It Begins.

I love the old British favorite, Dr. Who ... the stories are fantastical, the characters are great, the actors are wonderful, the rubber-suited monsters are hilarious. But mostly, I love the scarves. 

NewWho_copy_medium    Tom scarf    Matt scarf
(All three scarves are available on Ravelry.)

 

Even more, I love all the fabulous knitwear that has been worn by the recent companions of the Doctor:

Rose's mitts    Rose's Boomtown scarf    Wilf's hat   


Little Amy's hat and mittens    Amy's Pandorica Opens scarf    Amy's Night Terrors scarf


And my favorite, Amy Pond's 'Vampires of Venice' scarf, which she also wore in 'Vincent and the Doctor':

Vampires of Venice  Amy and friends    Amy_s_Scarf_007_small2

So. It begins.

IMG_2281

 


Tour de Fleece. Or, Not.

Sigh. I missed Tour de Fleece again this year. I mean, I knew it was happening. I had my spinning wheel right by my table with purple (actually violet) fiber started. But I didn't start. Next thing I knew it was July 7th already. 

Purple

Maybe next year.

The reason I didn't start Tour de Fleece was because I've been busy knitting lots of things that I can't show pictures of, since they are Christmas and birthday presents, BUT they will all soon be finished. By 'soon' I mean in a month or so. These things are pretty fun to knit, more fun than spinning purple yarn apparently! 

After the purple yarn is spun, I have a lovely bag of alpaca to spin, and a honking giant bag of four pounds of black romney that I bought years ago. It's enough wool for two big Aran sweaters, and the thought of spinning and knitting that much black wool is a bit depressing, to be honest. It's really pretty black wool though, pure black, not the typical dark brown sheep's black; that's why I bought it. Maybe I should just take it a bit at a time, and before I know it I'll be done! That is what I'll tell myself anyway. 

What do you do to get through a lot of something? Whether it's work or fiber or knitting or cleaning or whatever, what little mind games do you use to get through it all? I'd love to have some new and unusual ideas besides my own!


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:

FullSizeRender


I'm Back.

I took a little more than a year off, because I thought blogs are pointless, everyone is glued to the Facebook screen, nobody reads blogs anymore. And that is pretty much true. I quit Facebook, too. My cat Nicky had died, and his sister Nora died about a month ago. Seemed like things had come full circle.  

Two things made me come back. First, I had a couple people pining for my blog and I thought, okay. I could write it a little bit, so they will know I am alive. Second, my brain is bursting with new ideas for knitting and crocheting designs, story ideas, ideas about everything, really.  I found I used my blog as a kind of scrapbook for Remembering Things, recipes, things I had done, pictures, and of course my patterns. So, I just thought, what the hell. Let's crank this baby up and see if it will still go.

NickNoraBabyPix copy

That is Nick and Nora's baby picture. (Kevin took the photo). They were so cute! 

Nora pretty girl copy

That is Nora. She was a pretty girl. She liked to complain loudly about everything. I miss her squawking about supper every night. I just miss her. 

After Nicky died, we took in Pogo, who is also 13 years old, the same age Nick and Nora would be. Pogo has attached herself to me; she goes everywhere with me. She isn't much of a cuddler, though, she's just a constant companion. We make a good team. She is tolerant of my knitting, but she does like to sit on the keyboard if I use it too much!

Pogo

What am I knitting? I am knitting gifts for Christmas and birthdays, unfortunately, so I can't show them. I did just recently complete a cowl -- the Shetland Shores cowl by WendyGaal. I knit in some sparkly yarn from Knitter's Brewing Company in a color called Framboise:

Yarma_medium2     Yarma_medium2-2


The kit came with a cute little Scotty dog!

In the last year, I knit a lot of things. One that I like the most is an Aran sweater called Wetherby by Martin Storey:

Wetherby_Done_medium2

It was a little bit tricky. I had to unravel about 9 inches of the front when I discovered I had twisted my cables the wrong way. You can bet I double checked them after that! 

Another thing that I knit was a pair of mittens. I finally made the Dog Mittens by Jorid Linvik, which had been in my queue to make ever since my sister in law got a Boston terrier:

Yarma_medium2-1

Her name is Persis and she is a sweetie pie!


Still Waiting.

I'm still waiting for Spring. The snow is still high and I am still grumpy. Snow doesn't seem as magical as it did around Christmas. It has become the adult version of the cute little puppy that has now turned into the Saint Bernard behemoth, taking over your bed, getting everywhere, chewing on the car. It is not cute anymore.

Snow sn

So, big surprise, I am still knitting. I knit a lace scarf out of pretty peachy-pink Edna's Bounty from Good Karma Farm. Here it is, unblocked:

ScarfSN

It'll be prettier when it is blocked. Lace always looks prettier when it is blocked. The pattern is from Vogue Knitting's To Go series of books, Scarves Two, and the pattern is called Sheer Lace Scarf, by Lois Young. I think the book is out of print now, but you can search your local libraries for it (I love inter-library loan!). 

I am making some progress on the turquoise dress, too; here is what I've got so far:

DressSN

I had to take a break and get the scarf done before winter ended -- I guess I didn't have to worry, hehe. It is going pretty fast, now that I have started working on it again. I am getting through about a skein a day. The dress is supposed to use ten skeins, and I have used almost five skeins so far. I actually bought twelve skeins, just to make sure. I know, you are thinking it doesn't look half done, but it is. The skirt takes up more yarn than the body -- I started off with about three hundred stitches, after all. I decrease eight stitches every ten rounds, and I have only done thirty percent of the decreases so far.  Then you increase a little bit for the bust, do the yoke, and you're done! And then, of course, you must block it,  because lace. It's all cotton, though, so I might steam iron it lightly. 

Today I'm listening to the playlist "Driving with Dean Winchester" on Spotify. '67 Black Impalas are sexy. Keep knitting, people!

 


They Say It'll Get Warmer

That's the theory at least. Something called "spring" is in the offing, and there will be mud and blackflies and sunshine that is warm, and also there will be "grilling". At least you don't have to shovel blackflies. Mud, possibly.

I had a little girl here two weeks ago who expressed some interest in a pair of mittens that I made, and she wondered if I could make some mittens for her, so of course I said yes. I found the perfect pair on Ravelry called Mittens with Kittens by Natalia Moreva. They were a free download, even better! The thing is, the pattern consists of only a chart - no needle size or type and weight of yarn to use. I took a gamble that they needed size 2 needles and fingering weight yarn, and I just happened to have hot pink, cream, and orange yarn in my stash, which were the perfect colors. I think they came out the perfect size:

Kitten Mittens

Last fall when I was at my brother's camp up in Winterville, I asked my other great niece if she liked this dress:

4-1

It's  DROPS 138-4 Jade, and it is a free pattern. I don't wear dresses anymore, and it is really young for me, but I wanted to knit it. Luckily my great niece is in high school and she is young and beautiful, and she said yes! She picked out some turquoise colored yarn, which I secretly loved and wanted to knit with. Did I mention she has good genes?

CROPS Muskat

That's DROPS Muskat #32 Turquoise. It's a beautiful Egyptian 100% cotton, with a long staple fiber, making it strong and wearable. It is mercerized, so it sparkles gently in the sunlight, and the color is a tropical color that just makes me feel warm.

DROPS 138-4 Jade dress

I cast on 306 stitches, knit 6 rows, and found it was twisted. Aaarrrgghhh! I started over, did NOT twist my stitches, and now I am zooming right along. This is a great pattern to knit for the summer. I am dreaming of beaches and sunshine (warm sunshine not winter sunshine) and tropical scents in the air. 

My husband wanted to know what I was knitting with muskrat droppings.

*sigh* Men. 

Lynne is coming over this afternoon to make Blizzard drinks with hot chocolate, Bailey's, Gran Marnier and something else, maybe chocolate liqueur. And we will knit, and laugh, and make mistakes and laugh at them before we rip them out. It will be fun :)


It's Winter, So Get Over It: Make a Cowl, Not a Scowl!

Everyone is crabby, because all they can see is snow, snow, snow and more snow. More is falling as I speak. When I was a kid, up in northern Maine, this kind of winter was typical. For the past number of years we haven't had a winter with all this snow, and it is hard to go back to it now. It's hard to drive in, it's cold, and it's boring. I hear on Facebook that kids are out of school and driving their parents crazy, and business owners complain that no one is out shopping because they're all holed up at home. That is true. 

Yarn shops that are lucky enough to be in a town with a sidewalk to their door are doing some walk-in business, and you can always order yarn in if you need to. I ordered a skein of Ontheround's Merino Wool Aran Weight when it was on sale a while ago, and over the fall I hugged it and petted it. It's so soft and squishy and lovable. The colors are a blend of green and yellow and white and blue and gray, beautifully dyed, and over this winter it has seemed like a touch of Spring. However, I needed something warm, so I invented a cowl that sits around my neck and shoulders, keeping me warm, and looking pretty. 

Yarma_medium2-2    Yarma_medium2-1    Yarma_medium2

I'm giving the pattern to you:

Stranded Cowl by Beth Collins

Ontheround Merino Worsted 
Size US10.5/6.5mm 16” circular needle

Gauge: 
15.5 sts and 22 rnds = 10 x 10 cm/4” x 4”

Finished measurements: 7" high by 28" around

Cast on 112 stitches (I like it loose; use 100 stitches if you want it tighter. Pattern is a multiple of 4.) Join, being careful not to twist the stitches.

(Knit a round, purl a round) twice. Begin Woven Stitch pattern:

Round 1:•K2, yf, sl2, yb; rep from • to end. 
Round 2: Knit. 
Round 3: •Yf,sl2,yb, k2; rep from • to end. 
Round 4: Knit.

Repeat these 4 rounds for pattern. Work in pattern for 7” or desired height. (Knit a round, purl a round) twice. Bind off loosely and weave in ends.

Abbreviations: 
k = knit 
p = purl 
yf = yarn to front 
yb = yarn to back 
sl = slip

(Pattern Stitch “Double Woven Stitch I” adapted from the Harmony Guides Knit & Purl, edited by Erika Knight, p. 76)

The center picture above shows that I had only a little yarn leftover, so if you want a higher cowl, you may want another skein.

I may have to knit another cowl with Ontheround's new DK weight yarn. She certainly makes wonderful yarn! 

I found that stranding the yarn across two stitches was a good way to show off the yarn; hand dyed yarn can be gorgeous in the skein, but sometimes it is disappointing knit up. Stranding really showed the beautiful colors as well as the thick-and-thin quality of the yarn. I love that.

Knitting needle Knitting needle

In other news, my Aran sweater is done. I took some pictures of it before it was whisked away upstairs to be worn today. It fits perfectly :)

Yarma_medium2-3     IMG_1713    IMG_1714

SA_Nicky2_medium

It looked better with Nicky sleeping on it, but this is pretty good :)





Nicky

On New Year's Day, Nicky, my good little boy, went outside and never came back. I think his heart finally gave out on him.

NickNoraBabyPix

He had a heart murmur, and in 2009 or so, he had a cardiac arrest -- it was during a routine annual vet visit: shots, ears, teeth, and his heart, which stopped at the moment Dr. Jim Laurita held the stethoscope to his chest. It was, in short, the perfect time to have a heart attack. Dr. Laurita rushed him to intense cardiac care, and he lived. He had to take three pills a day for the rest of his life, but he lived. Dr. Laurita said he would live about eleven months at the outside, but Nicky was obstinate and stubborn, and he lived almost six more years.

Nicky on counter

Wherever you are Nicky, I hope there are lots of sunny spots to snooze in, preferably on someone's knitting; lots of laps to sprawl across, lots of cream and cheese and popcorn and bacon and Cheez-Its to snack on, and Grace is probably happy because she can now follow you around again. You know she always had a thing for you. 

Nick in Snow


Be Thrifty!

Image001.png@01D024ED

Stitch Craft Create has a new blog hop going, and I am in it! Their January magazine is FREE to you, dear readers. All you have to do is add the magazine to your basket and use the discount code SCCFREE at checkout!

This is a great magazine, and the theme for January is being thrifty. It includes directions for knitting a rug out of recycled old sheets, making your own clothes (dress making for beginners!), ideas for making an old sweater into something new and exciting, making an old dress into a stylish bag, or liven up your dry winter skin and outlook with a refreshing DIY body scrub! There is so much more in this issue. You could spend all winter doing things over, and before you know it, Spring will be here and you'll have lots of new stuff without spending a dime!

So. My yarn stash has been weighing heavily on my mind lately, and I have accumulated a lot of odds and ends of worsted weight yarn -- not enough to use for anything, but too much to just throw away. This magazine came along just at the right time: there was a crocheted pillow that I could make out of yarn scraps! 

As I read through the directions, I could envision making it into a whole afghan project. I'd planned to do some kind of afghan with my scraps, but hadn't decided how to go about it, and now I had a place to start.

SCCcushion

This cushion top is made with nine squares of star stitch and sewn together, with three rows of double crochet done around it. I had to look up how to do the star stitch. I love learning new things!

FullSizeRender

I made nine squares and sewed them together and started to crochet around the edge.

IMG_1636    IMG_1647    IMG_1654

 FullSizeRender (2)    FullSizeRender (1)

 

Now I just have to dig out ALL my scraps from where I have squirreled them away and continue to add them til it is afghan sized. This has been a fun, colorful project and I am so happy to see the piles of misery being eaten up by this wonderful afghan project! I love seeing the bottom of my knitting bag!

Bonus: If you would like to get more FREE thrifty crafting techniques from Stitch Craft Create, they have a free e-book that they are giving out to my blog readers for the price of an email address! Click here to get it!

 


The Colorblind Camera on my iPhone

I got a new iPhone before Christmas, a 6+. Where my old iPhone  made all my photos a strange shade of blue, the new iPhone leaves a pinkish hue to my pictures. Oh Apple. I hate you.

Anyway. The aran sweater I am knitting is about 60% done; I just have the front bit at the top to do, and the sleeves. I am getting there. I am knitting the Shire Aran by Glenna C and I am using Ella Rae Classic Heathers in Maroon Heather. Here are some pictures -- it really is not this pinkish brown shade, rather, it's a dark maroon. Apparently maroon is too complex a color for an Apple device to handle. The real color is beautiful.

SA1    SA2    SA3


SAbraided cable    SAring cable

I like to watch a little TV in the evening, but I have to have something simple to knit while I watch, so I started a pair of plain old socks out of Berroco Sox:

Sock1

I am quite proud of myself for Kitchenering the toe closed. I was having a devil of a time with the tapestry needle, and then I found Techknitter's site that told how to Kitchener Stitch with the knitting needles. It is much easier --the old fiddly bit is on the last two stitches, because the needles tend to fall out. And I have to weave in my dogears.

Toe

Techknitter has a really good tutorial for doing the new method of Kitchener Stitch; try it!

And lastly, I am making a cowl, because I had a little handspun purple yarn to use up, and my neck was cold. I am knitting a 2 x 2 rib until it runs out, with 100 sts for a cast on, US size 8 (5.0 mm) 16" circular needle. It's a worstedy-weighty yarn, spun from Indigo Moon batts, too precious to let it go to waste.

Cowl

This is how Nora is spending the winter:

IMG_1629

 


Here I am!

I am poking my head up out of the morass of Christmas knitting, which I can finally  talk about! Actually, the projects are not many, but I worked on them a lot. 

First is the tractor sweater that I started back in September. It's a small child size. The yarn needed to be the exact shade of yellow and green -- John Deere colors -- and the only place I could find both of those colors in worsted weight was Knit Picks, so I ordered it in superwash wool. It was a pretty quick knit.

Tractor_Sweater_2_medium2    Tractr_Sweater_4_medium2    Tractor Sweater

The pattern was loosely based on Vicki Square's Knit Great Basics, and the tractor chart is adapted from the sock pattern Tractorsockor by Linda Högström, which is a free pattern on Ravelry.

I of course had to make a tractor hat for my brother to wear while he plowed yards with his John Deere tractor:

Tractor_hat_medium2

In July, I started a lace cardigan out of pink fuzzy yarn that my sister had, and finished it in early October. I could have photographed the heck out of it, and I meant too, but in the hecticity (I love that word! Thanks Kelley!) that was Christmas, I forgot and sent it up to northern Maine un-photographed. But, here is a picture of it without buttons:

PinkLaceCardiDone_medium2

The buttons that I got for it are very cute silver heart-shaped buttons with a lacey filigree on them. It's a pity I forgot to photograph them; they looked perfect and adorable on the sweater. This picture is one I took in a hurry, in bad light, unblocked. If you squint, you can sorta get the idea of how it came out.

The last present that I finished was a skirt for my 4-year-old niece who is secretly a fairy princess as her alter ego. I used Elann's Silken Kydd in Ballerina Pink to knit it (it's like Kid Silk Haze by Rowan, only far less expensive). It was a bit tricky to knit with at first, but I soon got used to it. I dropped stitches because the 'halo' of yarn makes you think you have nabbed the stitch itself, but you haven't, you've nabbed the halo. After I got used to stabbing the center of the stitch, it went fine.

 

 

Pink_medium2

The pattern was Little Cloud by Monika Sirna. It was easy enough to knit, even with beads. I found the perfect pink beads with silver linings at Earthfaire. I loved the beads!! So pretty! I giggled a little every time I put a bead on.

Lc_medium2     IMG_1590

The final touch was the sequined, beaded sparkly bow that I found on Etsy that was a perfect match for the pale pink skirt:

IMG_1591

 

So. I knit the top layer of the skirt  first, with beads, and it went pretty fast. You know how Dr. Who has a Tardis that is bigger on the inside? Well. The bottom layer of the skirt was slightly smaller than the top later at first, and had no beads, so I was thinking that was pretty great and I was zoomng along. At six inches in, I had to increase a good bit, but that made it a little more than the stitches in the top layer, and I pugged away at it. But at eleven inches, just six inches from the final hem, I had to increase a lot of stitches -- making the total 576 stitches. Wow.

Knitting 576 stitches for six long inches was a haul. It took me about twenty-five minutes to knit one round. There were eight rounds per inch. All of a sudden I had an enormous time-sucking monster on my hands that threatened, like the Grinch, to steal Christmas! The cute little skirt for a four year old ate at my soul. I bitterly remembered saying to my sister in law lightheartedly, 'How long can a skirt for a 4-year old take??' and laughing. However, as I plugged away at it, the sparkle of the beads and the fluffiness of the airy fabric still made me smile, and eventually it was done in time for Christmas

The finished product:

IMG_1589

She loved the skirt and put it on immediately -- but I forgot to get a picture. Sigh. It was really cute on her, too. 

Anyway, by the time that Christmas had arrived I only had 30% done of the Aran sweater I was making for my husband -- but Christmas doesn't technically end til Epiphany, January 6, so I still have two weeks. I will keep knitting! 

 

 


Ye Olde Christmas Season

I'm still knitting for Christmas. I had to stop for a couple days because Nicky bit my hand Thanksgiving Day; it swelled up bigger than Montana and hurt like the Dickens, but it has gotten better, and now I am back to the Christmas knitting. 

So, in an effort to distract you from the lack of knitting in my blog, I thought I would show you something I found. Did you know that if you go to the Library of Congress, select photos, prints and drawings for the format in the search box and type in "Christmas", you can look at a jillion Christmas pictures from the 1800s to today? There is everything from posters, old Christmas cards that somebody in government received, old photos, everything. There is just a TON of stuff. I spent a lot of time looking at it, and I only got through about 19 pages -- out of 113! Here is just a smattering:

Future Xmas 1896

Future Christmas 1896

1899

U. S. Christmas 1899

Stereo card print 1897

Photographic print on stereo card, 1897

Santa telephoning for more supplies1897

Santa telephoning for more supplies, 1897

(Some things never change!)

Red ross nursewith Xm deco 1910-1930

Red Cross nurse with soldier and Christmas decorations, sometime between 1910 - 1930.

Santa receives pilot's license from ASComm1927

Santa receiving aeroplane pilot's license from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 1927. (I am glad Santa is a safe and legal flyer!)

Wash xmas shopping Woolworths 1941

Washington, DC Christmas shopping at Woolworth's Five and Ten, 1941

Store window display 1940:41

Store window display, 1940/41

Christmas, it seems, is still the same as it always was. And that is reassuring! 

You may note that if you go to www.yarndemon.com, my 2014 Christmas Musical Advent Calendar selections will be at the top of my posts for the next 25 days; you need to download Spotify to play them, but it is free! 


For Fun: Two Games for Your iPhone

Everyone is knitting frantically to get stuff done for Christmas, so you may just want to file this post away til after the holidays. The only reason I'm putting this post out now is because I, too, am knitting for Christmas, so I can't talk about my knitting! 

I got a new iPhone recently -- my Verizon plan renewed and I traded in my lowly iPhone 4 for a new iPhone 6+, and therefore I needed a couple new games to put on it! 

I looked in the app store and found Sailor's Dream, by Swedish Developer Simogo AB. It is a 'game', sort of, but there are no points to win, or  monkeys to jump over or angry birds to squawk at you. You wander around finding clues, memories about something that happened in a cottage by the sea. The thing is, I found myself getting sucked into the world, the sea, the beauty and peace of it, the music... the music is so hauntingly beautiful. This game is as much an interactive album as it is a game. 

This takes at least a week to play; you get a bottle containing a song every day for a week. I found to my chagrin that if you miss a day, you will have to wait for that day to come around again! I have found all the bottles, but I am still trying to figure out how to get to the last part of the game ... but not very hard. I like just wandering around on the sea! 

This game would be good for anyone touched by the sea. If the ocean feels like part of you, you will probably get sucked into it like I did. Sailor's Dream costs $3.99, about the same as a pattern on Ravelry. And it's so worth it.

The second game I bought is Monument Valley by UsTwo. It has a little girl (Ida) running around and squawking birds that are crows, but it is so much more that that! This game is a piece of art as much as a game, an Escheresque-world that you walk through, encountering harmlesss but noisy crows that keep you from getting where you need to go, and giant yellow totem-pole-like friends who give everything for you. This puzzle game is simple, beautiful, mind-bending in the nicest way, and it really makes you think. And, it is fun for all ages to play, from little kids to adults, who can play together, solving puzzles and helping Ida get where she needs to go. It has been a long time since I experienced a game like this! 

The art work has simple lines and colors, which set it up for being like an Escher painting that you just walk into and play in. Fans have made a gallery of Monument Valley art which you can see at Monument Friends. The game costs $3.99 for 10 chapters, with an expansion pack that is $1.99 for an additional 8 new chapters (such a deal!), and I just found out today that Ida's (Red) Dream is available until December 7 for 99¢, the proceeds donated to fight AIDS. I snapped that up right away! I am lingering over the last chapter in the expansion pack, but now I willl have to finish it, I guess :)

OK. Back to knitting!


Odds & Ends

Remember when I started my Haiku scarf a month ago? Well, I finished it in early November, but never got around to measuring its final size. It's 7 1/2" wide and about four and a half feet in length, an average size for a scarf. But, that is the resting length of this little beauty; as you wear it (or if you block it), the garter  stitch will lengthen enormously, doubling in length. 

Scarf 1

Scarf 2

I love how sheer it is. I love that it kinda floats in the air, but is very warm around your neck. 

To restate the pattern: 40 stitches, size 8 (5.0 mm) needles, knit every row, bind off when you are nearly done. That's it. Perfect. I knit it very lackadaisically, and it still was only two weeks to make. (I knit a ton of Other Stuff in the meantime.) A focused knitter knitting only this scarf could probably make it in three days -- I'm guessing here, but still. 

One thing about the yarn that you might need to watch out for -- like any fine mohair/silk blend, it is very difficult to tink back more than a few stitches, so while it makes good TV knitting, be careful you don't inadvertantly pull the wrong needle or drop a stitch and discover it four inches down, like I did. Let's just say, I had a lot of ends to weave in, rather than just the two I had planned on!

In other news, I am now on Ello, a new social media place to hang out in, with no ads and no creepy big brother watching over me, cough *Facebook* cough. You can read their manifesto here. Ello is still in beta, so that is why you need to be invited to join, and it still has that new car smell, sorta like Ravelry did in the beginning. If you want an invite, email me at yarndemon at gmail dot com; if you are there already, I'm at https://ello.co/yarndemon.

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.~Nathaniel Hawthorne

  


Baby Cables Fingerless Mitts

The last Unique One Knitting Weekend that I went to, back in March 2010, I gave out this pattern for baby-cable fingerless mittens -- they are quick, easy mitts and are a warming touch when the air gives you a chill. They are also a good gift to make for Christmas, and since some people are thinking about that, I thought I would put the pattern here. I somehow dimly recall doing that once before, but I can't find where I did it, so I'll put it on my blog once again with a link on the side. Happy knitting!

BabyCableMitts

Baby Cables Fingerless Mittens

Materials: 2 skeins USDK yarn (light dk weight, 100% wool, 88 yards per skein) size 2 double pointed needles

tapestry needle

Size: womenʼs small (you could make a medium or a large by going up one or two needle sizes; USDK is squishy, so it works well on a size 2 needle, but it would work very well on up to a size 6 needle.)

Gauge: 7 sts and 9 3/4 stitches per inch over stockinette stitch on size 2 needles Pattern Stitches:

Baby Cable Pattern (worked in the round):

Rounds 1, 2, & 4: (K2, P2) around. Round 3: (RT, P2) around

RT = knit into the 2nd stitch on the left hand needle, but do not take the stitch off; knit into the first stitch on the left hand needle, and then take both stitches off.

Baby Cable Pattern (worked in rows): Rows 1, 2 & 4 : K1, (K2, P2) to last stitch, K1.

Row 3: K1, (RT, P2) to last stitch, K1.

Directions:

Cast on 60 sts. Work Baby Cable Pattern in the round for 3 1/2 inches or desired length to bottom of thumb. End having just completed either Round 2 or Round 4, and increase one stitch at each end of last round.

Create thumb opening: Stop working in the round, and continue working on double pointed needles, but going back and forth (when you reach the end of the round, turn the work and go back the other direction.) Keeping Baby Cable pattern as established, work Baby Cable pattern worked in rows (see pattern stitch above) until piece measures 5 3/4 inches from beginning. Decrease one stitch at each end of last row.

Finish top of mitt: Join work back into a round again and keep working Baby Cable Pattern as established, working in rounds again, until mitten measures 1 1/2 inches above where you joined it, or desired length to top of mitten. Bind off loosely in pattern and weave in ends. 

 


Flake

Sorry I haven't been blogging much; I have been a flake of late. I have been knitting, but it is for Christmas presents. And, it snowed.

More snow

Recently I was invited by Stitch Craft Create to do a blog hop focused on Christmas, covering all sorts of different crafts. They have a slew of Handmade Christmas crafts that you can get from their website. They even have .pdf books, patterns and courses to take! 

I chose crochet as my craft; I don't really crochet much, but every now and then I do a little. They had a book that was Crochet Your Christmas Baubles: 25 Christmas Decorations to Make. It's a marvelous book, and has baubles divided into several categories: Sant's Grotto, Frozen Winter Wonderland, Fairy Tale, Scandinavian Christmas, and White Christmas. There are five patterns in each category. I thought about making a Rudolph the Reindeer...

Rudolf

... or a Cute Snowman...

Snowman

.... but ended up making a snowflake from the White Christmas category. This was my inspiration:

Snowflake bunting

I got some 3/2 pearl cotton and a B/2.25mm hook from Halcyon Yarn in Bath. They were out of the unbleached white yarn that I wanted, but they had a pretty, icy-looking light blue, "King Blue", that would be perfect. 

I started the snowflake and realized right away that my snowflake didn't resemble the picture in the book, and then it hit me. Of course it doesn't resemble the picture; the book is printed in the UK! They are using British crochet terms! So when they say to "dc 12 times in the ring", I would single crochet, not double crochet. This page has a list of US to UK conversions for crochet. Once I figured that out, it was smooth sailing.

Flake in process

This is my flake in progress, with my "right hand" crochet hook holder. As there are only 8 rounds in the snowflake, I was done fairly quickly!

Flake done

It's so pretty! That's the picture straight off the crochet hook. After a little starch and a press with the iron, this was the result (Nicky provided the background):

Starched flake

In the book, you make a bunch of these and then string them together to make a bunting or garland, which I might do, after Christmas. It actually makes a good winter decoration, done with light blue, silver and white snowflakes. I also thought of this:

Flake coaster

It makes a perfect coaster!

Go check out StitchCraft Create, and check out the blog hop -- crafty people everywhere take part in this! 


Light N' Whispy Knitting

My Dropped Stitch scarf is coming along nicely:

Scarf

I love this scarf! It's just the right blend of fabulous hand-painted fingering weight yarn (Rowan's Fine Art) with a whispy bit of gorgeousness (Rowan's Kid Silk Haze Stripes). Paradise Fibers sells the kit for the scarf. I didn't really get how to do the twisted dropped stitch, or rather, it was too hard for me to do with one hand ('wrap the yarn around both needles and then around the left needle once more'), so I just wrapped the yarn around the needle twice. They may have gotten more length by doing it the way that was stated in the pattern, and I don't get the 'twist' by wrapping the yarn twice around the needle, but mine looks almost the same. I may do another one, wrapping the yarn three times around the needle. This scarf is addictive to knit! I absolutely love Kid Silk Haze Stripe. It makes me gaga with its beautifulness.

I decided to knit another garter stitch scarf with a skein of Haiku (60% mohair, 40% silk) that was in Rachel's stash. We had a model on display in Unique One that sold a lot of Haiku. I started it in a quiet moment at one of the Spa Knit and Spin shows, because the Haiku wasn't selling; after I started knitting the sample, people started buying it. I finished it after the show was done, and as soon as I put it up, bam! The Haiku was flying out the door.

Garter Stitch Scarf

(This color is called Rice Fields. The marker is placed to mark when I started today; I try to get 2" done every day.)

The pattern for the scarf is simple: Cast 40 stitches onto a 5.0 mm/8 US needle and knit til you almost run out of yarn. Bind off.  That's it. It's a little bit tricky until you get the hang of knitting such fine yarn on biggish needles, but trust me, you can do it! The resulting scarf is anything but simple; the colors are fabulous, the yarn feels luxurious, and it will be a gift (or accessory for YOU) that says "I am elegant!". I don't remember how long the scarf is, but it is long (I'll tell you when I finish my scarf). I had a customer who used to make two, shorter scarves out of one skein to give to friends, which actually would be very economical. Still, $24 - $29 for a skein of Haiku isn't bad. One skein of hand dyed sock yarn is probably more than that, more if it has as much silk as Haiku does.

Anyway. Have fun knitting! 


October

Fall colors ...

Fall Colors

Trees over the camp

I took these pictures when I was in Winterville at the end of September, but they were stunning and colorful!  I love seeing the crisp reds, the playful yellows, and the magnificent oranges.

I love reading, too, and one of my favorite books to read in October is Headstones and Monuments by Steve Ogden. 

HM

It's a delightful collection of scary ghost stories (but not too scary!) that will entertain you on the dark, windy nights leading up to Halloween. If you like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, you will like Headstones and Monuments. Remember telling ghost stories at night around the campfire? Yeah. It's a collection of that kind of really good ghost stories. And Steve's artwork is excellent!

I love new fall mittens:

MysteryMittebnsDone

Orange, my favorite fall color, and dark brown. Both are handspun yarns; one I spun before my stroke (the dark brown; I think it was Coopworth), and one after (the orange, which I got from Sharon in Nova Scotia; it's Romney, I believe), so they are blended together, the before and after, making a new whole. Like me!

The pattern, previously a Mystery Mitten Knit, is Soria Moria vott, and it will be featured in Tori Seierstad's mitten e-book coming later this autumn. Tori makes good mittens! Until the book comes out, you can join the I Make Mittens group on Ravelry, and follow Tori's progress.


Home Again

Look what was waiting for me when I got home!

Package

I got a package from Paradise Fibers! It is a skein of Rowan Fine Art Sock Yarn in purples, and a skein of Rowan Kid Silk Haze Stripe -- it's Kid Silk Haze that knits up in stripes!! I'll let that sink in for a minute. Just when I thought Kid Silk Haze couldn't get any better, they go and do this. Now, the only way it could get any more perfect would be if it glowed in the dark or was free. (Actually Paradise Fibers just did a buy four, get one free promotion on yarn, so I guess they already did that. I missed it, though; it ended Sunday the 21st.) The Kid Silk Haze Stripe is "Chiaroscuro", stripes of grey and purple, which goes fabulously with the purples of the Fine Art Sock Yarn in shades of purple. The Fine Art Sock yarn is a blend of merino wool, kid mohair and mulberry silk that has been handpainted, and it is is luscious to the fingers as well as to the eyes.  I can't stop squeezing it. 

I am going to make a Twisted Drop Stitch scarf  (by Nancy Kleiber) out of it, because the world neeeeeeds more pretty scarves! I never get tired of wearing them, especially in this house in the long, bitterly-cold winter. I glanced over the pattern last night; it seems to be alternating rows of each color in a dropped stitch pattern, and it is very lovely and looks like a quick knit, too. It is a free pattern on the Rowan web site, I think, if you sign up to be a member. I can't wait to get started! 


Still at the Lake

Lake

I took this picture yesterday, and today the leaves are even more colorful. It's so beautiful up here!

The winner of the Faux Taxidermy Knits book giveaway is Jean! She has been emailed. I hope you make beautiful things, Jean!

I have been busy knitting. I finished the first sleeve on my pink cardigan:

1st Sleeve

Sleeve detail

The sleeve was originally a three-quarters length sleeve, but I made it a full length sleeve. I just hope the sleeve won't drag and be annoying; it's a full, lacy cuff, and pretty, but may be a bit aggravating to wear. I tried to make it about an inch shy of the full length, though. I am currently done one pattern repeat of the three repeats for the lace cuff on the second sleeve.

These tractors tilled their way across the field of yarn as well:

Tractors

Keep on knitting!


The Lake

I'm at my brother's camp in Winterville Plantation for a couple of weeks. It is  very restful here, peaceful. 

Lake colors

It is pretty close to Eagle Lake, so it is right up there in Maine. The trees are already starting to turn. The camp is on St. Froid Lake, a little bit of heaven on earth.

Lake

Lake2

And what would Heaven be without a cat? Meet Belizaire ...

Belizaire

He is the fluffiest cat I have ever known! 

I have finished my blue socks and gotten the third clue done on my mystery mittens:

Blue socks done

Clue3

Now my needles are poised to attack the sleeves on my pink lacy cardigan! 


Leftovers

I thought I'd show you a picture of my cardigan so far:

Pink cardigan

The body is done, joined at the sleeves and the ends run in, which makes me happy, because that's one less thing I'll have to do at the end.  I have the lace pattern done on the first sleeve. So, it's going along. Rachel would like it, I think; it is her yarn, so I hope she would approve!

Pink_cardigan_medium2

This was actually my second project that I worked on with circular needles.

The first project with circular needles since the stroke is this:

AbstractCowl

This is the Abstract Leaves Cowl by Deb Mulder. (Hmmm, I wonder if she is the lost sister of Fox Mulder, who was abducted by aliens? Nahhhhh...). Aside from being a free download on Ravelry, it's wicked pretty. I decided to use leftover yarn from my Pueblo Stole - I am getting a lot of mileage out of that kit! The beads are size 6 beads inserted on the knit stitch between the two yarnovers in the pattern. The beads are leftover, too; I originally got them for this project, but realized they were redder than I wanted. Thus, I called it the Leftover Abstract Leaves cowl. 

I knit a couple rows, and admire it, knit a few rows, and admire it some more. Actually, it's pretty slow going, because I have to get the beads on with a crochet hook one-handed, but that is kind of fun. I drop them frequently, but I have a handy-dandy grabber thingy that lets me pick up things with ease. I'm halfway through the cowl. It seems like a timely thing to knit this autumn!

I mentioned before that I am taking part in a mitten knitalong by Tori Seierstad, but it's a mystery, so I will wait to post my pictures till the end. This is exciting because I am using handspun yarn - leftover brown (that is terribly underspun) that I spun before my stroke, and orange (that is much better) that I spun after my stroke, when I went up to Nova Scotia to see Sharon and Richard.

Torirot_Mystery_mitten_medium2

So pretty. I can't wait to show you how the pattern is coming out! Such a clever girl, that Tori. 

Don't forget to leave a comment on the blog post about Faux Taxidermy Knits by Louise Walker! The deadline to enter is September 22!


Book Review: Faux Taxidermy Knits by Louise Walker

I got the chance to review a wonderful book for the quirky, whimsical and curious: Faux Taxidermy Knits, 15 Wild Animal Knitting Patterns by Louise Walker. Face it, have you ever secretly desired a fox stole, alligator bag, or a tiger rug, but you don't feel great about killing the animal to have it? Well, now you can have it and no animals will be harmed! This book has 15 patterns for things such as a moose head mounted in traditional taxidermy fashion, a mink stole, hedgehog slippers and and owl tea cosy.

Mink 02 

  Mink close up
I love the way their beady little eyes stare up at you, with love and mischief, not like the dead eyes of a real mink stole that make you say EWWWWW. But that may just be me. I am not a big fan of zombie minks. 

2Owls 01

Isn't this tea cosy the sweetest thing ever? This book is a British publication, so it just had to have a tea cosy, as well as a badger head. 

You can buy the book at Stitch Craft Create, or browse the whole selection of books in their bookstore. Books that caught my eye in browsing were Edward's Menagerie by Kerry Lord, Craft Bomb Your Bike by Shara Ballard (mostly because the name sounds slightly dangerous yet with a heady sense of crafting), and Knit Your Own Boyfriend by Carol Meldrum ("And the best thing about a knitted boyfriend? He doesn't answer back!" LOL).

I decided to make a project from Faux Taxidermy, the very last one in the book: Bear Coasters. Here is a picture of them in the book:

Baby Bears

So cute!

You have to knit two pieces for each one, and a couple of ears.  (The last time you saw them, they were swimming in my sink.)

Pieces

Knitting them was easy. There were three mistakes in the pattern, all of which were probably an editing error, and none of them were so bad that I couldn't remedy them easily. In the event that there were any mistakes that were insurmountable, I think you could get a quick reply from the publisher -- they are great people, and crafting is clearly their passion. 

Sewing the pieces together and stuffing the head, legs and arms came next, which was the part that I was most worried about, since I am knitting with only one hand. But in the end, I got it done, and here they are, my own faux taxidermy:

Bear Coaster

I wished I had had a view of the coasters without a cup on them, so here ya go:

Front view

Back view

I love them! They were really fun to make, too. Each bear took me about 5 hours to knit. You can probably sew them together much more quickly than I can! 

Wolf 01

~:: FREE GIVEAWAY ::~

Thanks to the fantastic publisher, I have a free copy of the print book Faux Taxidermy to give out to one person who comments either here or on Facebook by midnight eastern standard time on September 22. Enter and you may win a free copy! 

There is a blog hop about the book too, so if you want to see what others are doing, click here to go see! 

Faux tax banner4

 

Wave bye-bye


Finally!

Abstract Cowl

Day before yesterday I sat down to try again to knit with circular needles. I've done this off and on for four years, since I had my stroke, and finally, finally, my thumb and forefinger have gained enough strength to secure a circular needle firmly enough to work with, and I can ungrip them relatively easily to move the work along when needed. It's just one stupid thumb and a finger, but getting them to grip anything has been the bane of my existance. Now I can do it, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to add another thing that I used to be able to do without thinking to my daily life again! I can also carry small things in my hand too, like my cell phone, a light-weight bag, anything that can grip between my thumb and finger. 

You might think that I have slowed down a lot from the picture above. Really, I have had two whole days, surely I should be able to knit 125 stitches for more than three rows in three days, especially considering how excited I was to use my hand again! Actually, I had a needle malfunction. Apparently the size 4 needle I was using has a little divot between the cable and the needle, so my stitches catch aggravatingly. So, I'm waiting to get my needles.

Divot

Such a little thing; such a big problem. Sorta like having a thumb and forefinger able to pinch together on demand. It's a little thing, but it makes a world of difference in my knitting!


Tangerine

I have been knitting a little.

Socks
I knit a pair of socks when my sister died; I had to have a small, portable project to keep my mind focused, to give me something to do, something to keep from crying all the time, and socks seemed to fit the bill. These socks are from Done Roving's "Tapping Tootsies", a heavy fingering weight made from 60% superwash merino, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon, in the color "Tangerine Twist". "Tangerine" by Jimmy Dorsey and his orchestra was the number 1 hit the day that Rachel was born. It seems fitting, somehow. 

I have been working on the pink lacy cardigan out of some of Rachel's yarn. I fixed the tangling problem, but I was still struggling. There were so many stitches, the back and both fronts  (including the button bands) are knit together, and I don't have the luxury of using a circular needle, so all those stitches were crammed onto one 14" needle. I left it languishing on the table a lot (on the up side, I got a lot of reading done!). However, as soon as the lace border was completed, the stockinette portion was a little easier, and it is going along well now. 

Lacy cardi

It seem like an eternity of knitting, but I will be up to the underarm soon, and I'll be done the whole body of work; that's equivalent to the back and half a front done. The tops and sleeves should go quickly! I really like this pattern -- if it wasn't in mohair, it would be easier to handle. I would knit this cardigan again.

I am slowly coming out of my fog. It's hard to lose a sister as wonderful as Rachel was. Recently I looked through Ravelry at patterns and found a lot of projects I'd like to make, for Christmas, for myself, and just for fun. It's a good sign. I used to always knit Rachel something special for Christmas. Now I can knit for other people, with her spirit just over my shoulder, laughing at my many mistakes! 

 


Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Lynne and I gave each other flowers last week -- we visited the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. It was a great day in the sunshine! We picked the right day too; it rained Siamese and Saint Bernards the following day. Here are some pictures from the gardens:

CMBG1    CMBG2   

CMBG3    CMBG6  

 CMBG7    CMBG8

CMBG9    CMBG12 

CMBG13    CMBG14   

CMBG18    CMBG20

CMBG21    CMBG28   

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CMBG11    CMBG26   

CMBG34   CMBG29   

CMBG30    CMBG31


There were some interesting sculptures every now and then, too:

CMBG4    CMBG5   

CMBG10   CMBG17   

CMBG35

 

And there is a lot more to see! The gardens cover 248 acres. Admission to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens from April 15 throuch October 31 is $14.00 for non-members, free for members; $12.00 for Seniors over 64; $6.00 for children 3 - 17 (under 3 they are free). November 1 through April 14 admission is free. They are open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year round. I'd like to go in November to see it without the tourists -- without as many flowers too, but there you go. They have lots of fabulous trees, evergreens, that I think would be highlighted without all those showy flowers around. They have lots of places to sit and knit, too! It's a good place to spend the day. If I lived closer and wasn't handicapped and joined the Coastal Maine Botanical Society, you can bet I'd be there almost every day!