Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Thread Removal Tip"

This will be short and no photos.  Sorry, but I suspect everyone knows what sewing threads look like along with two fingers!

As I was adding/sewing on the wool extensions to the linen for "Uncle Same's Hat" rug today I was picking out the ripped threads from the wool extensions and thinking?  

How many people pull threads that have been ripped out of wool or other sewing projects and find that those dang things fly all over the place, on to our pants and in general NEVER want to leave our hands  ever again as you bang away trying to get them in the waste basket?

If you have this problems then here's the solution!

So simple.  Took me years to figure it out though!

Spit on your index and thumb fingers - okay, maybe "spit" is too unlady like a words so moisten your fingers BEFORE you pick up the threads.  Pick all the loose threads you can hold and roll your fingers together and pitch in the waste basket.  

Gone zo on the first tap!  

Thursday, April 21, 2016

"Uncle Sam's Hat" Rug Hooking Design

Finally I've come up with a design for my next hooking project.

After playing around with some of my own designs, searching the Internet and scouring through my book collection of patterns and designs I ran across this design below by Polly Minick (second photo).  

I finally decided that I didn't need to reinvent the wheel but come up with something I liked that would play happily next to my family room Oriental rug (see below).  The added bonus was that the colors were already right for where I needed to place the rug.  Perfect!  

The bumped out area on the front of the TV cabinet is approx. 50".  I did not want to make the rug longer because it would start crowding into a chair and ottoman on the left side and a spinning wheel/chair on the other side of the cabinet so 50" is what I finally decided on.

 Perfect colors to play happily with my Oriental rug in family room.

Line drawing in the book.

Paper taped together to get the right size I needed (28" x 50") and now in the process of free hand drawing the design on to the paper.

Speaking of paper, I have been working off a 500 sheet ream of moving company packing paper I was left with after our move to Maine in 1992!  This is a great resource and I have more info further back on my blog about using this paper in the article on "Designing Rugs."

Thought you might like to see where I work in my studio weaving,  sewing, cutting out patterns and painting. 

 Paper laid out with a large piece of poster board between my sketching and the cutting table mat along with my tools.
 One photo of my work table and two of my four looms in my studio.
Big loom in front of the window is a Cranbrook 60" maple loom, 8 shafts and 12 treadles with a shaft switching device (that's a story for another day).  The loom on the left is a Leclerc 45" tapestry loom with two treadles.

Another photo of studio and another 60"loom, book cases, threading bench for back of Cranbrook loom.

Drawing in progress and starting to add felt tip pin over the pencil lines.

This loom in the photo is a 60" J-Made 16 shaft loom with 3 worm gears to crank the take up of warp onto the front beam and move the warp off one of the two back beams.  Lots of treadles and mind blowingly beautiful since it is made of all cherry wood!  Woven lots of fabric on this loom along with a few rugs! 

Sewing area with two Viking sewing machines and lots of storage.

By the way, this is as clean as it ever gets, LOL!  I can guarantee that it can get a whole lot messier if I'm deep into several projects at the same time!
Wall of cabinets along back wall of room with a ledge for my wet paintings in progress along with a sink for brush clean up or whatever else I need water for.  An old computer to the right that sits there lonely and forgotten since I have a 27" IMAC in my painting area.  Should get rid of it but you know how that goes - just haven't gotten around to it (for years)!

 Another view of sewing/cutting/drawing table.

Sewing table with a look towards the other end of the room where you can see some of my painting area, easels, shadow box and an iMAC computer plus storage.

About now you are drooling over my studio and its size but I look at this room as a lifetime of vacations that I've never taken, LOL!  Enough said!

Okay, back to the Minick design drawing.

Half of the design sketched in and gone over with a felt tip pen.

 Finally the finished drawing!
  I made some modifications to the original....little tweeks here and there but minor.  Now I have to transfer this drawing to either linen or cotton rug hooking material.

I'm on my way to starting the hooking.....except for all those copies I have to trace yet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

"Fair Isle Sweater" #1

As promised, I'm posting the very first sweater I knit from the "Fair Isle Knitting Simplified" book talked about in the previous post.

This entire sweater was knit with hand dyed and hand spun wool.  My guess this sweater also weighs around 2.5 pounds of yarn.  I also added a 3/2 pearl cotton that came along for the ride (two knit together at same time) to give sheen....see third down photo for a close up.

Notice the big variation in the colors on the two sleeves - that's hand dyed and hand spun yarns for you!  You never know what you're going to get when the knitting begins!!

My first attempt at a steek had me fussing and fuming over cleaning up the raw clipped edges on the inside.  I finally decided to add this very light weight silk fabric as a border and hand stitched to sweater.
I also had a wider, around the body measurement, than I really needed so I turned back more knitting to the inside which I didn't do on the #2 sweater (Checkerboard) and the #4 "Color My Own" design. 

I was more careful with the measurements and gauge with the yarn/needles, so I didn't have to turn much of an edge at front, on the #2 and #3 sweaters.  Having to turn back extra knitting is a waste of hand spun yarns but also creates a few problems at the neck edge so be mindful to do a swatch gauge on whatever yarns you might decide to use.

The silk fabric makes a nice finished edge so that's an option if you don't like the short clipped edge yarns.

Close up of the hand spun yarns and the pearl cotton.

I was happy with this sweater so it launched me into my first two-handed Fair Isle "Checkerboard" patterned sweater posted a few years ago and then next my most recent post of "Color My Own" sweater which I really was thrilled with.

Great book and a great knit learning experience.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Hand Spun & Knit Fair Isle Sweater"

I have knit three sweaters from the book below.  "Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified" by Ann Bourgeois.

The first sweater I knit was my hand spun in dusty pinks and whites as a trial run on the techniques explained in this book below.  Brave wasn't I to take a chance on wasting my hand spun yarns?  YES!  I kept that sweater simple with no design.  Just measure, do math, cast on,  knit-knit-knit, cut and put together.  I've yet to post the pink sweater but I will.  That sweater will be a bit anticlimactic after having posted these two sweaters with complicated designs.

Second sweater I knit was one I post a few years ago.   The purple/orange/teal checkerboard design.

The third sweater is the one below.

Name of the pattern I decided to knit since it gave me more flexibility on my choice of hand spun and dyed yarns I had on hand.
Two other sweaters in different color ways.

Pullover version of the design in another color way.

"Color Your Own"
  Knitting chart is in the book above along with at least a dozen more designs.

This sweater weighs 2 lbs and 7.4 ounces of wool!  Warm and heavy!  A lot of yarn to spin.  

All yarn was spun on this wheel below and this is just some of the carded and ready to be spun fleece in the basket for the above sweater.

More detailed photos of the sweater design:

Weaving technique that is taught in the book.  Makes a nice clean interior plus has the added advantage of NO long yarn floating over the inside to get snagged on anything.  You also don't have to worry too much about floats causing tension problems.  Once you learn to knit Fair Isle using two hands it's just a matter of minutes before you pick up the weaving technique.

See the line adjacent to the button band?  That is the clipped edge of the body of the sweater after you perform surgery......clip, clip, clip and right through the front of your knitted tube.  Big scissors in hand you clip right up the front of the knitting and thereby creating a "steek!"  All of this is taught to you in the book in a simple and easy to follow style and detail.

Sleeve attached at the body/shoulder.

Now a couple of words about the book.  This book was my second biggest leap in my knitting skills bar none!
Skills I mastered:

#1)  I learned to read charts! 
There is NO KNITTING gibberish in this book.  Just a chart for all the designs available and how to calculate the design to fit the size sweater you want to knit.  Charts of decreases or increases on sleeves and charts for the colors.  You are always free to re-imagine the color sequences and make it your own personal creation!   Learning to chart patterns/designs is a monumental leap forward.  Now the knitter can chart their own designs and figure out how to do it.  Amazing.
Easy peasy and liberating!

#2)  I learned how to prepare a knitted tube to become a cardigan by cutting up the front of the sweater.  
Scary stuff!
Not really that hard or all that complicated once you understand the necessary steps and they are explained in full detail and easy to understand language.  I do recommend that you make a swatch trial run so you are comfortable with the process.  I did and I was glad I had taken the time.  Doesn't have to be very big a knitting project.  Just knit enough that you can maneuver the machine stitching, cutting and casting on to the edges.

#3)  Taught me that I can knit just about anything if I put my mind to it and follow the simple guidelines taught in this book.  There usually are not many mistakes that can't be fixed if you think through the process and use a little creativity.

Today, after about 15 years of learning and knitting, I can look at almost any pattern, chart it and knit it and NEVER have to waste my time reading long, boring, frequently complicated and NEVER universally consistent dialogue about how to knit something.  Chart it and get on with the fun of knitting it!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

"Bulky Knit Neck & Chest Warmer"

Since I seem to be on the subject of knitting lately I remembered I had knitted an "adapted" version of a neck warmer from this knitting book below that I never posted.  Here goes.  The book where the original idea sprung from.

Here is the page with my notes:

Sort of weird looking, right?  Well, I got this idea to expand on this and knit it to go over layers and layers of undergarments and outer garments but still fit under a down jacket for my husband when he has to go out in the middle of winter.  He frequently has to climb up on our John Deer tractor and move tons of snow out from the doors of our garages and other places along the driveway.  It can be sometimes -15 degrees outside and windy.  Yes, that's -15 DEGREES BELOW ZERO!

Here is what I wound up knitting below.

I started with knitting the above pattern and then I decided to use whatever wool yarns I had on hand and make it color blocked.  Knit pattern as written and then I picked up the yellow and knit to the length needed for husband's body length minus the ribbing at the bottom.  Once that is done then you pick up and knit at the edge on both sides until the width needed for the sleeve and width of the body.  Sleeve/sides are left open (see photo below)  Final section, the ribbing, was picked up along the bottom edge and a wide ribbing added to finish out the total length required.

The neck section can be pulled up to the eyes, goggles placed on the edge of the neck edge to keep in place and any additional neck/scarf added either under or over the knit and then a down jacket over everything.  I knit this snood/vest out of wool with large needles (#10 circular) in a stockinette stitch rather than the garter stitch that shows in the book's photo. 

I joined the bottom of the gray and red sleeves with a strip of yarn before I started the ribbing cast on.  I picked up and knit around the bottom for the ribbing.  I left the sleeve openings large because lots heavy garments go on first BEFORE the sweater/vest and there wouldn't be any problems getting it over whatever husband wanted to wear under it.  It might be goofy looking but it really works beautifully, does the job of keeping him extra warm and he loves it!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

"Learning to Knit"

Those of us who knit all learned in a variety of ways.  Family, friends, workshops and maybe even an occasional male friend.  NO ONE in my family knew how to knit.  My grandmother was a fantastic sewing whiz and could make a pattern and sew a garment by only looking at a finished photo of a style!  Fantastic lady and a very sweet granny to have because she made piles of clothes for me as I grew up.  My mother could not sew even using a needle and hated all needle arts until she reached her 70's and then took up crocheting pot holders and wash cloths.   She didn't exactly set the world on fire with those efforts so she eventually took up gardening instead!  I'm sure all of us have stories about how we learned to knit.  

This book is how I learned to knit!

"The Sweater Workshop" was published in 1984 and was the answer to all my questions about knitting in one book.  I've since learned there are many more questions I needed answers to but at least I understood the questions after going through this book and then better understood the answers!

  The writing is clear, concise and easy to understand and follow.  The "Sweater Sampler" is the perfect project to start any new wanna-be knitter off learning and understanding the sometimes complicated world of knitting gibberish!

You will knit this over-sized golf-club cover (not really but that's what I think of when I see it) and when you are finished you will understand EVERY BASIC STITCH in knitting.  You will also learn much much more in the book that is jammed with information about the math of knitting, knitting in the round, how to pick up and knit sleeves to a round tube, sweater projects galore and other useful tips.

I've discovered that this book is still in print and available on


Great gift for yourself, friend, daughter-in-law or that mother that is now sitting at home wondering what she is going to do with her retirement!  Take up knitting at night and go out and enjoy the world during the day or reverse the choices.  A hobby to fill those hours when you don't have anything fun to do besides dig in the yard!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Ode to "Leg Warmers"

If only I was poetically inclined I'd write a sonnet for "Leg Warmers!"  Alas, I'm not quick on the rhyming words on short notice.  I'll think about it but in the meantime you're probably asking "another pair of leg warmers?"  Yup!  While I'm waiting for inspiration to strike for (almost there) my next rug hooking project I decided to knit these.  My gray boring leg warmers have turned out to be maybe boring in color but not in wearability!  Love those things!

What a revelation those gray warmers have turned out to be!  I can knit tons of these beauties using a bottom-less pit of my own hand spun yarns and not have to worry about wearing out the heels or doing any math and needle changes to get a PERFECT pair of leg warmers to go over my other commercial wool socks with the too short tops!  Don't get me wrong, I love love love knee-hi hand knit socks right down to the toes but I can wear a pair of leg warmers multiple times before they have to be washed and I never have to worry about holes in the heels of my beautiful hand spun hand knit socks ever again!

The yarn was dyed and handspan by me and knit right from the ball wound off the bobbin.  They will fluff/plump up after they are washed.  The purple wool is a commercial 100% wool from Paton's.  You have to admit these are pretty interesting!  Yes?  Maybe?  Not at all? 

You can knit these by casting on 60 stitches to a #4 circular needle with a sport weight yarn.  Knit 2, purl 2 for the top ribbing then switch to straight knit for the length you desire and repeat the ribbing at the end.  Simple and easy.  I suggest a small sample using the size needle you plan to use to make sure the yarn weight and needle size are compatible and give you the knit you want.      

(Wonder what that funny looking things is at the right lower corner?  Check back for my next post to come and I'll explain.) 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Thought for the Day"

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

"Bizy Bea" the sweetest English Springer Spaniel on the planet!  (Of course most Springer owners feel the same way so that's a whole lot of furry sweethearts!)  Bizy Bea NEVER looks back or forward but starts each day with love in her heart and enthusiasm for whatever events come her way!  Maybe we all could learn something about how a dog views the world!  Have a great day.