Fighting with my Mohair Stole

The rule of thumb when knitting (or crocheting) with hand painted yarns is to alternate between skeins every two rows so that the colors are spread out evenly in the garment. The unused skein is simply put the side of the garment for two rows and then gently, pulled into place. When knitting a sweater or a hat, this technique is easily hid on the wrong side. When knitting a reversible object, like a stole, it is best to cut the yarn and rejoin it in. Any loose ends will be woven into the object upon completion.

But, cutting the yarn every 2 rows and weaving in the loose ends is tedious and obnoxious. However, going to the other extreme and not altering the skeins causes splotches of color on the garment.

So, what’s a knitter to do? Bite the bullet and compromise.
I have opted to swap skeins at the end of every repeat (16 rows in my pattern). The stole is still a bit splotchy, but I’m going to thumb my nose and swear that I designed it to look like that.


Christmas is here!

Not the actual day (and a good thing too because I have too much knitting to do between now and then), but the yarn – it’s here!

As you may recall this yarn was hand-dyed and hand-spun by Naturally Spun. And when I say hand-spun, I mean hand-spun on a drop spindle, all 730 yards of it. I’ve only ever managed to get about 10 yards off of a drop spindle. Now you know why I leave the spinning of fiber to other people.

First things first, I wound all 10 skeins into yarn cakes.

Then, I whipped up a swatch of just plain, old stocking stitch.

After lining up all my skeins of wool next to the swatch, I decided that I had to go buy more yarn. I wanted the Christmas yarn to be in the spotlight and not have to fight with other colors for attention. I suppose the natural-white wool would work well enough, but it contrasts with the stark-white roving used to ply the red and greens together. Plus, buying yarn is fun.

I plan to iron out the cable design today. If all goes well, the cable panel will look like a pine tree.

Beginnings of a Mohair Stole

Here are the beginnings of my Mohair Stole that I am knitting along with the Holiday Kal-Cal. The elves in the HKC are my cheering squad when I start to moan about how much longer it is going to take me to finish the blasted thing.

First, I dug out my ball winder and swift to wind up the huge skein of brushed mohair into yarn cakes. The skein was too big for my swift. I managed to get about half of the mohair wrapped up before it started falling off the swift on every turn. Husband to the rescue! (Gosh, they can be nice to have around sometimes.) He held the remaining yarn so I could wind it up. Voila, pretty mohair cakes.

Onward to the swatching process I went. I was certain that I wanted a lace pattern to allow the mohair to breath. (It’s cold in Maine, but most people don’t stand outside when it falls below 20 degrees F). Yet, the pattern had to remain simple, since the fuzziness of the mohair would hide any intricate stitches.

Swatch #1 was a pattern from Barbara Walker’s 1st Treasury: Dewdrops (p. 149).

Swatch #2 was another pattern from Barbara Walker’s 1st Treasury: Herringbone Lace (p. 197). This pattern was altered by me to accommodate the mohair yarn (stitches were added, repeat was lengthened, and the decrease technique was made more pronounced).

Although I had planned to make 3 different swatches, I fell in love with one of the above swatches that I felt there was no reason to continue on.

Can you tell which one I cast on for?

Here I am at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire knitting the stole.

1 Block Done and 1 Binding Ripped Out

In quilting, I’m sure that equates to 1 step forward and 2 steps back.

As I prefer to keep my glass half full, here are pictures of the completed dragon block.

This was my first attempt to hand quilt. I was worried that the stitches would look awful and that the I wouldn’t get the same puffiness as I do with the machine. The stitches do look awful and because they are not as small as the machine ones, I wasn’t able to achieve the same level of puffiness. Yet, I LOVE to hand quilt. It is relaxing and instantly gratifying. I am thrilled with my first attempt at it. I have started to establish a rhythm and already my stitches are becoming smaller and more uniform. So, hopefully, the second block will look better.

For my 2 steps back, I ripped out the binding and the hanging sleeve from the chili pepper quilt.

I just couldn’t make the store-bought binding work the way I had stitched it on. Next time, I’ll know the correct way to attach it. Currently, I am building up the patience it will require to reattach the binding. I just can’t bring myself to do it yet.

AWHF Shawl on a plane

After going back and forth and even asking my husband for his opinion, I decided to take the AWHF shawl with me to Disney World. I was able to knit on the plane rides to and fro Disney. I am SO glad all the airports now allow knitting needles.

Yet, they remain suspicious of large amounts of yarn.

On the flight back to Philadelphia, a lady performing the safety check confiscated my purse to allow a more thorough search. I – thinking that she was concerned about the needles – tried to absolve her fears by informing her that the sharp, pointy things were just knitting needles. Instead, she pulled my huge cone of alpaca wool out of the bag. I gasped and stared at her with shock and horror as I watch all the beads and a good chunk of yarn fall off the cone, which only makes her more suspicious. Taking my bag away from me again, she scans the yarn only to realize that it was a huge vat of – you guessed it – yarn!

My dear husband had the patience of a saint while I spent the next several minutes rewinding all the beads and yarn back onto the cone. Next time, I’m slipping a sock over the cone.

But enough about security check-in, here are pictures of my shawl progress:

It is approximately 13 inches long. The plan is to knit until the shawl is 28 inches long.

It is a joy to knit. The pattern entertains you (by forcing you to count to 3 repeatedly), but remains simple enough that you aren’t constantly checking the chart.

Stash Find for Holiday KAL-CAL

I have been waiting several years to get the inspiration to use the Mohair blend I purchased from Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm. Like usual, I was wooed by the color. Can you blame me?

I purchased it at the Stitches East market many years ago when the event was still hosted in King of Prussia. My intention at the time was to pair it with Reynold’s Candide (100% wool) until I realized how warm mohair was all on its own. So, it sat in my yarn stash and was buried by all my other yarn purchases. Yesterday, searching for something to make for the Holiday KAL-CAL, I found it. It told me straight away that it wanted to be a stole. Who am I to argue? Goodness knows, I haven’t thought of anything better these past several years.

So, a stole it will be. But, for who? The best MIL in the world, of course. Truly, she is the only one who would appreciate all the work that would go into it (she being a fellow knitter and crocheter) and the only one who needs a stole so warm (she lives in Maine). Plus, like most knitters/crocheters, I can’t remember the last time she made something for herself.

Onward to the swatching process! I have three different lace patterns that I want to demo out on the yarn.

Tagged by Glorious Hats

Jane of Glorious Hats tagged me. Well, shucks, color me bashful (the color of grey if Eeyore is to be trusted). I’m honored to be tagged by somebody whose hat making skills blow me away.

The rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.
7 Facts About Me
1. I like my tea the way the Irish do: Strong enough for a mouse to scurry over.
2. In order for me to recall an event, I first have to remember where I was when it happened.
3. My favorite Christmas song is “I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas”.
4. I eat 2 breakfasts (almost) every day.
5. Every Fall, I go on a Leaf Tour with my husband and 2 dear friends.
6. I am a dedicated thrower (knitting term that means I knit in the English way).
7. When hand quilting, I do not use a thimble, preferring to use the inside of my fingernail to push the needle along.
Tagging 7 People
1. Mrs. H who always makes me laugh when I read her blog
2. Marti and Laurie, sisters who share their funny life stories and their beautiful knitting patterns
3. Loren who roots for the wrong baseball team (the Phillies is the Right team, of course), but makes up for it in her stories of her very large family (1 husband, 2 sons, 1 chocolate lab, 1 cat, 2 goats, and several sheep … plus I might have missed some others) and her hand spinning
5. Maple & Cassie whose pictures of their many alpacas never cease to make you go “Awwww”. Maple then spins and dyes the alpaca fleece into yummy yarns, while Cassie supervises.
6. Tracie, an avid crocheter, has just recently made the move to become a full-time designer & teacher. Congrats to her for having her very first submission to a magazine be approved!
7. Brenda who spins natural fibers into beautiful yarns on just a drop spindle. You may recall that she is spinning my Christmas yarn up.

Home Sweet Home

It is good to be back home.

I missed my Jake.
I missed my quilt frame.
I missed my comfy knitting chair.
I missed my bed.
And as good as the food was, I missed being able to cook, especially breakfast.

Was it as bad as I thought it was going to be? No, but it was worse than my husband thought it was going to be.

Yesterday was the first day in 7 days that my feet didn’t hurt.
Yesterday was also the first day in 7 days that husband’s legs weren’t sore.
Tuesday was the only day I got overheated.
Wednesday was the only day I cried.
Saturday was the only day I was sick while at Disney. (I’m still sick today, but at least I can curl up in bed).

Yet, all in all, the good outweighed the bad.

Monday Hubby and I ate our favorite meal.
Wednesday night Hubby and I took the kids out to a character dinner (minus the parents). Then, we brought them back to the hotel for scrapbooking (they had a blast! … and so did I!)

Thursday I met Mulan.

Friday we divided and conquered the kids. Hubby and I got Kail, the youngest.
Friday night Hubby and I escaped to wander around Epcot, still our favorite park, alone. It poured and we came back soaking wet, but it was still fun.

And, of course, it was wonderful to see my sister and her fam.
Plus, I got lots of knitting done on my AWHF shawl. (more pictures later)

My sister is already planning next year’s vacation. I plan to hide in the mountain of dog hair that is still blowing around on the floor despite my attempt to clean yesterday. Maybe she won’t find me.

If you see her, mums the word.

Sneak Peak and Hand Quilting

Tomorrow I leave for vacation. We are going to Walt Disney World with my sister’s family, which consists of a husband, a 7-year-old daughter, and a 4-year-old son. You might think that I’m excited. You would be wrong. I have been dreading this vacation for months now. My sister has a different idea of a vacation than I do: she plans to drag the children to the park at 9 am (or before), jam as many rides and walking into the day as possible, and carry the kids back around 10 pm. I imagine by the end of each day, both the children and I will be over-tired and cranky. I also envision the husbands abandoning us for a bench and good beer. I plan to bring a bucket with me. Why? Because Mrs. H says it helps to dunk your head into ice water after a long, hard day.

I haven’t started packing yet, unless you count the growing pile of stuff I can’t forget sitting on top of my dresser. I have a dilemma. What should I bring as a knitting project for the plane rides? Should I pack my mystery project or my shawl project?

Mystery project OR

Shawl project

I can’t decide. I might end up packing both.

This morning, since I knew my entire day would be spent packing, I squeezed in a little time for me and did some more hand quilting on Baby Flick’s quilt.

Have a wonderful week without me!

A Gift from the House

You put so much work into a house: buying it, paying the mortgage, fixing all the little or big problems, and redecorating. It only seems right that the house should pay you back every once in a while. Mine did this weekend.

Look what I found in an old closet.

A brand new, never-been-used quilt frame! I was so excited. My husband even put it together for me. You see my baby quilt stretched out on it. My neighbor across the street told me that the lady who lived here before me never quilted. So, why is there a quilt frame in my basement closet? I have no idea. True, the frame is not the best (my husband had to jury rig the toothed wheel to the rod with nails and mirror wire), but it is free. And free is good.

Can I share a little secret with you? Hand quilting is not that hard. If you have ever done embroidery work or cross-stitching, you’ll be fine. This baby quilt is only my 3rd quilt. I’ve been avoiding hand quilting – certain that hand quilting was best left to the experts, but when I found this frame downstairs in the basement, I knew I had to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that quilting is not that difficult once you get a rhythm going and it’s fun. Now mind you, this quilt could never be shown at any country fair or jury show since my stitches are anything but even, but it’s good enough for a baby.

PS. I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!