Quince and Company Yarn

Quince and CompQuince and Company - Cullin Cowl made with Puffinany - Cullin Cowl
Quince and Company – Cullin Cowl made with Puffin

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 – Puffin.  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.

socks knit with bamboo yarn
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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Knit-a-Thon Nears Completion!

Last weekend over 40 of us gathered together with sewing needles and yarn to sew 141 knitted squares into blankets.  It was a short two and a half weeks from first knitted square to blankets (except for Iris, who began knitting squares when she heard the words “knit-a-thon”).  You go, girl!

Many, but not all, of the squares were knit on board the Riggin this summer, with donated Hope Spinnery yarn, with the express purpose of sewing them into blankets to be given away.  And then in the world of no coincidences, viola, enter the Knit-a-Thon in support of Ashwood Waldorf SchoolAnd it’s not too late to pledge and be entered for the J. & E. Riggin Knitting Cruise trip for two raffle.  Tomorrow’s the last day!

The blankets are beautiful and will go to New Hope for Women to hopeful embrace a woman or child who is in dear need of some tenderness and warmth.  I’m so grateful to live within this terrific community.

More pics on Facebook.

Trying to figure out how to get all of these gorgeous, but unusual-sized, square to fit together!  Good job ladies!

Modern day quilting bee…


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Upcycling a Sweater – Ella’s Homemade Gift

Lest you think I am not a 100% fair and equitable mom, I post here the sweater I made for Ella’s birthday. Hers started with a browse through Salvy’s. I spotted the sweater from across two isles knowing it was the perfect color for my more finicky daughter and practically lunged for it. I may have elbowed someone out of the way. I hope not, but my memory is somewhat fuzzy due to a small adrenaline rush.

I’ve knitted several sweaters and pairs of socks for both girls. Chloe wears them, Ella stores them. Hers are too itchy, too tight, too big, not the right color, too little girlish, etc. I continue to make things for her because I want her to be “wrapped in mama love,” as we call it whether she wears the clothes or not, and I’m secretly hoping to impart a little flexibility into that oh, so determined mind.  I have, however, pared down the time it takes for me to execute her projects. While I’d just found the perfect color of yarn with which to knit a sweater, I, understandably, was loathe to spend hours on something she may or may not really like in the end.

This sweater was a women’s small cardigan with the usual button up the front from bottom to top. WAY too big for Ella, but by moving the buttons and making the sweater double breasted, it worked. The back was the best place to “cinch it up,” hence the shoulder to bottom seams.  The sleeve width needed adjusting too, but that was a simple one.  I then embroidered the vertical PEACE and peace symbol. Turns out, she loves this one. Score a point or two for the mama person!

Having a good mama day

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Needle Felted Upcycled Sweater – Shhhh… It’s a Secret

This sweater is for Chloe’s birthday, so I’m trusting you all to not tell her about it.  I just know she’s going to love it and I really couldn’t wait to share it with someone.

Several years ago I began collecting wool sweaters from Salvation Army and garage sales hoping to make a felted wool quilt.  For a number of technical reasons, I couldn’t get the pieces to come together neatly, so I let that go and the sweaters sat in the barn.  Until last week.  When I had this great idea to re-purpose all of these sweaters into up-cycled clothing.  (Okay, the spell checker is saying that ‘repurposed’ and ‘upcycled’ should be hyphenated.  I’m not so sure as I think they are now real words, but I’m going to hedge my bets and write them both ways.  Ha.)

This sweater was a woman’s medium before I felted it, so it should fit Chloe pretty well.  I cut off the cuffs because the sleeves would have been too long and now it’s a three-quarter sweater and I have the cuffs which will become fingerless mittens.  I then needle felted the tourquoise wool in the designs you see here.

Feelin’ crafty

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