Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm Stitching as Fast as I Can....

As I have mentioned before, I have broken my personal rule: No handmade gifts for the holidays. Now with less than a week to go I feel much less stressed than I expected about the whole thing.

If you had asked me about it last Monday I may have had something very different to say. That was the day I decided to frog the afghan I had started for my mother. Well, here's the new one. A simple granny square made in Peaches & Creme double worsted. That's a ruler in the center. It's about 52" across right now. I plan to work another 3 or 4 rounds (5"-6"), and call it done.

The yarn and colours are the same as the ripple afghan I had started and didn't like. I had decided on them after giving her the Shell Edged Kitchen Set, and deciding that the colours were okay in her kitchen, but PERFECT in her living room.

I got to hooking on this as soon as I ripped out the previous blanket Monday afternoon, by Monday night I realized I was not going to have enough yarn. THANK GOODNESS I am well liked by the Flo over at the Pisgah factory, who put me on hold while she ran around to find yarn in the same dyelots! The new batch of yarn came in yesterday, so I was able to resume my frantic hooking. Now the only problem is whether or not the blanket will weigh more than my mom. It's currently about 4 pounds, but feels much heavier!

Another gift that I need to finish this weekend (so I can priority mail it Monday) is this doll. This had been in the back of my mind forever, then a few rounds hanging off the needles for almost as long, but I have finally gotten in gear with it. I have completely winged this one with no real advanced planning except the image in my mind. I'm pretty pleased with the body, but am frogging the first attempt at an outfit, as I need to make the clothes much smaller than I thought.

No more details on this one until it's gifted....

The thrummed mittens are nearly complete. I'll post pictures in the next post.

I've even started something for myself this week. Last weekend we had a full house here, as we were the only people out of the NH family to have electricity (in case you hadn't heard a major ice storm left 100's of thousand's of people with out power in NH- aka most of the state) and all of the WIPs I had on hand were being gifted to a person that was present. So, I pulled out my camel-merino-silk hand spun and started this neck warmer. The perspective in the photo is a bit off -the neckwarmer is larger than the ball of yarn. It's just a ring of 2x1 ribbing, but it's super soft and luxurious feeling, and I can't wait to wear it. I wish it had been ready for the 8" of snow I woke up to today!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Long post- knitting at the end

Although this blog is usually about knitting or other crafts I'm going to talk a bit about food today. This post is coming at the request of a friend who, when calling and asking "what are you up to?" was a little surprised to get the answer, "I'm making cheese."

First a little background, since it is the stuff I find interesting:

This past summer while taking the road trip down to Pisgah Yarn & Dying, Gerry introduced me to Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The book is the 1 year chronicle of an American family trying to eat only local foods. The book also talks about reducing your carbon footprint by using less fossil fuels to obtain your food.

Before this book I never thought about how much oil was being burned up by industrial farming, and shipping foods around the world so that fresh vegetables are always on hand, no matter what the season. I'll tell you, I can not stop thinking about it now. It's not that I never plan to eat a pineapple again, because it has to be shipped from Hawaii, but I do plan to make my food purchases more thoughtfully, and support local, and organic agriculture much more purposefully than ever before.

So, I found a local farm to put me on their weekly customer list, and I now have a gallon of milk to pick up from them each Monday. I made the arrangements for this last Tuesday, and after I had arranged to buy a gallon of milk each week I realized that I consume just under a quart.

In the book, Barbara had talked about "The Cheese Queen" Rikki Carroll, who started New England Cheese Making Supply Company, which is located in Western, MA. I had thought about trying to sign up for her one day cheese making class, then realized she sold it on DVD. I decided to go that route, but with so much milk coming my way so quickly I went out to buy her book immediately. AS it turns out, I can not obtain vegetable rennet locally, so I will have to order it. In the mean time I am making this simple soft cheese with this weeks excess milk.

The milk is slowly brought to a boil. Cultured buttermilk is added to the hot fresh milk, and curds develop.

The whey is strained off from the curds, at this point you have cottage cheese. You can keep it this way, or hang it to continue to strain for a more firm, solid cheese. That's what I did, I actually weighted/pressed it for a couple of hours.

My finished cheese is somewhere between the consistency of a very firm ricotta, and a soft creme cheese. Now it's chilling to be made into an entree tomorrow.

While I was making the cheese I also made some seitan. For the carnivores- That's isolated wheat protein (gluten), and makes a great vegetarian entree. The wheat was not local, but buying dry powder certainly does save on fuel over shipping a high-water-content food that needs refridgeration.

The seitan starts with a box of "vital wheat gluten" marketed as a product used in bread making (although you could isolate the gluten from plain old flour). A little water added makes this into a big rubbery ball of dough. The dough is kneaded then allowed to rest for a bit, and finally simmered for an hour.
When the dough first goes into the pot it doesn't really look like much, just a couple puny blobs, but it puffs up quick. Halfway through cooking I thought my seitan was going to blow the lid off the pot.

Again, this is now being chilled for meals later in the week. Mondays are the only day that I can really get into complex cooking in the evening, so it's nice to get ready for the week ahead.

Okay, and just so the people who read this blog regularly have something they will be interested in:

I have a mitten from the 2nd set of thrummed mittens nearly completed. I had started this before I got Maureen's advice to keep the thrumms really puffy, and did make them much smaller. As it turns out I can already tell the set with the enourmously pouffy thrumms will be superior. Live and learn.
The second mitten from the first pair is almost done, but I have run out of blue roving, and will have to dye some more. I had hoped to do that today, but the days are just too short this time of year. Maybe tomorrow....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


So, the Desert Raglan became the Desert Seamless Set-in Sleeve Sweater at the last possible minute. The Pattern is from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting workshop, and is the same as all of her other seamless sweaters, until the body and sleeve joining.
It is finished, and drying right now. Since I haven't seen the Sun all week I gave up on trying to get a better photo than this, but perhaps soon.
Speaking of projects that change directions at the last possible minute (or at least long after they have started) I found new inspiration for an old project. I made many squares out of Classic Elite Sand- an aran weight cotton boucle- a long time ago, and had planned to someday make more, and eventually join them to make a blanket.

All of the squares had been knit from the center out, and I left all the edge stitches live, as I thought that I may want to use a 3 needle bind off, or even the kitchener stitch to join them. I have decided instead to join them with decreasing squares.
I have just started the first one, but I do like the way it is turning out. I shouldn't spend much time on this, as I have holiday knitting to get to, and even after the holidays it will not be main focus, but I do at least feel as if this blanket has finally found it's direction, and will some day be finished.
I also have the first of the thrummed mittens nearly complete. I think I have made my thrums too thick. Can you see how puffed up this mitten looks? I know that the fleece will felt and matt itself down as the mittens are worn, but I think there still may be too much of it here. I think I will make the next one with thinner thrums, and then decide what to do about this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Little Bits of Progress

It seems that my knitting time has been nearly non-existent for the past few weeks, and to top it off I [have gone completely insane and] decided to break my personal rule of NO Hand knitted Holiday Gifts this year. So, I have a whole bunch of knitted and crocheted items in various states of progress. A whole bunch of items that, 6 weeks from now, I will be ripping my hair out over! Here's one of them:

I have started the thrummed mittens for my nieces. I have to say that they are slow moving, but really fun to work on. I am very excited at the thought of how wonderful the finished item will be.
I am using the basic mitten pattern from Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, and Adrian Bizila's "How I do thrums" tutorial from Hello Yarn.
I know I am going to need a pair of these for myself....someday!
There are several other gifts that I can't share right now. I did however make some quickie dishcloth gifts that I can share. The honeycomb looking cloth is Hakucho's Circle Cloth made in Peaches & Creme burgundy, and light sage. I wasn't sure about the colour combination when I first started, but I really liked the way it turned out.
The other cloth is my own Crocheted Ridges Cloth. Instead of using the Peaches & Creme yarn I designed the cloth for I used the Country Cabled Cotton. It's a lighter weight yarn, but I worked it at the same gauge, and I just love the results. The picture does not show it as clearly as I would like, but the cloth has almost a lacy look to it. Very different than my previous version, and I have a renewed interest in the stitch pattern.

I have made some progress on the Desert raglan. It is not in a great state to be photographed right now, so it will have to wait. However, I will be starting the shoulder shaping today and I'm thinking I may not make it a raglan after all. More on that soon, I hope!
In the design world I have much going on, but very little to report. A new free knitted bookmark pattern has been posted at the Pisgah website. The Garden Trellis bookmark has two simple variations. It a quick, fun knit. This pattern has actually been around forever, and was almost forgotten about until recently. So, it is here just in time for quick holiday gift additions. If you are giving any books for holiday gifts think of one of these bookmarks made in Dazzling Diamonds as a way to add a little glitz to the presentation!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

So, it seems like I am over-due for a blog post, but really I haven't had much to talk about. There has not been much time for knitting the past few weeks.

I have slowly been working on the roll-edged raglan. I was concerned about the different types of stripes on the sleeves and body. Here's a picture of the two side by side, and I like it. The worries are gone.

I did have a couple evenings last week when I stayed over a friends house, and I knew I would have a little time to actually concentrate on my knitting there. [She had just had surgery, and I was staying there in case she needed anything in the middle of the night.] So, I pulled out my mother's shawl that I haven't touched in months.

If you have forgotten about it entirely you can find some earlier information here.

I have it stretched over my red fiber scale here, and you can begin to see the pattern emerging. So, it's not looking so much like a hair net anymore. I had originally planned to knit this to 4' square, and then add a wide border to make it 5' square. I'm now thinking that will make it too large for my mother, who is not quite 5' tall. I may have to get out the calculator and re-think this one!

I also have a new plan in the works. I'm thinking I will make my nieces some thrummed mittens with the yarn I dyed with the berries they picked for me. I almost started a pair last night, but realized I wanted some roving in bright colours to use for the thrums.

So, the roving is steaming up now! Perhaps this weekend I will get to a pair.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Camel/silk/merino Handspun

Several people have asked to see the yarn that came out of the batts I made with Lynne. Of course, I couldn't wait to spin it, even though it meant no time to knit this week.

The yarn is super soft, and the silk adds a subtle sheen. It truly is luxurious.

There is about 250 yards of sport weight yarn. I do still have about 50 grams of fiber in waiting, but probably won't get to spin it for another week.

I do have a project in mind, but I am still deciding whether or not I want to find a pattern, or wing it. I'll keep everyone posted.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


It was a beautiful weekend for a sheep & wool festival. The air was chilly, and perfect for woolen sweaters, and there was just enough colour left in the trees to make it truly beautiful.

Lynne and I got to the festival shortly after noon, and it was packed! It was so packed I felt like I couldn't even see what some of the booths had to offer. However, I managed to do just fine with the shopping.

Lynne, who just purchased a drum carder ended up with a beautiful 7.5Lb Romney fleece. Check out her blog for photos of how wonderful this stuff is after washing. I can't wait to see what she does with it! With the amount she has I'm sure there will be many great projects.

The ravelry party that evening was cold, but great fun! I even won a door-prize, a Classic Elite sock kit.

The highlight of the ravelry party for me, however, was talking to Author Doris Chan. I actually approached her, having no idea who she was, to ask if I could watch her work on the broomstick lace she was hooking away at. She was so sweet, and immediately turned to give me a better view while explaining everything she did. It was not until the end of our chat/lesson that we even exchanged names. I was so amazed that I had just gotten a lesson from a famous designer! If you are not familiar with her work you should really check it out. Her Blue Curacao Shawl is one of my favorite crochet designs ever.

The next day I couldn't resist going to see her at the Festival, and getting a copy of Amazing Crochet Lace autographed.

Sunday was especially nice at the festival. Things had calmed down, and were less crowded. You actually noticed when you were near someone you know, and could look about the booths with out fear of being swept away in a wave of desperate fiber hunters. We had done most of our shopping on Saturday, but did wander about, and double back to vendors where we had spent less time than we wanted. We made it a short day, though, and managed to drive into Massachusetts just as the setting sun was beginning to cast a golden glow over the Berkshires. It was a beautiful drive.

Here is my fiber haul from the festival. Not as ridiculous as I feared it would be.
In the back there is 1/2Lb of black and red merino/mohair roving, moving clockwise- 1.5 Lbs of superfine merino top (If I had even realized how wonderful this top is, and what a STEAL I was getting it would have been much more) 4oz of baby camel, 2oz of white yak, and 1/2Lb of dark grey Icelandic roving.

When we arrived at Lynne's house she helped me use her new drum carder to create my own luxury batts. A few ounces of merino, an ounce of camel, and a bit of tussah silk (that just happened to be in my car), and I got these wonderful creamy vanilla coloured batts. They are so exquisite!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Finished (Again)

The Saddle shoulder sweater is truly finished now. I'm quite glad that I took the time to re-work the bottom of the body. It fits better than I had hoped it would.

The irony of the whole situation was that my original plan was to make this sweater from Barbara Walker's top down pattern. I changed my mind at the last minute. I think the knitting gods were having a bit of fun with me.

For all of you who gasped and got dizzy when you saw that I cut the sweater I want you to know how not horrifying it was. I only snipped 1 stitch and then carefully unraveled it around. Knitting doesn't naturally unravel this way. So, it actually took a bit of work, and as long as each unraveled stitch is secured on a needle as it is freed, there was no danger of the whole sweater coming apart. I never dropped a single stitch in this process, and now I have a sweater that fits, as opposed to one that needed to find a fitee.

The weather in New York is supposed to be quite cool tomorrow. I think this sweater will make it's public debut at Rhinebeck. In case it is very cool (and I'm thinking the night time, out door ravelry party may be) I have packed some complimentary accessories, including a grey scarf knit for me by Joansie (since I received that in April this will also be the scarf's public debut).

This week has been an extremely busy one, and for several days now I have barely had time to knit a stitch. However, during class, and my class reading I have been swatching for my next sweater with the Classic Elite Desert that I picked up at the Hub Mills Store recently.

This sweater will be a simple rolled edge raglan. Once again, I will be using the EPS. The swatch turned out to be the perfect size for a sleeve, so I went with that (ignoring recent advice to wash my swatches. I know I should!) The thick & thin yarn makes for a very bumpy swatch. If you look at it closely, it looks like the fabric has hives. I'm sure this will be tamed a bit with washing and blocking. I would know this for sure if I followed the advice of more experienced knitters.

I have to say that this is the first time I have used a Classic Elite yarn that I have not immediately fallen in love. Since it is a loosely spun, un-plied yarn it is easy to split a stitch -especially when you are reading instead of watching what you are doing. I do, however, love the way the yarn is striping, and the colour combination is one I would have chosen if I had dyed the yarn myself. So, over all, I am still quite pleased.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! I know I plan to. I'll see about getting some shots of the sweater in action at Rhinebeck to post on Monday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I thought it was finished

So, I finished the saddle shouldered sweater, and blocked it, but decided it really is too short. It fits, just not the way I want it to.

I thought about giving it away to someone that would like it as is, but I decided I really like it too much. I made it for myself, and I want to wear it.
So, I took my scissors to it.

One stitch snipped, and an hour of careful unraveling, and I had the bottom border removed.

Now the sweater is back on the needles, and I'm knitting down instead of up. I'll add a couple of inches, then rework the border.

Spinning at the Fryeburg fair was a lot of fun. I got to meet several other spinners, some of whom had decades of experience. I got some tips on spinning bulky yarns. which I have had trouble making with a consistent width. So, I have been spinning like crazy, practicing my bulky yarns.

One of the resulting yarns I loved so much I had to work it up immediately. I used it to make this over-sized cap that covers most of my head and half of the back of my neck. It will be perfect for shoveling snow (I hope to do much less of that this year), as I always ended up with a spot on the back of my neck too high to be covered by my scarf, but too low for my hat.
There are actually several new projects in the works. Those that are not Christmas presents may make an appearance soon.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The EPS Seamless Saddle Shouldered Sweater.

So, here is the project I have been promising to share.
It's Elizabeth Zimmerman's Seamless Saddle Shouldered Sweater using the EPS (Elizabeth Percentage system). I'm knitting it with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, and using my own handspun for accents.
I was hoping two weeks would be enough time to finish it, but there have been a few days that I have been too busy to even knit a stitch!
Right now I am just about to start the shoulder decreases. The cuffs are done in linen stitch, but I may switch to ribbing for the neck, as linen stitch may be too stiff. I'll decide when I get there.
Right now I fear that the sweater body isn't going to be nearly long enough, but if I remember correctly from the similarly constructed Cobblestone pullover I had the same fear, and it worked out just fine.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Woolly dreams

I thought I would take a minute to tell everyone about my crochet class in Billerica, and my exciting new fiber related plans.
Yesterday was a yucky rainy day here in the North-East. Since Billerica, Ma is over an hour drive in the best weather I figured I'd better leave extra early. I had hoped to stop at the Hub Mills Store. I did manage to make it to MA with enough time to stop in Lowell, and was I glad I did!
For quite some time I've been dreaming of a simple roll necked sweater made out of Classic Elite's self striping, thick and thin wool -Desert. I believe it's discontinued, but they have had a large stock of unlabeled balls in the outlet for some time now. I finally decided I was going to have to go and buy the yarn before they ran out (after all the roll neck sweater will fit perfectly in line with my mindless homework knitting). Well, in honor of Lowell's city wide Open Studio weekend all yarn at the store was an additional 20% off! Good things really do come to those who wait!
So, here it is. Hopefully it will be a sweater in time for a cold New England winter.
The class ended up being only three people. Somehow a few were lost through the week. However, it did move along quite nicely with so few to keep track of. Usually for a beginner class I feel that everyone should leave with enough knowledge to make a square or rectangular project in single crochet (a basic scarf or dishcloth). Then if I can move on to other stitches it is a bonus. Well with these three woman we went through the foundation, the single crochet stitch, the half double, and double crochet stitches, and actually got into making a granny square. I was amazed! Unfortunately we only got half way through the 2nd round of the granny square before I had to leave, but the fact that we were even able to start it amazes me.
I was threatened with the possibility of frustrated crocheters showing up on my doorstep for further instruction, but luckily I live quite a distance away! I may return for another class with these ladies at some point this winter.
After the class I went back to Lowell, and the last 40 minutes of open studio for the day. Of course that really isn't time to see much, but I spent it at my friend Lynne's studio, where there are always lots of fun fiber junkies hanging out. It had been way too long since I had gotten to see Lynne, and we had plans for Mexican food and Margaritas after open studio closed for the day. Somehow it came up that Lynne was going to Rhinebeck. Months ago she told me she planned to skip it this year. Before I even got to ask what changed her mind she said "Do you want to come!?" I thought about it briefly and said "Well, I'm back in school, and I've been so busy. I really shouldn't, but of course I will!" I did come home and double check my school schedule, but it turns out to be the perfect weekend for me to take off. I'm very excited to go, and I'm hoping to meet lots of my online fiber friends. I've already told Maureen that we have to meet if she will be there.
No picture today of my current WIP- the weather is just too gross to get a picture that really captures the colour. Soon, I promise.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Natural Dye Experiment

On Monday night I stopped at my sister's house to pick some pants to hem for my niece. When I got there I was told that the girls had gotten something for me. They slipped outside and came back in with this:

A bag of wild berries they had picked with the thought that I could use for dying yarn.
I had honestly never really considered dying yarn with wild berries. It seemed like a very tedious and messy idea to me. However, after being presented with such a gift from my nieces I figured I had better give it a shot.
I did a bit of online research, and the information available for using berries as dye was a bit sketchy, and described a fairly lengthy process, including days of soaking the berries to make a liquor before preparing a dye bath. I didn't want to spend that sort of time on it. So, I improvised:
First I mashed the berries, then I put them in my dye pot, added water, and boiled them for about 1/2 hour.
When I felt as if I had drawn out enough of the colour I strained away all of the berry pulp. You can see that I was correct in believing this would be a messy venture.
The strained liquid went back into the dye pot with some vinegar. There is probably a better mordant for dying with berries, but I don't know what it is, so I stuck with what I know.
My natural coloured wool went into the dye bath, and simmered for about 40 minutes. I have to say that for the first 10-20 minutes I didn't really believe that anything attractive would come out of this dye bath.
In the end, I really did get a very pretty yarn in a vivid pink colour. I do find myself wondering what sort of rich purple I may have gotten if I had pre-soaked the berries, and allowed the wool to soak longer (I did this all in about 2 hours). However, I think I am done with the berry dying for 2008.
In the knitting world I have discovered that a simple project worked in the round is a great way to keep myself from fidgiting while doing my homework, and helps me get more reading done in a single sitting. Becuase of this, I do have a new project that I will be sharing soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tragedy Strikes!

One of my Denise needle tips snapped mid-row! I can't believe it, I have never broken a needle before (well, I have broken size 1 bamboo needles when I stepped on them, but that doesn't count). I guess trying to pinch stitches with this firm cotton yarn was a bit too much for the plastic. I have already picked up a metal needle and started to insert it in place. Luckily the project hasn't unraveled too far.

So, I really seem to be slacking with blog posts these days, and the truth is the amount of things I have to talk about really has declined. I am a college student once again, and that's cutting into the knitting time a bit. Also, A severe bout of knitting ADD has kept me from making too much progress on any one piece.

These socks are the socks that were completed on my road trip in August. They hadn't been photographed before because I had misplaced 1 as soon as I got home. It finally resurfaced this weekend.

These are the Woven Ridgeline socks from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways book. I altered the pattern by using her garter toe from the same book. It doesn't show up well in the photo, but the front of the sock has a panel of linen stitch.

The socks are made with Trekking ProNatura, and when I starting them I really didn't like the yarn, but by the 2nd sock I was growing accustomed to it, and I am so glad I persevered. I love the feel of these socks!

As for the sock I showed in the works in the last post, it's gone for a swim in the frog pond! The pattern made a sock much too long for my foot. Although I could have ripped back to the toe and adjusted it I just wasn't liking it enough.

Just to show you I am knitting something these days, this is my current mindless project, for times when I really want to focus on something else. It's a hemp market bag. I bought a kit for this bad forever ago, and it has sat in my stash. I recently gave away the crocheted market bag I had been using. So, I needed something new. When I pulled out the kit I decided I really didn't like the pattern it came with, so I am just winging this one.

Another thing I have been managing to find time for is spinning. It felt like I hadn't done it in forever. Honestly, it was partially a time issue, but I was also pretty bored with spinning that grey gotland lace weight (which I still need to spin more of).

Well, a couple of weeks ago I went up to Vermont to see Joansie, and attend the VT Sheep & Wool festival with her.

There is nothing like a S&W festival to get the desire to spin back! There were so many fun fibers there. One vendor (and I am sorry to say I forgot to take note of who) had blended rovings they had made from the left over bits they had after carding their first quality rovings. These scrap blends were merino, silk, alpaca, and mohair, and were $0.99 an ounce. They had 2 big bags, and although the colours weren't ones I would normally choose, I had to buy a little.

I got a red/yellow/purple striped roving which I used to spin up a very fun, very textural thick & thin bulky yarn. The 6 ounces made about 400 yards. It somehow made me think of my niece Ella as I was working with it, so the yarn will be worked into a gift for her.

The other yarn in the photo was made from roving that was a gift from my friend Deb. I think the colour was called "Prairie grass" It was another striped roving with 3 different greens and tan. Again I made a very textural yarn with this. This one is approximately aran weight, and I want to use it for a project for myself. I have about 300 yards here, and another 2 ounces of fiber to spin.

Oh, and because I love Halloween, I have a new free crochet pattern on the Pisgah website.

The Halloween Ghost cloth is a quick and easy project. I had fun making this one.

I also want to thank Norma for testing the pattern for me. If you are a cloth knitter or crocheter check out her website Dish and Wash Cloth Mania for a great free pattern directory.

For those of you who live in the Northeast, come and see me:

I will be teaching a free beginner crochet classes at the Billerica Public Library on Saturday September 27, from 1 to 4. There is a cap on the class. So, if you are in the area, and want to attend let me know!

I will also be a demonstrator in the Fiber House at the Fryeburg Fair in Maine, on Thursday October 2 from 2 to 5. This is the Men's day at the fiber house.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I've Returned

I've actually been home for over a week, but I don't know where the time has gone.

The trip was great fun. I only wish it could have lasted longer!

Gerry, and Ian (my nephew/Gerry's son) and I decided at the last minute to head out on Saturday night instead of getting up before the sun to head out on Sunday. It was a good thing we did, because after stopping from 3 to 9am to sleep/shower/eat we still did not arrive in Old Fort until 1 am Sunday night/ Monday morning. We had to be at the workshops by 8am. If we had left on Sunday we would have had to drive straight from Gerry's house to the workshops with out eating or sleeping!

I did get to finish the Double Worsted Throw in the car ride, so that part of it was good (not to mention a few good laughs along the way.) The throw ended up being almost 5' square, and fit perfectly, when folded in half, over the over sized recliner in Don and Glenda's (Gerry's inlaws) living room in the SC condo.

My visit to Old Fort, North Carolina was great. I finally got to see the Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing Factory, and meet Flo- who by the time we met face to face already felt like an old friend. I also got to meet several other friends from the Peaches & Creme group on Ravelry- Maile, Kim, Marie, and Zara were among them.

Teaching the workshops was a lot more fun than I expected, even though I was exhausted from the drive and the sleep deprivation. I think they were a success. Everyone in my beginner crochet class could do a sc stitch by the end of the class- although a couple were still struggling to keep a straight side edge on their swatches- and for a two hour session, I call that a great success! There was also a class each for my Kid's Reptile Bath Set, and the Floral Edged Bath set.

Here's the Reptile set:

We focused on the turtle soap sack for this, as again it was only a two hour block. Several people had the soap sacks done by the end of the class, and 1 person had completed the lizard washcloth, and Snake back scrubber before the end of the workshops on Tuesday.

For the Floral Edged Bath set we focused on the motif chain for the towels/bath mat. Two hours really wasn't enough for this project, but everyone seemed to get the idea of making the chain, and joining for the body of the pieces. So, although I would make sure to have a longer class next time, I was still pleased.

Marie, that I met at the workshop had actually done some pattern testing for me. Here is the sample she made for my Simple Summer Wrap:

Here's her work, being modeled by Flo, who was very surprised to receive this as a gift from Marie at the workshop.
I love this wrap, not only is it super easy, and quick to make, but every time I think of the inspiration for this piece, and see the finished product I chuckle. This was actually inspired by a shawl worn by a villainous alien in an old made for TV sci-fi film. I love the costumes in sci-fi films, but this is the first time I have successfully taken something so out there and translated it well into the real world.
After a day and a half in Old Fort, it was time for us to go and meet the rest of Gerry's family in South Carolina. Unfortunately my plans to meet Melanie, and Cat did not work out on this trip. Maybe next year? (Melanie, if you are reading this people at the workshop were talking about you and your blog- all good stuff, but I was so tired I don't remember what was said, or who said it)
Despite that disappointment, South Carolina was a lot of fun, too. We toured Charleston, which was a beautiful city, full of wonderful architecture- the likes of which you would never see in New England. Another thing in Charleston that you would never see in New England were the beautiful handmade Sweetgrass Baskets. Apparently the art was brought over from West Africa by slaves. The technique is passed down from mother to daughter, and is still only practiced in these two regions. The basket were rather pricey, but I did have to bring home a sample.
This is a small piece, about the size of a softball, but I loved the loopy sides on it, and I thought it was the prefect piece to bring home as a memento from the day. I bought this at the open market place in Charleston, where Gerry, Robin, and I walked around for a couple of hours, after Robin's parents took the kids home early.
I also had my first trip to a Hobby Lobby while in SC. Gerry's daughter Ella became very intrigued by a knitting book I bought for Gerry's birthday (it was the day before we left) and had to get some yarn to start a project. So, the three of us set out one evening to find some for her. We arrived at Hobby Lobby about 1/2 hour before they closed. The place was huge, and I would have liked more time to look around, but I did manage to get a few tools I needed, most of which were on clearance, and a ball of yarn. The yarn was Lion Brand Sockease. I had heard of it, but had never seen it. At $6.50 for a 100gm ball I couldn't pass it up. I was glad I got it because on the way home I finished the other socks I was working on, and needed something new. The shawl didn't end up being good car knitting.
Here's the sock ease, and the beginnings of one of Cat Bordhi's Dove socks, from the New Pathways book.
Well, this post has gone on way too long. I hope to have my next post soon!