Episode 12 | Colonial Knitting

The next Socks-for-Mum podcast has been uploaded.

In this episode I show my newly finished Diamond Fizz Shawl and I chatter about the Fern and Feather sweater.  There is a prize draw.  I share a little bit about knitting in Colonial times – yep, I have finally started my research on for the dreaded History of Knitting paper I must write for Master Knitting Level 2.

Mother’s Tree

A few weeks ago I went back to my optometrist because my right eye felt filmy all the time.  When she told me my cataract had grown and I needed to play the ‘waiting’ game before having it taken care of a bee got in my bonnet and I decided there were a few things in my cupboard that needed finishing.  After all, vision will only get blurrier and the decline could take from six months to six years (sigh) before corrected surgically.

There are just some crafts more taxing to the eyes than others, right?  I am on the young side for cataracts but apparently all the rounds of steroids I took for pneumonia earlier this year has accelerated their growth.


This Mother’s Tree crosstitch sampler will soon have seven generations of mothers listed below the tree with the year in which they were born.  This is stitched on 32 count linen over two stitches so I have pulled out a magnifying lamp to help me see the linen.  One thing I learned about cataracts is that you need bright light to illuminate whatever you are working on so now I have an excuse for keeping all those lights on in my house.

If you are familiar with genealogy you will know that tracing the mother’s line is most difficult.  Women were not property owners in older generations and their names rarely appeared in anything other than census records.  I can go much further back in all my other lines but this one only goes to the early nineteenth century but now I can add my granddaughter’s name to the very bottom because my daughter is her mother!

I have notebooks and notebooks of genealogical records and the computer I once stored them on is no longer serviceable.  With the fires in our recent future I really need to take time to recorded this history digitally.  Never once did I think to grab those boxes when we packed for evacuation however, I did grab some pictures I had stitched.  If it ever happens again then this Mother’s Tree will go in the car with us.  (provided.there.are.seven.generations.on.it.smile)



I remember many years ago, as a computer programmer, it was required that I had to turn in time estimates when working on projects.  As a team, all our estimates needed to be fairly accurate or we would jeopardize the critical time-frames of our teammates  and this would reflect poorly on the whole team.  Well, back then, I was pretty good at figuring out how long it would take to write and test a program but nowadays I stink at time estimates.


I thought for sure that I could whip out the Knit Witch Shawl for Camp Loopy’s first camp project but I missed that goal by a long shot.  I was certain I could whip out a pair of socks for the Sock Stash Buster June Challenge but only yesterday cast on the second Embossed Leaves sock, and tomorrow begins the next month’s challenge.  But I believe the goal that I feel most defeated in is my Master Hand Knitting Level 2 course.


Recently TKGA released a revision of Level Two and when I logged into my MHK2 Ravelry project page to reflect this I noticed that it had been exactly a year since I had purchased this level.  My original goal was to finish within a year and here I sit muddling my way through the first swatches on finishing techniques.  I don’t enjoy the finishing process so it is no wonder I am at a stalemate doing these initial swatches.


I have been thinking a lot about procrastination this week.  I have been wondering why I procrastinate when the outcome of whatever I am procrastinating about will bring me joy when that task is completed.  It is a mystery to me.  For instance, I don’t like to sew seams when I finish a hand knit garment so I procrastinate on knitting and seaming those swatches. But, isn’t the whole reason these swatches are incorporated into the course in the first place is so that you will properly know what type of seaming to do for certain projects and how to do them?


I procrastinate about planting flowers in my many outside flowerpots.  Wouldn’t I enjoy the beauty of those flowers immensely once they are potted?

Likewise, I procrastinate about cleaning out my refrigerator, in particular that spilled congealed stuff under the crisper.  I sigh every time I open the refrigerator. Wouldn’t the deep sighing stop if I would stop procrastinating and get it cleaned out?  Wouldn’t I have a smile on my dial instead?


I have been procrastinating about entering my receipts into Quicken for well over a week and they are overflowing from my purse.  Every time I stuff another receipt into my purse I groan, especially if I have to bend down and pick up one that shot out of my purse.  Wouldn’t I have more JOY if I just did it and balanced the check book?  Afterall, I always like reconciling that last entry, clicking the button and seeing everything zero out.


JOY.  There is that word again that keeps cropping up in my life!  And the truth of the matter is this – Procrastination is a JOY-stealer and it downright makes you tired.  I made a procrastination list this afternoon whist sitting at the allergist and THIS WEEK will start getting those JOY-stealers finished and crossed off the list.  What about you?  Do you have things you procrastinate about?  Make a list and tell a friend.  I have a friend who knows my list and is going to keep me honest.


A joyful heart is good medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

100% Alpaca


100% Alpaca in my lap on a summer day? Am I insane? It is quite possible especially since this 100% Alpaca is knit into a massive Pi Shawl that will be a cozy lap blanket come winter. Alpaca is warmer than wool and this Cascade Eco Alpaca is incredibly warm and soft. Although I live high in the Rocky Mountains I still cannot work with it more than thirty minutes in the summertime.


Girasole has been one of my largest projects calling out to me to be finished. I started it a couple summers ago as part of a challenge and it literally messed my shoulder up because I was obsessed with finishing it within a month timeframe. It obviously was never finished that summer. I had to set it aside and start physical therapy instead. But now I am motivated again because in two weeks because Zimmermania begins at the local yarn shop.


Our Zimmermania Club will knit a quarterly project from one of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s marvelous books. If you have never read any of her books then you have missed out on a literary treat. She is delightful to read and will have you chuckling in no time. We will be starting with the Knitter’s Almanac which was reprinted for her 100th Anniversary birthday celebration had she lived to celebrate 100 years. Our first project will be the Pi Shawl.

Jared Flood, the designer of Girasole, was influenced greatly by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Girasole is a Pi Shawl. Are you beginning to understand why I want to finish Girasole? Well, maybe you aren’t because you are probably not as persnickety about things as I am. Something in me will not let me cast on another Pi Shawl when Girasole is lurking about unfinished. Do you think it is possible for unfinished projects to doom brand-new projects of the same type.


I have decided that I won’t risk it so despite the warm alpaca sitting in a heap upon my lap, I am committed to work TEN knitted on edging points a day. Each point gobbles up three stitches on the border circumference. If my calculations are correct, the ‘new’ Pi Shawl will be cast on with great positive beginnings!





Cables, Cables, Warm About the Neck


Dubliner is blocked, finished and photographed. I need to send only one photo to The Loopy Ewe and can’t decide which one to send. This is when I need an opinion other than my husband’s and thought I would ask anyone who happens by the blog in the next day or two.  I need a second opinion.  Which photograph do you like the best?






I really enjoyed knitting DUBLINER and especially like its reversibility.  Which photo do you think shows that I completed the First Quarter Loopy Ewe cable challenge?  1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?

Finishing Rosemarkie – Part Two

Because I used pure 100% Shetland Wool when I knit Rosemarkie I could have simply cut my steeks open, trimmed them and left them as is. The fleece of Shetland sheep has a propensity to felt and over time the surface hairs become entangled with each other so much so that it is reluctant to rip. I have left my other fair isles in this DO NOTHING state basically because I was lazy and so done with the project by the time I got to this point that I was ready to declare it finished and set it aside. But this time, with Rosemarkie, I decided to finish my steeks off properly! By doing this I was surprised with how nicely the seams flattened out so, in future fair isles, I will scrap the Do Nothing approach.


In my last post about Rosemarkie I demonstrated how a knitted steek is trimmed to a two-stitch width. Here I will show you the next step, folding the steek back and hand-stitching it into place. In hindsight, I should have used a finer yarn than I used to knit the vest with so that some of the bulk would have been reduced.  Oh well, now I know!


To stitch the trimmed steek in place I cut the yarn in 18″ lengths so that they would not fray, threaded the length into a darning needle and secured it at the beginning of the steek. I used a ‘cross-stitch’ method of inserting the needle through the strands of the garment on the wrong side going at a diagonal all the way up and then ‘crossing’ that diagonal to make an ‘x’ all the way down. It looks kind of messy in the photo but it sure makes for a neat finish.  I discovered this steek stiching was rather relaxing!


After finishing the steeks I pulled out my new steamer and steamed the backside of the vest. This was the first time I used a steamer instead of my iron on the steam setting and I really loved the results. I broke some cardinal rules though, one being to lay a damp cloth over the top of the knitted fabric to protect it. I started out doing that and then tossed it aside and tried placing the steamer plate directly on an inconspicuous spot and giving it a burst of steam.  The stitches evened out so beautifully that I continued on down that perilous route. I may pay a price for that though. In my enthusiasm of watching the magic happen I forgot to lengthen the vest and now it is short and wide, a teensy too short for my long torso.


I have a plan but I’m not sure if it will work. I’ve heard that once fair isle is blocked it is forever blocked and I’m hoping this will be an exception.  I’m going to wet soak the vest in some Eucalen and see if the stitches will relax enough to reshape. Then I will assemble my Wooly board, put the vest on it and see if it can be lengthened and dried.

20130307-113904.jpgIn this state it reminds me of the Teapot rhyme we used to sing in childhood, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout….”  So, here is my Rosemarke, short and stout.  It can be worn in said state and will look just fine but would look all the better an inch or two longer.

Finishing Rosemarkie – Part One


Seriously now? Has it really taken me TWO years to get this vest finished? Shame on me! It is time to cross that finish line and today is the day to start the sprint.


This morning I darned all the loose ends on the front and armhole bands using my new favorite weaving tool. I bought this tool at my local craft store in the knitting section.  They come in packs of two and in two differing sizes, mine are the small ones.


I have nothing but praise for this little tool. Its flexibility and ease in threading make darning all the easier.  Anything that can make a tedious task go faster is a good thing in my book!


After my ends were neatly woven in I trimmed all steeks to a 2 stitch width. Now I’m not one to fear cutting or trimming steeks as some do because I have another handy tool that I have shared before with you.



I have in my possession some bandage scissors that nurses use when they are trimming away bandages. They are super sharp and can slice with ease through wool. They also have a blunt protective lower blade to insure that the slicing doesn’t go too far, if you know what I mean.


My steeks are neatly trimmed and are waiting for the next finishing step.  They will be cross stitched into position. That sounds like a good weekend project!

Finish Line in Sight

The days are getting warmer here in the mountains and I am able to spend more time outdoors in my favorite spot. The sun shines brightly on my deck until early afternoon but when I sit in my little corner it is quite pleasant, even with the sun beating down. I love this little corner of heaven. It is quite peaceful with no sounds audible other than gentle breezes blowing through the evergreens and birds chirping.


My Rosemarkie blends in quite nicely, don’t you think? This photo was taken earlier this week and I’m much closer to the finish line now. I grafted the shoulders together this afternoon. The front steek has been cut and the neck steek has been cut. Some knitters get nervous about cutting their knitting but not this girl. Perhaps it is because I use the p-e-r-f-e-c-t tool to cut them.

My daughter left her nursing scissors at my house and I claimed them as my own. Designed for cutting through bandages while protecting the patient’s skin, I saw another purpose.


Sharp enough to slice through thick bandages, they have no problem cutting through wool that has been steeked. Furthermore, the protected tip gives me a degree of assurance that I won’t accidentally snip somewhere that would end in a disaster.

Rosemarkie steeks are cut and tomorrow I will pick up stitches along the front/neck for the band. I’m hoping to have this finished in the next week so I can be done, done, done.


Sweet Peerie Flooers and the Like

Often knitting peer pressure can be a very good thing. If you are in a knitting group then you know exactly what I mean. Sometimes the pressure has you casting on projects that out of your comfort zone but, no worries, your pals are right there to help you along. And at other times the pressure is to finish something that has been lingering, little bits of encouragement can go a long way. Last month my buddies and I decided to dedicate April to finishing some of those lingering projects. We declared our intentions and posted them on our April page in Ravelry and it has been a productive month for me.

Top on my list was to finish the Alice Starmore Rosemarkie vest. It might be a stretch to get it finished by the end of the month but my needles are clicking away on it as fast as they can.

The Peerie Flooers beanie designed by Kate Davies had hundreds of ends to weave in. It took me about four hours and a few episodes of Downton Abbey but I can officially declare it finished. I have no model and, believe me, you don’t want to see it modeled on my enormous head so here she is modeled on Joyce, the alabaster albino.


I chose the larger size to knit and the ‘slouchy’ version. The fit is great but it is a little taller than I would like it to be.


This was my first time working with Rowan Fine Tweed yarn. It is a little on the nubby side and resulted in some uneven stitching. The colors are brilliant and lovely but it won’t be my go-to yarn for fair isle knitting.

20120417-083554.jpg20120417-083507.jpgI have LOTS of yarn left over so I will be knitting the matching Peerie Flooers mittens sometime this summer.

To my embarrassment, I had a few pairs of socks that we have been wearing without the tails being woven in. I tackled those socks! And, I wove in some tails on the Looped Loop, a 2012 Christmas present that matches last year’s Wurm hat gifted to her.

I’m on a roll here!  If all goes well, then I will finish Rosemarkie and wear her at least once before the warmer temperatures arrive.