My Great-Grandmother’s Crochet

Found among my treasures this weekend was a small roll of tissue paper containing my great-grandmother’s crocheted doilies. I gingerly unrolled the lot and found them to be in excellent condition–a testament to her and certainly not to my storage methods!

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I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my Nonnie (as I called her). She was a whip of a woman at just over 4′ tall and Sicilian to her core. She knew all of the wild edible plants on our old goat farm, would routinely cook huge pots of food, hosted a mandatory Sunday dinner at her house that necessitated setting up about three tables through the doorways of two rooms, had a wicked sense of humor, and insisted on gardening until she was well into her 80s. I had the pleasure of learning from her until I was 15–a long time for a girl to have with a great-grandma. And for those years I am very thankful.

At the time, being a teenager and all . . . I didn’t put too much stock in the fact that picking up my Nonnie necessitated carrying around a huge cone of yarn. From the house to the car, to the couch or kitchen table, and back again. She would pull out her hook and go to work. Mostly it was doilies and other small things. But she also made me an entire blanket for my birthday–more on that in another post! The yarn was not fancy or wool or soft by any means. It was utilitarian, just like her.

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Now, years later, unfurling these small, delicate, beautiful creations, I am in awe of her skill and I’m beginning to think that somewhere, sometime, she imparted her love of fiber craft to me. The designs look intricate, particularly to my untrained eye; but beyond the spindly stitches, I see all of the love–and practicality–of a dear woman. What a find.

Posted in crochet, family, found, history, Uncategorized, unexpected | 2 Comments

A Kindred Spirit!

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Yesterday evening, as I settled in to read a new spinning and knitting book, In the Footsteps of Sheep by Debbie Zawinski, I found a true kindred spirit: a woman who loves walking, spinning, knitting, natural (found wool), and sheep as much as I do! She is also a beautiful writer and I cannot wait to savor this book cover to cover and back again.

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There is so much to recommend about this book, which is part travelogue and part pattern collection. First, Debbie has (to my mind) and excellent and relaxed sense when it comes to fiber. Her note on sizing begins by stating “sizing a sock is relatively hassle-free”–and she means it! Yes, yes, there is gauge and weight and casting on .  . . but Debbie make it all seem utterly do-able.

Beyond her demeanor and outlook, it’s the walking, and the found wool, and the love of place that draws me into Debbie’s summer-long sock adventure. She relishes the opportunities to follow sheep paths through Scotland as she seeks out rare breeds, out of the way communities, and the people who work with all sorts of local fiber. Her photographs are by turns stunning and ordinary, capturing all the slowness and beauty of walking the countryside. Did I mention that she spins while she walks? or that she camps everywhere along the way?❤

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And then there are the patterns. Wowza. So many different types of socks from fair isle to cables. They are easy to understand and very modifiable. so, even if you have not been chasing down the “henty leggits” (found fiber) of several Scotland breeds, whatever yarn you have on hand will do just fine.

I picked up my copy from Amazon (although, I will sheepishly admit to pouring over a few copies in Scottish yarn shops last winter). I wish I had had the cargo space to bring home the book as a souvenir! Thanks to the interwebs, the world grows smaller by the day. And that means, I have found, at long last, a kindred spirit in Debbie Zawinski.

Posted in books, breed, fleece to knit, found, Knit in public, knitting, review, spinning, travel, Uncategorized, unexpected | 2 Comments

Finding My Way, I Mean WIP . . .

I never thought I would be a knitter with unfinished projects. UFOs, we call them–aliens that we hardly recognize. But, years into this hobby, I must admit to a few lurking UFOs in my stash. I don’t often see them, largely because I have literally stashed them away, out of sight, out of mind. But every once in a while I find a bag with some yarn and needles and a scrap of fabric and I think, “Oh dear . . .”

Some, I have no intention of ever finishing: there is that first big project–an entrelac scarf that unnecessarily suffers in its project bag because I knew nothing about fine yarns and chose a scratchy acrylic from a big box store. There is the first lace project that sits in a plastic sac because I knew nothing about weight and chose a chunky yarn instead of a fine yarn. And then there are the projects that are, really, more like WIPs in waiting. A second knee sock, for example, that I LOVE, but just can’t seem to find the time to get back into.

Today, a quick pick me up for all of us eyeing those WIPs (or true UFOs) that need some new life! Some real strategies for getting back into the work–and play–of it all:

  1. Bring it out! Pull that project out of the shadows and put it someplace where you can see it, remember it, and maybe even work on it!
  2. Refresh! Particularly for complex patterns: give yourself some time to look things over without the pressure of crafting. Go through the steps, retrace your stitches and remember where you are in the pattern–the time spent with the project might just peak your interest again and remind you of all of the hours you’ve already spent.
  3. Fall back in love! Look at FO’s of your pattern on Ravely and read all of the happy crafter’s notes about how much they love their socks, scarves, sweaters, or mittens.
  4. Take it on the road! One way to recommit is to bring your project with you on your morning commute, to the dentist’s waiting room, to your next faculty meeting. If you are truly bored, you may find that this WIP/UFO of yours is much, much more interesting.
  5. Get to work! Sometimes, the only way in is by putting in some minutes–or hours. Once you’ve had a chance to complete some rows, ask yourself: Do you still like it? Does it still tickle your fancy? If not, maybe it’s time to let it go!
  6. FROG IT. Yep, I said it. If all else fails and you really are uninterested, I’ll join the chorus of crafters to say: it’s OK to let it go.

Now, if I can only take my own advice, I’ll be back into these knee socks in no time!

Posted in knitting, not knitting, tricks and tips, UFO, Uncategorized, WIP | Leave a comment

Variegated?

Today, a simple question: why variegated yarn? Why? Why does it draw me in and make me want to pick it up, to buy it, to imagine it becoming something that somehow magically maintains the look of the beautifully dyed skein?

I was just spending some time on the Miss Babs webstore adding things to a cart that will never be purchased–just for fun, you know the drill . . . I love Wolves Den and Venitian Glass and Soul Food and Whimsical.

The trouble is the finished object, the pattern, the result. I have finished exactly one knitted thing that I really *like* in variegated yarn.

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Yep, socks, but only when they are freshly knitted and not worn or washed. As far as knitted FOs go, give me a heathered (but solid) colorway any day of the week and I will love it, no questions asked.

As for spinning, I cannot get enough of the variegated colorways in all sorts of braids. And I love the resulting yarn (most of the time); but then I come up against the problem, once again: what to make with the finished skeins?

I would love to hear your opinions on this variegated issue!

My realization? I love the solid/heathers for my FOs and my variegated for the yarn stash, erm, “curated collection”I have growing upstairs.

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Posted in big questions, decisions, patterns, sock yarn, Uncategorized, variegated yarn, why?, yarn, yarn-lover | 6 Comments

Operation Combination

I have made my selection and spun my first 4oz of fiber . . . operation combination is underway! Here is a wee image essay: the first two images are my two braids; the third is both braids laid out together; and the fourth is the first braid all spun up!

Happy weekend everyone!

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Posted in fiber, homespun, learning, spinning, techniques, unicorns | 2 Comments

Spinning (with) Style

I learned a new spinning technique while watching the live taping of David Keller’s Curious Mondo class; so, naturally, I thought I would share! I call it overhand spinning, but I’m guessing this is a well-known technique with a more specific name . . . those of you in the know, can you shed some light? In any case, I find this technique (at least as I execute it) to be a combo of worsted and woolen spinning and I LOVE the resulting yarn. I was skeptical at first, but I am a believer.

Thanks so much to David for the new technique! Check out his class to hear more about his spinning tips and tricks.

Posted in fiber, learning, spinning, technique, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sheep . . . in an Ithaca, NY Cemetery!

My hometown is using a flock of Southdown Babydoll sheep to mow the grass! Yes!

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Click the photo to read the full story OR click here !!

 

Posted in community, found, sheep, shenanigans, unexpected, unicorns | 5 Comments