Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I know, I know it's been forever since I've blogged. I even began going through pix I've taken over the last couple weeks to create a single huge catch-up post. It soon proved to be overwhelming. Waaay too many things to tell you, waaaay too many knitting FO's to show off, even if I do have pix of less than half of them. Suffice to say, I didn't really plan on doing any Holiday knitting, but with the many days of being homebound due to snow, ice, blowing snow and power outage I did in fact get a LOT knitted. Nearly everyone at our big family x-mas that was psotponed until Sunday, got a little something handknitted by me, those who didn't as well as some repeat "customers" have placed their orders for more. It's really nice to have some goals in mind when picking up the needles and casting on.

OK enough catching up, on to the real reason that finally prompted me to write a new post.

Vindication. It is an excellent motivator. Yes, I'm feeling snarky and smug. Joe has thought I was crazy for nearly a year, now I have proof it is not so. OK it is true in most aspects in my life I am in fact a tad bit "touched" but there is this one thing for which I was thought to be crazy, delusional, or perhaps merely hallcinating but now I have proof that he was grossly mistaken in doubting me.......Last year I saw a black bear not too far from the house and now I have proof that the creature does exist. On the Quad City news tonight they showed pix of the bear. Here is a link to the story.

Ahhhhh I feel so good right now. Crazy for crazy's sake is one thing, crazy because of doubt is damaging to one's psyche.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

14+ Hours

This is what a somewhat neurotic (ok, ok, totally nuts) mother does while her baby is driving 14 hours (in good weather) across icy roads,


through sleet and snow,


in a high profile vehicle, with winds gusting 45mph.


single digit temperatures,


from IL to PA through highly populated deer country


at night.


Sexy Vest almost done.

Non ravelry link here.

She made it safe and sound. Me not so much, all that driving can really get to ya. Did I mention, I wasn't actually in the car with her, I was here at the Hermitage the whole time? Um yeah, I'm a total nutzoid freak.

So Gillian is gone, off to spend Christmas with her bf's family. (sniffle, sniffle) She/they have been here since the day before Thanksgiving. I really don't think I'll be able to make it until next Christmas before I see her again. (sigh)

Sunday we had a just-us family dinner, just Joe, the kids and I. And darn if the weather didn't turn bad. Rain, to sleet, to snow, with minus 20 something wind chill. It was a crazy day, high of 53 degrees, which is crazy in and of itself in December around here, dropping to 9 degrees in a matter of a few hours. Needless to say no one was going to be driving home in that weather. I bet it's been over 10 years since all my babies were sleeping under the same roof. To say I loved it would be an understatement. Lots of food, laughs, games, and teasing. Ha, I even made doughnuts the next morning and I know it's been at least 12 years since I've made doughnuts!

By the time the plows and the salt trucks came by the next day (yesterday) the oldest kids were itching to get back to town and get to work having missed half the day already. While Gillian and Nick finished packing up the jeep for their journey eastward (following the bad weather I might add), I finished Fences another vest Gillian had picked out from my Ravelry queue. No photo of that one, they literally walked out the door and got on the road the second I clipped the very last end. Maybe she'll send me a photo after she has blocked it, IF she remembers how I told her to do that. :o)

To answer a question or two regarding the video of Hiram and Bart working glass....

The long "rope" or "snake" of glass they are pulling at the end of the video is how a "cane" is made. Canes are one method that can be used to add color to the glass, and there are several ways to go about it. I'm afraid to explain it any further cuz I might tell you something really wrong! I can get mixed up fairly easily, Bart began working "hard glass" on a torch, what the video shows is the guys working "soft glass" from the furnace. There are some techniques which can be used in both torch work and furnace work, and there are some that are used with one and not the other. If I told you anything more I'd prob'ly get it screwed up. Suffice to say the rope thingy they are making is a called a cane and it is one of the ways they can add color to the glass cuz all the glass in the furnace is clear. Another way to add color to the glass would be rolling the hot glass in "frit" which is crushed colored glass that comes in many grades of coarseness (fine almost talc like to pea gravel size) In the video at the 5 second mark there is a shot of a several canes they had already made. They look like multi-colored Barber poles. One of the end shots is Bart cutting the long cane they had just made into lengths that are easy to handle.

Here are a couple pix of some pieces Bart brought with him on Sunday.

I'm fairly certain my vase got it's coloring by rolling the hot glass in frit. The rock glass on the top right is a different coloring technique but I can't remember what Bart called it.

I'm pretty sure canes were used to add the color in these paperweights but I could be wrong. Exactly how a straight, long slender cane becomes all these magical swirls, loops, and zig zags engulfed within the depths of a solid glass dome is a mystery to me.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Braggin'on my boy

....again. But I'm pretty sure you're gonna love this.

Toraason Glass from Videogénique on Vimeo.

The one in the lighter shirt with the ball cap on, is Bart Grawey my son. Hiram Toraason is the other dude whom I love as a son.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The real thing

Just had to share this with you......

The Oompa Loompas:

Felted Mousetraps

Ya gotta love snow. Less than 15 minutes and all of these hand felted on the wash board. I didn't even break a sweat!

Reading clockwise from the top, little blue bootie with a stripe (cuz I ran out of lt. blue) is the one I like the least. It's OK, but not perfect, and I would prob'ly look for a regular old knitted bootie pattern to make if I was in the market for that kind of thing. The large orange is an adult size (woman's size 6/7) same as the original just a shorter cuff. The little blue one is a toddler size (if I remember what that looks like) without the tall cuff. A "slippy" rather than a bootie as my kid's call them. The large grey is an adult size (woman's 6/7) of the "slippy" variety. In the center is a little larger than a toddler, maybe something for a 7 or 8 yr old.

I've proven to myself that I could do it. Now what. Well there could be many of things to do actually. I've got lots of finishing ideas, which I'm pretty sure I mentioned before, like some embroidery, needlefelting, and the like, not to mention how easy it would be to do some colorwork in a pair of these. Then there are some shaping things I'm considering, like rolling some edges and maybe some cutting and putting in zippers, buttons, or eyelets and lace them up. I also have a pair of flipflops I bought at the end of the season ridiculously cheap for the sole purpose of becoming soles on some felted slippies. I still have that "real" boot possibility nagging at me as well. But to be frank, I think I'll make a PAIR before I actually begin any of the finishing things I have in mind! lol IF I get around to doing that, (giggle/snort) you gotta remember something about me, 'the proving it to myself' is a much greater thrill for me than the end product. If you still don't believe that, just take a gander at my boxes, drawers, chests, and closets that are full of UFO's and samples of techniques :o)

I think I'll spend the rest of the day, working on my Nutkin socks, maybe spinning something, and prob'ly attacking a set of dpn's with some wire cutters, and sandpaper to make them shorter. I switched last night to magic loop method, on the Nutkins. Those 7 inch dpn's kept threatening to poke out my eye out and I could no longer stand the intimidation.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Catching a minute

Today seems normal. It's quiet. But that will be the exception for quiet a while now so I'm snagging this time to update you on what's been on the needles and on the wheel.

This pattern is named Nutkin and you can find it here. There is a chart as well as written instructions for the stitch pattern, but really once thru a couple of rounds you'll have it memorized, it's a very intuitive stitch pattern, thus, a mindless pattern. :o) Love it when I find a "mindless" pattern with so much bang for the design buck. It goes very fast too, case in point, I start this sock last night!

Oh if you're wondering about the white edge at the top, that's just the waste piece I knitted for the tubular cast on. I didn't do the hemmed cuff like the pattern says, I did a tubular cast on with a little bit of 1x1 ribbing.

I finally got around to spinning and plying the pencil roving I dyed when Joyce came for a visit. It's the last pic of the post and the roving that I dyed using the spray bottle method.

The color is close but not quiet right. It is a little less blue and a tiny bit brighter. There is only 264 yards so I haven't figured out what to make yet.

I did work up one more variation of the mousetrap in an adult size. This one is more of a clog style slipper. Now with all the snow we got yesterday and the day before, felting all these "one off sculptural pieces" (giggle/snort) will go fast. I really like using the snow when felting it just makes things go so much faster.

Off to felt the sculptures and finish this sock.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Ya know how cows spend their entire day grazing. They eat for a while then lay about chewing their cud (all the while looking very contemplative and content), then they eat some more, and the cycle repeats itself. I've been a cow.

A cow has four chambers in it's stomach rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The rumen, is the first compartment where everything goes and the good stuff, like sweet tender grasses and such pass through there onward to the other parts of the stomach to get absorbed and digested further. The flotsam and jetsam of their foraging, the stuff which is harder to digest or the stuff that really should not have been eaten at all but got scarfed up while grazing, is spit back up from the rumen for another go around through the teeth. This is the cud part, a "lets try that again I've got to chew on it a little more" thing if you will. Hopefully after a few go a-rounds with "I've got to chew on that a little more" everything passes on through.

This is how my days have been spent of late, chewing the cud of what is/was attempts at sizing the mousetraps for babies, kids, and adults, along with numerous other variations. I've had some successes, and a whole lot of jetsam. lol

I know I could figure a neat and tidy algebraic equation to whip all this out in a flash, but alas, while the gray matter is still churning out ideas, it is still also stuck in the no math zone. Case in point, I've made several errors by my inability to count by two's!!!.....sigh....Nonetheless, I carry on.

Four newly sized booties to felt, the sweet tender grasses so to speak.

Pix of "finished" felted booties/slippies to come, and I'm still chewing on a lot of cud, but I really, really, gotta put down the needles and the pen and paper and get the house ready for Gillian's arrival home for the holidays. Then of course there's that Turkey Day thing that is coming some time this week. ;-)

Saturday, November 22, 2008


You guys are so clever. Even though I threw you that red herring of a picture that was waaay out of proportion, you did come up with some really good guesses, as well as some that were actually right. LOL I'm still giggling over the Wonder Woman breast plate and the bat catcher. ROFL.

Yes it is a sock, of sorts, a felted bootie technically.

An adaptation of Debbie New's Better Mousetrap Sock. (found in her Unexpected Knitting book with a basic version printed in Interweave Knits Fall 2001)

Obviously I had gauge issues to work through doing this in stockinette as opposed to garter stitch, plus embiggening it for felting. There was also getting the decrease angles right, and of course having absolutely no sewing/grafting was a must.

I have to admit, I was dubious at first if this was going to felt like I wanted.

The bunchy part at the break of the ankle was worrisome as well as those incredibly pointy toes and heel. Even before I felted these babies I casted on for a version that has a less pointy toe and heel. I'm ok with how the toe felted I'd still like to work on that heel, and obviously, I have to use a different decrease. See the tiny holes at the decrease seam on the heel? Not a big deal on the toe but problematic for wear and tear at the heel.

In regard to the first attempt that was so out of proportion, it wasn't a complete failure, it actually turned on the light bulb of how and where to make some adjustments to make a more substantial boot that has a tongue and laces up. Hmmmm considering I don't have any boots, and this year is supposed to be colder and with more snow than we've had in many many years, maybe I ought to actually consider a "real" pair of boots!

After I'm done with the next version of this boot, of course I'll start thinking harder about a real boot, but I'm thinking working this in a slip stitch checkerboard pattern would be kinda fun, a harlequin jester's boot kind of thing. :o) And there are certainly globs of embellishments that could happen, embroidery, needle felting, etc. Then of course there is putting in zippers or buttons for a better overall fit. Egads, I do go on don't I? I can't help myself, when faced with something so incredibly mindless and easy to make it begs for just a little more time spent to make it extra special.

I like it. What more could you ask for in a design? 34 mindless rows of simple knitting and you've got yourself a bootie. I think, "normal" socks should be blushing with shame.

Gotta go, I've got waaay too many variations to get knitted....rounder heel, shorter cuff, with tongues that lace up, zippers, buttons....

Friday, November 21, 2008


Um yeah, I forgot to mention that in a fuzzled state, my math skills aren't too good. The proportions of the yesterday's mystery piece were waaaay off. It is supposed to be more like this. (I think)

I really did like the Wonder Woman breast plate guess though! LOL

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Typical of days following a rather long interlude of dancing**, I'll be rather fuzzy. On occasion there will be aftershocks, Wednesday and Tuesday were aftershock days. Days spent out of sorts, with low energy and episodic riffs of the dance*** revisited. What I find immensely curious regarding these days is my level of creativity. That is to say creativity on the thinking side of the equation not the actual production side. I come up with some of the most outrageous ideas on days like this.

Obviously I can't tell you why this is, I'm not a doctor, but I can play one at times (giggle/snort) and this is what I think. I think the reason is two-fold.

The first reason could be cuz for several days previous I am desperately placing myself into self-induced hypnotic-meditative state of sorts. Consciously trying to induce a "coma" for the sake of pain relief....sortof. Maybe a bio-rhythm/transcendental meditative kind of thing, I don't know I've never read up on any of those techniques, it's just a "thing" I've been doing all my life to escape the dance. Perhaps it is this "biotranscend-rhythmative state" I had been so completely immersed in during the days of the dance is what sparks the creativity. And just maybe this recently immersed, often practiced, somewhat easy to slide into, "altered state" is close to, or at least passes along the way, the place where new ideas are hatched in my brain. Or maybe it's just that being so close to that "calm center" lets the thoughts and ideas flow.

The second reason for an increase in creativity might be, perhaps these brow beating sessions actually do spark areas of the gray matter that are usually overlooked or run rough shod over when "normal" brain activity is going on. And on these fuzzy days and aftershock days I can actually stop and smell the newly bloomed roses.

Whatever the reason, these spurts of creativity that come following a dance, I'll take them, and chalk them up to the one and only good reason I can find for having these episodes.

Oh yeah, and did I tell you I have a tendency to babble on these days as well? :o)

So what does all this rambling about altered states have to do with knitting? Here's what, an example of something born of my state of fuzzle-ness.

It's half done and it's going to be felted. Any guesses?

And the footnotes for those of you who are completely confused as to what it is I'm rambling about:

*Fuzzled v., being in a state of contemplative fuzziness, usually accompanied by a strong focus on puzzle solving

**Dancing v., being in the throes of a migraine.

***Dance n., a migraine

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Sweater and Neckwarmer

Greetings! I've been "dancing" again so several days have been literally lost. Not a good time of year to be losing days. Frankly no time of year is good for losing days, but that's how it is, how it's always been, so be it. Now on to what I did get done before the lost days.

Last Thursday before all was lost I finished yet another neckwarmer. They are like popcorn or potato chips, I can't stop myself.

This one has a 100% to-die-for silk outer shell and a cashmere lining. I want to fondle it constantly. And just think, it's a sage-y khaki color, hmmm wonder who this one is yeah I'm selfish that way.

Next checked off in the finished column is this sweater. It's big, bulky, blue, and beautiful, no real pattern, I just winged it. Typical top down raglan big comfy 'comfort sweater' made with Lana by Tahki. It's a comfort sweater with two definitions, 1) perfectly simple, bulky knitting for the days proceeding and/or following dinner and dancing with Mr. M 2) one of those sweaters that you just want to wrap yourself in on those cold icky days that are fast approaching and read a good book while sipping a hot toddy of your choice. For the tiniest bit of interest I added a simple cable down the sleeves.

Does this blue looks familiar? Yep it is the yarn from the car coat sweater I started a while back. The one with the colorwork problems. Remember? I worked the sleeves in one pattern and the bodice in another that looked like a swastika. Um, yeah, that was an unfortunate ordeal. sigh.

Oh yeah and one more thing regarding the limitless mockery of that first attempted sweater with this yarn. Doncha think a normal person would have ripped it back to a spot just above the bad colorwork and then continue from there? Sure, of course, why not? Why rip everything just to do it all again? Right? Right. Ooops. I didn't even realize what I was doing until one day I picked it up to start knitting and was confused for a second as to exactly which piece I was knitting and which piece I was ripping as I knitted. I was at the point of equilibrium where both pieces of knitting were identical. The damn fairies got me one last time, I ripped and reknitted virtually the same damn thing. Oy.

In the not so finished column we have this sweater. Not much to look at I know, but I'm almost to the armholes just a couple more inches to go. I'm kinda fudging an old Bernat pattern circa 1964ish. It's actually a guy's sweater in their Cables and Raglans Book #130. I've changed the stitch pattern using a k2p3 instead of the faux 2 stitch mini cables with a purl, moss, purl pattern between the cables. It's a nice stitch pattern and I'll prob'ly use it someday but it is also an yardage gobbling stitch pattern and I'm using reclaimed wool for this. You know me and the constant struggle between me and the yardage fairy, nuff said.

Aside from the stitch pattern change I'm also adding a hemmed button band, see the row of slipped stitches that will be the turning?

And I've also added a hem at the bottom. See the purl row for turning?

I think, (I hope) this will ultimately become a nice sweater jacket. I considered putting a zipper in it like the original I've morphed this sweater from but instead I'll use some pewter clasps I've got. Then again that could change we'll see what happens. I'm really excited to get started with yoke/shoulder area. In the original the front(s) end straight across at the base of the neck. The back comes up over the shoulders and is seamed to the front and with a little bit of shaping becomes a standup collar. The sleeves are a very shallow raglan shape. It's interesting, I haven't seen many like it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's a mother to do?

Blatantly and shamelessly promote her son, that's what.

You can get one of your very own here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Oompa Loompa

Soon our local theater will be putting on a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Someone involved with the production decided the Oompa Loompas needed these wigs. (Rav link here. non-Rav link here.) I'm not sure how many degrees of separation there is but I was tagged with making one. Not a bad thing, I have always been interested in the pattern, I just never knew exactly what I'd do with the thing after I was done making it. So yeah, sure I made one.

Ta da!

Then I couldn't help myself, and felt the need for a photo shoot, a High School Yearbook like photo shoot. Whadduya think?

Oh no, that is soooooo wrong!!!!

But ya know what? I've got a secret.

I'm not the only crazy one around here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008






381 yards of 3 ply.

59 yards of Navajo ply.

total yardage 440 yards.

I like it. Even though I tried, really tried, to spin tiny, it still came out around about a worsted weight.....sigh If I had only made a two ply I would have like the wt. much better, but considering I was intending to knit socks, I thought I ought to make a 3ply. I could be mistaken, but I'm sure I read somewhere sock yarn should be a 3ply for durability. Oh well, I'll still make socks they will just be extra thick and should make my too big clogs fit well. :o)

The little bit that is Navajo plied is what as left on two of the bobbins after plying. I like the longer non-tweedy coloring. I'll use this bit on the toes and heels, or maybe just on the cuff. I'm thinking about trying the Chevalier pattern. (Ravelry link)

I also knitted a few Clemence, (non-Rav link here) which are, as of now, my most fav neckwarmer pattern. The green/blue one is made with the Balmoral I dyed earlier this week. It started out a light sage green, I really, really, like this. The purple one is ONLine Lambswool 112.

I've got a whole project basket filled with odd balls of yarn to make more of these. The outer "lace" shell takes about 80 yards and the inner (optional) lining takes a tad bit more. It is a perfect project for all those odd special fiber balls we have laying around.

I've made these true to the pattern without modification except, (you knew there would be an exception didn't you?) after the last repeat of the lace pattern I work 2 rounds of knit, 1 round of purl, and another round of knit, (the purl round just makes for a better turning round) Then I change to a needle one size smaller to complete the lining.

Off to go watch the returns, hope I don't lose count on the now memorized lace pattern! :o)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stand By Me

I'm usually not a bandwagon type person, but having seen this on a few blogs already, I'm jumping on with both feet and adding this here for your enjoyment.

You can find out more about Playing For Change here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Convert

Hey guys meet Joyce!

Joyce is one of my new Rav peeps. She is a new sock knitter that will very soon become an experienced sock knitter....she's really cranking them out! On Sunday she mentioned in our Illin' Knitter group (Ravelry link) that she wanted to learn about koolaid dyeing. Um yeah like I was going to let that desire of one so close to me go unfulfilled. :o)

Yesterday Joyce came over to my house to play.

And why do you suppose this woman looks so happy standing at a kitchen sink, cuz she was then the very proud (and deservedly so) owner of 2 two new hand dyed sock yarns and a yummy alpaca for a yet to be determined bit of knitterly goodness. See?

Ooops the yellow/orange/pink pic didn't come out. Go to Joyce's blog to see much better pix! It was very good day and we plan on having many more. We already have a few more adventurous dyeing jobs to think about, like making our own sock and scarf blanks.

Wanna see what I did? Actually I didn't really have a plan, I just pulled out a bunch of different things just in case Joyce was not able to find appropriate yarn on such short notice. She did find some for herself so I had lots of option sitting on the table. I had some naked KnitPicks in lace wt and sock wt. I had 5 skeins of Sirdar Balmoral which is a dk wt 72% wool, 25% alpaca, and 3% silk, in a light sage green. I had 5 skeins of Louet Riverstone 100% wool bulky/chunky wt in a light dust blue. I had just bought this stuff during one of Webs recent clearance sales. And I also had two bunches of rovings, both from the Motherload. One bunch of natural undyed, 130 grams, and the other already dyed in an I'll-never-wear-it-autumnal-golden-orange, 247 grams.

I decided to begin with the already dyed roving. I may have mentioned this before but it's apparent that the person who dyed this stuff from the Motherload did two things I would have done differently. 1) she must have used a combination dyestuff like Rit or something cuz the amount of the dye that bleeds out is incredible, and not usable, not for wool anyway (I've tried, hmm make note, throw a bunch of cotton in there next time) and 2) she didn't set nor even rinse the fibers after dyeing.

So anyway getting by those troubles is no big deal and I soldiered on. I began making thin streaks, black and brown, on the roving using a drinking straw as my tool.

It took a really long time. For the next batch I used a paint brush MUCH faster. Duh.

After Joyce left I decided given I had everything already out and sitting there, I'd do two more batches. I drop the Riverstone in a big pot making the light dusty blue a navy blue, and while that simmered I'd dye the natural roving.

I laid the roving out like above but this time I mixed my dye (burgundy) in a little 2oz fine spray bottle and sprayed one side. I flipped the whole thing over and then sprayed it with electric purple and royal blue. Put another layer of plastic wrap on it, rolled it up, and zapped it.

After all that roving was done I checked on the big pot and while the yarn had taken on some nice shades of blue there was still sooooo much dye in the pot it hadn't even lighted up even a tiny bit! Dang this dye is CONCENTRATED!!!!!! (see below for dye info)

Out came the Riverstone and in went the Balmoral. I do have to confess that I did add a touch more dye to the pot cuz I didn't want it all the same blue. I added a tiny bit of forest green and smidgen of black.

When the Balmoral was done simmering there was STILL dye in the water so I threw in both the lace wt and sock KnitPicks. Finally around 10:15 PM the dye was exhausted but not nearly as exhausted as I was! :o)

So here is what I've got:

Balmoral, overdyed icky autumnal hued roving and the spray dyed natural roving.

I'm hoping this spins up into some tweedy goodness. Below is the Balmoral, just look at what 3% silk does for this yarn! This close up of the Balmoral is what it really looks like, not as bright as it looks in the group pic, nice and smokey.

The spray dyed roving.

The next pic is the Riverstone, and the KnitPicks.

My camera hates blues!!!! The picture below is the Riverstone and closer to the real color than the pic above but it still is much darker than even this pic. I don't know what to say about the KnitPick photos. The lace wt. is more purple/wine color very dark and deep and the green has a lot more life to it and much deeper in color. Tell ya what, put a navy filter over your eyes and then you'll see the colors better.

I'm thinking of using the lace wt doubled for a pair of sock cuz although I like making lace I don't wear it. Of course the sock wt merino (green) will be socks, and then of course the rovings will both be socks.......uh oh, I think Joyce's enthusiasm for socks must be contagious!

Ok, I gotta git, the tweedy roving is calling me.

Dye Info:
AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color
Purchased online from Into The Oven
Very good prices and this soft gel is sooooo easy to mix, much easier than Wilton's paste.