Crafting memory

I was not a crafty child.  Honestly, if you had told me ten years ago that I would love crafting this much I would have laughed at you.  I always hated craft night at Girl Scouts because I felt that my crafts never came out as well as everyone else’s.  My middle school art teacher told me that I had no discernible talent.  So maybe I was a late bloomer?  Or maybe I just don’t do anything in half measures.

Anyway… so I’m making a quilt.

But more on that in a moment (stare at the pretty fabric!)

I often hear other knitters tell stories about growing up watching their mothers and grandmothers knitting.  But, so far as I know, no one in my family has ever knit a single stitch.  (We did have a few crocheters, but no one in my immediate family.)  That’s not to say that they weren’t crafty.  My grandmother was a quilter.

I was to a large extent raised by my Grandmother, for reasons I won’t go into.  She was the sweetest woman you could imagine, but she had a backbone of steel – the many disappointments of life never fazed her.  For 26 years she was absolutely the rock of my life.  When she fell ill my junior year of college, I moved back home without hesitation, a decision I have never regretted.  She passed away 4 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her (and yet thank her for the strong woman I have become!)

She left me her things, and I have been trying, especially over the last 2 years, to slowly go through them.  It isn’t easy.  She saved everything, much of it for me, and I tend to get very emotional.    Going through boxes this week, I found a journal in her handwriting written about and to me during my early childhood, something which I know I will now cherish.

I also found (and this was the reason for the cleaning this week) her quilting and sewing things.  So much fabric… acres of dusty linens from the 50s and 60s, stored in cardboard boxes for who knows how many years.  I found a large packing box full of hand crocheted doilies, tea towels, and aprons.

I found a box marked Patterns that contains vintage sewing patterns, mostly from the 1960s.

I wasn’t even aware that she had sewed her own clothes, but the pieces on most of these patterns have been cut, used, and carefully replaced.  Some of them are in my size, and I plan to keep them around for later.

I also found several unfinished quilts, including this wall hanging:

I actually remember her working on this in the mid 1980s.   Much of the quilting is finished.   She quilted by hand, and she did teach me how.  I have always loved quilts, but hand quilting is really slow.  Every year I go to the state fair and stare at the quilt section with envy.  But this year?  This is going to be the year I relearn all these long forgotten skills.

I have picked a pattern for a small machine quilted beginner’s lap blanket, and I’m going to go for it (sewing test blocks now, it makes me happy that I remember many of these skills!)  My machine sewing is better that I thought – I got the special foot that helps you get a 1/4″ seam every time, and it is tremendously helpful!

I still find sewing clothing intimidating.  I got the SEW U book on the recommendation of the fabulous Robin of Yarn Crawl, and it has been tremendously helpful.  I like the way the author explains things, and between that book and the S.E.W. Workshop, I’m feeling more confident.  I looked into garment sewing classes, but unfortunately my working hours mean that none of them will work for me (this is usually the case for me with classes and knitting groups as well.)  I’m probably going to try making a skirt, since simple a-line skirts seem easy.  Maybe in this fabric?

I like to think that my crafty Grandma would be proud of me.  She certainly would have loved all of the colors and patterns I gravitate towards – where do you think I got my love for bright colors?  From my Grandma, who didn’t really believe that getting older meant you should fade quietly away into that good night.

Soon I’ll show you some of the wonderful vintage fabric of hers that I found – it’s all very dusty and must be thoroughly washed.  Opening the boxes gave me an allergy attack and a migraine last week.

So… that’s what I’ve been up to.  Lots of planning, lots of practicing.  I also cast on for Salina, but I’ll post more on that when I have more to show – it’s not the fastest knit ever, but it is beautiful!

Happy Halloween to you all – Marc and I plan to wait on trick or treaters, and have tons here, in such a dense area.  Halloween is very good for my business – parents see my sign, I give out my card, and usually I get a new student or two.

Here is a preview of Salina, looking very tiny to start.


Sock stash enhancement

Sad news this week… there will be no pictures of the Bobbie cardigan coming.  Why?  Because it looks super awful on me.  Even my husband agrees that it just isn’t “me.”  It is a bit big in the shoulders and bust, so I can’t come up with a closure that is flattering, but it doesn’t look right hanging open.  So… it will be frogged (eventually) and the yarn made into a nice shawl or something.

Still, I was kind of depressed about it, so… I sort of ordered some sock yarn.  At least I managed to avoid more green yarn, and it’s all lovely!  Some pretty shots for you – this is what the light box was made for!

Have you any wool? Luxe sock in Spice

This is beautiful… lovely merino cashmere blend, and the colors are so perfect for autumn!

Have you any wool? Luxe sport in Winter’s Reserve

I bought this to make socks with, but upon reflection the yardage (250 yds) is less than I would like.   It’s sport weight, but on the lighter side of that – thinner than Shepherd Sport, for instance.  If I want socks I will need to choose carefully.  Again, it is so soft, and the colors are beautiful.  This is a new dyer to me, and I’m very impressed!

Madelinetosh sock in Gilded

I love Madelinetosh’s colors – they are always such an interesting blend (well, except for PopRocks, which is just retina searing pink (love it!))  I love yellows and golds, so this was a natural choice.

Madelinetosh sock in Victorian Gothic

I bought this for the name, I can’t lie.  Two of my favorite things in one?  I had to have it.  I’m kind of obsessed with both the Victorian era and all things Gothic, so… I really like the color too – see what I mean about interesting colors?  It’s variegated, but it’s not crazy.  I’m really curious about how this will knit up.  I’ll have to choose carefully, but I’m thinking of a pattern from “Knitting socks with handpainted yarn.” I’d love any ideas you might have for sock patterns with this one!

There… stash is enhanced, and I feel better.   There are still a few sock yarn lines I want to try (Sanguine Gryphon etc) but I try to keep things at a manageable level – I’ll go back to the rule I had before, where I have to knit a pair of socks before I get a new skein of sock yarn.   But who am I kidding?  I can’t resist a beautiful semi-solid yarn!

A long time coming

It took almost 7 months, but the bobble cardigan is finished!

I hope to have modeled photos tomorrow.   It’s super cute on – so much prettier than it looked in the magazine!  It also didn’t really take that much knitting time, once I started doing all the crosses without a cable needle.

I’ve decided that my next project is going to be the crochet cardigan below, available for free from Classic Elite.

I think it’s adorable.  I’m using Cascade 220 in the colors below.

From right the colors are: Kansas, Jet, Deep Sea, and Siena.  On the bottom you see a cat.  Except for siena they are all heathers.  Jet (the charcoal) will be the main color, and I’m trying to decide the order of the others.   The yellow will definitely be the middle row, so I just need to decide on the other two – do I want more brown or more teal?


I love how adorably cranky Sarah Jane is.  She was not amused when I kept taking photos on “her” bed.

Summer knits and thrifts

Now that Buttercup is finished I’m trying to decide what to knit next!  Summer is always a difficult time… I don’t want to knit too many short sleeved things because I really only wear short sleeves for 3 or 4 months of the year.  One thing I’m really enjoying about working at home is the control I have over the temperature – no overly aggressive air conditioning in my house!  Unfortunately, I’m still at my other job until mid July (last day is July 19th!) so I still have to deal with it there.

I’m thinking of knitting a shawl… I’m in love with the Milkweed Shawl from Cosmicpluto knits, and I’ve wound up some mediumweight Socks that rock for that purpose.

But I do think I want one more short sleeved sweater at least this summer, so I may be working on 2 projects at once!  I like the two patterns below, both from a Classic Elite booklet (I already own the book and want to get some use out of it!)

I’m leaning towards the first one, but they are both so cute!  I’m also plotting some crochet – the new Interweave Crochet is out, and it’s got some great projects!  My favorites are the two below, but it’s an excellent issue.  I only wish it came out earlier in the season!

The 2nd sweater is knit from classic elite sundance, and I already have enough of that yarn to make it!  The first sweater is made of Rowan Bamboo soft, and I don’t know… I cannot imagine the awful splitty mess that would result from crocheting with that yarn.  It’s so splitty to knit with that even I can’t stand it, and I generally ignore splitting.  I cannot imagine it for crochet!  But lots of subs exist, and isn’t it pretty?  I’m more likely to make that one, since it has longer sleeves.  I need to see bigger pictures and get my hands on the magazine!

Monday I had an epic thrift shopping day (haul is below, with bonus Sarah Jane in photo.)

Yes, I broke my rule and got a sweater – it’s bobbled, so I had to!  I also found 2 great dresses (the blue polka-dotted one is so retro and adorable) and some excellent brand new pants.  And 2 nice jackets.   All the stuff up there, plus the shoes and bag below for under 50 bucks!

I love those rainbow sandals, and they are unworn as well – no sole wear, just a few marks from being in storage probably.  Clearly I favor quantity over quality in my wardrobe, but I’m ok with that!  This week I also discovered that I apparently wear a petite size, and that’s why pants never fit me.  I figured that being 5’7″ took me out of that department, but apparently I have depressingly short legs (but now I have pants that fit, which makes up for it!)

I’m pleased that you all enjoyed my closet photos, and I hope this inspires some new thrifters – it’s all about the thrill of the hunt for me, and some weeks I find nothing, but occasionally I find the greatest stuff for next to nothing (a tip: Monday is the best day to go, if it’s the sort of place that puts out donations right away… you get a good selection of weekend donations, without fighting the hordes of weekend shoppers.)

And we’re back!

We’ve made it back home today, after a little over a week away.  We drove to Wisconsin, and toured Madison, Wisconsin Dells, House on the Rock, Eau Claire, and Milwaukee.  Sadly, we were called back a bit early when we got the news that my husband’s uncle had died suddenly.  We are dealing with that right now.

I managed to get the obligatory “knitting on the road” photo.

Those are my Monkey socks of course, and I did finish that one.  Unfortunately, it’s a bit big, but I’ve decided to finish the other sock for my Mother in law.

Wisconsin was really fun – we visited some touristy spots and learned a few new things

(my hatred for Ketchup is famous, so I loved the mustard museum!)

We saw cheese in unnatural shapes

We ate food that was really bad for us

We got to pet some deer


and stay on a lake

we also got to visit old friends in Milwaukee and meet our new niece, although I don’t have many pictures from those parts of the trip!  And of course there was knitting.  I made a mistake on the empire waist cardigan, and had to reknit the back twice, but it is finally finished and sewed together.  I’m working the skirt, which doesn’t look like much yet, but it’s getting there!

we also visted a yarn store – Lakeside fibers in Madison, which was just wonderful – large and well organized, with an attached coffee shop, just the way I like my yarn store.  I may have visited twice… I’m not saying!  I got a few things…

The yarn on the left is Smooshy sock yarn in Giant peach, which I have been wanting.  I got 2 balls of Rowan All Season cotton to make a crocheted hat from Kim Hargreaves new book (to the right, below.)  I have made her hats before, and they are always my favorites.  The yarn in the middle is cascade 220 – 3 skeins of charcoal gray and 3 other colors (the 2 greens are not the same, but they are similar… I wanted the yellow/tan to stand out.)  I’m going to turn them into a crocheted cardigan (to the left below.)

I’m feeling like crocheting something soon!  My Mom took care of the cats while we were away, but they were lonely… here is Sarah Jane pretending not to care we are home.

New swatches and exciting news!

As of yesterday I have officially given notice at my job that I am leaving.  It’s exciting and scary all at the same time  – after all, I’m leaving a salaried position to start my own business!  I will be completely finished in mid July.  I feel as though a huge load has been lifted off my shoulders.  I’m someone who doesn’t like to quit things, but I think there’s something to be said for knowing when it’s time to move on, and knowing when a situation is not right.  My studio has been experiencing tremendous growth in the past few months, and I have every confidence that this is going to be the right move.  Thanks to everyone who offered advice and support while I was making this decision!

Moving on to knitting, I have swatched up the new yarns I got from Elann and the Webs sale.  I got some real winners this time, and only one I’m sort of “meh” over.

Elann Nilo in Blueberry

This yarn joins Berroco Naturlin in my list of “linen yarns that aren’t painful to knit with.”  It has a rounded construction that makes nice even stitches, but it isn’t overly dry and twiney.  It has a slight sheen that isn’t visible in this phot.  The color is gorgeous – a little more purple than it looks here, with the linen fibers a slightly different shade than the cotton fibers.  It swatched at 5.5 st/in for me on US 4 needles, and did not grow with washing.

Elann Luna in midnight

I’m also really pleased with this yarn.  It’s a little splitty, but not as bad as I expected (aren’t all rayon/cotton blends splitty?)  The yarn consists of a dark navy thread twisted around a lighter blue thread.  It knits up marled and slightly textured – this is not an extremely smooth yarn.  It’s very drapey and light.  I like that the marled color will hide my uneven stockinette, as the garment I’m making with this is entirely stockinette.  It knit up to 5.5 st/in on US 4 needles for me, with minimal growth when wet.  It could easily be knit tighter – I want the loose, drapey fabric, but I think going down a needle size or two would give you a more firm look to the fabric.

Elann Bamboo Fusion in Porcelain Teal

This is the only yarn I don’t love from this batch.  It’s much more splitty than you would  expect in the skein, and while drapey it is rather heavy.  It also grew when wet, going from 5.5 st/in to 5 st/in on US 5 needles.  I would not go down a needle size, as that would be uncomfortable, but it does look good at this gauge.  The color is rather pretty, but not my favorite.  It won’t work for what I bought it for, but I will probably find a use for it – it’s drapeyness brings to mind several ideas, and I do like that it is not entirely solid colored.

Classic Elite Sundance in Raj Red

Let me say first of all… if you like Cotton Ease you will really love this yarn.  It reminds me a great deal of CE.  It has a round construction and makes nice even stitches.  It’s also ridiculously cheap at WEBs right now.   It’s slightly stretchy and has a very dry hand.  I bought it to make the short sleeved turtleneck in the current Knit.1, since it was the required yarn and was so cheap.  I was hoping the color would be less orangey and more red, but I’ve decided I like this color too.  It is heavy, and it does stretch when wet.  I got 4.75st/in before blocking and 4.5 st after, not a huge difference, but enough that I will knit on smaller needles (going from US 6 to 5) to counteract the stretchiness.

Classic Elite Classic Silk

I have actually knit with this yarn before – I made Ms. Marigold out of a lovely pink shade.  I love this yarn, which feels like wearing terry cloth.  It has occasional bits of vegetable matter.  I get 4.75 st/in on US 6 needles with this yarn, but that’s problematic… the uneven texture of the yarn makes measuring gauge difficult.  I actually started Ms. Marigold twice because my gauge was so different in the larger garment.  I will have to be certain to check my sizing when I start my project!    This is a highly recommended yarn, though it takes some getting used to.  It’s also on sale at WEBs right now, which is why I went ahead and got some to make a cardigan with.

That’s all my swatches – now I just have to decide what to make first!  I’m debating between using the Nilo and the Luna to start out –  I loved them both, and both sweaters look like I would really enjoy them!

It’s raining today (again!)  I keep trying to get time to work on my garden, but everytime I try it seems as though we’re having a thunderstorm!  I really want to get it settled before we go out of town in a week and a half.  Last weekend we did get lots of the terrible plants the previous owners planted removed from the backyard – and found that we had a brick patio underneath them!  I’m going to redo the patio, as it’s in rough shape, but the bricks are good!  It looks barren right now, but barren is better than the overgrown wilderness I had before!

Resolution not to stash yarn = fail

I’m ok with my failure.  After I finished the Soap Bubble wrap, I looked for something else to start, and realized I was in serious need of at least a small stash of yarn for upcoming projects.  I found the yarn for blithe, so it was all good, but it makes me nervous not to know what’s up next for some reason!  Also, I wanted to try out some of Elann’s summer yarns.  I had previously tried Sonata (stringy but great for home projects,) Lara (great yarn, a little splitty,) Pegasus (too dry) and Callista (too stiff, smelled like hay.)  Since that time (about 2 years ago) they have added about a million new yarns.  Previously I had found their summer offerings to be on the stringy, stiff side of warm weather yarns, and while those yarns have their uses I prefer to use yarns that are at least a wee bit soft.  I don’t want too soft, because then it stretches and won’t hold its shape, and often sheds all over everything I own.  So I went through my queue on Ravelry and paired up three projects with Elann yarns.  They arived today – 2 days from a Canadian company!  I also ordered from WEBs at the same time (Classic Silk on the anniversary sale and some red Classic Elite Sundance on closeout) and will probably get those in about 2 weeks… they are so slow in comparison!  Anyway, here are the yarns!

Elann Nilo in Blueberry, to make Buttercup.   This pattern is adorable, and it’s available free!  I queued it up the second it appeared in my Ravelry friends activity page (the creator of most of my queue!)  The color on this yarn is way off in the photo.  It’s actually a medium dark blue-violet, more purple and darker than it looks here.  My camera would not take a proper photo.  Nilo is a blend of cotton, viscose and linen.  It feels soft and is pretty and shiny in the skein.  It only has the slightest smell of raw linen (which I now recognize is the smell I thought of as “Hay” in Elann Callista.)  I think it’s perfect for this cute top!

Elann Luna in midnight for the Empire Waist Cardigan by Pam Allen.  This is a style of cardigan I’m seeing everywhere in stores, and I wanted to make my own.  First of all, I would like to applaud Pam Allen for expanding the size range on Classic Elite patterns.  In the past, they all started way too big for me, but now they have a nice wide range.  I bought Classic Silk to make another sweater from the same book.  The pattern calls for Provence, a mercerized cotton which I’m sure is very nice, but even on sale at WEBs (for the anniversary sale) I think it’s too expensive for cotton.  I also prefer a blend, so I ordered luna, a blend of cotton and rayon.  It’s just what I wanted!  The yarn itself is marled – a black strand is wrapped around a navy strand, which I think will look great knit up.  It feels soft and drapey, but not too soft.  It may have a little fuzz potential, but I will have to knit it up to see.  This wasn’t even half the cost of the Provence, so I’m pleased!

Bamboo Fusion in Porcelain Teal.  I bought this to make Primrose Path from the Spring Twist Collective.  The pattern calls for a bamboo, but I used the exact same yarn for my Millefiore cardigan (same color even) and it sheds like crazy.  Bamboo fusion is a blend of cotton, bamboo, and acrylic.  It feels soft but not fuzzy and limp.  I love the color, which is more of a green/gray than it looks here.  Again it is slightly marled, but not enough to interfere with the lace pattern I hope. It’s listed as a worsted weight, but my experience with Elann is that their yarns run thin.  The gauge for primrose path is 21 st/4 in, and I should be able to get that.

This worked out to about $30 a sweater, including shipping, a figure that I am more than happy with.  I am really impressed with how Elann has stepped it up with their yarn offerings lately – the two sweaters I made with their bulky yarns last winter have held up wonderfully as well, and their color selection is pretty good.  I do compare them to knitpicks, and to be honest I love Elann so much more.  Unlike Knitpicks they don’t throw alpaca in every yarn either (my allergy has made me bitter) and I like that they have more dk weight choices (knitpicks has a lot of sport, but I don’t care for shine or for comfy all that much.)

Progress on Blithe… I’m inching my way up the front!

I need to find my last ball of yarn though – it must be in the house somewhere, right?