Sunday, August 27, 2006


Recovering from being sick is good for one thing: doing little things while lying on the couch and watching old movies. Here is what I have been doing to be productive while being sick:

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These are the silk and (a little bit of) cashmere comfy spiral socks... they fit surprisingly well and I could definitely wear them with a clog or a croc!

I also Made this 1918 shawl pattern:
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Here I am wearing it in the mirror, you can see...(or not see) the flash is in the way:
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SO...another picture, so you can see the colour and stitch pattern, which is so vintage...
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Here is the Original 1918 pattern, if you want to try it. Its crochet, not knit... I used an old yarn from my stash that isn't available anymore, but it was similar in feel to Nashua yarns wool, which is so soft with vibrant colours. Vicuna is actually closer to alpaca wool than sheep wool.. The border yarn had angora in it, which is what makes the little bit of yarn 'halo' around the edges...Its so comforting and soft.


7 balls Fleisher vicuna yarn
9 balls Fleisher superfine angora yarn
amber crochet hook, size 6 (our current size G)

Gauge: 7 stitches = 2 inches; 4 rows = 1 3/4 inches

Stitch pattern:
1st row - single crochet
2nd row - Put hook in the front loop from the back and make a single crochet. Turn, chain 1 at the end of every row.

Directions -

With Vicuna yarn chain 61 stitches
Repeat 2nd row until scarf measures 1 1/4 yards long
Then work single crochet around scarf, making three stitches in each corner.
Fasten off.

With angora yarn work across each end, work 9 rows of single crochet
Continue the 8th row of last end around scarf.
Join and turn at the corner.

Work 7 rows even. Fasten off.

Okay, now I really have to go have an English muffin and a pot of tea!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Project Runway for knitters

Last night my LYS had a Knit Fashion show! The first of a series, the intention was to show the creations that had been designed by the Ewe staff, talk about how the design happens, and let us – their knitting devotees – experiment with how they would look on us. Marcie, the Ewe’s owner, Kelly and Dee warmly welcomed each of us as we arrived. There was homemade fruit bread, brownies, chocolate chip cookies (Yum! These knitters can cook!) and hot coffee. Marcie brought out the full coffee pot with a grateful sigh after struggling with an inexplicable coffee explosion in the back room (don’t worry - no yarn was harmed in the making of this coffee!)

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The staff of the Elegant Ewe is unique in that all are knit and crochet designers. Whenever you visit, at least one of them is at work on a new idea – and usually all of them at once!

Marcie’s gorgeous designs are intricate, careful and accomplished, though not beyond the beginning knitter who is willing to learn. She is inspired by the fashion world, by traditional patterns that are inaccessible to most of us, and by the knits that she sees at wool shows. It doesn’t have to be a knit design; if she sees a garment that speaks to her, she will spend hours working out how it will translate into a perfect combination of stitches and motifs. She researches gauge and stitch patterns, changing how they are done to get just the effect she wants. She ends up with exquisitely beautiful garments that shape flatteringly to any body type. She works her designs so that once-difficult effects are achieved through clever but easily learned techniques. Marcie’s various Gansey designs are a good example of this.

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Kelly said that she has knitting designs running constantly through her mind’s eye and carries a design notebook to quickly jot or sketch her ideas as they occur. Anything will inspire her - a new yarn, a yarn that is sitting, underappreciated, a season, or a fashion she sees on someone else. All of these things spring into full-fledged exuberant creative designs in her knitting imagination. Then she works them out more thoroughly in quiet moments. She is a true artist whose medium is knit, and she’s not afraid to try something experimental, like her skirt that combines knit and crochet.

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This photo shows Marcie in her Thanksgiving Shawl in hand dyed alpaca, Dee in the Multiple Yarns Wrap, and Kelly in her bell-sleeved Witchy Woman sweater, also in hand-dyed alpaca.

One of Kelly’s designs, her Grandmother’s Raglan Sweater, has a wonderful story to it. When Kelly was growing up, her grandmother knit a raglan sweater for her every year, each one different – one would be a cardigan, one would have stripes, one would have patterns on it, or cables. When she was in college, she wanted to learn this herself, and her loving Gram recited her own pattern over the phone to Kelly. Like a family recipe, it was very vague and flexible – “a little of this, a pinch of that” – but over the years Kelly worked it out and worked it up into designs that we now treasure. One of her versions has rows of five-pointed stars around the rim, a design, she said, that came from her favorite game as a child – playing “camping out”. Her grandmother wove tales of the night sky as though they were camping under the stars, and so this knit sweater is a fitting tribute to that childhood memory.

Dee is a master at crochet and, although she can and does knit beautifully, crochet is her first love. The Elegant Ewe has begun offering crochet lessons and designs due to Dee’s enthusiasm and her creations can be seen throughout the store. Dee talked about her Fabulous Fan Bag, a vintage-looking design that was inspired by the movie Memoirs of a Geisha.

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Here, Dee shows her Fabulous Fan Bag, (which just happens to match her hand-knit blouse!), and Marcie’s Crocheted Capelet.

This evening of fashion a la Project Runway for Knitters was so fun and we learned so much that we can immediately apply to our knitting! We were treated to explanations of how to place designs and motifs to flatter each body type, how to choose yarns to suit the patterns and how to change the look of one pattern just by using a completely different yarn.

For that one night, the yarn for any of these projects was 15% off, and the pattern was free! And, those of us who wore a Ewe-designed creation made from Ewe yarns received a goody bag that contained 3 balls of yarn (one of which was the fabulous Louisa Harding Kimono Angora) and two patterns! I wore the side-to-side shawl in a turquoise that I think looks like the tropical waters (modeled by my friend, Emily, below, while I took the photo) and I called it my Seawave Shawl. It’s made with a variegated ribbon yarn and Kid Seta in mohair and silk. There were many stunning creations, such the fingerless mitts, done in Noro, the cleverly shaped hat, and the Simple Shawl (that is not-so-simple-looking in its lovely hand-painted yarn!).

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We all came away with some fabulous projects and yarns to add to our stash (I picked up the Scribble Shawl – a Kelly creation – in marine blue, and the Eyelet Wristers in Kimono Angora variegated browns and blacks) but Heather is the winner! Here she is, beaming with delight, with an armful of gorgeous hand-painted lavender and magenta fibers for Kelly’s “Grandmother’s Raglan” pattern. Minutes later she picked up another stash of the Ewe’s own line of wool in heathered lavender, for a second sweater – and a matching one for her baby son – from the same pattern!

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rain song

7:10 AM

Rain song

This is my world on this Sunday morning.... I have just come in from walking the dog, a blue raincoat over my nightgown, and the hem tucked into my big L.L. Bean boots (for walking through puddles). I carry a huge stadium umbrella that will cover Sausage and my head, though its not quite wide enough to shelter the back of me and I am as wet as though I sat in a stream...

Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
the rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night -
And I love the rain.
~Langston Hughes

This is the view outside my front door:
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I am inside now, and Sausage has been dried with his special towel and fed and is tucked up cosily on the couch - already asleep and snoring - dreaming of cats and dinner and being couragous when the big German Shepherd walks by the house!

I’m ready to watch that old movie "An Affair to Remember" with Cary Grant and then "Under the Tuscan Sun" (which makes me feel like I should move away somewhere and start a new life)and knit on this new and wonderful project:

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These are spiral socks - I am making the pattern up myself, inspired by the Art Yarns spiral socks my friend Nadine made (

I am using Rowan Cashsoft Baby, which has 12% cashmere in it, but I am combining it with Kid Seta - one of my most very favorite yarns, I 'd like to have this yarn in every colour! - which is a very fine spun mohair and silk, together. The resulting fabric is soft beyond belief. These will be some comforting socks!! And I think the world can be harsh and scary at times... and a struggle at others... so we should bring as much comfort into it as possible with what we can do... (<--- my excuse for buying knitting things!)

The yarn in the photo, beside the new socks-in-progress, is Seacoast Handpaints (made right here on the coast of my state). As you can see, that is a beautiful and delicate soft yarn too. At the moment, it is destined to be a shrug to match the a lace pattern, but warm.

Yesterday brought another surprise gift to my doorstep (and this time the postman was very careful to place this package marked "fragile" very delicately in the shelter of the step).

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It was the most beautiful handmade book with an Ivy cover and creamy parchment-coloured pages, made by a blogger friend to whom I had sent some vintage forest green wool yarn for her birthday. She is so talented!! And the funniest thing that I must tell you about is the Thank You card! Can you see it there in the picture? It shows "Fleecin' Joe's Baaaaaar" which is full of sheep in various stages of drunkenness and on the wall is a sign that says "don't drink and herd! call 1-800-collie for free driving service". Inside the card reads "Many, Many Tanked Ewes"!!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Longing to stay home and knit!

last night Marky, my dear friend in Australia, sent me photos of the gloves I knit him, so you can see that the same glove that fit my little hand (3 inches across my palm), fit his bigger hands:

He says that even though the Koigu is a lightweight wool, it is very warm and perfect to use in an unheated computer room! Yay!

Nadine, in Germany, (these are some well-traveled gloves!) is testing the pattern in a beautiful variegated blue Koigu and I hope will post a photo here in the replies when she can. She found some issues with the thumb directions, so I'll be working that out before I send the pattern anywhere.

I am so inspired by the knitting designs I want to create that are zinging around in my brain that I just want to stay home and try them out! But classes start in three weeks and I have to write some new ones that haven't been offered before so its work work work...

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Early Morning Awakening

I woke up at 4 am this morning, from a nightmare. the world was so very black and impenetrable at that hour, I tried for a while to pretend it hadn't happened and to make myself go back to sleep. but as soon as I moved, Sausage knew I was awake and wanted to go out...
I sat on the floor of the worn green porch while he explored the edges of the lawn with his seeing nose - it was too dark to see with his eyes! when I looked across the street, I saw only a bank of black oil paint with no outlines, no shades, no watercolour faintness on the might have thought that my house, my one small 40-watt porch light and the small circle of world it illumined, was all that was left in a black-hole universe. it was very eerie; I felt alone in the cosmos - even the cloudless sky appeared bereft of stars.
By the time Sausage had finished "checking the perimeters", a very faint lightening had occurred, so that the houses around me across the street appeared grey rather than black. I came inside, fed my wide awake dog, and watched Project Runway - oddly, on TV - until 5 am.

Keeping Watch

by Hafiz (Khajeh Shamseddin Mohammad Hafiz-s Shirazi)
1320 - 1388

In the morning
When I began to wake,
It happened again--

That feeling
That You, Beloved,
Had stood over me all night
Keeping watch,
That feeling
That as soon as I began to stir

You put Your lips on my forehead
And lit a Holy Lamp
Inside my Heart.


With my breakfast of granola and yogurt (sorry - the blueberries are all gone!), I read a book called Knitting Lessons, that I found in a small bookstore in another city. This book isn't really about knitting lessons, but it is about people who knit. Written some years ago, each chapter is a small autobiography of the knitting life of people who were just becoming known in the life of Art through knitting. The Knit Cafe in LA is days away from opening (now, years later, the owner has just had her first successful book of patterns published), Catherine Lowe has just begun her online Journal The Ravell'd Sleeve, Clara Parkes had just renovated a farmhouse in Maine and was thinking of building her online community "Knitter's Review", and Vickie Howell had started a local Stitch-N-Bitch after leaving a Hollywood acting career (she is now the well-known Host of television's Knitty Gritty)...

Ooooo, did you catch that? The Ravell'd Sleeve ??? That is the journal I mentioned a few months ago that contains vintage patterns, but it appears that it was short-lived. At least I haven't been able to find a trace of it since Nona of NonaKnits wrote about picking up back copies at a Catherine Lowe workshop in November 2004. CL has gone on to create something called The Knitting Couture Workshop, so I'm continuing my mad Googling, trying to track down this vintage-inspired elusive knit journal...

My charity knitting for the poorer elementary schools in town is going well. I finished one lavender glove and half a multicoloured hat. A couple of people at work and in my local knitting group have agreed to make something. I only have two months, so, really, I should be knitting instead of typing!

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Small things in life...

My friend Mark has received his gloves in the mail, so I can now post photos of them. This is what they looked like when they were finished:

But - magic! They open up to fit almost any size hand (mine are illustrating the small size....)

This pair was made from one skein of Koigu Painters Palette Premium Merino (one of my favorite yarns right now, although my LYS is seriously out of it until the fall). Marky says he will take a photo of them on his hands. I'm really anxious to see how they fit their intended recipient!

I love making fingerless gloves, and have designed four pairs now. I've written them up to submit to one of the on-line knitting magazines....sometime...

Here is the pair I made for the Professor (it seems like a long time ago now, but I think it was a year ago)

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and here is the pair I made for another blogging friend last winter. They have rose leaves on them, circling the wrist. I really love them, but I think I could do better and have plans to refine this design... Both of these pairs were made with 2 skeins each pair of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn (merino and cashmere).

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This pair I made for my Silver-Apples website. But I think if I make them again, I'll re-design them... I made them in pink and another pair in black. That's a little skull on them, not an alien head! These were made with two balls of Balzac wool, which is a dream to work with...

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I've been dreaming about knitting, and planning knitting, and designing knitting, and visiting yarn and antique stores and yarn websites... I found some vintage stitch markers for my friend Nad, who can't get funky knit accessories in Germany, and I found two silver ones for myself!

Its also been very important to mark the natal milestone of my very important friend who turned 17 yesterday!! Yes, that's right, it is... (drumroll please)...

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Happy Birthday, Darling!