Here is the Bag of Tricks when it was new -- about 10 years ago. This was my very first felting project and it came out, I think we can agree, quite well. There was a bit of a learning curve however. Notice the nice egg shapes in the body of the bag? Those are knit up of hand dyed yarn scraps of merino, cashmere, mohair, etc. The body of the bag is knit from hand dyed Maine wool. Notice how the top of the bag is kind of kerfluffled? That was not intentional. The plan was that the bag be straight and flat. I hadn't realized that the different fibers would felt so .... differently. I was not at all pleased. I loaded up the wet bag with a garbage bag full of books to block it and wandered around it muttering under my breath for a couple of days while it dried. In the process of the wandering I happened to notice a pair of old worn out linen pants that someone had given me to add to my fabric stash. The color went nicely with the bag and I thought to myself...lining? I yanked them out and noticed the worn out, tired elastic at the waist, and the pockets. Eureka!! Everything fell into place. I cut off the legs and sewed up the holes, stuffed the result into the bag and sewed the facing at the top over the worn out elastic. The result was the lovely gathered thing going on at the top which gave everything a kind of Victorian carpet bag feel. I went from Bad Mistake, to Wonderful Design Element all in a flash. Sometimes life surprises you like that.
And here is the Bag of Tricks, 10 years later, in the Siena Plaza del Campo in Tuscany. I had to replace the handle, finally, because this bag has been used many, many times to carry everything in my life that will fit into it. I had no idea when I made it that it would ever go to Italy. And I have the strong feeling that the Bag of Tricks is not yet done providing me with wonderful surprises. As you can see it is as strong, sturdy and beautiful as ever and will undoubtedly last for another 10 years. So many moments of my life are carried in the fibers of this bag and I can connect back to them easily using it in a kind of Dr. Who Tardis way. The last decade of my life is in there....and the next one too.
From today until May 15 I am offering the pattern for these mitts free to people participating in the Peace Fleece KAL on Ravelry. For the duration of the KAL you can get your free pattern by leaving a comment with your e-mail address. I'll send you the PDF attached to a return e-mail from me.
I am, as you can tell from reading through my blog, a very big fan of the Peacefleece yarn, the Peacefleece people, and the Peacefleece business ethos.
I binge ordered every single color of their DK weight yarn in February. I attribute this to 2014 being the longest, coldest, most color deprived winter since I returned to Maine in 2007. It was beyond my ability to self regulate. Fortunately since I am "in business" I can look at it as a wise inventory investment rather than the impulsive response to color deprivation that it actually was. Also, my birthday is in February. So there's that....
The colors in this Mitt are Sheplova, Father's Grey, Antarctica White, and Blue Jay.
The colors in this version are Olive Roots, Antarctica White, Blue Jay and Violet Vyecheerom. You will need 1 oz of each of the main colors, and smaller amounts of each of the "trim" colors. I recommend you choose a light, a bright, a dark and a contrasting. In the mitts above the white is light, the dark is Father's Grey, the bright is Sheplova and the contrasting is Blue Jay.
In the mitt directly to the left it is a little less clear cut. The light is white, the dark is Olive Roots, the bright is Blue Jay and the contrasting is....Violet? Which is really not that contrasting but it worked. So that is why I give you a Recommendation rather than a Rule. I would just purchase 4 colors that you really, really like. Four of Peacefleece's 4 oz skeins will give you enough to make many, many mitts and you can mix the colors around every which way.
You'll need needles (I made these with double points) in size 1-3 depending on your knitting style...I knit loosely so I used 1s.
In the spring my thoughts turn towards Hawaii -- which should surprise no one who has lived through the Maine winter of 2014. I have recently done some dyeing for my Hawaiian Pillow Kits and these are photographs of the brightest ones I have; the Sunflowers and Le'ia. As you can see the Sunflowers come with leaves in the middle, leaves in the corners, black background or white background. They are available for sale on my Etsy Site by clicking on Sunflower for this one or on Leia Study for the Palm leaf design which also comes with either a white or black background. These pillow were designed as small practice or study pieces for the larger quilts. The sunflowers were for La Bella Familia and the palm leaves were a study for Leia. You can read about those quilts by clicking on the quilt section in the sidebar. But being a practical woman I work up the study pieces into pillows which are currently sitting on my yellow sofa in the studio lighting up the room and making my life sunny and spring like. They are providing some psychological relief for the Snow Storm that we are expecting.....again.....this Saturday.
This is the latest Peace Fleece indulgence. The kit for this hat is available from Peace Fleece and is also currently The Folk Art Hat KAL on Ravelry in the Peace Fleece Lovers group. I actually bought the kit shortly before Christmas and made it up in the original colors for my Grand Daughter Toby. Unfortunately I made it in the child size and Toby, as one might suspect from her surprising and interesting conversation, has a very large head for a six year old. So this hat, which may replace the too small one I made for her, is mine by default until the switch is made. It knit up very quickly although I did have to switch out the colors a bit -- a one day, two Net Flix movies knit for me. One episode of Robin Hood to finish up the embroidery. But even for the non-obsessive knitter this should be a week long project.
Here is my grand daughter Charles helping me out in the studio by winding yarn. As you can see by the blurry bits by her hand, the top of the yarn winder and around the swift this is an action shot. She helped me to wind many skeins that day in preparation for a Latvian Mitt class that I will be teaching -- sometime. It has been postponed due to severe snow storm. We need to reschedule, and I was planning on going to Pineland today to meet with people to do that but, guess what??? Snowed out once again. I know winter will end and spring will come, since it has happened every year so far. The photo below shows some of the yarns that Charles helped me to wind. They are Peace Fleece DK colors in Olive Roots, Antarctica White, Blue Jay and Violet Vyecheerom. Same pattern as the ones below, pretty much, but you see how much difference the change in colors can make.
These mitts are knit from my annual Post Christmas/My Birthday is Coming gift box to myself from Peace Fleece. I ordered an assortment of their DK weight yarns and then they sat calling my name until I put everything else aside and made these mitts. Fortunately mitts are quick to knit so I was only distracted from my "normal" life for a couple of days. There is a pattern for these posted on Ravelry and I will also be adding the links to my Patterns page. These mitts only weigh about 1 oz apiece so you may very well be able to make them out of the bibs and bobs from your yarn stash. But do give the Peace Fleece DK a thought. The texture of these are lovely, warm, hefty and, once you wash, block and wear them a bit, delightfully fuzzy.
Every year I start a post-Christmas "I Am So Tired Of Knitting For Other People" project for myself. Sometimes, if I have been very efficient with the Christmas Knitting, it even begins on Christmas Eve. This year I discovered that Peacefleece Lovers on Ravelry is doing a KAL (Knit Along) on the Sweetheart Cardigan. So around the third week in December I sent off an order to Peacefleece where I got the two colors above (Porterfield Plum and Rabbit Grey) for my post Christmas project. The cardigan is now finished and is evidently a smashing success. How can I tell? Because since the day I finished it (January 9) I have worn it every single day; over a wool dress during the day and over the L.L. Bean Flannel nightgown which is my annual romantic Christmas present from my husband in the evening. It is cozy and warm which has been a great help during one of the coldest Maine winters on record, and the new blend of Peacefleece (10% rather than the traditional 30% mohair) makes the back of the neck completely scratchy free for me.
Anyone who knows me knows that I will have opinions on how to proceed and will have made changes. I am actually quite incapable of following a pattern or a recipe or pretty much directions of any kind exactly as they are written and so....a list of my mods on the Sweetheart Cardigan.
I always make the sleeves first on any sweater I am making no matter what the pattern says. This is because I like the reassurance of having a larger "swatch" then the little stitch gauge square that I always knit up and a sleeve makes an excellent large swatch to check for how the yarn works up, do you really like the color, how does it drape, etc.
I used the turned edge in the photo below rather than the ribbing.
I added some back waist shaping because that suits my particular body. I knit the two fronts and the back simultaneously so I wouldn't have side seams. And I added pockets because I really, really need pockets.
It was a fast, soothing and pleasant knit. Love the yarn, love the pattern, love the Peacefleece company.
This Adorable Christmas Mouse was created by Rebecca Peterlein. I met him at my Spinning Group (that's making yarn with a spinning wheel -- not riding a stationary bike) and was compelled to take a picture of his little face in order to share it with you. So here he is, and you can make him your own, or meet some of his mouse brothers, sisters and cousins at the Craft Fair that is held on the USM Gorham campus the weekend before Thanksgiving. My understanding is that his adoption fee is $20-$25. I would give you the link here if I had it, but I don't. That is why they invented Google.
And this is one of the reasons I go to R&R Spinners at Pineland every Tuesday that I can manage. You meet the nicest people there, and Mice too.
My Wedding Socks, which I created for my nephew Scott and his wife Elizabeth, were recently featured in Interweave's Knitting Daily. Here is the link With These Socks with a bit of my own write up about the how and why of my Wedding Sock Tradition. If you want to make your own Wedding Socks for a lucky set of newlyweds you can find the pattern, logically enough, on the Pattern Page or you can find it on Ravelry.
Last January my much loved brother-in-law died after a long and gallant struggle with a powerful illness. He left this world while surrounded by his wife, his children, and his deeply loved grand children. My sister, the grandmother of these children, wanted to give them some token to hold his memories. We came up with the idea of using Papa's shirts to make quilts for each child, incorporating a pocket into each one so that small tokens could be tucked in, or little surprise gifts. This is the first of the quilts and I am making them in order of age -- oldest to youngest. I just finished making up the top and am now ready to move onto the quilting phase. I'll update the blog as I go along but this is a long term project -- there are nearly a dozen grand children.