You Need to Read Yarn Along

In the TKGA Master Knitting program I have to write a thesis paper on the History of Knitting, pretty daunting right?  The subject of keeping the Great War soldier one has been of particular interest to me.  Well, truth be known, knitting in the American colonies is a pretty interesting topic also.  But today is all about sharing with Ginny’s peeps a book I’m reading and the one I’m reading targets WWI so that is what you will hear about.  Whoa reader!  If you hate history you might as well pass up this blog post, but…..if you are a knitter you just might find this information a little interesting.
Knitting History

Now on this side of the pond, America entered the war in 1917 and I know some folks on the other side of the pond thought we took our sweet time about doing so.  The American Red Cross launched walloping knitting campaigns all across our nation to keep their boys warm on the European front.  The armed forces issued patterns for wool socks, sweaters, scarves, bandages, helmets and wristlets and our womenfolk pulled out their knitting needles to do their part.  The Red Cross also had programs to teach children how to knit so they could help, too.  What do you suppose they started with?  Simple washcloths.

You might begin to wonder if their was a shortage of yarn with so many needles clicking away.  There was.  The War Industries Board issued an order to all American yarn retailers to turn over their entire stock of khaki, gray, heather , natural and white wool to the Red Cross.  Imagine if that happened today.  My goodness……. we are a whining lot these days.

Yarn Along

I continue to research.  There have been knitting campaigns throughout many wars but today’s book is about TOMMY, Knitting for Tommy.  You know who Tommy is right?  He lived  over there in the Empire.

For the Empire and for Freedom we all must do our bit.  The men go forth to battle, the women wait — and knit

I’ve just started reading about Tommy and it promises to be a pretty interesting read.

On my needles today are the last few rows of Morticia….100 beads on each row, sigh….making very slow progress.

Yarn Along and Magical Tidying

Joining Ginny today and her peeps on trail of book reviews and fiber projects we are working on.


The basic supposition of the book is —

Does it Bring You Joy?

If not, get rid of it.

I know there is a trend amongst the younger generation towards ‘simple living’ and I can see why this book would be a New York Times best seller for that group of people.  However, I have lived through more seasons of life than the author and took issue with several things in this book.  The bottom line is — what brings you JOY in your twenties and thirties is not necessarily what brings you JOY in your forties and fifties, sixties etc.

If you throw away the cards you have received years because they ‘served their purpose when you opened it that first time’ then you will be missing out on something that might bring JOY, encouragement and even healing when you are in your fifties.  I’ve saved every Mother’s Day card that my children have sent me.  Some have very tender and affectionate notes in them that actually helped me get through some rough times when a newly married daughter went ‘silent’ on me.  The tender notes she wrote throughout childhood and the teenage years reminded me that the love between us was deep and I just needed to ride the storm for a while.  I’m so thankful I did not throw those cards out!

The author said the same thing about books and maintained that once you have read it the book it has served its purpose and should be discarded.  I am an avid reader and have painstakingly collected the classics and other ‘great books.’  The author is a reader, too but limits her books to 30 which she still thinks is too many.  I don’t think she realizes that books can be a tool to forge a way to make an immediate connection to a stranger in your home when he/she stands perusing your library and a conversation begins and a bond is formed.  Nor does she realize that some people collect books to decorate a home.  Now I will admit that I have been convicted to take a second look at some of my college textbooks and other instructional books and I probably will discard them.  And, I have also realized that I really must let go of my vast collection of cookbooks because I mostly only use a few of them consistently.  But the rest…no-can-do.

Another area I contend with were photographs.  I guess that is because I am a photographer.  She wanted us to ‘touch’ each picture and see if it brings us JOY and if it doesn’t throw it away.  She does not yet know that something happens to you when you are in the ’empty nest’ stage of life.  You want to reconnect to your roots and get back in touch with friends you had in your younger years.  Social media has made this a possibility and the picture in your album that might not mean much to you may bring incredible JOY to someone in your past.

Nor does she realize that the sharing of these photos through social media may bring about an opportunity to seek forgiveness of someone you once hurt or who once hurt you and that through that process a regret of thirty years is released.  I am so thankful I have not thrown the pictures away that did not give me JOY.  And I am even more thankful my mother has kept pictures (no matter how horrible they are) because I have had wonderful moments reminiscing.  MEMORIES ARE IMPORTANT and will become even more important with each decade of your life.

Leaving on a positive note – I was able to successfully throw all my clothes into the middle of the room as she suggested and get rid of the ones that don’t give me JOY.  I’m not attached to clothes so that was an easy task.  I also thought the way she took shirts and rolled them up in the drawer was a good idea – that really decluttered my closet.

Lastly, the book was helpful in some ways however, I will still caution anyone who reads this to be very careful in using the mantra, “If it doesn’t bring you JOY then throw it out.”  Instead, I would as you to consider the fact that you will go through ‘seasons of life’ and your JOY will mature in different ways.  If you follow completely the advise of this author  you just might find yourself sitting in a stark room in your senior years with no JOY and only regret.

On the knitting front –

I am trying very hard to knit down my stash this year.  There is a group on Ravelry that I am participating in called SOCKS FROM STASH and February’s challenge is to knit socks from the oldest yarn in your stash.  I believe the yarn I found was from my second pair of socks that I immediately ripped out because they didn’t fit and I really didn’t know at the time how to make them fit.  I don’t even know what brand it is but I do know it is a faux fair isle that will be lovely knit in a plain stockinette….. I will call them my OLD JANES.
Old Jane
Happy Knitting!


Yarn Along as I Heal From Surgery

Joining Ginny this morning on a YARN ALONG to talk about a book I read over Christmas ….


The Lake House
A Novel
By Kate Morton

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, (both I have not read yet) an intricately plotted, THE LAKE HOUSE was a spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets and was the perfect page-turner for me in chilly December whilst knitting Christmas presents.

I initially was drawn to this book simply because of its setting.  Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure… Did I mention how much I love Cornwall?

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.  I usually do not like novels that involve the tragedies of children but this one kept sucking me in.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a mystery author. Her little borther’s case has never been solved, although Alice still has a suspect. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall haunted by her own nemesis. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her together with Alice and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

This is a lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies and Kate Morton is a master weaving lives together. This novel from is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read and now I must read The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours!
One week ago I was on day 15 of excruciating pain waiting to see a surgeon the next day.  A day later my gallbladder was removed and I am, relatively speaking, much better.  I will take respite to allow for recovery and both books and fiber will be my constant companion. Now I’m off to check out other books I can add to my ever growing list from participating in Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Yarn Along as I Do Some Warping

I’m looking forward to reading some great books this year and finding out what others are reading as I participate in  Ginny’s YARN ALONG.

Warping Dealer's Choice Towels

This afternoon I am listening to Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova.  I’m a big fan of Ms. Genova’s books because they have educated me on neurological diseases and disorders.   She is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Still Alice (Alzheimer’s Disease), Left Neglected (traumatic brain injury) , and Love Anthony (autism)and now Inside the O’Briens.

The main character is Joe O’Brien, a 44 year old Boston police office who begins to experience bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange involuntary movements.  He finds out he has Huntington’s Disease, a disease that will change his and his family’s lives forever.  I’m certain the story will be heart wrenching.

So far I’ve learned that Huntington’s Disease is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure.  And it is genetic.

In other news, I am enjoying my new Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom.  The tea towels I made last week have washed up nice and fluffy.
First Tea Towels

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……….

Yarn Along on a Very Busy Day

Joining Ginny and her peeps this morning on a Yarn Along because, well, I love knitting and I love talking about books and this YarnAlong is the venue for both of those things!


I’m re-reading the Hobbit by J.R.Tolkien at the moment.  His style of writing is delightful and I am totally immersed in his world. So much so, that I have a sock knit along starting next Sunday to knit a sock I’ve designed just for the sheer pleasure of keeping The Hobbit momentum going a little longer in my life.  If you are interested in participating all the details can be found here.


As far as knitting goes?  I am very busy in the design room.  In fact, it may have taken over my life so I need to pace myself.  I am finishing the mate to the short Cláirseach sock, I am working on Clue 1 for the All Who Wander are Not Lost Knitalong and I am ironing out details on a cowl design.  Busy, busy but immersed in two worlds I love – knitting and reading.

If you want to see what everyone else is reading then follow the YarnAlong link.  You just may discover a new book waiting for you to read or something clever to knit!

Yarn Along with Fiber in Hand


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’.


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.



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.

photo 3

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.


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!




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.


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 on a Day for Plying

IMG_9337Having been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since my childhood, it has been no surprise to me that watching Sherlock on Masterpiece Classic has nudged me into re-reading some of the more famous Sherlock stories.  As I have watched the Sherlock created for television I have wondered how closely they follow the book. Last week I read A Study in Scarlet and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I was amused when John Watson, having been flabbergasted upon learning Sherlock did not know the planets revolved around the sun, took it upon himself to compile a list of Sherlock’s bizarre knowledge base.


imageI think what I enjoyed most about A Study in Scarlet are the roots of the story taking place in our American west, specifically the Wasatch mountain range which I can see in the distance from Cripple Creek.  The story is very logical the way it is written and unlike the hard to follow PBS version, A Study in Pink.  The original story is much better.  There are similar things in the television version but the original plot does not come close to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s version.  I loved the story, I truly did, and am itching to tell you all about it but would much rather you read the original.


Today is a day for plying.  I have spun two singles from the Spin Off Fiber Club I mentioned a few weeks ago.  This will be my second time plying and I think I probably need to spend a few minutes watching Maggie Casey’s Spinning video to refresh my memory.  I will show the end result next week when I join Ginny on another Yarn Along.


Happy reading!  Happy knitting!

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! ~


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.


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.