I want you all to know that a miracle has occurred. An honest-to-goodness miracle.
I have finished a knitting project.
Sure it's a simple scarf/cowl that most normal knitters would have had finished in about two days. But I would say I'm not your normal knitter. In fact, I might be the world's slowest knitter.
I can put a project down and it can stay down for days, weeks even. I guess if I'm being totally honest, I'd have to say I can put it down for months.
Now don't get me wrong. I love to knit. And I certainly have more than my share of beautiful yarn at my disposal. What I don't have is time. Long, uninterrupted stretches of time that can be filled with knitting.
But this past week, I gave myself a talking to and said, "Sit down. Grab your knitting. FINISH SOMETHING! You have too many half-done projects hanging over your head!" Surprisingly, I listened to myself.
So out came the Fred and Michaelangelo yarn and one project moved from the To Do list to the Done list.
Fred and Michaelangelo are my two favorite goats and this yarn is 100% mohair.
Fred has gone on to live in greener pastures so this is the last of his yarn, making it all the more special. Fred deserved to have a project completed out of his yarn.
But something very odd happened while I was knitting.
The knitting "bug" bit and I can't/won't/don't want to stop knitting. I've moved on to another cowl called the North Market Neck Wrap.
I picked up this pattern a few months ago at Knitter's Merchantile in Columbus. The designer is local and every finished piece I picked up and admired at Knitter's Merchantile was from her. If you are a Ravelry member, you can find and purchase her patterns under the name NorthbrooKnits.
One day into my new project, and I'd say I'm moving along nicely.
This yarn is a blend of llama and merino and is super soft.
So this afternoon, I think I'll head out to the patio with my knitting and a radio to listen to the Cleveland Browns game (They are actually winning. Think I may have just cursed them putting that in writing!) and spend a few hours working on another project.
Two completed projects in one month. I might be becoming a knitting addict.
For That'll Do Farm, the last full weekend in September is always reserved for National Alpaca Farm Days. It's the weekend we throw open the barn doors and welcome visitors to show them what life on an alpaca/sheep/goat/bee/produce farm is all about.
We've always had great weather, (you know I've now just jinxed it for next year!) and this year was no exception. Visitors were lining up to see the alpacas.
And to maybe meet one up-close-and-personal . . . even if there was some initial fear.
One of our Fiber CSA knitters finished her "Charlie's Angel" sweater in time to wear it to the Open House and to model with the animal that produced the beautiful yarn.
Alpaca and sweater got along just fine.
The bees behaved themselves nicely for the event as well.
Visitors were able to see the queen on one of the frames.
We even had a visitor whom we have dubbed the "Bee Whisperer" for obvious reasons.
And no, she did not get stung.
However, most of the crowd decided to tour the bee yard from a more respectible distance.
The goats, as always, were a crowd favorite.
Within five minutes of the first guests arriving, the goats figured out if they stood by the gate and bleated like babies, they would soon get acorns and scratches on the head.
Goats can work a crowd like nobody's business.
We are lucky to have a group of dedicated knitters that spend the last Saturday of every month knitting with us here at the farm, and the Open House happens to fall on the last Saturday of the month. These ladies are prolific. Sweaters, socks, scarves, blankets . . . you name it, these women knit it and knit it well.
They showed visitors what they were knitting and told them the ins-and-outs of their projects. I think we may have hooked a few new knitters! We're always happy to introduce newbies to a brand new addiction . . . I mean craft.
So a great big thank you to all who came out to tour the farm. We appreciate your support and your interest in the farm.
Hope to see you next year!
The hookers, and one knitter, were back at the farm last week.
I am slowly making progress on a rug I started last Spring.
The inside is finally done, now its just trees, flowers and background and I'll be done. So let's see, that's about another year's worth of work. That's all.
Jane was working on a vase rug, with beautiful needle felted flowers.
Lauren was at a loss as to what to hook next, so she just decided to start a little sheep rug.
I agonize for months about what to hook next. I think about it. I ring my hands. I talk myself into and out of so many rugs before finally deciding what to do. And when I actually pick a design, I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. Yup, all that over one little rug decision.
But Lauren is not plagued by the decision-making demons that follow me around. Nope. She said its hooking night by golly, and I'm gonna draw me up a sheep. In my next life, I'm coming back with the ability to do that.
New Fiber CSA member Katrina came by to meet her alpaca and knit with us for a bit.
That's Farmer Gal Marilyn getting Annelise under control for her close-up. Annelise had just had her shots and was not too excited about more human touching. But once she realized that there would be no more shots that day, she calmed down and allowed herself to to touched ... just a bit.
Katrina is knitting a cover for one of those ginormous exercise balls, which she uses for her chair at work.
That's going to be a whole lot of knitting. I'll be anxious to see her progress.
If you knit, hook or spin, join us for the next Sit-n-Knit Day, which is this Saturday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. spend a few hours with us perfecting your craft and laughing. While we take our respective crafts seriously, we are not serious while we are working on them.
Hope to see you Saturday.
How did you do with "Superstorm" Sandy?
We were warned that the back end of it would hit Ohio, but who knew it would be the whopper it was way out here, 500-plus miles from the East Coast.
Southern Ohio got snow. Those of us on the North Coast enjoyed high winds and rain, rain, rain. An ark-building amount of rain. All the rain we didn't get this Summer arrived over the past few days.
Lake Erie was an angry lake for several days.
We've been without power since Monday, but late Saturday afternoon was our lucky day. Crews from Kentucky arrived (many of Ohio's power crews were sent to New York), restored power, and all is right with the world.
And now that the power is on, I can get back to the really important stuff, like dyeing yarn.
I've been playing at the dye pot, making "dirty" colors, like this spicy pumpkin colored alpaca yarn.
It came out of its first dye bath looking a little vivid. Vivid like you could see it shining from space.
Don't get me wrong. Vivid colors have their place (firefighter's jackets, posters for high school fundrasing car washes, and New Year's party dresses), but I like more "earthy" colors. Colors that might actually appear in nature.
But a second trip to the dye pot rendered the color you see. I'm a happy camper with this color.
So I moved on to dyeing mustard colors, with a hint of black-ish/green.
These are both worsted weight yarns, 85% alpaca with 15% merino mixed in. They'll be up on our Etsy site ASAP.
Hope the power is on in your neck of the woods and you've made it safely through Sandy.
Yesterday was the start of our new, all-day, second and fourth Wednesday of the month Sit-N-Knit/Spin/Hook. That's a mouthful to say, itsn't it.
What it means is that on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, the farm is open to anyone who wants to come to knit, rug hook, spin . . . or whatever other fiber addition (legal, of course) they practice. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and people are welcome to drop in anytime.
And drop in they did.
We started the morning off with the hookers.
They came armed with completed rugs.
Rugs in progress.
Rugs with a touch of glimmer and shimmer.
Some of the hookers came armed with knitting. These are multi-talented fiber addicts. Why limit yourself to one addiction when there are so many out there.
Shortly after the hookers/knitters left to find lunch in the near-by town of Oberlin, my cousin and her friend showed up to needle felt and learn to spin.
My cousin Renee is a fiber newbie. She CURRENTLY doesn't have any sort of fiber addiction, but I'm doing my best to fix that.
Renee brought her friend Glenna to the farm to learn to spin.
But we couldn't let Renee sit here, on a beautiful day, without any sort of fiber in her hands.
So we handed her really sharp needles and a bit of wool and told her to get busy.
Soon, she was a expert at needle felted pumpkins . . . and bandage application.
Perhaps another addict is born? Time will tell.
Glenna experienced the same difficulties I did when learning to spin. But after a few hours, she was starting to get the hang of it. Who knows, maybe two fiber addicts were born yesterday. One can only hope!
Later in the day, more hookers came to spend a exceptionally warm fall evening with us.
Melissa assured me that her turkey rug was not going to be done for Thanksgiving. It is a Christmas present for her parents. I was starting to feel my old friend Mr. Underachivement visiting me, but knowing that this rug won't be done in mere weeks made me feel better.
But then, she pulled out two recently completed pillows and underachivement came flying right back in.
It didn't go away anytime soon because Lauren, one of the students at a recent Deanne Fitzpatrick-style hooking class held here at the farm, came by with her completed rug.
My rug from the same class is still without sky, completed houses or rolling hills.
But I'm taking my cues from Scarlett O'Hara and not going to let it botter me today. I'm going to think about that tomorrow.
Today, it is an unseasonably warm and sunny day. I'm going to go "play" in the herb garden . . . and dream about completing a rug.
By the way -- our next Wednesday, all-day fiber addict adventure is November 14. Come on out. We're also here this Saturday, October 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for more of the same.
I'm guessing here, but I'll bet the Olympics are a boon for crafters everywhere.
So far, we've had night after night of compelling sport watching, and my crafting is through the roof.
The Olympics, while really good, are still games that don't have to be followed too closely. The games are not, for example, a television series ike Downton Abbey. That is a show that can't be watched while crafting. It has to be followed second by second or you're lost. Miss a minute of this over-the-top melodrama and you have no idea if Mary is upset her intended has drowned with the Titanic and she has to marry her working class cousin or if she is really in love with him and happy about the prospect. This is an important fact you need to catch if you plan to follow the storyline.
Really, how can one be expected to knit and pay attention to stitches while all that is going on.
But the Olympics are different.
You can knit an entire row while the beach volleyball athletes are tugging at their tiny suits, making sure no wardrobe malfunctions will occur while spiking the ball at 90 miles an hour. A whole scarf could be made while the marathon is on. They are, after all, just running. Look up from your craft after five minutes and sure enough, they are still running. Nothing major has happened; they've just run another mile.
I am determined to finish a felted scarf during the games.
I started with this indigo-dyed alpaca yarn.
I will not set an Olympic speed knitting record, but I've come this far:
Once it's done, I'll throw it in the washer and it will instantly felt and become this:
Except mine will be blue, and it will have a different button. Oh yeah, and that's not me in the jean jacket. But other than those difference, it will be exactly like this.
A few rug hooking friends came by the farm today to do a little hooking.
Check out this rug in shades of black, grey and off white.
Here's the picture of what it will become when done.
I've never worked on a monochromatic rug before. I think it would be very difficult to get all those details in while working only with shades of the same color. And yet I have no doubt this rug will be stunning when finished.
As will this one:
I'm working on another rug as well, but haven't gotten very far.
At my current rug crafting rate, this will be done by the 2016 Olympic games.
But I will have a finished scarf to show for the 2012 Olympics. You'll see.
I'd be a wealthy woman if I had a dollar for every time I had someone tell me, "Why are you knitting that? You can buy perfectly good scarves (socks, hats, sweaters, etc...) at the store really cheap."
And they're right. You can buy perfectly good scarves, sweaters and hats at the store. Beautifully made. And you can buy them with much less effort than goes into making them yourself.
But that's all they are. Things. Things you've purchased, but aren't "involved" with. Things that don't have a history behind them.
You haven't put hours of your time into them. You haven't crafted a memory.
Memories. That's the important piece that's left out of the buy-it-at-the-store equation.
Handmade items are more than just the sum of their parts. They are honest to goodness memories.
Recently, I asked my knitting friend Pam, who also quilts, if she would make a t-shirt quilt for my daughter's high school graduation. She said she'd never made one before, but she'd give it a whirl.
And what a whirl she gave it.
I'm in love with this super soft quilt and so is my daughter. Because of the memories. When she is away at college, she'll have a piece of home with her and the knowledge that it was made especially for her.
For me, the memories are two-fold.
One, that a friend would take time out of her life to make something so meaningful for our family means the world to me. I will never look at this quilt and not think of Pam. She has sealed her fate as a member of our extended family. That's a wonderful tie. She has crafted a strong memory indeed.
And two, the individual t-shirts in the quilt will always remind me of events in my daughter's life.
Hours upon hours of soccer games. In the heat, cold, rain, snow, sleet -- one t-shirt can bring it all back.
This one will remind me of the weekend trip we took to Bloomington to check out Indiana University. Trying to buy the shirt without Meredith knowing what it was for was quite a feat.
But now her new life as a college student will be tied to her old life back home. That's what handcrafted things can do.
This handmade sweater will forever remind me of my knitting friend Stacey, who has tremendous faith in my ability as a knitter. Much more than I have in myself.
She told me I could knit it, and by golly, she was right. There were countless hours spent with her and other knitting friends -- hours that found us all laughing, eating, drinking and general socializing together during the construction of this sweater. So while you see a simple sweater, I see my friends.
Recently, I spent a beautiful day working on this sampler rug with Katie Allman and a group of very nice rug hookers.
We spent a few hours hooking on the sidewalk outside a nice little store in a small town on the shores of Lake Erie. A boy scout troop was selling hamburgers down the street. They came by to take our order, and then brought our burgers back, complete with young boy toothy grins and service with a smile. We never had to leave our chairs. Then we walked next door to an old fashioned ice cream parlor for an ice cream cone. It was as close to a Mayberry moment as I've ever had.
So this rug will always be a reminder of that perfect day. A relaxing day filled with friendship and memories.
If you don't currently do some sort of handwork, I really would urge you to give it a try. What you make doesn't matter. Knit. Crochet. Rug Hook. Rubber Stamp. Spin. Find a group of like-minded people and start creating.
You are crafting memories that are so much more important than the end product.
In my humble opinion, everybody needs a sheep. A sheep to call one's own. Here's mine:
(picture from www.spudandchloe.com)
Almost a year ago, I purchased this fabulous book by author Susan B. Anderson, but only a day or two ago did I finally decide to knit something from it. And I had to start with the star of the show, the Mr. Spud.
If I'm going to be a fiber farmer, then by golly I'm going to knit fiber animals, like Spud. And chickens, too. We have chickens so I knit chickens. And the dog. Same thing: have a dog, knit a dog. And the hay bales. And the barn. Oh, heck, I'm just going to knit the whole darn barnyard.
It took me a few attempts to get the hang of making Spud's curls.
But now that I have figured it out, I am knitting at lightning speed . . . for me. Which is turtle pace for most humans.
It's a fun little project that, once you get to the fuzzy part of the sheep, is easy to do without constantly checking the pattern.
Next up from this book, the farm dog pattern. It is done in brown and black, but in honor of the border collies at the farm, I will make it in black and white.
I would hightly recommend making yourself a sheep. These eat a lot less than the big ones we have in the pasture and there is no clean-up. That is a winning combination.
Anytime you can post a picture of champagne and yarn together, it's going to be a good day.
And today was a good day.
Today was the last Sit-N-Knit of the year at the farm. We had a smaller crowd than usual, but they were certainly festive.
We toasted to a new year filled with yarn and knitting and all things fiber.
Then we got down to the serious business of knitting.
You can tell we were serious by the look on knitter Julie's (in back) face. Oh we may talk champagne and frivolity, but when the needles come out, we are all business. Corrie was attempting to teach a tricky two circular needles at a time cast on for seamless toe up socks.
So tricky in fact that I simply heard the title of the project and threw down my knitting needles and picked up my rug hooking. Guess what I worked on. Bet you can get it on the first guess.
That's right. The never ending Sheep in Sunflower rug. I think I've been working on this since I was in diapers. I hope to have it done before I need them again!
For the others, the two circular needle cast on did not go well.
At the end of an hour or so, all the needles were thrown down in disgust and easier projects were picked up.
Finished objects were displayed and admired.
We oohd and awwed over them and made mental notes to add them to our "to knit" list.
And then, in what felt like only minutes, Sit-N-Knit was over. Another year of knitting behind us.
I hope that in 2012 you find more time for those hobbies that make you happy. Those things that can bring you together with friends for a few hours of down time, talking about nothing or talking about really important things.
Best wishes to all of you for a happy and healthy new year!
Jane Austen. The mere mention of her name sends some bibliophiles swooning.
I am a fan, but not a take-a-trek-to-Bath, festival-going, dress-up-in-period-costume kind of fan. Just a regular, everyday kind of fan.
But Interweave magazine recently came out with a magazine called Jane Austen Knits and now my head is swimming with all things Jane.
I've taken out every adaptation of every Jane Austen movie that our library system has. Same with the audio books so I can knit and listen to her stories at the same time. I fear I am turning into a certified Jane fan -- or maybe a certifiable fan.
I seriously looked at these on the Jane Austen Centre's website. Somebody stop me.
The patterns in Jane Austen Knits are not something I would normally knit. I like most of them, but they are delicate and refined -- two words that do not normally describe my knitting.
My knitting is usually described as chunky and functional. Bulky yarns. Not lacey yarns. Easy patterns. Not hard patterns.
But I am expanding my horizons. "As God as my witness, they're not going to lick me." I'm going to knit some of these patterns. (Different author, different time period, but anytime you have the opportunity to throw in a Gone with the Wind quote, you've got to take it!)
The patterns are divided into themes: Country, Manor, Garden & Town. I will knit one from each section. Now remember, I am the world's slowest knitter, so this might take some time. But I will keep you updated.
Run, don't walk 'cause it's selling fast, to your nearest bookstore to get a copy of this magazine and start knitting. If you make something from one of the patterns, send me a picture and we'll post it here.
My hope is that Interweave will do a whole series of author-knit books. I personally would love a Laura Ingalls Wilder Knits. Or maybe a Lucy Maud Montgomery Knits.
But for now, Jane and I will spend the winter knitting together.
(all knitting photos are from Jane Austen Knits 2011)
Saturday was Sit-N-Knit at the farm and, as always, a good time was had by all.
We sat and knit sweaters.
And detailed shawls.
And things with mind-numbing charts.
And when we were done, we took a little stroll out to the barn and pasture to visit with the alpacas.
And the goats.
And, as always, we had a wonderful time. The last Saturday of the month is reserved for Sit-N-Knit, which is open to anybody who knits, is thinking about knitting, doesn't knit but wants to spend the day laughing, or really, anybody who is alive and breathing and enjoys politically incorrect banter. Join us sometime.
Come and fondle the new yarn.
It arrived from the mill yesterday and is beautiful. Soft, rich natural colors.
We had some dyed and the result is this wonderful navy/deep purple color.
It will soon be up in the "For Sale" category of the website.
New roving and more yarn is expected back from the mill any day now. We will keep you posted.
Saturday is going to be an All Fiber, All The Time kind of day.
That'll Do Farm is a member of the Ohio Natural Fiber Network, a group of fiber producers and artists that are sold on the idea that local fiber, from a farmer and animal you know, is the best possible fiber out there. If it's hand dyed by a local artist, so much the better!
River Colors Studio in Lakewood has invited the Network to take part in Ohio Fiber Day on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.
Local artists and fiber producers will be on hand to show customers why Ohio yarns are "all that" and then some. Network members are bringing locally grown, beautiful alpaca, llama, rabbit, sheep and goat fiber, in yarn, fleece and roving form.
If you are a swooner over soft, wonderful fiber, Saturday is your day!
Come on out and watch the hand dyeing and painting demos at 1, 2 & 3 p.m., as well as carding, spinning, and needle felting demos throughout the afternoon.
Destination Yarn will be there, too, with some new colorways.
Bring a chair. Stay for the day and knit. Or spin. Or just talk. Dewey's Pizza is right around the corner -- walking distance! -- from the studio so you can stroll on over their for lunch and perhaps some liquid refreshment.
I think it's a perfect way to spend the day. I hope you can join us.
Twice a month, we offer open Sit-N-Knits at the farm.
We knit. We talk. We tell bad jokes. We eat sweets. And we laugh. Boy do we laugh.
But mostly we knit.
We knit socks.
We knit intricate beaded shawls that need detailed patterns.
Sometimes we accidentally pull out the row we are working on, but no worries. Other knitters will come to the rescue and then we can stay calm and knit on.
And sometimes we decide not to knit at all, but to learn a new skill -- like needle felting. And even though we are months away from pumpkin season, if pumpkins are the easiest thing to learn to needle felt, we needle felt a pumpkin.
I enjoy the heck out of the Sit-N-Knits. Mostly because you never know what is going to happen. For instance, many people bring a treat to pass and share. But sometimes, you never know what a knitter will show up with.
O.K., O.K., this wasn't an actual treat to share among the knitters. It was a gift from one knitter to another's cat, but the cans sat on the table next to the goodies. It certainly made me wonder.
Make plans to join us for the next Sit-N-Knit. They are held the first Tuesday and the last Saturday of every month, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.-ish. If you've never knit before, don't worry. Bring some needles and a bit of yarn and somebody in the group will be able to help you start.
I promise we will give you only cheesecake and cookies . . . no cat food.
The beekeeper and I took a busman's holiday on Saturday. We took a drive down to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky. We hung out with lots of sheep and alpacas and llamas. You know, something we don't get to do very often.
We even put a quarter in the grain "candy machine" for a handful of grain to feed this wonderful llama. Something must happen to people on road trips because we found it perfectly acceptable to pay to feed other people's animals. I blame it on the sun.
We studied this flock of Cormo sheep for a long time. This is one of the breeds we are thinking of adding to the farm. They are awfully cute . . . which is the number one requirement when deciding which breed to bring home.
They also happen to produce some of the nicest wool with which to knit. Let's see: Cute animal. Nice wool. I think our mind is pretty much made up.
I chatted briefly with Miss Susan B. Anderson, author of the fabulous new book Spud and Chloe at the Farm. Spud is the darling knit sheep and Chloe is his human friend. You've got to love a sheep named Spud. That's a perfect name for a sheep. Just perfect.
I am hard at work knitting my own Spud and Chloe farm. Sheep, people, dogs, cats, mice, staw bales and even a barn and picket fence. All the patterns are in this book and it is all cute beyond belief. Some may say you've gone too far when you start knitting picket fences, but I think it is a perfect thing to knit. After all, how many scarves can a girl need. At some point, you've got to brach out into fencing.
I tried really hard to put this Angora goat into the back of the station wagon, but Mr. Beekeeper noticed. He said I wouldn't have time for more goats. I'd be too busy knitting a picket fence.
Last month, my friend Knitter Extraordinaire Stacey brought a copy of this book to knitting night.
KE Stacey, being the owner of more sock yarn than you can shake a foot at, suggested our little montly group all knit something out of the book and have a "show-and-tell" night later in the year.
That got the wheels turning in my head (it takes a bit of time, but the wheels still do turn -- slowly, veeerrry slowly).
Most knitters have a stash of yarn and my guess is some of that stash is sock yarn. So here's the deal: Grab a copy of this book (mine is from the local library), pick a pattern you like and start knitting. When you finish the project, take a picture and send it to me at BrightonWool@aol.com
On April 15th (also known as dreaded tax day), I'll post all the pictures here and randomly draw the winner. What, you may ask, does the winner win? Why more sock yarn, of course!
This is no ordinary sock yarn. This is beautiful, soft alpaca sock yarn from the handsome Mick, who is out stand ing in his field -- literally.
Sorry. I just can't resist a bad pun.
So fire up your needles. Get your paws on a copy of the book and start knitting.
I'm going to make this doll sweater:
But I really like this scarf:
I would attempt this dog sweater if (a) my dog wouldn't bite my hands off if I attempted to dress her like a doll and (b) the other dogs on the farm wouldn't laugh at her for wearing a coat that wasn't hunter's orange.
You could always knit socks from your stash of sock yarn. The book has a pattern or two for socks.
So run to your local library or book store to get a copy of the book "Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders" and let the knitting begin. Send me a picture of your completed project by April 15th and you'll be entered in the contest.
Good luck and happy knitting!
Do you remember when you were younger and could do one thing for hours on end, never getting bored, never wanting to do anything else? Maybe you and your friends played Monopoly on the picnic table under the Weeping Willow every day for an entire Summer, like we did.
Or perhaps you were obsessed with four square, or hide-n-seek, or riding your bike around the entire neighborhood -- all things I did every single day at certain times in my life.
Well, apparently, you don't outgrow that. At least I haven't. Maybe you normal people have, but I'm still stuck in those pre-teen years when you felt like you had to "consume" a subject.
My current "subject" is spinning, knitting and dyeing. To be fair, I've been obsessed with knitting for a long time and don't show any signs of outgrowing it. But spinning and dyeing are two new arrivals on the scene and it looks like they are going to stay awhile, too.
And when I'm not spinning, or knitting, or dyeing, I'm reading about it.
This was last night's read. I got it at my local library and I am a very happy camper I did not purchase it. I don't think I'm hip enough, or cool enough or what-ever-the-new-word-of-the-day is enough to appreciate it properly. I'm still too new a spinner to dabble in unusual yarns. At this stage of the game, I just want my yarn to look like yarn.
I did learn a lot, however, and I'm glad I read it. For those of you that are interested in spinning unusual things (like paper and other recycled things), give it a try. The photography is beautiful and she has clear drawings showing the principles of adding things into the yarn as you are spinning.
This book I love.
I've read it from cover-to-cover -- twice. It has lots of how-to pictures and at my stage of the spinning game, I need a lot of how-to pictures. I'm working up to the dyeing part of the book.
Next on my current reading list is this book:
It includes clear instructions and pictures on how to "personalize your craft with organic colors from acorns, blackberries, coffee, and other everyday ingredients."
I have acorns, blackberries, coffee and other everyday ingredients.
I want to personalize my craft.
So you can see why this book had to come home with me. Now all I need is nice weather so I can skip through the farm gathering acorns and blackberries. Coffee is an easy find. No skipping required.
And finally, the last book in my fiber obsession world is this one:
Knitter Extraordinaire Stacey brought a copy with her to a recent knitting night. Having a stash of sock yarn that has yet to be turned into socks, I thought it highly appropriate that I march up to the library and check it out for myself. KE Stacey was right. It is a good book.
In fact, she was so right that all you knitters need to check back in the next day or two for a fun little contest we're going to have surrounding this book.
As long as I'm obsessed with all things fiber, I might as well bring you along too!
Like a dog with a bone. That's me and learning to spin.
I spent Sunday afternoonn at the spinning wheel with some beautiful alpaca roving from silver Lining.
She's a lovely girl and her roving is a very dark grey.
I was going to make usable yarn if it took me all day -- and it just about did.
As many of you know, I'm new to spinning. So far, the spinning wheel has been winning the war, but I am improving ever so slightly and no longer spin rope-like yarn.
Yesterday was going to be the day I willed myself to spin something attractive. (You may have figured out that I am also slightly stubborn. I prefer to think of myself as "strong willed" or "determined" -- sounds much better than stubborn!)
So with determination (stubbornness) and concentration (deeply furrowed brow), I sat down to spin. The spinning stars were aligned and my spinning was actually not bad.
I filled two bobbins and loaded up the Lazy Kate for plying them together.
After the yarn was plyed, I wound it on the Knittty Noddy to skein it. (Lazy Kate. Knitty Noddy -- you gotta love these words!)
Then it was time for the yarn's warm bath to set the twist.
After it was bathed, rinsed and bathed two more times, I hung it to dry. And guess what?
This morning I had actual yarn of which I am not ashamed!
There it is. Thirty yards of "not bad."
I love, love, LOVE the process of spinning. I've also decided that practice spinning is over. It's time to get down to real spinning and then knitting something from what I've spun.
My brow is furrowed deeper than ever now.
Let's Face Facts. There are others in the knitting world that knit faster than me.
When I get together with knitting friends, I mostly yap and do very little knitting. I blame my Italian heritage. We talk with our hands. If you are talking with your hands, you can't knit much.
But 2011 is going to be different, by golly. I am going to knit more and flail my hands less.
To prove it, I have started this pretty little Honey Cowl from a free pattern by Madelinetosh.
This yarn, while not Madelinetosh, is hand dyed from plant material. I picked it up at a booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival way back in May and I'm finally, getting around to using it.
But this cowl shall be done on January 1st. I will start off 2011 with a finished project.
At least on January one, my resolution will stand strong.
As I have already freely admitted, I have a fiber problem. I think I've also mentioned that I am not alone in this addiction. There are many, many others out there that share my same obsession.
Sometimes they are fellow knitters. Sometimes they are fellow spinners. And sometimes they are fellow rug hookers.
The other night, I was hanging out with the rug hookers.
They were working on Santa rugs.
And snowman rugs.
And Father Christmas pillows.
But then they got a little confused.
Hookers turned into counted cross stitchers.
And cabled throw makers.
And even thrumed mitted makers.
You see, hookers are a fickle lot.
They are not loyal to one fiber. You show a hooker a beautiful yarn or a new needlework chart and they are off and running.
This group is leading me down a bad path. I was perfectly normal until I started hangin' with the hookers. Really.
I love to knit and I love to rug hook.
I love the feel of exquisite yarn between my hands, begging me to turn it into a scarf, or a hat, or maybe a sweater. I love assembling half yards of just-the-right-color hand dyed wool and cutting it into strips for a rug.
But what I love most about this crazy fiber world in which I live is that I am not alone. There are perfectly normal (??) people out there that share my obsession with wool. And they like to assemble.
We get together frequently to hook, or spin, or knit. But mostly we get together to yap. And to solve all the world's problems. If you walked into a knitting or hooking group, you would be surprised (dare I say shocked!!) at what we talk about. This is not your Grandma's coffee klatch!
This past weekend, the knitters got together for a Christmas party and stocking stuffer exchange.
Our hostess assembed stockings for us all and we were to bring a stocking stuffer for each. This is the first year I attended the party and didn't quite know what to expect, but I was certainly not disappointed. There are some clever people in this group, let me tell you!
The first "stuffer" I opened was this pin, which I promptly attached to my knitting bag. Now I can proudly share my addiction with perfect strangers.
Next came these fiber related magnets, also proclaiming my addiction. (Yes, I know the rabbit on the left side of the picture is upside down. I know it now, but for the longest time I was convinced this was the way it should be. Opps!) Way too cute.
Even my car keys can shout out that I am addicted to fiber with this hand made mini bag key chain.
Really, only those with a fiber dependence would be as excited as I was to receive these fabulous hand knit magnets. Cute, cute, cute.
Every "stuffer" was prefect and I cherish the thought and effort that went into each and every one.
If you are not a knitter or a rug hooker or a spinner, I urge you to become one today. Sure, you'll make some really cool stuff along the way. But the most important thing you'll make is a whole slew of new friends. Yes, they will be a bit crazy, but in a good way.
You know that image that comes to mind when you think of a typical knitter -- an elderly lady with neat grey hair, rocking by the fireplace on a winter's eve while sipping a nice cup of herbal tea, metal needles clacking away as she makes a baby blanket.
Well take that image and throw it out the window! Sit-N-Knit days at the farm are not your grandma's knitting. Except for the herbal tea. We do indulge in herbal tea so that stereotype can stay. But every other stereotype you have is wrong, wrong, wrong!
This past weekend, the farm was open to anyone who wanted to come out to spend a few hours knitting. And thank goodness a raucous group showed up. Raucousness is always fun.
We discussed everything from our favorite books to holiday horror stories, and a good time was had by all. In fact, my sides still hurt from all the laughing we did.
Sure, someone was knitting a baby sweater. But they had the good sense to knit it in Ohio State colors and not the typical blues, pinks or yellows of most baby sweaters. I like a bit of originality. Take THAT Mr. Stereotype.
Sure, someone was knitting a baby sweater. But they had the good sense to knit it in Ohio State colors and not the typical blues, pinks or yellows of most baby sweaters. I like a bit of originality. Take THAT Mr. Stereotype.
Someone else was making socks, beautiful socks. In luxurious-to-the-touch yarn.
Another knitter, with more patience than I will ever have -- and I mean EVER -- was making a stunning shawl.
And yet another knitter was working on socks, two at a time:
So, if you're a knitter looking to blow a stereotype or two out of the water, plan to join us for Sit-N-Knit days.
Spinners and Rug Hookers have their own Sit-N-Spin or Sit-N-Hook (No jokes there, please. We've heard them all already!) days as well. All are free and open to any skill level. Check out the classes and events page for dates.
All we require is that you bring a sense of humor and a willingness to transcend stereotypes!
Last week, I attended a Knit-A-Long at one of my favorite local yarn stores, Smith's Home Furnishings and Floor Coverings in Oberlin.
Yes, they have beautiful yarn and helpful salespeople, but besides that, they have the best name ever for a yarn store: Home Furnishings and Floor Coverings. You have to guess there is yarn in there -- it's a secret. Kind of quirky, which fits the quirky town of Oberlin. Who else would sell floors, furniture and yarn?
I love quirky.
I went to learn how to make thrummed mittens. What the heck, you ask, is a thrummed mitten? The Yarn Harlot has an excellent definition, along with pictures of thrums and a how-to section.
So I began to thrum my little heart out.
Confession time: I love thrumming! It's like magic. A little bit of roving knit into the pattern adds a lot of character and puff to your project. It's fun to watch the little heart-shaped thrums appear. (Now I will admit that I am currently under the influence of heavy-duty Bronchitis medication, which makes me unable to sleep. Sleep deprivation could account for my unnatural love of thrums. Or I could be plain old nuts. But whatever the reason, do try making these. I bet you'll find them fun, too!)
The inside is so fluffy and warm, like a mini sauna for your hands. These are knitting up so quickly and easily I feel a thrum Christmas coming on. Thrum hats and mittens for everyone!
O.K., that's the medication talking again. Who am I kidding. I'm the world's slowest knitter. How about this: A thrum gift for one person!! Now that I can live up to.
I'm using Poems 100% wool yarn, by Universal Yarn. I love the way it is creating it's own pattern through the color variegation.
Bring it on Winter. One pair of hands in Northern Ohio will be ready for you!
It's here folks; the start of Holiday Craft Show Season.
The shows started in ernest this weekend. The Santa Claus Stop. Nutcracker Sweets. A Harvest Bazaar. Hollydaze. Pick a cute holiday name and they will build a craft show around it.
They had a beautiful display of handmade scarves, hats, ornaments, mittens, hand dyed yarn, wraps and more, more, more!
And business was brisk. What good news!
If I can climb onto my soapbox again (I've been hauling it out quite regularly lately!), I would like to urge each and every one of you to do a bit of local shopping this holiday season.
Find a craft show. Shop at your local mom and pop store. Spend your money in your local community.
Buy at least one gift this year from a local artist you've actually met and talked with rather than another generic gift from a faceless big box store.
Most artists at these holiday craft shows make the majority of their income in the next month -- money that they then turn around and spend in the local community. It's a win-win situation.
Not to mention the fact that this stuff is really cool. And unique. You will not find a hand knit or felted hat at your local Walmart, that's for sure.
O.K., that's it. I'm off the soapbox. Not too much of a lecture this time. Happy shopping.
That is the exact number of trick-or-treaters we had at our house tonight.
We don't have many kids around us, so five is not that unusual of a number. In fact, we get so few kids that I always try to bribe trick-or-treaters by buying full size candy.
Apparently, these five hooligans weren't spreading the word about the good loot at our house because five it's always been and five it was again tonight.
So, after carving pumpkins with my daughter,
and setting them out on the front porch,
I sat down to finish knitting these fun, fun, fun knitted, felted sunflowers while waiting for the throngs to show up.
I had lots of time to knit. Two whole hours, interrupted only three times by that ring of the bell and the yelling of "Trick-or-Treat."
Two whole hours to finish knitting the many, many, MANY petals on the sunflower, and now I'm done.
Tomorrow, I'll throw the whole thing into the washing machine and out will come a glorious, felted sunflower.
Sometimes, I miss the millions of kids in cute costumes at my door, begging me to throw a sugar-laden treat into their pumpkin-shaped bags. But then I remember that halloween equals uninterrupted knitting and I am a happy camper again.
I have a completed sunflower to show for Halloween 2010.
It's here people.
The best season of the year: Magic Pumpkin Season.
What, you might ask, is Magic Pumpkin Season? Don't perfectly normal people call this time of year Fall? Some may even say Autumn. And aren't pumpkins just overgrown squash that kids carve up at Halloween and we make pies out of for Thanksgiving? Nothing magical there.
All of that is true. But there is something about the sight of pumpkins that stirs the heart and makes it turn towards wool and fiber with a dedicated ferver.
And that is the magic. Pumpkins, magically, make me want to knit. And knit lots.
I have proof.
I may be the world's slowest knitter, but pumpkins arrived at the farm this week and look what I finished:
First, my most favorite scarf in the whole, wide world, knit with yarn from one of my most favorite companies in the whole, wide world. Briar Rose Fiber.
I bought this beautiful yarn at a festival back in March. I've been working on the scarf, off and on, since then. But one good pumpkin sighting and, voila, it's finished.
This stunningly soft yarn and hand painted matching silk scarf were purchased at a knitting show in Columbus back in June. I've been working on it, too, off and on, since then.
Same story here. One pumpkin sighting and the scarf is finished. I'm telling you pumpkins are magic.
Still don't believe me? Then how can you explain the socks??? They, too, have been in my bag since the beginning of time and are now done. The only possible explaination is the magic of the pumpkin.
If you're in a knitting rut, go out and get yourself some pumpkins. Stick them around the house. They will work their magic. Soon, you will have three -- that's right, THREE -- completed projects.
And that is magic.