Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's no wonder we spend so much time on our back deck...

...when this is our view

P.S. That is the last original outbuilding left on the property. All of the other buildings, coops, barns, houses were lost in tornadoes or fires over the years. This one will remain until it falls down of its own accord.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I spun and plied a bump of undetermined white roving (which I later determined to be Romney, or a similar long-wool. It's low crimp, not terribly soft, and has a lovely sheen. At the very least, it's Romney-ish), which came out to 5.9 ozs, and 272 yards of 2-ply. And it's going to be socks, of course, though I may have to tinker with my usual sock recipe since this yarn is not quite as thick as worsted, but heavier than fingering. I have at least one more bump of this wool, which I will spin soon.

Pretty, no? And truly, I should be saving the spent marigold blossoms that I've been tossing out, for the dyepot. They make a lovely gold yarn.

And I finished the 80's Blech Colors doll sweater, and it looks much better as a sweater than the fingerless mittens (and please, do not notice that the bottom buttonhole ended up in the wrong place. And no, I'm not tearing it out and respacing it). Who knew there was yellow in the mix? That didn't show up in the larger fingerless mittens at all.

The fingerless mittens turned out cute too.

and here's the whole set- 3 down, one to go.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weed Walk

We took our usual Sunday morning ramble- it was hazy and sticky and the mosquitoes were awake and hungry, but at least it wasn't storming (yesterday, I don't think we went an hour without thunder). This morning, I took the camera along and noted some pretty weeds.
The milkweeds are blooming. Their flowers smell like cinnamon and cloves, a scent that enchants me. The ants are equally enchanted. Later, the pods will mature and dry and the seeds will float away like dandelion seeds.

Bull Thistle has a beautiful flower...

And nasty everything else.
Wild roses are delicate and grow close to the ground.

I have always called these plants Cockleburs, but Google tells me that they're Buffaloburs. We also have Cockleburs but they're much less vicious than these things. These are evil. Pure evil.

By comparison, the Canada Thistle is pretty benign. Unless you step on one in your bare feet.

And these, obviously, aren't weeds. They're a flock of Turkey Vultures which have taken up residence at the South Dakota Developmental Center. Big birds they are, and stately. And creepy. They've been here all season, and I finally remembered to take a picture. Like all vultures, they're carrion eaters. I wonder if they know something that we don't.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Upcoming Books

My friend Kwei-Lin Lum has a new paper doll book coming from Dover in January. Voodoo Paper Dolls looks to be every bit as wonderful as her earlier book, Day of the Dead Paper Dolls, and Day of the Dead Stickers (both of which are still available). Kwei-Lin's art is quirky and beautiful and I can't wait to get this book.

And I have a pattern in the upcoming 101 Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders, which will be published in November by Storey Books. And amazingly enough- my design isn't socks, it's a pair of gloves with mitered square cuffs. I used some of Twisted Fiber Arts' yarn, and if I say so myself, the gloves turned out beautifully.

And while I'm at it, I also have a pattern in Taunton's Crocheted Prayer Shawl Companion, which is coming out in September.

And though it's not listed on Amazon yet, or on Taunton's website, I've seen the proposed cover for Fearless Fair Isle Knitting, and it's a wowzer! I can't wait to show it to you all!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fuzzy on the whole Good/Bad thing

Okay, so I'm on a Stashbusting Mission- no new yarn or fiber purchases until I make a dent in what I already have on hand, which could take years. I've done well so far- knitting entire adult-sized sweaters, not to mention doll wardrobes, hats, mittens, and socks from the boxes and piles of yarn that are in every room.

But how does the SB Credo apply when it comes to spinning? I mean, I'm using up fiber that I have on hand (and while I have more yarn than roving and wool, I have plenty of wool. Trust me on this), which is A Good Thing. But I'm also making more yarn... which is... naughty...

My Great Niece, the one who figured out how to knit by watching me for 10 minutes, stopped by yesterday with her Grandparents. She wanted to see how a spinning wheel worked, so I got out my Joy and gave her a demo. She was fascinated, so in addition to letting her give it a try, I dug out an old toy wheel/dowel spindle and some roving (I didn't say how I had to use it up, did I? It just has to be used), and showed her how to use the spindle. She caught on fairly well, and if there is any kid who can teach herself how to spin, it's her. So I sent her home with the spindle, a big baggie of wool, and a promise of more if she uses that up.

And then I did some spinning myself. I already had a full bobbin of multi colored singles, so I spun a bobbin of undetermined white and plied it. I ended up witn 3.6 ozs and 157 yards. It looks to be sportweight, but my handspun is dense, and it may knit up on size 5 needles better than smaller ones.

I haven't spun in a long time, and my wrists ache this morning. I think that means I need to spin some more.
The Good/Bad here doesn't involve stashbusting dilemmas- I am using some Austermann Step 6, the heavier weight yarn with aloe, which is Good. It's lovely a yarn and it knit up just fine for these fingerless mittens, and I'm on the 2nd sleeve for the corresponding doll sweater. The Bad is the colorway- have you ever seen anything so incredibly boring? What in the world was I thinking when I bought this 80's mauve and dusty blue? Blech. Good thing this set is going to a small girl who likes pink.
The Good here is that my friend Lorah is moving (not far away, just to a different town nearby), and she's ruthlessly getting rid of things that won't fit into her new house. So she gave me back this Hardanger piece that I made for her long ago, when I was on a Hardanger Kick (obsessions- I haz them). I'm thrilled to get it back- I look at that stitching and I want to pick up a needle and Perle Cotton again (and the scan is so clear, that if you're a Hardanger person, you could probably make the piece just from this picture). The Bad here is that on the upper left large crossbar, there is a slit in the fabric that I didn't notice when I scanned the piece. I have no idea how it happened (I'm pretty sure that the piece was intact when Lorah gave it back to me). Unfortunately, the slash cut across several of the little openwork crossbars, and wouldn't be repairable by needle even if I still had the thread (which I don't- I haven't done any Hardanger in probably 15 years). So I opted for the drastic solution- glue. I spread craft glue on the wrong side of the slit and it's drying now. Cheating, I know, but it should hold.

More Good? I picked 6lbs of rhubarb yesterday. I see hot pepper jam in the future!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Tab- Connie Francis

I don't have a cover or any other info on this set- but it certainly shows Connie Francis in her heyday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Big Book of Socks- Candelabra Lace Sock Pattern Errata

Thanks to an alert knitter, we've uncovered an error in The Big Book of Socks (link to the right of the page) in the Caldelabra Lace Sock pattern. I'm going to post the errata here, and over to the right in the Errata section. Taunton will fix the error in the next printing of the book.

The Big Book of Socks- Page 114, Cendelabra Lace Sock

In the Candelabra Lace Pattern Rnd 5 should read:

Rnd 5: K5, K 2 tog, YO, K1, YO, Sl 1, K1, PSSO, K4

I left out the second YO in the written lace pattern. I am so sorry for the error, and so glad for sharp-eyed knitters.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Still with the Spoonflower and Doll Sweaters

I got another fingerless mitten/doll sweater/fingerless mitten set done. I finished the sweater awhile ago (I wasn't sure where it would end up) and realized that I had enough of the leftover yarns to complete the set. So this group is going in the Christmas pile too. I think the girls will like having matching gloves with their dolls (I would have at that age, and that's generally my guideline. My inner child knows dolls).

Next week's Spoonflower (link in Stash Enhancers) design contest is a Cheater Quilt- a yard of fabric that is designed to look like it was made up of lots of fabrics already assembled- in other words, a cheater quilt. It took me two weeks to put this together, with many many steps (creating the grid, creating each of the colored backgrounds, creating each of the letter blocks, working on the border etc), and though it's not hard to work with a canvas this large in Inkscape (it was 6300 x 5400 pixels), it's very difficult to work with the image in Paint or my other graphics programs. The computer wants to freeze when I try to work on it (and there are some things that I needed to do in Paint, in order to finish it).  I'm glad that the next couple of contests will use a smaller area.

This is a simple design and I will enter it in their contest, but I don't expect it to garner much interest. I want to make it up myself, and I thought I might as well enter it. I already ordered a yard.

And these are the compantion background fabrics (and the backgrounds to the individual letter squares). There's another one too- a peach block- that I forgot to adapt and order. I'm getting a yard of the yellow for the borders, and I ordered swatches of the other 3 colors just to see how they look in person.

I don't think I'll get a Nautical Theme design done by Tuesday (the deadline), mostly because I can't think of one. But the contest theme after the Cheater Quilt is Travel, and I already have a notion for it.

My Son The Artist sent me an old version of Adobe Illustrator, which I will install soon. I've been looking over the book, and I think it'll do a lot more than Inkscape does, and the process is similar, so the transition isn't going to be too difficult. I hope.
btw- this was my first version of the above Cheater Quilt, but I decided it looked too much like one of those Color Blindness Tests. One of the lovely things about Vector Drawing, is that every element is separate, so though it took time to change the color of all of the letters, it wasn't difficult.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Arts in the Park

I tagged along with Cassy and 4 beautiful and happy (and well-behaved) young girls to the Aberdeen Arts in the Park yesterday. It was a perfect early summer day: warm without being hot, not sticky, light breeze, and no bugs.

There was also:

many booths with lots of cool stuff, and lots of people
a Jumpy Castle

A musician singing James Taylor, no less

precariously balanced, handsome young men throwing flaming torches at each other
and Funnel Cakes!!!

Doesn't get any better than that.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Freebie Friday- V-Neck Cardigan and Fingerless Mittens for an 18" Doll

It's been awhile since I posted a Freebie Friday pattern, so it's fun to have one I can share with you all again. The body of this simple v-neck cardigan is knit in a single piece with fingering weight sock yarn and size 3 (3.25mm) needles, with the sleeves picked up and knit in place (though you could cast them on and sew them in afterward, if you want). The matching fingerless mittens complete the set.

My finished sweater weighed (buttons and all) 51 gr, so you may be able to knit the entire sweater with 50gr of sock yarn. But if you want the fingerless mittens, you might want to do the ribbings in a contrasting color if you are using new yarns and don't want to dip into a second 50gr ball for a few yards of yarn. This pattern is ideal for leftovers- make it in stripes, or knit all of the sections in entirely different yarns for a glorious mis-match.

Here's the drill, for those who are new to the Freebies: you may knit as many of these as you like, you can sell them... I don't care. Please don't repost the pattern though- if others want it, direct them here for downloading. If you post pics of the sweater, please post a link to here too. And if you want, send pics to me and I'll post them too. Click on the page images (2 for this pattern) to enlarge, save as jpgs, and then print from any graphics program.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SAFF Workshop Schedule

I am so so so thrilled to be teacing classes again at SAFF, in Fletcher, NC (which is right next to the airport, and minutes from Asheville and the amazing Biltmore Estate). This year, it's being held October 22-24, and I am teaching all three days.

SAFF has a beautiful newly refurbished website, and the workshop schedule has just been posted. There are so many wonderful classes, and I wish I could take some. Go and peruse the list- registration for SAFF members opens July 1, and registration for the general public opens July 15. If you want to become a member and get in on registration early, click here. (I just did- quick and easy).

I'm teaching:

Friday Oct 22: 9am-5pm (with lunch and snack breaks) Fair Isle in a Day-
Students will learn to read a chart, wrangle multiple yarns, and will work on a toddler-size Fair Isle hat. There is a small amount of homework involved (casting on and working the hat hem/facing, instructions will be sent to registered students), and students will need 100gr each of a solid and a variegated worsted weight yarn and size 5 needles (dpns or 16" circular, your preference), and some sticky notes. Students can use 2 solid color yarns as well- in either case, make sure there is a good contrast in your two yarns. No Fair Isle experience necessary, but students should be familiar with knitting in the round. Handouts and pattern/charts provided, including an adult version of the same hat.

Saturday Oct 23- 9am-5pm (with lunch and snack breaks) Design Your Own Fair Isle Hat in a Day- In the morning, we'll talk about Fair Isle design elements, and work on designing original motifs on blank charts. In the afternoon, students will begin work on their original hats. Some Fair Isle experience is nice but not absolutely necessary. A small amount of homework is involved (casting on and working the hat hem/facing- instructions will be sent to registered students). Students will need small amounts of various solid colors of worsted weight yarn (at least 2 colors, but as many as you like) up to 200gr, and size 5- 16" circular or dpn needles, and sticky notes. Students should bring colored pencils in the same colors as the yarns (though I'll have some colored pencils with me too). Handouts, patterns, and blank charts provided, including a chart for an adult size hat.

Sunday Oct 24- 9am-11am Little Tips and Knitting Tricks-
Discussion and demonstration of lots of little cheater knitting tricks that I use every day in my knitting: winding a center pull ball by hand, an easier decrease than SSK, putting beads in your knitting with wire instead of a crochet hook, knitting back backwards for heels and bobbles, and more. I'll provide some beads and wire, students should bring fingering weight yarn and appropriate needles.

Sunday Oct 24- 1pm-3pm Writing Patterns for Publication-
A talk about the percs and pressures of writing for publication, whether students are interested in designing for magazines and books, or in selling their own patterns. We'll talk about manuscript format, copyright, how to approach publishers, and what to do when your design is accepted. Students should bring a pad and pencil for taking notes. There will be time for Q&A at the end. Handouts provided.

Hope to see lots of you there!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sweater Sets and Robots

Short-repeat self-patterning yarns don't lend themselves very well to back and forth knitting. The patterning changes too quickly, so that the beginnings and the ends of the rows (which in this case, mean the fronts of the sweater because the body is knit in one piece) don't match at all. But it's still cute. I do believe that I'll write this pattern (sweater and doll-size fingerless mittens) up and post it this week, for the first Freebie Friday in a very long time.

The whole set includes fingerless mittens for the Girl, a v-neck cardigan and fingerless mittens for the doll. All 3 knit from 100 gr of sock yarn (there wasn't enough left over for a doll hat. I always forget how much yarn these 18" doll sweaters take).

are these cute, or what?

And here's the latest installment in the Spoonflower Obsession: a set of 3 color/cut/sew Robots. I've ordered a sample, and it should be here soon. If the robots go together properly, I'll offer this one through Spoonflower too. I was tickled to discover that someone already ordered the Skirt/Vest/Bag color/cut/sew fat quarter. I'm about halfway done with a Cheater Quilt design (quilt in a yard) for another Spoonflower contest. I haven't tackled the Nautical Theme design yet.

Yeah, I said *obsession*, and I meant it.