Wool Gathering 2011

So I’m going to see what happens if I try to do some blogging. It’s been so many weeks that I almost feel like a stranger here, and, of course, I’ve not been around simply because so very much has been happening.

Today, I thought I’d share Wool Gathering 2011 (Yellow Springs, Ohio) with you. It was such a joy to be able to do something that is a special annual treat despite the strain and pressure of my current real life. It sure was hard to believe it had been an entire year since the last event! I also couldn’t believe I walked out of the house without my camera for the first time ever. I knew I was forgetting something, but for it to be my camera tells you that my brain just isn’t all here! Anyway, that means that all the pix are after the fact, with the exception of the one I shot with my phone, which turned out much better than I’d expected. Now I wish I’d have done a bit more of that. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Ah, well…

In addition to the hours I enjoy chatting with vendor friends I see just once a year, time exploring new ideas and gaining knowledge about fiber and using it, and just enjoying the general atmosphere (and when I have it, keeping my camera busy…), cruising through the vendor’s area is always a huge part of the fun. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I really think I did well this year in thinking through my purchases. I saw every booth at least briefly, found virtually everything on my wishlist (except for a particular skein of commercial yarn that I was planning to buy online), and shopping carefully even came home with a few dollars (note “few”) in my purse. 24 hours later, I still love everything I bought, am enjoying the diversity of my choices, and don’t think I made any mistakes, so I’m happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, what did I bring home? With apologies for the pix, as WordPress seems to be rationing how many large photos I can post at once:

A carved bone shawl pin from Gita Marie. Believe it or not, I didn’t have a white shawl pin!

Paco, a new alpaca for the Hitty crew, which pleases them greatly. He’s ready to shear, and they are ready to spin! Hitty D was out in the pasture with him today, and reports he’s settling in quite nicely.

I picked up a lovely lucet made from Honduran Leopard wood from Margaret Ledrich. She had dozens of beauties from which to choose, so I finally decided to narrow my choices down to just those made from Honduran wood. That at least helped. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Wolle was a new vendor this year, and I was captivated with her yarn, which is gradient cotton thread, 4-strand, untwisted. Sadly enough, she didn’t have the colorway I was desperate to own in the size ball needed for my first choice pattern, but I’m quite fond of my Plan B, and I look forward to knitting it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m going to keep an eye on her etsy shop in hopes of snagging my first love sometime soon.

I needed two sets of knitting needles for immediate projects. How weird it is that I “need” needles with all those I have here! However, knitting a scarf on needles with 40″ cables isn’t a lot of fun, and since they won’t fit in my needle tote, I’d never gotten around to purchasing 35’s… The size 3 needles are Addi Lace, far from being my favorite needles, but since the only 3’s I had free when I started on the project last week were the Addis I never use, I was afraid to change brands now, so now I have another pair of last resort needles. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The 35’s, which look a LOT bigger in person than they do in this picture, are designed and sold by HPKY, another vendor who got my business for the first time this year – in a big way, as you will see later…

I didn’t have bunny fur on my shopping list this year, but when I saw this angora roving, I just couldn’t walk away from it! I love the teensy specks of color, and I think it’s going to make beautiful yarn. I meant to go back to her booth to buy some plain white at the end of the day, but I got sidetracked then ran out of time.

I barely managed to avoid buying any more alpaca fleece or fiber, which is tough, because Wool Gathering is particularly blessed with awesome alpaca offerings. However, I did finally buy my first llama fleece. Pia was the donor, and she lives at Agape Lland Llamas. I know this looks gray in the pix, but it’s really an intense black, and it’s also one of the softest llama fleeces I’ve touched. Took me a lot of years to get llama, but I think it was worth the wait. ๐Ÿ™‚

Since I’m on the topic of fleeces and waits, it’s a good time for me to confess I brought home a sheep fleece, too… BUT just one! I was deadset determined not to bring home any fleece unless it was a new to me fleece. There are usually a lot of really nice fleeces at Wool Gathering, but they tend to be from the same vendors, hence the same breeds. I figured I was going to be coming home fleece free. HAH! Lunabud Knits surprised the socks right off of me by having a yummy, even though unskirted, Texel fleece, and Texel has been on my priority list for a long time! Happiness is…

Thinking ahead, I was pretty sure my anti-alpaca pact was going to keep me safe at Tri-Valley Alpacas, vendors who have sent me home with a “few” pounds of gorgeous alpaca fleece in past years. What I didn’t successfully predict was the new assortment of other goods that were at their booth this year, nor did I anticipate the reaction I had when I put this really great little duffle tote on my shoulder. I’m a pushover for Latin American weaving anyway, and turning into a tote addict, too, it seems. It came in handy yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The first booth where I caved and made a purchase was also the first booth I came to after entering the gate. Basically, my reserve didn’t last as long as I’d planned for it to hold out. What I can say in my defense is that I could have very happily filled my car in the Wooly Knob tent, but managed to walk out with just one kitchen trash bag of roving dangling from my arm, so… I was affectionately calling this purchase my junk food. After spending so much time this past year washing fleeces, carding, dyeing, combing, blending, etc., buying this enticing stuff felt guiltily wonderful – fast, easy, and (stash)fattening – and I love it! ๐Ÿ˜€ This is my first Wooly Knob fiber, but what I found interesting is how many people seeing my bag grinned at me and said it looked like I’d been to Wooly Knob. I’m eager to see what I’ve been missing! I got a sweater’s worth (I hope) of the denim blue, and I’m thinking that the white with sari silk will be employed with something else – probably solid – in the end. Beyond loving it, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the black/blue/purple/green striped roving yet.

This might be my most unexpected purchase. It also might be the item that drew the most comments from others the entire day, though I carried it around during only the last 45 minutes. I spotted this Bonnet Basket, woven by Margaret Lou Bickenheuser (contact – mylittlebasketshop at yahoo dot com) well before noon, did my drooling over it, then walked away quite certain I’d seen it for the last time. When I walked back past the booth a little after 6:00, it was still sitting there… waiting… and although I spent a good bit of time trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to take it home, as you can see, I didn’t succeed. I love the walnut inserts and the overall solidity of the basket, and it’s plenty big to hide a multitude of fiber indiscretions. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This is a bit “cart before the horse,” but it was just so perfect… In the HPKY (Hand Painted Knitting Yarns) booth, one of the very first things I saw in the entire show, but the very last purchase I made, I saw a simple garterstitch sweater that I just loved. I’m not making sweaters for myself until I can wear the size I want stay, so I’ve walked away from a lot of sweater opportunities. I’ve also favorited a lot of sweaters on Ravelry! This was my downfall. The yarn and pattern to make the sweater came home with me as a reward – my dangling carrot. When the day comes that I start knitting this, there will be a glow from my grin lighting the skies over Ohio and probably visible 3 states away. ๐Ÿ™‚ I adore the colorway, and the featherlight baby alpaca yarn (Rome) is incredibly soft! The yarn presentation is interesting. Somehow all the skeins are braided together into this big megaskein, which will definitely keep everything in one spot. ๐Ÿ™‚ I looked on Ravelry, hoping to post a link to the sweater pattern, Ilaria, but there isn’t one up there, so you’ll have to wait a while. It’s going to be so fun using this incredible yarn to do this quick knitting project. I can’t wait! (Have I said that before?)

One of the best places to spend time, IMO, is in the Benjamin Green Studio booth. If you’ve been reading my blog very long, you know I have an impressive collection of his work, including a few “rare” pieces. This year I went with the intention of adding a hackle to my line up of tools and let him know in advance. He went prepared, but ended up selling my hackle before I found his booth. Imagine my shock when he offered to sell me his own personalized hackle instead! I was very honored, and I love my new acquisition. ๐Ÿ™‚ The fun didn’t stop there, though. Having seen my wool comb photo from last year, he was horrified that I’d managed to buy the one comb that walked out of his booth with some bent teeth. I was duly provided with a comb tooth straightener, and we all had a good laugh over the whole thing. ๐Ÿ˜€ The surprises weren’t over yet, though. I’d been bugging him for several years to build a drop spindle lazy kate, and this year he came through for me with a beautifully simple design that works wonderfully and folds flat for storage. I love it! I only have one spindle loaded in the picture, but it does hold two. He also has made adapter pieces that will convert it to hold two bobbins or quills. I added an itty bitty niddy noddy to my pile off booty. I couldn’t resist its 24″ skein size. Like I said, I love shopping Ben’s booth! His only problem now is that he is going to have to come up with something new for me to buy next year! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have an idea or two for him…

So that’s the end of what I bought at Wool Gathering – except for the typically delicious supper at Young’s Jersey Dairy, which provides the grounds where WG is held each year. What I haven’t shared is the other item that jumped into my car yesterday…

No I have no idea where I’m going to put it at this point! I’ve only been to 4 yard sales all year long, but let’s face it, if 25% of yard sales I went to always netted me things like this, I’d spend more time on the road during the summer!

Having a great wheel is a dream I’ve held for nearly 30 years, and I’m still trying to believe that it has really come true! To find one in working order and with a weasel to boot unexpectedly at a yard sale feels truly miraculous. Yesterday was one fantastic day for this fiber lover!!! ๐Ÿ˜€


Just Because I Can’t…

So, just because I can’t have a sheep or two here in town doesn’t mean other members of the household can’t start a flock. The Friendship Hittys, not surprisingly, have been interested in spinning, knitting, and weaving for quite a while now, and today was the first step toward them being less dependent on my provisions for their fiber adventures.

Miss Woolly was adopted from UpperRoomCreations on Etsy. As is mandatory with livestock shipments, she arrived very quickly, and is a happy, healthy ewe. Now the girls want to know where to find sheep shears. Help!!!

Published in: on June 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Wool Gathering 2010

With a sated grin, I’m here to report on this year’s Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, which at this point is my only fiber festival each year. I have to say that this year is the very best it’s ever been, only shortcoming being that it was impossible to do the entire place “well” in just one day, as it’s grown dramatically this year! If I’d not had my focus list, I’d never have seen even half of it, and as it was, much of what I did see was just as I cruised past. Much to my chagrin, there were many booths to which I wanted to return, but I simply ran out of time – not that I didn’t find a “few” things that did come home with me. I’ve just never had it play out that I couldn’t go back for those few special things that were sticking in my mind as “must buys” – you know, the ones you walk away from, then can’t get out of your mind later… Anyway, in addition to the increased size, I was also struck by how much “tidier” the grounds looked this year. This isn’t in reference to litter, but rather to the set up. It just had a clean and organized appearance which was nice and approachable. Somehow, they also managed to arrange for lovely weather, though the big tents in particular became extremely warm by the middle of our sunny afternoon. My biggest challenge was that this was my first major outing since I fell, and I have to confess that I arrived home last night somewhere beyond exhausted, feeling a bit like someone who has been an invalid for the past two months and tried to forget that fact for a day…ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have to confess that when I arrived and saw three main tents and more, I felt a bit like an Indy driver at the starting line so neglected to take any pictures of the venue. I’m glad that I started out in the smaller livestock tent first, though. If I’d not gone then, I would have run out of time. In the past, there either hasn’t been a livestock tent or it’s been elsewhere and I’d not seen it. I could have spent several hours in there happily taking pix as I watched the goats, sheep, and llamas (and would have had better shots had I done so), but even though my time was much shorter, I had fun, and I’m SO grateful to those who brought their animals to share with us.

Shropshire Sheep

Finn Sheep – Extra fun for me to see since I bought a Finn fleece a few months ago

Tunis Sheep – VERY fun since I’d taken the notion that I wanted a Tunis fleece this year! Quite endearing with their ultra white coats and sweet brown faces. ๐Ÿ™‚

Border Leicester Sheep – Undoubtedly the “ugly duckling” here, but looking ever so dignified and intelligent, and I took quite a shine to them. They were fascinated by the children’s train ride directly outside the tent and would run to watch each time it started up. I meant to go back and get one of their fleeces, but ran out of time, so will have to contact the owner later.

Mystery critter – This pen was not identified, that I saw, and was the least cooperative of the bunch when it came to picture taking. I didn’t manage get even a half decent shot of my favorite, a shiny locked little white gal, who I could have brought home in a heartbeat if I didn’t live in the middle of town! She was an angora goat, but I have no idea what this endearing fellow is.

Llama – Definitely the prima donna of the entire livestock tent, posing and repositioning, then giving me this look like, “You are going to take another picture, of course?”

There were also alpacas and of course, a profusion of angora bunnies, but they were in the vendor tents and by the time I got to them, my camera was buried under ummm… a few things… ๐Ÿ˜‰

A definite highlight of the day was meeting up with some online friends, members of the Handprepared Fibers Group on Yahoo. What fun to put smiles and voices names!

I had a mission list – things I needed to find and some people I definitely wanted to see, and as mentioned earlier, this kept me moving. I ended up getting very little that wasn’t on my list, but I did still find some wonderful surprises!

I called The Yarn Shop in Columbus at the end of last week, and they brought my Seville pattern to the show. ๐Ÿ™‚ This pattern is a spinner’s dream! It has 6 sizes in the pattern, plus each size is written for 3 different yarn weights. It could easily be made in a half dozen ways and look totally different each time, I think. I also found a pound of black merino (with crimp this time!) to blend with my nasty no crimp stuff detailed in my Double Detour post. When I did the math, I realized I wasn’t going to get enough yarn from the 14 ounces I had (duh!), and I’m guessing the finished yarn will only be improved by the addition of some crimp anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Added bonus is that I got my black merino from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers for half of the best price I’d found in my quick search online. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also got an 8 oz. black Suri alpaca batt from MOA Handknits, but I decided I wouldn’t post pix of either of those items. Somehow, black fiber tends to look like black fiber, not very interesting to see in a photo, no matter how marvelous it is in person. And the Suri is definitely that! It was delicious enough to entice be to purchase it before I finished my rounds!

I seldom spent much time at the booths that sell basic supplies and manufactured yarn lines, since I can get those items easily at other times, but while I was picking up my pattern at The Yarn Shop’s booth, these neat little charms caught my eye – and came home with me. They are called Sig’nits, and they are designed to be knit onto a project in the same fashion as beads are added. They are nice quality, and I couldn’t resist. Besides, I knew what I was doing with them about 2 seconds after I spotted them. ๐Ÿ™‚

I always have to find some little trinket to bring home for “the girls.” This year the Bleuettes got these cute little sheep from Three Bags Full. The Hittys got a surprise gift from a vendor. The tiny llama in the next picture is nearly identical to a large one I have, and it was gifted to me with my purchase from La Llama Place, a booth I spent a very long time enjoying! The llama will look ever so cute standing on their knickknack shelf. ๐Ÿ™‚

I brought home all sorts of goodies from Peru. ๐Ÿ™‚ The beautifully made knitted doll came from Cupola Alpacas, and she will go on my high shelves in the sewing room.ย  The beads, finger puppet, and llama were from La Llama Place, which specializes in treasures from Peru, as well as items from Mexico and Central America. My best treasures from that booth are…

these two spindles

and this backstrap loom and weaving, which was such an exciting find for me that I couldn’t possibly walk away and come back later, despite my resolve to complete my list shopping before digressing into other items. I just had to have it! Neat or what? ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve been told that the piece of tubular weaving is very special stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

When previewing the vendor list, I was thrilled to see that two Etsy sellers I frequent were having booths this year. It was definitely a high (and costly!) priority to meet them in person. I have to say that both ladies were as delightful in person as they’ve been online, and they both managed to lighten my purse a bit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

From Lunabud Knits, I bought these gorgous silk noils as a gift for my drum carder…

some yummy angelina, and one of my fleeces (hang on a minute!). She also insisted on toting my fleeces out to my car for me because of my leg, and it was NOT a short trek! She said she wanted to stretch her legs, but I think it’s more that she’s a genuinely nice person. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Whatever the reason, she’s got a customer for life!

I’ve always found the Fiber Optic shop on Etsy to be a wee bit overwhelming, but I have to say that Kimber Baldwin’s booth is exponentially more so! At shows she has items that never make it to Etsy. ‘Nough said? I took Catenary along with me so I could show her what I spun from some of her fiber, and I came away with seven times as much as I’ve already spun – and that was with seriously slapping my hands!!! This BFL should keep me busy for at least a little while. I know what I’m doing with all of it, but it’s going to take a bit of thinking and planning to execute. Stay tuned! ๐Ÿ™‚

Of my three remaining goals, one I didn’t accomplish, as I could not find any black dyed BFL anywhere. Another was to buy A (as in one) fleece. I have to confess that I more than made up for the lack of black BFL. Somehow or other, my “fleece” multiplied and I brought home:

1. Okay, my first fleece was an accident. I had several possibilities in mind, but none of them were Cormo x Romeldale lamb. Of course, if I’m not going to buy something so delectably lamby delicious, I shouldn’t look, right? This came from Denise’s Fleeces, and I’ve managed to mislay my receipt, so I don’t know how much it weighs, just that it’s soft and crimpy and wonderful…

2. My second fleece was a traditional buy for me, and one I’d considered ahead of time. The first fleece I ever bought came from Jackie Deems of Amazing Grace Farm (and was actually two fleeces, since I was unable to choose just one.) This year’s fleece came from Sarah, a white Shetland, and weighs 4 pounds. I’d gone with white in mind, since I’m going to be doing some dyeing this coming year. My tendency to buy colored fleeces sort of handicaps me there… ๐Ÿ˜‰

3. By the time I found this fleece, I was nearly to the end of the third and last tent, and scanning ahead, I’d not seen any more fleeces anywhere. Since I obviously wasn’t going to have my Tunis (sigh…), I decided I “needed” this pretty BFL fleece, donated by Emma, and sold at the Wool ‘n Wood booth. I “tried” to buy a colored fleece, but just kept coming back to this appealing 2 pounds, so ended up with a third white fleece. I justified it to myself by saying that it’s SO different from the other two, and preparing and spinning different fleeces will be great experience for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ With 3 fleeces – and still thinking I was going back to grab that Border Leicester – I was most definitely done fleece shopping – or so I thought…

4. But while hanging out at the Lunabud booth, I mentioned that I’d hoped to find a Tunis fleece, but no one had any.ย  Moments later, she was pulling from under the table, a Tunis/Targhee cross, which she was selling for a friend. She had several, but since I’d gone looking for a Tunis, I took this one, as she assured me that it leaned much more toward the Tunis than the Targhee. I felt SO guilty buying yet another fleece, but since I’d gone after a Tunis… And this one was the biggest of them all – somewhere around 5 pounds! Obviously, I’m not likely to run out of fleece this winter, but storage space is another story!!! In my defense, at least all four are distinctly different… ๐Ÿ˜€

And now I’m down to one last booth to share – one that was on my list to visit early. I’d decided several months ago that this was the year I was buying my wool combs from Ben, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t sell out or anything crazy like that before I got to the booth.

I do love his combs! They pack together in a compact, locked kit when not in use, then everything comes apart and the perfect economy of the set is evident as each piece has a second purpose. On top of that, he builds them from walnut and cherry and other lovely woods, then sells them for a very competitive price. Such a delight!

The really big surprise for me was that it paid off for me to get to his booth early. I almost inevitably save it for last, as I’m often buying a large, awkward item, but the combs were small and would fit in my pack, you see… They netted me an early bird bonus though, and I’m grinning from ear to ear over this find!

He’d built two pickers, then decided not to make any more. I now own one of the two! A picker was on my fantasy list for someday, but the combination of the large size and matching price made that seem a bit unlikely to happen. Ben’s small picker was VERY affordably priced, and its compact size is perfect for me, not to mention that it’s pretty! If you want to get in touch with Ben, he has an Etsy shop, though it never has anywhere near all the wonderful items he makes. You can convo him and ask about his hackles (next year for me!), skein winder, drying racks, marudais, and more. Tell him I sent you… ๐Ÿ˜‰

As thrilled as I am with my booty from Woolgathering this year, this and the backstrap loom are the stars of the show for me, both wonderful finds that were only untouchable fantasies for me until the moment they materialized so unexpectedly. Then I topped it all off with one of my all-time favorite desserts, a hot apple dumpling with cinnamon ice cream at Young’s Jersey dairy. Happy day for sure! ๐Ÿ˜€

This Feels GOOD!

I finished this a couple of days ago, and I’m still grinning about it! Actually, the farther I get from having done it, the more I love the project! ๐Ÿ™‚ And to think… it only took me a couple of my “stuck on the sofa” days AND it was one of my goals for 2010! It’s so nice to have it done after it languished for so long in my UFO pile…

Yup! I’m done with my little petit point sampler, and I’m madly in love with it. ๐Ÿ™‚ What you are seeing in this picture is smaller than a credit card – frame and all – and it’s my first finished miniature needlework, not to mention, I framed it myself.ย  Any wonder I’m grinning?

There are a total of 4536 stitches in this project. The rest of the details are in last week’s post from when I started working on it again. If you would like to see the process I used to frame this piece, I wrote a tutorial for it and have it posted on the blog HERE or you can access it through a link on the sidebar.

Oh, and it even got the official “Hitty Seal of Approval.” The girls are all a flutter about wanting to work on Friendship Cabin again now. ๐Ÿ™‚

Sanity Break

So, I cast off the last main piece of my East Meets West insanity project last night, and I knew instantly that I couldn’t face starting the finishing work on it without taking a little bit of a break. Took me all of 12 seconds to figure out what I wanted to do, and I even knew where it was. Of course, the fact that it was laying out, not put away after the trip I foolishly dragged it on in June in case I was bored in Alaska had nothing to do with my desire to work on it, I’m quite sure… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway, what I’m doing is another of my annual goals, and it’s going a lot faster and with much less of a headache than I was getting from that bag I’ve been knitting for the past two weeks. This is where I started – well, almost – tonight. I did forget to photograph it before I worked in two very small areas of color, but it wasn’t THAT many stitches, so I figure this counts.

At 40 stitches per inch (Yes, that’s 1600 per square inch.), it’s making the size 1.5 knitting needles I’ve been using for the previous fortnight look like tree trunks! I’m really enjoying the change, though, and it’s going rather quickly. My biggest problem is going to be figuring out how to frame it worthy of the work. This is totally new territory for me, and I don’t want it to look second rate!

Tech info: This is The Boating Sampler designed by Nancy Sturgeon for Threads Through Time. I couldn’t say if it’s still available, and I’m not even sure where I bought it, as I started this about 4 years ago. I’m not even sure it was new to me then, to be quite honest! It’s a perfectly satisfactory little kit, and I’d not hesitate to buy another from the same company. Eventually this will hang in Friendship Cabin, the future Hitty habitat here. They are ever so fond of sailing related items… and I’m not good at saying “no” to them. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Though this is perfectly suitable for 1:12 scale and Hitty is about 1:9, I’m taking advantage of the fact that pictures come in a very wide range of sizes. It would make a seriously nifty inset on a trinket box for me, too, but I’m not willing to deal with a Hitty uprising, so they will get to keep the finished project. ๐Ÿ™‚

Christmas 2009 – Part 3

Before I start, the kitchen ceiling is still hanging in there – literally! Newest update is that DH claims to have caulked several days ago, but since the worst of the damage and the leak appeared after he says he did it, I’d say that there was definitely something lacking in his technique. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The dripping stopped briefly this morning, but a couple hours after his shower it started up again, so obviously, it’s not cured…


How do I know I’m too busy? I’m just now starting to put away my Christmas gifts – a month after Christmas Eve! It’s hard to believe that as I’m writing this, a month ago at this moment, we were just starting on the final leg of our “adventure” trying to get to our daughter’s house for Christmas… The reason I’m squeezing this task of putting gifts away in right now, is that I need the box in which I toted my gifts home. It’s the perfect size to gather the parcels coming in for the 2010 Bleuette Stash Swap. (There’s still time to join!) Otherwise I fear it would have continued the way it has up until now with me grabbing something from the box when I want/need it for something, and I might have still been putting things away at my birthday in June!

I thought I’d take a few quick pictures and share what everybody got for me, because I think I received some neat stuff, even if it is somewhat lacking in fiber… ๐Ÿ˜‰

For paper crafting, hubby bought me a Bind It All (neglecting to get me any accessories whatsoever, so I’ve not been able to try it yet) and a new design card for my Slice machine. He didn’t understand that there were different cards and just bought one off ebay. Thankfully he got one I didn’t have already – and now I don’t need to re-prioritize when I make my birthday list. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you don’t know, the Slice is a compact design cutter with hundreds of shapes and fonts in a multitude of sizes. The design cards are very well priced and contain clever and useful designs and a themed font. I’m not sure where those folks at Making Memories get their ideas, but they think like I do – and it’s an affordable system if you shop smart. ๐Ÿ™‚ The Bind It All is a Zutter creation – again a compact machine. It slots pages and covers, then installs wire bindings, turning anything you wish into a book. In addition to the paper crafting applications, I’m thinking it will be nice to be able to bind such things as my Queen Susan Shawl print outs and other ebook downloads, so I can easily put them on my bookshelf with my other knitting books.

I received a nice assortment of doll related items this year, including a lovely Bleuette dress, china paints, and the complete Re-ment Bread and Butter set, which thrilled the Hitty gang. I wish I knew who had made the dress, but he bought it on ebay, and it didn’t come with a tag or sewn in label. It’s very nicely made, and I’m sorry I don’t know who to praise for the workmanship. We haven’t decided who gets to wear it yet (After all, it IS short sleeved and not seasonable right now.), but there is going to be a clamor among the early girls when they see it!

My younger daughter condescended to walk through the door of an antique shop and found an adorable baby tintype for me, which contrasted amusingly with the “purrfect” pet cat mannequin she picked up for me elsewhere. I love both of these surprise gifts, which just goes to show what an eclectic nut I am!

And last, but very certainly not least, is this wonderful mobile! When I was in Honduras the last time, I fell in love with it, but I’d spent my money by the time I saw it, so I had to leave it behind. My older daughter told DH how fond I was of it, so he had her bring it home when she was up on furlough. What a surprise it was to find it among my gifts! Other than just being an attractive sculpture, when the ball at the bottom is tugged and released, the bird begins a slow, graceful flapping that is utterly enchanting – very peaceful and rather addictive! I’m trying to figure out where he will be best hung now. The wingspan is rather wide, and he really argues with my somewhat Victorian decor. That’s not going to stop me from having him somewhere that I see him often, though. I just need to work on finding the perfect long term location – and that is NOT hanging from the ceiling fan chain! :))

Goals Post – Forward to 2010!

Perhaps this post should be titled “Living in Dreamland.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s unquestionably the most ambitious list of goals I’ve ever set out at the beginning of the year, and I’ve not ever completed my shorter lists, but my philosophy of goals remains that having a higher target means I hit more, even if I don’t complete them all. The most important factor for me is to remain realistic in that I remember it IS an overly ambitious list, and that anything I do accomplish is a victory; it’s not a defeat to not do all of it. These are goals to help me stay on track, not requirements that identify whether I’m a worthwhile person!

That said, here are my goals for 2010:

My online miniatures group is doing a goals based project, and we were asked to spell out five mini goals, so I will start with those:

  1. Finish the interior and/or exterior of Friendship Cabin, a Real Good Toys Adirondack Cabin that we started several years ago, but which has languished untouched since sometime before the beginning of 2009. Here’s the album where I chronicled our first days working on the project.
  2. Finish my Gail Wilson Hitty, which was started with enthusiasm during the online class, worked on for three nights, and now has the rest of the girls giving me โ€œthe lookโ€ for not getting their sister done. I have a little glitch in the painting, and since this is a challenging project for me anyway, the moment I encountered a problem, I put her away for a time when I could really feel relaxed. ‘Nuff said? :S
  3. Finish my Teresa Layman Cottage By the Sea project โ€“ actually barely started, and a massive project for someone who really doesnโ€™t like embroidery or French knots. This will be a rug for Friendship Cabin.
  4. Finish my Boat Sampler โ€“ stitched on silk gauze โ€“ lots to go on it, but most of the hardest part is completed. Like the Layman project, I started this on our last cruise. Unlike the Layman project, I loved working on this one, so I did quite a bit more of it. Also belongs in Friendship Cabin, and perhaps will be finished on another cruiseโ€ฆ
  5. Knit something tiny โ€“ size 4/0 needles or smaller โ€“ probably something for my future miniature yarn shop

Fiber Goals:

  1. See #5 in the miniatures
  2. Publish at least 4 knitting patterns – should actually be more than this, as I have 3 projects that just need the paperwork part of this goal in order to be ready. The paperwork is the hard part of course… I’m knitting my next shawl design right now, and I’ve promised another KAL for the spring, so I’m going to be busy with this!
  3. Finish my spinning wheel – I can’t believe this sat untouched for an entire year. Where on earth did the time go??? The staining is about half done, but it’s an involved project. Once that’s done, I need to finish and assemble it.
  4. Learn to use said wheel
  5. Knit a project from wool Iโ€™ve cleaned and spun, using a pattern Iโ€™ve designed – I have a bit of a jumpstart on this, as I’ve cleaned a goodly pile and picked some of it already.
  6. Stash all my yarn on Ravelry โ€“ yes, maybe Iโ€™ll get it completed this yearโ€ฆ – Starting with 550
  7. Get competent purling continental. I think I need to have a dedicated project for this… maybe a washcloth. ๐Ÿ™‚
  8. Make another 2 pairs of socks for myself (maybe Iโ€™ll get the next done before I wear holes in what I have?) This was one pair until a friend twisted my arm and said I should try for two โ€“ and one pair has to be top down, to boot! Bad thing here is that I also promised a pair to my daughter, so this means three pair this year, when I’ve never done more than one. Gulp!
  9. Finish at least 3 of the projects currently languishing in my WIP/UFO tubs โ€“ items started before July 1, 2009. This one will also be a challenge. I love the stuff in my UFO tub, even though it’s all pretty good at inducing guilt. I’ve found that designing really slows down the knitting, though, especially on other people’s patterns!

Other Creative Goals:

  1. Finish at least one of the remodeling projectsโ€ฆ sighโ€ฆ Acceptable candidates are the kitchen (which is in the impossible dream category), painting the door to my future studio (easy), or finishing the nook, laundry room, or my sewing room. Nook and laundry room both depend on hubby – most especially the nook – though I have a load of work to do in those two areas, too.
  2. Organize my computer photos, then print and label as I think necessary. I’m rereading this and laughing at the thought of actually getting it done, but…
  3. Spend at least a few minutes every week making music – LOVE doing this, but I’ve really ignored this part of my life for the last few years. Looking for a flute – like I need more instruments around here?
  4. Learn my new camera – for starters, needing to know why I can’t take a decent close up with a camera that cost this much!
  5. Make up a Gail Wilson kit โ€“ see mini goal #2
  6. Finish Reba – poor thing! Her sisters were finished in 2006 (pix in this album) but my teacher suddenly stopped classes with Reba just one firing away from being done. Every attempt I’ve made to get her fired since then has ended in failure. Need to get a kiln up and going here so I don’t have to depend on anyone else.
  7. Make a pair of socks on my CSM – This could be anything from amazingly easy to a terrible headache, based on things I’ve heard. First task is getting the new needles and such that I need.
  8. Probably crazy, but I joined a Navajo style weaving Yahoo group, and now I have the bug to weave something, even if itโ€™s small. I’m torn between tri-loom and Navajo style, but would adore trying both. One item is enough to qualify.
  9. Move one of my dolls from hospital patient status to display status โ€“ maybe Aaron, so he can show off his adorable knitted romper? He is on this page.

Personal Goals โ€“ and these tend to have a very familiar ring to them:

  1. End the year 25 pounds lighter than I started it. Why is this so hard?!
  2. Read 100 books
  3. End the year debt free โ€“ both money and promises made
  4. Go somewhere new โ€“ state or country. I have a life goal of visiting all 50 states and all 7 continents, and I need to keep at it if I’m going to succeed!
  5. Clean out one of my email accounts – frighteningly big project, but I’ve made a lot of progress already in the first two days of the year. It’s amazing how quickly this can fall behind again, though.
  6. I have a challenge with a friend to blog at least once each week
  7. Solidly memorize the scripture verses on my calendar
  8. Get the treadmill inside – Sounds like no big deal, but it’s going to need cleaned up, and the area where it belongs is packed solid with things that don’t belong where they are – which aren’t where they belong because their spots are filled with stuff that doesn’t belong where it is, which… well… you get the idea!

Running Away From Home

(As always, please excuse these stupid out of focus pictures. I’ve still not managed to get my camera problems resolved – too much going on! Also, at least as of this moment, I’m finding the photos to be showing up somewhat sporadically. If you see a big blank spot with the word “Atlanta” and a number, it means a picture is supposed to be there. Try clicking on the title of this post. For some reason, I’m seeing different photos when I do that.)

So, last week, on rather short notice, I ran away from home. A friend wrote in the middle of June, asking if I’d like to go to Atlanta for the UFDC Convention. I had next to no money, but I couldn’t resist the draw of some time away from home, so as crazy as the idea was, I said yes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I knew I could scratch together enough for my flight and my share of the room (which wasn’t inexpensive!), but past that, I would have to depend on peanut butter crackers, potential birthday money, and whatever sales I could stimulate in the few weeks before the trip. Happily, I came up with enough that I could eat one cheap meal out each day and have something to spend in the sales rooms, and a last minute addition of another roommate made it even a bit better. Still, I have to say that it was really tough being in such a fantastic sea of awesome dolls and accessories with so very little money, and there were a couple of wonderful dolls I lost out on because they were just a little beyond what I had in my pocket. But I didn’t come home empty handed –ย  and now that it’s a week after the event, I don’t even mind having eaten so much peanut butter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Hotels that look like this inside don’t come with cheap rooms…

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View out our window – see the capitol building?

Martine and Hitty Darlene went along with me, so they did a bit of looking around for treasures. Hitty D. found little in her price range that she liked, but she was quite pleased with the pretzel, which reminded her very much of the huge German pretzels one can purchase at Englischer Gartens in Munich.

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She really wished she had money to purchase the great bobbin lace pillow, but it was definitely out of her price range,

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and the horse was fun to ride, but she couldn’t imagine paying $200 for it!

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Martine, with some judicious bargaining and her sweet smile, brought home all sorts of goodies for her brothers and sisters, and a pair of Joyce Nicholsen’s espadrilles for herself. The little doll in the trunk is one of Alison Harwood’s fantastic creations. Jean-Paul apparently already ran off with his little wooden floor puzzle. Martine has promised to teach Gayelle to knit with the dress kit she bought for her. The purse is “so Malloree” that I chipped in a little bit of my money when Martine found herself a bit short at the end of the day.

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We also picked out a few pieces of fabric.

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And I bought a little something for my sewing room…

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I really had a strong desire to bring home a new doll this year, but on my budget, the only things I was finding I could afford were the mundane – which I really don’t need. I’m definitely sufficiently stocked with those. If money were no object (That will be the day!), this is the one doll I’d have had to have owned. She wasn’t the most expensive doll there by a long shot, but she’s the one who stole my heart most completely.

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This beautiful Kestner pink tint, covered wagon, china I thought was going to be mine. She wasn’t priced too badly, but still out of my range, but since it was the end of the last day of the show when I found her, I took the info and intended to contact the seller in a few weeks. However, I went back a half hour later and she was gone – sold. I embarrassed myself by crying. I’d so wanted her! However, she was $25 more than every penny I’d brought along, so…

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I did find someone to come home with me, though, and she’s a pretty little gal who is unlike anyone else I have, so a nice addition to the family. And I could actually afford to adopt her, which was a big plus. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She’s an ABG Dolly Madison china doll, from the early 1870’s, about 25″ tall. Clothes are not original, nor do they come remotely close to fitting her. In fact, they are so small that it’s going to be a trick getting the dress off of her. Her seller was a bit of a sourpuss, too, so she was more than happy to come home with me. I’m looking forward to having some time to dress her more appropriately, and I’m hoping I happen to have at least some underthings to fit her – though I’m not holding my breath on that count.

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On Friday, we went to the Atlanta History Center. We saw some wonderful stuff there, but sadly weren’t allowed to bring any of it home in pictures, making it hard to retain what we saw and learned during our visit. These are two of the period homes which we toured – the Swan House and the Tulley Smith Plantation, two totally different types of homes, and each utterly charming in its own way.

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And our trip through town netted me one of my favorite styles of city pix. ๐Ÿ™‚

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And in addition to the touring and shopping, there was all sorts of great fun, meeting a number of people I’d only known online until now, room parties, aching feet, and the pride of conquering the public transit system in Atlanta… All in all a very nice week!

Looking Forward; Looking Back

I think I’m officially the last person in the entire blogging world to do this, but it’s been percolating so long that I can’t quite bring myself to not do it. Besides, I feel like I need to, if only for myself, so here goes – my New Year’s Day post!

I never was real keen on making New Year’s resolutions, as it just seems like the perfect way to start off the year with a resounding dose of failure. Sometime around the end of January you eat that piece of turtle cheesecake, miss 3 consecutive days of exercising, or realize you are already a week behind in your read the Bible in a year program, and you promptly brand yourself a loser, throw hopeless hands up into the air, and say, “Maybe next year…” I just don’t need that sort of thing in my life. I’ve fought hard to get where I am emotionally, so I have no intent to shoot myself in the foot by setting myself up to 334 days of each year thinking uncharitably about myself. However, like most of the people I know, I do feel that fresh start excitement that comes with the scent of a January calendar page, and a couple years back, I came up with an idea that is working much better for me – New Year’s Goals.

New Year’s Goals have very few rules, though last year they did need a few more than they had. They have to actually be possible. I’m not allowed to beat myself up if I don’t accomplish them. They have to be well defined. Two of those three rules were added this year. Having goals instead of resolutions gives me an entire year to succeed, and they help focus my ecclectic brain on a little bit narrower range of possibilities. Another benefit is that it sets some things before me that I have heard myself say, “I always wanted to” so many times I’m sick of hearing it, but without a steady reminder, I find drifting out of my mind when I have the time.

Last year’s goals were not too many:

  • Knit a Pair of Socks – This one was accomplished with my Coriolis Socks, which I absolutely adore!
  • Master Lace Knitting – This goal would show you just how little I knew about lace knitting December a year ago. It’s also totally undefinable in reality. Just how does one know they’ve “mastered” lace knitting? Should have been “Become Very Comfortable Knitting Lace.” That I definitely accomplished.
  • Go Somewhere New – I didn’t think I was going to get this, but when I ended up with a nearly last minute trip to Honduras, which included a side trip through Guatemala into Belize, I found I’d accomplished it well beyond my original dream.
  • Read 100 Books – Somewhere around June, I added this, which has now been classed as an illegal move on New Year’s Goals. I didn’t succeed, but I might well have made it had I not read th e entire Outlander series. Books with 48 CD’s take a good bit longer to read than your run of the mill 6-10 CD offering.
  • Make a Gail Wilson Kit – Considering the collection I have of the kits, I thought it was time to put my money where my mouth is – or my hands where my money is, or some such thing. Thinking is as far as I got with this one. Oops!
  • Finish the Laundry Room Remodeling – Well… Perhaps this would have happened if my dear daughter hadn’t offered to help get the sewing room started, then hubby hadn’t suddenly revived his nook project and added allowing me a studio door. I was spread too thin with those four projects to complete even one of them, though I don’t regret the progress that was made on all.
  • Be out of Debt by the End of the Year – Total flop. ‘Nough said?

My list for 2009 is much longer and definitely more ambitious, but I’m doing some things differently, and I’m feeling quite positive about a lot of them. The biggest change is that this year, I’m not settling back in January and thinking that I have a whole year to do this stuff after all, so why rush? There have been a fair number of serendipitous occurrences to help me move in the right direction, too, so I’m off to a great start! I don’t really think I’ll be able to get them all done, but I’d sure like to surprise myself, and I’m not going to aim low!

  • Be Debt Free by the End of the Year – I hate having to have this goal. This also includes non-financial IOU’s. I’m going to have to have a miracle to pull this one off. I need to sell an awful lot of books if this is going to happen – and my knitting pattern needs to be a smashing success! I also have several projects, including a quilt to finish for this.
  • Get My Email Under Control – This is another one in the miracle category, but who knows?
  • Make a Gail Wilson Kit – Sound familiar? Serendipity is that Gail is currently running a Hitty class, I have the kit, and the fee wasn’t very high. I’m far behind the front runners, but I HAVE actually started my girl.
  • Finish Reba – The most attainable of the miracle class of goals. There is little to do for her to be complete, but it involves a kiln, learning to fire bisque, renewing my acquaintance with bisque painting, and getting up the nerve to put my beautiful, nearly done head in for a last firing.
  • Complete Sewing Room – Mid-range in terms of difficulty. I’ve done an awful lot in there, but I still have oodles of sorting and organizing, along with quite a bit of trim painting to do – like the bookcase and two casement windows. This isn’t a gimme!
  • Complete Laundry Room – Another mid-range sort of project. As much as is done in there, the floor tile is a bothersome, time consuming project, and I have some trim painting to do. Really challenging would be that I have to stop knitting long enough to crochet the curtains!
  • Lose 25 Pounds – This is going to be easier than I thought. I’m already half the way there!
  • Learn to Do Entrelac and Knit Backwards – I’m really looking forward to this one. I have the pattern and yarn to do Autumn, and a week or so back, I finally found a tutorial that made knitting backwards suddenly easy. I’m still slightly awkward at it, but a little bit of practice and it’s going to be second nature. Biggest challenge here is just to actually break away from the temptation of so many interesting KAL’s and do this piece.
  • Go Somewhere New – Looking very challenging at this point in time. I had two cruises planned for this year, both to new places,ย  both depending on other people, and both fell through already. So much for this goal being a gimme. All the states within decent driving distance I already have, and I don’t currently have any good set up for a low cost visit in a new state or country – and there ‘s that “out of debt” business… Stay tuned!
  • Become Comfortable Spinning – Easy? Well… First I have to finish building my wheel. Then all that remains is finding time!
  • Read 100 Books – I’m really cooking on this one already! I think I just listed book 15 – or was it 16?
  • Knit Another Pair of Socks – This is more desperation than goal. I adore my socks and I hate it when I have to take them off to wash them! I need more hand knit socks!!! This is a “just do it!” sort of project, and I’m sort of hoping that the SHP KAL is enough to jumpstart the process.
  • Stash All My Downstairs Yarn on Ravelry – This would be much easier if the stash would quit multiplying! That said, I’ve already been working hard on this. I’m currently at 244 in my regular stash, so ignoring minor fluctuations due to usage, it will be interesting to see where I am on Dec. 31.
  • Do a “Difficult” Lace Pattern – Challenge here is just focusing on doing it – ignoring some of the other rabbits dashing across my path constantly. It’s tough to do that with something like 7 shawls on myย  needles and two KAL’s imminent…
  • Do Something/Anything with my CSM – I’m not even aiming so high as a pair of socks at this point. I just want to sit down with someone and find out for sure my machine actually works! Socks would be a nice side benefit to the process, though. ;o) A circular sock machine is too valuable to just hold down the floor, in my opinion, and that’s all my lazy contraption has done for about 3 years now.

Now that I type this all out, I’m thinking it’s a very good thing I have a solid start on so much of it. This is quite a list!!! I think I’m going to make a separate page listing the goals in the sidebar here on the blog, then update as things happen…

And How is my Knitting Progressing?

So, I’ve not posted a knitting update since I’ve been home, but it doesn’t mean nothing has been happening. I did a fair bit of yarn play in Honduras, too, having somehow managed to wedge it in betweenย  mud removal and potato peeling.

I cast on a washcloth – the first that is just for me, rather than a class sample – while I was in Miami between flights. I knit on the plane; I knit standing in line at immigration, I knit on vans and buses traveling to and from Belize and on the drive to Pulhapanzak, where I finished it, promptly casting on a second one to see me home. I’m reasonably sure I was one of the few passengers on our plane who didn’t mind sitting on the tarmac for a half hour after landing while we waited for a gate. I chose washcloths for my travel project because they are small and portable, nearly brainless knitting that would be boring done at home sitting on the sofa, would cause little emotional trauma if lost, and could be very easily washed if soiled. Besides, I wanted to have some! I’ve been using KnitPicks Cotlin, and I’m spoiled rotten. They feel so marvelous and look great! I actually had someone ask to buy one that was still on the needles – they are that nice.

Once I got to the Children’s Home, I cast on my traveling lace project – a cashmere scarf with a simple enough pattern that I had it memorized in a couple minutes. However, it was lace, it was cashmere, and it was fun to watch it grow – until I got home and it wasn’t quite done and the tiny ball of yarn remaining started reproducing itself in the dark to become never-ending… Other than that little challenge, I’m loving this scarf! Pattern is by Arlene Graham and published in One Skein Wonders. Anyone who has spent much time in Arlene’s shop, Fiberworks, knows her passion for this pattern. When I was there yesterday, she was knitting it in a marvelous, vintage, brown, pure angora yarn, producing a scarf that I would have just stood and petted were it not for the boxes of new yarn calling out for me… Anyway, the scarf came home somewhere over three feet long, and I really want to finish it tonight – presuming I can knit faster than this gorgeous JoJoLand Cashmere reproduces.


Another thing I did in Honduras was a total accident – and will be hibernating a while, now that I’m at home. Hitty Darlene was, of course, my companion on the trip. She conned me into buying some crochet thread (It was only 5 Lempira per ball – about 25 cents.) and a hook at a little shop we visited a couple days after I got to Honduras, and next thing I knew, she had an entire outfit designed for me to make. I think this thread is a pearl cotton – or very close kin.


I got a good start on it, as my daughter and I holed up in our room in Belize and crocheted until lunch on our full day there, then both evenings until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. This outfit is going to be like a casserole – everything in one – skivvies, slip, skirt, and blouse. Here are the little tap pants, which I absolutely adore! hitty-tap-pants-blog

And with the slip added on…hitty-slip-blog

Thankfully, I ran out of time before I had to figure out how to make the blouse portion, but I did nearly finish the skirt, which isn’t photographed yet.

And my daughter made herself a little doily start to finish in Belize. It had an oddly tricky maneuver around the outside edge, and it took us a while to figure out what she was supposed to be doing, but as you can see, we finally got it. I’m proud of her for persevering despite her frustration, and the end project looks great.


She’s working bit by bit to make her room, which was formerly an examination room in the clinic, more homey. I took herย  a clock and matching picture frame, and you can see the doily under a candle sitting by the frame. She made the larger doily, too. marissa-arrangement-blog

My first order of business once home was to download the final clue for my Way of Life Shawl, and using the excuse of nursing my cold, I had it finished and bound off within just a few days. It looks wonderful – love it! Can’t wait to block it now, so I can see the full effect. I did pin out a portion just to see it, though that’s definitely only second best. (Remember that this was knit from the long side, so this shows it from cast on to bind off.) It’s been around my shoulders often enough unblocked that I know I love it, though. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure. I absolutely adore Dream in Color Baby yarn! I’m so glad I risked buying it sight unseen!


As soon as Way of Life graduated to the blocking pile, I started in earnest on my Rose Trellis by Tina/Yarnfeathers. This is such a gorgeous knit, and I’m loving it! I’m within a row of completing the second repeat section, which will be 45% done, but this photo was taken a few days ago.


Yarn is KnitPicks Shimmer in sherry. It has a lot of silk in it, and the only needles I had in the size I wanted to use happened to be their Options needles. I have to say that I should have waited and bought a Harmony in this size. The Options are quite slick, and I’m finding it to be somewhat stressful to keep the silk blend yarn under control on these needles. I won’t make this same mistake again! The pattern is super – just a little more challenging, IMO, than Way of Life because the rows aren’t as repetitious across. It’s definitely another winner of a project, though! Pattern is currently available for free at the Yarnfeather KAL Yahoo group. Tina also did up a beaded alternative.

Okay, for the moment, I think that gets my most active knitting up to date. I either need to stay home so I can do this more often or knit less… nah…

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