Sunday, December 31, 2006

Some new stuff

First of all...are you making Jim a pink and purple scarf? Will that match his coat? Or will this scarf end up being for you, who adore pinks and purples and fuzzy mohairs?

Next - knitting lace with kid mohair does sound exciting. I don't really have very much of that in my stash though - and what I do have is in odd balls. Anyway...

I have a lot to be excited about.

First, I walked to work this morning up this hill:

And I could do it because I was wearing Yak Trax.
These treads that I put on my shoes are going to radically change the amount of walking I can do. I went right up this ice approach to the bridge over the train tracks, and came down easily on my way home. I love my new Yak Trax.

Andddddd, Knit 'N Needle, where I like to hang out and knit had a sale. I bought some yarn to make a baby sweater for somebody and looked at a few things I'd been wanting but I had to go to work. So I got in the car and started it, and sat and thought. Then I decided NO, I should NOT spend all that money I have to go to Seattle, so I pulled out. And going down the block, I thought, but it will never be so cheap and books never go on sale, so I drove around the block. When I got in front of KNN again, I said, NO, I don't need any of those things and I can always get them another time if I really really need them, so I took off again and this time I got to the library where I had to work.
Fortunately for me, my coworker Skeeter is a knitter too. I came into work and started to set myself up. I was 15 minutes early. Of course I was already regretting not taking my last chance to buy. By the time I got off work, the store would be closed and the sale would be over. I mentioned this to Skeeter. HAH! Never expect another knitter to talk you out of buying yarn!
She said, "You have enough time, go get'em." I was at KNN in 2 minutes (well, it is a small town), and I got these

and this

and this:
Ten delicious skeins of Manos del Uruguay "handcrafted kettle dyed pure wool" that I've been adoring for awhile. Rebecca helped me and I was back at work in under 12 minutes.

Y'know, I never buy yarn like this. I wait until I have a project for it. But not this day. And of course, I came home and showed Ol' Bear what I had bought, and he decided to give me my seventh wedding anniversary gift right then. I'd looked it up last year, and the seventh anniversary is WOOL and COPPER. The present was a gift certificate to Knit 'N Needle for the amount of $50.01. Fifty dollars was for the wool, and one penny was for the copper.

Now, what am I going to get him?

Thursday, December 28, 2006

This week's projects

Well I got out the camera and took some pictures.
Jim's scarf is coming along slowly. The gauge is (I had to go measure) 5-1/2 st/inch. Not so bad. I think the kid mohair I am stranding with the wool helps a little bit. Right now I am stranding with a peach super kid mohair from my 1980's stash, it is called Neveda.
(I remember getting it from Depth of Field. The reason I had so many colors is I got it on closeout really cheap and I bought all they had left. Evidently no one wanted to knit with it back then. Have you done anything with the balls I gave you? It is so perfect for lace, and lace is so hot now. )
When I finish the first ball of Lana Grossa 'Merino 2000 Print Superfein' I will start stranding with the violet Rowan 'kidsilk spray'. Now that cost me $15.00 for the one ball! Then I will finish off with the peach strand again as I had two skeins of it. I might put in some stripes too as I think just a straight change of color might be too abrupt.

I have put aside the silk sweater for the time being. I have got it this far and the cables do NOT look like the pattern. Anyway I am working on Jim's scarf since I conned him into buying me yarn. Makes me feel a little guilty. Note to self: buy your own yarn dummy!

Also when I went home after we visited the outlet store for Needlework Unlimited I dug in my yarn stash and found some more brightly colored Zoom by Dale.
Remember how Karen said it would be good for felting? Well there is a huge tote at the NU store that is felted. I NEED to make that tote. So I got the pattern and then went back and (with my Zoom) found some wool that will blend it all together (I hope). It is labeled Kureyon but is pronounced Crayon. I think that is a great name for it cause it is colored like a box of crayons. By Noro. I have always liked his yarns. So that is my next project and will be my first felting. Felting was just starting to be popular when I quit knitting and it has always pulled at me.

Gosh isn't that gorgeous????
By the way I traded in my sock yarn for the Kureyon so I guess I won't be knitting socks yet.
PS I am dreaming about doing a scarf (in my superkid mohair) from the Victorian Lace today book. YUMMY! I have 13 skeins of it left. Four Misty pale green and four teal green and five ice blue......13 x $15.00 is HOW MUCH????? $195.00 I wish I knew how to make that blink.
I think I remember paying $2.00 for each skein way back when. Is this obsession with the cost of yarn a sign of my advanced age? No, I have decided it is a sign of expensive yarn!!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Mystery of the Missing Ball Winder

I would use the title "Nancy Drew's Mystery of the Missing Ball Winder," but there could be a copyright infringement. And besides, it's no mystery. You know very well that you gave me your old ball winder when you couldn't knit because of carpal tunnel problems. I've used it very happily these last ? years, while you made teddy bears and quilts instead. And I DID offer to return it, even though now it kind of clanks and the rod that keeps the tension likes to fall down occasionally. (That last sentence is a little victory - I spelled occasionally correctly.)
But anyway, I'm happy as can be to keep the little bugger, because I do use it when I don't have the time to wind by hand.
Christy left for a wedding in Billings today - a nice 7 to 8 hour drive in the snow. Of course, I'm trying not to worry. She's 22, intelligent, drives better than me (and willing to tell me so), but I'll worry until I hear from her. I soothed myself by packing her a lunch and givjng her money. This is how she looked as she left. That's her little half-sister Katie playing with the crutches. Katie slept over last night and entertained herself by building a spy headquarters in the closet under the stairs and writing messages with her really cool spy pen. I've gotta get one for myself! You write a message but you can't see it. Unless you have the really cool spy pen with the secret purple flashlight on the end that you shine on the message which then magically appears! I would have killed 007 for that when I was seven years old. Maybe I'll sleep in the Top Secret Spy Cave tonight....Mary Drew

P.S. I printed a picture of Mom and Dad to show everybody at our Christmas Brunch. It was a hit!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My 58th Birthday

Hi there Mary,

Well you are right on with your picture of our room. It is a little neater because we have only been here a few days and haven't had a chance to mess it up much. I have been busy working on Christmas dinner and other things. The main "other thing" was my birthday. Mom had a request for that day. She "wondered if I had anything planned" and when I didn't, she explained that now that she had her nice walker she could get about and would I drive her and Dad down to a Bring the Soldiers Home rally at the Uptown Library that afternoon

So I did.

Jim did the actual driving so we wouldn't have to find a place to park the car. Here is a picture that was published on a website covering the rally.
Here is a link to it. When I went to the site I used a link on the right that talked about the rally on December 23rd.

The protest was for an hour. Mom got a lot of attention with that sign. Dad didn't ask for one but I might make him one anyway. Mom already asked for another one for when she sits on her walker to rest.
After we went to the co-op and then we came home and had birthday cake from Wuollet's bakery. YUM. Later that night we went to Dulono's for pizza and bluegrass and the Middle Spunk Creek Boys were playing. They sang Happy Birthday to me as if they were a tone deaf family. It was wonderfully horrible. Great Memories.

YARN RELATED POST COMING......Jim gave me a gift certificate for ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS to Needlework Unlimited. I have already spent it. I got myself a ball winder. (Mine is missing) and a book called Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. I may actually start lace knitting. My sister inspires me with her shawls. I also got a pattern for a large felted bag and an issue of Knitters. No actual yarn, but then I have some.

I think since this is turning into a family as well as knitting blog I will send Jeni an invitation. She might not post but I think she might like to read it.



Hey Nancy,
So this is where I'm picturing you right now, in the old front bedroom. I took this picture when I visited Mom & Dad last April.
Sorry I've been so out of touch, but I overbooked for the holidays. How insane. I've worked 5 days for the library and one day cooking at the Buffalo for the last two weeks, taking care of a friend's two dogs, and another friend's vehicle while she's away (she stashed it with me when she left on Amtrak for Seattle.) Also tried to get some shopping in with Christy, and make some stockings for my friends. Argh! But there, I'm not going to complain anymore, because I did it to myself. I'm going to make sure I never do it again! I haven't gotten any good knitting in for over two weeks now, and not much time for it in the next week. I'll send a picture of how Christy's mitten/gloves are coming as soon as I do the last kitchener stitch on the first m/g which is done.
Tonight: Fondue at the Blankenships. Tomorrow: brunch at our house. Everybody's gonna help out so that will be all right. Love to you and all the family in Mpls from all of us in Montana. Mary

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Made it Home

OK now,
We got home yesterday and put up the computer today. Dad didn't change his password so we connected to the internet easily. Now while putting up the computer I had to move this plastic tub that was FULL of Needlework Unlimited Receipts. At first it looked like 7 of them! But a closer look revealed that two were from other, non knitting, stores. And then I saw that two were charge duplicates of the store receipt. So you really only had three seperate receipts.
I guess you were really pretty good about your shopping while you were here.
Jim said he forgot his scarf back in Clifford and I said he could choose and buy some yarn and I would knit him another one. It made me feel really happy.
I think I will do a k2p2 repeat. Just a simple scarf and it should lay flat. Yummy.
Well gotta go take Dad to the Co-op.
PS, No snow yet!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Almost done packing

Hi there Mary,
I was reading the new Winter Knitty and was fascinated by the vintage knitting article. So I went to HER blog. She is having a contest to guess the date of some old knitting patterns by their photos. So I put down my guesses. Her blog is at
There are a lot of entries and there are prizes!!! I really should go back to packing. I think we are going tomorrow. I called the 'rents and told them we were anyway so we must be.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Not packing

Hi Mary,

I am supposed to be thinking about packing for the move to Minneapolis but all I have been doing is going through my yarn stash and trying to decide what to take with me. I have a little pile containing two of the yarn stash boxes and two bags and one mesh box that I can cram a ton of stuff into. And that's all unless you count the box with all the knitting needles, books, magazines and other knitting paraphanalia.

Box 1-Dale Zoom for felting and Noro Renge, cotton in a purple and blue 2ply.
Box 2-Christian de Falbe-Chicago. Partly knitted into something. I will pull it out this winter I think.
Box 3- THE mohair- hand dyed Colinette
Box 4- Pink on a cone started a lace patt. Don't like it anymore. I stopped on row 41. Even after 15 years it is hard to rip. Maybe I will put it on a string and start the new pattern I really like.
Box 5- One almost done sweater front and back. No sleeves. Also Rown DK Tweed in purple, 9 balls, and a Chelsea silk tweed blend in a neutral taupe tweed and some companion colors that match the tweed flecks. Enough for a sweater.
Box 6- Half of a vest with a lot of yarns blended in to make the colors. It is worked in the round with a zipper up the front.
Oh and the two bags of current knitting. One the white silk vest that is up to the second cable row and the other is alpaca in jewel tones for the caps I love to make. They are so fast and easy. They are good movie and tv knitting.
So I have been feeling guilty. No packing, no cleaning. Just playing with my yarn. Oh and taking pictures of it for this blog. This all takes time.
So I thought I would go through my files and clean them out and what did I discover. The files from my Knitter's Days camps. Wow!. I found my double knit gloves pattern from Sidna Farley's Knitting Camp in Colorado. And a wonderful lace pattern that someone sent me that is MUCH nicer than the pink one I started. Maybe I will put that on a string and start the other one. Hmmmm.
BTW, are you interested in my double knit mitten pattern? I played with it one day and can copy it onto a post if you are interested. It sounds difficult but it is dead easy. SOOOooooooo
I suppose I better go put the wet laundry in the dryer and put in another load. That is my work for today. Stay well.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

messin' with yer post

Hi Nancy,
I put some links in your post - to Faye's and to Operation Migration. I promise not to mess with your posts ever again.
ON the other hand, I love that black and white quilt. How can I win it? Is it on the Operation Migration website? l, md

It's Not Knitting

Yeah, I know this is a knitting blog but hey! Until a month ago I had to be a quilter to get my creative fix. Now that I have had carpal tunnel surgery on both hands I am trying to get back into the knitting flow, but I have some unfinished quilting stuff to work on.
Tuesday I took my blocks from a class last March (at the Sampler Quilt shop in Chanhassan MN) and stitched them together on a wonderful batik starry background. Then I quilted it myself with ribbons flowing around the blocks. It looked sort of Star Trekkie so I named it "resistance is futile".

It is really supposed to be a sample for the class Maxine Rosenthal will be teaching up at Faye's Henhouse Quilts in Mayville, North Dakota in April 2007. She will be doing her Kaleidoscope Watercolor class there too. A picture of both quilts is attached.
The black and white one is all crane fabric and next September I will be donating it to Operation Migration as a raffle quilt at the Necedah Crane Festival. I miss it already.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Hitting the Holiday Wall

Dear Nancy,
The knitting has been tossed aside (several times - there are piles of it on the couch, the dining room table, and an end table) as I hit the wall cunningly disguised as "The Holidays." Much as I decry the commercialization of something I don't even believe in, I always end up right here at this time of year - wanting to give presents to everybody that's ever been nice to me at the bank, the credit union, the stores, and restaurants. Then there's the gift exchanges...and nieces and nephews who, after all deserve to have a gift, even though I have no idea what to get them. All of a sudden there's a lot to do that requires time, creativity, and money. The results of this mad scramble end up in the best space to hide disorganized clutter: my so-called "Yarn Room" So the Yarn Room is merely a tangible manifestation of my mind. And I promise I will clean it up but I keep getting distracted by important things such as this:

I need labels for my petrified food collection. I only have one for the petrified peanut butter and jelly sandwich, circa 1942. I need one for my petrified beef stew meat, petrified apple core, and petrified unknown masticated food remnant. Possibly once stuck in the throat of someone who eats too fast and doesn't chew enough. Let this be a lesson to you! Love you, Mary

Sunday, December 10, 2006

That first sweater

How did we get our gauge to match you ask? Well Mary, from the first few inches you knit I was amazed and jealous! You immediately had perfect tension and all your stitches were even. It was disgusting that a first time knitters work was more even than mine.
I bet if you get out that sweater today you will see the difference in the two arms. The one that has loose and tight stitches wiggling around and not looking smooth is mine. The other one is yours. (Maybe the yarn smoothed out with washing)

Of course I did make you do a gauge swatch and if I remember correctly you used the exact needles suggested for the yarn and I (as usual) used a size smaller to get the correct gauge. Even after all these years I still am a loose knitter.

That pattern was in a 1986 Vogue Knitting and was redone in their 10th Anniversary magazine in 1991. I found part of that pattern I had started for myself in one of my yarn boxes recently. Still unfinished. I haven't decided whether to pull it apart or knit on. Probably should start over as my size has changed over the years.

Here is a picture of Christy with the sweater. I always was proud of it.

Learning to knit

The year was 1988. The pattern was Vogue. The yarn was NatureSpun. 

Learning to Knit
And the hair was big, wasn't it?
Nancy (left) taught me, Mary (right), how to knit by teaching me knit, purl, increase and cast on and bind off. I knit one sleeve of the sweater while Nancy knit the rest. Then she showed me how to sew the pieces together. I knit the neckline (twice) in the truck on the way home to Montana. My then 4-year-old daughter was the recipient. I still have this sweater stashed in a dresser drawer. I still love it.
One question someone asked - how did you get the gauge to match? How did we get the gauge to match, Nancy? I never thought of this before. Love, Mary

double knitting

Hmmm. Mittens....I wasn't thinking of it, but I do remember doing double knit mittens on two needles. It was sort of fun. I actually taught it at Ram Wools a lifetime ago. I wonder if I remember???I was looking in my vintage books and found two pattern books of socks. So I am going to check them out for pattern ideas. Also I went to Schoolhouse Press which is Meg Swanson's business (do I need to say she is the daughter of Elizabeth Zimmerman?). I bought some sport weight wool which is supposed to be good for socks. OHOH. Just what I need, more yarn. I also bought another sock book too.I told Jim he could give it to me for my Christmas present. He doesn't have many of those and he has to do my birthday too so he is in trouble.I better bring my double knitting book to Minneapolis. The pile is getting larger.



OK Knitting Camp in 2008. That is a good goal. Maybe you should talk to "your" store about hosting a camp. I did find my written instructions for the double knit mittens. But they were written back when a paper and pencil were the way to go. So I will have to copy them onto the computer and see if I can tell what the heck I was doing. They are really simple. If I remember the thumb correctly it is put in just the way you were describing on your mittens. Hey yes, I was thinking we needed to start our blog. How do we do that???

I spent some time this afternoon checking out my Beverly Royce double-knitting instructions. I think I could do the mittens with no problem with my personal notes and her instructions.
The instructions are in a paper 3 ring folder and look to be copied typewritten pages. My how things have changed. I wonder if she ever had that information printed more professionally. I guess I will have to google her.
It is dated 1981 but I am pretty sure I got them at Sidna Farley's Colorado Knitting Camp in the early 90's. I remember we did gloves once. I wonder what happened to those gloves????

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Mary writes...
Speaking of mittens, check out what I'm making Christy for Christmas: You might recognize them from their first incarnation as the cover pattern on the summer issue of Knitty the Canadian knitting 'zine. But I didn't like them as fingerless gloves (even though I adapted the picot bind off to a scarf I knit last fall). So I knit the second one and made it into gloves with the cut off fingers. But I didn't like that either so...Christy loves her big mushy tweedy mitten/gloves and I thought I'd make her a pair. So I unraveled and off I went. Thus, the picked-up stitches on the back of the hand. These are interesting in the way the thumb is made - no gusset, just knit the first 7 stitches of a round onto some waste yarn, then knit them over again with the working yarn. Later, you take the waste yarn out and pick up the stitches around the hole you just made. Verrrry interesting and has implications for other holey stuff...hmmm. Which reminds me - check out a blog called Stitchy McYarnpants and see the hilarious holey yarn stuff on there. Also interesting in that it's a 4 by 1 rib, and stretches enough that I didn't need increases from the wrist to the hand. I'll send a pic when I get them done.
Love you,
Mary writes...
I LOVE it cabled. Hilarious! I just emailed you a picture of the glove/mittens I'm making Christy. I think we should just get a blog on Blogger and keep a running journal. I love that yarn. What is it again? Is it a silk. Very Sheen- y...lustrous. Ok, I HAVE to go to bed now. l, m

Nancy replies...
I just went and dug the yarn out of my bag and the label says it is Tamara by E'lite Speacialty Yarns, Inc. It is 34 % Cultivated silk, 33% Kid Mohair and 33% Merino wool. It is very soft and just slightly fuzzy. I do seem to be attracted to fuzzy yarn. I am sure it will pill like crazy over time as the spin is very light but yum it is nice to touch.
I can't remember when or where I got it. But that is the mystery of the yarn boxes.
I pulled out one box and it had handspun in it. I found a receipt from the Twin Cities Carding Mill and signed by Donna and James Wells. It was dated October 24, 1987. I remember having them on one of the yarn tours for MN Knitting camp. The receipt says I paid 72 dollars ($3.00/oz.) for 24 oz of mostly natural brown handspun. It is knitted up into a vest that never got finished. I really like the yarn although I have no idea what I want to do with it now.
Look at the funny cap with ear flaps and a tie underneath and the gigantic tassel on the top. Man I wasted alot of yarn on that. Alice likes it even better than the sweater.
Dear Mary,
I am wondering if I could have your sock pattern?

Mary says...

Wellll, it's not one sock pattern. I kind of used 2 or 3 sock patterns. One I bought at NU, and then one that the Knit 'N Needle's owner, Aimee, put out. Then I also used Priscilla Gibson-Roberts "Plain and Fancy Socks" book.

I just decided to do the ribbing all the way down the instep on my own. Basically, what I did was this: cast on and do 2x2 rib all the way down to the heel, did a round heel as described in Mary Thomas' knitting book p 218 (forgot, I used that book too), then continued the ribbing on the top of the sock until the toe - which I did according to Aimee's instruction sheet on "5-needle socks."

Finished with kitchener stitch. And that's all.

I didn't change needle sizes, I don't think. I find Priscilla WAY too technical. She needs a technical writer to translate all her engineerese.So...good luck with that. If you want more detailed instructions, I'll fax or scan or something to you.

Good luck,


Nancy replies...

Well you know I went on the web and found some directions. Not a pattern. And I think with you all and my Mary Thomas book too I will be able to concoct something.

I finished a UFO hat tonight. YEA!!!. First finished project in many years. '

The hat is just a basic Penny Straker cap that I started many years ago. It is a wonderful soft thick purple merino wool with some magenta alpaca added in a couple of rows and a mohair blend added elsewhere for color speckles. I haven't put a pompom on it yet. Maybe I won't.


ribbing and ripping

So I was being good to my hand and just reading my knitting books and I came upon Elizabeth Zimmerman. Now Elizabeth is the one who really got me started, and as I reread her Knitters Almanac I realized that I had forgotten one of the most important things about knitting.
I don't NEED a pattern.
All I have to do is make a swatch and measure what I am knitting or my foot or my hand or someone else or whatever...and knit! Using the EPS or any other system or my own mind for that matter.
I didn't remember that.

All these years of Quilting with Patterns had done something to my mind. It had forgotten that it could make it's own pattern. Sheesh.
I wonder what I will remember next?
Now I have to start the white silk vest over. I wanted to put in cabled ribbing anyway. I don't like the twisted rib at all. Cabeled ribbing will be MUCH better. ;-)


So can you rip out with one hand? I myself like cabled ribbing, but the one I remember doing LOOKED like cables; the one in your pattern didn't. And the bad thing for me about changing the pattern is just what you are doing: changing my mind in the middle.

I think that's why I have trouble finishing projects. But all that is in the past now. I am determined to finish projects. Which is why I am leaving for the knitting store with Brian's sweater. Although that's not what I want to finish for Christmas! Blather. Can't wait until your hand heals and you are knitting stuff, but...take it easy!!!
love ya, Mary


Of course I can rip with one hand. Sheesh. I can probably rip with my teeth. Laughing. However I found a half finished hat and am working on that.

I am so proud of you.I will not tell you any of the things I did with my hand. You are right about your imagination however ONE of the things involved all my knitting books. Enclosed is a picture that I took of Jim modeling a stocking cap I designed for Joe Koski many years ago. Maybe 20! God I am getting old. Cute picture though.



Mary's Socks

mary's socks
The secret was that I was going shopping for yarn. I wouldn't necessarily have told Brian that. But after all, our seventh anniversary is coming up, and that's WOOL or copper. Yes, WOOL, I say. Last year on our anniversary we bought a map case for $1400. So this year, heh heh heh, guess what? I think Brian can get a penny (copper) and put it on top of his map case. But I'm getting WOOL.
Ok the picture. I put it into attachments this time, so you can see my loverly socks. Now I'm going to go knit on them.
Love you, Mary

Just finishing my first pair of socks for, do my toes always look that weird or is it the picture?Anyway, Lana Grosse (or something like that) yarn I bought at Needlework Unlimited (Minneapolis)(hereafter to be known as NU). I cannot wait to wear them when we go shopping AT THE YARN OUTLET!(here I notice that my lips are stretched in a teeth-gritting grimace of manic joy - ok, relax now Mary - ok - ok, breathe - ok. Ok? Yep. Can't wait to finish the socks. mdp