Sheeps and Shawls

Cross-stitch

I don't believe I've done any cross-stitch since spring break. However, this past weekend, I had to wait for workmen to come to my house (so many workmen over the last month), so I decided to finish a project I started in February. "Spring Sheepies" by Michelle Lutzen can be found in the Spring 2016 issue of Cross-stitch & Needlework magazine; it's perfect for spring, for knitters... for knitters who cross-stitch in spring!




The pattern comes with finishing instructions for making a box display which I intend to try this summer. I made the August cottage by Country Cottage Needleworks for my daughter for her birthday last year, and it's still languishing in my craft dresser because framing is SO expensive! These sheep will be my learning project so that I can finish her piece in time for her birthday this August.

Knitting

I blocked my Lacy Prayer Shawl in Takhi Cora Handpaints and love it! As I mentioned in this post, the yarn came from two different dye lots and had been languishing in stash for at least 4 if not 5 years. I'm so glad I finally found a pattern for it, and since it's for me, I don't mind that parts of the shawl are pinker and others are greener. It's all spring colors to me! (My daughter borrowed my dress form so final "glamour" short to come!)


I also worked on my YOLO shawl over the long weekend and made it to the mock cable border. The percentage method used it this pattern is so simple yet so brilliant! The directions state that you should knit 45% of the yarn before starting the border, and I came with 2 grams of that weight at the switchover. 

I need to find more patterns like this! Here's what the start of the border looks like:


I'd really like to finish this before it gets hot here at the Jersey Shore since it's knit in a mohair/merino blend, and I am not one to turn on the air conditioning until it's truly unbearable. A blog reader emailed me after reading my post about this pattern last week, and she's planning to try it. If anyone else gives YOLO a go, please let me know via email or in the comments!

Most Tuesdays I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!


YOLO in Moscow

Knitting

While life has yet to settle down (see Instagram posts about our new family member, Kimmy), I started knitting a shawl pattern based on percentages called YOLO. As a high school teacher, I've heard that term many more times than any person ever should, but I like the reasoning of designer Susan Ashcroft:
a simple knitting trick to make little mock cables without a cable needle - just YO (yarn over) and LO (lift over)
This pattern takes the weight of all the yarn then uses 45% for the stockinette upper part and 55% of the yarn for the mock cable border. Genius! When one knits with pricey yarn, one would like to use up the skein yet I always seem to have yards leftover, never enough for another pattern! (At least I never run short of yarn.) I bought a small scale for this project; we'll see how it goes.

I came across this version by Raveler PattiAnnieB in yellow gradient yarn and immediately thought the fingering wool yarn I bought last fall from Maple Creek Farms in the colorway Wheat Fields would be perfect:


With a few very hot exceptions, it's been cooler than normal here at the Jersey Shore, so knitting this sunny mohair/merino blend has been a pleasure this month!

Reading

Without a lot of time to read recently, it took me longer than usual to make it through A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Perfect for my hectic current life, this book starts off with a very basic premise then remains a rather quiet book until the very end.


Count Alexander Rostov returns (yes returns) to Russia from Paris after the fall and execution of the Tsar. He manages to get his beloved grandmother to safety in Paris but remains behind in Moscow in a luxury suite at the Metropol hotel with quite a few of his family's possessions. On June 22, 1922, the Count is declared a Former Person and sentenced to life confined within the walls of the hotel. He is spared a death sentence based on a poem he published about a decade before that was more revolutionary than aristocratic.

Pay attention to that poem...

Originally sporting some serious mustaches (an early hipster one might say), the Count is forced to have them shaved after an irate customer at the barber cuts one off. This removal sparks a conversation with a young girl named Nina who introduces the Count to what goes on behind the scenes at the hotel as well as many of the Bolshevik assemblies that take place in it's ballrooms.

Nina eventually grows up, marries, and has a child, Sofia. Sofia's father is arrested and banished to Siberia. Nina wants to follow him but cannot take a 5 year old child, so she leaves Sofia with the Count as what everyone believes is a temporary measure.

It is not.

Sofia grows up as a Russian Eloise while the Count becomes head waiter at the illustrious restaurant within the Metropol. Characters come and go, plans are made... and the end falls together perfectly. I enjoyed this book with its unusual premise and quiet yet moving story. Events happen outside the Metropol hotel but the hotel and its inhabitants power on. The movie Casablanca plays a part in the later pages and if you liked that movie, I'm certain you will enjoy A Gentleman in Moscow!

Most Tuesdays I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party. Please join us by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties. You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Yarn Dyeing with Indigo

I don't know why, but when the weather gets really bad on a Saturday, I immediately think about dyeing yarn. Maybe because I know I'll have the entire afternoon to play with color or maybe because I like to dye bright colors which cheer me up in dreary weather. Whatever the reason, this past Saturday when it was cold and rainy and very uninviting outside, I decided to try the Indigo Dye Kit kindly gifted to me by The Wooliers after I interviewed them on the podcast.

Such a fun way to dye yarn!


My go to way to dye is with a crockpot and either food coloring or Kool-aid, and if you've dyed yarn with either, you know you've questioned how those items are considered edible. This kit gave me a chance to try a natural dye in an almost fool proof way (if you read the directions before you start, definitely fool proof).


The kit comes with detailed instructions, 3 packets of pre-measured dye ingredients, a wooden stick to stir the yarn and dye, and 120 yards of wool (25% baby doll, 25% merino, 50% alpaca). Earlier experiences with alpaca had me wondering how bright this dye would be; alpaca tends to mute even the brightest of Kool-aid colors, but turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

After mixing the hot water and the ingredients, I left my jar to sit for an hour. Then I let it sit for another hour. My jar never got to the "translucent yellow/green" described in the directions, but I've created some mighty fine colors in the past by winging it, so I pushed that hank of yarn into the dye mix anyway.


The directions said let it sit for 5 minutes. I of course got involved with the new Anne of Green Gables series on Netflix so didn't come back to it for about 30 minutes. Super dark blue!


After letting the yarn sit for awhile (ok more of Anne), I rinsed out the indigo. That took quite a bit of soaking which may be due to my water never turning that yellow/green, but once it was rinsed, I gave it a soak in, what else, Soak, and then wrung it out to dry.


The yarn dried overnight (and was of great interest to my new dog, Kimmy - I think the smell intrigued her), and I am IN LOVE with this yarn!!


I see this in a hat very soon... now to get some of The Wooliers natural yarn to go with it!

If you've never tried your hand a dyeing yarn, I highly recommend this as a first time experience. Very self contained in the jar, the directions are very detailed, and the result nothing more than spectacular! If you decide to give this kit a try, let me know!

Paddy 2002 - 2017

It is with a sad heart that I write this blog post about Paddy, my dog of 15 years. He passed away on April 27, 2017 and his loss hit our family hard. While I still knit and read while I grieved, I didn't have a blog post in me last week. I'm sure I will feel his loss for the rest of my life; he grew up with my children and was indeed my third child.

He was a big fan of a good chew bone:

He was also a good sport when his human siblings forced him to do things like listen to Fallout Boy:
His favorite spot to hang was the futon in the playroom even when the kids outgrew the playroom:
He also loved snow even though his Mom does not:
He was often at my feet when I knit or read (or stealing my chair when I was elsewhere). Paddy, you will be missed.