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Wingspan is growing

Four wings here. Three yarns

Noro Yuzen and an old modular swatch

I love the colors of this yarn. I’ve loved them for several years. The yarn is now discontinued, but a similar color way creeps into other Noro yarns. I’ve swatched the yarn and started several projects. The last one was a modular thing I didn’t like. So I frogged it.

As I started this Wingspan, I realized I’d need more yarn, so chose several. The Noro must be special to me. I had one unwound skein left and the other three skeins looked like this.

Roughly 5 yard balls.

The things we do for the love of yarn!

More later–

Reflecting on my time management

Computers eat up so much of my time. It’s all about possibilities. I could do this or that or that . . . .

But when you are reading about something, you aren’t doing it–or anything else for that matter. I don’t mean reading for a purpose, I just mean looking (surfing, Pinterest, Flickr, etc.) at what you “could” make or do. And I’m also talking about losing four hours in an ADD zone-like trance. Don’t get me wrong– it’s fun, but it isn’t productive. Fortunately I don’t have the responsibility of a daily job anymore. I guess I just have a big case of Protestant work ethic guilt.

I did paint today, and yesterday.

Yesterday it was a still life of a lemon. The purpose was to do it with a color system and observe the effects. I chose Violet and Lemon yellow. I put the lemon on a white plate and sat that on a piece of violet batik. I had to paint shadows on the white plate. White! Did you know that white isn’t really just white in a painting?

I added the palest grey and a bit of super pale violet. I have no idea why.  I also drew in the lines with a pen because I just like that kind of thing.

I worked hard and learned a lot, but I don’t really like the painting. I have to remind myself that it isn’t about the product, it’s about the learning.

So today I learned to make texture with salt. Yep, table salt. I painted a very wet watercolor and sprinkled salt on it–Steve’s favorite spice. The trick is to sprinkle it on the paint at the magic moment–I haven’t quite learned when that is. But I had some success and a lot of fun.

I think what I’m looking to accomplish is to be able to create witty little pictures that make some point about life–The kind that make people smile and nod their heads. Hmmmmmmmm.

Speaking of life—football is back, and I have two fantasy teams. Looks like the knitting will pick up. It’s the only thing I can do while watching the games without spilling stuff or making a big mess. I added several inches to my Spectra project last night while watching my man Peyton show his stuff. Games are on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday. Heck, I might actually complete a project.

I hope you’re having as much fun as I am.

More later–


Rayon and Koigu Mori

This is such a nice project.  A well placed markers and the whole thing is mindless.  Sort of.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t make a big goof while knitting  talking at the shop, but life goes on.

The rayon solid I bought for a song at the TKGA conference last year.  The Koigu was a gift from the ladies at Koigu when I visited them with Vogue and Co. in Canada a few years ago.  Because Steve was on the trip, I swagged two skeins.

Spectra by Stephen West about 30 panes

I’m very proud of the color combination.  First instinct is usually black which always works, but rarely is stunning.  The wine color is really a bit deeper than this and looks great with the Koigu colorway.

I’m weaving the ends in as I go, but ends never bother me.  I leave at least 6 inches of yarn and they thread into the needles and weave up easily during a TV movie.  For travel, I figured out how much yarn each pane requires and precut some so that I would not have to have two balls attached.  You know that means chasing at least one while in public.

How did I figure it?  and without ripping out anything?  Well, I measure off two lengths of yarn and tied a loose knot.  A length is from my nose to the end of my outstretched hand.  Then I knit until I arrived at the knot.  I measured one more length, tied a new knot and knit until I was through with the pane.  I discovered that three lengths gave me plenty of yarn without a huge waste.

I have knit 33 panes or the 85 called for in the pattern.  Being vertically challenged, the 85 count may be a bit too long for me.  I will continue to knit until I like the length or run out of Koigu.

It is so nice to knit without any pressure.  I find I am knitting slower, but that’s okay.  I’m sort of dreaming the needles along.

More later–

Knitting again!

I have tried to blog once since Nov. but the web ate the post and I threw up my hands and walked away. 

I am knitting again.  I’m making socks for me.  The yarn is special; from Miss Babs.  It is the colorway that she developed for the FIRST Sock Summit and I don’t know the name of it.  I’ve obviously had it for a while.  I’m so glad yarn doesn’t spoil.  Or clabber as my grandmother might say.

The pattern is also special.  It’s the Breaking Hearts pattern by Cristi Brockaway aka Turtlegirl76.  I’ve also had it for a while.  Great lesson from knitting this project is that if you knit other designers, you learn stuff.  The pattern is beautifully written and I am determined not to alter it.  (For me, that’s a struggle)  The yarn has about 3-4 inch color patterns.  It is so easy to make yarn like this just knit up dull.  Cristi has mixed some garter st and a slip st pattern that mixes these colors well, doesn’t let them pool or muddy up.  If you have some yarn with a short color pattern like this, this is your pattern.

The cuff is a lovely pattern, a 6 row repeat, that is simple enough to learn quickly, but is interesting enough to keep your interest.  She does a couple of new things—at least new to me.  When I started the heel flap, she had me increase one st on each side of the flap to be the slip stitch selvage.  This prevented the pattern being interrupted and yet set up the easy to pick up edge.  She just gets rid of these extra stitches as the gusset is reduced. 

The gusset reduction takes place on the bottom of the heel which results in a very nice fit.  Next socks I do, I will try this heel in conjunction with my arch wrap that we love so much here.

So I’m knitting, but that’s not all—-

I’m sewing stuff.  I have seen folks wearing cuffs as bracelets for a long time now and have wondered why.  Okay, I really thought it was dumb.  (I need help.)  I made a cuff.  I put it on and wore it.  I loved it.  It is lightweight, doesn’t clang against things, and actually has a warming effect.  Obviously, I made more.  Some are quilted, or beaded, or just stitched, or embellished with beads and buttons.  Some wrap around once, some twice, one three times.  Some are snapped, some buttoned.  Even better————–they have all been made from my stash.  My yarn stash, my fabric stash and my bead stash.  (See, I really need help.)

I’ve also been doing art study.  I like doodling with pen and ink, sort of Zentangle thing.  Now I’m doing it on fabric to make my own print fabric.  Just takes permanent markers and solid color cloth.  It is a great way to make your own appliques.  Fusing cloth together is really empowering. 

I’m also just making all kinds of crafts I’ve seen on the web.  Stationery supplies, tea towels, napkins, travel bags.  It is great fun, even the mistakes.  It’s fast and useful.  It can be done while listening to Books on CD.  With dogs in your lap. 

Don’t get no better than this.

I will start back teaching in January.  Anyone have any ideas about what classes I should offer?  I’m open to new ideas.

Keep the holiday sane; hide in the bathroom and knit.  Just a suggestion.

More later–

Some random knitting discoveries

Always take it slowly.  Try to master one thing at a time.  I preach it, but I don’t do it.

Knit 4 rows, remove 3

This is the beginning of Nancy Marchant’s Rembrandt Neckpiece.  The story—on the way home from camp I knit a one color brioche scarf.  Somehow I thought that made me an expert.  Next project was a FOUR color piece.  Only I hated having to deal with four balls, so I just changed it to a Two color piece.  Problems arose.  When on the pink side, was I knitting Row C or Row A?  I assumed it didn’t matter.  Wrong.  Wrong many times.  Thus arose the chance to use my new trick from a camp friend.

Really long circs in a tiny size

I’ve used my tiny dpns for repair tools forever.  I was so pleased to discover this idea.  Use really long circs in a tiny size to set a safety line.  Then when you pull out, you can just knit the piece off the safety line using the regular needle.  Threading the safety line doesn’t distort the stitch pattern because a US zero or 1 is so tiny.  Eureka!!!!  And this project has proven it works several times.

It's reversible

This pattern involves increases and decreases.  Brioche inc and dec is different — a new skill to learn.  But I chose a pattern with reversible inc and dec.  Why not just go whole hog as we Southerners say.  Remember that I never quite know which row I am on.  Also it matters if you misread “alternate RS rows” as “alternate rows.”  Struggles ahead.

Decrease lines

I don’t know about you, but I finally reached a point where I just said “Let it be.”  Generational thing.  Anyway, I have stopped trying to work a perfect piece and am satisfied to think I can knit a finished piece.  Most people don’t notice errors anyway.  I am focusing on the fact that I have at least mastered the decreases now that I am beginning them on the correct row.  New knitters struggle, so I am just learning empathy.

About the finished nature of this piece.  Either I have misplaced two skeins of yarn or I have run out.  I’m not sure which, but I am smiling.

Another use for tiny needles.  These are 000 ones.

I hate it when the glue doesn’t run freely.  Cut and paste is such a challenge for me anyway, but I can always count on my knitting box for a rescue.

More later–

Have You Seen My Mojo?

My knitting mojo, I mean.  Haven’t gone this long without knitting since 1993.  Sometimes I go three days.  I think about knitting.  Does that count?

I’m stuck in the long design process that I have with the cabin quilt and Wine Stains.  Here’s that progress:

What’s different?  I have machine quilted the background.

Machine quilting

This is my first venture into machine quilting.  I did practice some, but was unwilling to practice enough to be good ( think a year) and I want this finished and hung.  It isn’t horrible unless you are a machine quilter.  It was fun–stressful, but fun and I learned a lot.  If you want to see great machine quilting, go to The Free Motion Quilting Project.  This blog is by a young woman in Shelby, NC, who is not only talented, but generous.  The designs are gorgeous.

I am embroidering the six Wine Stain blocks.and appliqueing on some scrumbles.  This, too, is learn as you go.  The stitches are not precise, some would call them primitive in places, but I have excuses.  Working on knit fabric in this large a format isn’t easy.  I have backed the squares with a medium interfacing from the stash and will cut away the excess before backing it.  Second excuse, I’m learning new stitches.  Third, I’m getting bored.  But I still love it.  The imprecise stitching fits the piece–it’s a crazy afghan after all.

Just so I remember how to knit, I am starting a felted basket.  This is the pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting.  I already have three of these and use them constantly.  Sometimes they hold a small project, other times they hold pencils and markers.  They are strong, weigh nothing, and when you drop them, they don’t break.  I found this Kureyon in the stash and am holding the two skeins doubled.  Garter stitch is so good to your brain.

I’m caught up on my blog reading.  Amazing how unsubscribing can help with that.  Discovered two new blogs on Ravelry today that are interesting.  Naturalsuburbia.blogspot.com is by a young South African woman who is homeschooling her kids.  She has some cute patterns to give away and some fun with kids tutorials.  I want to make Steve a bat mobile for Halloween.

The other is by Lorraine Hearn.  I’m linking you to a ravelry page of a really wild boot she designed.  I can’t seem to get back to her blog to give you that URL.  Anyway, if you have seen the scarves made out of lace edging yarn like Universal’s Rozetti Marina that are everywhere, you will enjoy looking at what she has done with that yarn.  It’s very sculptural.

What else have I been doing instead of knitting or crocheting?  Well, we celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary Saturday.

We are so artsy.  I love the books
Steve gave me.  I am interpreting them as his approval to pursue another hobby.  (No, I don’t really need his approval.  The man buys bicycles by the train load.)  The sculpture is my gift to him and it is clearly the second best gift I ever gave him.  He carried it around all day and talked about the metals and the methods.  Besides just loving how it looks, I love that it is local and I discovered it in a boutique on Lake Norman.  It had a scarf hanging on it.

The sculptor is named Wilson and he works for a Nascar team.  This is serious Nascar country here.  He takes discarded parts and creates sculpture with them.  Steve says the circles are brass syncronizing gears from a transmission.  I like the idea of syncronicity in this gift.

I, too, are working with gears.  I’m altering photos to create patterns that I might quilt.  I’m getting to know Photoshop better and enjoying myself.  This is a picture from a used bike store in Australia.  I cropped this from a picture of junked bikes and so far this is the design.No reason to let a lack of drawing  hamper your creativity.  Technology is so good to us.

The garden grows which is amazing–no green thumbs here.


And I am still working on preventing my wonderful fountain from rusting. 

Hundreds of coats of naval jelly and Rust-oleum Rust Reformer later, the base is black and may be coated enough that the water won’t turn orange.  Kate gave us this unique fountain and I just love it.  More car parts.

Oh, did I mention we are remodeling our kitchen?  For that I have Designer Sue who is wonderful.  All I have to do is make decisions.  I hate decisions.  They are so permanent.

It looks like a lot of stuff here, but it seems like lots of hours are missing.  I think I actually need to FINISH something and then I will feel better.

More later–

Crazy Woman with Crazy Blanket

I have dyed all the old swatches .  They are dry.  Now I sort.I arranged them by size and shape, with a special pile for some of my freeform shapes.  The plan is to sew them all together.  Fortunately I have been revisiting my quilting past and remember the paper piecing part of crazy quilts.  I cut some medical paper into @24 inch squares and began to assemble the pieces very randomly.  I mostly just tried to mix the colors and textures and get the square covered.  Errors were to be fixed later.

Winestains block 1

Winestains block 2

Winestains block 3

and so on until I had six blocks.

Then I began to sew 

Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy this.  The hardest part is not sticking yourself with the pins.  The paper holds things very stable.  In fact, if you are sewing any knit project together, I recommend pinning the pieces to a sheet of paper before you sew.  Much easier.

When the squares are finished, many decisions will need to be made.  Not my strength.

1.  How to organize them for the final blanket.

2.  Do I back it like a quilt?  With what?  Knit material?  Linen?  silk

3.  How much embroidery for the surface?  What color thread should I use?  Pink?   Silver?

4.  Will it have a border?

Any and all answers, suggestions are gratefully received.  What would you do?  (Don’t say not even start this thing.)

More later–

New FOS; New projects

Yeah, I know that I really don’t need to start any new projects, but I can’t help myself.  Give me credit for completing some things.  I finally decided that Autumn Jewel is finished.Pulling out the wooden beads reminded me I had other beads.

by Carol Metzger
from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders

This is designed for Tahki Cotton Classic.  The Cotton Classic Lite would work just as well.  I used Sirdar’s Snuggly Baby Bamboo and love how softly it drapes.Now orange is not my color.  The reason this is orange is that Remi set me a challenge.  She gave me four skeins of yarn and set me off to design and play and make the basis for my summer classes.

I have an opinion.  (Make snarky comments.)  Summer knitting should be small, exploratory, instructive, and result in gifts for giving to others.  With that in mind, I have designed some baskets, some small purses, and then knit this necklace—-and I still have yarn.  I’ve used a bunch of slip stitch colorwork which is such an easy way to add extra color to a project, really firm st patterns which make lining a purse an option, zippers inserted effortlessly by hand (machine is optional) and beads.  The classes can be a one time event–summer is so busy that most folks can’t commit to a series of classes–and I will be encouraging folks to use cotton yarn.  After all, it is summer.

I’ll update these projects with class dates this week.

New project. 

Those who know me well know I am messy.  Dyeing is messy.  Thus the new project is named Winestains.

I have knitted and kept a humongous number of swatches over the years.  Just threw them in a box when I was finished with them.  Some were gauge swatches; most were to try a new technique or stitch pattern; some were just to explore a new yarn.  Lots of different colors–often a “why did I buy this?” color.

Idea!!!!! A crazy throw, similar to a crazy quilt.  But I knew it would be ugly and unconnected.  Rit Dye, shade wine.  I know it won’t last forever, but heck, this project has the potential to be a big flop.  I put the dyepot on the stove, sorted into animal and plant fibers and began.  Here are some of the swatches.

Some closeups.
The grey yarn in this swatch had too much acrylic to dye well, but the color works with the others.
If you dye green yarn with wine dye, you get brown. Sometimes the brown is nice; sometimes it is ugly.  Nice to know.
I’ll keep you posted on this.
One more small project–a mixed media postcard.  And yesterday I painted paper to use to make something.
You really need to come over and play with me.  I’m having fun.
More later–

The Importance of My Iron

I hate to iron.  When we married, we agreed that no matter how poor we were, Steve’s shirts would go to a laundry.  When the girls were born, I gave away any baby gifts that required ironing.  I don’t even iron my linen pants and jumpers.  So how important could an iron be to me?

Well, over a week ago I knocked my iron off my ironing board onto a wood floor and pieces went everywhere.  It wasn’t the first time I had dropped this iron, but it was the last.  I simply planned to buy a new iron.  No big deal.

The iron I broke was my first really nice one, a Rowenta Professional;  it would shoot mega steam to block my knitting pieces.  I had to have another really good one.  Prices had gone up.  I found the newest Rowenta made in Germany was $175 at my nearest store, but was only $116 on Amazon.  I ordered it.  It took over a week to come.

For over a week I had no iron.  I could not block knitting which I do several times in the process of making an item.  I also couldn’t block the crochet stuff I was making.  I could not sew a seam and iron it, so no quilting.  I couldn’t even continue the appliques on the Cabin on a Hill project because I need the iron to fuse them to the background fabric.  Lots of what I couldn’t do.

So what did I do?  First I made paper beads.

Then I used them to copy a necklace that I had seen on Vicki’s neck.  Now I have to figure how to fasten it securely.  Not my strong suit.

Then I read about machine cording.  Simply put, I used a bunch of strands of the yarns I’m using for my Autumn Jewel purse (which I couldn’t finish because I couldn’t sew the lining) and held them together while zigzagging them with a neat metallic thread.  I will double the result and make the shoulder strap from it.

I created summer halters for the dogs using leftover yarn and both knit and crochet.  I’m still learning dog anatomy and just how small Jake is and how voluptous Bella is.  After lots of work and testing on the walk where they really stretched out, I found the simplest possible halter on ravelry for free.  I’ll let you know how that works.

I drug out last year’s sweater based on Wendy Barnard’s Crisp Vest.


The sleeves look fine for a 20 year old which I am not.  I pulled out the bind off and made them longer.  I used the small ball of leftover yarn and pulled out about 4 yards from the swatch I had knit.


I did not have to use the skein I recently bought at Charlotte Yarn, so I returned it and bought TWO skeins of Blue Heron rayon from the trunk show.  Seemed fair to me.

Then I started a vest project using a crochet pattern from The Happy Hooker.  It uses a chunky yarn.  I hate crocheted garments make from chunky yarn.  But it was in the stash. I’m using my typical top down techniques with the crochet—a new thing for me and it seems to be working.

I actually think I kind of like this chunky yarn garment.  I eat a lot of words.

Thank goodness the new iron arrived.

More later–

Creative Quandaries

The rationalization:  I am ADD so it is constructive for me to have lots of projects underway at one time.  Then I can bounce from project to project as my attention wanes or a decision looms.  It seems to be working so I am owning it.

Sewing: Jake’s harness.  No pattern so I am winging it.  Dogs are shaped funny.  Dogs don’t like to do “try ons.”  Next:  Cut top off and make a new neckline.  Maybe a strap in a slot to make it more flexible.

Knitting: Bit by Bit summer jacket.  Sleeves weren’t working for me so I took them off.  I’ll put a different one on but I don’t know which yet.  Next:  Add a 3 inch border which also decreases the circumference at the side seams and at the normal vertical dart places on the front and back.  Stitch?

New Multiyarn Purse in Pink and Green:  Really a sweet look, but will it be boring as is?  Next:  Try a light blue, a greenish taupe, and a green Provence yarn and see what works.

Steve’s socks:  I’ve knit a few rows.  5 or 6.  But don’t they look great in the Knit Bag Jan Smiley gave me?  It is cute and very functional.  I knit with it on my wrist at Evan’s soccer games.  I’ll post details when I find the card that came with it.  The designer has an etsy site and it will be a great place to buy gifts.

Quilting: The Cabin on the Hill.  Find the right background.  All of the golds was too busy; one gold was a bit flat.  Trying pale green, blue and pink batiks.  Softer effect, but contrast may be too great.  Dragonfly beads show well on the light batik.  Gold is more dynamic and looks better on  the wall.  Next:  Fiddle some more.  Try a blend.  Maybe batiks just a bit darker.  Greens?

Crochet: Lace shawlette.  Love the yarn and the stitch pattern.  Am new to the shaping so am winging it.  I’ve made some errors in the increasing, but I learned from them.  The yarn is all cotton in a charcoal—bought it in Copenhagen years ago and knitter it into a shawl that I never wore.  Saw a shawlette in the new Knitscene (“Starboard Cape” by Courtney Kelley) which tacked the cape together under the arms and made a sleeve of sorts.  I may try this with this one, but with a longer piece to allow a bigger underarm room.    It’s going to require some short rows to make that work.  Never done short rows before in crochet.  Just like me to make the first ones in a lace pattern.  Next:  figure out how to do that.

Swatches in fine cotton: Playing ********

Interrupted for a bulletin.

I’m also watching an old Firefly while I write.  “Jaynesville”  River is wearing an adorable white lace crocheted vest.  Just sayin.

Swatches in fine cotton:  Playing with fine cotton.  Trying to determine open but stable st patterns for a vest.  Can’t be too open or I will catch it on things and rip it.  I don’t watch where I am going.  Also still learning what needle will give me the drape I want without looking to loose.  It would help a lot if I could remember to code or write down the hook I use with the swatches.

Crazy Lace: The humongus swatch I was knitting is finished.  I finished by doing a bit of Crochet Crazy Lace on it.  Next:  Block it and see what it looks like.

Embroidery:  White linen-cotton blend napkins.  I’ve done florals, cutwork, traditional stuff, but now—one just for me.

More later–

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