Monday, June 30, 2008


Yes, I think that's the best word for it. Gobsmacked. Yesterday I got out my spinning wheel. I've had my wheel for going on what, 5, maybe 6 years now. I played with it for about 3 days back then. I had spun a full bobbin and then life got in the way, and poor old Levi has been sitting patiently awaiting the day I turn my attention to him again. I know most people believe their wheels are feminine, mine is definitely male. All male. Could he be anything but male made out of pvc and a wheel chair?!? I got him at Babe's Fiber Garden. If you're in the market for a spinning wheel and don't want to put out a ton of $$ then you ought consider a Babe. I loved it those first few days and I loved it yesterday. I know, not an extremely informed testimonial but a thumbs up nonetheless.

The first bobbin full was, um, interesting. Dang, am I good at going from a fine thread-like single to a huge I can't believe it's holding together super bulky. LOL The second bobbin was much more consistent. It was even enough to fall into the "it's a keeper" range. I'm guessing it was approximately a fingering wt. still thicker than most people spin but I was going for consistency, getting myself re-acquainted with old Levi. After a couple of hours (I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as I spun) I had three bobbins full of mostly sad singles. One bobbin from many years back (I know, sitting that long prob'ly set the twist) and two bobbins full with some obvious learning curve issues. I suppose many would have either tossed the whole batch, or hid it in darkest recesses of the stash and deny it's existence. Me? I'm here braggin' about it. I think I've got calling to become a designer yarn spinner! LOLOLOL

The batch on the left is a 3-ply done on the wheel. The batch on the right is Navajo plied. The fact that I ended up with a balanced yarn has me utterly gobsmacked. I think I liked the doing the Navajo ply the best. I did have issues with the bobbin not taking up the plied yarn very well but I worked around it.

My first real yarn, if I can be so bold to call it that, is going to end up as a winter hat of some sort, I'm thinking Stella McCartney-ish from a couple years back.

I took another quick pic for you guys. It's a quickie of the snaps on the front of the saddle shoulder. See? They are nearly invisible even in the bright sun!

Please disregard the still as yet unblocked state of this sweater. No pix of me wearing it I'm saddened to say, and there won't be for at least another week. I'm delivering my camera to Bart this afternoon for his trip to Denver and Aspen. I hope the kid has a marvelous time, but the timing for me is sorta crummy what with two KAL's starting today and me catching spinning fever, plus you do realize I'm going to have dye some roving right now too. Oh well a super montage of pix could be fun, no babbling, just pix. :o)

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Full and Wonderful Day

Yesterday was FABULOUS! It rained (of course) but only in the morning. The rest of the day was slightly overcast with such a lovely breeze I spent the entire day outside. The fact that my eye's decided to focus and I was completely and totally without any sort of migrainal garbage made it a Red Letter A Plus Day. (and today ain't too shabby either) :o)

Here's what I did yesterday.

I began by getting out my bike. I think I mentioned the bike recently. It's one I snagged from the house in town a week or two ago. Frankly I was a tad bit disappointed, I had another in mind, but this was the only bike remaining after 4 kids and 25+ years of bicycle accumulation but so be it. I wanted a old school no frills bike any way and that is exactly what I ended up with. Of course it's a Schwinn style-wise I'd guess it's a Hornet or a Cruiser. When I get it cleaned up and working I'll figure it out. Yesterday my goal was to at least get the tires aired up and patched if needed. Thus the prone position in the pic.

Unfortunately, one nut has decided it's enjoys being all rusted and frozen to the axle. Regardless of what I tried, I couldn't budge that nut, neither could Joe.

Ya know how swatches lie? So does this:

"Loosens Rusted Parts" HA! Even after multiple saturations and hours of waiting, that nut is still froze.....sigh. (It is still froze today)

Maybe it's a blessing in disguise. Maybe the cycling fairies are telling that I really should go and claim "my" bike. My bike, the one I rode endlessly and rode everywhere is a bike like this:

Yes, I rode this bike (the "Ironhorse") while all the other kids in the neighborhood were riding bikes like this:

I said the Ironhorse was "my" bike cuz it really had been my sister's bike. She had gotten it for her 7th birthday July 25, 1951. She was diagnosed with polio in August that year (the year before Salk figured it out). She never got the chance to ride it. In the summer of 1965 , the year I built my own "Schwuffy" from the accumulated Schwinn and Huffy bicycles, pieces and parts, in the garage, my Dad climbed up into the attic and brought down my sister's new, still in the original box, bicycle. I loved that bike. After I left home I lost track of the bike, figured the folks had gotten rid of it. A couple of years ago I found it in a dark dusty corner of my brother's business. I wonder if I can convince him to give it to me? Maybe the cycling fairies that froze the nut are telling me something.

Another thing I did yesterday in between cursing at a frozen nut and spraying WD-40, I was raking grass as Joe mowed the lawn.

No, I didn't rake the entire yard, I just walked around raking up any areas where the clipping were clumping so it wouldn't kill the grass underneath. Joe might want to push a mower around on nearly an acre of lawn but I am NOT going to rake an acre! I keep urging him to get a riding mower but no, he actually kind of likes pushing a mower, and with all this rain we've had along with sunny afternoons and cool nights the grass is growing almost to quickly to keep ahead of it. Hmmm maybe he'll get sick of mowing the lawn twice a week! :o)

While I wasn't cursing a frozen nut, spraying WD-40, or raking clumps, I was doing finishing work on the saddle shoulder sweater.

First thing, was to find buttons. I didn't have much luck there.

I like this button a LOT, but I only have one! Oh well, there is still plenty to do before I get to sewing on the buttons, so I won't cry about it today. At least now I know exactly what I want, hope I can find some like this.

Remember, I've mentioned my love for this button band in previous posts, I'll give you the whole explanation now. It is a knitted in button band that is also a faced button band. At the beginning of each right side row, knit 6 stitches, slip 2 stitches, knit 6, purl 1, then continue around the sweater. At the end of the row, in the last 15 stitches, purl 1, knit 6, slip 2, knit 6. On wrong side rows purl 6, purl the 2 slipped stitches, purl 6 knit 1, then continue around the sweater. At the end of a wrong side row in the last 15 stitches, knit 1, purl 6. purl the 2 slipped stitches, purl 6. you will end up with a nice little edge that looks like this:

That row of slipped stitches is the vertical turning row of stitches that makes a nice slightly firmer edge. On the wrong side that vertical row of purl stitches makes sewing up this hem/facing/whatever you want to call it super easy! See how easy it's gonna be?

Now, at this point the original pattern and I took different paths. The pattern wants you sew up the hem/facing and then take the sweater to the sewing machine and sewing in button holes. I've mentioned my lack of buttonhole skills before so let's carry on. I decided no button holes for me, so I sewed on snaps before I sewed the facing closed. The buttons I will eventually sew on will be non-functioning. Here is the snap placement:

Remember to take into account that you will be folding over the facing and make sure you place you snaps accordingly.

I sewed the snaps on with regular old thread and used double fold seam tape behind it on the other side of the knitting so the snaps wouldn't stress the yarn too much. I'm afraid without a backing material of some sort you'd end up with a hole in your sweater after only a few snappings! :o) I also sewed the snaps by sewing through the holes and over the edges, then when it was secure, I sewed around the snap through the holes with the yarn I used for the sweater. It makes the half of snap that would be visible when the sweater is unsnapped nearly invisible.

Well dang, I thought I had pix of the finished snap sewing and facing, guess I don't. (!?) Oh well, I'm sure you can imagine, besides, there are waaay to many pix in this post any way! On Joe's next day off I'll have pix taken with me wearing the sweater and by then maybe I will have purchased new buttons and have them on as well. One can always hope.

I'm thinking the next sweater will either be sporting claps or maybe even hooks and eyes that meet each other right on the edges of the center front. This button band would be perfect for doing that, poking the hook/eye out through the slipped stitches and securing it in the inside. Talk about the old school way of doing things! LOL I love hooks and eyes just not a lot applications for them today, this would be perfect.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


There is fine line between genius and insanity.

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

Really?!? LOL Obviously the program that "reads" my blog to determine the readability level assumes misspellings and improper grammar heady sophisticated stuff. LOLOLOLOL

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I've been a baaaaad girl.

Crummy pic I know but I'm not opening the plastic just for a pretty picture, you'll have to wait until I start working with them to really see them. Here's what ebay can do to you ( or is that for you?) The cone is 3500 yds of black lustersheen ($5.00) my lustersheen. Also pictured is four 1650 yd bundles of sport/DK wt alpaca in black, navy, chocolate and camel and two 2200 yd bundles of wool fingering in burgundy and brown. ($100.02 total that is including $30 shipping) I'm thinking I got some deals. I'm also thinking that I've got a lot of yarn to knit up! LOL I'm not even going to mention my already massive stash and my Webs order I got a couple weeks ago. OK, I'll mention the Webs purchase but I'm not going to trudge up stairs just to take another pic of yarn in plastic. :o) From Webs I got 1900 yds of a red wool/cotton destined to be a Pringle/Victoria Secret Sweater/Cable Luxe/Phildar's version for Gillian (the first link is a flickr pic of the original sweater that started all the mimicry the other links are all Ravelry links) and 1200 yds of a red bamboo. I can't remember the cost of the order but I bought it during their Anniversary sale so obviously these too were good deals.

Sorry to say there has been no further progress on the saddle shoulder sweater, it's time for sewing (button band and buttons/snaps) work that is too detail orientated for eyeballs that refuse to focus, perhaps another day. Oh and BTW....I feel sooooo stupid right now and have been feeling stupid for several days (ha funny, I hear some of you, yes I can feel more stupid than usual!!!) Remember my thrill and excitement about this nearly seamless saddle shoulder??? I couldn't remember ever having seen a saddle shoulder that was virtually seamless before. Well DUH!!!! EZ covers the topic rather extensively in not one but several of her books (of which I have) and Barbara Walker does the same in her top down book (a book I have as well) Yes, I can read, yes I can comprehend what I read, apparently I can't absorb it for long term recall. Scheesh. Yes folks the brain has left the cranium. Thank you very much.

So what have I been doing besides collecting the spoils of my ebay battles?? Well jeepers, I started a couple of new things doncha know. I tried to be good and not start something big. I have had a scarf "design" on the brain for a while now so the other night when focus would not come to my traitorous eyeballs I started it. It's working out beautifully, exactly as I expected, but now that I've gotten this far with it I've decide to take the idea a step further and it is now on the needles as a soon to be vest, maybe a sweater. Without going into a huge amount of detail it is a very portable design so it's now my traveling project, don't expect this one to be done soon.

Taking into consideration that I now have a decent traveling project but no real bedtime knitting project on the needles I just had to start something else also. I'm going to be in both KAL's in the Sleeves Off Buttons On Ravlery group. Both KAL's are supposed to begin July 1st I started one of them already (I know I'm cheating) I've started work on GreenDay a scoop neck cabled vest. (non Ravelry link here) The pattern writing is a little iffy, it is a translations from Flemish(?) but we're working through it. Everyone is posting their thoughts and mods on the board. If you're interested in this vest feel free to join or follow along. The other KAL is a cardigan Mr. Greenjeans, (non-Ravelry link here) if I had say today what I'm going to use for Mr. Greenjeans, I'd say I'm going with the navy alpaca I just got but.......I won't be starting that for another week or so, and I'll prob'ly change my mind 10,000 times between then and now. Or maybe a charcoal tweed I have in stash. See? it's all extremely fluid at this point. Who knows, I certainly don't. Oh hey that could be an interesting contest...try to guess what yarn I'll use for something LOLOL

If any of you guys are non-Chicago IL peeps, make sure you check out the Illin'-Knitter group on Rav. I'm trying to get some chatter going and a KAL started. We are still very much in the planning stage all suggestion are more than welcomed. Chicago people are welcome too as well as out of stater's. We're just a group from IL that has nothing to do with Chicago. The Chicago area has plenty of their own groups with LOTS of people this little group is easier for us to find each other out here is the corn and beans, I don't mean to sound exclusive. :o) So far it looks like there are several people who are interested in doing the Swallowtail Shawl (oy more linkage today sigh) ((non-Rav link here scroll down a bit for pdf link)) I'm sure there will be another KAL that isn't lace as well.

OK my linkage for today is done, I'm off to go do something, even if it's not right!

Friday, June 20, 2008

In the Jungle

the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps.... Um maybe they sleep in the jungle but they don't sleep in the lilac bush. I'm sorry if the following pix offend anyone, but hey, this is what animals do. If this type of thing bothers you scroll quickly down to the knitting stuff....the saddle shoulder sweater is down there!

Believe me, it was quick and I doubt the sparrow was aware of anything.

This pic just cracks me up, I didn't care how nasty the look he gave me was, I was NOT letting him into the house!

Now for the knitting part.

The saddle shoulder sweater is basically done. I have a few pix for you, cuz I just couldn't wait to show you guys. Please excuse the fuzziness and lighting. The pix were taken up stairs in my sewing room just now...7:45PM so you can imagine the lighting. Plus I have enough drugs in me to kill a horse so holding a steady camera is more or less impossible right now. You have no clue how many pix I had to take to get these shots!!! LOL Tomorrow, hopefully I'll have the button band facing sewn and "buttons" in place and will model the sweater myself. (I did get a thumbs up from Vivian. Er, um, I would get a thumbs up if Vivian had thumbs)

Like it? I'm LOVING it!!!

Here is a quickie list of the things I love about this pattern
  • bottom up nearly seamless (arm pit seams only)
  • knitted in, faced, button band
  • saddle shoulder shaping
What I don't like about this pattern
  • Calls for machine made button holes
BUT I'm going to stay with the 50's way of doing things and sew snaps in the button band and cover them with some funky vintage buttons. Besides, even though I've been sewing all my life, I've never made a button hole with a sewing machine. gasp Note to self, maybe that's a skill that could come in handy some day. :-/

You can sort of tell the way it fits Vivian, but pix of me wearing it will really scream the 1950's typical shape and fit of cardigans. I found this pattern in an old magazine. I worked it stitch for stitch, row by row, inch by inch as stated in the pattern. Yeah I know, I'm shocked too, and thrilled to find that the pattern is entirely free of errors. I followed this pattern sooooo closely that I was counting stitches and rows constantly. Honestly, I think I could have gotten it done a full two days earlier if I didn't stop so often to count! :o)

The main reason for my obsessive behavior was to really understand the construction so I can tweak it. Let's be honest, not everyone likes the fit of the typical 1950's cardi. Most people want a sweater little roomier, I needed to know exactly where and how to make the changes. There needs to be changes. The sleeves are incredibly tiny, I've got really scrawny arms, not everyone does. I want to play around with the decreases that shape the shoulders as well.

More tomorrow about the sweater with better pix and close up shots.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I guess I've been neglecting the blog, a fact brought to my attention yesterday by Joe. When a non-fiber person, who lives with you, complains about the lack of posts, it's a really bad sign.

I just haven't thought that I've done much of anything blogworthy. I've worked a bit on Big Red, I made a couple pairs of very utilitarian anklets (they aren't even pretty...plain white) I've started a couple of small gauge cotton projects. One is a cabled bag the other is a v-neck summer shell that I'm sort of winging. I've got a picture of it but no instructions it's from VK sometime in the 80's (I think). I had cut out the pic cuz I liked the design, but I didn't save the pattern cuz I didn't know how to knit at the time. oops. Neither of those projects are worth blogging cuz they are literally just inches in length. Nothing to see.

I suppose a finished pic of the Petal Cardi II with the zip installed is blogworthy enough, but the real drama was when I dropped the stitches and reworked the buttonbands and I already told you about that here.

Behold the Petal Cardi with zip installed.....

It's a little rumpled I wear it ALL the time!!!

The latest and greatest that I'm thrilled with today is a new-to-me pattern I found in a vintage magazine (1950's) It is a bottom up saddle shoulder that is seamless. Yep you heard me right, it is seamless.....ok that's a small lie....there is an armpit seam about 2 inches long. I have a progress pic for you but it doesn't show anything exciting, it looks like any other bottom up seamless at this point. Right now I am just to the point where I have joined the sleeves to the body stitches and will begin the saddle shoulder shaping on the next row.

See what I mean? Nothing special...yet! I don't know maybe I'm crazy but I can't recall ever seeing a seamless saddle shoulder before. Yes, the wonderful EZ has a neck down design that I think she calls a Scandinavian sweater that is a saddle shoulder type thing but I don't think she has a bottom up one. In EZ's sweater you start out with the neck ribbing then work some rectangles off the sides of it to make the shoulders then eventually you pick up along the edge and work it in the round. Does she have a bottom up one? There are no stitches to pick-up in this bottom up design just stitch manipulation (I'm loving that!).

I'm fickle when it comes to top down vs bottom up. I guess it's based on whether I want the instant gratification and interest a top down can give you until you hit the miles of never ending boring body to complete verses the mindless rounds of the bottom up body with the thrill of the yoke to look forward to. This sweater has definitely spurred me on. I've been breezing through the body fast and furious toward the thrill of the yoke. I'm anticipating this manipulation of stitches, it will likely have for me a marvel similar to the one experienced when turning that heel for the first time.

There's another interesting twist in this pattern, a new-to-me method of working a built in button band that is so totally mindless and I love how it looks. I'm pretty sure I'll use it every time I need a button band from here on.

OK enough bloggin' for one night. I've got a thrilling new-to-me yoke to work! I didn't get as much knitting done today as I had hoped, I had company. (ah ha finally a tie in to the title) After IdaMae and Bennie had enough outdoor fun today I was outside all by myself and the solitude was heavenly. Then I realized I wasn't as alone as I had thought. The three yellow finches who taunt Ida and Ben daily by flying up to the patio door and strut their stuff on the porch while they can only dream of chasing them were drinking and bathing in the Ida's water dish. And then I noticed this little guy had come to say hello as well.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


So Scubaknit or Pumkinhead as I affectionately call her, from Mount Robson tagged me with the latest meme that's been going around.

The Rules are:

Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What I was doing 10 years ago?

Wow that's a lifetime ago. 1998 was my last year teaching. That year I taught Jr. High Science and History, (I always taught Science the second class load varied year to year from History/Social Studies or Math, with one very scary year of Computer Science) I also facilitated/taught an after school art program. Oh yeah and I was the volleyball coach too.

2. What 5 things are on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order)?
  1. Organize my fiber book shelves. I'm clearing out lots of books and magazines. (stage one of this task is done I have the must keep books shelved, and numerous stacks to go through to determine their fate)
  2. Sew in the zipper on the Petal Cardi (it's pinned in)
  3. Work on few new designs (got some good things done the wheels are still turning)
  4. TRY to get some dreadlocks out of the cat's fur (I need Joe's help)
  5. Do some writing and/or drawing (blog writing doesn't count...maybe some later)
3. What snacks do I enjoy?

I'm an equal opportunity snacker. I don't have a favorite it just depends on what I feel like at the time, chips of some sort, cheese, yogurt, candy but not chocolate, fruit, and I'm pretty partial to eating deli ham by the slice.

4. What would I do if I was a billionaire?

LOL I can't even conceive this but here goes...First each kid would get enough $ for a decent but not fancy car. All education expenses of course would be paid, and each would get a yearly allowance to make sure they have a roof over their head but they'd still have to work for a living. Maybe some seed money for business start-ups. I know that sounds pretty stingy but I don't believe in not working for what you have. Joe and I would prob'ly travel a little and maybe get another house for the family to use in a warm climate. LOTS of charitable organizations would get a big helping hand and I'd provide tons of school scholarships. I'd also throw $$ into green technologies. One thing for sure we'd stay here in the Hermitage, we love it here, but I would put in another bath or two. lol

5. Where have I lived?

Jeepers, as if my first 4 answers weren't boring enough.....I've lived in Peoria, IL, Normal, IL and here at the Hermitage.....If you think of Peoria being the center of the universe, I've lived 35-40 miles to the east and 35-40 miles to the north. Scheesh.

Being true to myself, I'm going to break the rules here. I can't follow a pattern without tweaking it, nor I can't obey the rules of this game. I'm not going to tag anyone in particular everyone reading this please consider yourself tagged.

Now if you just want a list of some of my favorite blogs to read I'll oblige.

A Dress A Day
Smoking Hot Needles
Hanging by a Thread
String Theory
You Just Gotta Keep Knitting
Yarn Hog