Silvermist Bath Set

Ralph Waldo Emerson — ‘Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares’

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What a quick little project. I see more of these in my future. They would make nice hostess gifts.

Gifted this to my mom as part of her 81st birthday present. She uses only Dove soap so I get to keep the Lemon Verbena French milled soap I put in the soap sack. Dove is much smaller than milled soap so the sack was a little big and I had to move the tie string down. If I make another for her I will either go down in needle size for the sack or eliminate a few rows.

Silvermist Bath Set by Rosemary (Romi) Hill

This pattern is part of The Great Oddments Knitdown, a 16 pattern stash-busting e-book.

Yarn:  Hobby Lobby I Love This Cotton! (color Dove)

So You Want to Learn How to Knit?

People often ask me what the best way to go about learning how to knit is.  Maybe they ask because I carry my knitting with me everywhere I go and onlookers are curious.  Or, perhaps it is because I am constantly in your face posting and blogging about knitting (hello Vicky, my forever friend).  At any rate, I thought I would write a post for those interested in giving knitting a try and include plenty of resources for you.  The internet has brought us into a new level of learning, one that wasn’t available when I brought knitting back into my life.

I am a self-taught knitter and learned from looking at pictures in knitting books.  This is not an ideal way to learn and I’ve had to re-learn a few techniques because of this methodology.  You, on the other hand, are fortunate enough to be able to learn in an environment rich with resources that are, for the most part, free and available 24 hours a day.  I’m going to share a few of those resources with you, these will be the ones I feel are a cut above and the ones I wish I had learned from.  I am in no way affiliated with any of these resources so will not benefit other than knowing I have passed along a good resource to you to help you along the path of becoming a skilled knitter.  Also, they are not listed in any preference order so any of these can be an excellent stand alone resource should you choose to pick only one.

1. Building Blocks  because who doesn’t want to cuddle under a beautiful afghan?

2.  Craftsy because who doesn’t want to have your very own teacher and watch classes over and over again that are yours for the rest of your life?

3.  Knittinghelp.com because who doesn’t want to watch a video on a technique multiple times until you know for certain you are doing it right?

4.  Books written by Elizabeth Zimmerman because she is, after all, Elizabeth Zimmerman – the greatest knitter who ever lived and whose witticisms will make you smile from ear to ear and when you are finished reading you will feel like you can tackle just about any kind of knitting there is and if you make a mistake – well – oh, wells – mistakes happen and they are part of art.

5.  TKGA Basic Skills Course because who would not want to participate in something like 4-H for adults and have an expert evaluate your work?

BUILDING BLOCKS

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This is an excellent resource that many knitting stores use to teach the basics of knitting.  The author, Michelle Hunter, was once a teacher so her style reflects that.  Basic knitting techniques are taught by knitting a sampler afghan.  Each square builds upon skills taught in previous squares.  Michelle includes video links demonstrating the skills taught in each square so you are not left on your own to decipher the instructions.  In the end you have a beautiful afghan to snuggle under.  I know at least three knitters who have soared in their knitting abilities and confidence after working through this book.  You don’t have to make a full blown afghan, just choose the squares you like most and make a baby blanket or pillows.

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If you decide to work through Building Blocks then my one word of advice is to make sure you use a washable yarn.  I used the yarn recommended in the book which is a lovely yarn but it makes for a pricey afghan.  If you don’t wish to invest that much money then go for a cheaper alternative like Berocco Comfort, Berocco Vintage  or Plymouth Galway.

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CRAFTSY is another amazing venue that has surfaced in the last five years.  The platform is such that you purchase a class and it is yours for life.  You can find classes for just about any hobby you can think of on Craftsy.  I have purchased classes on photography, sewing, cooking, quilting and of course, knitting.  Some of my favorite knitting designers have taught Craftsy classes so I have been thrilled to sit in on their classes without purchasing airplane tickets or investing deeply into my wallet.  You might remember when I knit my Portaluca Cardigan with one of my favorite designers, Carol Feller.  Ms. Feller walked me through each step of this sweater and I knit it with confidence as she shared many tips.  I wore it with pride in Dublin when I went to the knitting store she teaches at and they recognized it immediately.

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I believe there are at least 70 knitting classes now on Craftsy and the beginning class I would recommend is Knit Lab with Stephanie Jabal.  Craftsy is constantly running specials on their classes so if it is full price when you check it out you might want to wait until the next sale which will be right around the corner.

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By the way, I can now make a pretty decent pie crust thanks to a Pie Crust class I took on Craftsy!

The other three resources I mentioned above are pretty much self-explanatory and you can click on the links to find out more about them.  I hope this post helps inspire some of you who want to learn to knit.  I encourage you to give it a try.  Elizabeth Zimmerman used to always say that you only have to learn two stitches – how to knit, how to purl, and everything else was just a combination of those.  In today’s age, with all these amazing resources at our fingertips, I truly believe ANYONE can learn to knit.  If you have any more questions then feel free to always leave them in the comment section.  I will be writing another post soon on my favorite knitting tools.  Happy Knitting!

Kaffe Fassett and Rowan Yarns Mystery Afghan KAL – Clue 2

I don’t know about you but I finished my Clue 2 blocks up with only one day to spare.  You would have thought that with all the travel time I’ve had this past week I would have zipped through these much faster.  I guess tucking my arms in so as not to bump the stranger beside me on the plane crimped my style.

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Yesterday my blocks were all lined up on the blocking board.  I scattered the Clue 1 blocks amongst the Clue 2 blocks and was pleased with what I saw, a turquoise road heading toward the much anticipated release of Clue 3.

Possibilities abound!

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Clue 1 finished, Clue 2 finished and Clue 3 colors all ready to go.

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Knit along week 3 web cov

This morning a video was released and Kaffe discussed one of his earlier quilts that was the inspiration for this knit along.  The quilt is called Cutting Corners.  I must admit, I am really~really~really getting bit by a quilting bug.  I have his book, Shots and Stripes, and there are at least five quilts beckoning to be made!

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Some participants have been timing the knitting of their blocks and it seems like the average time is two hours per block.  I won’t even time myself at this point because I know I am WELL over TWO hours.  I should settle into a rhythm with Clue 3 and now that I just downloaded Fox’s turquoise color-coded chart I anticipate finishing this clue in par with these other speedy knitters.

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Download Clue 3

Ravelry Discussion Group

Information about the KAL

Leaving you with a beautiful parting shot of Pikes Peak that I took yesterday from a parking lot.  Love these autumn days!

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Oddments

It was about this time last year that I saw a pattern I wanted to knit on a knitter’s blog and discovered it was part of The Great Oddments Knitdown, a series of patterns released throughout the year by Romi Hill to knit down your stash.  I remember thinking it was a wonderful idea but having my hands full with something or  other decided to forego the challenge but made a mental note of it.

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There is something about this last quarter of the year that makes me want to knit down my stash and get all projects in progress off my needles.  It would be absolutely amazing if I could enter 2015 with a clean empty project slate with nothing hanging over my head to be finished.  This notion rolls around in my head every October but I haven’t been able to pull it off … YET.

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The Great Oddments Knitdown seems like a feasible plan to at least get some small items knit with the odd skeins of yarn I have sitting in yarn bins.  I’m willing to give it a go starting with the Fairy Snowcap, the first pattern released in the series.

I will be knitting the Fairy Snowcap  with some discontinued Debbie Bliss yarn called Alpaca Silkroad Aran.  This may be some of my very oldest stash yarn bought ten or so years ago with birthday cash at my LYS.  Not really knowing at the time that it is best to by several skeins of sale yarn and not really realizing it only had 71 yards in each skein I only bought two, hardly enough to make anything with.  But that is the great thing about this ODDMENT KNITDOWN because it is designed to use up just those kind of skeins!

This is a very cute hat but it seems smallish on everyone I have seen it photographed on.  Since I have a biggish head I think it may go to my granddaughter.  The yarn is super yummy and she will like the ‘non-scratchy’ aspect of it.

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My ‘oddment’ project is tucked aside in my new Tom Bihn Travel Tray.  I love this thing!  The sides fold down to make a sturdy little yarn bowl and will be great on the plane this week as I travel to visit my daughter and her little family.

Kaffe Fassett and Rowan Yarns Mystery Afghan KAL – Clue 1

Snow on the Peak, melting snow on the ground, golden aspen leaves scattered – a perfect day to be mesmerized by the brilliant colors of the Kaffe Fassett Mystery Knitalong.    

 

 

 

When participants started posting pictures of their blocks on Ravelry I suddenly wished I had picked the red color way instead of turquoise.  Having three of the required colors for the first red block I went ahead and knit a red quake along with my seven turquoise squares and now I am even more conflicted in which color to go with.  This indecisive nature of mine is something I don’t like about myself!  I probably won’t decide which color will be the afghan and which will end up the oblong cushion until Clue 3 when we get a little hint about how this will all come together.

 

 

 

 

Stumbled Upon 1

Inspiring, motivational, fun and crafty links to round out your week and put coat hangers in your brain.

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101 Household Tips for Every Room in Your Home and I think I want to try at least 67 of them.

Fancy winding on a Turkish spindle will show you how to make the beautiful God’s Eye pattern and maximize the amount of fiber on your spindle.

And let’s not neglect our top whorl spindles they need to be packed full, too!

Ever wanted to know how to join a new ball of yarn without a know?

Take a peak into a 1950’s sewing cabinet.

The Psychology of Color is actually pretty fascinating and makes me want to paint a few rooms.

Yarn Along with Fiber in Hand

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It has been a while since I have joined Ginny and her peeps for a Wednesday Yarn Along.  My reading has been all about spinning these last weeks in preparation for the worldwide Tour de Fleece which starts Saturday and runs through the end of the month.  The knitting books are all reference books and I am scouring the pages researching ‘seaming’.


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The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin initially spoke a foreign tongue to me but now that spinning has settled into my life and I am more routine about it, the instruction within the pages is making more sense.  I went to her book to find out what kind of fiber she recommended for hand-knit socks.  I blogged about what I learned a few posts ago so will not belabor your reading with more details.  I know, if you are on a Yarn Along, you are quickly reading through the posts and compiling a new reading list for yourselves.  Alas, I have no fiction to share with you today but if you are a spinner be sure to jot down this book.  The author is a guru in the world of spinning.  Her books and videos are fabulous and a DVD comes with this book.

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The first half of the book speaks of the nature of fibers.  The author says fibers can be divided into three main groups and the following chapters explore the properties of those fibers.  In case you are wondering, the three main groups are cellulose-based, protein-based and manufactured.  Cellulose fibers are plant based flax, hemp, nettle, ramie, etc.  The protein fibers are my favorite because they come from goats, camels, alpacas, llamas, vicuñas, angora rabbits, bison, yaks, quiviuts, and silk worms.  I probably left one out…..oh yeah…..SHEEP.

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The second half of Intentional Spinner speaks of all kinds of spinning techniques. This is the nitty gritty and the pages are full of information on different drafting techniques, plying techniques and designing yarns.  I believe this book can be used by beginners and advanced spinners alike and there will always be a new bit of information every time you read it.

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I won’t show my knitting today because I am psyching myself up for the Tour de Fleece!  My feet are ready to start this wheel moving!

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Estes Park Sheep and Wool Festival 2014

Last Saturday I rose bright and early, very early, and drove up to Estes Park for the annual Sheep and Wool Festival after picking up two knitting buddies.

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It was a little bit nippy when we arrived in Estes three hours later but fortunately all the venders were located indoors. I resisted the beautiful spindles and passed up some lovely yarn. My plan was to purchase yarn for the next two Romi Hill shawls that were in my summer knitting queue. I discovered it was actually pretty difficult finding fingering weight yarn in a solid hue with yardage greater than 420 yards.

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One friend bought enough roving to keep her going for a very long time. The other friend was investigating Russian spindles for an upcoming Orenburg Lace spinning/knitting class she will be taking soon.

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I found some Razamatazz Fiber Optic yarn in lovely ‘berry’ color (and we know Becky Likes Berries) but had to buy two skeins to get the yardage I needed.  I then discovered the Brooks Farms booth and was excited because they were from Lancaster, Texas where my parents used to live.  We visited for quite some time talking about Lancaster.  There was a really pretty shawl on display called Cornwall Coast and I decided I just had to knit it since this time last year I was in Cornwall!  I also found some lovely blue roving to spin in a color that would make nice socks for the hubby when spun up.  After our shopping spree we headed over to see the animals that give us the fiber to spin, weave, knit and crochet with.

I made friends with this little buddy.  When I stopped at his pen and started talking in baby talk to him he walked over to me and stuck his head out to be petted.  We visited for a while and I could tell he was used to baby talk and understood me.  Isn’t he a cutie?

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So many beautiful animals!  Llamas, Alpacas, Paco Vicunas like the one below.

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Sheep of all kinds.  I am always amazed at how different they look!  Many were sale and I really want one but know the hubby will freak if I go in that direction.

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Sheep can be very stubborn creatures.  These two were being walked and didn’t appreciate one bit. The girl in the front had to pull the first sheep along and the young man in the back behind kept pushing the fanny of the second one to get her to move along.  I was amused watching them for a bit and reminded of the many Bible passages talking about sheep, especially how we are like sheep.

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We took the scenic route home through Rocky Mountain National Park over Trail Ridge Road.  I believe this might be the highest pave road in the United States.  The trees stop growing around 10,400 feet elevation and we were well above tree line for quite some time.  In fact, it felt like we were on the same level as many of these stunning fourteeners but most likely we were a little lower.  Trail Ridge Road had not been open long because of the snow and there was evidence of that around us.

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Eye to eye with some fourteeners and the air was very thin.

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My favorite picture is the one of the cloud moving through a gap in the mountains.

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We stopped in Idaho Springs at the legendary BeauJo’s Pizza on our way home and got a Prairie Mountain Pie.  Delicious!  We were pretty wiped out by the time we got home around 10PM and the consensus was that this was such a fun fiber adventure that the we decided next year would need a cabin rental at the YMCA of the Rockies and a couple spinning/knitting classes in addition to shopping!

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Now I REALLY MUST get back to closet cleaning………….

 

Yarn Along and a Piece of Cheese

Every cheese has its story and today, as I join Ginny on a Yarn Along, I will tell you about a book I just finished by Michael Paterniti called The Telling Room.

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Working as an editor for a gourmet deli newsletter, Michael Paterniti encounters a piece of cheese.  Reputed to be the finest and most expensive cheese in the world, the cheese carries a legend with it.

Made from an ancient family recipe in the medieval Castilian village of Guzmán, the cheese was submerged in olive oil and aged in a cave where it gained magical qualities – if you ate it, some said you might recover long lost memories.

Paterniti vows to meet this cheese and the famous genius cheese maker.  When he travels to the village of Guzmán to do so Ambrosio invites him into his bodega, or ‘telling room’ – a man cave carved into the side of a hill and proceeds to tell him the tale of love, betrayal, revenge and the world’s greatest piece of cheese.  As Paterniti is drawn deeper into the heartbroken Ambrosio’s world, he becomes less satisfied with parts of his own life and ends up moving to Guzmán with his family to write Ambrosio’s story.

This was a different kind of book for me to read on many levels.  I thought the author wrote well even though the book seems to get bogged down in spots with historical narratives.  There was a little bit of profanity which I did not care for but otherwise I would say it was an interesting read.  I should probably warn you that you may consume an inordinate amount of cheese whilst reading this book, I did!

Underneath The Telling Room is Building Block #6.  I think this is my favorite block so far!

What are you reading these days?

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link on the Small Things site to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

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When a friend of mine heard that I had the daunting task of writing a report on the history of knitting for the Master Knitter Level Two course she revealed she had in her possession a much sought after treasure.  She had procured a rare copy of Richard Rutt’s book, A History of Hand Knitting, at a library book sale and she has entrusted this treasure with me for a while.

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The subject at hand is beyond immense in my mind and I hardly know where to begin.  I suppose I should begin with the earliest source document in 1615 which describe the stockings made for Queen Elizabeth by a Mrs. Montague.  They are believed to have been the first worsted stockings and silk stockings made in England.  I’m pretty sure knitting existed before this time though because I saw some Egyptian slippers in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.  I guess that is why research will play an important role in this paper I am to write and research starts by reading books, right?

This story about Queen Elizabeth was so interesting that perhaps you might be interested in the published account by Edmund Howe in 1615 that I read in The History of Knitting.

“In the second year of Queen Elizabeth, 1560, her silk woman, Mistress Montague, presented Her Majesty with a pair of black knit silk stockings for a new year’s gift; the which, after a few days of wearing, pleased Her Highness so well that she sent for Mistress Montague and asked her where she had them, and if she could help her to any more; who answered, saying:

‘I made them very carefully of purpose only for Your Majesty; and seeing these please you so well, I will presently get more in hand.’

‘Do so,’ quoth the Queen, ;for indeed I like silk stockings so well, because they are so pleasant, fine and delicate, that henceforth I will wear no more cloth stockings.’

And from that time unto her death the Queen never wore any more cloth hose, only silk stockings.