3 Terrific Reasons to Have a Fiber Room

Fiber Cave

Men have their ‘men caves’, right?  Well, I think women fully deserve to have ‘women’ caves.  Here are three reasons why:

1. KNITTING – I started out as knitter, as a sock knitter.  The yarn stash grew, a collection of needles began and all my ‘tools’ were hanging out in every corner of the house.  I broadened my knitting horizons and all so needed more tools and more fiber.  When fiber buddies told me the next step would be spinning I said,  “Nope, not me!  There are too many things I want to knit.”   So, it surprised me a bit when I bought a spinning wheel three years ago at a the Salida Fiber Festival.


2.  SPINNING –  I found I truly love it.  There is just something so very relaxing about having fiber flow through your hands and become, gasp, yarn.  It is exciting to see how the colors play together.

Paper Roses

I started with a Schacht Ladybug but soon after traded her in for what I really wanted, the beautiful Schacht Matchless. I named her Betsy.

Matchless

 

The braids of fiber are so very lovely, too and it is hard not to collect them.  They look so pretty hanging on door knobs but you can’t really do that if you don’t have your own little cave because people will think you are a bit odd.

Fiber Cave

For the past two years I said I would only knit and spin but I absolutely would never have a desire to WEAVE.  My fine group of knitting buddies said it was time I broadened my horizons even further.  I said, “Nope, not for me because there are too many things to knit, too many things to spin.”  Their main fiber passion was weaving.  Each time we got together I saw the beautiful woven pieces in their homes and slowly, slowly I decided I would give it a try and asked Santa for a rigid heddle loom last January.

My Harp

3.  Weaving – I’m a beginner and that is not always a fun place to be.  In the past couple weeks alone I have made a couple rookie mistakes, big rookie mistakes.  I know it will get easier because it was not too long ago that I was confused about how to turn a heel on a sock and I would cry out in frustration and rip the whole sock out because I didn’t know how to fix simple knitting mistakes.

So, if you love fiber as much as I do and own knitting needles, spinning wheels, spindles, looms and lots of stash then carve yourself out a fiber room somewhere in your house.  When your kid heads off to college claim that room!  Because I must confess  – having a place to escape to in the house that you can call your very own space is fabulous-stupendous-awesome.  Having it filled with fiber and fiber toys?  Who needs chocolate?  Who needs a big screen TV?

There is something I must disclose though, if you bring your desktop into your new fiber cave and put it on the floor …… you just may find your dog watching Sherlock with you.

Kenzie and Sherlock

A Dead Wake in Texas

My Daily

My reading these days, notwithstanding the books about Texas horticulture, was nominated last year as the GoodReads Choice for best historical book. It’s called Dead Wake by Erik Larson and is the story of the last crossing of the Lusitania.

This is no dry history book. Thus far I have learned the following facts that I think are rather interesting:

  • On the morning the Lusitania departed, the German Embassy in Washington placed a notice on the shipping pages of New York’s newspapers reminding readers of the existence of the war zone and cautioned that “vessels flying the flag of Great Britain or of any of her allies, are liable to destruction” and that travelers sailing on such ships “do so at their own risk.”
  • The ship was booked to capacity including an unexpectedly large number of children and babies.
  • President Woodrow Wilson’s wife died just a year and a half into his first term – two days after Britain entered the new war in Europe.  His grief was incapacitating.  He wrote in his diary, “looked forward to the next two and a half years with dread.  He did not see how he could go through with it.”
  • Millions of bales of cotton piled up on southern wharves because the war had brought an acute shortage of ships.  Their owners feared submarine attacks and docked them.
  • May 1 was called ‘Straw Hat Day’, when a man could break out his summer hat.  Men followed this rule.
  • Pacifiers were called ‘sucking tubes’ and were tied around babies necks with a cord.

This is just a sampling of new information I’ve put into my noggin and pass along to your noggin.  And since this is a YARN ALONG and we all love fiber and BOOKS……..

One of the passengers on board the Lusitania was a successful book seller named Charles Lauriat.   He brought two invaluable items on board:

  1. The first was a bit of “Thackerayana”, a term used to describe artifacts of Thackeray’s life coveted by collectors on both sides of the Atlantic.  Laureate had a scrapbook containing drawings done by Thackeray to illustrate his own works.
  2. The second was a copy of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol owned by none other than the author himself.  Within the covers of this copy were notes that had been jotted by Dickens about the legal actions he had brought against “literary pirates” who had republished the story against his permission.

On the needles is a beaded Boo Knits shawl called ETERNITY which is appropriately named for it feels like I’ve been knitting it for an eternity!  I’m on the final chart and as a consequence my motivation to finish is climbing.  Maybe I will have a finished shawl to show you on the next Yarn Along.  So…what are you reading?  Knitting?

Where Did All the Pokeberries Go?

Where did they go? They were here last week, the pokeberries that is.  But now, when I want to pick them, they are gone.

Our move down to the Texas property was without incident.  Of course, the usual moving frustrations happened – like ending up down here with a big box of hand-knit wool socks which will never be worn in this climate.  Several important items that were put aside to go on the truck ended up not fitting on the truck at all.  Like a sewing machine.  Like some really comfy chairs for my new fiber cave and now I’m sitting on deck chairs.  Like a pressure cooker for canning  although all the canning jars made it hereLike a rototiller for tilling a garden – do you mean I have to use a shovel to dig one?  Well, that is what happens when you attempt to divide your house in half and live in two places.  Some stuff just gets left behind.

Mushrooms

Things are different here.  Not bad.  Just different.  Mushrooms grow here as they do in Colorado but their colors are more vibrant.  This one was found hiding under some leaves I raked away.

Self Portrait

Things are green here.  Lots of green to mow.  I take care of everything within the fenced yard and hubby takes care of everything else, all 64 acres ….. except the original road into the property and that is my job because I need a place to walk.  The first time I cut the lawn it took two and a half hours in second gear.  Today it would have been quicker because I moved up to third gear but on my fourth turn around the yard hubby came out and informed me that I forgot to engage the blade.  I’ll learn.

Zinnias

Things grow here, like zinnias.  I threw out some zinnia seeds and three days later they are growing!  That does not happen where I live in Colorado.

Morning Dew
Another thing I am not used to is dew on the ground and on the windows.  Early morning dew every morning.

My Daily

I’ve been researching all the plants on the property and identifying them by consulting with my friend named Google who is one brilliant lady.  My dad had a few books to lend me, too.  My nose is in this book most days and I’m throwing in a few thousand beads for fun.  I am so ready to finish this shawl!

I showed my mother a berry bush with a fuchsia vine and dark purple berries on it.  She told me that she painted her face with those berries when she was but a girl.  She also told me not to eat them because she thought they were poisonous.  They might be elderberry.  They might be Pokeberry.  They resemble each other a lot but elderberry only has a fuchsia stem where the berries are and Pokeberry has a fuchsia stem throughout throughout the plant so it turns out that my berry bush is a Pokeberry.

Pokeberry

I went to bed wondering if I could dye wool with the berries.  Shortly thereafter I decided to get up and do some research and was thrilled to find out that people have been dyeing with pokeberry for hundreds of years.  It produces shades everywhere from garnet to pale pink depending on how long the wool soaks in the pokeberry juice.  I turned the light off purposing to wake up early and pick a gallon bag full of pokeberries.

The next morning most of the ripe berries were gone.  Where did the pokeberries go?  Some critter? I’ll beat them to it next time round.  Pokeberries are supposed to produce fruit through Halloween so there is still time.

The Pigseyes Adventure Checked Off

Would Elizabeth Zimmermann be proud of me?

Flora & Fauna

I’ve completed my buttonhole research for Level Two of the Master Hand Knitting Program and my brain is on buttonhole overload right now.  Something tells me Elizabeth would be sighing, shaking her head and telling me just to chill out about my ‘pigseyes’ but I don’t think the TKGA Committee would have the same reaction.  Instead, I suspect I will have to resubmit some of these swatches but, nonetheless, I am still thankful for this buttonhole journey.  I will feel a little more confident the next time I encounter a buttonhole.  I won’t be knitting ‘pigseyes’ anymore!

There are many different buttonhole designs and believe me, I experimented with just about all of them.  Some of them looked a whole lot better in one fabric than another so I can see that this is an essential skill to have.

Master Knitting Level Two

I have knit my horizontal, vertical and eyelet buttonholes in single rib, double rib and seed stitch.  I have figured out how to space buttonholes on a band given a certain number of stitches – not only horizontally but also with a 1″ of knitting above and below each buttonhole – whew….took forever.

Master Knitting Level Two

The final swatches are on the blocking mat as I type and tonight I will weave in the tails.  Tomorrow will be their photoshoot for we are now to keep a photo record of everything we submit to the TKGA Committee.

Brody I’m in Denver this week because I am grandma to my daughter’s golden retriever.  While I am sweltering down here in the Mile High City she is up in the cool mountains at a nurses retreat.  It is hot today and there is no air-conditioning so the pooches are pretty lethargic which makes for good research time. Kenzie

This afternoon I will be writing my second book report, four required, on Deborah Newton’s Finishing School – A Master Class for Knitters.  This book has proven to be a valuable resource for all the seaming swatches I had to do.  I’m hoping it will live up to its reputation when I research the next swatch, picking up stitches.

Master Handknitting Level Two

I’m used to picking up stitches along gusset edges on socks but Swatch 18 will be simulating a scooped neckline.  It will test my ability to select appropriate decreases for a neckline, accurately pick up stitches along bound-off selvedge edges and calculate an accurate ratio for picking up stitches along a selvedge edge.

Staying Hydrated

Hmmmm…..Maybe I want to take a nap on the couch instead.  I’m staying hydrated!

Making Pigseyes on a Yarnalong

Flora & Fauna

That just about sums it up, buttonholes have boiled up around here recently and I have no more excuses putting off their research for the TKGA Master Knitting Program.  My assignment is to knit them ‘unobstrusively’ in single rib, double rib and seed stitch.  I’m to knit one vertical, one horizontal and one of my own choice.

Pigseyes Research

Reading along with Ginny’s peeps on a Yarn Along?  Well, still no fiction here for me, just many knitting reference books; however,I will share a favorite out of that stack.  This little book is just perfect for tucking inside a knitting bag whilst traveling, The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe.  It is filled with solutions to every problem you will face,  has answers to every question you might ask and has hundreds of clear illustrations.

As far as finished knitting goes, the Dublin Monkey Socks have been blocked and worn already.  I’m calling them my ‘Dublin’ Monkeys because I used souvenir yarn from a shop in Dublin called This is Knit.  Every time I wear these I will think of that fabulous shop, the conversations I had with its employees and the marvelous day I had exploring Dublin.

Dublin Monkey Socks

The Monkey Sock pattern was popular on Knitty.com many years ago and spurred me on to host several international sock swaps which proved to be wildly successful – long before the days of Ravelry.  I assigned a ‘monkey pal’ to each participant for whom they: knit a pair of Monkey Socks , sent a Cookie A. sock pattern and  three ‘monkey’ gifts.  It was great fun for a great sock design by Cookie A.

Currently on my needles is a Chrissy Gardiner sock design from Sock Knitting Master Class called Slip-n-Slide.  Ms. Gardiner likes to use unusual stitch patterns and that showcase the yarn in unique ways.  I’m using a shockingly pink solid yarn for this pattern so the slipped motifs will stand out more than on a variegated yarn.

What about you?  Have you read anything fun recently that might be a little more relaxing than researching buttonholes?

Cardigan Crush

I have a cardigan crush. When I was watching Endeavor on PBS this week I stopped the program, rewound a frame or two, grabbed my camera and snapped a picture of a lovely cardigan on one of the characters.  Instantly, I had a ‘cardigan crush’ and enough so, that I would actually take a picture.  Now, will I endeavor (sorry, couldn’t resist) to copy this sweater into a design?  Well, maybe.  I think  there just might be Elizabeth’s Percentage System (EPS) around here somewhere to calculate stitches for a  yoke cardigan and I happen to have several books that might have that exact fair isle motif or something similar…. and Shetland yarn? yep…have some of that, too.

IMG_8584

Cardigans, notably, open in the front and usually close with buttons.  You can’t really see by this picture but the button band on this one is in moss stitch and I like that, I also like the taupe colored shell buttons.  I also like how this one is worn with just the top two buttons being fastened.   A fashion classic, cardigans can be knit in any number of silhouettes and this crewneck version looks comfortably loose.  Another element drawing me to this particular design is the long ribbed cuff.  I’m going to have watch the show again to see if the ribbing is equally as long.  And last of all are the colors – a nice neutral palette – teal and brownish gold.  Like I said, I have a cardigan crush.

In years past the main reason I would not knit cardigans because I did not know how to properly care for them.  I had heard too many stories of beautiful hand knit sweaters being accidentally felted.  Recently I read about caring for hand knits and thought I would pass along that information to you in case you have had similar concerns.

Did you know that all the information you need is on the ball band label of the yarn you use?  Yep.  Instructions for caring for your yarn, including the preferred cleaning method is recommended right there on the ball band.  If you want to maximize the lifetime of your garment then just follow these recommendations.  In fact, it is really best if you knit a gauge swatch before you even start and wash it or clean it according to the ball band.

To make things consistent across the industry, there are international care symbols used on yarn labels.  That makes it a little easier for us.  So, follow the advice on the ball band but also keep in mind that each time you wash a hand knit sweater it will need to be blocked again to the pattern’s schematics.

c170e206d445c10c3effb146ccf03836

Happy knitting!