Can You Guess Now?

Mim is busy knitting away.  If you haven’t yet already guessed, she’s designing a sweater for Jon.  Why is it so huge, you say?  Did Mim have a ‘minor’ measuring catastrophe?  Well, no.  Mim is a knitter extraordinaire.  It’s actually going to be felted, which will make a super warm fabric for those breezy, on the wind days on the Riggin.  Mim’s done a couple of interesting posts on the process already….


This one’s about gauge related to boiled wool and how different yarn and different tension matter hugely when it comes to all things measuring.  Over the Rainbow Yarn.

Speaking of ‘on the Riggin,’ we have space left on both of our knitting cruises.  You should come!  We’d love to have you.  Do both even; it’s too hard to choose!  The dates are June 6 to 10 and/or June 23 to 25.  Book now and receive a 15% discount!  Click here for more details on either Maine Knitting Cruise.


A Schooner Halloween

Who better to be Rapunzel than a blonde-headed schooner girl with some extra manilla line just hanging around in the barn?  Rapunzel’s hair turned out to be quite a project and at the end we were ALL glad that our hair is as short as it is!

First we unlay the line all the way down the driveway and then as it began to rain, we transferred the operation in doors.  The braid ran the length of the house and then we needed to begin coiling to save on space.

My character, Rapunzel, was one of many on our school’s All Hallow’s Eve Walk through the woods.  I spent a relaxing two hours up in a tree raising and lowering my braid and doing a good job of not falling!  As any schooner girl who’s spent any time aloft should do.

Braiding the strands of manilla.

Ella and friend waiting for the braiding to be done.

Attaching it actually hurt a bit so I used the line like a head band and then attached it to my own braid with a scarf.

Super loooong.

Upcycled and Renewed – Second Life For the Couch

Grumpy didn’t begin to describe how I was coming to feel about our 15 year old couch.  My parents still have the couch they were gifted when they married and even more, the couches that were my grandparents.   Yup, re-upolstered, but still have them.  So when I looked at our couch, only 15 years old, piping beginning to show, fabric beginning to fray and the corners much maligned by our dear (grumble) cat, I didn’t like it.

Every morning when I wake up before the rest of the household to meander downstairs and enjoy my first cup of coffee to silence and the dark morning sky dawning to light, I sit right across from this couch.  I was grumpy.  Grumpy that the couch looked like this.  Grumpy that ‘things just aren’t made like they used to be.’  Grumpy that a new couch is $1,000 or more.

Then one morning, a glimmer of a different attitude that is so much more in keeping with my positive self emerged.  I like handmade things.  I like upcycled, recycled, repaired and repurposed things.  Why was I focusing on the things that I didn’t like instead of what I do like?

And so a new couch was born.  One that makes me happy every time I look at it.  Same couch.  Different attitude and much more like it, thank you very much!

This is what I did:


From our local Salvation Army, I found a wool coat in a color that I thought would go with our couch.


I then made a pattern for the arm rest out of newspaper.


Cut out the wool fabric.


Sewed it on by hand with a hidden stitch.  And the best news of all is that the cat doesn’t want to scratch on these repairs!

Back to happy again

Upcycled Project – Where Have You Seen This Fabric?

My sewing machine whirred away for a while this Christmas season in an attempt to give small, meaningful gifts from the heart rather than the pocket book.  These coasters were one such gift and I’ll be posting about others over the next few months.  For those who have sailed on the Riggin already, the striped fabric may look familiar.  I’m not going to tell you where it came from, you have to guess!  I will say that the fabric is upcycled.  And just as it jazzes me to create dinner out of what looks like “nothing to eat” in the fridge, it was just as fun to create something out of fabric I may have otherwise thrown away like last week’s leftovers.

sew your own coasters

To Make:

Fabric remnants in 1, 2 or 3 different matching fabric.
Thin quilt batting or ugly fabric that you don’t want to see.

Cut 4, 5 inch squares from fabric 1 (the back.)
Cut 4, 4 1/2 inch squares from batting or ugly fabric.
If you’d like for the front and back to be the same fabric, cut 8, 5 inch squares of the same fabric.
Cut 4, 2 3/4 x 5 inch rectangles the back fabric.
Cut 4, 2 3/4 x 2 3/4 inch rectangles of fabric 2.
Cut 4, 2 3/4 x 2 3/4 inch rectangles of fabric 3.

sew your own coasters

Sew the small squares of fabric 2 and 3 together first with a 1/4 inch seam allowance for all.
Sew the two squares to the 2 3/4 x 5 rectangles and press.
With wrong sides facing, leave a 2 inch opening, and sew the front and back pieces together around the outer edge.  Snip the corners.
Invert as you would to make a pillow and then insert the batting material.  This took some patience to smooth out the batting and not have wrinkles.
Fold the opened seam closed and top stitch at both a 1/4 inch and right on the edge.  I also added an x, but you could easily do circles or another free form design.

Frugal gifting – gotta love it!

Knitting Cruise – Creativity, Outdoor Travel, Learning – What more could a woman wish for?

Our knitting cruise on the J. & E. Riggin, taught this year by Bill Huntington, is from June 9-11, 2011.  Bill owns Hope Spinnery yarns and is a knitting wizard.  Last year when I boarded the boat after getting the girls off to school, Bill was surrounded by rosy-cheeked, vibrant women, all clamoring at once to tell me what they’d learned or show me what they’d knit.  A happier group I’ve yet to see – loud belly laughs and hands moving furiously were what occupied the galley after dinner that night.

Join us and share in the fun as we sail, knit and eat our way along the Maine Coast!  It’s the only trip in June that still has space and from now until June 1st we are offering a Buy One, Get One Half Off Special.  Call 800-869-0604 for more details.

If you can’t make this trip maybe our Sept. 5-10 knitting cruise with Maggie Radcliffe fits your schedule.

Hope we get to sail with you this summer

Quince and Company Yarn

I’ve fallen in love with Quince and Company Yarn, sold in their flagship store Knit Wit in Portland, Maine the Munjoy Hill neighborhood.  A friend and I were scheduled to have lunch one day at Duck Fat (just go and have the fries, oh, and a shake – heaven) and in she walks with this cowl that I HAD to own.  And what do you know?  It’s hand knit with Quince and Co. yarn.  And also what do you know?  The yarn is sold just around the corner, to which I hied myself after proper sustenance and bought my very own yarn.  When I got home, I promptly began making cowls with Quince and Co. pattern.  I was so excited about my first one that I couldn’t wait to weave the bitter ends in, I just tucked ’em up and wore it.  Oh, shhh.  I’ll weave them in eventually.

Maybe we could knit a cowl on one of our knitting cruises?  Hmm.  I need to think about this a little more….

Bamboo Yarn – Great Sock Pattern

My first pair of socks – that are actually both the same size – knit this summer on the Riggin in between stirring stew and rolling pie dough.  The bamboo yarn is yummy on my toesies and was really easy to work with.  My only question is should I have used thread to reinforce the heal.  I guess time will tell as I pad around the house in them this winter.  Dang those needles were small.

Hello yummy socks that I knit all by myself.

I know Maggie and Bill (our knitting cruise instructors) would be proud.

Alabama Chanin: Authentic, intentional, FUN!

The original impetus for traveling to Portland a couple of weeks ago was to attend an Alabama Chanin workshop.  I’ve saved the best for last.  Before I met her I admired the intentionality she brought to her clothing and her business, now I’m a fan.

I say often about sustainability, becoming an environmental leader and social responsibility – all catch phrases that are over- and mis-used now –  it’s not about the end result, it’s about the process, about the becoming, the mindfulness that you bring to the subject.  Every business is smarter about how to effect these changes within than any government entity could be and while I’m thankful that more companies have come into awareness about it’s waste streams and it’s procurement practices, there is still an authenticity that is, shall I say, lacking.

The Alabama Chanin company is true to it’s commitment to local, regional and authentic foodways, sourcing and production (if 25 women sewing by hand can be called ‘production’).  All of the fabric is locally sourced and sewn.  The garments are sewn by hand, keeping the traditions and the stories of that craft alive and vibrant.

During the workshop, Natalie said something that has stuck with me, as it should anyone who values authentic, original, unique experiences.  Someone commented on how much work the sewing was and said, “Now I know why your garments are so expensive!”  Natalie said gently in response, “No, now you know why they are worth so much.”

That was an ‘aha moment’ for me.  Our trips on the Riggin are the same:  how much is clean air worth?  How about a week’s worth of locally-sourced, hand made food?  What about wide open spaces, pristine scenery or the feel of the boat as she sails from one island to the next?

This is my project.  It’s one of four panels which will eventually become a skirt.  Two layers, one of gray and the other a patterned black, are sandwiched together and then hand stiched.  Eventually, I’ll cut the centers of the leaves out and the second layer of gray fabric will be visible.

We’d love to have you join us on the Riggin this summer for the real deal.

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Tree to People Ratio

To travel somewhere and experience differences and then to relish in coming home is a delicious feeling.  Last week, I traveled for five days with friends to Portland, Oregon, where the weather was so temperate, I didn’t even need the coat I’d left in my car in Portland, Maine.  I’m told by locals that it’s not typical, but at the same time, many of our dinners were spent in open, airy spaces where whole walls were thrown open to allow the dry, warm air to seep in through the interior spaces.

And even with all that fresh West Coast air, I stepped out of the car after a LOOOONG day of return travel to Maine and breathed deeper than I had in days.  It’s so FUN to travel.  AND it’s so good to love home.

The trip was full of firsts.  It’s the first time I’ve left my family for such a long time and the first time to Portland.  I love to travel, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually gone somewhere that didn’t involve visiting family.

As you might imagine, any trip outside of my own kitchen is food focused.  Outside of Maine and it’s ethnic food focused, as Maine has got to be the whitest state in the country and hence is somewhat bereft in the ethnic-food-of-any-sort department.

My friends are shoppers of the Olympic variety so our first day was spent wandering through shops in the Mississippi neighborhood exploring hand crafted clothing and design stores coexisting with a fabric store, home and garden design stores, all things paper and one antique car restoration shop who’s owner was kind enough to allow us to wander in to see his work.

A Plymouth wagon – all fixed up and waiting to be owned.

There is a certain rightness about all of these stores living side by side as they all have one thing in common – a respect and affinity for the art of the hand crafted.  It comes as no surprise that I fell in love with this area.  We made our way past the Rebuilding Center – a place which I’ve serendipitously recently researched only to find that it is a solo store (I was hoping for one in Maine) – to Porque No.  Our Mexican lunch, wrapped in hand made tortillas, was accompanied by my first, but hopefully not last, carrot, cucumber margarita.  It’s actually MUCH better tasting than it sounds.  Carrot, cucumber and honey juice combined with the already perfectly delicious Margarita drink they serve.

A window collage at the Rebuilding Center – Maine needs a store like this.  Oh, wait, we have them everywhere:  the local dump where hopefully more is dropped off than picked up.

Juice hanging out on the counter waiting to be slurped.

I bagged out of the second half of the planned shopping and Margarita drinking in favor of a massage, but not before purchasing a yard of fabric at Bolt to make napkins for the new kitchen, a sewing book by Amy Butler, In Stitches and a block of Himalayan salt from The Meadow.

Dolls at Bolt – reminding me so much of the Waldorf dolls I’ve made for the girls.

Back home – where the ratio of trees to people is higher

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Upcycling – Fingerless Mittens

It’s getting a little late in the season for fingerless mittens, but to round out the post that already ran about Chloe’s sweater, I thought I’d close the loop.  The previous post was about upcycling a felted sweater.  I cut the sleeves into three-quarter length and then had about 5 inches of cuff and lower sleeve to turn into fingerless mittens.

I cut a hole where I wanted the thumb to go and used a button to cinch in the wrist.  The design is needle felted by taking strands of wool, twisting them a little and then poking a barbed needle into it what seems like one million times.  It works best if you have something underneath such as a thick sponge.  Chloe discovered that a curry brush for a horse works well too.

Just to explain the photo a little, one hand is facing up, the other down so that you can see both sides.

With lots more ideas for those wool sweaters hanging out in the barn.

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