Each day I like to wear something hand made. Most of the time it’s something knitted, but every once in a while a sewn item creeps in to my wardrobe as well. There’s something deeply satisfying about moving through the day with something created by and/or for yourself. Something primal? Perhaps. Or maybe I don’t need to wax on about it, but instead need to say that I just truly enjoy it. You get it, right?
My second shawl was Silverleaf by Lisa Hannes made with Madelinetosh Pashmina in Glazed Pecan. It’s yummy. I need not say more. The yarn color is actually discontinued, I’m told, and it came to me by way of a fortuitous trade with a guest (on a knitting cruise of course) who knew my color wheel exactly.
I commit one of the seven deadly sins every June on one of our knitting cruises. We have a wonderful guest who comes with delicious knitted shawls and every year I COVET what she’s wearing. She wraps herself in gorgeous colors and luscious yarn and I want every. single. piece she’s created.
This means I have two choices. Surreptitiously sneak a shawl here or there into my cabin. (I mean, she probably wouldn’t miss it, right?) Or get busy.
So, I did the honorable thing (humph) and got busy. My first shawl was this one, called Authenticity, by Sylvia McFadden, who, it turns out is one of my favorite designers. It’s made with Cascade 220 Superwash Yarn in Doeskin Heather, which they have at Halcyon Yarn (our schooner pop-up store partners). I started using this yarn on a sweater which, turns out, no matter what I did, I reeeally disliked. The whole thing just looked like a sack on me and even strategizing with Mim, one of our fabulous knitting cruise instructors, did nothing to improve the level of flattery. I ripped it out and set the yarn aside in the closet for the emotion of intense dislike to drift away. Time truly does do wonders because when it came time to get busy with making my own delicious shawls, enough time had lapsed, and I came to love this yarn again.
If you read last Friday’s post, then you know that somewhere in there, Chloe had to have a handmade knit item from me as well. Don’t worry, fair is fair, and hers came in the middle of the two sets of socks knit for Ella.
Chloe’s hat, called the Baa-ble Hat because it has the most adorable sheep on it, was made with Quince and Co yarn purchased at our LYS, Over the Rainbow Yarn. Mim Bird, proprietor and knitter extraordinaire, is also the instructor of our June 8-11, Sheep to Shawl Maine Knitting Cruise, where we’ll get to see yarn from beginning to end. Beginning at Bittersweet Heritage Farm, we’ll see sheep shorn (That was fun to write!). We’ll then gather back at the Riggin for 4 days of spinning with Heather Kinne of Highland Handmades and knitting with Mim of the above-mentioned Over the Rainbow Yarn.
Back to the hat at hand, this super fun pattern was made with Quince and Co colors – Birds Egg; Split Pea; and Bark. (The white we already had on hand.) The pattern calls for the sheep feet and noses to be black, but we found that color to be way too stark with the rest of the palette. Even though the pattern is actually, at times, a four-color pattern, I found it to be really easy and approachable.
As every good mama should, I alternate between making something for one and then the other. This project is one for Ella and one that was a joy to do – in part because she chose carefully – the pattern, the yarn, and the size – which meant that she was happy with the end result.
It’s been a while since I’ve made things for the girls as there was a long time when anything I made was too itchy, too big, too small, too something. So there my loving, homemade, hard work would sit. In the drawer. Eventually to be out grown. So I stopped making things for the girls. Until one day last summer, Ella ASKED me to make some socks for her. I did so with a little trepidation, but also with a good measure of letting-it-go. I told myself that making a gift is not about how someone receives it (although it sure does help) but that instead it’s about the person doing the making. How it’s made, the care you give it, the thoughts while you create with fiber. This is what I told myself and mostly it worked.
These are the first pair of socks after a long, gift-making hiatus. Made with sock yarn purchased at Over the Rainbow Yarn, our LYS and also sponsor/instructor of our June 8-11, Sheep to Shawl, Maine Knitting Cruise. Go Mim!
This next gift was made with Berroco Vintage DK, Black Current #2182. I adjusted the Purl Soho Stirrup Sock Pattern to accommodate the yarn and Ella’s thinner-than-adult legs. I knit really loosely, so typically I have to go down 2 needle sizes to get the correct gauge. Knitting with size 2 needles, I cast on 68 stitches rather than the 96 the pattern calls for. I then adjusted accordingly, wrote down what I did (key to success here, right?), and did the same on the other sock. Just wove the ends in yesterday! Wahoo!
We are sailing away to knit and laugh together and you should come! Heather Kinne of Highland Handmades and I already got a good start on the laughing part when we filmed The Fiberista Files podcast together recently.
We begin with a sheep shearing and skirting demonstration at Bittersweet Heritage Farm and wind up back at the Riggin for dinner at anchor. Heather from Highland Handmades will also be joining the trip to lead a spinning demonstration where you’ll be able to spin your own fiber (roving and combtop provided) on a drop spindle. Mim Bird will be with us as well to help assess the yarn we’ve created and figure out how and what to knit with it.
Your yarn and your project will be individual… and as relaxing or as type-A as you’d like. This is a pretty special trip and all of the details are on the Riggin site.
Now that we are home and have all of our crafting tools at our disposal, the sewing machine has come out and the knitting needles have slowed (not stopped, just slowed). Of course there are tons of clothing items that one can make with re-purposed wool and wool sweaters, some of which I’ve shared in the form of fingerless mittens, cowl, and felt-decorated sweaters. Last week I came home from a school event and shared with Chloe the idea of a snappy wool skirt a student was wearing over leggings – cool boots too, of course. As I worked my way through the crowd and closer to the skirt (the student I mean), I realized that it was actually the bottom of a felted sweater inverted so that the hem or lower cuff of the sweater had become the waist band of the skirt.
The next morning Chloe comes down wearing one of two skirts that used to be wool sweaters hanging out in the crafting pile ready and waiting to become something. The second was prepped for a short spin under the sewing machine.
Directions for How to Make a Skirt from a Wool Sweater Felt the sweater so that the fibers connect and the ends don’t fray by washing in hot and rinsing in cold water. Stop the washing machine occasionally and check to be sure that you aren’t felting it more than you want. The fabric will just become thicker and thicker with changes in temperature and agitation so slower is better. When the fabric of the wool is the thickness that you’d like, spin it to wring out most of the moisture and then hang or lay flat to dry. Sometime I’ll roll an item between two bath towels and then press or even step on the roll to squeeze out any excess moisture.
To determine the length of the skirt, measure vertically from where it will ride – waist, belly button or below belly button – to where you’d like for it to end – knee, thigh, mid-thigh. There is no hemming necessary with this project, so therefore no need to adjust the measurement for hemline material.
When dry, lay the sweater out on a cutting board. With a yard stick or measuring tape, measure from the bottom of the sweater (waist of the skirt) to the hem of the skirt. Make a horizontal, straight cut across. Note: If the wool is the washable sort, then a quick zigzag stitch along the hemline takes care of any unraveling that might occur. It also can add a design element if you use a contrasting thread color.
On a sunny day in June, our Maine Knitting Cruise crowd took to the island armed with indigo dye and yarn. The process was magical, beautiful, creative, and a complete blast.
Below is the best of the process start to finish. Ending with the yarn hanging over the wood stove for a final dry. Of course the day wouldn’t have been complete without an all you can eat Maine lobster bake too!
The trip began with a visit to the Swan’s Island Company north of where the Riggin is docked. Jackie Ottino Graf, the resident dye-master and social media maven of the company, took us through the dyeing process, handed out complementary patterns with yarn, and shared her extensive knowledge.
The next day found us in the Rockland yarn shop, Over the Rainbow Yarn, owned by Mim Bird, resident knitting instructor extraordinaire, for last minute items and extra yarn (because who doesn’t need EXTRA yarn)? We left the dock shortly after for our 4-day adventure armed with more yarn than we could possible knit in as many days.
Our first day had us romping across the bay to feisty winds and feistier seas with a promise of sunnier days to come. Mim started everyone off with information on how to knit with multi-colored yarn, the difference between a tonal yarn and variegated yarn, plus many more tidbits and facts.
As with any knitting retreat, some dug right in to their project and managed to knit furiously, finishing on the last night. Others meandered their way through the day, working on the official project some and their pet projects as well.
I’ll post photos of the actual dyeing process next, because that cool event deserves it’s own post.
My hands are blue (from indigo), but my spirit is sunny
P.S. When you go to the Swan’s Island Company website, check out what schooner is the setting for some of the photos! And,yes, the model and the yarn are pretty too.
P.P.S. Our next two knitting cruises are June 19 to 22 and August 31 to September 5. You should come!