Friday, July 24, 2015

Old and New

There is a family house in longer owned by my family. However we may be able to visit at some point...but that's another story.

The house is in Northfield Falls.  I spent summers there as a child. When my Dad sold the house which is far from where we all live in South Carolina now, he and Mom removed a lot of the furniture. One thing removed was a rocker.

My Grandma Helen, when she was alive, worked at a consignment shop called "The Red Mitten" in Northfield. There was a healthy respect in the community for old and handmade items.  I do not believe that the shop is still there. However, a long time ago, my Grandmother picked up a half done needlepoint canvas there. I was much younger and doing needlepoint at the time. Hating to see an abandoned project, I finished it, Mom had it stitched into a cushion, and back to Grandma it went.

Fast forward a's Kaffe Fassett era. And the entree of Kaffe's Persian Poppies. I still love them.

Forward a bit more...the year I learned to spin I bought some orange-yellow blend merino roving and spun it into a worsted weight kinda double. It hung around and I tried it out for 6-7 projects, never quite working.  Finally I paired it, just this year, with some green yarn using Kaffe's Persian Poppies theme. It just worked.  I thought that I was doing a little afgha in the round. Then it looked just perfectly sized for a child's sweater.

I re knit it 3 times, trying to fit it to  my niece. When I finally held it up to the child, it was so too small.  Three times...not meant to be. I stopped but did not frog. I held it up to the rocker....perfect for the back with the needlepoint cushion on the seat....perfection plus several touch points in my history!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Carolina Bell pattern

I am happy today to celebrate my wonderful state of South Carolina, and the wonderful diversity here, not the least of which is expressed in alpaca genetics!

My brother lives near an alpaca farm in upstate SC, in Inman. When I visited two years ago I was happy to discover that the owner had a shop. The shop was HUGE with a vast supply of commercial yarn, but what I zoomed in on was the yarn from their own alpacas.  Here is the creative result:

Carolina Bell Shawlette

Have you found yourself in a yarn store picking up…say 3 skeins of yarn, one of a contrasting color to the other two, that you thought were beautiful with no plan in mind?  Well…here’s the plan…

This is a shawlette with vertical garter stripes and a lace border.  My finished shawlette is 60 inches in width and in 13 inches in length at the longest point.

Yarn Requirements: 3 skeins of yarn, two of the same color (color A), and one of a second color (color B). I used 3 skeins of alpaca from a local (in state) alpaca farm.  For me, this was Northwoods Farm in Inman, SC.  I had 2 skeins of 183 yards each in Carolina Bell (neutral)  and 1 skein from Guyson,  210 yards(chocolate brown).  Each skein was 4 ounces.

I used half of color B for half the striped section of the shawl.

My shawlette is very heavy and warm in the yarn I used, however you could use a lighter weight yarn and looser stitch at the same gauge and produce a lighter, more summery shawlette.

Gauge: Knit a gauge swatch with your yarn and find a fabric drape using garter stitch with the size needle that pleases you.  My gauge in garter stitch for the body of the shawl is 5 stitches per inch. I used a size 3 circular needle. Be warned however: if you stray from my yardage, gauge, and yarn halving technique, you may need more or less yarn, so be sure to use the technique here:

Yarn halving technique for Color B: take your skein of color B.  You can do this by weighing it and wind two balls of half the whole weight. If you have a yarn measuring tool, you can use that.  


Cast on 10 stitches in color A.

1)   Knit 1 row Color A
2)   Knit 1 row Color A
3)   Knit 1 row Color B
4)   With color B, k1, increase 1 by loop method, finish row in knit.

Continue in this way until you have 52 stitches. Continue knitting straight: 2 rows color A and 2 rows color B. When you have used half of color B, or perhaps a little less to be on the safe side, begin decreasing:

1)   Knit 1 row Color A
2)   Knit 1 row Color A
3)   Knit 1 row Color B
4)   With Color B, decrease one stitch by psso method (slip one, knit one, passed slipped stitch over knitted stitch) and finish row with Color B.

When you have returned to 10 stitches on the needle, bind off loosely.

Lace border:  at this point you should have a serious amount of Color A left for the lace border, which is done in garter lace.  Proceed with the lace border this way:

 With the shawl on your left, right side up and lower edge in your lap, with the same size needle that you used for the body of the shawl:  Cast on 4 stitches onto left needle.

Row 1: S1, k1, yo, k1, pickup stitch from in between the garter ribs, knit that stitch together with the 5th cast on stitch. With all odd rows, continue picking up a stitch between knit “ribs”  and knitting 2 together for the final stitch.

Row 2 and all even rows through row 16: turn and knit.

Row 3: S1, k1, yo, k2, knit last stitch together with stitch picked up from shawl border.

Row 5: S1, k1, yo, k3, knit last stitch together with stitch picked up from shawl border.

Row 7: S1, k1, yo, k4, knit last stitch together with stitch picked up from shawl border.

Row 9: S1, k2 tog, yo, k2 tog, k2, knit last stitch together with stitch picked up from shawl border.

Row 11: S1, k2 tog, yo, k2 tog, k1, knit last stitch together with stitch picked up from shawl border.

Row 13: S1, k2tog, yo, k2tog, knit last stitch together with stitch picked up from shawl border

Row 15: S1, k2tog, k1, knit last stitch together with stitch picked up from shawl border.

Here is a graph if you prefer:

You may need to “fudge” a bit to add or subtract stitches that you pick up to end the lace at the end of the shawl.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Vikings in the Attic

So some years ago I read a book called  Confederates in the Attic

I pretty much came up with the idea that these reenactor people, while yes they are having fun, learning history, and channeling their ancestors, are by and large a  wee bit off.  (The book however is great and I recommend it). 

Recently however I found this video which helped to explain another aspect of why one might wish to be a reenactor...and a Viking.  Self realization without the violance...   

Actually the preceding video popped up when I was watching   Lois Swales's videos on youtube

I have been reading Helene's blog for a long time...she and her family do Viking Reenacting in Norway

Of course, I am interested in how fibers were made into yarn and fabric before the Industrial Revolution  so I'm off to find a Viking Spindle on Etsy, perhaps here

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Syttende Mai and a bit of Norwegian history

Last evening's Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor talking about Syttende Mai (and singing some traditional Norwegian songs) prompted me to do some research on this holiday...and brush up on some essential Norwegian history...

Today is the 17th of May, a national holiday in Norway.  It is Nasjonaldagen (National Day) or Grunnlovsdagen (Constitution Day). In 1814 on this day Norway declared itself an independent kingdom to avoid being given to Sweden by Denmark after Denmark-Norway's defeat in the Napoleanic Wars.   (The Norwegian provinces of Iceland, Greenland and the Faroes remained with Denmark).  There was terrible poverty and mass starvation as a result of this defeat. 

 In of course the expected political ironies, Norway actually WAS given to Sweden.  but the opportunity presented itself for the country to attempt to declare a level of independence.  Norway kept its liberal constitution and institutions with exception of the foreign service. Because of the Napoleonic Wars, economic development in Norway was slow until around 1830..(making immigration to the US in the 19th century very tempting). Because of the lack of independence, there was a rise in Norwegian romantic nationalism. 

Norway's true independence  did not actually happen until June 7, 1905, when Prince Carl of Denmark was named King of Norway and called himself Haakon VII. 

Coincidentally, WWII ended 9 days before Syttende Mai in 1945, adding more meaning to independence at this time of May! (As we know, Norway was occupied by the Nazi's during WWII).   As the website for the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah Iowa suggests, it is a great day to celebrate freedom all around!

Here is an old photo taken by Paul Stang in the early 1900's of a Syttende Mai celebration in Stongfjorden

Mom and I visited Norway and a few other places  around Scandinavia in 2002 

Here's a postcard that I picked up of a little one and her castle wheel, dated 1904, the distaff suggests that she is spinning, or pretending to spin... flax

We went to the Norsk Folkemuseum, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History at Bygdøy in Oslo, and saw dancers in traditional costumes, some of which people wore today!

The women are wearing Bunad, here's a definition from Wikipedia

"Bunad (Norwegian plural: bunader) is a Norwegian umbrella term encompassing, in its broadest sense, a range of both traditional rural clothes (mostly dating to the 19th and 18th centuries) as well as modern 20th-century folk costumes. In its narrow sense the word bunad refers only to clothes designed in the early 20th century that are loosely based on traditional costumes. The word bunad in itself is a 20th-century invention.
The bunad movement has its root in 19th-century national romanticism, which included an interest for traditional folk costumes not only in Norway, but also in neighbouring countries such as Denmark and notably Germany. However, in Norway national romanticist ideas had a more lasting impact, as seen in the use of folk inspired costumes"

Finally, we took a boat down Sognefjord, here I am at Kvikne's resort

King Harald and Queen Sonja just happened to be visiting that day, here you see Harald me!  He is the Grandson of Haakon VII.

 And here I am outside of Bergen at the tomb of Edvard Grieg and his wife, I am wearing a Dale sweater purchased in Norway...

(Thanks as usual to wikipedia...yes, I send them a donation yearly!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blazing Dyeing

So... I knew that my local fiber guild, Fiber Guild of the Savannahs, was sponsoring a warp dyeing workshop. Now, I am not a weaver at the present time but I know what a warp is.  I went to the guild meeting on Saturday last. The workshop presenter, Kathrin from Blazing Shuttles, from the Asheville area, gave a talk. Kathrin dyes and sells warps in different color ways!

Turns out, the next day, she was doing a dyeing workshop that would include skein dyeing for knitters. Any other plans for Sunday left my head!  

We used ProChemical & Dye kits that Kathrin assembled to manipulate most colors of the rainbow and variations in between!  The dyes were for cellulose based fibers...cotton and types of rayon which  include bamboo and tensel (lyocell). The fibers are created by processing cellulose fibers from different plants (e.g. bamboo) and "extruding" them in a single filament, hence the slipperiness and shininess. While the source is "natural" the fibers are highly processed.  However...these dyes worked well on the silk caps that I brought....

 I am in Kathrin's camp of enjoying intense colors or hues. Apparently "colorfulness" "saturation" and "chroma" are slightly different ways of expressing the intensity of a color.  (I don't understand these nuances but I think that they are important...)

Here are photos...the first two are warps that were dyed by Kathrin on some of our guild's looms

Here is an assortment of undyed and dyed warps

Here are my finished fibers, first, a silk cap from stash, ironically, I had not spun hankies or caps till after this workshop! But now I'm off and running, more on this in an upcoming post...

Tencel roving, dip dyed. I bought the roving from Jennifer in Savannah some time ago

Mercerized cotton in my stash for 20 years probably, haha, the yarn had been used prior in this

Purchased from Kathrin, a rayon chenille skein

More of the tensel, only this was spun quickly the night before

My advice to you: go buy a skein or warp from Kathrin's website or go to a workshop as soon as you can!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Thoughts on Linda's book, the McGarrigles, and knitting

This is my review of Linda Ronstadt's autobiography that I also put up on goodreads (the photo is on my Ravelry page):

I was a huge Linda Ronstadt fan through my young adult years. I will confess to being more of a rock n roll fan that a ballad fan. The heartrenching ballad does little for me. I love her loud versions of "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" and "Tumbling Dice."

This book is a story of her albums and career with little mention of former lovers etc etc, other than a tip of the hat to Jerry Brown. I love that she protects her children's privacy by barely mentioning them, and her Parkinson's disease diagnosis goes unmentioned. Good for her.

What she describes that I think is very important was her ability to follow her art in the way her soul (and not the music industry) wanted her to go, and her understanding that she was lucky to do so. I have not listened to her work with Nelson Riddle to any extent, or to her exploration into Mexican canciones. I did however sample a bit, and the beauty of her voice and development of her vocal technique in her post California country rock scene recordings is just stunning.  What was also a bit surprising is how incredibly well read and intellectual she is (sorry Linda, I just didn't know).

I loved the paragraphs about the McGarrigle Sisters who I also still listen to but also never saw live. My friend Susan has, and had them autograph a CD for me! . Linda says about them " They wrote heart music, indeed... Onstage their sibling dynamic made one think of unseparated litter mates. In the audience, it felt like we had entered their living room unannounced and discovered them squabbling, working out harmonies, or sweeping up after a boisterous party. They wore odd clothing, even by show business standards. Canadian are quite different from Americans and I have always though that, where clothing is concerned, they are more invest in quality , while we are more invested in glamour. This can make their tweeds and hand knitted sweaters (things I adore) seem stodgy".

And of course as a knitter (I knew she was one) was her discussion of knitting "Kate Taylor had taught me how to knit woolen socks on five needles and I told her about the pattern of hearts that I had plotted on graph  paper." In an interview with the Washington Post she briefly commented on what a loss her inability to knit now that she has Parkinson's Disease.

Linda also has strong respect for the home sewn garment, her Mother sewed clothes for her until she was a young adult.

I really enjoyed this. Her favorite quote is from Flaubert:   “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

In search of my Grandmother's Yarn...Denmark Part 8 I've said before, some of my forebears came from Langeland, in Denmark. And as a shawl knitter, I must wonder what breed of sheep my grandmothers shawls were knit from?  

The answer is still a research project, however...I did actually find a local yarn store in Rudkobing which made me quite happy...LundGarn

Part of the reason for happiness is that I discovered that one of the few spinneries left in Denmark is close to Langeland in Svendborg, just over the bridge. It's Hjelholts.   Hjelholts sources it's Gotland wool from Denmark and Sweden. It is blended with some merino from the Falklands. The wool is three shades of gray and colors are dyed over either very light, medium or dark gray, depending on the color to be dyed. Of course they give tours and of course, I missed visiting. The spinnery is on the list for the next trip! I saw their yarn in shops throughout Denmark. 

This is their Farvestkiftegarn, color changing yarn, purchased at Lundgarn, all single ply fingering weight

Here is a skein of their color changing yarn with a coordinating solid. 

These two are double plied fingering weight, purchased elsewhere in Denmark, I think the orange was from a shop in Roskilde

And here I am at the marina-hotel in Rudkobing,  our favorite accommodation. I am perhaps contemplating my next project...and whether Grandma's shawl was knit from Gotland

Here are a few sheep in Troenekoer near the church, couldn't get close enough to see if they were Gotland...

A shot of the bakery in Troenekoer, I believe. We got some awesome treats there....

And here are some views from Langeland

And here are Icelandic poppies blooming in my yard yesterday