Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays to you

making mittens, 1982
Wishing you quiet moments to relax, knit, and enjoy the company of loved ones in this busy season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I like tights

This is what I wore today in my imagination.  I do own that sweater and the purple tights.  The shirt and the skirt with the hip pocket and the foxy belt, those are my imaginary clothes.

I like tights.  I especially like tights with no feet.  I also like leggings. Recently my caboose was taken by eminent domain. I didn't give much of a fight. A much larger caboose took over. The tights are earning their keep, and I sometimes wonder if a fire might ignite when I get to walking fast.

Anyway, I hope you like the clothes you're wearing in your imagination.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


We are well prepared for storms.  Our freezer is full, our generators are ready, the bathtub has water for flushing, and the woodbox is stuffed.  We have a dune buggy, two chainsaws, snowmobiles, and a row boat.  And enough wool to clothe the entire neighborhood, including the animals.

Sandy has passed for the most part, and we have very little impact here.  Some branches down, interruptions in power, and school canceled for two days.

This arrived Saturday, a mound of extrafine merino discovered by Mary Lou on a dig in her closet.  It's like buttah. Still not convinced it came from a sheep.  Thank you Mary Lou.

Have you seen wearwithall?  It's a sweet collection of well designed and clearly written patterns, the kind of knitting to bring along on a trip or on your daily travels, elegant and classic essentials.  It's written by Mary Lou Egan, Theresa Gaffey, Scott Rohr, Shelley Sheehan, and Sarah K. Walker, and photographed by Gale Zucker.

So I'm going to crank up the woodstove and put the dyepot on.  Not sure what color this will be, but it's sure to be good.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rhinebeck 2012


For me, Rhinebeck is all about the people.  And the animals.  Mary Jane, Jani, Norah and I stayed in Kingston NY, a town I would love to revisit with more time, to explore the lovely downtown area.  I think the whole Hudson River area is worth a long visit.

The barns filled with animals were great fun.  I was tempted to sign up for a trim myself.

There were parades of llamas (or are they alpacas?) and parades of knitwear.  The people watching was second to none.

Rhinebeck has a bustling but casual atmosphere, with sunny skies and even sunnier people. 

Sonya Philip is even more fun than she appears

It's hard to sum up the experience, and tough to do the trip justice with words. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Interweave Knitting Lab

Last week I attended Interweave Knitting Lab.  I played the role of model (yes, I am a model), assistant, wrangler, handler, mule, gopher, tax accountant, time-keeper and comfort pet.  And it was a blast.  Playing a secondary role is way more fun than I expected, as the expectations are achievable:  writing a lesson plan, composing hand-outs, assembling goodies, and playing the part of engaging teacher are all way more difficult than schlepping boxes, getting coffee, and striking a pose.

And I had the opportunity, no, privilege of meeting a slew of good folks I have long admired.

Barbara Walker, my new BFF.
(don't be fooled, I gushed upon meeting her,
then went into convulsing fits of happiness)

Thank you kindly to Mary Jane Mucklestone and Gale Zucker for having me along in your classes and otherwise.   You are grand folks that I enjoy immensely.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I'm Full

I think it is really easy to run around in our day-to-day lives and forget to check the fuel level. And then run out of gas. Not broken or busted, just in need of a little fuel to get from here to there.

I have a full tank courtesy of Fiber College.  I have grand new friends.  I have the well-being that comes from the company of old friends.  I have ideas (mostly good), inspiration, and energy.  I have very few pictures.

I have been with exceptional makers.  Fiber College friends make spirited music, photos that communicate inner beauty, books to bring in bed and read with a flashlight, patterns that I adore, yarns with the best story, discoveries that open my eyes, the cutest little dresses, and they make me laugh.  And I'm pretty sure some of them can make a warm breeze.

Thank you Astrig and Steve and the staff of FC for another banner year. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Filling Empty Nest with Yarn

My kids each bring humor, joy, and plain old fun to this household.  Parenting has been a merry ride all along, but the teen years have been especially enjoyable.

On Thursday we dropped off our middle child at the University of New Brunswick for his First Year (that's what they call it in Canada).   I am delighted that my college students have the guts to study far, far away.  But I must admit to crying on my griddlecakes on Friday.  And at the checkout at the bookstore. 

Our route home passes Briggs and Little.  I didn't cry there.  At all.  In fact, I purchased some lovely grey wool for a sweater for said boy.   Good wool, toothy and warm.  When we got home I spread a skein on me and fell asleep in front of the boob tube.

Here's a little fun we had at camp this summer, my son four wheeling a road I hadn't been on since I was a little girl.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I am Blowing my Cover

Slipcovering is a really valuable skill.  When I tell someone I know how to slipcover, they immediately follow with a list of furniture in their home that could use a good cover, and when can I start?  I tend to keep it a secret because I don't want to accidentally start a full time business.   

Dressmakers draft custom fit dress "muslins" that can be modified and sewn up many ways.  If you have experience following a sewing pattern, creating a custom slipcover pattern is a good next step. On September 7, please join me at Fiber College for Slipcover Making for a Small Chair.  Learn to make a muslin/pattern for your dining room chairs, folding chairs, even those white plastic outdoor chairs. Design a pattern that can be used again and again, and bring new life to your old chairs. 

This nappy spot is covered in inexpensive denim and is very durable.
It lives in my teenaged boys' bedroom.

This slipcover is made from a bedspread.

There is a tattered chair under here, broken in just right.

 Counting the days, please consider joining in the fun!


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Drop in and Dye

Dyeing fiber can be super casual or super duper scientific.  One can spill Kool-aid on their shirt with wonderful results, or one can earn a Master of Science in Textile Chemistry, also with wonderful results.  The Kool-aid is relatively less expensive.

On the weekend of September 8 & 9, please join me at Fiber College for a super casual version of dyeing.   Here's how it'll go down:  Show up at the Drop in and Dye Tent during the Shopper's Boulevard hours (Sat 10:00 - 5:30, Sun 10:00 - 3:00), and bring with you a 'don't be scared' attitude and maybe some unloved natural fiber stash from home.  I'll have various yarns for sale if you already love your stash as-is. 

There will be two types of dyes available for sale in sample size portions: 'MX Reactive' dyes for plant fibers (cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp, rayon) and 'WashFast Acid' dyes for animal fibers (wool, silk, dog, angora, cashmere, llama).  There will be a simple set up and easy to follow directions so you can get your feet wet, so to speak.  And I'll be there to answer questions and cheer you on.

In the spectrum of Kool-aid Spiller to Master of Science in Textile Chemistry, my expertise leans a little to the Kool-aid end.  So there is no need to be intimidated, and also no need to ask the molecular weight of propanetricarboxylic acid because I will not have the answer (actually, it's 192.12, but I had to look it up, and I'm still probably wrong).  All dyes and dye assists will be in liquid form for ease and safety.

Stay tuned, I'll also be teaching a class on how to create a custom pattern for a simple slipcover on September 7.  I went through an extensive slipcovering phase, something I have not shared here, but I will soon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Boss

One item on my husband's bucket list.  Check.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summertime Weekending

Just a few recent snapshots from my summer - I like to look back at summery photos in March and April, when the snow is black and the weather is raw.

We spent a weekend at a friend's place on Maranacook Lake in Readfield, Maine.  I had cocktail knitting with me: you know, where one can knit along without thinking.  I need to always have cocktail knitting available, not because I'm always drinking, just because I'm not always thinking.

We visited my Brother-in-Law Matt yesterday at a herding competition. These are his big girls, the girls that grow the wool that makes the yarn that gets dyed and knit up into the sweaters like the one above.

They call him 'Mm-AA-AA-aatt'. He does not answer.
 Have you ever dyed yarn?  I think sometimes that the science of dyeing can be intimidating, and might scare off a few folks.  Don't be scared, come give it a whirl at Fiber College.  I'll be available on Saturday and Sunday with dyepots ready, and it will be as simple as 'swish it in here, swirl it in there, wait a little spell, rinse it out, hooray!' 

 I'm no scientist, but I ain't scared of dyeing.

In other news, the drought seems to be easing up here.  Our mud crop is in full bloom.

I hope your summer is dirty fun as well.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New Knitter

Last week we spent a few days with cousins down in Swansea.  I was swatching, and my seventeen year old nephew watched a while and said, "that's so cool . . . can I try?".  But of course.  Poke in here, wrap around, pull it forward, slip it off.  Poke in here, wrap around, pull it forward, slip it off.

We went into Newport the next day and I grabbed a hank of Cascade 220 and a pair of size 8's at 'Knitting Needles' on Thames Street.  We also toured the Vanderbilt's Breakers Summer Home - no pictures allowed, but I tried to mentally file away every textile I saw.  (My husband got in trouble with the staff for touching too much in a do-not-touch establishment.)

When we got home I gave my nephew a knitting lesson, and off he went.  This new knitter has epilepsy, the kind where his day is interrupted with petit mal seizures*, sometimes a bunch of them, sometimes a few of them.  Many of the things we take for granted are challenging or unsafe for him - riding a bicycle, swimming, climbing busy stairs in school, crossing a city street.  All the while he glides along with tremendous grace, humor, and popularity.  His medications give his hands tremors, and he presses on like a champion,  poke in, wrap around, pull it ...forward, slip it off.

*brief spells of vacant stare and mild shaking - his needles safely stay put in his hands.

I do believe this is some of the best, most tenacious knitting I've seen.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dye Time

Summertime is the perfect time for outdoor dyeing.  I set up our propane burner and get out the ole dyepot, and it's hard to stop.

The blue and the gold yarn shown here are a blend of llama and cheviot wool that comes from my brother-in-law's flock. More about his Riverbank Farm here. His fleeces are spun at MacAusland's Woollen Mill on Prince Edward Island.

The red yarn is also from my brother-in-law, but it is a bulky spun from the cheviots only.  It started creamy white and I dyed it bright red.  These mittens were knit last fall with the same.  I was hoping for a more intense red, so I overdyed the remaining wool with more red, some orange, and a splash of purple.  The purple yarn is some Bartlett I bought years ago from my neighbor (it started yellowy tan), and I've since dyed it twice.  Done now.

My husband wanted to be working in the back yard too, so he got out my Dad's rock drill* and made a favorite new home for my laundry line.  When I was a kid my Dad fed a pipe for an outdoor spigot through the back of a huge rock at our camp, so we had water coming out of a rock.  Now I have a laundry line out of a rock!

*My Dad bought the rock drill and used it a few times, but his true delight came from scheming with my husband which rocks to drill and split, and then supervising the work.

I'll be running a drop-in-and-dye demo/workshop all weekend at Fiber College in September.  Bring your bedraggled yarns that are lingering unloved in the back of the stash and I'll show you how to transform them into your new favorites!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I am working on a sweater that is knit from the top down with set-in sleeves that are knit simultaneously.  I see other folks working sleeves from the top down using short row construction after the yoke is complete, and their work looks tidy and well thought out.  Somehow, that process feels fiddly to me, and my results are a little sloppier than I care to admit.  So simultaneous it is.  I love the concept that it can actually be done.

Mathematically the armscye is really interesting.  I'm afraid I've spent more time exploring the math of the armscye than is socially acceptable.  In my head (and on my computer) I have knit several sweaters lately, ranging in sizes 30 to 52 in 2 inch increments.

This sweater is about to go under the knife.  I'm not satisfied with the transition from the saddle to the top of the sleeve cap.  It is a lace issue, not so much an armscye issue.  I am crazy about the twisty lace running down the sleeve - I call it Waves and Spray.  The lace has to be narrowed down to fit on the saddle of the smallest size - I can do a better job than what I've done here.  It does not read well currently.

The yarn: Nash Island Light in finch.  Oh my Stars.  New England wool with grip, but no chaffe.  It is the drape and texture that I search for in a knitted fabric. 

On my ipod: Marly Bird's podcasts.  Thank you Marly for making my time on the treadmill fly by.  Your interviews are engaging and upbeat, and you motivate me to get moving.  Not sure how I'll cope when I run out of podcasts ...

To be clear, I was not wearing the one-armed unfinished woolen sweater while on the treadmill in July.

So I have a question: what armhole style works best for you and why?  What do you not want in an armhole? (besides say, a leg).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Our local parade is always a joy to watch, especially on a beautiful day.

My boys

If ever you're in the Town of Wolfeboro on a Wednesday night in the Summer, the Cate Park Band plays from 7 pm until 9.  Bring a chair and enjoy a cool breeze off the Lake, a fantastic vanilla soft serve from The Dockside, and a big band having a good ole time in the gazebo (they're having trouble squeezing the growing band into the gazebo - it has become a popular pastime).

Another not-to-be-missed place in Wolfeboro is the Wright Museum, a collection of World War II artifacts including letters, homefront living items, uniforms for folks at home and soldiers, some knitted items and references to the role knitting played, posters and photos, and a huge fleet of working vehicles.  The parade always runs a few of them.

Here in New Hampshire we have the opportunity to meet our Presidential candidates in person.  I have taken advantage of this privilege many times.  Today I didn't even have to go out of my way.  Well Hello! 

The guys with the curly wires behind their ears - I wonder if they're ever able to relax.  I'm surely not cut out for their work.