Thursday, April 30, 2015


On a whim, I broke out some white fiber, paas tablets, and my crock pot for some impromptu dyeing.  Something about the process made me believe that spring is finally here.  I immediately started another batch once I set this one out to dry.  My hands are even more speckled than the wool, and Sebastian's foot somehow acquired a big streak of orange.  Badges of honor. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yarn Along: Reading My Knitting

I did indeed finish that vest, though it was two days later than intended.  Ever since, my husband has worn it each day.  There will most certainly be more vests on my needles for him in future.  I've thought about this one in particular, but before I jump into yet another garment, I needed to make something small, purely for fun with no timeline.
I bought Cirilia's book at Rhinebeck 2014, where she autographed it for me.  Ever since, I have meant to delve into it more.  Of course there are the hip patterns, but the essays she included are even more interesting to me right now.  So I have been reading it cover to cover, while I simultaneously knit her L'Arbre Hat as part of the Fringe Hatalong No. 2.
The natural choice from my stash was a single skein of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mini Empire.  As the ball band puts it, this yarn is made from sheep to skein in the US, mainly right here in upstate NY.  If I didn't know any better, I would assume this springy Rambouillet wool was actually cotton.  It has that kind of feel to it, though it's more pleasurable to knit, with more give, than any cotton I've worked with.  The stitch pattern stands out beautifully and seeing it appear has given me such a rush.
In fact, this little hat has been quite a breakthrough for me.  I have avoided most textured stitches, since I have associated them with lots of counting under my breath.  That completely ruins the knitting experience, so I have generally kept to yards of stockinette or garter stitch.  Lately I have been finding my trusty, mindless knitting somewhat tedious.  Lo and behold, I have discovered that patterns like this have a rhythm to them that makes the process much more intuitive than I imagined.  I can anticipate the pattern based on what stitch presents itself on the left needle, rather than counting what I have already knitted.  The tidy alternating columns of garter stitch and the little tree pattern are my guide, instead of the written directions.  I suppose this is old news for all you veteran knitters, but any beginners reading should be encouraged to give textured stitches a try.  They may surprise you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yarn Along: scrambling

I'm frantically trying to finish the back of the Trane Vest, even as I type this.  I've got the work in my lap at all times, just in case I have a second to snatch up the needles and add a stitch or two.  I even brought it on our walk to the library yesterday, where it sat in the basket of the stroller, untouched.  I bet I could knit while walking, if I didn't have a stroller to push and two littles to wrangle.  Why all the harried knitting?  The deadline is today and I still need to knit a couple more inches, block all of the pieces, knit the button band and bottom ribbing, sew on buttons, and get modeled photographs.  I realize that is utterly impossible, but I'll try my darnedest.
Meanwhile, I am reading one chapter of Knitting Yarns each night.  I checked Silas Marner out of the library the other day, but want to hold off on beginning it until after we finish watching the Middlemarch miniseries.  It exceeded my expectations so much that I impulsively ordered it online when the library copy malfunctioned halfway through the series.  I just couldn't wait for yet another interlibrary loan to go through.  I have a feeling it will be something I return to again and again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Yarn Along: Holy/Bright

It's been a beautiful week.  Late on Saturday night, I took my knitting and notions out of this trusty basket and replaced them with this:
We went to the midnight Liturgy, which was so rich and rewarding.  Jordanville truly felt like home, perhaps for the first time.  We have been savoring the feast ever since--and will for weeks to come.
Another long-awaited moment: my preordered copy of the new Alabama Chanin book finally arrived.  It was dinged up pretty badly, so I decided to exchange it, but I couldn't resist looking through it for a day or two before I sent it back.  I am eagerly awaiting my new copy so I can delve into the techniques inside.  I have a few skirt ideas I want to get started on, plus some embellishments of existing pieces.  My sister pointed out that this notebook would be the perfect place to plan out my handmade wardrobe.  It will definitely help me be more cohesive in my fabric and yarn choices.
I finished the left front on Peter's vest yesterday.  The buttons also arrived!  I need to power through the back as quickly as possible, since the deadline is fast approaching.  I may be the only one in this area to be praying for just one more cold day in a week or two so he can wear it before next fall.  The crocuses are finally emerging, just in time for bright week.  Christ is Risen!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yarn Along: chain knitter

I realized after hitting publish last week that I had neglected to mention Middlemarch.  It drew to a close this week.  I have been wandering around bereft ever since.
I also completed my second Kate Davies mashup sweater.  
The whole thing came together in just under two weeks.    
 I finally feel truly comfortable with simple color work charts, trapping the unused color behind the work at regular intervals, and knitting with one color in each hand--all skills that used to completely mystify me.
It juuuust barely fits Lucy, and she is getting lots of use out of it in these final frosty days.  By autumn it will be on her brother's back, no doubt.

The yarn for Peter's vest arrived the day that little sweater came off the needles--and I immediately cast on with them while they were still warm, like a chain smoker.
Late last night I finished up the right front and began the left.

In a stroke of genius, I also worked up a little buttonhole swatch, which helped me choose the proper button size well before they're actually needed.

As I tear through this vest, I have been catching up on episodes of the Woolful podcast, but when those run out I want another giant classic to tackle.  Any ideas?  I'm hoping to finish up Women and Men in the Early Church and Knitting Yarns before I launch into anything else, but I want to have the next book queued up.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Yarn Along: grey gardens

I'm knitting nothing but grey right now.  The ground is still covered by a few feet of snow.  It's always winter and never Pascha...
And yet there's nothing like a ring of plump sheep to cheer me up, however grey they are.  My second Kate Davies Mashup is nearly complete.  Unfortunately I have a sinking feeling it will be a little small on Lucy, but that's what second children are for.
I'm so excited to be test knitting Pete an adult version of this little vest, which Ashley of Woolful and   Little Woolens designed.  After mulling it over, he settled on this cast iron colorway of Shelter.  Try as I might he was not remotely interested in a vest made out of the gorgeous red Long Johns colorway or Old World, with its multicolored specks.  I did find the perfect horn buttons already, which consoled me somewhat.
Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

As I wait for the proper grey to arrive, I'm swatching up a skein of Shelter from my stash to get some idea of my gauge.  It's such a satisfying yarn to knit, no matter the color.