Thursday, December 30, 2010
I'm offering a new loom-knitted cowl design for my readers. The pattern uses two skeins - one is Universal's Classic Chunky in Red, and the other is Rozetti's Cocoon in Black, both available on my website, The Irresistible Ewe. The cocoon yarn is a little slower to loom knit, but is not hard. I let two cocoons dangle starting and ending the final row each time. Wrap one cocoon behind the peg, then you can wrap two pegs with the cord in between each one. You'll have to work with this. The pattern is as follows:
1. Cast on around the loom (I used the Purple Knifty Knitter round hat loom) two times, using the e-wrap method. Pull the bottom loop over the top loop and continue this until you have four rows.
2. Cut the Cocoon yarn leaving two cocoons to dangle.
3. Cast on with the Classic Chunky Red yarn using the e-wrap method. Knit the bottom loop (Cocoon) over the top loop (Red). Continue for six rows with the Red.
4. Cable Row: Knit the first two pegs. Remove the loop from the 3rd peg and save behind using either a cable stitch holder or other holder (I used a crochet hook). Take the fourth loop and place it on the 3rd peg. Place the 3rd loop from the holder to the 4th peg. Wrap these two pegs as usual and knit them off. Continue this pattern around the loom. You'll end up cabling #47 & 48 pegs.
5. The pattern continues as follows: 4 rows regular e-wrap stitches, 1 row of cables (follow step 4). You can determine how many sets of Steps 4 & 5 are comfortable for you. I cabled four rows.
6. End the red yarn back at the beginning hook. Add on the Cocoon yarn again and follow Steps 1 & 2.
7. Ending: This was the trickiest, but still not hard. I bound off using this method. Take loop #1 and place it over loop #2. Knit off. Take loop #2 and place it on loop #3. Knit off. At this point, the knitting became very tight. I e-wrapped again with the Cocoon onto #3 peg, knitted off and then placed #3 loop on #4 peg, knitted this off, etc. You'll have to see how this works for you. When it feels too tight, just add an extra e-wrap, knit it off and continue moving the left loop to the right peg, knit off, etc., etc. Have fun and let me know how this works for you.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
I'm trying to make more room in my studio/yarn shop upstairs. I decided to start with getting rid of some of the yarn that I've had for a while by crocheting some cat blankets for our local shelter. I bought a size 35 crochet hook last week at A.C. Moore in Greenville, NC and started with a bag of coordinated blue/gray toned yarn. Using four strands at once and strictly single crochet, the blanket came together in just a few hours. The second bag up was several solid colors of Lion Brand Thick and Quick. The colors ranged from taupe to rust, but all seemed very compatible in different lights. I tried four strands, but quickly undid all due to over-bulkiness. Three strands worked well for a more rug-like blanket. I think this will be okay for a shelter kitty waiting in a cage for its forever home. I played with the colors throughout the blanket, adding and/or dropping just one color at a time rather than crocheting in stripes. This allowed two of the colors to continue, making more of a subtle shading much like self-shading yarn. I had more of the taupe than anything, so after the first few rows, I let this one continue until the end, alternating dropping and adding one of the others. Willow gave it her "divability" test just as I was snapping the first photo. Even though it's blurred slightly, it's so "her" that I had to leave it in. I hear snow's on its way here tonight, so maybe I have time for one more blanket to crochet before next week:)
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Next, we have five more colorways in the Wisdom Marathon North Pole Sock Yarn: Superwash Wool 72%/Nylon 24%/Glitter 4%
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I'm trying out a new pattern from the book, Last Minute Gifts. I'm finishing up a cup holder with Universal Yarn's Classic Worsted Tapestry, Sunrise. I love the Southwest colors.
I also purchased a new purple loom from Knifty Knitter. It's got more pegs than the green adult hat loom for a closer weave. I'm using a skein of Universal Yarn's Deluxe Chunky Concord Tweed in Midnight and a skein of Deluxe Chunky in Strip Light Yellow. The Yellow is such a bright accent with the tweedy colors of the Midnight. Both yarns are very soft and will make a warm hat. Pictures to be posted later. I'm posting the pattern here as I work it up:
Tweedy Bee Hat
Cast on all 48 pegs with Deluxe Chunky Concord Tweed in Midnight. The pattern for the first two inches is K, P, K, P, etc.
It always helps me to number the pegs with a magic marker so that if I need to set the loom down, I can remember where I was (with this hat, odd numbers are K stitches and even numbers are P stitches).
Sunday, December 5, 2010
This is a reprint of a post I did two years ago. Tonight is actually the fifth night.
This is the second night of Hanukkah. The menorah shown here was given to me by my mother-in-law. There is always an extra candle for the menorah, which is the shamash. The shamash is lit first and is used to light the other candles. It does not figure in the number of candles lit each night. The candles are placed in the menorah from right to left according to which night of Hanukkah it is (first night, one candle; second night, two candles, etc.) and lit from left to right. Hanukkah candles come in various colors. An extra blessing is said over the candles on the first night only.
The prayers are said as the candles are lit:
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav, vitzivanu lehadlik ner shel Chanukah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam, she’asa nisim la’avoteinu bayamim haheim baz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.
This prayer is said on the first night only:
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu, melech haolam, shehechiyanu vekiyamanu vehigianu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.Traditional foods for Hanukkah involve cooking in oil. A favorite of ours is potato latkes. They're very fattening, but quick and easy to make. The traditional way involves grating with a food grater. I myself prefer the quicker, more modern food processor. I would never make them if I had to stand and grate by hand. They taste the same to me. Here's the way I make them:
Peel and wash several baking potatoes and a large onion.
Cut into manageable pieces and place through the grater on the food processor.
Dump all into a colander to let drain a few minutes.
While this is draining, place about a quarter to a half inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet and begin heating on medium to medium high. Transfer the onion/potato mixture into a large bowl. Add pepper generously.
Add enough plain flour to be able to form patties. I do this by feel, so it's hard to give you an exact amount, but I think it's probably about 1/4 to 1/2 cup.
Mix well, then dip out a large serving spoon size into the hot oil.
Keep a watch because this cooks pretty quickly.
Watch the edges. When they begin to brown in the middle of the pan, turn around so the other edge is browned.
Flip (carefully, remember this is hot oil) when the bottom is sufficiently browned.
Keep turning so the latkes are browned evenly.
Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on a plate with paper towels to drain.
Serve with either sour cream or applesauce, or both.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I'm working on a new project for a gift. Who can guess what I'm making? I'm using Universal Classic Worsted yarn in Leaf from The Irresistible Ewe and a crochet G hook. Hint: It's not the same yarn called for in the project I'm using from a popular Crochet magazine, but it's still a good color and consistency for the outcome.
Prize: The first one who can guess what I'm making and tell me where the project comes from will win a set of Clover 9-inch, size 6 circular knitting needles.
Let the guessing begin!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I've always enjoyed Halloween, both for the colors of the season and for the creativity it inspires in crafters. Henry and I have also really enjoyed the multitudes of kids who have come by in the last three years at our home for candy. Our previous home was about fifteen minutes out in the county and we averaged about three kids per night, so having a few hundred at our new home was a blast. This year has been a little different. We decorated the outside as usual, bought tons of candy as usual and decorated inside as usual. But, the crowds this year were different. We had about a third as many kids this year as before. I'm not sure if there is any one reason for this.
For one thing, our county decided this year to break Halloween into three nights since it fell on a Sunday. Friday night was for city kids, Saturday night was for county kids and Sunday night was for the kids on Seymore Johnson Airforce base. I can go along with choosing either Friday or Saturday night, not just because many here would object to having it on a Sunday, but also coming from a school teacher, it's a school night. But this was very confusing. Even my students at school, who are usually authorities on these things, weren't sure.
The crowds we did get, fortunately, became friendlier as the night progressed. I was having a lot of misgivings from the first wave of kids and their parents. Many kids came to the door and just stood there. We had to prompt them to say, "Trick or Treat," and then they just turned and walked off without saying "Thank you." Even their parents who also stood with a bag or plastic jack-0-lantern begging also said nothing. Instead, they glared at us (I'm sure I had a questioning look) until we dropped candy in their sacks. Since when do grown people demand candy? And maybe we need to post a sign next year? I heard from friends that they experienced the same phenomena.
When my husband was growing up in Ohio, he notes that you not only had to say "Trick or Treat," but you had to tell a joke or do a trick. We loved this when we lived in Wilkes-Barre, PA for a few years. I remember one child just walking into our living room to turn a somersault in his costume. These kids really worked for their candy! Most of them had a joke to share.
I did note more parents walking with their kids this year. This is a definite plus for safety reasons. It was also nice to hear parents prompting their shy kids -"What do you say?" There were more of these than the aforementioned, which ended our evening on a happy note.
I would hate to see the Trick or Treat tradition die out completely. I understand a parent's hesitancy to allow strangers to give their kids candy or to turn their costumed kids loose in a different (or their own) neighborhood. I hope the maybe two-hundred kids we didn't see this year had an opportunity to go to a centralized center, such as a mall or fall bazaar, and to dress up and pretend for an evening.
Creativity happens early in life. Just stand back and watch a group of four- or five-year-olds. Imagination comes naturally to humans. We choose to let our children develop it or not. What a lot of people don't seem to realize is that creativity and imagination are linked to intelligence. Technology wouldn't be possible if someone didn't imagine a better world. Freedoms in this country wouldn't be possible if someone didn't imagine what they could be like to live under better conditions.
You may object to Halloween for whatever reason, but I could see some real thought processes having gone on in some of the costumes which graced my front porch. I also saw an opportunity for parents and children to interact in a positive way, creating a a work of art in the guise of a costume, learning etiquette, and just plain spending time together without videos, tv or cell phones.
P.S. Thanks to http://dcwvinc.blogspot.com/2010/09/ready-for-halloween.html for the Halloween paper designs.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I attended SAFF 2010, the Southeast Animal and Fiber Festival in Fletcher (near Asheville) this month. This was my first time vending for The Irresistible Ewe. Three of us traveled together and the car was packed, as they say, "tight as a tick." Strangely enough, even after good sales, it was just as crowded coming home. That must mean we did great shopping there as well. I'm very happy with a "new" old drum Clemes & Clemes drum carder I purchased from Rare Finds Farm and two fleeces from the Sales Arena fleece room. One is a Border Leicester and the other a Cotswold. I've washed the Cotswold and have it drying upstairs, and plan to wash the BL tomorrow. I can't wait to try it out.
I took a class in Core Spinning, and although the teacher, Ester Rogers, was very good, I found out that my spinning wheel is not really equipped to handle very bulky yarns. I do think I'll be able to do a downscaled version using techniques learned. I still enjoyed the class and came away with a greater appreciation of core-spun yarn. The technique involves using a core, or base, yarn and spinning this while applying an overlay of another yarn or fiber from a right angle to the core. It can be a very complex process, sometimes with the two yarns/fibers trading places during the spinning.
The customers at SAFF are a friendly lot. It's so nice to be surrounded by fiber enthusiasts doing what they love best. My favorite part of fiber festivals is always the animals in attendance. I didn't take hundreds of pictures this year, but still enjoyed walking around the pens seeing the different types of sheep and goats. The Sales Arena where we were also hosted several booths containing Angora rabbits. These were my very favorite. They are such sweet creatures and produce the loveliest yarn.
The trip home was tiring, especially having to get up early the next morning for work. I feel like I'm still recuperating, but very pleased with the experience and looking forward to next year.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
There's a fantastic giveaway contest going on at Pink Cricut: http://www.pinkcricut.com/2010/10/original-scrapbox-giveaway/#comment-9181. The Original Scrapbox is giving a Paper Tower away. Go to Pink Cricut to enter.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
I tried growing a few canteen gourd seeds this summer in an extra herb bed next to our screened porch. I didn't think anything would grow at first, then holy moly, here came the vines! I only saw one gourd for a long time; now, there are about six. The vine ends have been trimmed several times this year, but gourd vines tend to be very aggressive and extremely self-sufficient. We've experienced extremely hot weather this summer, so I don't expect a freeze anytime soon. At least two of the gourds should make it before the vines start dying back. Three of the smallest gourds don't have much of a chance to amount to much, but I don't have it in me to get rid of them yet. I did pull down the vines you can see that have decided to climb our screens and take over the back step. The Lantana I planted just before planting the gourds and my climbing rose will be happy to see their bedfellows gone. They should have full rein next summer to spread out without such fierce competition.
If you'd like to grow your own gourds, the best way is to start with fresh seeds from a dried gourd that you like. At least half a day's sun is good. Mine had about this much sunshine. They can take small periods of drought, but don't let them go too long. They pretty much take care of themselves, but keep a watch unless you want to be taken over. They make great ground cover as long as no other plants will be smothered under their large abundant leaves.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The Origami Club met for the first time at our school this week. I'm sponsoring about twenty students this year in the new club. We did basic folds, then started on this origami frog. It's a fun project to make and not very difficult at all. Try your hand at it and see if you can make it. Stiffer paper actually makes a better jumper. Have fun. Make lots with your kids and have a race! These can also be used to teach conservation and the importance of our frog populations.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
|Slideshow made with Smilebox|
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I got my new book on rigid heddle weaving last week, and it is everything that was promised. The full title is the weaver's idea book: creative cloth on a rigid heddle loom. I love the pictures and layout of this book by Jane Patrick. The chapters include: 1. There's Nothing Plain about Plain Weave; 2. Finger-Controlled Weaves; 3. Pick-Up on the Rigid Heddle Loom; 4. Weft- and Warp-Faced Fabrics; and 5. More is More with Two Heddles. Each section features projects which include pictured demonstrations as well as warping charts and very clear written instructions. I've started using the plain weave chapter to explore color and weave patterns. I'm using Sample 6 on page 25: warping with two colors in Fibra Natura's Flax in gold and black. I'm thrilled with the results so far. I did figure wpi before I started, which called for a 10- or 12-dent heddle, but will have to wait for Hanukkah Harry for a smaller gauge heddle. Still, even with an 8-dent heddle, the flax is weaving very nicely. Thanks so much Jane for such a great book.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
While visiting with Henry's relatives in California, I was fortunate to get an origami lesson from Joel Stern, author of three origami books: Origami Games: Hands-on Fun for Kids!, Animated Origami Faces, and Jewish Holiday Origami. It was midnight, our time, Henry and I had spent six hours in the air that day, and we were stuffed from a delicious dinner cooked by Henry's Aunt Lela. Joel (married to Henry's cousin Susan) graciously offered to show me the basics of folding. I have always been doubtful that I could pick up the intricacies of origami; it's one craft I've admired from afar and passed over time and again. But, Joel's directions are extremely clear and easy to follow and I was soon folding my first origami piece despite the late hour and exhaustion.
I have to admit, I'm now an origamiholic. I ordered all of Joel's books when we got back to North Carolina. Yes, I already had a signed copy given to me by Aunt Lela and Joel, but I was thinking ahead to this school year. We always have Club Day at my school and I try to offer at least one club per year. I'm planning to not only offer an Origami Club, but also to introduce some origami basics when we reach the geometry portion of our math classes this year. I've been working with another origami book, Unfolding Mathematics with Unit Origami by Betsy Franco and Diane Varner. The author presents several exercises which involve doing a series of folds which when unfolded will yield geometric shapes. Teacher support is terrific and gives several levels on which to teach these lessons. Part of these includes using the folds and creases to determine angle measures. I found that even the simplest lessons, however, need to be worked through ahead of time, not that they're difficult, just complex. You'll be happy if you do. These are fun and I can't wait to use them for hands-on activities for my students.
I've also started learning the difference in good origami books and packets and not-so-good ones. There are several books, including ones I've purchased, that look beautiful on the bookshelf, but leave the reader lacking in good demo pictures and directions. I'm learning enough now, to be a more careful buyer. I'd suggest taking a few extra pieces of paper with you to the bookstore, sitting down with a book you're considering buying and trying out one of the projects. See for yourself if the directions are good enough for you to follow.
Don't forget youtube.com. For example, on a recent trip (Henry's driving), I took my origami bag and was happily folding. I tried the pony and had not done the square base before. I started with a packet of origami papers which came with some directions in Japanese. I don't know why I think I can use these directions at this point in my experience. I don't read Japanese - wish I could. I moved to one of the books I had taken, The Joy of Origami, by Margaret Van Sicklen. I love this book. It not only has good directions, but includes origami papers which are really pretty/cute for easy projects - mostly easy, my favorite being the Elephant in Pajamas. I could now figure out how to fold the square base and managed to fold a polka-dot pony. Whee! I became emboldened and took out some zebra-striped paper. What happened? I did the same thing, or so I thought. I folded and refolded, using the directions from the book now, combined with the third source, another packet of papers.
Okay, maybe I should stick with one source. I pulled out the colored paper from The Joy of Origami and used its directions only. No Pony! I folded the papers back into the book after at least four tries, and waited until the next day. I found a youtube video by origamifun. This has very clear directions and will help with anyone having trouble folding the square base. Success! I can now fold a horse! I will go back to the beautiful paper and there will eventually be a new pony. On to the cranes. I also found a nice video by tavin15. I did try the flapping crane by another folder, but even doing the folds exactly as he did, I came out with two heads (and apparently so did many of his other viewers).
For all of the folders out there, there is a new magazine coming out: Creased, Magazine for Paper Folders, coming in October 2010. This is being produced by famous origami master, Sok Song. The gallery pictures from his website are breathtaking. I've sent an email for subscription information. The ads promise the following: six issues per year, forty full-color pages, 12 new diagrams per issue as well as classic models for teachers, online diagrams for subscribers only, and an option for subscribers to pay a little extra to receive papers with their magazine. This should come just at the right time for the new Origami Club to get started at school and should offer a lot of support in teaching this to new learners.
P.S. I'm always looking for new ideas, so if anyone knows of any other great origami resources, or just wants to chime in with photos, please do so.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
It's extremely easy. One hint: don't do what I did. Make sure that you line the cut strips up exactly before you start tying the pillow case together the first time. I had to untie mine and then tie it again. It came out really cute, mostly due to the charming print by Debbie Mumm. Flannel pieces were purchased at JoAnn Fabrics.
Monday, August 9, 2010
I tried dyeing some unidentified roving that I've had in my stash for a while now. I have no idea what kind of wool it is, so I decided to experiment on it rather than some I've designated to dye for this year's SAFF gathering. My mom graciously invited me to use her workshop at her house, usually used for basketmaking. She also had a two-burner propane stove to double the production. I learned a valuable lesson that day - don't overcook your wool! We mixed purple Jacquard dye and a lovely gold color (ECU colors) from Jacquard bright yellow and a pinch of dark brown. HOWEVER, we let the dye bath get too hot and then my mom told me she didn't know how to control the burners very well. Well, I'm not accustomed to any kind of gas heat and kind of get the willies when using it. Long story short, I had fairly felted wool when we got through. I took the wool home and hung it in my attic for a couple of days, then took it out to assess the damage. I was disappointed, but determined to find something to do with this wool. I wasn't about to let a pound of wool go to waste. I pulled small amounts off both bags and felted a small cat ball for my cats to play with. They were interested for about two minutes, unless I was dropping it from the top of the stairs for one of them to run after.
Okay, next idea...I pulled the strands apart carefully and it didn't seem so bad. It may be saved after all. I sat down at my wheel and began to spin what I had drafted. It seemed to be coming in thick/thin pieces. Art yarn? Who am I kidding?
Still determined, I warped my Cricket loom with some black crochet thread. I decided to try to weave the individual strands of roving I was managing to pull off. When finished, the pieces will be sewn together for a purse. It's a little thick, but I think I may have found the solution. I'm using the hook that goes with my 32-inch rigid heddle loom because it's longer and works better at reaching through the shed to grab onto the fiber. So far, so good. I'll post when it's finished.
Friday, July 30, 2010
2 skeins Classic Shades yarn by Universal (Reef shades)
16" size 9 circular needles
Cabbage Stitch: Wrap yarn around BOTH needles, then again between the needles as you would normally knit; knit off as usual.
Elongated Stitch: Wrap yarn in the usual way between the needles for knitting ("once around the back"), but three times around instead of once.
Co 24 stitches
*Rows 1-4: K All
Rows 5-6: Cabbage Stitch
Rows 7-9: K All
Row 10-Elongated Stitch - all stitches
Rows 11-16: K All*
Repeat sequence form * to * until you reach your desired length.
After the last row of Elongated stitch, finish with 4 rows of garter stitch.
Bind off loosely.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
I had the opportunity to take a class with Jackie Ligtenberg at Heelside Farm recently. Jackie taught us how to knit an entrelac scarf. Her techniques were very straightforward and easy to follow. I'm still working on my scarf and will post a picture when it's done. In the meantime, I'm posting a picture of Jackie and Carolyn Beasley of Heelside Farms. Thanks, Carolyn for hosting this wonderful class.Notice Jackie's beautiful entrelac work.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I'm experimenting with dyeing this week with Kool Aid, this time using roving instead of finished yarn. I had planned to do multi-colored hanks, but have had interesting results with just single batches. I divided a bag of 100% Superwash Merino into thirds and prepared the first dye bath. (I'll include specific directions below.) I first mixed five packets of Grape in a quart of hot water. It looked a little muddier than I wanted, so I mixed in two packets of Berry Blue. This had interesting results. I had soaked the first third of roving in warm dishwater(still in a sweater bag) and squeezed it out before adding it to the dye bath. I left it in the sweater bag the entire time until hanging to dry. Each container was set out in the sun for a few hours, until the water in the bath was clear. Each hank of roving picked up color in different amounts. Some parts picked up very strong purples, some a lighter blue from the packets of Berry Blue. Some parts of the roving picked up little color at all. The same happened with the other batches.
With the second (green) batch, I mixed five packets of Lemon-Lime with a quart of hot water. The green was a little too crayon green for my taste, so I added about half a bottle of Wal Mart brand food coloring in yellow. I did stir it up, but again, the colors separated somewhat, giving me a kind of chartreuse and ocher combination.
The third batch was done with just five packets of Berry Blue. The colors range from dark teal to white.
One thing I noticed was that the ultra smoothness of the roving changed to a certain fuzziness after dyeing. I've checked it after drying and it doesn't seem felted, just not as smooth. I don't think this will affect the spinning quality at all. I didn't keep the second and third batches in the sweater bags the entire time since the jars I used were narrower than the large glass measuring cup I used for the first one. I really didn't notice a difference from doing this, but I'd love to have two more huge glass bowls next time just for the ease of getting the roving into and out of the jars.
I will probably go back and over-dye the blue and purple batches, just because I'd like to experiment with adding more than one color to the roving. One word of caution: don't stand over the containers as you add the Kool Aid (use a mask if possible) for health reasons to avoid powder inhalation. I wanted to add that the fuzziness mostly goes away as the wool dries.
I. 100% Superwash Merino Wool – 4 oz.
Kool Aid: Grape – 5 pkts/ Berry Blue – 2 pkts
1. Soak wool roving in warm soapy water.
2. Heat 1 qt distilled water 3 minutes.
3. Add color packets.
4. Stir until dissolved.
5. Remove roving still in bag and squeeze gently to remove excess water.
6. Lower roving into color mix. Turn to make sure all parts are exposed to coloring.
7. Add enough warm tap water to cover roving. Set in sun 2 hours.
II. 100% Superwash Merino Wool – 4.4 oz
Kool Aid: Lemon-Lime – 5 pkts
½ bottle Yellow Wal-Mart Brand food color
III. 100% Superwash Merino Wool – 4.4 oz
Kool Aid: Berry Blue - 5 pkts