Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Off to a retreat!

I'm headed off tomorrow for my annual polymer clay retreat at Mammoth Cave, Ky.  We always have such a great time and learn some fun new techniques.  And I love seeing all of the friends that I have made over the years.  This year we are having an "inchy" swap for the first time.  Everyone makes one inch squares of decorated clay and we will all swap them so that everyone will go home with some great little works of art.  We will have 36 in attendance and I made 42 so that I will have a few left over.
 I decided to use the  Mitered Crosses blanket as my inspiration.  I mixed a fall colored pallett and made three different blends so that I could make three different one inch canes for variety. 
Then I took slices and baked them.  

We also have a brown bag swap where you make something from polymer clay and then put it in a bag.  Everyone gets to pick a bag and see what kind of goody is inside.  I decided to knit something and add polymer clay buttons but I can't show what I made until after the retreat.  But I can show you the buttons.
I will have many more pictures from the retreat in my next post.

I have been knitting like crazy of course.  My daughter is playing on three different soccer teams at the moment and my son on one team so there is lots and lots of great knitting time while I watch and wait.  She is #16 in white on her middle school team in the picture above.  
While sitting at a rather cool game a few weeks ago, I decided that some wrist warmers without fingers would be nice.
So I used some of my first handdyed handspun to knit these great and easy wrist warmers called Toast.

I also knitted this very fun little cardigan called Bilateral Cardigan
It is made up of two hexagons which are folded and sewn up the back and along the shoulders.

After blocking the hexagons and then folding them, the arms stuck up so I reblocked into a better shape for a cardigan.
After all of this, it turned out a little too small for me so my cute little (but older) sister was happy to take it off of my hands.

The mystery Knitalongs have lured me into four more mystery knits - two from each designer.  Another She-Knits KAL for a shawl called Tuck with a surprise scarf named Oh Delilah that was thrown in as a bonus.
I have done several of She-Knits mystery KALs and they are always great fun.  For the second time, I am signed up for Woolly Wormheads mystery KAL for hat A and B.  The clues for the hats come out on Nov. 1 and I am travelling with my son's class to the Chattanooga Aquarium so I plan to take these two projects with me for the bus trip.  I've already bought my yummy yarns and swatched so I'm ready to go.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mitered Crosses Blanket

I finished my Mitered Crosses Blanket and I just love it!
I started this blanket back in April when Kay Gardiner published the pattern, shortly after the tsunomi in Japan, with all proceeds going to help Japan.  She has now sent more then $17,000 to Mercy Corp.  I used Noro like the pattern called for but instead of Noro Silk Garden, which is an aran weight, I used Noro Silk Garden Sock. 
I started this for myself but soon decided that my mom would love this blanket so this will be her Christmas present.  I also know that I will eventually inherit this blanket back so that made it an easy decision. 

I have also finished a wonderful scarf called Spectrum by Stephen West.  I used one skein of Noro Silk Garden Sock and one skein of Knit Picks Stroll Kettle Dyed Sock yarn.  Short rows create the gentle curve which makes the scarf drape nicely when you wear it.  This scarf will be my sister's Christmas gift.  I'm really impressed that I am getting so many gifts made ahead of time.

I'm working on many more projects which I will show in future posts.  I attend a polymer clay retreat every year  in October at Mammoth Cave, Kenturcky.  I'm working away on the projects that I will be taking to this event.  We are making one inch squares called "inchies" for a swap and I decided to make little mitered crosses like my blanket.  They look great and I will show them to you soon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Earth and Sky

I finished the Westknits mystery KAL "Earth and Sky" a few days ago.  After a good blocking, I decided that it needed a really nice background for the photo shoot. 
I drive past these two great historic cemeteries every morning when I take my children to school.  Each is surrounded by beautiful old dry wall fences and are filled with old head stones belonging to people who were born and/or died in the 1800's.
There are many Civil War soldiers buried here also.   In fact, the newest resident to be intered here was a Civil War soldier who's bones were found in 2009 during road construction near the Franklin battlefield.  Along with the bones were several Union buttons and a mini ball.
A monument was erected at the Unknown Soldier burial site using column and pediment pieces that were from the State Capital in Nashville.   We really enjoyed walking around the cemetery and reading many of the old headstones.
Oh, yes, and back to the shawl.  I love it.  It's nice and big and will keep me warm this fall and winter.
 I decided to make a matching shawl pin from polymer clay.

I mixed some colors to match and then used techniques found in Julie Picarello's new book Patterns in Color.  For the pin, I used one of my favorite Knit Picks size US0 double pointed knitting needles that one of my children sat on and broke!  At least it has been put to good use.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


I finished Gwen last week.   Gwen is the second of the two mystery shawls that I knit from designer She-Knits
I think it turned out really well.  I usually follow the charts on lace knitting but this chart was really big and very complicated with many unusual symbols and would have needed to be printed off and then enlarged to make it readable so, I chose to follow the written instructions as I did with Donna.  This worked out just fine but it made me "follow blindly" rather then "read my knitting" like I would have done with a chart.  So, it was not as enjoyable because of that.  But I do love a mystery and I really enjoyed getting the next clue each week and making sure that I finished each clue before the next clue was up.
The only thing that I would have changed if I had seen the pattern ahead of time, is that I would have chosen a contrasting color for the flower beads.  As it is, the beads show up only when the light hits the silver lining in the beads.  But that's part of the fun of the mystery. 

I am almost finished with my third and final mystery shawl of the summer.  I have just started the bind off of the nearly 500 stitches of the Earth and Sky Westknits Mystery KAL.  I will block it tomorrow and get some good photos.

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's a Mystery

I love joining Mystery Knit a Longs and this summer I found myself doing three.  One is finished and I'm currently working on two more.  All three are shawls.  All three have four clues sent out weekly.  The rules of the mystery knit a long prevent the participants from posting progress pictures on their blogs or as the first picture on their Ravelry project page to keep from spoiling the surprise for others.  So I can only post the finished shawl but will link to my project page for a peek of the other two.

The first two I signed up for are the She-Knits Mystery 8 Donna & Gwen
Donna began June 23rd and was a lot of fun.  I knit mine with Araucania Lonco which is a fingering weight cotton.  A great yarn for summer. 
There was an unusual weaving technique in this one.  I love how the red and green look together.

The second She-Knits shawl  Gwen began July 20th and I have finished clue three and am looking forward to the final clue to come out on Wednesday.  Gwen is a beaded shawl.

The third Mystery KAL is Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL 2011: Earth and Sky.  I love Stephen West's patterns and knew it would be a great pattern.  I jumped on the band wagon when there were about 300 people signed up and now there are over 2200 people signed up!!!  The first clue was August 1 and the second clue came out this morning.  Both of these first two clues are small and we were told in today's clue that next week will be the heavy knitting clue.  I can't wait to see how it comes out.  I chose three colors of Knit Picks Stroll Tonal sock yarn - which I love. 

I'll post the finished shawls soon.

Here is a look back at some of the other She-Knits KALs that I have done - all felted bags.

She-Knits Mystery KAL #5 - Samantha & Kimmy Together
She Knits Mystery KAL #2 - Autumn
She-Knits Mystery KAL (the first) - Emma

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dyeing for Vacation Bible School

Earlier this summer, our church had a wonderful (as usual) Vacation Bible School with the theme of Nazereth.  For the second year in a row, I have been asked to be in charge of one of the booths and it's craft.  Last year our theme was Egypt and my booth was the embalming booth.  We talked about the job of making a mummy and we talked about the scarab which was placed over the heart during the wrapping process.  Each child then got to make a polymer clay scarab using molds that I made.  This year my booth's theme was natural dyeing and our craft was to let each child dye a small muslin bag.  Embalming and dyeing.  I wondering what they will have me doing next year.

I really enjoyed researching natural dyeing processes.  I dyed some knitting wool a few years ago using natural dyes and I also have a good bit of experience dying wools with acid dyes, Kool Aid and Easter Egg Dyes.  But we were going to be dyeing 100% cotton.  I really wanted the children to be able to dye with natural dyes but after making some samples, I realized that in most cases, the fibers have to sit in the dye bath for at least an hour or longer.  But there was one natural dye that worked perfectly and I loved working with it - Indigo!  I found an Indigo Dye Kit at JoAnn's and gave it a try.  It has a long history and indigo dyed fabric has even been found in some Egyptian tombs so I know that it would have been available in Nazareth during the time of Jesus.  The best part about using the indigo is that the dye chemically bonds to the fibers as soon as it is lifted from the water with no long soaking times.

 My daughter and I dyed some long pieces of muslin for our costumes and we tye-dyed as many different white shirts as we could find in our closets. 

Tye-dyed shirts fresh from the indigo vat.

Natural dyes (left to right):  Turmeric, coffee, red cabbage, yellow and red onion skins.  Also, an Indgo plant (in green pot) 

 We needed a few more colors for our dye booth and had to resort to some synthetic dyes (fiber reactive dyes) from a tye-dye kit that I had.  These fiber reactive dyes gave instant results but I had to wait several hours before rinsing them.  So I took the bags home with me, rinsed them in soapy water the next morning and let them dry before returning them to the children the next night at VBS.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Different Lines, Cicadas and Bullfrogs

We've been very busy with the end of the school year for my children, swim team practices and meets, summer camps, helping with Vacation Bible School and now we are getting ready to head out to church camp where I will be in charge of a couple of great camp crafts. 

Of course I have been knitting when ever I have any spare time.

I finished a beautiful and unusual shawl called Different Lines.  I saw it a few weeks back on the Ravelry "New and Popular" section and got sucked in.  I love looking at this section to see what other people are knitting and I find myself quite often starting a new project that I didn't know I needed to do.  I love the contrasting stripes and the unusual construction (with short rows) of this shawl.  I looked in my stash and found two very different yarns that I would have never put together (Araucania Lonco and Schafer's Susan).  But they were both 100% cotton and it turns out that they look great together.  I love the feel and drape of the cotton.  I hope to use it a lot this summer in the too cold, air conditioned buildings.

My mom's birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I knitted her some oven mitts and dish clothes. 
I have a set of these oven mitts and just love them.  They are from Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines and are called Toto the Extremely Useful and Cute Potholder.  The Ball Band dishcloths are also from Mason Dixon and the striped dishcloth is Grandmother's Favorite.  You can never have too many dishcloths!

And I made some great polymer clay teacher's gifts for my children's teachers.  

And now for some wild life.  Cicadas!
 We have been experiencing the 13 year Cicada's in our area.  I somehow missed these growing up, even though I grew up in this area.  So this was my first real experience with them.  They lasted about a month and really made a lot of noise. They weren't too bad at our house but we found them in abundance all around the area.
And here is what they look like as they emerge from their exoskeletons.  Really creepy and really cool all at the same time!

And this is the little frog that my daughter raised from a tadpole.  He's a bullfrog and we bought him from our local fish store.  Both of my children have 10 gallon tanks so they each got one and my sons promptly died but we really enjoyed watching this little guy slowly grow his back legs and then very quickly grow his front legs and begin swimming to the top of the tank for air.  The whole process took several months.  We moved him to a smaller habitat and his little tail shrank in just a couple of days. 
We let him go in our neighborhood pond - all covered with duck weed.
And I'm sure he will live a long and happy life.