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.
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.
The Mice You Meet
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.
Here is the after photos of Popeye the Sailor man after his spa day. He has been destuffed of sawdust, washed, some of the worst spots have been removed with Hydrogen Peroxide and soap, his clothes have been washed and repaired, and he has been restuffed with non-sawdust materials. Also his expressive eyebrows and anchor tattoos have been renewed with a black sharpie. I thought about doing something about his eye -- see the photo below and you can tell that one of them is not like the other. But once you start toying with a Sailor man's eyes he begins to take on another character and to look like someone else. And the whole point of this procedure is to give David the 80 year old man the same Popeye guy that he dragged around by the heels, head and arms when he was a boy of 5. The earlier post that shows Popeye looking like he has been living in an attic for the last 75 years (which he has) is at the bottom of the page. You see what a little soap, water, mending and restuffing can do for a guy.
Let me introduce you to Popeye the Sailorman. He was given to David Goldrup in 1933, who received him as a Congratulations on Being Born present from his grandmother Anna Pettingill Libby. They are both about to turn 80 on July 20th. My friend Gayle was looking for pictures in the attic for her father's 80th birthday when she ran across this Sailorman looking a bit the worse for wear. He was an active participant in David's adventures for the first 5 years of his life which introduced him to some hard knocks, mud puddles, physical accidents and other rough treatment. This probably explains the woeful lack of stuffing in his arms, and the elastic band bandage to his left arm to slow down the regrettable sawdust stuffing leak. He has been hanging out in various attics for the last 75 years, when David took up a passionate and lifelong interest in fishing, and Popeye got sidelined. Gayle asked me to see what I could do in the way of cleaning and repairs to Popeye so that he can make an appearance at the upcoming Birthday Festivities restored and renewed. That is my project for the first of this week. I'll update the post with the after pictures once I have worked my magic.
I think you'll agree that there is a lot of meaning in these threads.
This is the Spring Green Roving. It was sitting innocently enough in the Big Tub of Fuzzy Delicious Roving with its compatriots. And I was sitting in the studio looking out the window at YET ANOTHER SNOWSTORM. And I was overcome, overcome I tell you, by the intense longing to handle something green.... So I dipped into the tub, grabbed the aptly titled Spring Green Roving, and spun it up. I didn't need Spring Green handspun for any project in particular so once I finished it up I posted it once again onto my Etsy site in its new manifestation as Spring Green Handspun Yarn. You can see a photo of the finished yarn below along with an apple to help you judge the color accuracy. And you can see it on Etsy by clicking here.
And here is a glamour shot of some of my latest studio finished objects. The socks will be appearing in a pattern soon, along with a male version that is not quite so lacy and much, much bigger. And the toe of the sock is pointing to a braided rug that I just finished up for a friend. She needed a small braided rug for her kitchen in front of her sink. This one is made from recycled T-shirts and laced with nylon cord which makes it not only reversible but also machine washable -- both of these things are excellent qualities in a kitchen rug. I tend to prefer wool braided rugs myself because the wool takes the dye more intensely and so the colors tend to be richer. But the colors on this one are not at all bad. I'll be posting more on both the socks and the rug -- this is a bit of a teaser for my regular readers.
Thinking About Valentines Day
I was thinking about Valentine's Day and came up with these three pretty things. They are made from the bottomless pile of rug wool, some of which has been overdyed, stuffed with wool and a little lavender packet, and finished off with a little embroidery and a loop for hanging in your window, from your cup hooks in the kitchen, or in your closet where the lavender will make things smell lovely.
I also want to talk a little bit about the way I work and how I source my supplies. The red rug wool was given to me by someone cleaning out their aunt's barn, the embroidery floss came from my big box of embroidery materials that I periodically replenish although I often get given things there as well. The wool for stuffing came from Bella the lovely sheep who has now passed on to that lovely meadow in the sky. The lavender was purchased in Virginia from a friend who had a lavender business and I made the little sachets from some of the many, many gauze curtains that were in the house when we bought it 4 years ago.
So I would like to express my gratitude for the materials that people have given me. I'm sure they were thinking something like, "Good heavens, here is this big bag of (xxx) that I have to do something with.....who would want this, who???" And then they go, "Oh, Martha, she'll think of something to do with it!" And they hop in the car, or truck, depending on how big the bag of something is. I greet them with smiles and gratitude and coffee and I carry the big bag down to the dye kitchen, or into the loom room to sort and put into the cubbies. And quite often I'll have something for many years (like the lavender) before I find a real use for it. The nice thing is that when I do use it I always remember where I got it, the person who thought of me, the day when I overdyed it.
In short, most of my materials are permeated with gratitude, fond memories and creative inspiration. Which is why they are Threads of Meaning.
Peace Fleece Visit
My Shopping Shawl Pattern will be appearing in a joint venture with Peacefleece this spring, which prompted me to leave Portland and drive up to Porter Maine to visit the base of operations. I first learned about Peacefleece 15 years or so ago when I was living in Hawaii and we had to order some wool yarn for the Waldorf School knitting classes. I was very pleased that we were ordering yarn from Maine, but when the package arrived I was thrilled. The yarn was gorgeous and the "business plan" of this company was so inspirational. I am not going to try to explain it to you here; go to the website and read for yourself. I don't think I could do it justice. The idea of creating personal relationships across geographical and political barriers, and having those relationships be an integral part of a business; the concept of using your business to increase the goodness in the world in many small ways, really took hold of my imagination. I believe that the foundation stones of Threads of Meaning were laid in Kea'au Hawaii when I opened that box and read the little folder that Pete and Marti Hagerty had included.
After the Holiday Fair on Munjoy Hill I then organize myself and start the annual posting of things on Etsy. Today I started with the dolls. Every year I make 12 dolls, take them to the Christmas Fair, and then put the rest online so that they can find good homes for themselves. I did this starting almost 20 years ago when the Christmas Fair, for me, was in Hilo, Hawaii instead of Portland Maine. I started making dolls in Hawaii when Devan was six years old and this little face on the left makes me nostalgic for my own little girl, and for the island breezes that blew over the land we owned when we lived there. These dolls are a real labor of love, which is why I only make a few of them a year. I don't want it to turn into a production kind of task. I like to hand stitch them one at a time, from hand dyed, natural, and vintage materials, and to pay attention to each face as I finish.
I sew the dolls all by hand, or on the antique Singer treadle machine that you see in the picture at the top of this posting. This is the same machine that I used in Hawaii and it belonged originally to Joe's great-grandmother Annie. We took it to Hawaii when we moved from Topsham, Maine because we knew we'd be off the grid and the treadle is a wonder of mechanical advantage with no electricity needed. This doll to the left is an Asian inspired doll, with a long black braid down the back. That is why I have her dressed in this linen and silk kimono style jacket and posed with these Mongolian boots. She is standing in front of one of my Hawaiian quilts and on top of the cabinet of the antique Singer treadle machine.
And this little Penny Person is the only one remaining from the collection that I took to the fair on Munjoy Hill. She is looking for a home for the holidays and you can find her on my Etsy posting at this link. Penny Person I call them Penny People because they are made from the scraps left from making the bigger dolls, they are tiny (only 4 inches high), and because they have an actual penny sewn into the bottom so that they are flat and heavy enough to stand up. I'll be posting some more tomorrow, and maybe some of the bears if I get ambitious.
Pictures for you of the first night of the SEA Holiday Sale at the East End School on North Street on Munjoy Hill. I will be hanging out there all weekend -- today until 5:00, tomorrow until 4:00 -- spinning and chatting and generally having a good time. And here is a picture of the dolls, the rug wool, the Penny People and some hand dyed mohair yarn, all of which has been beautifully displayed by the Amazing Martha Mai. She will be at the booth with me for most of today, and part of tomorrow.
And lastly a picture of the Amazing Martha Mai -- who is working with me in the studio now and has been invaluable in pulling things together. She is talented, creative, an amazing photographer and extremely adept at managing and organizing her Auntie (that would be me). The whole experience of getting ready for this fair has been greatly enhanced by her presence. She is a blessing -- and we have plans, big plans for the Studio for 2013.
SEA Holiday Sale -- on Munjoy Hill
This weekend I will be holding forth at the East End Community School, at 195 North Street in Portland. This is the only craft fair that I do each year and it helps me to get in the Christmas Mood. I will be there from 6:00-9:00 on Friday, 10:00-5:00 on Saturday, and 11:00-4:00 on Sunday, along with many other amazing and talented craftsmen and artists. The photo above shows the Christmas Dolls. I make about 12 a year and they are keeping each other company in a wooden wine box waiting to appear at the show tomorrow evening. The photo to the left is of me at last year's show. I am peering around the Christmas Birds (made from recycled cashmere sweaters and Studio Scraps). And although you can't see it because of all the interesting fiber related gee gaws in the front, I am spinning. I take my spinning wheel with me to the show because it helps me to while away the afternoon, it gets me in a Christmas mood, and it tends to keep me from untoward impulsive actions. Please do come by and say hello. I would love to see you.