags to carry their knitting in!!

My friends Lynne and Mike McHenry had a fabulous windjammer in Camden called Angelique. She is beautiful. She still is, too! Just under different owners. Captain Mike and Lynne had Angelique for 27 years, during which time they accumulated a LOT of tan bark sail, tons of it. Being the thrifty and energetic person that she is, Lynne saw the pile of old sails as a recycling  and repurposing opportunity, so she designs and makes tote bags, log carriers, and yarn/tool/garden totes out of them. 

People, let me tell you -- these are wonderful bags! I have a small tote that doubles as a yarn bag and it carries my purse in it too. Lynne designed the straps to be just the right length to put over my shoulder.

She brought over some yarn totes to show me before sending them to the very lucky recipient. I got some pictures:

Tote  Holds enough yarn for a sweater!

Inside  The top folds down to show the deep interior.

Top The top can be pulled together so the yarn comes out but stays clean. Cats and dogs are unlikely to get into it. Lynne buys material for the top as it becomes available for a good price. She always chooses the prettiest materials!

Skein   Four deep pockets are on the outside of the bag. They can be used for yarn, bottles of wine or Scotch, and cats. And tools or whatever.

Tag  The pretty tag features a picture of Angelique under full sail, displaying the canvas that your tote is made out of. Her tags say "This bag was handcrafted in Hope, Maine using recycled sails that were used aboard Angelique through the years of our ownership.

"Each bag is unique, a lot of care is given to design and construction. To clean, I recommend wiping with a damp cloth and then lie flat to dry. Caution with heat or iron. Binding will melt. Enjoy a piece of history and a memory forever! All my best!"

Each tag is signed by Lynne, who is also known as the Admiral. :) She also adds a line telling you what sail was used to make the tote. She is making totes out of a mizzen topsail right now.

Lynne's prices are reasonable and her bags are beautiful. She sells them from her Windjammer Canvas web site, and Howard also has a few at Maine Gathering in Camden. You can almost hear the wind in the sails, smell the salt water and feel the warm sun on your back as you scud down the bay, in your mind. It's the next best thing to being there! Maybe you will see a whale!


It Makes You Think

I read an article lately by Woolly Wormhead, the fabulous hat designer, about the cost of producing a pattern. It was enlightening, to say the least. Now I want to buy one of her hat patterns.

Lots of people on Ravelry make money with their patterns. Some get an order once in a blue moon, some get an order every hour or so. Some make $1 for a pattern, some make $5 or more. Some people work hard to make their patterns accurate and readable, some don't. My patterns have always been free, mostly because I didn't have the time or energy to hire tech editors and test knitters and photographers. But now I think maybe I should. It's not like I don't have the time. I just have to figure out who does tech editing of knitting patterns and find people to test knit my designs. Hmmmmm, I might have to do some knitting myself to earn the money for that!

I did a Google search for "work from home knitting" -- there are tons of offers. Many are simply pages that talk about it. I'm sure most of us have wanted to make extra money by knitting, right? Reading about it usually satisfies my urge. Then I remember my WIP's and pick them up again.

Anyway, random thoughts on a Tuesday. Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Obligatory cat picture goes here:

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Yarn in Nova Scotia

I'm home! Thank you Lynne for being a fantastic person! Thank you Sharon and Richard for being wonderful hosts! I had such a good time :)

I thought you might like to see what I bought for yarn when I was in Nova Scotia. As you know, I like to buy local products when I travel. We went to the Lunenburg Farmer's Market (which is completely wonderful by the way, and it operates year round; they even provide you with live entertainment!) where I bought some hand dyed yarn by Felicia Knock:

Felicia Knock

FK yarn
I love that sheep on her tag! Felicia is a young, full-of-energy fiber artist. She's also friends of Richard and Sharon, which is a big plus, in my book. 

This 4 ounce skein is a 2-ply, made in Canada; Felicia's web site is www.feliciaknock.com. Most of what she does is rug hooking, and she has fabulous designs as well as kits and supplies. If I hooked rugs, this would be a real find!!

Then I went to Gaspereau Valley Fibres.

Gaspereau Valley Fibres
This is an outstanding yarn and fiber shop. There is so much to see here! It's all arranged very neatly, but with character -- and they had a cat. Brenda Gilmore is the owner and she is a wonderful person, who is also a friend of Sharon's. Sharon knows the best people :) You can go to Gaspereau Valley Fibres online at www.gaspereauvalleyfibres.ca.

I bought a skein of Fleece Artist Goldiehair, which is hand dyed in Nova Scotia:

Fleece Artist label

Fleece Artist Goldiehair

And I bought some stitch markers, which are also hand made in Nova Scotia:

Stitch markers

They're made by Pherem Fibres, which has a lovely Etsy store online.

After that, Sharon got my wheel fixed and I bought some roving, but that will wait until tomorrow!

 


In Nova Scotia

Lynne and I are in Nova Scotia! It is so beautiful. I think they make the fall foliage a little brighter up here. 

We are going to a Farmer's Market today, then we're going to Wolfville to Gaspereau Valley Fibers, then I don't what. I might have to buy yarn or something.

Sharon had an interesting problem; anyone know how this was made??

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I was thinking it was made with a hand-held loom of some kind, like those little daisy looms from the seventies. It was made by a man on a fishing voyage in the 1920's.


6 Things I Found on the Internet

1. A knitting grandma who plays World of Warcraft. I hope when I am her age, I can kick ass like that, too! Woot!

2. Arturo Di Modica’s “Charging Bull” sculpture on Wall Street gets a custom crocheted outfit. It's old news, but it's my blog. So there.

3. Maymott crocheted Coral Reef Ottoman. They have several really cool things to see on this site. I wish I had their job.

4. Mad Monkey Knits Stegosaurus Toy (pattern only). This site has tons of very cool knitted things. I especially like the dinosaurs, but there are some awesome hats and baby booties there, too. 

5. I Can Knit Anything's Angry Birds Hat. I just like it.

6. Babble PetsCat in the Hat: the 17 Best Etsy Cat Hats. My favorite is "Rawr", and who doesn't need a fez for their kitty?  But they are all cute. Best quote: "I wish I could get my cats to wear a hat. I would buy all 17 of these hats and pee myself laughing all day. "


Ravellenic Games Day 15

I decided to weave in all my ends to finish my sweater absolutely. It was a cold, foggy, cold, damp, cold rainy day yesterday, so Nicky decided to come inside and get some lovin'. He thought it would be fun to jump up on the table and help me:

Weaving helper

Nora is helping too, from a safe distance. I cuddled Nicky for awhile, then he left, and I finished weaving in all the ends. 

Lynne came over and I thought she was going to say that she ran out of yarn for her sweater. This sweater needs a little back story here: back in 1986 or so, Lynne bought the yarn to make a raglan sleeved sweater, knit on it for a while, then for some reason neither of us can remember, she put it in the closet ... for 26 years!! Earlier this year, she pulled it out and decided to finish it. The pattern was nowhere to be found, and it looked to me like the amount of yarn needed to finish it was a little more than she apparently had. 

She got online, found the pattern (I think it was an old Candide pattern), long out of print, found a woman who had the pattern on Ravelry, got a copy mailed to her, found where she was in the pattern, and resumed knitting. She knit steadily along, eyeing her rapidly diminishing ball of yarn. Things got busy and I didn't hear about the sweater for a long time. 

Then she showed up yesterday with a very small ball of yarn, and a bag full of sweater.  "Here," she said. "Finish it!" 

I took the bag with some trepidation. My mind was already racing ahead to how we could get two colors of one-ply yarn, ply them together, and make a facsimile of the yarn she had purchased twenty six years ago. Imagine my surprise when I pulled out the sweater,  complete, seamed, and beautiful! 

Like me, she had just put her nose to the grindstone, and finished that sweater. She deserves a gold medal for jumping over hurdles that would have made other knitters throw in the towel and give up. Now we have both faced our challenges and can embark on the prize that we both want to knit, without fear of another unfinished object languishing before us, weighing on our minds.

I put my sweater on and was very comfortable in it; the day had become quite a bit colder. Nicky came and snuggled with me. He's used to sleeping on my sweater, so the fact that I'm wearing it makes it that much more snuggly. I like having a warm sweater on that a cat likes to snuggle in, better than sweater pieces in a bag by the window any day.

Oh, and I got Mouse 33 done yesterday too:

Mouse 33


Tricoter Machine

I used to hate my knitting machine, until I saw this:

 (The embedded video might not work for you; click the link below to watch it if it doesn't work.)

"Les Peaux des Lievres" by Tricoter Machine 

"Les Peaux des Lievres" translates into "The Skins of Hares" in Google Translator, but I don't think that's right. Wouldn't "Rabbit Furs" be more poetic? ::: shrug :::

Tricoter Machine is a Quebecois group from Trois Riviers, Quebec (about halfway between Montreal and Quebec).


Fun Things I Found on the Internet

1. Did you know there's a knitted Mona Lisa?

MonaLisa
(Photo Credit: Steve Plummer)

It's done in shadow knitting; you can see it here. Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer, two retired math teachers, have launched into a world of "Illusion Knitting" and have lots of fun things on their web site. You can even buy patterns! (Here is the link on Ravelry; they also have very cool mathematical knitted stuff too!

2. A Dalek Doggy suit.

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(Photo Credit: Peach Kraft on Ravelry)

Ya gotta love it, even if it does exterminate you. This is a free Ravelry download pattern, so go nuts.

3. Doctor Jayne Hat:

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(Photo Credit: holynarf (Lindsay)

It's a Jayne hat in construction, but with the fourth Doctor Who scarf colors. I think it's totally awesome. I hesitate to knit the really loooong Doctor Who scarf, but a hat ... seems like a good compromise. I love that it's the best of two worlds, too. It's just awesome. The pattern is here and on Ravelry (free download)

That's all for today! You never know what I'll turn up next!


Gadgets

Just thought I should show you a picture of my knitting rig:

Sock2

One end slides under my leg, to hold it. The mechanism basically just holds the needles, as you can see in this picture. The white conical shaped piece is the collet that holds the needle in place. There is a different sized collet for each size needle; I have a collet for sizes 0, 1, 2, 3 , 4, 5, and 6. I'd like to get more collets for sizes 7, 8, 9, 10, and 10 1/2, but I can't really afford them right now. It is highly adjustable, too: you can raise and lower it, and adjust the exact position of the arm and the angle of the collet. The device is entirely hand made by my occupational therapist's husband. I think it's a pretty clever way to knit with four needles!


A Great History of Knitting Needles Resource

I just discovered this most-excellent web site: Webster's Knitting Needle Notions: a Site Devoted to the Humble Knitting Needle.

Susan Webster is a knitting needle bloodhound (like me) and her collection of old knitting needles is amazing. In the history of the knitting needle, she gives a chronology from the early Christian era through the 1980's that is really quite astonishing. I am very glad to have her web site to refer to! There is still a lot of early history left to find, however. The "knitting madonnas" pictured in the 12th century paintings (there's a set of pictures on Flickr) show them knitting baby shirts and extremely detailed, muticolored socks; I don't think they simply sprang from their foreheads with knitting knowledge like that. There must have been a few years of trying to figure out this knitting thing. We still haven't found any knitting extant, or needles either, but that is probably because they decayed, being made of things that nature loves to reclaim. Dust to dust is for more than just us humans, you know.

There are three .pdf's of every needle she has encountered. It's fascinating to look through. It is organized by the maker's name, if known.

Webster has a section of "Orphans", needles she has not yet found anything about. Go look and see what you can see. I found several needles that were similar to some of my collection, but beyond "they came from a collection of needles I found on ebay", I couldn't be of much help. But, I am glad someone's out there hunting! 

I don't know if she's still compiling more stuff, or if this is a dead web site, but I am glad I found it.


SockWizard

Yesterday I downloaded SockWizard, a Knitting Software program for knitters by Carole Wulster. I got the download for immediate gratification, but there is a CD available too, if you can wait for shipment. It is available for both Mac and PC; my version is on a Mac. I am very excited about this. 

I was always pretty good at women's sized socks, but if I needed to make men's sized socks it kind of made me shiver a little. Children's sizes scared me to death; I don't think I have ever knit a children's sized sock without using a pattern. I remember knitting baby socks that came with the pattern for a Dale of Norway baby sweater I was making, and I made one or two single baby socks as models in the store, but that's it. Now there are children in the family, and I can use this software to make whatever size they need, out of whatever yarn I have (including my handspun! ooo!).

Carole Wulster says "Since 1990, our goal has been to design and write software for the hand knitter that is easy to use.  We wanted our software to be a tool, not an end in itself." That is what I needed, a tool. A tool that I can use to go off by myself, to knit various pattern stitches, a jumping off point to greatness. Well, maybe not to greatness, but to make a pair of socks that fit anyway. 

So I fired up the SockWizard. This is what I saw:

Beginning screen

It has a place to put in your needle size and your yarn choice. I like how it has both US/Imperial and Metric measurements. If you hit "Next" it goes to Gauge. 

Gauge

"Estimate row gauge" is clicked by default, but you can unclick it if you know the gauge your working to. Of course, you would have to knit a gauge swatch at some point, or you can just wing it and write the gauge of your finished sock with the yarn and needle choice, and file it somewhere electronic for further reference (I have a list of knitting notes that I keep on my computer for this.)

The next window is called "Construction":

Construction

I love this window. I can change the direction I want to work in from Toe to Cuff, or Cuff to Toe. If you knit from Cuff to Toe, there are 8 variations of heel and toe to choose from. The heel flap has 3 variations. And, there are THREE variations of finishing the toe! Whooohooo! I can knit from cuff to toe if I want to!  If you knit from Toe to Cuff, there are 4 types of heel given, and 8 types of toe. I can hardly contain myself!

The last window is Sizes:

Sizes

You can choose Infant/Toddler, Child, Woman, Man, and Holiday. (Can you believe it? Holiday socks. So very cool.) Included are three styles of socks: Standard, Knee socks, and Ankle socks. The shoe sizes change the numbers in the boxes, but you can put in your own numbers to fit the wearer. 

Then, lastly, you just click "The Pattern" and it is generated for you in a second, and you can view it or print it or save it or make a .pdf or whatever. There is even a "Help Book" for help in knitting socks. It is magic. The cost is $34.95

Now I'm off to knit on my Crosswired Socks, but I will be dreaming of knitting socks for everyone with SockWizard!


Bosnian Crochet

I've been reading about Bosnian crochet. It started with reading Sapphire and Purls blog, and she mentioned the new Piecework magazine, which has Bosnian crochet in it. Like a magpie finding a shiny, new thing I pounced on it, because I had never heard of it before.

Basically, it is crochet done with slip stitches only. I have used slip stitches in crocheting, to join work into a round, and to get from point A to point B, but never to make the fabric. There is a surprisingly large amount of things you can do with a simple slip stitch! Besides going in the front or the back loops of the stitch, you  can also make colored pattens, carrying the yarns along the back of the fabric, as in knitting. Since you are creating a binary language of sorts with the front vs. back loops of the stitch, the world is before you as far as stitch patterns go. 

Slip stitch patterns create a very thick fabric, making it wonderful for mittens and hats. The hat patterns I've seen have a sunflower kind of effect at the top, very pretty. 

There is a Ravelry group: Slip Stitch Crochet. There is a web site devoted to slip stitch crochet. Vashti Braha has a page about slip stich, or Bosnian, crochet. Slip stitch crochet is possibly the oldest form of crochet. I liked this article in Crochet Insider that is about slip stitch crochet to make "jourabs" or "Chorabs", Turkish socks. It's neat the way Larisa Vilensky shows how making socks was a way of using leftovers from carpet making to make socks. 

I've got a new toy to play with, in my mind anyway. But first, the Itchy-Scratchy sweater and the Man Socks are calling my name!

Bos6-m    Bos8-m    Bos4-m
(photos from Sylvia Cosh :: James Walters :: Crochet - Bosnian Crochet)


I'm Obsessed by Things that Glitter. And Cats.

I love things that glow in the dark, and I have sold yarn that glows in the dark and several -- three I can think of, off-hand -- types of needles that glow in the dark, and even some drop spindles that glowed in the dark. But the next best thing, is yarn that glitters. 

Lux

This is Schulana Kid-Seta Lux. "Lux" is short for luxury, and it is the lamé of yarn. It glitters subtly, like moonlight on water, or sunlight on water; depends on the color. 

Drops129-28

I saw a woman knitting this scarf when I was in Have A Yarn, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. That's a great little yarn shop, by the way; do stop in if you get a chance. I never really was taken by ruffly scarves, though they were hot a couple years ago, and I like ruffles on other things, but the combination of a different kind of ruffles and this glittery yarn captured my heart. I was obsessed. I got one ball and I will knit that glittery, ruffly scarf later, and it will be good. 

In other news, Ravelry is celebrating its 2,000,000th member! Woohoo!

Here's the cat picture, Nora on the move:

NoraOnTheMove

She's on the hunt!


Silly --And Not So Silly -- Stuff I Found on the Internet

1. In New Jersey, it is against the law for a man to knit during the fishing season.

2. Knitting is Nerdier than RPGs. (I really enjoyed this.)

3. In a post from 2006, I found a working knitting machine made from Legos:

Lego knitting macine
 (from TechEblog)

4. I found a company in the Netherlands that makes lace chainlink fences. They are beautiful!! Check out the link to the projects. Lovely.

5. I found a site that converts any image file into a chart for knitting, cross stitch, or whatever, in 3 sizes, dubbed knitPro 2.0. Just upload the file and wham! it's ready. All in your browser. Pretty slick. And it's free, too. Doesn't get much better than that!

6. Finally, a bit of anti-knitting: Knit Me Sweaters by Smooth-E. For when you've done too much knitting. (I love "Ninja of the needle" though, hehe.)


Needles

I've got needles on the brain. I always have, and you know it. I've blogged about my Signature needles, Al Mather's remarkable hand-turned needles, my glass needles, my Autumn Hollow fabulous needles with the extra pointy tips, my needles that glow in the dark. I really like my needles.

Recently I searched for needles and I found even more needles to love, hand crafted little sticks of joy. I'll probably never be able to buy any of them (welllllllll maybe just a couple....) but here are the ones I've seen that I love.

If ever I used needles sizes 9 through 15, maybe when my eyesight starts to go and garter stitch scarves become really hot, I would love to have some WoodRose Needles. They are beautiful. The exotic woods used, like bloodwood, bubinga, cocobolo and sugar maple are topped with a lovely rose that is handsculpted of clay. They are gorgeous.

The point's the thing, they say, and when I saw the points on Lee Chesson's knitting needles, I fell in love. They are so pointy! They're only in size 10 1/2, and only in a couple exotic hardwood with ebony tips.... but the points. Oh my, the points.

I love the tops of Montana Mountain knitting needles. They are so old-fashioned looking, like some Victorian knitting needles ... I would knit lace on them. They kind of remind me of the way that Brittany needles used to be, with the black walnut wood. The exotic woods used by Montana Mountain are so beautiful: curly maple, which I just love; the bright red of the cardinal needles; the stripeyness of the tulipwood, very hard and durable; and more. So pretty. Sigh. They even make needles out of American Holly. And they even have a knitting needle club, like the sock clubs and the fiber clubs. Sigh sigh sigh sighhhhh....

 


Gansey Show on BBC Radio

There's a great show on BBC radio documenting a project to preserve the knitting history of the Moray Firth, in north-eastern Scotland, through the gansey. It's very good, worth the listen. The ladies towards the end are quite chatty, reminding me of any knitting group. I wonder if they add anything to their tea?? hehe. The radio show is 25 minutes long.

My vest is coming along nicely:

Progress 

I've got the back and one-half the front done. Here's a close-up of the front:

Front

Should be done in just a little while. Then come the deep breaths to get me through finishing. It's been since before my stroke that I created a seam, but as Doctor Who says, "I'm full of ideas!" I just hope it looks good when it's done. 


Retro Glo Scarf

It glows! I'm very excited to share this with you. Barb did a tremendous job knitting it. She very nicely shared here photos with me and said it was ok to post them on my blog! You go Barb!

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This is a photo with the Flash Off the camera........

FlashOff

This is a photo with the Flash On..........WOW!

FlashOn

Close up photo of fringe.........no flash on camera

CloseUp

Close-up photo of scarf (no flash on camera) ....... I did just garter stitch using Blueberry Farm alpaca silk, Retro Glo tape (knit alone), and Berroco Lustra (silver colored yarn). The reflective tape does its own thing. It is slippery. so that when I knotted it, I put a clear washable fabric glue on the knots. To look at the scarf, it is rather ordinary. When light hits it, the magic appears!
CloseUp2

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I love how the tape knitted up. You know how I love shiny things! Good job Barb! 


Shiny Things

I recently had a visit from my friend Barb (hi!), and we were sharing what we had knit and what we are gonna knit, and she pulls out this roll of plain gray tape it looked like, and asked, "What can I do with this?"

Seems her daughter in law heard about it and asked her to make it into a scarf. I told her some ideas and she's going to try a bunch of them and end up with something truly spectacular. (I know you will Barb, you always do!)

Then she sent me a link to the website. It's called Retroglo and it's from 3M, maker of all things cool. Like sticky notes, who knew something so simple would be so indispensble. Retroglo is sold by the yard, so it is used sparingly, but hey. It glows white when reflected, people! It's awesome! 3M has found a way to place thousands of glass beads per square inch on this yarn, and it reflects like mad. Think of safety wear, you could make joggers or people working in outside in the dark really happy with a hat or mittens or a scarf with a simple stripe of this stuff. You could make a daytime sweater into a glam sweater with this. The possibilities are endless! Forget lamé baby, you'll stop the show with a sweater made with a little of this.

OK. That's enough. I get so excited by shiny things :)


FO Pics and The Other Green Scarf and EntreKnits, Oh My!

Here's my fuzzy picture of my socks and the green multidirectional scarf I finished yesterday:

SocksAndScarf

And here's a fuzzy picture of my scrap yarn blanket so far:

Blanket

And here's a fuzzy picture of my Road Not Taken scarf:

RoadNotTaken

I'll be glad when my pictures are not fuzzy anymore. 

 

In other news, I got a digital copy of EntreKnits from Interweave.

Entreknits

(Go here for EntreKnits for a Mac.)

EntreKnits is a special edition magazine. From the description: "Explore modular, entrelac, and mitered knitting with the downloadable EntreKnits eMag!" It's pretty cool; they have a piece by Jenna Wilson about who invented modular knitting (and got a patent for it!), and Meg Swansen  wrote about how to make 2-color entrelac blemish-free, and Vivian Hoxbro wrote about 3D Domino knitting, and Annie Modesitt wrote about knitting and math. The patterns are a mix of good and bad, like all magazines, but I am interested in the cowl, and the blanket and a couple hats. All good stuff.


Another FO and Some Thoughts on Spindle Capacity

Yayyy! I finished my Bird in Hand mittens! Well, mostly. I still have to weave in the ends and embroider all the pertinent bird features, but I *promise* I will do  that right after I post this. Here are pics: 


BIHmitts  << back of hand 
  BIHpalms << palms

Now some thoughts on spindle capacity. 

As you know, I am a little geeky when it comes to my knitting. I like the facts and figures. I count and keep track of how many rows I knit in the legs and the feet of my socks. So you can imagine how it has always made me ever so slightly squeamish when I ask someone, "How do you know when the spindle is full?" and the answer is, "You just know it's full when the spindle doesn't spin right anymore." 

Yah. That's like saying "add flour and keep stirring until it looks right." When I run across this in a recipe, it means that my cheese sauce can be anything from soup to wallpaper paste .... with about the same difference in taste. 

I don't do well with "until it looks/smells/feels/sounds right". I need specific measurements. Not that I necessarily FOLLOW the specific measurements, but I like to know what they are so when I screw around with something, I know what my paramaters are.

And when it comes to spinning, well.... let's just say that there are some areas of spinning that I am a little more handicapped in than others. Particularly, regarding the state of fullness of any kind of bobbin. There are some of you out there (Hi Sharon!) who have actually witnessed one of several times when I have spun a bobbin so full on my wheel that the bobbin literally burst because it was too full. 

As I was spinning my glass spindle full of Walking in the Sun merino/bamboo/nylon fiber, I was wondering how full I really could spin my lovely glass spindle. The thing is, if I knew beforehand, I could prepare ahead of time. See, if I were spinning for socks, as I usually am, I could split the roving in half and put it in  ziploc bags labeled "Sock #1" and "Sock #2" (which I have done). But then I could take the fiber for each sock and split it into one-spindle-full sections and then happily spin along til I ran out, and know it was time to ply, without having to keep stopping and looking and watching and worrying if it was to the point where it "doesn't spin right', whatever that is. 

So what I did this last spindleful was, I spun until it was really heavy, although as far as I could see it spun right. Then I plied the single back on itself and got a lovely spindle full of yarn. Then I weighed it, spindle and yarn and all: 

Fullspindle The scale says 2.5 ounces. 


Then I took the yarn off and weighed the empty spindle:

Emptyspindle The scale says 1.3 ounces. 

My scale is not that accurate, it only has one place after the decimal point. I happen to know that my spindle was labeled 1.25 ounces when I got it, so the scale rounded it off to 1.3. That means my yarn + spindle could be either 2.5 or 2.45 ounces. I'm going with 2.5 :) 

Simple subtraction shows that I have spun an amount of fiber equal to the weight of the spindle, 1.25 ounces. Therefore, I know now that with this particular fiber, the spindle is full when the amount of fiber equals the weight of the spindle. That way I can weigh out 1.25 ounces of fiber at a time, spin it without having to think about if it is still "spinning right", and be happy. 

It will be interesting, after I finish spinning this project, and start spinning the lovely BFL fiber I got from Spunky Eclectic at the SPA, if 1.25 ounces of fiber will always be what makes a full spindle, or if it will be less because of the fiber being less dense. 

Or maybe everyone out there who spindle spins just KNOWS that the amount of fiber that fills a spindle is equal to the weight of the spindle. I never learned that :) This way I get to think I am a genius. 

It Glows!

You know how I am about glowing things :):)  So when I found this page that shows how to make knitted wristbands with little Jack-O-Lanterns that glow when you press a button, it thrilled me in a special way.

Unfortunately I did not discover this page until just this afternoon, so ... too late to make one for this Halloween, but maybe you can bookmark the page and remember to make them for next year! You can I think the person who made the page also sells kits to make them. They also sell the kit for a skull wristband that has eyes that have eyes that light up red when you press the button. Or if you don't want to buy a kit and you want to figure it out yourself, you can go to this page and learn how to do that, too!

It definitely gives me ideas......

Jackolantern Glowingskull


Cast Off / Bind Off techniques

Ya gotta love the internet. How did we ever live without YouTube???

While I was out on the last knitting cruise, a wonderful knitter named Patti showed a bunch of us how she does a sewn bind off. I had heard of it but had never done it, so I was pleased as punch to see how to do it. Patti finished a wonderful pair of toe-up socks with this technique, and it makes a lovely stretchy edge that looks like a cable cast on in appearance.

So while I was flitting through YouTube looking for interesting videos (well, CAT videos), I did a search for "knitting" just for fun, found a jillion knitting videos, and narrowed it down to cast off/bind off techniques, and there was not only a video of what Patti showed us, but also a bunch of videos showing other bind off techniques I have never even heard of, much less done. So I learned a lot, and I figured you might want to learn a lot too, so to save you time, I have listed the video links below. Go grab some scrap yarn and needles, cast on some stitches, knit a few rows, and try out these different techniques:

Sewn Bind Off like I saw on the knitting cruise

Another sewn bind off

An unusual Double Wrapped Cast Off

Icelandic Bind Off demonstration

Russian Bind Off lesson (very similar style to the Icelandic Bind Off above)

A decorative bind off from Bingbing


Okay, and since it is impossible for me to go to YouTube and NOT find an interesting video related to cats, here is one you must see. It is quite slow-paced, but trust me, you should watch the whole thing. Pull out your knitting to work on while you watch

Advice from God About Finding a Lost Cat


Random Stripe Generator!

Go HERE to see what I am posting about.

OMG someone has created a wonderful thing on the internet... it is a random stripe generator. You can click what colors you want to use (look at your yarn stash, odds and ends you need to use up); then choose the numbers of rows you want to use per color; then choose how many rows to generate (up to a thousand).

If you don't like the stripe pattern that is generated, just keep clicking Refresh to see other choices, until you get the one that looks like it could use the colors you have in the amounts necessary, or in the order you like, or in what looks most appealing to you! It generates the pattern in both a chart form and in text.

I love love love this internet gadget!

A few years ago I spent almost a year spinning some quite bright colors ... about 6 to 8 ounces each of hot pink, bright turquoise, blindingly bright yellow, burnt orange, and a vibrant olivey green. I have never really figured out what I want to do with these skeins of yarn... they are SO bright together. And yet I do want to use them together, in one garment. Here are a couple stripe patterns I generated using the Random Stripe Generator; the first one uses prime numbers, I think, and the second one was just random clicking on my part:

Random1


Random2

This last one uses 1 to 6 rows of each of 5 colors, all randomly chosen, which might resemble the kind of grouping you would get by using dice. Remember that thing I did a long time ago by using dice?
Random1_2


More Old Clothes

Continuing on in the vein of ancient textiles.... I found this fabulous link to an article about ancient textiles and some of the archaeological evidence of them discovered in the past few years. Click here to link.

I don't know what it is about textile history that's been really grabbing my attention lately, but I have always found it fascinating. One of my favorite reads from the last couple of years is Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. If you haven't already read it, put it on your Christmas list! Here's a link to it via Amazon.

I guess it just astounds me when I think of the trillions and trillions of yards of thread and yarn that have been produced by women over the years -- industrialization only hit in the last 250 years or so, and for that matter, the spinning wheel has only been around for what? 500 years? I mean think of it, every square inch of cloth that every person wore before that was created by hand using some form of hand spindle, for heaven's sake, and a loom, or some form of netting or knitting or crochet. Think of the yards and yards and yards of cloth... all that work.... all that time! Almost all done by women, of course. The hugeness of it boggles my mind... like when a person sees the ocean for the first time and tries to fully grasp the size of it. Maps can't make you feel the size and power of the ocean ... only seeing it and being on it can do that. I think archaeology is like that for history. You can't fully grasp the amount of work and time and effort that women have put in for ages until you start seeing their tools, like those ancient Egyptian tools I posted about earlier, or the cloth found in tombs, as in the Siberian tomb discovery written about in the above article. It makes me start thinking in terms of what I do, making sweaters to sell, using only hand-operated knitting looms, as part of a thousands-year-long tradition.... except I didn't have to spin the dang yarn myself first! Honestly, I can't imagine.

Which is not to decry the efforts of men over the years, by the way. It's not like women were working their butts off while the men lazed around.... although, don't let them know we know that. It's much more fun making them feel guilty. :D