Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Handknit Saint Lucia for 2012

I'm have observed St. Lucia Day this year by knitting an outfit for Theodora so that she can celebrate Lucia Day.  I think I did a sweet job on the crown with the beads as candles.  

The costume was knit from Peysufot by Helene Magnussen.  Thanks, Helene!

See more here on the history of St. Lucia Day

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Not quite done...

I was wrong about being almost done with holiday knitting a couple of posts back, and I continue to suffer this year with gauge and size issues.  For example, I was planning a last minute hat for son R that I knew I could do quickly.  I had used the same yarn and needles for B's hat and it was fine.  HOWEVER I did a more intensive stranded pattern with 3 colors in a row and unwittingly changed my gauge...this will fit a 5 year old...

I am almost done with it but will restart. (I'll keep this one to donate somewhere).  I also thought perhaps I would use slightly larger dpns to start the crown of the hat (it's a top down pattern) and went looking for some other dpns.  Here's the end of my search 

Note the very accidental placement (!!!) of my favorite Louisa May Alcott quote on the mug "housekeeping ain't no joke."  Now you know this is humor as the word "ain't" was not in Louisa's routine vocabulary! 

Now there must be another way...I have something on order...

Meanwhile here's another frustration outside the window

On a more positive note, there are also doll clothes for Linda's little neice to work on...this nice person on Ravelry does patterns for MyTwinn dolls (little niece is getting one for Christmas) and her Twinn needs something warm...here's the start

Linda brought the Twinn over and it does indeed fit, thank goodness!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Scarf, finished

Yay!  I finished another holiday item. Done from one of my early spinning efforts.  

When I attended my second class on spinning at JCC Folkschool several years ago, I bought a lovely BFL roving from Gale, who was also at the course. I took it home and spun it up and plied it. I didn’t know at the time that there were different ways to manage the different colors in a multicolored roving (not that I’ve tried any of them since…), so I spun as the colors as they came up and plied it. I tried a few projects with the yarn and it just looked like mud so it just sat in the stash.
I realized when I saw this pattern called Morning Surf Scarf that with its dropped stitches, and not too many stitches on the needle at one time, that it would highlight what was good about my multicolored yarn.

Of course, during the course we learned how to add beads while spinning, so naturally one must add some beads.

About a year ago I spied something at youtube that was really interesting;  a BBC documentary called "Victorian Farm."  I searched around for it recently and located it at a nice site, topdocumentaryfilms.com. The gist is...three historian types recreating life on a Victorian Era farm for a FULL year.  I don't believe they actually lived there, but nonetheless...they did all the work to sustain themselves.

E1 Victorian Farm by zodiacza

Episode 2 has some particularly sheepy goodness.  They raised Shropshire sheep at this farm, and there is some nice viewing of this breed and how they were raised. This breed originated in the 1840's when locals bred native sheep from Shropshire and Staffordshire Bred from wild sheep in the 1840's. In 1859 they were declared a distinct breed by the Royal Agricultural Society.  They were (and probably are still) excellent for meat and wool.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Knitting Yowes

Having completed almost all of my holiday knitting, I am feeling free to pursue a couple of new projects. I was captivated by Kate Davies' Rams and Yowes. (Thank you Kate!)  So glad to know that I was misspelling "ewe" at least by Scottish standards!

I'm only several inches into it but here is a sample couple of rows.

I have Maddie and Steeleye Span to thank for my understanding of how to pronounce "yowe" (we call it a "ewe" on this side of the pond)...

The simple repeats of the rams and the yowes remind me of stranded stuff I did in the 80's...and also of Princess Diana's sheep sweater...

(Apparently this pattern was published in McCall's in 1984).

ANYWAY I am  knitting this mostly from handspun.  A couple of years ago I purchased a whole navaho-churro sheep's worth of creamy white roving from Cassie and Kurt at Little Creek Plantation here in South Carolina.  It's a LOT of roving and I wasn't sure what to do with it, especially given that it's a bit itchy next to the skin.

I have found that if I ponder my stash and think about and search for patterns, I can come up with a great combination and this is one of those. (There needs to be a name for this process of matching other than "creativity.")  My gauge is larger than called for but heck, it's a blanket, why not make it big??

Speaking of Scotland, I came upon this fabulous video at youtube.

This an an old video of croft life and sheep on Eriskay, in the Hebrides.  This provoked me to learn a little more about the Highland Clearances which despite having been to Scotland I did not learn about.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dia de los Muertos...a bit late (and a holiday FO)

 The Day of the Dead (Dia de lost Muertos) was Nov 1st.  This is a day to honor one's deceased ancestors, which is a traditional holiday in Mexico and most Spanish speaking countries including Spain. The holiday is a synthesis of Catholic tradition and ancient Aztec tradition. 

Being not Spanish speaking, Mexican, or Catholic, of course I had to I light my Catrina candle (purchased on a trip to Mexico). My Catrina wears the traditional marigolds.

(Ironically, I had unwittingly purchased some autumn blooming French marigolds for the pots in the front of my house on the 1st!!).

Evidently the first Catrina was La Calavera Catrina (calavera meaning skull) done in an etching by Jose Guadalupe Posada.  This image has been incorporated into the Dia de los Muertos celebration in many ways.

And of course this image was used in Diego Rivera's famous Dreaming of a Sunday in Alameda Park, his huge mural in which he painted Catrina, himself, and of course wife Frida Rivera. Alameda was Mexico City's first park, built on a former Aztec ruin. I was lucky to see this mural during my trip, it is HUGE and located in its own building.

Here is a link to a detail from some nice photographer at flickr showing Diego's interpretation of himself, Friday, and Catrina 

I did finish something on or around November 1st...this cute little sweater for my niece, a holiday gift.

The pattern is Fabled Cardigan by Terri Kruse.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bad Planning and a finished Chullo

I have spent WAY too many hours in the last couple of months re knitting things.  Like, hours and hours and hours. For garments, I usually swatch, but even when I do sometimes things don't fit.

And even if something doesn't need a swatch I decide, despite 50 hours more or less of work on it, that it's the wrong size, or I'm doing the wrong item (scarf vs. wider dresser scarf...), I frog and reknit.

For example:  I have some handspun which I did several years ago. Early handspun effort.  I loved the colors by Gale in the initial roving, but once spun up the lavender tones were...well.. a little too dim and undecisive for me. (A nice way of saying that pale pinky lavender makes me nauseous, even when offset by yellow...).  In an effort to destash, I pulled it out, decided that the yarn would look great in  the Morning Surf scarf pattern.  I had seen it in a 2008 issue of SpinOff and apparently it's now available for FREE! In the initial spinning I added some beads. It looked like dresser scarf project when I started the clever pattern, then realized that the beads at one end destined it to be a neck scarf.  I've started this FOUR countem FOUR times in different widths.  Hopefully now I've got it right.

The pattern does REALLY WELL at bringing one's eye to the unplanned color variations. Despite the fact that this is an early spinning effort,  I will give this away.

SO with all the reknitting this summer and early autumn, it was with EXTREME PLEASURE that I FINISHED something.  Son B requested a chullo in Clemson colors.  Yes, Virginia, there IS a Clemson group on Ravelry!!

B has a large head, relatively speaking.  (I also had to start this project several times but as it's bulky weight, it finished quick once I figured  it out...).  I found, thanks to Bernat, a top down chullo pattern.  (All of the prior chullos in my life were bottom up...). The pattern is in this free ebook. Oh, thank you Bernat.  Thus, I could knit until the crown fit B's head.  He loves the photos I've sent...I'd better get it to him before football season's over!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Susan's travels and more Peruvian textiles

I am lucky to know  three people (on two different trips) who have hiked the Inca trail to Machu Pichu  in the last two months...as you might know, I myself merely took the train and the bus...

AND my friend Susan who I stayed with last weekend on a quick trip to Massachusetts has also been to Peru as well. Susan shared some of her handknit and backstrap woven purchases.  I only had my camera to photograph with so the photos are not great...

I love the brilliant green and black hat and the motif of the second woven strip.  Both hats are alpaca.

I did some internet searching and came upon this great thing

Apparently this was the garb of the Peruvian downhill ski team during the 2010 Winter Olympics.  How grand!  Wonder what the fiber was?  Here's a link with more:


While visiting Susan and Son R, R and I went to the MFA, one of my favorite places.  I hadn't been there in years.  The highlight of the visit was this

These are REAL taxidermied hummingbirds turned in to a brooch and earrings, done in the 1870's in England....The link to an MFA site with more discussion is here.  You can't see from the photo, but the beaks are gold and the eyes, rubies.  They look a little like scared hummingbirds with Buckwheat haircuts, don't they?

Ironically, after arriving back home, I was watching my feeders on the porch the other night.  It was early dusk and I could see the red rim around the humingbird feeder but not the small thing flitting around it.  (It's almost the end of hummingbird season here although I have an acquaintance who had one at her feeder all winter last year.) At first I thought it was a dark little skipper, but after a bit I realized that it was a juvenile hummingbird.  Magic!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A spider thing and a new Savannah yarn store!

A couple of weeks ago I was reading an article on garden spiders in the Sunday paper

I started looking at webs a little more in my yard and saw what I now know is a Spiny orb weaver and her web.  I tried to take a photo (on automatic mode, of course) but the spider and its slender web were so fine that I had to go to manual focus.  Got some lovely pics.

What a weaver she is!  Does anyone else in nature weave their own fabric?

Meanwhile...visited a new yarn store in Savannah, The Frayed Knit, opened by my friend Jennifer, here's Linda out front.  Of course, I bought some roving.

I would like to spin Linda's hair!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tire Cozy? Tire Doily?

So last weekend it was off to Clemson U for "family weekend," e.g., check out that your freshman is doing OK...

When I got my Rav4 last year, I thought that a cool spare tire cover would be neat, maybe something that said something about knitting.  So, I went searching the internet.  To my surprise, I found several crocheted tire cozies online and traced them back to some clever ladies at Ravelry.  I did not find a knitted one in my search.  I had just finished a circular shawl and realized that one of those patterns would work.  I chose the Firmaments shawl.

When son B decided on Clemson, (and vice versa), it was obvious that orange would be the color.

When I finished it, it did not fit.  (I was trying hard to get it to fit on 'round about midnight the night before the drive up...).  A little orange duct tape is hidden from this view, but attests to the face that I need to get another skein or two of Bernat Super Saver in orange to complete it.  It was held doubled for this project. 

On arrival, another family member said that the little diamonds looked like tiger paws. I hadn't even realized it!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Playing with Dolls

What to name her?  

Actually, her name is up to the recipient.  Yes, Theodora is a little "fiddly" to knit, but the results are really just too much fun, and there is so much room for creativity.

She doesn't mind showing off her bloomers

thank you Helene.  She has a friend

I plan another friend for these girls...there are just so many cute variations to think of.

Do you think that a Barbie stand might be a great thing for them in case they would like to stand up for a bit??

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Spinning flax

I am interested in learning how to spin flax. I know that this is a huge part of our fiber heritage. Several of my favorite resources discuss flax culture.  In the chapter on flax culture in Home Life in Colonial Days originally published in 1898,  Alice Morse Earl discusses the importance of each American household being self-sustaining:

No farmer or his wife need fear any king when on every home farm was found food, drink, medicine, fuel, lighting, clothing, shelter. Home-made was an adjective that might be applied to nearly every article in the house. Such would not be the case under similar stress today. In the matter of clothing alone we would not be independent. Few farmers raise flax to make linen; few women can spin either wool or flax, or weave cloth, many cannot knit. (This was 1898 when she published this!) In early days every farmer and his sons raised wool and flax; his wife and daughters spun them in to thread and yarn, knit these into stockings and mittens or wove them into linen or cloth, and then made them into linen or clothing. Even in large cities nearly all women spun yarn and thread, all could knit, and many had hand-looms to weave cloth at home.   

(This quote is on pp. 166-67 in the edition that I own which is copyright 1993 by Berkshire House Publishers).

Of course, Mrs. Earl is discussing this relative to colonial America, whereas she also makes reference to flax culture being at least 4000 years old, there being representation of flax culture in the art of ancient Egypt.

Note, linen is the fabric woven or knitted from fibers of the flax plant. 

Of interest to me, of course, is her mention of early efforts at South Carolina flax culture which I discussed in a post several years ago, a section of which is quoted here:

It’s clear that flax culture was critical, as linen provided the coolest garments... Alice Morse Earl's excellent research for Home Life in Colonial Days revealed a letter from Major Lucas to Eliza dated 1745; in which he documented sending her via sloop (from the West Indies, presumably?) two Irish servants, a weaver and a spinner. He ordered flax seed sent to her from Philadelphia. The two Irish women were charged with training slaves to spin flax and weave clothing for the slave population. Eliza had spinning wheels and a loom made, and a "sensible negro woman and hundreds of others" had learned to spin. Mrs. Earl's followup comment is "excellent cloth has always been woven in the low country of South Carolina, as well as in the upper districts, till our own time" (p. 183) (e.g., again, a. 1898). She may have been alluding to the textile industry that is still active in upstate South Carolina).

Manual flax production from the plant has multiple steps, involves many tools,  and is very physically demanding.  Undoubedly,  the small amount that I purchased recently from Wild Fibre was produced using some industrial process. 

So...when my friend Deb was here, I got a tutorial.  I was relieved to learn recently that my spinning wheel, an Ashford Traditional, is perfectly good for spinning flax.  I needed a bowl of water at hand to keep the threads moist as I drew them out.  It was very easy to spin a fine, if a bit uneven thread with a high twist.  Now...to finish spinning and figure out what to do with it...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Empty Nest

Well, I delivered  son B to college last weekend.  I bought a Toyota Rav 4 (can't really say enough positive things about this vehicle) last year.  When I purchased it, I envisioned driving son B to college in it, and lo...I did.

Perhaps the best part of the empty nest syndrome was the phone call two days later..."MOM, THEY HAVE CHOCOLATE MILK ON TAP IN THE CAFETERIA!!!"

Needless to say, I don't have any chocolate milk anywhere near my house.

A couple of days prior to his departure, son B the future engineer tried out my new windmill swift.  

Not sure why I haven't purchased one before.  This one is from  Tim at Hornshaw Woodworks.  Just...wow. Kind of like the chocolate milk on tap...for me anyway!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Beach Knitting

Beach vacation...St. Augustine

Sand on my treadles (I didn't take her to the beach but that might have helped her uneven finish...)

Trip to beadstore for the right beads (found The Bead Chick)

Discovering wire knitting with strands finer than hair

Dolls are better dressed now

No, my Ravellenics project is not done...but the skirt is progressing...

Even teenaged sons have some fiber activities

 (I might need to learn how to do this...)

Spending too much time on ancestry.com...but feeling righteous about it ...in a family benefits sort of way...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Well, my good friend Deb came to visit.  Her social life on Ravelry is much fuller than mine.  We were discussing her group, Criminal Knits, and their Ravellenics team.  I had been invited by Helen to join Team Iceland the week before and declined due to time.

Deb explained more to me about how to follow one's groups on Ravelry forums, prior, I had just clicked on my groups...Deb helped me to figure out how to make this easier by fixing my forums settings.  Thanks, Deb!

At that point I decided to reconsider my Team Iceland participation!  I have started a new Theodora for a certain little girl who I'm related to, thinking that I would give Theodora-Lucia to Mom and knit her Lucia costume...thus...how appropriate to do the Lucia doll costume as my Ravellenics challenge!  

and here we are casting on last week:

And here is progress thus far:

I am underwhelmed by Olympics advertising and have been spending time watching foreign films instead, notably Jan Troell's Everlasting Moments. I am sad that his films of Wilhelm Moberg's The Emigrant's Saga are not available in format for the US. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

FO: Garden of Alla Shawl

I will have to eat my words from the last post about variegated yarn, now.  I loved this pattern the moment I saw it...Garden of Alla by Suzy Crancer. I had no hesitation about the variegated KPPPM in 3 different shades (or sets of shades).

 (The only thing I've done in KPPPM before was socks that were extremely beautiful but developed holes).  Little glass beads on the points.  I have lots of odds and ends of this yarn and am contemplating doing a circular shawl.  I don't usually mix lace with color but boy this does work...

Now, here's a project to help one feel a little god-like (or goddess-like):

Either that or a puppeteer who's not quite got it right...