Archive for I knit. (and crochet)

Tradition Solidified

I’ve spoken so many times of the Sugar Maple Music Festival, that summer event which we revere more than any other.  We afford it sacred calendar protection normally reserved for  holidays like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and now Solstice. Please don’t plan on getting married, birthing/baptizing your baby, or dying on the weekend of the Sugar Maple; we probably won’t attend. (your event)  So it is now an event so religiously repeated that it beckons the title of Tradition.  No surprise there.  But attending the festival…attending is only half of the ritual.  This was made implicitly clear to me this year.

The Festival begins Friday night, which we’ve declared to be Date Night, ditching the kids and donning our square dance attire.  On lean years, it may be the only square dance we get to attend.  (leaving the kids behind is our choice; they’re always welcome at the festival)  Saturday, then, is the meat of our family celebrating.  The festival opens at noon and runs till some time past 10pm, making for a very full, music-filled day.

This is how it went down this year.

Wednesday, Aug. 1

8:35 a.m. :: Declared, in an email to a friend, that I won’t be making anything special for any of us to wear to the Sugar Maple.  I had resigned myself to it in the weeks preceeding.

4:26 p.m. :: Was folding laundry, came across a favorite dress of Isadora’s and said to her, “This would be great to wear to the Sugar Maple this weekend!”  “MOM!” she said with a stern look, “I am not wearing that dress – it came from a store! (sneer) I’m wearing something you made.” “But I’m not making anything new this year, Dearie.” “That’s ok – I’ll wear last year’s dress.”  (I swoon and gush with satisfied pride.)

Thursday, Aug. 2

8:27 a.m. :: Decided that girl will have a new dress, goddammit.  Anyone that loyal deserves one.  Furthermore, I was going to finally make the lovely cotton gauze number featuring the unicorns I’d been hoarding for too many years.

8:47 p.m. :: Handquilting the top bodice of said dress, loving it, but thinking Didn’t necessarily pick the most expedient project to whip out on a whim. Good thing I don’t have to make anything else, or I’d drive myself crazy. 

Friday, Aug. 3

7:45 a.m. :: Finished lovely dress.  Girl smitten with it.  “Yes, of course Errol – I sure WILL make you a new cowboy shirt!  You betcha!”

2:30 p.m. :: In a phone conversation with The Mister: “Guess what?  Made a dress for the girl.  (relayed indignant conversation suggesting store-bought dress) Decided to make a shirt for the boy.  Yes, I know – crazy.  But I’m trying really hard to not get stressed out.  Take your time coming home though – busy sewing.”

6:15 p.m. :: Date Night.  Belly full of delicious supper, sipping a beer, knitting in hand, man at side, listening to fantastic music.  “Wish I could make you a shirt too, Daddio.  I hope to finish knitting this top in time to wear it myself tomorrow.  Sure would be neat to have the whole family outfitted again.”

7:30 p.m. :: Still Date Night.  Somewhere between beers 2 and 3 I resolved to sew Andrew a shirt as well.  The forecast promised a hot day to come and I had some more cotton gauze from the same line that I had been saving for him, for years.  (Errol’s shirt, I should mention, featured the same unicorn print as Isadora’s but in a light blue.)  3 outfits from the same fabric line, specifically designed to look like dynamite when paired together, all in cotton gauze, the promise of a hot day, the challenge of it all – all of this proved irresistible.

9:02 p.m. :: Hey look – that’s me in the center, him on the left, circlin’ round at the square dance.

Saturday, August 4.  The Big Day.

8:15 a.m. :: Finished The Boy’s cowboy shirt, started cutting out Daddio’s.

11:00 a.m. :: The Mister checks in, sees the progress, and declares that we should plan on arriving a couple of hours later than previously planned.  Guess he wants his shirt.

2:00 p.m. :: Last-minute preparations – setting pearl snaps on the cowboy shirts, packing up the cooler, blanket, beginning the cast-off of my own knit camisole.

2:45 p.m. :: Cast of the last stitches, en route on interstate 90/94, pulled off the interim shirt and replaced it with my finished camisole.  We were finally dressed.

3:00 p.m. :: We arrive.

It was our best year yet.  Now that I understand how integral a part the clothing-making is to our own tradition, I’ll try to plan a wee bit in advance next year.  Here’s hoping.

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I had no idea it was such a knitting hotbed.

I’ll be honest.  As soon as we decided on Portland, ME as our travel destination, I high-tailed it over to SouleMama to start compiling a list of must-sees.  A fiber shop (KnitWit), another fiber shop (Purl Diva), a fabric shop (Alewives) was an itinerary that prompted me to pack light, leaving room in the suitcase for tactile ‘souvenirs.’  That I would be able to touch one of my very favorite yarns (Quince & Co.) in the flesh at the only two retail locations to carry them was an added bonus.  These were my expectations.

What I wasn’t expecting was to pop into KnitWit during their Friday Night knitting group.  Of course I had my knitting with me; a quick redirecting of The Mister opened up a window of time for me to sit in on the group and soak up some social knitting time.  “So you come to Portland to celebrate your anniversary and one of the first things you do is ditch your husband for some knitting?” one asked me.  Yep.  I guess so.  Perhaps part of a successful marriage is breaking off a bit to replenish the individual.  Buy that?  Hee.  As the conversation evolved, I learned that several of the women there were professional pattern designers/editors.  The name of the woman who designed the pattern I happened to be knitting that moment was thrown around enough to give me a sense of her steady presence in the area as well, though she wasn’t present that night.  Wowee.  I had no idea there was such a hotbed of knitting genius in Portland.  Wowee.

Portland is a place where you can knit in a bar.  (I tell you this vacation was stellar.)  It’s also the kind of place where doing so is likely to land you a friendly conversation with a fellow knitter and a new Ravelry friend.  “You knitters…” Andrew said as he shook his head in disbelief as we exchanged Ravelry handles.  Yeah.  Us knitters, indeed.  I expected to walk away with some new skeins of wool.  I had no idea I’d also come away with such camaraderie, though it should come as no surprise, really.  My home knitting group would be just as welcoming, I have no doubt.  It’s how we fiber folks roll.

Can you imagine, then, how strangely exciting it was to walk into a different fiber shop (Purl Diva) the next day, spy an intricate shawl so lovely it made me gasp, only to learn that the pattern was designed by one of the fantastic women met the previous day?  Of course I left with enough skeins of linen to work up my own. Wouldn’t you?

Having drunk my fill of fiber, I moved on to fabric.  The theme of the weekend, it seemed, was ‘touch in the flesh that which you’ve only ever seen on the computer screen.’  Yes, I was a little star-struck when I saw, then caressed this ubiquitous Nani Iro double gauze.  I bought the biggest piece I thought I could manage without prompting a divorce.  Or enough to make a shirt, at least.  And then I pointed out how much I was saving by not having to pay shipping.  Ahem.  The lavender/grey and white polka dot cushioning my new yarn (two photos up) was another shirt-size score.

Would you mind if I holed up for a week and pounded out some sewn/knitted garments?  I’m asking YOU, Captain Daddio.  Smooch.

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This yarn, born from these very Acres, is mouth-wateringly delicious.  Knitting with it, as I work up a swatch for a pattern design, is pure visceral joy.  How nice it is to have this option at the ready for times when I’m too restless to spin – nice to still be able to commune with these fibers and regain my grounding.

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It’s shaping up to be a monumental year.

I celebrated my birthday yesterday by lounging around in floppy clothes and knitting nearly nonstop.  I shared and loved this cake, made by my three sweeties.  It was a good day.

Some things that might make this thirty-fourth year stand out from those previous:

+ My days of changing diapers are through.  That Boy is wearing Big Boy Underwear!  This is the same Boy who prefaces every new clothing acquisition with “did you make this for me?”  No, dear Boy, I did not make those underwear for you – we bought them at the store last night, remember?  “Oh yeah – that really made my heart smile when you got me more Big Boy Underwear.”

+ My Girl is sometimes so engrossed in reading that I have to repeat questions addressed to her.  Her nightstand is at this moment overflowing with an eclectic mix of Beatrix Potter, The Magic Treehouse, and various other chapter books.  She enjoys reading to herself at night, until her “eyebrows get heavy.”

+ I’m doggedly spinning my way through the delicious 2011 vintage of wool – born, shorn and dyed on these very Acres. I can’t wait to get them on the market and into your hands – they’re so lovely and soft.

+ I’m over-the-moon-relieved to have sent Sam the Sham (above) and Stan the Goat to greener pastures.  Sam’s services were no longer required; Stan required more than I could give, a problem compounded by his status as Non-Contributing Inventory.  A heaving sigh was heard across the land as the trailer left the driveway, carting them both to new adventures.

+ I’m hard at work on a complete redesign of the virtual Five Green Acres.  As you might imagine, this involves some sewing and cutting and digital magic.  Stay tuned.

+ Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. Writing. At least a page a day, just like I promised.

It’s good to be alive.

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It is Knitting’s High Season

The needles have been clicking at high speed of late, an indication that I’m fully engaged in a nice, long knitting jag.  If I were to appoint a theme for this winter’s collection on the needles, I’d call it Selfish or Wardrobe-Building.  All three woolens currently on the needles are destined to keep me warm.  To be fair, I did crank out chunky, soft pointed hats for both of the kids not too long ago.  The Mister is not in need of anything in particular, so he’s not suffering knitted neglect.  But I’m in dire need.  I have no over-the-knee knit stockings in my drawer, yet.  (But I will soon, despite any (motivating) doubts a certain someone has.  You know who you are.)

I’ve found an indispensable staple of Around-the-House-Wear to be a thrifted sweater vest.  It’s 100% acrylic.  Imagine my embarrassment and shame if word got out to the sheep.  It would be like coming home to a delicious home-cooked meal and declaring “no thanks – I picked up McDonald’s.”  Yes, I’m equating acrylic yarn to fast food.  To avoid this potential faux pas, I’ve been working diligently to purge the house of all acrylics.  That staple-of-home-attire vest will get the boot just as soon as this vest (above) transitions from my needles to my core. (and not a moment too soon)

And this capelet, resplendent in yarn that is the very essence of Valentines, will be the perfect adornment and practical necessity for a sleeveless, lightweight wool dress patiently waiting to be sewn together.  Perhaps I can even get away with wearing the stockings (top) without looking like a fool.  Such an ensemble would be appropriate for a birthday celebration, wouldn’t you say?  My own is just around the corner.  (Let’s face it – nothing gets knitted around here without a deadline, loose as it may be. )


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Woolen Spider

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Knitting interlude

Meditate on this, whilst I crawl a bit deeper into my cave.

Does it look like those rows are a bit off in places?  Nah.  That’s just you – better adjust your screen.

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Before and After



Dog sold separately.

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Worn best by a bald, long-necked woman.

I finished this cloche hat a few weeks ago.  Why it was on my needles for nearly 3 years is a mystery to me.

In a rather anticlimactic finish, I noted that it was most elegantly worn by this bald, long-necked mannequin.  Seems that the presence of my hair and my admittedly normal neck doesn’t show it off quite as well.

Something of a buzz-kill, but I get the vague sense that a bald, long-necked, artificial woman might show anything off better, so I’m not going to dwell on it.

Ravelry link here.

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It looks to be an Astrid Lindgren Halloween.


From the very first time we read  The Tomten, we knew we had one in our midst.  (If you’re not yet familiar with the benevolent gnome-like guy who tends to the livestock, speaks their language, and fends off foxes, secretly, through the piercing cold of winter, run out to your local library this minute and pick up a copy.  We also love The Tomten and The Fox.)

If you piece together all the evidence – the innate rapport with animals, the short stature, the affinity for porridge, the long white beard – you’ll no doubt agree that Master Errol bears a striking resemblance to the Swedish elf.  (except for his nose, which we trust will grow to Tomten stature as he ages)  When I came upon Elizabeth Zimmermann’s knitting pattern for the Tomten jacket…well, it was settled.  The Boy would be The Tomten for Halloween and every time he donned the jacket thereafter.  I think it was about a year ago that I decided this – I was spinning my way through the giant bag of random grey wool that came with my used spinning wheel and the serendipity of it all made way for the logical conclusion of a handspun, handknit jacket.  Which I am still nonchalantly working on, though Halloween is but a mere week away.  The wool is not the softest, but it is sure to be strong and pill-resistant – perfect for outerwear like this.  I plan on lining the jacket with some kind of fun fabric from my stash, eliminating the itch factor completely.  I also plan on finishing the hood, knitting the sleeves, and sewing in a zipper. And the hat!  Also handspun, (from a delicious red blend of corriedale wool) it’s a pattern I’m making up on the fly, with mixed success.  Still, it will be warm, soft, and satisfactorily Tomten-like, come Halloween.

I think it was Amy Karol’s blog, Angry Chicken, where I first learned of the quirky fellow.  And I don’t know how many times I had read The Tomten before it clicked that the author, Astrid Lindgren, was the same Astrid Lindgren of Pippi Longstocking fame.  Aha.  Well, it just so happens that we’re happily nestled within the pages of Pippi right now, and after some gentle persuasion, The Girl agreed that the freckled heroine would make the best choice for a Halloween costume.  And as such, my evil plot for a book-born, Astrid Lindgren Halloween shall come to fruition, though the “handspun, handknit” part of said plan might have to be amended for constraints of time and reality.  (I had entertained visions of knitting mis-matched Pippi stockings, long ones.)

Evil plot alert:  Isadora’s Halloween celebrations begin in two days and we’ve not even assembled a single freckle of the costume. Mount the troops!


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