Sunday, September 28, 2008

Woolly Items

There's not much cotton fiber activity around here these days. I'm knitting when I get the chance, and my sewing room has been pretty clean for weeks. With my work schedule I don't get much chance to spend time in the sewing room and I don't have the energy for it either. I do want to quilt my Halloween quilt so I can put it out now that October's here.

Debra suggested tacking it with buttons instead of quilting, but since I want to use it for a table cover I've decided to quilt it. I've got a couple of quilts I've tacked with buttons, and I've discovered that when you use them on a table you lose flat surface space to put things like glasses or vases on. I've got second quilt pin basted, so when I switch on the sewing machine, that's what I'm going to do first.

But in the meantime, I do have a few finished woolly items: more fingerless mitts, and this hat for Allie.

Isn't she a great model? The pattern is from Crazy Aunt Purl's site. It's her Super-simple fast and easy chunky hand-knit beret knit with fat yarn on big needles. It makes up fast and it's very stylish.
I also made this bag up out of my imagination and some wool scraps. The buttons are 60s vintage: they've got a facsimile of a cave drawing on them.

The binding has an interesting story: A few years ago, I found at the thrift store a bag of wool bias strips, all double folded and wound on wood thread spools, . The person who make them was probably braiding wool rugs, and I could see (there were 8 or 10 big spools) they had cost someone a lot of effort, so I bought them not having a clue about what I would use them for. I've since discovered they're great for binding wool items like this bag.

Our Vogue Sweater knit-along is set to start on October 15, so anyone who wants to play along should give a holler. With all this wool I'm getting ready for winter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mother, Rejoice

I showed the beginnings of this new Madonna piece a few posts back. I've taken another holy card, made a transfer, and put the image on a vintage handkerchief. I've had a lot of questions about the transfers I use. They're the ones you buy in prepared sheets that you can run through your printer and then iron on to t-shirts. I get them at JoAnn's.
They're not marketed for their opacity, but they do allow you to see the prints of any fabric you use with them. They do have a plastic feel, so the fabric will no longer drape the way it did originally, but you can stitch through it, like I did with my St. Theresa piece.

I've used some vintage home dec samples around the central image, and you may recognize the "Rejoice" panel as the work of Allie Aller. This is a silk panel printed with one of her lovely floral motifs. She's planning to sell CDs of her alphabets made of flowers, so stay tuned to her site for details.
Above the central image I'm using the corner of another vintage hankie. I love the sentimentality of these textiles

I've pulled supplies for embellishment, but I think I'm going to approach this one with a light hand. That's what I always say, right?

If anyone is thinking of joining our sweater knit-along, (see previous post) we're planning to begin on October 15, so you have time to decide and gather supplies. Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you're thinking about it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Knitting Along

I'm still knitting these fingerless mitts.  One of the many beauties of this pattern is that it knits up fast with small amounts of yarn. Now that I've made a few pairs, I'm modifying the pattern by changing the number of cable rows, the direction of the cables, and of course the colors.

These little mitts are great for reading or typing in the winter when you want warm hands, but need to use your fingers. One of these pairs is for a former student of mine who's just started law school at the U. of Michigan. She's a great young woman, who spent 2 years in Zimbabwe in the Peace Corps and who also taught in Atlanta for the Teach America program.
This pattern is perfect for partial skeins of worsted weight wool. When I'm lucky I find odd skeins of Germantown wool at the thrift store. It's no longer being made, but is wonderful to knit with. It's a sturdy yarn with great stitch definition. Of course the thrift store price is usually a bonus as well. I also knit with wool tapestry yarns I find at the thrift store: they come in 40 and 100-yard skeins, enough for a glove or two.
Susan of Plays With Needles and I are both going to knit this sweater, which is in the Fall 08 issue of Vogue Knitting (currently on the newsstands). If anyone wants to knit along, we're recruiting participants. The 40" size requires about 1700 yards of bulky weight yarn and it looks like a straightforward and stylish pattern. I'm hoping to use some stash yarn and some of my recently recycled yarn. If you'd like to knit along, leave me a comment.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

House and Garden

My garden is at its height right now. The tomatoes are starting to ripen, and the sunflowers are taking on gargantuan proportions.
The squash hasn't done that well. A lot of it goes moldy on the vine before it gets very large. I think it may not be hot enough for a respectable crop.
But the Swiss chard is glorious. I think chard is the most beautiful vegetable there is because the stalks take on such outrageous colors. Here I picked a handful of pink and red chard, but the orange and yellow stalks are even more lovely.

One of the beauties of living on the coast is that you can make and enjoy soup year round. This recipe, which I cloned from 3 others, is one that has become a favorite. Maybe the weather is cooling down where you live and you're ready to make soup.

This recipe for Lentil Soup is very healthy and hearty and has no meat or meat broth.

Cut into chunks:
1 large onion
2 large carrots
2 celery ribs
In 2 tablespoons of olive oil, saute these veggies over high heat for 5-10 minutes with:
8 cloves of garlic, smashed
a handful of chopped parsley
a teaspoon of dried thyme
a teaspoon of dried marjoram
2 teaspoons of salt
2 bay leaves
2 quarts of cold water
28 oz. can of tomatoes and their juice, chopped
1 1/2 cups of dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
Bring the soup to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook covered for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are almost done. Then add:
1 1/2 cups of potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups of zucchini or other squash, cut into chunks
3 cups of chard, spinach, or other greens, washed, trimmed and chopped
2 teaspoons of cumin
a handful of chopped cilantro
Cook for another 20 minutes or so until the potatoes are done. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you have it, add a slug of white wine (3/4 cup). If your soup is too thick, feel free to add more water at any time.

While you wait for the soup, read a magazine at the kitchen table

...or stretch out in a sunny spot.
In no time it will be done.
You can adjust this recipe to meet your taste: eliminating ingredients you don't like and substituting others, or changing the quantities of different vegetables. This is an excellent soup for a crowd, as you could feed the neighborhood with it. It would probably be fine if you halved the recipe, but then you wouldn't have leftovers.

Serve it with a dark or crunchy bread and a glass of wine. Mmmmm.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


I recently saw some nice sweater patterns that require bulky weight yarn, and I didn't have any bulky yarn in quantities for a sweater. There are a number of tutorials on line for buying thrift store sweaters and unraveling them for the yarn, so I thought I'd try my hand at this form of repurposing craft materials. I found this acrylic and wool blend sweater in a color I really like and it actually unraveled easily. If you decide to try this, consult the many good tutorials available and start with a thicker vs. thinner yarn until you get the hang of it.
Yesterday was my favorite church rummage sale. I found 1/2 yard cuts of these home dec fabrics--there's probably 3 yards of the blue and rust one. There was quite a frenzy at the craft table perhaps because they didn't have as much fabric and yarn as they usually do. Twice I was told by other ladies that they already had dibs on something I'd picked up, but I feel like I got some great deals nonetheless.

You may recognize the bottom fabric here as a sheet. I love these bright florals. The color of the middle piece of home dec fabric is really pretty, and there are probably 4 yards or so. There must be 10 yards of the green, which is so ugly it's kinda cute. I got each of these for $1. that green fabric will be great for backings of some brown quilts that need quilting.

Friday, September 05, 2008

On the Road Again

Here are some photos of last weekend's get-away. The kids drove, and I got to knit in the car. I think I could get used to this.
We stayed in a cabin that belongs to friends of Michael's. When I got up on Saturday, this was the view from the deck. Once the fog cleared, you could see the ocean in the distance.
Michael get to play with Baby Emil.
And I got to play with him too. I don't get to hold too many babies these days, so this was a nice treat.

Here are the very busy and proud parents, Michael's older son Krsna and his wife Janisse.
Younger son Arjuna and his girlfriend Alyssa doing k.p.
The cabin has wonderful window seats and Allie did some homework and lounged with Roger
Alex brought a guitar a some bongos to pass the time.
We tried going to the beach, but it was so windy we literally got sand blasted. We beat a hasty retreat back to the car.

Here's a shot of the coast. Those are cars parked on the spit.

The owners of the cabin are big travelers and collectors. This African figure next to the fireplace is made entirely of beads . The base appeared to be paper and wire.Here's a close-up of the hands.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A Working Labor Day

School started last week, so I'm again in the thick of it. I did get away for the first part of this long weekend, but now I'm back getting ready for the work week.

I do have a few knitty project to show for myself. These days I knit during my downtime. It's portable and I don't need the machine nor a box full of embellishments. I can also feel the seasons shift into fall, and wooly items are a staple of my wardrobe for about half the year.

I recently finished this sweater for myself in a KAL (knit-along) on Ravelry, the mega-super on-line knitting community. The pattern is called Mr Greenjeans and is available free from Knitty, the on-line knitting magazine. This pattern has absolutely no seaming, and the color will keep me alert on dark winter days.
I'm on a fingerless mitts knitting jag. This is a fast easy pattern that lets you use up bits of worsted weight wool. The pattern, Fetching, is also available from Knitty.
I'm sending this child's sweater to the latest Afghans for Afghans campaign, which is collecting knitted items for children in Afghanistan. It's a worthy cause if you've got some wool, needles and a little time.

Pictures of my weekend get-away will be up soon. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

Sweater Genesis

  A few years ago I learned to harvest yarn from old wool sweaters.  I don't do it so much anymore, with the exception of if I find...