Glorious Fall

Cottonwood Lake 2015

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Fall Essentials Sew Along 2015

Last fall I wanted to participate in the Fall Essentials Sew Along but I didn’t get my act together in time.  I’m ready and willing this year!  The aspen are starting to turn and there is a nip in the air so I have fall on my mind and my wardrobe could use a few new additions.


  • hosted by Rhinestones and Telephones
  • it runs from September 12 through November 14, 2015 (yep, it has already started and I’m just getting around to blogging about it.
  • there are seven categories for fall/winter to kick off the creative planning
  1.  Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather – Trousers, skirts, leg warmers and more!  Anything that keeps your lower portion fashionably cozy fits perfectly here!
  2. Chic Chemises for Cold Climates – Blouses, tops, vests, cardigans, and sweaters!  These wardrobe essentials can carry you from day to night, not to mention provide necessary layering to keep out the chill.
  3. Fabulous Frocks – Dresses of all styles; mini midi, or long!  Keep yourself warm in your modish designs layering with tights and boots!
  4. Underneath It All – When you are spending months covered from the neck down, a glamorous underpinning of your choice adds a secret, luxurious touch that chases the cold away!
  5. Tender Tootsies – Let’s not forget your frosty feet!  Socks, slippers and the like are the order of the day.  Keep those tootsies warm and dry.
  6. Those Cozy Nights – Is there anything better than snuggling up in a cozy pair of pajamas with a hot drink and a book whilst Jack Frost works his magic outside?  I think not!  Sleepwear of all types are the way to go here!
  7. Baby It’s Cold Outside – Coats, hats, and mittens donned to keep the cold at bay, especially when out enjoying the spectacular fall colors!


I started some soft and cozy pajama bottoms in a cute Riley Blake print, kind of a bookworm print.  I will be hanging out around the house in these with a long-sleeved teeshirt and reading a book or two.


I also started a Schoolhouse Tunic in Amy Butler Alchemy this afternoon which I plan to wear with jeans or leggings.


Amy Butler’s Liverpool is on my Fall sewing list.  I haven’t decided it it will be a tunic or shirt.  I’ve been drawn to this pattern for a long time and there are many Amy Butler fabric prints that will work well with this pattern.


The “Liverpool”  Tunic or Shirt by Amy Butler 



To Knit – Anvard Boot Toppers by Romi Hill 


To Knit – Infinity Baby Alpaca Scarf

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The Frog Pool

This fetching wee sweater was headed to the frog pool two years ago.  Back then I loathed seaming sweaters and when I attempted to seam the raglan sleeve did not have the gumption to finish.  I ripped out the seams because they looked lousy and the sweater’s  future frogging was eminent.IMG_1740

With an upcoming baby shower I had a few fleeting moments thinking I would knit a present but quickly realized the time frame was unreasonable.  But then I remembered this abominable baby cardigan and contemplated finishing it.  It seemed like a worthy task and I felt a little more fearless having finished my seaming swatches for the TKGA Master Knitting Program.

So ….. I learned a few lessons here ….. instead of immediately frogging a frustrating project, instead send it to time out.  Later on you may just wonder what all the hullaballoo was about and you may find you can embrace it again.

This precious sweater is far from flawless.  The second lesson I learned is to make sure you don’t do those neck and sleeve shaping decreases immediately at the edge.  This was one of those patterns that just specified a decrease but didn’t tell you how to do so.  The seaming process will go much easier if you do those decreases one stitch in from the edge!

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Toasty Toes

It has been a while since I’ve knit a pair of socks for myself.  On a recent trip I wanted to pack light and limited myself to only one small knitting project, a FIRST for me.  I usually take several knitting projects and end up in my travel location lacking proper clothing.  Right?


I wanted something fairly mindless since I would be visiting with family I hadn’t seen in a long time.  The Vanilla Latte Socks answered that prerequisite and the Kaffe Fassett colors kept me knitting away just to see the next color change.


The pattern had an option for my favorite heel, Eye of Partridge, but the instructions were a little unclear to me so I opted for the standard slip stitch heel.  This is probably not an oversight on the designer’s side but, more likely, my own rote memory of knitting the EOP heel with garter stitches on either side as in my Chili Pepper Sock pattern.


It was nice to try another designer’s plain vanilla sock pattern but I think next time I will go back to my tried-and-true Chili Pepper pattern that fits my foot perfectly.  I feel like the toe of this sock does not fit my foot anatomically.

The postman delivered a box full of to-be-knit-in-the-future Christmas gifts.  Craftsy was having an excellent sale on their kits so I jumped on it.  I’ve spent the morning planning out the knitting and I have concluded that I should have started in July!  My knitting schedule is going to be pretty tight these next months – 1 pair of fingerless mitts, 2 pairs of mittens, 2 infinity cowls and 3 pairs of socks!  (And, one absolutely beautiful shawl for my beautiful mother that will be a joy to knit with some luscious yarn.)

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Friday Fiber on a Yak Ranch

Today was the first Friday of the month so I headed out with my fiber friends to one of our member’s yak ranch.  She lives on 388 acres of gorgeous mountain property overlooking a valley with the Collegiate Peaks in the far distance.  We climbed for several miles to about 9,088 ft. elevation.  In a few weeks the aspen in this photo will be flaming yellow and with a clear blue September sky it will look awesome.  It was overcast today.


Everyone enjoys going to this member’s property so there were fifteen of us, all but one had their spinning wheels with them.


The chatter was plentiful and, as usual, I sat with ears tuned to learn something new.  I stand in awe of these very talented bunch of women – they are my fiber heroines.


I  have been spinning for a couple years and knitting for a decade but some of these ladies have had fiber in their lives for as long as they can remember.  Most of them are weavers, too……something I aspire to do someday! 

Emma showed me her stunning silk scarf a friend had made her.  Some of it had been hand-dyed.  It looked simple enough to make and has given me a future project idea.


She had also brought her Bosworth Journey Wheel, a wheel I had only read about but never seen before.  It unfolds from a wooden box and everything is contained in the box so you can travel with it.  This one has been on many ‘journeys.’

My hostess had written an article about yak in Wild Fibers Magazine.  The picture used in the magazine of her yak in the snow was framed on her wall and one of the hides hung from her loft.  She spun and wove some of yak fiber in a gorgeous black/gray pattern and then made a vest for her husband.


Yvonne was busy chatting and finishing off the fringe of a baby blanket she had woven.  If only I had had this little gadget when finishing those two Pueblo Shawls I knit last year!  I may have to purchase one of these.


I spotted the weaving in the cabin almost immediately.  Several of these ladies are in a weaving club and every year swap a project.  If I understood correctly, they spin some fiber and then swap it with another person in the group.  Then they use that fiber as the warp or weft (or whatever it is called) and make a towel for their pal.  They do something different every year.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?




Lunch was on the deck and I wish I had brought a light jacket — autumn is on its way!


Emma showed us her Abracadabra yarn that turned purple in the sunlight.  It is white when it is not in sun.  Her sister had bought her shoe laces that turned colors in the sunlight so she thought it would be fun to knit her a little something in return that would change colors.

Our hostess shooed us inside for dessert and then showed us her show-and-tale.  We thought we were going to see her weaving studio as is often the case on these Friday adventures so we were surprised to see this beauty – complete with a rumble seat!

As usual it was another great Friday Fiber day!  Next month it will be held at my house so I probably won’t be sharing a post since I will be busy hostessing!

Posted in Friday Fiber, Spinning | 4 Comments

Dyeing Fiber by The Arkansas River


Some fiber friends and I headed west over a couple mountain passes to spend the day in the Arkansas valley attending a natural dye workshop.   Jane, our enthusiastic hostess and instructor, has eleven acres of beautiful property located alongside the Arkansas River set up with everything a fiber enthusiast dreams of.  A physician for twenty five years, she retired to this lovely valley to pursue her passion of fiber.  Her massive studio complete with a dyer’s garden full of color waiting to be harvested, llamas, a variety of sheep and a beautiful patio overlooking the river where one can gather and talk of fiber – the setting was perfect for a day nestled alongside the Collegiate Peaks.



Jane’s philosophy is simple.  Working with fibers and dyes is a lot of fun. You can follow a lot of rules or you can experiment and see what the results turn out to be. Either way, you end up with something that is more personal that you will treasure.


The kettles were brewing – weld, logwood, indigo and cochnial and cota.


Weld produced a knockout yellow color.  It was used by ancient tapestry weavers in Central Asia, Turkey and Europe.  I believe Jane said it is the brightest and clearest yellow flower dye.  We noticed a distinct green cast as the water temperature increased.

Logwood was a seductive, brilliant purple.  It originated from the Americas and to the Aztec Indians it was known as the ‘spiny tree’ because it had a thorny, contorted trunk.  They used it as a weapon.


Indigo, traditional and most technical of the dyes and, I might add, the stinkiest.  This natural blue dye is affected by oxygen so we had to be careful dipping our fiber in and out of the pot so that the color would not be affected.  As our fiber dried and more oxygen interacted with it the color changed.  I thought it was a bit tricky and only played with it as an overdye.

Cota, or Navajo Tea, produced a beautiful yellow.

My favorite was cochnial with its deep shades ranging from fuchsia to raspberry.  Cochnial is an insect found in South America.  Our instructor imported hers from Peru and ground them to a fine powder to be used in dyeing.  Interestingly enough, it is the only natural red colorant approved by our FDA for food, drugs and cosmetics.


Most everyone dyed their fiber in variegated tones but I, having knit with variegated yarns that pooled horribly, decided to stick to  semi-solid saturated colors.  After seeing the end results hanging to dry I decided I will be braver next time.  My fiber looks rather plain down there on the bottom rack.


We had a lesson on how to blend fiber on a hackle.  I’ve only played with blending boards so this was a new technique for me and I had never heard of a hackle before this.


Fiber animals are always fun getting to know although I mistook one of the alpaca’s intentions and ended up with a wet face.  I thought he was being amorous and leaning in for a kiss for, after all, he was puckering his lips and making smacking noises.  But much to my surprise, before I knew it, he landed a spit storm on me.  He then followed me everywhere I went but I gave him the cold shoulder and told him he blew it and would get no more loving.



Our day was so delightful that we have already planned another excursion in October.  Guess I better get busy and spin up some fiber!  Meanwhile, I’m off to look at patterns that will incorporate all the yarn I dyed today.  Any suggestions?


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Yarn Along in August

My daughter recommended All the Light We Cannot See and, enjoying WW2 novels as I do, I downloaded it to listen to while I play with needles and yarn.  The novel is set in two places – Paris and a mining town in Germany.  The story is about a blind girl in Paris whose father is a master locksmith in a museum of natural history  and, an orphan boy skilled in building and fixing radios.  The girl and her father flee Paris when the Germans invade.  The orphan boy wins a place in the brutal academy for Hitler Youth.  Their stories are told in tandem and give glimpses of war time living from a very unique perspective.  I have a sneaking suspicion the author is deftly interweaving these two lives.  I’ll find out soon!


Fresh off the needles is one Vanilla Latte Sock.  One down, one more to go.  On a recent trip I wanted to pack as light as possible and restricted myself to a little knitting bag with some Kaffe Fassett yarn in it to knit a pair of mindless socks.  Amazingly enough, I finished the sock and cast on for its mate.  I guess that is what happens when you limit yourself to one project at a time. ;)

Yarn Along on a sunny day in August with Ginny and others……….

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Anticipating a Day By the River

The invitation to spend a day alongside the Arkansas River dyeing fiber was more than tantalizing.  I’m easily allured, playing with enticing colors drawn from plants in this montane zone is just too irresistible.

Hi Dyers,

Looking forward to seeing you all on Wednesday. I’ll have 4 colors ready, and you are welcome to bring mordanted yarn. We can do various dips, and replenish the blue and yellow pots. The red and purple will be more limited. You can each bring up to 10 ounces. We can also play with some blending techniques. I have hackles, and a friend is bringing her drum carder. If anyone has a blending board to demonstrate, bring that.

Please bring a lunch. I’ll have some muffins, coffee and tea. My well water is very good.

Attached are directions.



The wildflowers have been stunning this year so I can’t wait to see the colors that come from the dye pots.  My eight ounces of fiber is skeined and presently soaking in water to get it ready to be mordanted.

Stay tuned….. I’ll post pictures later this week.

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Cable Flare – A Discovery

One of the things I like most about the TKGA Master Knitting program is researching and learning new things.  I’ve spent the last three weeks researching what causes cable flare and must admit that, in all my knitting adventures with the twists and turns of cables I had never heard of ‘cable flare.’  Nor had I really wondered why, when transitioning from the ribbing in an Aran sweater to the cable portion one increased stitch count.  I had a vague awareness from knitting socks that patterns which contained cables had more stitches cast on than other socks patterns but had never questioned why.IMG_1669

The non-knitters may want to pass on reading this post and those of you who don’t knit cables may follow suit.  On the other hand, those of you who are process (or curious) knitters may want to hang around a bit while I share what I found quite interesting.  Who knows?  YOU may be a future designer of intricate Aran sweaters!

When knitting cables all that twisting and turning results in the fabric ‘pulling’ in somewhat.  I the swatch below I was instructed to knit a seed stitch border above and below (and on the sides) of a cable pattern of my choice.  As you can see, despite my best efforts in blocking, there is a slight puckering (or flaring) above and below each cable.  Ikes!  My next task, after writing a pattern for this puckering swatch, was to find why it puckered like that and figure out how to compensate for that puckering so it wouldn’t flare out.

So why, dear knitter, do you think there was puckering?  If your answer has to do with GAUGE then you are exactly right.  The seed stitch border and the cable portion have very different gauges!  I know, I know……that word – GAUGE …..makes us all groan.

So off I went to find the gauge in the seed stitch border.  Then I picked another cable (below) and knit a swatch of the cable to take it’s gauge.  I did some calculations and discovered that there is a good 4 stitch difference between the two.  Wowsers!  That is definitely enough to cause a pucker under that cable.


I learned that the way to compensate is to increase those number of stitches right after the last border row but they just can’t be increased anywhere, they need to be increased right over the cable.

So that is what I did and since I had two cables, I increased 8 stitches – 4 for each cable.  I worked the cable portion with those additional stitches and when I finished the cable portion I decreased back down to my original cast on to work the other seed stitch border. And guess what?  Voila!  No cable flare!


Tuck this knitting tidbit into your knitting knowledge hat and the next time you knit a pair of cabled socks you will know why you have to cast on more stitches (because cables pull in) or you are knitting a cabled sweater and see increases at the bottom of the cables and decreases up at the top of the shoulder you will know why!

Full disclosure to inquiring minds – I have not yet submitted these swatches to the Master Knitting Committee so when I do they may tell me I’m bonkers and I need to do more research and resubmit them….actually, they would tell me in a very gentle way.  If my research has been wrong then I will come back here and let you know that you have been steered wrong by someone who is still aspiring to become a Master Knitter and is taking the scenic route ;)

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Sue the Ewe takes a Walk

I had a lot of fun this afternoon walking around the yard with Sue the Ewe, my miniature wooly friend.

Day Fourteen: Scale & Observation was the task at hand and I was to experiment with scale.

Sue nibbled away at every green blade she encountered.  She looks right at home, doesn’t she, in this lush environment.

Sue the Ewe nibbles away

Sue the Ewe nibbles away

But in the following photo she is dwarfed by the wild daisies in my yard that are, at most, six inches tall.

Sue and the Daisies

It’s time to go in and stop playing with Sue.  I just felt a raindrop and you know what?  A raindrop will make little Sue fall over because she is just two inches less a quarter.

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