Archive for the 'Knitting' Category

Making sense of the yarn stash

I have a fairly organized fabric collection, the vast majority of which is neatly stashed away in bins according to color or special category.  Yarn, however, was a different story.  New projects were stored together in bags, leftover bits were in other bags, new yarn was here and there, all “neatly gathered” under a table.  I had to rummage through lots of stuff to find what I wanted.  I finally could stand it no longer.


Off I went to buy some shallow plastic tubs and began sorting.  I found some things I had forgotten about and was relieved to find out that I only had two large projects pending with yarn and pattern stored together.  I culled some “treasures” and disbanded some projects and took them off my to-do list.  I had more yarn than I thought but between the bins I had and the bins I bought I was able to sort it all nicely.

There are lots of ideas out there on how to sort yarn, but since my stash is modest (compared to some of my friends) I chose to sort by weight: one bin for sport weight or finer, one for worsted and DK, one for bulky weight, and two for non-wool.  Since I can’t wear wool next to my skin, I have accumulated a fair amount of cotton, silk, linen, and other fibers, hence the two bins.  Even those are sorted into two categories:  glitzy, accent stuff and yarn I might actually use for a whole project.


The large projects are still in bags; I’m ok with that since I won’t be dipping into them until I’m ready to knit them.  It looks much better and it is no longer oozing out from under the table!


More Animals for the Ark

Longtime readers may remember the ark I was making for our grandkids.  This has been a long project but I have been steadily working away at the rest of the animals and Mr Noah.  Here are the rest of the inhabitants.  Mr Noah somehow seems to have set aside his work apron and rain gear.  He did, however escort these animals to join their friends on the ark.  (My daughter Ellen made the elephants.)


dove and ravenalligatorstigers


zebrasMr Noah

Another Rock Sweater

With Spring just around the corner (NOT – we are currently getting 15 more inches of snow), I thought I would make another rock sweater.  It is made of very fine thread (no. 12 perle cotton) with a size 10 hook, and the rock is about 2.5″x3″.  What a grand project for sitting in front of the crackling fire and watching the beauty accumulate outside.
rock sweater

Building an Ark

Rainbow, Morrisville, VT

It’s been rainy here in Vermont this summer. But even with all the dark days, we’ve seen several beautiful rainbows, each one a promise that the earth will never be totally destroyed by water again. What a precious promise that is.

And somehow, I have found myself building an ark. This one is certainly not of the magnitude that Noah was charged with, and it will accommodate only a tiny fraction of the animals and people the original ark carried. But I needed a home for pairs of knitted animals and their keepers. It’s a long story, starting with a library find by my daughter Ellen: a book by Fiona Goble called Noah’s Knits. In it are patterns for 14 pairs of animals and Mr and Mrs Noah, complete with appropriate rain gear. Also included in the back of the book is a paper facade of an ark meant to stand up and enhance the play.

After a good bit of discussion, Ellen and I decided on a joint venture to knit the animals and purchased two copies of the book. Now I guess all those little animals could live in a draw string sack or a zippered bag, but my mind kept running to a three dimensional ark for storage and story telling fun. Could I make one? If so, how would I go about it? How big should it be? Would it be big enough? Do I have the materials I need? How will I engineer everything to accomplish my vision?

A quick assessment showed that my stash of “ark” fabrics was sorely lacking in terms of yardage and variety. Off I went to see if I could find something suitable. I came home with two different wood grained prints, just what I needed to go with the small scraps I already had. I set about drafting a pattern loosely based on the paper facade. I made a muslin to be sure my pattern pieces fit together correctly and made adjustments. Then I set to work. Using a stiff batting, I quilted each of the pieces before sewing them together. All seams are bound, some on the inside and some on the outside for architectural details. Some of the seams needed to be stitched by hand because it would not fit under the machine presser foot. That was difficult work.

Noah's ark 1

Noah's ark 2Noah's ark 3

Noah's ark 4Noah's ark 5

Noah's ark 6

Noah's ark 7

Noah's ark 8

Meanwhile, I was knitting away at my share of the animals. My Friday quilting group wanted to know if Mr and Mrs Noah would get a quilt for their sleeping quarters. Silly people. No. But then I got to thinking… Now there is a rainbow Around the World quilt to cover them as they rest in their little house on the deck.

Noah's quilt

Creative Ventures

While I haven’t really been quilting in the last few months, I have been doing some creative projects.  Several of them have involved finishing up things that have been in process for a while.

First off was this pair of socks, languishing on needles for what seems like forever.  This is the project I always took on airplane flights: small, compact, mindless knitting.  The first sock seems like fun somehow, but then the second one seems to take forever.  I vowed to finish them up in time for Christmas gifting since they were for my daughter, but I didn’t quite make it.  The time got away.  But they are done now and being worn proudly in their new home.  This pair is made of Tofutsies yarn on size 0 needles.

Ellen's Tofutsies socks

Next up was alterations to a sweater I had knit for Nathaniel.  The arm length and body width were still fine but the hood didn’t pull up anymore and it was getting short.  After chatting with several good knitters and searching the web for help, I took a deep breath and cut the yarn, picked up stitches and knit down the extra length for the body.  The hood was easier since I just had to undo the bind off row, remove the shaping at the top, pick up stitches and continue knitting to add extra length.  It all came out fine, it’s hard to tell that I altered it at all, and the best part is that he’ll get more wear out of it through the spring.  Yes, I’ve purchased more yarn to make a bigger sweater for next year and beyond.  Why is it the queue never seems to get shorter?!  Don’t answer that.  I already know!

sweater alterations

Then there is this beaded scarf, made of Schaefer cotton yarn named Susan that I strung with over 15oo size 6 beads.  I got a little less than half way and had the wrong number of stitches for the pattern.  I had no idea where I had made my mistake and un-knitting didn’t rectify the problem.  I set it aside until I found Jocelyn, an expert lace knitter who helped me get back to the right count.  Then the project sat for months while I was busy with other things.  I finally decided that I had too much time and money invested to not finish, and being newly empowered by success with the socks and the sweater revisions, I set about completion.  Knitting with beads isn’t all that hard but it does take time to figure out how to get the beads to display in the right place, in this case on those periodic yarn overs.  And then there was the beautiful undulating waves pattern (found at the same link as the yarn).  It seems like every time I set it down for more than a day, I had to figure it out all over again.  I ended up un-knitting a lot but set myself a goal of either one full motif per day or at least getting back to where I started if I had to take out mistakes.  Tail ends are woven in, blocking is on the agenda.  It will be perfect for my spring wardrobe.undulating waves scarf

In the midst of all this, I started the hat kit that I bought at the Oomingmak store in Anchorage, Alaska this past summer.  The yarn is made from qiviut, the very fine under hairs of the musk ox.  It is amazingly light weight and amazingly warm; it is also amazingly expensive since it is labor intensive to process to perfection.  The pattern didn’t call for the little leaf at the top, but since I had some yarn left over and I wanted to use it all up, I fashioned the two-sided leaf motif atop a short icord stem for the finish.  I am enjoying wearing it on our chilly Vermont winter days.

qiviut hat

And finally, what are the holidays without a little project in the offing?  Ellen wanted to make her little nephew a backpack that she had seen on a That crafty Mrs V’s website.  Of course, she didn’t want pink prints like the sample and wanted to add a few design elements, so asked for my help while they were up for their visit.  Mrs V’s’s blog post said she had made hers in two nap times so it sounded doable and I suggested Ellen gather all the supplies needed, bring them along and we would set aside the time to execute her vision.  All I can say is that the Mrs V’s’s child must have taken 5 hour naps; either that or our addition of special batman motifs, water bottle pockets, special loops and labels doubled our construction time.  We managed to finish but spent several late-ish evenings in the process.  The pay off is that the BATpack (batman, get it?) was a huge hit – it was worth all the effort!

Here is Nathaniel inspecting the batpack prior to sending off, and cousin Caleb proudly wearing his pack to the nursery at church.

the inspectorCaleb and his batpack

Critters from the Knitting Bag

Back at the beginning of the summer, Six Loose Ladies, the yarn shop where I volunteer ordered some cute animal patterns from Knitting at Knoon.  They are of safari animals which I thought I needed to make since part of our family is headed to South Africa next year to live.  There are 4 different kinds: Simba (lion), Punda milia (zebra), Twiga (giraffe), and Tembo (elephant).  And they’re cute!  Here are the front and back views.

Now I just need a little granddaughter…

Six Loose Ladies yarn shop got in some new yarn lately.  The newest shipment included yarn called Tutu.  It is more of a ribbon rather than a plied yarn and comes in several lovely variegated color ways.  You can see it here.  Also, at this site is a free pattern for this knitted baby hat using Tutu for a ruffle.  I agreed to knit up a sample for the shop – in pink – but it is still awfully cute.  It was quick and fairly easy.  Now I just need a sweet little granddaughter head to put it on.  Meanwhile, it will live at the shop.


Art Every Day Month



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