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.
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.
Every January I start a project for me -- it is my antidote to the frantic and generous and did I say frantic Christmas rush of productivity for my loved ones and other people's loved ones that usually begins in the Studio in early November and seems to last waaay longer than a mere two months. This year I opted for a shawl and I am quite a fan of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi Are Square Shawl. The bad news is that I'm not going to give you the directions to Elizabeth's Pi Are Square Shawl because she covers it herself beautifully in her book Knitting Around which is currently on sale at Knit Picks and has not only this wonderful pattern but many others and also some very amusing writing about Elizabeth's life. The Pi shawl is a relaxing knit with plenty of garter stitch, and yet still has enough room for innovation to keep you awake. It is a perfect blend of Oatmeal Knitting (comforting and bland) and Thinking Woman's Knitting (Lace, shaping and keeping your wits about you). It is also an excellent shawl for wearing because the shape and the weight keep it on your shoulders without you having to be constantly clutching at it. I use mine out amongst the people and in the kitchen over my nightgown. It is very useful to me.
The yarn I chose is from Peacefleece and is their sport weight in Sheplova Mushroom. Click on Sheplova Mushroom to buy your own, or to choose from some of the other lovely colors. I am a long time fan of Peacefleece for both the quality of their products and the quality of their business plan, and you will find references to them through out my blog and site. I use their yarn for my French Schoolgirl Cardigan, the Latvian Mittens and Socks, and my Shopping Shawl, for example. This picture is a Studio Shot of the remarkable Martha Mai, the essential coffee set up in the background, and the Shawl for Me on the blocking board. Note the blocking wires, which are invaluable for blocking lace shawls. You can get these at Knitpicks for a reasonable price -- or, as one of my Studio Knitters commented, you can just stop by the studio with your finished project and use mine!