…that sometimes it is more important to live your life than it is to write about it. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes here and I had other places where I needed to spend my time and energy. But spring is finally in the air a little bit and I feel like clearing a few cobwebs.
Just a few weeks ago I lost two very dear ladies in my life. My Gramma Muriel was a storyteller. She made up adventure stories for us when we were kids and told them to us while she buzzed around the kitchen at the farm house. The last time I saw her, my husband and I spent a wonderful quiet evening with her just talking. She told us about all kinds of things in her apartment that were special to her and funny stories about my dad. She loved to read and we talked about books (we liked the same kinds of stories). She taught me to do the lazy daisy stitch which has always been one of my very favorites and she gave me my first sewing box. I remember thinking it was so weird because it was full of all these strange tools like seam gauges and bodkins. I know she was so proud that I know exactly how use all of those tools now.
We also lost our darling Lucy Thunderpaw, age 16 1/2. We got her from the humane society over Christmas vacation when she was just a little pup . She was an “overstock clearance” because the shelter had too many puppies since they don’t usually adopt out over the holidays (too many come back). She was a crazy handful of a puppy and a truly sweet and loving old lady.
So there is lots more interwoven between those stories and our lives, but that is enough to say for here and now.
We also celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary this last weekend and a dear friend got married. When you see her face in the photos you can’t help but smile right along with her. We planted heirloom tomatoes that a friend started from seed – beautiful sturdy plants. The blue flag iris and the bluebells are blooming at home and although I am not there to see them, my mom has been taking and posting gorgeous photos of them.
I haven’t had time to really make any art, but I did decide to take an hour and do something purely for fun this afternoon. This is mawata silk. That means it is silk cocoons that have been scoured (washed) and stretched out into a square shape layer by layer. Each layer is one continuous fiber. My friend Doreen dyed them. I am knitting them, straight from the fiber. Because I can. You pull up one layer, stretch it and draft it out into a big soft “rope” and just knit. The Yarn Harlot caused a big trend making mittens this way. I am making nothing in particular except that it is soft and shiny and highly entertaining.
Two new Spoonflower-printed fabrics that are on their way to being knitting project bags for sale at Shepherd’s Harvest Festival. The top “KnitDot” is based on the designs for my 1 inch knitter theme buttons. Each dot has a knitting pun. I need a tweak a few font sizes and colors, but I am loving it and you can get 1 inch buttons to match.
The second print is called “Mrs. Rogers”. Did you know Mr Rogers’ mother knit all of the sweaters he wore on the show? I saw an interview with him where he said that she knit 12 sweaters every year for her family members. I did some photo research and these are all colors he wore on the show and the cable and ribbing details from several photos. It is hand-drawn, scanned and digitally colored.
Both are printed on linen-cotton canvas and will be lined with plain colored canvas with bright colored zippers.
Yarn from "All for Love of Yarn". BFL/Silk and Merino/Cashmere/Silk
I share a booth at the Shepherd’s Harvest Festival with my friends Doreen (Goldfish Love Fibers) and Jen (Strawberry Moon Fibers). I could not ask for better partners. They both dye fiber and spin yarn and make the most outrageous gorgeous color and fiber combinations. They are like fiber sirens – people cannot help but be drawn over to see our booth. In addition to having my own stuff at the festival (the same things I sell over in my Etsy shop, with a few additions), I also helped staff the Textile Center’s table and I taught a class. (Can you say busy?!) I didn’t remember to take a single photo at the festival this year. The weather was beautiful, the crowds were huge, I saw tons of friends there and I came home with a few treasures. The yarn above is from Angela at All for Love of Yarn. She does these wonderful semi-solids that have enough variegation to be interesting, but not so much that they look like confetti.
Yarn from Goldfish Love Fibers.
Doreen sent me home with some of this colorway which I promised to knit up into something and post it on Ravelry for her as a sample. The color in this photo doesn’t do this yarn justice – it is intense! I think I might knit a version of this Wingspan shawl, which could be fun since it is short rows and might end up looking stripey or this one called Shizuku with the little droplets on the edge. Definitely something to wear in gloomy February when you need a little pick me up.
Chunky Handspun by Doreen of GoldfishLove Fibers
This skein I am just going to wear like a necklace. It is about as big around as my finger in the thickest spots. I plan to just felt the ends together and tack it on a few spots so it stays in a neat loop and wear it like a cowl. I love it.
Mawata Silk Hankies by Goldfish Love Fibers
This is a lovely orange colorway of dyed silk “hankies”. These are unfurled silk cocoons and the crazy thing is you can just pull them apart and knit with them. The Yarn Harlot started a craze for mittens made this way. Not sure what mine are destined to be, but it is silk so it will be good.
I also have to give a shout out to Rachel and Sadie, who were the lovely ladies in my Photo Help class. We were a small class but we had fun and they were both absolutely sweet and charming.
I have almost finished unpacking and will have some new little sheep for my etsy shop soon. Stay tuned!
I’ve taught two beginning knitting classes in the last week. Mostly to adults and a few teenage boys. One of my students learned to cast on, knit several inches of nice even garter stitch and learned to cast off. In the last few minutes of class she asked “Will you show me the cast on again so I remember that and so I can start another at home?” Sure! So I showed her again the simple backwards loop method I was teaching. She watched me carefully, picked up her yarn and needles and immediately cast on holding the yarn a completely different way. After about a dozen stitches, she smiled and said, “Oh this is totally coming back to me.” As she kept adding stitches, I smiled back and said “I know. I can tell. Because you are casting on a completely different way than I just taught you.” She looked at what she was doing for a minute and then stopped with her mouth hanging open and looked up at me in complete disbelief. Once she relaxed, muscle memory totally kicked in and her hands remembered something she was convinced she had forgotten. It happened again for another student in the very next class. I showed her continental-style and after a few rows she had switched her working yarn around and was “throwing” American style without even realizing she was doing it. I don’t teach knitting very often, but what a treat to see those lightbulb moments happen.
It’s been quiet around here but really I am working on all kinds of things.
This exhibition opened at the Textile Center and light rail construction “officially” started. Constructions in Concert.
I taught a digital fabric design class. Hi Class! This was their “grid works” fabric design based on a celestial theme. I am teaching another class at Darn Knit Anyway in May. You should come!
I started knitting another “Venomous Tentacula” shawl. I wear my other one all the time and I love when people ask me what the pattern is and I say “venomous tentacula” and they look at me like I have lost my marbles. The photo of my other one is actually featured on the pattern page – the designer asked if she could use my photo (cool!) and will be featured on another site that is putting together kits to go with the pattern. This one is merino/silk yarn that I dyed and I have been waiting for the perfect thing to knit with it.
I have very recently become the co-Captain of the Etsy Sellers Assisting Sellers Mentoring Team. (Team SASsy) My job is keeping track of the team blog and Facebook page and doing a lot of mentoring in between. If you have an Etsy shop, you should know about us.
I submitted an article to a new e-zine about teaching embroidery to kids. We will see if they like it.
And somehow it is March already. How did that happen?
The title just makes you smile, doesn’t it? The lovely people at Black Dog & Leventhal publishers asked me if I would be interested in reviewing the brand new “Knit Your Own Cat” book. Who can resist a request like that, when it makes you smile?
I have to say first that I love cats, but I wouldn’t consider myself a cat person. These cats are pretty charming. The book has 16 different cats – sleeping, sitting, prowling and standing. There are complete instructions for each one, a small techniques section in the back of the book and several photos of each finished cat.
I decided that the best way to get to know the book was to knit a kitty myself. I picked the “British Shorthair Curled Up” on page 53. This was actually my Superbowl knitting project and the girls at the party agreed that the curled up sleepy kitties were the cutest ones.
I didn’t have exactly the yarn called for, but I did have a similar worsted (Patons Classic Wool) in a variegated grey. I couldn’t find my size 2 needles so I used size 3′s instead. Other than that I followed directions!
This is Bernadette.
What I liked:
- Directions were easy to follow, once I got the hang of the abbreviations.
- The small size. This went together in about 2 hours.
- The stitch counts at the end of the row. This is so helpful when you are doing something different every row to be able to count and see that you are in the right place. Also nice when you put it down to cheer for your team and then can’t remember what row you were on.
- I can see how these would be really easy to personalize to make it look like your own cat. So cute.
- If I had used smaller needles to get a tighter gauge, this could have easily made a cute toy for one of my nieces.
Things I wondered about:
- The materials list said I needed straight needles and DPNs. I did the whole thing on 2 DPN’s no problem.
- In the short row sections, the stitch count at the end of the row only counted the “after the wrap” stitches and not all the stitches on my needle. I figured it out, but it was confusing when sometimes it was the full stitch count and sometimes not.
Things that made me grumble:
- I have made a bunch of knitted stuffed toys and I wish patterns would say things like “You are starting at the nose.” Sometimes when you get a piece all knit up, you have no idea which end is which or what edge you are supposed to sew to another. What is obvious to the designer is not always obvious to the hapless knitter.
- The photos were not very helpful with assembling the kitty. Wish there were a few clearer details to help with placing parts. I unstitched several times before I got everything right.
- The eyes. I think the embroidered buggy eyes on some of the kitties were just creepy. I think they would be cuter with little black button eyes or something simple. (But that’s just my opinion.)
Overall, I think this is a really fun, quirky book. I think you need a little experience in making stuffed toys, especially when it comes to tweaking and shaping your finished kitty. (Mine has some extra gathering stitches in several places to help pull some bits in to shape.) There are lots of options and the colorwork on the Bengal and Tabby are beautiful! The designers use yarns and yarn combinations very cleverly to create all the different textures.
Are you totally intrigued? Do you want your very own knitted cat? You are in luck! The publishers have very kindly given me a copy to give away to one of my readers! Just leave a comment on this post and tell me the name of your own kitty (or your best friend’s cat or just a cat name that you think is awesome. I have a friend who has a cat named Phyllis. Phyllis is an awesome cat name.) On February 20, I will draw a winner at random and send you a copy of the book!
Please also check out the rest of the blog tour “stops” to see what other bloggers have to say:
Mittens in mismatched stripes. Knit with a double strand of Cascade 220 from this very favorite pattern (Ann Budd Knitters Handy Book of Patterns) and lined with polar fleece liners. They are very warm and cozy. I have a pair that I wear every day in the winter than are the same stripes, but in plum, 2 shades of orange & 2 shades of green.
For an honorary niece and nephew. These are all knit with my favorite Cascade 220 yarn using fair-isle, intarsia and lots of duplicate stitch. Crazy and complicated to knit. Awesome result. I designed both patterns, with help from my geeky husband and sister who are bigger Star Wars fans than I. (I am a Star Trek kind of girl.) Click to see the images bigger.
I went to my cousin’s wedding in NY a couple of weekends ago. As a gift, I made them these Christmas stockings for their first Christmas together. They are pretty loosely based on this pattern with some elements of this one. There’s a little mohair knit in to the cuffs and some silvery-gold glass beads stitched in.
Finally I have some things to blog about. I hate to say it, but I really have just been doing work stuff for the last week or so and there just hasn’t been anything fun to talk about here.
This is a hat I knit for my Aunt. She’s doing the glamorous shave-your-head-for-the-chemo thing and I thought she needed something stylish for fall to help her kick the cancer in the a**. It’s Foliage from Knitty and the yarn is superwash wool Mini Mochi in a colorway called Spice Islands (or something like that). I have knit this pattern two or three times now and I love it every time. The lace pattern opens up when you put it on and it’s just pretty. I added the flower. I just felt like it needed one.
This is a scene from the state fair. I just want you to appreciate the throngs of people. Ugh.
Andy and I went to get ice cream, listen to a friend whose band was playing (they were awesome) and see a little art. I had a piece in the Textile Center’s display. Andy loves that he captured my reflection in this picture. The rainbowy grid piece is mine. It’s called “Intersect” and it is handdyed and embroidered.