Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mr. Whipple would hate me

After the smashing success of the felted box (which DH says is the envy of the golf locker room), my husband made a request for a scarf. I happily trotted down to the LYS and began squeezing all the yarn on the pretext that I didn't want anything that would irritate my hubby's neck. Fortunately, the long-suffering ladies at Modern Yarn understand my obssession with the feel of the yarn.

Since the project is for my DH and since nothing is too good for him, I indulged in 100% Mongolian cashmere. (I had earned a 10% discount so that helped ease the price pain a little.) It's imported by the wonderfully named Jade Sapphire Exotic Fibres of Nyack, NY. Here's a closeup which I hope conveys some of the exquisitely delicious softness of the yarn.

When no one's in the room with me, I find myself cuddling the balls against my cheek.

I chose the "Campus" pattern from my favorite book ScarfStyle for several reasons:

1) It's lo-o-o-ng (one of DH's requirements for the ideal scarf);
2) It's masculine;
3) It has a fun but easy pattern, almost a rhythm;
4) It's reversible.

The book describes it thus: In this modern unisex scarf, Fiona Ellis (the pattern's creator) combines symmetry and asymmetry, textured stitch pattern, and colorwork.

I toned down the "colorwork" a bit, using three colors instead of six in order to keep it predominantly black. However, the "plaid" knit-and-purl stitch pattern makes even the dark sections look interesting (in person anyway--my photography isn't up to the task of capturing the texture).

Here's my question for the day: if you could pick any yarn in the world to knit with (and price was irrelevant in this perfect world of my imagination), what would it be?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Kim's Cat Chubby
Originally uploaded by

***GUEST PET: Meet Kim's cat Chubby: "This is our other cat. (Actually, our first cat chronologically speaking!) Chubby has claimed my DD as its person . . . sleeps with her, waits for her to come home from school, etc. We got Chubby from a farmer friend. She was the runt of her litter. We didn't want to take her for fear she would die and our two little ones (2 and 5 yrs old at the time) would be heartbroken. But my daughter insisted. And she insisted the little might of a thing be called "Chubby." Well, she's now the sole survivor from her litter and 10 years old. I'm not sure she's chubby, but she IS pudgy! And has plenty of 'cat'titude!"

I think Chubby's ready for the cover of Vogue . . . (or Cat Fancy, at the very least!)***

Life has been chaotic around here to say the least. I hope your lives are calmer, quieter, and a whole lot easier to navigate. We did manage a great Thanksgiving with lots of turkey, lots of movies, and lots of knitting.

In fact, I may have overdone it on the knitting front. I made (and felted) 4 bowls. Worked up a pair of Knitty's Fetching wristers. I-corded and felted the first of the two Perfect Pouches I had ready to go. (Pictures in the very near future.)

Unfortunately almost everything I worked on was 100% wool and once again I was reminded of exactly how much my skin despises wool. I am still paying for my folly. My skin developed a raging case of hives from head to foot. My left eye swelled shut. My mouth swelled on the right side only. (I sounded like a gangster.) My hands itched until I was ready to go clean out of my mind. I finally got smart (talk about a "duh" moment) and took an antishistamine and got it under some semblance of control but it was awful. So much for believing I can cure this with mind over matter. No dice.

I'm not so sure how I feel about the Knitty Fetching pattern. It was easy enough to knit but there's something I just don't care for and I can't quite put my finger on it. The picot bind off? Maybe. I hated working the thumb. I don't know why I invariably have trouble with anything involving waste yarn but once again I found myself without stitches where I should have them and with stitches where I shouldn't. There's clearly some crucial understanding of this very simple process that's eluding me and it's driving me crazy. I mean, how simple is this: Knit the first 7 stitches onto waste yarn. Return them to the left needle. Knit stitches with working yarn and continue in pattern. Later on you go back and remove the waste yarn, sliding seven upper stitches and six lower stitches onto your needles then knitting four rounds. How hard is this? Well, for me, it's plenty hard. I removed the waste yarn and was instantly plunged into the darkness of a hellish tangle of goofy-looking loops and mindless ripples that should have been stitches but wheren't. <-- See that? What kind of word is "wheren't"? Maybe it's time to activate Ye Olde Spellcheck.

Anyone have any suggestions or explanations for me? I'm lost here in ugly-thumb land!

GET FELTED: Denise's felted bear

Denise's felted bear
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Denise says: "Get Felted month is almost gone and I had no time to complete any of my felting project so I am cheating and posting a needlefelted polar bear. It's felted...just skipped the knitting part :-)"

And I say, Please tell us more about needle felting!!

Great, great job!

GET FELTED Prize Winner!

GET FELTED prize package from Jean - 11/22
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Congratulations to Kirstin!

Kirstin is our latest GET FELTED prize winner and will receive three gorgeous skeins of Noro Kureyon #40 and a pattern for an adorble mitered bag from the gorgeous and adorable Jean Brashear (!

And don't forget: GET FELTED continues through the end of the year. More fun! More prizes!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Experimental felting

Growing up, I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents and various aunts and uncles of that generation. All began their adult lives and married in the shadow of the Great Depression, and the frugal habits acquired then set the tone for their lives. Each had their odd frugal quirks. Grandma saved and reused string, even the short pieces tied around the daily newspaper. Aunt Ann tossed every scrap of leftovers into the soup pot in the fridge for 'weekend soup.' And when you visited on the weekend, you ate weekend soup whether it happened to be a good combination of ingredients or not.

My cousins and I swore we'd never be like them. We'd be reasonable and moderate. We'd be normal. And yet none of us escaped that early influence. Each of us has admitted to some secret, odd quirk of frugality. This month, I added another quirk to my own list.

Moths got into a box of my handspun yarn. I was heartbroken when I discovered this tragedy. So much time and effort went into that yarn, and it was beautiful. I had big plans for warm, nubby sweaters, and now the yarn was useless. Or was it? Was it all too badly damaged or could some of it be retrieved? I took a long, hard look at the damage, thought about the problem for a while, and came up with a plan that I could live with.

The two skeins that are too badly damaged now reside in a plastic bag in my box of garden seeds so I'll remember in the spring to put that yarn out where the birds can swipe it for their nests. Two more skeins became a felting experiment. I unwound the skeins and began winding the yarn into a ball, tying broken strands and knotting weak points to make a continuous, bumpy yarn. Then I started knitting.

I used the Fishermen's Wet Mittens pattern from Fox & Geese & Fences by Robin Hansen. Traditionally, these mittens are knit to be about a third bigger than the hand. Then they're boiled or soaked in hot water and allowed to shrink. They're worn wet while working out on the boat in winter, and they continue to matt and shrink with use. The tight, thick fabric has surprising insulating qualities and is reputed to keep the hands warm even when dragging wet traps out of the frigid bay. I'll not be spending any time out on the water this winter, but no doubt I'll be carrying plenty of water buckets here at the farm. So warm-when-wet is an appealing trait.

My mittens knit up larger than recommended, though they're felting down nicely. Because they were knit from damaged yarn, I was particularly careful with the felting process. I did actually boil them in a pot on the stove, periodically stirring with a metal spoon for gentle agitation to help the fibers matt. When I'd had enough of that, I dumped them into a metal colander to drain. After they'd cooled enough to handle, I examined them and decided the shrinkage and felting that had occured at that point had strengthened the fabric. I tossed the mittens into the dryer with a couple of towels for a while. Then again with the next load of laundry from the washer. At the end of that load, they'd shrunk into a tight, thick fabric with the occasional nub where the yarn was knotted together. They have a nice, rustic look, but are still bigger than I'd like. Granted, there's room for me to wear a pair of work gloves underneath them, which can be a very good thing in certain circumstances. I'd like to see if they'll shrink a bit more though, so I wet them with hot water again, and they're tumbling in the dryer now with a load of jeans. I'll post pictures when they're finally finished.

It's been an interesting experiment. I've plans for a felted hat from the remainder of the damaged yarn. And I'm inordinately pleased at having found a practical use for yarn that otherwise would have been wasted. My grandmother would have been so proud.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

GET FELTED: Sharon's Girls in clogs

Sharon says, "Happy feet, happy girls."

I say, "Adorable clogs, adorable kids!"

GET FELTED: Sharon's Felted clogs 2

Felted clogs 2
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Sharon says, "My first felting project for November! Emma picked blue, Kate picked green. They love them."

Who can blame them? Those clogs are fantastic!

SOCK HOP: Dennis' socks from Sharon

Dennis' socks 1
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Sharon says, "My husband's socks - 2x2 rib in STR Blue Brick Wall."

What a great colorway, Sharon!

SOCK HOP: Sharon's Stepping Out Socks

Stepping Out
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Sharon says, "I hope it's not too late to post my finished sock pictures! Here's the Baby Cable Rib for myself."

Well worth waiting for, Sharon! They're gorgeous.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The List

No, not the New York Times bestsellers or the USA Today Top 100 or any of those book-related lists. Nor is it my endless to-do list.

This is the list of things I’m grateful for that have to do with knitting. I’ll keep it short because I’m hoping you’ll add to it either on Thanksgiving Day (after the sleep-inducing effects of the turkey’s L-tryptophan have worn off) or in the days after.

1. I’m grateful for the colors of Noro Kureyon—all of them.
2. I owe a debt of thanks to whatever genius invented entrelac.

3. I’m thankful that the Sock Hop is nothing more than a terrible memory.
4. I adore Addi Turbo circular needles.
5. I’m delighted that my local yarn store encourages me to fondle any skein of yarn I’m interested in.
6. I’m crazy about my felted box which I would never have made if it weren’t for “Get Felted” month.

7. I am always and forever grateful to Barbara Bretton for organizing this fabulous group of authors into a really fun blog.
8. Most of all, I’m thankful for the entire community of this blog, the knitters, readers, and writers who share a passion for the same things I do, and for a lot of different things that I get to learn about.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Now, everybody join in: what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


***GUEST PET: I'm afraid this whole Guest Pet thing has given me a raging case of Puppy Love and Elizabeth H's Whipper isn't helping any.

Here's what Elizabeth H has to say about her: "Here's a picture of my Minature Dachshund - Whipper. She got her name because her tail constantly whips back and forth. Sometimes even while she sleeps.Elizabeth H. in Culpeper, VA, USA. Visit my website at

My furs are not in storage,
nor lying on the bed,
They're dancing 'round my feet,
waiting to be fed. "

Which, in my most unhumble opinion, is as it should be. ***

I think I'm ready for serious analysis. My bizarre knitting behavior has grown even more . . . well, bizarre. I now have two Perfect Pouches waiting for I-cord and felting. I started a pair of Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran wristwarmers from this summer's Knitty pattern. I'm about to launch myself into one of Nancy's fab boxes (okay, so they're Mason-Dixon's fab boxes but in my heart they'll always belong to our Nancy) and am scouring the Internet for a bowl pattern. Oh yeah, and what about the washclothes I am suddenly on fire to make?

You see, shopping can be a dangerous thing for a knitter. I spent some time in a Blue Mercury store Monday evening and walked out with gorgeous soaps the likes of which I have never seen in my life. I wish we had smell-o-vision on our computes so you could breathe in Lemon Sugar from or the incredible freesia. (Funny thing about freesia. I will always associate it with our first spring in this house--I'm lying on the sofa on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The windows are wide open. The french doors are wide open. The lilacs at the family room window were in full scented bloom and on the table in front of me was a huge bouquet of yellow freesia that Goldisox had given me for no particular reason. (Isn't that the best reason of all to give flowers?) Anyway, the breeze carried the scent of lilacs into the room and the scent of lilacs mingled with the gloriously fresh scent of freesia and I swear to you I was downright high on springtime in New Jersey. Add to that the fact that I was reading LaVyrle Spencer's The Gamble and had already been transported back to another time and place.

I remember it all of one piece. The sun, the flowers, the breeze, the book. All wonderful. All just memory now.

I also remember the time my best friend and I decided to start a Friday KnitNight just for the two of us. (This was about 1985 or so.) She'd had a lousy day at work. I was having a lousy time with the book I was writing. We made ourselves a pitcher of pina coladas (hey, it was the 80s) and settled down with our knitting. Unfortunately neither one of us was or is a big drinker and before we were halfway through the pitcher we were sprawled in a tangle of cheap yarn and dented needles, alternately laughing and crying about the big fat mess our professional lives were in . . . and the fact that knitting and rum really don't go together as well as they should.

GET FELTED - Winner #2!!

Knitters, we have a winner! Camry60 will receive those gorgeous goodies courtesy of our Nancy Herkness.

Congratulations, Camry60! Enjoy!

Now don't despair. Just because you didn't win this week doesn't mean you won't win next week. Hang around. There are still plenty of chances to take home a prize.

I return you now to your regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I've finally finished my first flap purse. It's made from leftover yarns from, oh, a couple dozen projects. Now I've decided not to felt it because I like it just the way it is.

Do you ever do that - start a project with one idea in mind and then change your mind once it's finished?

GET FELTED: Monica's Pink and Brown Felted Bag

Pink and Brown Felted Bag
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

It's almost two a.m. We just got home. I decided to drink some tea and check email before I crash and what do I see but this truly spectacular bag! Now all I want to do is knit.

Monica gives us the details: "This a bag I knit for my youngest daughter. I designed this bag based on the ballband dish cloth pattern. It is knit in Cascade 220. The strap is knit in double knitting and is very durable."

Visit Monica at

Monday, November 20, 2006


Colorful Marinated Vegetables

5 Cups zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 Cup carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 Cup thinly sliced onion, separated into rings
1/2 Cup coarsely chopped red pepper
1/4 Cup V-8 juice
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon snipped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon from a little jar of minced garlic)
1 teaspoon Splenda
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon salt

Steam the zucchini, carrots, onion and pepper until tender-crisp. Drain, put in pretty serving bowl. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over veggies. Toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least four hours, stirring occasionally.

Guaranteed to brighten up your holiday table!

Copyright Fran Baker

GET FELTED: black bag by Kim

black bag by Kim
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

I don't have time to tell you about Kim's gorgeous bag. I'm too busy lusting after it.

Kim says, "Using up stash odds and ends. I like how this turned out--I can carry it with any color! Used up some black Cascade 220 and some colorful find from the Dollar Tree. It's my new favorite bag!"

Visit Kim (aka kshotz) at


*** GUEST PETS: We have Cate Fitt to thank for those delightful costumed canines: "Dogwood (Scottish Deerhound), Moose (Whippet) & Oscar (Scottish Deerhound) in bug costume."

I guess now I can admit that I used to dress my dog in doll clothes when I was in my early teens. Poor Suzi was a toy poodle puppy with a marked penchant for couture and a soft spot for her crazy companion who liked to photograph her in baby bonnets and ruffled diapers. Was I doing my Queens version of William Wegman and Man Ray before they even started? It would be nice to think so but the likely truth is just that I might have been temporarily insane. I found some of the photos but so far don't have the courage to post them. (Or maybe I'm saving your sensibilities. You don't really need to see proof, do you?)

Cate, your outfits are theatrical and beautiful. Bravo to the stalwart, handsome dogs who wear them so well!***

I don't know why it is, but lately every new knitting project requires at least three false starts. I wound together two balls of an earthy black/mahogany/caramel/light gold 6 ply sock yarn that I thought would make great spirals for a friend. I tried 48 stitches on #2US. It was stiff enough to use as a backdrop at a batting cage. I tried 48 stitches on #3US. Way too big. I moved down to 40 stitches on #3US. I liked it, didn't love it, but was quickly tiring of the project and decided to move forward. I made it through 4" of cuff, saw a dropped stitch, discovered it was one strand of a two-strand dropped stitch, got disgusted, frogged the project then started again. This time I made it past the 4" of cuff, through 2" of leg, found another one-strand dropped stitch, got even more disgusted, then frogged the whole thing again. Today I cast on 40 stitches on #3US in a plain old cuff-down K2P2 rib sock and so far, so good.

I don't know why I'm so stubborn. I'm still determined to finish the stinking red spiral socks and now can add the black/mahogany/caramel/light gold 6 ply to my finish-or-die list. Where are the fun projects? Why can't I let go? God knows I had no trouble ditching the sickening Lucy Liu in Berroco Zen last summer. (Okay, so I finished the entire back before I was able to admit how much I detested the yarn, the pattern, everything about it, but I did ditch it forever.) (I also discovered that I despise knitting with ribbon yarn.) I'm not sure if this is a good personality trait or a sign that there's something deeply wrong with me but I have the bit (knitting needle?) between my teeth and I'm going to finish these projects or die trying.

Either that or I'm off to find a therapist who understands knitters . . .

Saturday, November 18, 2006

GET FELTED: Elizabeth's felted hat

felted hat
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

"I used Lion Brand Wool, doubled. I'm planning to add felted flowers. More pictures on my blog.


Great job, Elizabeth. I'm heading to your blog right now . . .

Friday, November 17, 2006


***GUEST PET: Catmum tells us about Brutus: "Oh which one of the three furkids to choose? There will be trouble when they see this, that's for sure. I'll pick Brutus, mancat closest to my heart. Nearly feral and abandoned by his owners when he chose Sean, he slimmed down from 25 pounds to current good weight of about 16 when he realized he didn't have to wolf down all the food before the raccoons got it.

He's a champion gopher hunter, but afraid of socks on the floor. He had a bluejay as a friend a couple years ago, seriously, we called him Newman, he would show up at dawn on our balcony and call for Brutus, who would jump down off the bed and go out the cat door, and the two of them would walk together down the cat ramp, along the fence, across the street together, and go hang out in the grass in the neighbors' yard. This went on for several weeks, until Newman found a girlfriend. We have film and photos!

He and the other furkids, as well as knitting and tango and life are featured on my blog, he is featured in today's post: 2006/10/household-guardian-brutus_116205821168908683.html "

Now that's a face!***

Some days are just better than others.

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of Anne Stuart's company over a Chinese lunch in Princeton and I have to tell you it is great fun to get out and about with smart, funny, fun to be with women who happen to be brilliant writers.

The conversation covered family, friends, work, heartbreak, bluegrass, The Beatles, Freddie and the Dreamers, Richard Thompson, Bob Dylan (I still haven't recovered from that particular story), and our mutual appreciation for Chris Curtis, The Searchers' drummer.

You should've been there. Really. I can't even remember what I had for lunch. The conversation was that good.

After we said goodbye I wandered into the LYS (conveniently located four doors away from the restaurant) and didn't leave for two hours. I was greeted by Misha the Dog who instantly captured my heart and (I have to admit) my credit card. Who says all knitters are cat people? At my LYS dogs rule.

Imagine a grey rainy windy day. Imagine it's starting to get dark outside. Imagine you're tucked away in a cozy yarn shop with a playful pooch and a fascinating knitter, surrounded by cubbyholes filled with beautiful yarn and FOs and knitting magazines. I bought Lamb's Pride, a stack of magazines, a pattern for a felted bag, and left my heart with Misha.

I needed to step away from real life yesterday. Quite frankly I was getting tired of living with the dead. Gearing up for the court battle is wearing me out. Yesterday I got to forget all about it.

Great lunch. Great conversation. Great yarn shop. Great dog.

Great day.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


***GUEST PET: Malvina tells us, "This is Tess, my gorgeous dark tortoiseshell cat. She's lying on the bed in the photo (of course), but she often pulls out DH's sweaty sports clothes from the wash and rolls around on them, for all the world like a dog rolling joyously in something noxious. Makes us laugh every time. She begs for and then tries to bury her food; the floor around her plates gets a thorough scraping as she determinedly 'buries' it after she's finished eating every day. Maybe she thinks she's a dog? She's probably the most gorgeous cat I've ever owned, and she's heading for 13 years old."

I think Tess looks like royalty.

I have a soft spot for tortoiseshell cats. The very first cat my husband and I ever rescued (and found a happy home for) was a beautiful six month old tortie who had been tossed out of a car on Sunrise Highway one Labor Day weekend. Hamptons vacationers had a nasty habit of adopting cute little kittens at the end of spring, enjoying their company all summer at the beach, then dumping them on the highway when they returned to their city lives.

We were able to give quite a few of them happier endings than their original owners intended.***

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


***GUEST PET: That's a baby Hyacinthine Macaw napping on a bed of shredded newspaper. I've used that photo as my wallpaper for years. I am a sucker for baby parrots.***

But that's not why you're here today. You want to know who won the Grand Prize in our GET FELTED contest.

Without further ado:


As always, our winner was drawn by random number generator. I'll be shipping Kenyetta's prize package off this week with my very best wishes. (Can't wait to see what you create with your goodies, Kenyetta!) (I think your daughters may have a few suggestions.)

Next week we'll do another random number drawing for Nancy Herkness's prize package so make sure you check back on Wednesday November 22nd and see if you're the lucky winner.

Now back to felting . . .

<--Nancy's gorgeous Noro Kureyon prize package

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Here are my finished felted slippers. Very warm and cozy, and I love how they shaped to fit my feet exactly. (Sorry, I forgot to take a 'before' picture. I finished them late at night and was too anxious to get them into the washing machine.) I felted them in a front-loading washing machine with a squirt of dishwashing liquid and a pair of my husband's jeans. They did great. Dried them stuffed with plastic bags.

Note the pom-poms. These are attached with safety pins so I can remove them for washing the slippers. Though the slippers were attractive enough without the pom-poms, my love of embellishment demanded an extra touch.

I am a person who loves embellishments -- pom-poms, tassles, ribbon, lace. I've been known to remove plain bone buttons from a blouse to replace them with fancy pewter buttons. When I make jewelry I use fancy clasps even on the necklaces, even though no one can see the clasps beneath my hair. I know they're there.

This love of fancy stuff does get me into trouble at times. Rather than knit a plain pair of socks, I must have cables. Complicated patterns. Anything that is guaranteed to take more time than I ever imagined. Right now I'm making a quilt that is composed of seemingly hundreds of tiny pieces of fabric. I'm beginning to think I will never finish piecing this thing. Always in the midst of a project like this I think "Why did I ever decide to do something so complicated?"

Hmmmm -- come to think of it, I often moan like that in the middle of books as well.

I think people are either into embellishments or they are not. My mother was a plain person who delighted in simplicity and elegance. She didn't like anything 'fussy.' While I recognize the value of restraint I definitely did not inherit my mother's love of the plain. Given a choice between the elegant, understated package and the one with shiny paper and a fancy bow, I'll go with the fancy bow every time.

And wear pom-poms on my slippers.

GET FELTED: Before and After from Phyllis

GET FELTED: Before and After from Phyllis
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Phyllis made this great sling bag from a pattern available in Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. Phyllis tells us, "The tiny white lines that you see on the bag are from the dental floss I used to hold the second opening closed during felting."

Visit Phyllis at

GET FELTED: Mobieass from Phyllis

GET FELTED: Mobieass from Phyllis
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

More great work from Phyllis: ". . . one of my fav felted objects. It's the Mobieass or Fanny Basket from Cat Bordhi's Second Treasury of Magical Knitting."

Visit Phyllis at


***GUEST PET: Laura Phillips tells us: "Bebe, a working farmcollie, prefers to nap in a dirt hollow by the henhouse where she's close to her responsibilities. She's just over a year old now and is adept at herding poultry, protecting against predators, and providing'interesting' gifts for the entertainment of family and friends. Last spring she learned about snapping turtles. This summer she and the other dogs perfected their armadillo eviction skills. Her most endearing role, though, is that of caretaker. I've seen her shelter a wandering hen beneath her belly to protect her from gang rape by a band of bachelor roosters. She mothers visiting puppies, watches over mama hens and their broods, and keeps the geese from bullying the ducks. She plays a pretty good game of 'mystick', too. "

Please visit Laura's website and make sure you check out her fascinating farm blog. Be prepared for some truly beautiful photos.***

If you haven't entered our contest yet, you still have time. Tomorrow's the day we announce our Grand Prize winner so make sure you stop by.

And remember that's only the beginning. Each week until the end of the year we'll pick another lucky knitter to receive a felt-ish goodie from one of our Romancing The Yarn bloggers.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Full 'er Up!

That’s my box, all fulled up!

Well, actually the first photo shows it empty.

Now it’s being useful…

And here it is being decorative…

And that’s the last I’ll see of it because it’s going off to my husband’s golf locker to hold the stuff he empties out of his pockets while he plays.

I took a little bit of everyone’s advice about the fulling:

1) I zipped it in a pillow cover, as per Dallas;
2) I put a teaspoon of detergent in, as per Fran;
3) I threw in a couple of pairs of jeans, as per Dallas;
4) I ran it through the wash cycle twice, as per Jean;
5) I let it spin (because I’m very lazy), as per Kshotz;
6) I shaped it with rolled up washcloths, as per Mason Dixon Knitting. (Since it was their pattern, I thought I should take some of their advice.)

It takes a village to complete one of my fulling projects and I’m so grateful for all of your excellent suggestions. I think it looks pretty good for a first attempt. And it works!


***GUEST PET: Meet Finley. We're related by marriage. (He just might be the cutest member of the family.)***

Today I found out that my Chippewa great-grandmother's hair was still black when she died. She was 85.

So why did I start seeing white streaks when I was 26?

The Perfect Pouch is ready to be seamed and I-corded. I made 3" of progress on those stinking red spirals. I knitted a few swatches. I wound two balls of sock yarn into one double-stranded ball.

The Cashmerino Aran I ordered arrived just as my handwarmer jones departed. Go figure.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

GET FELTED - Kenyetta's hat prefelt

Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Kenyetta tells us, "I had to switch patterns, felt 3 times but we finally got it to work. I may run it through one more time."

Stay tuned . . .

(Visit Kenyetta at

GET FELTED - Kenyetta's wonderful hat

Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Kenyetta's adorable hat.
Kenyetta's adorable daughter(s.) (See next post.)

And see what's happening at

GET FELTED - Kenyetta's wonderful hat

Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Kenyetta tells us, ". . . both of my girls wanted to model."

We're glad they did, Kenyetta!

Remember to visit Kenyetta's website at

GET FELTED - Amanda's Christmas Stocking pre-felting

oct06 099
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Amanda Tinney of Athens, GA used a Knitting at Knoon pattern and Galway yarn to make this wonderful Christmas stocking.

She says, "This is my very first felting ('fulling') project. It was finished early November 2006. Before it was completely dry, it was entered into our local yarn shop's Christmas Stocking contest where it now hangs for the month of November."

Good on you, Amanda!

GET FELTED - Amanda's Christmas Stocking post-felting

oct06 106
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Great job, Amanda! If you have a blog, let us know so we can visit.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

GET FELTED: Litlte Felted Bag by Monica

Litlte Felted Bag by Monica
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Monica -- -- continues to amaze us.

"I just finished this little bag. I designed it. It is knit in Kraemer Yarns, "Mauch Chunky" in the Spearmint color and Crystal Palace Little Flowers held with it in the center and in the handles. A little picot hem gives the top a scalloped look."


***GUEST PET: Okay, I have to be honest about this. Cathy Gillen Thacker is a very close friend of mine but that isn't why I read her wonderful books . . . or why you should read her wonderful books too. She also has a terrific website and if you haven't discovered Cathy yet, it's a great place to start.

See that gorgeous blond bombshell over there? That's Regan Thacker, at age 9, surveying her backyard kingdom.

I'll let Cathy tell you more.

"When our previous golden retriever, Max, died suddenly at age 13, of a stroke, my husband and I were heartbroken. Max was a part of the family.He had helped us bring up the kids, and (happily) stayed after the last one had left for college, the year before. We had known for about four months that Max was sick and did not have long to live--and we had tried to prepare ourselves for what was coming as we kept him as comfortable as possible.

The one thing we were in firm agreement on was that there would be no more pets. The kids were gone, we didn't have time to devote to a pet, this was it for us. Then it happened and we were beside ourselves with grief. The house was so quiet. Too quiet.

By the end of the weekend, I was secretly checking out the ads in the paper. My husband was doing the same thing. Finally, I confronted him, and he admitted he had been "just looking" at the pet ads, he knew our agreement. I told him I wanted a dog. Was I crazy...? If so, I had company.

Anyway, I started making calls, and before the end ofthe day had located a new litter of goldens through our local AKC chapter. We went to see them, and were smitten. I'd like to say, as we visited the puppies over the next seven weeks, that we picked Regan, but the truth was ,she picked us. She was the one who was so shy she couldn't come out from behind the skirt on a chair, the one who was smart enough to figure out how to get to her mother when her mother leaped over a log too tall for her to jump. (She went around, and led the other litter mates in a merry chase.) She was the one who every time we visited somehow ended up on our laps. She was the runt of the litter. She was sweet and shy and afraid of practically everything. And we love her dearly.

She hangs out in my office while I write, takes road trips with us, and watches over the grandkids. Here's a photo of her, surveying her backyard, at age 9...."***

I cast on for a Perfect Pouch and am two rows away from binding off. Next stop: attached I-cord edging and straps. Have I mentioned lately how much I love Noro Kureyon? The color changes are literally mind-altering. I swear to you I zone out when I knit with Kureyon. If you could read my mind when I'm knitting with it you'd hear things like, "Ooooh, I love turquoise . . . look! look! . . . here comes the purple . . . is that fuchsia up ahead . . . come on emerald green . . . don't be shy. . . "

Hey, it's better than searching for the marital records of your late (100 year old) grandfather or trying to explain why your late 84 year old uncle never married and never had children. (Could it be because his father married enough for everyone?) (Could it be because most of the family thought he was gay?) I mean, how do you prove a negative? Not doing something doesn't leave footprints. Not doing something is transparent. My uncle lived with us for most of my childhood. He stayed with us for most of my teens. He was part of my life into my early 50s. And he never once mentioned a woman (or a man, for that matter), received a personal phone call, or introduced us to a friend.

He had an IQ above 160, understood things on a level most of us can't comprehend and had no patience with mere mortals who couldn't grasp what he was trying to convey. (Ever tried to learn to bowl or play chess at the hand of a genius master of the game who was profoundly deaf and highly impatient? Not a happy experience for a 9 year old who loved gutterballs and leading with her knight.)

What does this have to do with knitting? I'm not exactly sure except that my uncle would probably have been good at it. He would have loved the mathematical principles at work beneath the surface and definitely would have loved EZ's theories. Uncle Budd, after all, was the guy who bought 1000 sparkly green plastic straws, spilled them across my mother's kitchen table, then turned them into a six foot wide three-dimensional Christmas chandelier one long ago December weekend. There's no way I can explain the wonder of that to a judge. There's no way I can thank my uncle for bringing magic into my life.

My much-married grandfather Loren McNutt also found time to put his old sailor skills to work designing and making beautiful bags that I cherish. He was in his 80s when he created this one.

Friday, November 10, 2006

GET FELTED: finished boxfot from Elizabeth

finished boxfot.
Originally uploaded by sockhoppers.

Elizabeth invites you to visit her blog for yarn info and link to free pattern.

Thanks, Elizabeth!!


***GUEST PET: Georg has this to say about Pepe, the quilt-sitting King of All Cats: "Here's Pepe, caught sewing on one of my quilts. He loves helping me with any of my projects. He has to sit on the knitting/crocheting and play with the string. He sits on the cutting board when I cut fabric. He has to sit as close as possible to the
sewing machine while it runs. And if I sort pieces of fabric, he has to help. He's also very good at licking my fingers while I try to type. He
is truly adorable."

And exceptionally handsome. And clearly He Who Rules His Universe. ***

I'm living a soap opera right now and will be for the next few weeks. Let's just say that when your grandfather had five wives it's not easy to explain how you ended up his only grandchild. Actually it's not easy to explain how you ended up (marginally) sane either but that sanity is quickly slipping away in an ocean of paperwork. It also doesn't help that anyone who could help me sort this out is long dead and took their secrets with them.

The only thing keeping me roped into reality is that damned unfinished red spiral sock.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Nancy kindly led me to the box pattern she's doing, but I'm afraid that I messed up on my first two tries, though I really like the first mistake!

Somehow (I know now what I did, but not beforehand) I misread the pattern and picked up too many stitches on the first side piece, so that when I matched the other side to it and crocheted them together at the end, the outside was wider and, when felted, wound up bowl-shaped! A nice square bottom but rounded sides...but I chose to emphasize it by molding it to the bottom of a ceramic bowl while it dried. I like it, so I might do it again!

The second experiment, I got right (though I didn't want the handles so I didn't make them) but one side of crocheting didn't hold, for some reason, so I had to put rubber bands (thin, loose ones) around to hold it together while it dried, then stitched it together by hand. Thus, the top dried unevenly...but another lesson learned. While it was drying, it occurred to me that through the use of heavy rubber bands, you could actually create more dimension to it via the indentations tight bands would make!

Time to Felt

Okay, ye goddesses of felting, here it is: my First Felting Project.

This is the box with one side crocheted together.

Here it is with all four sides crocheted.

Now, I know I'm supposed to throw it in the top-loading washer with an old pair of jeans (one wonders why but one just follows directions) and use very hot water. Does anyone have any other good advice I should follow to avoid whatever pitfalls there are in felting?

BTW, my Dearest Husband wants the finished box to hold his wedding ring and cell phone in his golf locker. How could I refuse him?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A pair of purses

Here are photos of the purses I made for my grandgirlies for Christmas (sh-h!) that will play a part in the story I'm writing them, too.

I used Cascade with accompanying ribboned and sparkling yarns, alternating rows with only Cascade, then knitting eyelash yarn into the top inch or so. Knitted an extra-long I-cord, then cut off part and made the loop and button to fasten at the top. Then put a "Handmade with love by Grams" label inside and...voila!

Hope they like them!