Thursday, January 27, 2011

the state of the red scarf address

Is that not a beautiful stack of red scarfery ?
Collected at my hangout  Knit New Haven,  sent off to the Orphan Foundation of America for the Red Scarf project. To synopsize: the OFA does support and advocacy for foster kids who are now in college. Among the OFA's activities is sending care packages to 2500+ college kids for Valentine's Day.  Each includes a handknit scarf, donated by knitters; a personal touch that truly matters to  kids who have no "from home" to call.
If you're sort of smacking yourself in the head and saying "oh noooo, I meant to knit one but ran out of time",  no worries.  There's next year.  Even better: the scarf goal was met, but donations to the Red Scarf Fund are way down . These kids are on stripped down stipends, and the fund helps with small needs as well as emergencies that crop up: your printer's out of ink, your glasses break, you lose your dorm key card and need to pay $35. to get a new one, you have a job interview but no tie... even simple things like needing cough drops and chapstick become a problem when you're on a super tight budget.
So, here's my suggestion: if you meant to knit a scarf but didn't, hit the donation button here with whatever you might have spent on yarn and postage. See?  No knitters' guilt.
Ok now let's talk scarves. I knit the one around the (ahem, thanks Dave) awesome model's neck. It's  just a stretch of mistake rib in Brown Sheep Lambs Pride,  Wine Splash. Really liked this yarn. Glad I have a half skein left to play with.
Every year I'm struck by the wide variety of patterns & yarns people choose, and how many I ooh and ahh over. There's a crocheted cotton one on the bottom that'll be perfect for a wool sensitive student.  And you can't blame me for being thrilled to see the Lamar scarf, in the center, knit by Stacey of Fresh Stitches.
Now, back to work.  Is anyone else suffering from extreme procastination-itis with a side order  of monkey-mind this week?

Friday, January 21, 2011

in which she shoots sheep shots, again

first morning light at Gansvoort Farm in Clermont NY
Who cares if outside more snow fell and  the landscape's on hold in a palette of white, grey and...OK-that's-about-it. Inside, I'm on deadline editing a shoot from Gansvoort Farm from October. Green grass, the first frost, the last fall leaves, and early morning sun. Take me away.
Okapi.  Pretty cool markings for an Icelandic cross mix, doncha think?
I joined Jennifer Phillips, the farmer, for daybreak chores, on her beautiful farm. It's about  a half hour north of Rhinebeck in the Hudson Valley of NY, which is how I came to be staying there with her for the weekend. I hope you enjoy a vicarious vist with her as much as I am enjoying revisiting these images. More info about Jennifer and her farm, products and farming practices  below.  BTW? The wool comforters, made from her organic wool batts,  are to die for.
Antique orchard behind her pastures.  Teeeny bit sinister, like those trees in the Wizard of Oz.
from Jennifer Phillips' listing on Eat
"Gansvoort Farm raises 100% grassfed beef and lamb in the Hudson Valley.
I rotationally graze my flock and herd on diverse, nutritious pastures. My beef cows are registered Devons, a heritage breed known to be the gold standard for grassfed meat. My sheep are Icelandic crosses—hardy, healthy, and excellent graziers. I use organic practices (no antibiotics, no hormones, organically managed pastures) but am not USDA certified organic. I am in the process of being certified by
I have lamb for sale every fall by the whole or half. Orders can be placed by phone or e-mail beginning in late summer. I usually sell out by November. My butcher says it is some of the nicest lamb he has ever seen. I sell registered Devon cattle breeding stock and grassfed beef on a limited basis. If you are interested in quarters, halves or a whole freezer beef, contact me for dates and prices.
I also have 100% wool comforters for sale made with the wool shorn from my flock each spring. These comforters make an ideal heirloom gift that will last a lifetime. Be the first person on your block to own a 100% grassfed wool comforter!"
Gansvoort Farm, Jennifer Phillips, 1830 Route 9, Germantown NY 12526. (518) 537-4668. E-mail:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

wrap your head around Making Headlines

update January 22 here
Also, Ellen changed the name of the effort to

Warm Hats Not Hot Heads

My clever and talented friend Ellen, who blogs as half of  Twinset, has a brilliant effort underway. You might want to join her.
It came about in reaction to the shooting in Tucson, and the divisiveness amongst our leadership (we're talking USA here, sorry to exclude the rest of you) as well as some of our citizens. She's suggesting knitters send handknit hats, nice ones, attention- gettingly nice ones, to our congresspeople, with a message on the subject. She says it way better so I am posting her directly here:

from Ellen:
Alison and  I have been discussing the Tucson shootings, both feeling the need to respond somehow, in a way more concrete than an email from a website or even a phone call to a Congressional office.  We want our representatives to handle conflict in a way that makes it a good thing - a thing that brings us to the right place, not a thing that divides us and harms us.

Hence was born what I am calling Making Headlines.  I am going to start knitting hats, nice hats, hats that will be noticed when I send them to congressional offices with a plea to consider that one’s opponent on a political issue is still united on the issue of being human - caring about one’s family, one’s community, one’s country.

Here is what I’d like to do.
I invite any and all knitters who would like to join in to knit a hat (sizing information here) for their own congressional representative, whether Senate or House.  Please email me, perhaps send a photo or link to a Ravelry project, and let me know to whom a hat has been sent.  I can track who is being covered (literally!) and if anyone wants to knit more than one hat, they can send them to me and I’ll handle mailing them to a rep who hasn’t received one yet.
I will write a standard note to go with it, to which any knitter could add her own personal message "

There's more of her thoughts on her blog, and some talk about hats & yarn & colors, so you may want to click over there , including the thought that maybe some of the congress people will start swapping their hats, and sharing..I just love that scene in my mind, as I see it the senators and US reps are sitting in the capitol, handing the hats across the aisle that separates the Dems & GOP. 
It's cold enough in DC. It might just happen.

Monday, January 17, 2011

off on a tangent

Hipstamatically presented.  (Thanks, Kristin , for the challenge).
Tea cozy from recycled sweater 
Seeing as I work from a home office, my tea breaks are very important. An excuse to stand up and walk downstairs! And distraction!  We all have our little routines; mine is strong coffee from 6 am till noon, after that it's tea all the way, baby. In the winter, my house is chilly and my office even chillier, so it's not just the mental break but the warmup, and making it last till I get to the bottom of the mug.  Which is how I found myself googling : "tea mug cozies". I realized how insane it is for someone with yarn, felted sweaters and just plain old stuff around to be even thinking about buying a tea mug cozy, so I got busy.
That's right, my tea mug has Barbara Walter waterskiing on it. Ugly! But it has fabulous volume, a nice big handle, and sentimental value. It was an audience souvenir when I took my mom & my aunt to see The View, (VIP seats) a rare outing for them together in the city they grew up in.
Here they are, holding their mug boxes post taping.2009.
But back to my little project. Not exactly brain surgery. I cut a length of sleeve from a felted old black sweater, measured from the cuff up. I cut it open by the seam, and blanket stitched around the three raw sides.
process- making tea mug cozy from recycled sweater 
I hit the button tin to make a loop & button closure, measured to give my mug some negative ease. (yes, I did just say that). Then I  left it on a table with the tin of tangled crewel thread. Whenever I passed by, I stitched a little. I attribute this to meeting Jenny Hart last year. She gave me a serious jones to rediscover my embroidery licks. 
tea mug cozy from recycled sweater 
With a lot of wonk, it all came back. Daisy stitch ! Running backstitch ! Split stitch !
Of course none of this is necessary, strictly speaking, you could just cut a piece of felted sweater, add a closure and walla.  But that would not make tea break any fun, would it?
• • • • • • • • • • •
As much as Jenny Hart inspires me with her embroidery, and Kristin with her use of color and design,  Crispina ffrench inspires me to think about the possibilities with recycled sweaters. She's selling some awesome kits to make mittens out of recycled sweaters. More sophisticated than mine,(scroll to the bottom of that linked post if you want to see 'em) which I'm still loving.
 I sort of wish I wasn't off on a sweater knitting binge right now, because look at this tutorial to make a chipmunk  out of a recycled spare glove. Bobo would just explode if I made him one . Wool ! Squirrel !!
But who wants to clean up exploded bulldog, anyway?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

it snowed, i worked

and the Miami dog searched for a way out of snowy hell. Not on Calle Ocho anymore!

Actually, I spent today putting together my Ignite: Boston craft presentation, this Friday , should be quite the night of craft related storytelling. Ann Weaver and Maryse are also presenting, so I'll be in great company. See you there ?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

it's 2011: i'm dipped AND buttered

There's been a certain bagladyish-ness to my presentation when I dressed nice in cold weather.  Black & neutrals vintage-y herringbone tweed coat, red helmet earflap hat, orange  scarf, striped noro blue/purple mitts? yeah.  I'd walk in to a job and catch clients rolling their eyes, wondering why they trusted me with their photo shoot budget. OK, maybe I didn't catch them, but I just know they were thinking that. Can't blame them, I looked one crayon short of the 64 pack. Athough with most of the colors.
No longer. I am now, officially, Put Together. This photo Thursday, thanks to Linda at Knit New Haven as I was on the last few cowl rounds, you can see the needles still in there if you look closely enough. Knit from  2 skeins of Cascade Magnum,  super bulky, super soft 100% wool. What you're looking at is $36. and not a whole lot of time either. That's a lot of put together bang for the buck, no?
hat (less than 1 skein of Cascade Magnum, less than 2 hours of knitting)
inspired by  Quick & Easy Ribbed Hat by Laurie Kimmelstiel
needles: us 15
my variations: Cascade Magnum is one bulky mother! I cast on 30 stitches,  did wider bands of reverse stockinette than of stockinette,  added rounds to increase the slouch factor,  with a more gradual decrease than written, ending with reverse stockinette on top.
I'm sparing you the modeled views in which I look more like Hassidic Aunt Chaya than fashionably topped
I love this hat .  It is not much of a hair squisher, thanks to the loft, while being very warm Win, win, win.
cowl:  imy intention was a simple cowl in bands of stockinette & reverse stockinette to mimic the hat. I cast on 48 stitches, not paying too much attention until I was well into it, when I saw I'd twisted the join. So, why not? Twisted cowl.  I kind of like it with the twist in front.
Before the cowl I  started  a 4x4 ribbed scarf from the yarn. It was almost done when I left it sitting on a chair. Fatal error .  My lovable new beast Bobo has a taste for one thing , in a house full to the brim of Stuff You Could Chew. That one thing is  wool yarn. 
exhibit a of lovability, boy & his dog 
He doesn't destroy.  It's more like he seeks it, places a whole skein in his mouth and then shakes his bowling-ball sized head, walking and spinning out yarn,  down halls and stairs. I've found whole rooms strewn with saliva soaked unwound skeins*. (are you thanking me for that mental image? You're welcome)
Bad news: Bobo's  big bulldoggy teeth made an impression on the scarf-in-progress. Good news: it was kind of ropey and roll-y,anyway. So I ripped and knit the cowl.

only thing scarcer than yarn sitting out unscathed these days is a squirrel in the yard, 
thanks to this welcoming committee

Sunday, January 02, 2011

rollover craft minutes

A gift for my niece, who requested a really warm hat with a huge pompom.  Modeled not by my niece but by Leo, who was home for break and apparently is past the stage where he cares if people see him in front of the house wearing a hat with a ridiculously large pompom.
pattern: A Really Warm Hat from Melissa LaBarre (conveniently named, no?)
yarn: Araucania Coliumo (wool/silk blend) in gold-ish,  and a strand of thin fuzzy brown mohair (ballband long gone) carried along for fun
needles: size 13 us
comments: It's knit longer than the pattern, both for style, and for my niece's big head with major hair.
With the right attitude, it seems this could be a dude hat. I have to confess I kind of wanted to keep this one. But I might have trimmed the pompom down

An attempted Leaf  scarf for sister Marla, who would have liked it if it had come out as I imagined, and not like this.  Again Araucania Coliumo, which is somehow too silky-shiney and maybe too soft, to create well defined leaves. Or, maybe I should have seen it through, and blocked it, but we'll never know, will we?  Ripped, to become
needles: size 13 us
Comments: This yarns is much bulkier than Mandy's original,  I worked out the gauge & stitch count for a 23 " circumference.  Only a zig-zag-zi before the picot bindoff. I was nervous about running out of my single skein of yarn but had plenty left . It could easily have been a zigzagzigzag sort of deal.
No worries, it was plenty tall.
Excuse the wretched photo, it was freeeeezing out
Don't you love the picot edge at this weight of yarn? Funny story: I mailed it all gift wrapped up. I didn't exactly say what it was, only that it should be handwashed. Marla wears the handmades with appreciation & enthusiasm. She put it on her head as a kind of open topped hat thing, and wore it like this all day
(phonecam evidence ) until dinner, when her family  questioned whether it might not belong elsewhere on her body, and she called me laughing so hard she couldn't talk. 
I said, yeah, it was a winter tube top. You GO girl.
My bookgroup long ago declared December a no book potluck dinner  & craft night. We choose a simple project every year, this one was decorating notebooks. I walked in and announced I was too frazzled to even think about collage, I was going to just eat & knit, to relax.
 20 seconds later I'd grabbed a red notebook, sloshing gesso onto it. Some years less is more, and some years, more is more....
Oh come on, Einstein and a smoking troll and I think Hindi numbers tissue paper? Irresistible.
Someone commented on how...lively.. my front cover was. I had to do the back, with restraint. In this light I see it can use a final even coat of gesso,it doesn't show as darker splotches to the naked eye.
New mittens! I've been thinking about making recycled sweater mitts for years. Literally. I had a dense, tragically felted  charcoal wool sweater in the box of hoarded selectively saved-for-upcycling woolens. When the snow started to pile up last week, I finally cut a pair of mitt shapes, using the sweater's roll edge hem as the cuffs. I blanket stitched them together, raw edges out, wrong sides together. That is it. Crazy easy. If I was a perfectionist, I'd call these protoype and make another pair, more smoothly shaped on the curves  and evenly stitched.
But I'm not, and these are making me insanely happy. Next pair may be reversibly lined with second color of felted sweater. With decorative pompoms or buttons. Maybe more is more here, too?
• • • • • • • • • •
Happy 2011, what are you making?