Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hats and Hats and Hats and Socks

We had a perfect Thanksgiving, though one granddaughter wasn't feeling up to snuff. We laughed and ate and forgot to get a group picture. I made the mistake of weighing myself this morning, so I have to hit the treadmill today, even though I usually skip Sundays. Sigh.

Here are some more ribbed handspun Christmas hats for the pile. I was told, this weekend, by young people who know stylin' that roll-brim hats are Not Cool. Luckily, the roll-brim hats are going to people who are far too old to style. But I did knit a few shorter hats, with no cuff, for some younger recipients (shorter hats = faster completion). All of these hats use California Red wool (some with a few other accents- mainly Romney). These hats are the perfect use for this heavy yarn- and it's good that I haven't run out, because every time I think I have reached the end of the list, I remember 5 more people to add to it.

I have 3 pairs of holiday socks (and possibly 3 more, but those don't have to be done until New Year's Eve, if I decide to make them) to knit, so I started one. These are Monkey ( from the Winter 2006 Knitty), and everyone in the sock knitting world has made them. This is my second time with the Monkey Pattern, and I am enjoying the rhythm (though not memorizing it). The first time I knit Monkey, I couldn't read a lace chart. This time I can, and wow- the difference is amazing. I tweaked the pattern to use short-row heels, and I'll do a Star Toe. I am, as they say, bookin'. This yarn is superwash wool and nylon from J L Yarnworks ( , in South Dakota. I bought this yarn, and a much more subdued skein at NCFF in September, and I love love love the neon green (and so will the recipient).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tis Finally the Season

Personally, I would listen to Christmas Music all year, but unless I am alone in the house, I have agreed not to play it until after Thanksgiving. And it's after Thanksgiving! Wahoo!
Here are my faves:

This is one of the records my mom had, so this entire album (and the next one on the list) are major nostalgia triggers for me. I am old enough to remember the Andy Williams show, and in fact I treasured a tiny little crush on Andy (at about age 8, I had a rather unsettling dream about him, with me in just my slip... but we won't go there). This music is corny, but such a perfect representation of the early '60's.

This is another Music of My Youth album- and I know and cherish every cheesy note.
This music also comes from my youth (though the older, high-school aged youth), but I didn't get the CD until a few years ago. What lovely music this is. Christmas time is here...
The first two Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums blew me away to the extent that they became centerpieces in my first mystery novel (which was set in June, btw). Silent Night still makes me misty (meaning, as it does to me, a mom whose kids have grown up and are not coming home for the holidays)(that first time is hard, lemee tellya).

This one doesn't pack quite the emotional wallop that the first one does for me, but I love it just the same. I cannot listen to Still, Still, Still without seeing Johnny Depp standing in the snow.
I am still saddened by sudden and unexpected deaths of Jim Hensen and John Denver (and I can rant for a very long time about Miss Piggy shilling for Piza Hut), but the melding of voice and character on this CD will last forever. Who can listen to Beaker on The 12 Days of Christmas, or Rowlf on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and not smile?
I made a special trip to the Hallmark store and bought 3 cards that I never used, just to get this album. River is achingly beautiful. Go Tell it on the Mountain is wonderful, and Baby, It's Cold Outside outweighs my deep, irrational dislike 0f Natalie Cole.
Love him or hate him (and we all know which side of the coin I'm on), the boy can hold a note.

And now I need to go put some music on...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Nurse and Doctor

Yeah, I know it's Wednesday, but tomorrow is going to be busy.

So, what sort of "experiments" do you think the"Doctor" and "Nurse" are performing on that sweet little girl, in this "hospital"?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

South Dakota's Next Top Model

Hats and Santa Quilt

The Dakota Earth and Sky sweater is almost dry, so maybe at lunch, I can get my Dear Photographer to snap a couple of shots outdoors.

In the mean time, I have 3 more ribbed handspun hats for the Christmas Pile- The 2 red hats are knit entirely from California Red Wool (a very sproingy, earthy fiber), and the other one used CA Red leftovers and some mystery black that I have no memory of spinning (this is dyed black, not a natural color). I am so glad to be using up this bulky yarn-it's too heavy for sweaters, but perfect for these hats. I have 4 more adult hats to knit (and maybe one after that, I keep adding people to the list), but I can knit one in an evening (or two kid-size), so it won't take long. All of these go in the mail, so I need to be finished soon.

I designed this little 15"x15" quilted Santa wall-hanging in the early 90's. The pattern ended up in a magazine, but I don't remember which one (maybe Country Crafts- all of my published magazine articles are packed away in boxes. I should dig through them for the paper dolls, if nothing else, since I am getting low on Thursday Tab sets to post). The quilting is basic and poorly executed, but I still like the whole design concept: Patchwork Folk Art Santas, wool fleece beards, and a bit of embroidery.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dakota Earth and Sky

Ta Da!!!!!!

I am so so so happy with this sweater- the only change I'd make to the pattern would be to have the sleeve cuffs just a tinch bigger, and increase a bit at the beginning of the Fair Isle portion of the sleeve (I used 44 sts, and I would go up to 48 for the CO, and then increase to 52, and then do the rest of the increasing as per usual- 2 sts every 3rd rnd, until I get the desired number of sts, and then work even for the proper length). That and the neckline- I still have trouble making a neckline that isn't too large. This one is better, but it's still cut a bit looser than I want. Both are easy fixes for the next time I knit a sweater with this size yarn and needles (I have a template now. Wahoo!)

I didn't take lots of pics during the steeking because the process was no different from Genevieve's Graduation sweater- cut, zig-zag edges, fold in, pick up and knit bands, sew in the sleeves. I did try to take a picture of the body, before I cut the front opening (I was testing to see if it would fit- which it did) but I can't figure out how to take an indoor pic and turn the flash off. Luckily, I had some good buttons on hand, so the sweater is finished, blocked, and drying.

I decided, almost at the last minute, to make solid color front and neckbands- I realized that the yellow/orange/peach would not look good up against the lighter top colors. I think that was the right decision.

Tomorrow, after the sweater dries, I'll model it, and get someone to take pics (I love y'all almost as much as I love showing off, but not enough to stand in the snow in a wet sweater).
Stats: Started knitting: November 9, 2008. Finished: November 24 (this is some sort of record for me, I think), Size 5 needles, all handspun yarns, the dark background colors are all undyed natural wools, most of which I acquired in the fleece, and then washed myself (and sent out for carding). The fibers are almost all long-wools (Romney, to be specific), though there is a bit of mohair, a bit of glitz, a bit of softer wool here and there. This is not a sweater that I will be able to wear without a shirt or turtleneck underneath. Some of these yarns were spun 6 or 7 years ago, some were just finished in August. The sweater weighs 2lbs, which is heavy, but not as heavy as I thought it was going to be. I might be able to wear it indoors (since I lost weight, I'm colder than I used to be).
So, now I have to concentrate on Christmas knitting, before I wind the absolutely gorgeous and soft and wonderful and fantastic brushed mohair yarn I got from Twisted Fiber Arts as the last installment of The Big Needle Club- 460 yards that will be perfect for a fuzzy shawl. I have the pattern picked out. But first, Holiday Knitting... I promise...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Snow and Noses

No progress on the handspun sweater (see pic) because I went on a short road trip yesterday, and then decorated The Big Tree. On the road trip, I completed one ribbed handspun hat, and cast on another (which I finished in the evening- they're a Quick Knit). The yarn on these green hats is from California Red fleeces that I washed, and dyed myself. CA Red is a rare breed- the wool is soft but there are red hairs throughout, which make for really interesting yarn (though not soft enough for next-to skin). The red and white barberpole yarn in the uncompleted sweater pic is also CA Red, and is being used on the current hat. I have a few more hats to knit, a couple of pairs of socks, and a pair of gloves to finish for Christmas yet, but I should be able to get them all done. No one is getting any sweaters this year (well, except for me), so it's all small projects.

Blog Reader Melodie ( ) is knitting a Hat A Day, and she adapted my Snowman Fair Isle mittens for one of her hats. Isn't it adorable? And she had the brilliant idea of using beads rather than embroidery for the snowman features! This is her first Fair Isle project! Way to go Melodie! (Part of the original snowman pattern is here: , and that post has a link to the other half of the pattern)

Here's my world this morning- not enough snow to hamper anything, but enough to make things pretty.

Something I learned Yesterday: If you wear shoes with small heels (totally cute olive green Ecco Mary Janes) when you don't normally wear shoes with small heels, and if you don't wear a coat into the store, and the wind chill is below zero, and you hurry back out to the car in the far end of the parking lot, and you yank the car door open quickly, without paying attention, in order to get out of the wind, your head will be in a different position than it usually is when you open the passenger door of your own car, and you will smack the living shit out of your nose. Don't try this at home, kids.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sweater and Santas

I finished the body of Dakota Earth and Sky (Ta Da! The Title!)!! I wound 2 hanks of blue yarn for the final border (and used a small ball of already-wound intermediate blue) and some pale gray, but ended up not needing the darkest blue. So, now I have to do the steeking, the banding, the sewing, and the blocking. And then the sweating, because it's not going to be an indoor sweater (though it was only 12 degrees here this morning, so I suspect that I'll have plenty of reason to wear it outdoors).

But finish work is going to be interrupted, not only because I have to spin some more dark charcoal yarn for the bands, but because both sons, their SO's, some of each SO's family, and all three grands are going to be here for Thanksgiving, and I need to clean the house, and I want to have it all decorated before next Wednesday.

I started yesterday with the hand carved Santa display. About 15 years ago, I was driven to make Folk Art Santas. Of all the things I've made and done in my lifetime, I think these Santas come the closest to Art (with a Cap A). Each year, as I take them out of the box, I marvel again at whatever it was that pushed me to pick up a chisel (and mourn that the urge has gone completely). BTW- the little triangle Santas have Christmas Trees on the reverse side. Outside of the Half-Moon Sangta bowl on the top shelf (which was a gift), I carved all of the other Santas.

Today, I have out of town errands, and then I'll tackle The Big Tree. And maybe some steeking. Oh yeah, and cleaning...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Earth and Sky?????

Dakota Earth and Sky (a companion to the Dakota Dreams sweater)?

Anyway, I'm nearly done with the pruples (one round to go, but my hands cramped up and I had to stop last night). With just the blues left, I think the sweater will be long enough (I want about 27" total). I had thought about going back to the yellows if I need more length, but I'm not so sure now. We'll see how it comes out.
Oh- I had to scrap the middle purple yarn. There just wasn't enough contrast between that and the background gray. I found a ball of lighter purple as a substitute.

I reluctantly concluded that this has to be a traditional cardigan (not a V-Neck) because it's just too heavy for indoor wear, and a v-neck jacket isn't very practical. I'm going to root around in my tubs of handspun yarn for one more skein of dark charcoal yarn, but I suspect that I'm going to have to spin some more for the bands (I have enough yellow/brown/orange to make them match the cuffs and bottom ribbing). In any case, I should finish the body in a day or so, and then it's on to the steeking and finishing and washing and blocking and modeling and accosting random strangers to make them ooh and aah over it.

New Favorite Song: You know how it is when you put your Zune on shuffle and a song comes up that you didn't realize that you had? No? Just me? Well, that happened this morning on the treadmill- I was listening to random tunes, bypassing anything that didn't fit the workout pace and this song came up- it was totally the wrong tempo for exercize, but I had to listen to the whole thing. And then I hit replay. And again. It was Wynonna (Judd- which tells you how little Country I listen to, that I felt the need to specify which Wynonna, as though Wynona Rider has an album. Or Wynonna Parton), singing "Who Am I Supposed To Love?" (from her What The World Needs Now, album). I am totally enchanted with this song... nay obsessed. I've listened to it a dozen times already, and am not done. The rest of the CD? shrug. This song? Wonderful. Where did it come from, why is it on my Zune? Ya got me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


...that's what my fingers type nearly every time I write purple (and the temptation to put that in quotation marks was almost irresistible).

Anyway, I'm finished with the sleeves! All I have left is about 9" of body (and the steeking, and the sewing, and the neckline shaping, and the front and neck band knitting, and worst of all- working out the buttonhole spacing. Oh yeah, and I don't have buttons or even a clue about what kind of buttons I want to use). I would like to have arranged the color progression from reds to purples to blues to greens (which doubles back to the yellows), but many of the remaining colors wouldn't look right with the darker background, which is running out very quickly. But the color progression is the color progression, and it's coming along. I'm using up most of what's left of the darker gray, and I'll segue into the lighter (which is shown in the picture) whenever the dark runs out, or the colors don't contrast well enough, whichever happens soonest.

Rainbow Harvest?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Whoa, that's a lot lighter

I knew that the color change from the charcoal background to the gray was going to be sharp, but this is almost startling. On the other hand, it's necessary- some of the remaining colors are just too dark to show with a very brown background. I haven't quite decided whether I actually "like" it or not (shades of unnecessary quotation marks), but I'm not going back. The course is set.

What still isn't "set" (it's a disease, lemee tellya) is whether this will be a high neck cardigan, or a v-neck. I'll have to decide soon (though I suppose, I really don't have to decide. I can make a v-neck from a regular construction by cutting the steeks at an angle, rather than straight up, though that will result in some unnecessary knitting). I only have to knit about 1 1/2" into the next border on the sleeves (purples) and they'll be finished. And only about 10" remain on the body. This sweater has come together really quickly (if you don't count the 7 years it took me to accumulate all of the handspun yarn, and the 8 months that the skeins hung over the railing in my office, before I started knitting).

And I still don't know what to title it. Falling Morris Harvest?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

When commercial cakes go horribly wrong....

... They're not kidding. Be sure to check the older posts, and try not to gag... er... I mean... giggle...

(and watch for the occasional lovely commercial cakes, thrown in for relief)