About Me


Catching up, round 3

Just a few short months ago I was enjoying a plain air painting session at an apple orchard north of Anoka.  I belong to the Plain Air Club through the Rumriver Art Center.  It is the same group that painted outdoors last winter when it was 16-degrees Fahrenheit.  We have a nice time together.  If the weather is inclement, we will paint in the studio.  I have my photos from painting sessions and travels for reference when I work inside.  On this day I was using the water soluble oils, although since that time I have been giving acrylics another try.  The  quick drying time works well for layering color, although I still prefer the buttery texture and feel of painting with oils.

A beautiful, early fall day for painting outdoors!
Between painting sessions, I planned a project for Jim.  Using colors of the Grey Wolf (NYLT) patch, I designed a scarf, and wove it on the Cricket loom.  The super wash wool is warm, soft, and easy care.  I like the design and want to try other color combinations.  The length is perfect for going around the neck twice with plenty of scarf to keep the chest warm.

 Fall progressed quickly.  It was very rainy and the leaves took longer to turn, but there were pockets of beautiful fall color to enjoy.
   A finished project (just last week) is the handwoven tunic.  It began as a jumper, but after fulling the fabric, I could not place the pattern pieces for the short length.  After sleeping on other ideas for a few days, I decided to make a tunic.  My inspiration came from the recent exhibit of Gudrun Sjödén's clothing at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.  The wool tunic is a great alternative to wearing a sweater.  I shortened the short version of the pattern by about 3-inches and then added a piece on the side to smooth out the flare to the hem. I was able to lay the pattern, cut out the four pieces, and have leftover fabric.  The facings are lightweight linen and I used a Hong Kong finish on the inside.  The buttons are decorative, as I did not want to fiddle with buttonholes.  For ease of wearing, I added a snap and sewed the top button to the top layer, and then sewed the bottom buttons through all the layers.  The buttons came from a vendor at Shepherd's Harvest Festival and were waiting for the perfect project.  I believe this was the perfect project.  At this time there is no pocket as originally planned, but I can add it later.  

McCall's pattern from the 1990s, Harrisville Designs Shetland wool for warp and weft.

Winter is fast approaching.  The leaves are down, the geese are flying south, and the neighborhood turkeys are everywhere.  It was very cold recently and I bundled up for my daily walks.  The turkey prints were on the sidewalk beside the field and it looks as though they were deciding which way to go.  


Catching up, round 2

The latest fabric came off the loom recently.  I was so happy with this weaving project.  The pattern came out beautifully and when I fulled the fabric the color and drape are just what I wanted.  Hopefully it will be a jumper if I can get the pattern pieces to work.  

Harrisville Shetland warp (russet and walnut) and weft (loden blue)

We took the camper to Avon, MN for the third annual Hand Camp at the Avon Hills Folk School.  It was such a fun weekend and the weather was gorgeous.  Classes offered were:  Natural Dyeing Workshop, Bookbinding, Leatherwork, Birchbark Weaving, and Spoon Carving.  I took the dyeing class with Maddie, which was educational and just plain fun!  Jim enjoyed relaxing and even went fishing and he caught a fish.  

Campers sitting around the campfire on the first evening.
Foraging in the woods for plants for dyeing.
Maddie's beautiful sample swatches naturally dyed and some sumac that we used for our eco-dyed bags.

We each dyed two bags by laying out the flowers, bark, herbs, and leaves on the bags.  After rolling (while still adding bits and bobs) and then tying the bundles around sticks, we simmered them over the fire.  

There were three dye vats, walnut, buckthorn berry, and indigo.  The indigo is shown before we poured it into the large bucket with hot water.  
It was fun to unroll the bundles to reveal the colors on the eco-dyed bags.

I accordion-folded the towel, added marbles, and clothespins to make a pattern on the towel.
Dip-dyed for three minutes in the indigo dye.  It was cool to watch it turn from green to blue when it came out of the vat.
L to R top to bottom:  Indigo dyed tea towel using Shibori technique, overdyed handmade felt for vest, buckthorn berry dyed white handspun wool, walnut dyed wool fabric (the original white is to the left), and the eco-dyed bags showing the fronts and backs.  Some of the plants used were buckthorn leaves, goldenrod, fennel, sumac berries, purple basil, marigolds, turmeric powder, white birchbark (from a downed tree), and pine sprigs.
The white birchbark made the blue areas.


Catching up

September...Looking out the window I can see the latest painting project, which is the shed.  It took three days and (thankfully) the weather was relatively cool.  Jim and I finished before the heat wave hit.  It is beginning to rain and today is a good day to catch up on some projects.  The state fair begins this week and even though there is still a month of summer remaining, I see small changes like some of the sumac leaves turning orange and red.  Cooler sweater weather is on the way.

On Saturday, August 18, I volunteered to do a spinning demo beside the Three Rivers Fibershed.  Mary received an email inquiring about a volunteer spinner during The Great Makers Exchange at the American Swedish Institute.  The timing was perfect because I wanted to visit the ASI to see Gudrun Sjödén--A Colorful Universe and being a volunteer, my admission to the museum was free.  I did not take many photos during the demo time, as the stream of visitors was steady and the time seemed to fly by.

Twelve days pass...and I am back.  We took the little Escape Pod out to Banning State Park in Pine County.  It is a small park and three years ago we kayaked the rapids on the Kettle River.  Because it rained the first two days (5+ inches) the river was up and really rushing along.  It was a joy to get out and hike after the rain.

Late afternoon after the rain.  

Coffee time.  

The hiking was particularly good on the trail and along the Kettle River.

The spin-in after the campout Deb (Ewespun fiber Mill at Old Man Wool Farm) had some beautiful Leicster Longwool dyed the most beautiful moss green.  It was just the pop of color I was seeking for a project using the handspun Jacob wool from Chi Chi.  Her fleece was one I purchased at Shepherd's Harvest a few years ago.  I combed the wool and it spun up just beautifully.  

Pulling the wool through the diz that Mary's husband, Rob, made.  The Leicester Longwool spun and plied beautifully.  It will be a lovely pop of color against the grayscale of the Jacob wool.

The end of September campout was at the Camp-Inn Campout at Castle Rock County Park in Juneau County, WI.  While the majority of campers were teardrops, there were 28 home-builds, and various other tiny campers.  It was fun to visit with other folks from all over the United States.  

We spent Friday out and about the area.  We visited the Cranberry Fest in Warrens.  It is a small town, but is transformed with hundreds of visitors.  We took a short marsh tour to see how the cranberries are grown and harvested.  The guide is one of the local farmers.  At the end, we bought some craisins and cranberry honey.  The cinnamon craisins are delicious in the chocolate chip cookies I baked the other evening.

I finished my handspun beanie on the bus ride to the marsh.  The colors look just like the colors of a campfire.

The marshes before harvest.  

Wisconsin harvests about 60 percent of the country's crop of cranberries.  They are delicious and  I use them all year round.  Here is a link to some recipes.

Jim and I took a day to visit the Burr Oak Winery.  We tasted some whites and reds and settled on a bottle of white and a bottle of dessert wine.  The flowers in the courtyard were just beautiful.  Those mums were gigantic!
One place I was delighted to visit was Mielke's Fiber Arts.  I contacted Amy the day before and she opened the shop for a visit.  I found a left-handed Nalbinding book along with a larger needle, a couple of fun reads about spinning, spindles, and weaving, a Dealgan (Scottish spindle), and some naturally colored cotton spinning fiber.  I have some roving left from Texas, so the colors will coordinate nicely.  It was so nice to be able to wander around the shop and see all the wonderful tools for working with fiber 

A visit to Wisconsin isn't complete without cheese. We did not visit a cheese house, but we did buy a snack for the road.  The store carried a variety of cheesehead hats.  



There are two finished objects for the end of July, the Gansey sweater and the handspun Polkagris.  Starting with the kerchief, I pulled some photos from a previous post (May 2013) to show how the yarns were created.  They sat in the stash for five years waiting for the perfect project.  Shortly before Grey Wolf in June, an email arrived from KDD with a pattern for newsletter subscribers.  It did not take long to choose yarns from my stash for the project.

Colorful wool roving and wool batts with some cotton yarn are pulled together.

The fibers are added to the bowl on the scale for weighing.  Joanne and I made 3-ounce batts.
Fibers used in both batts:  wool, silk, mohair locks, silk noils, sari silk, and cotton.

The fibers can be blended a little or a lot using the drum carder.  It is ready to spin!
The singles are plied with thread or yarn.  This was plied with a thin textured yarn.
This skein weighed 3.7-ounces after plying.  The white skein weighed 3.8-ounces.  Each skein was 200+ yards.
I should have enough left from both skeins for a small project.
The Polkagris kerchief by Kate Davies was the perfect project for the special skeins of yarn.
The shape of the kerchief fits nicely over the shoulders

The Gansey sweater was a rewarding project to knit.  It is a simple, wool sweater with traditional shape and style with extra ease added for comfort.  It will be a good piece for layering when it gets cold.  I have it on right now, as we are experiencing a cold front before the heat and humidity return.  

Before the knitting, I did my homework by looking through my personal library and studying photos of the design elements of traditional garments.  Body  measurements and measurements from other garments along with choosing yarn and swatching are so important.  One of my biggest take-aways from the experience was that less is more.  I planned for fancier textures at the top, but the simple, 2 +1 stitch repeat over four rows fit so beautifully into the design.  

Mary is just about finished with her sweater and soon we (Kathryn, Mary, and I) will have to take photos of our finished projects together.  
Garter stitch at the neck, cuffs and hem. Ridged ribbing worked well for the stitch counts for the body and sleeves.  
A bit of shaping on either side of the front neck and three-needle bind off at the shoulders.  The bind off was worked on the right side of the work and the purl ridge flows into the texture stitches nicely.

The two-stitch faux seam runs on either side from the hem, around the underarm gusset, and the to the  cuff.



Progress on the Gansey style pullover is going well.  I have been adding notes in a notebook and also on my Ravelry project page.  It has been an enjoyable project so far and now I have to type up the handwritten notes so I can use what I learned, knitting without a written pattern, to knit another sweater.  My early sketches included various texture stitches, neck gussets, the split hem, etc.  The split hem was the first element to go, and then the various texture stitches changed to a simple and easy-to-adapt stitch pattern that fit well with my stitch counts.  The Ridged Rib is a multiple of 2 + 1 stitches and a 4-row repeat.  The second sleeve is in progress and the sweater will be finished this week.

By trying on the sweater while the sleeve was in progress,  I could easily customize the length and  the decreases.  
There is a new vendor at Anoka Fiber Works, Wether'sfield Wool Farm.  I purchased some of the Shetland wool.  Two 4-ounce bags of Emily's white washed wool, and one 3.1-ounce ball of Treble's moorit roving.  I had some black Shetland roving I bought when we visited the Faribault Woolen Mill's 150th celebration a few years ago.  I combed the white wool and it is just beautiful to spindle spin with my Moosie spindle.  Mary held a second bag for me when Jim and I were camping last week.  I will have to see how much yardage I can spin and figure out a nice project for the yarn.

Emily's beautiful washed wool
Combing was the perfect prep for the wool.  I used my Valkyrie (fine) wool combs.
Moorit is a mid-brown color between fawn and dark brown.

It was a good thing I waited to finish spinning the last of the black.  There will be plenty to add to the future project.

Beautiful natural colors.


It started with a conversation...

It started with a conversation about a year ago while sitting at the table with friends Mary and Kathryn at Anoka Fiber Works.  We have the best conversations around the table while enjoying our tea.

The conversation involved knitting a sweater without a written pattern.  Not a new concept, but we thought about the process of creating a sweater, slowing down, and being mindful about our knitting.  Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts (Interweave Press, 1985) was the perfect book for inspiration.   I used the garter stitch split hem from The Basic Blouse and The Basic Gansey for the rest of the sweater.   It was easy to look through my books and sketching ideas on my Boogie Board.  Choosing the yarn was another matter.  Keeping in mind the function of the sweater, Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool was the perfect choice for my camping/hiking/working sweater.  The price point of the yarn was great and using a couple of JoAnn, Etc coupons, the purchase was even more attractive.  Fisherman's Wool is 100% wool, it comes in eight-ounce/465-yard skeins, it is worsted weight, and hand-washable.  The skeins of Oatmeal Heather felt softer than the skeins of Brown Heather and the light-color skeins were the same dye lot.

Sweater design elements from one book and a stitch pattern from another book.  I searched through many stitch dictionaries before settling on a simple Ridged Rib.  The pattern is a multiple of 2 + 1 stitches and a four-row repeat.

I found some inspiration from some of the books in my personal library.  The book second from the bottom is the first knitting book I purchased after returning to Germany.  The Encyclopedia of Knitting, by Pam Dawson, Orbis Publishing Limited, London 1984, was (and is) one of my favorite reference books for knitting techniques.

My Gansey sweater in progress.  Two purl stitches at each side, the underarm gusset and the Ridged Rib stitching at the chest.  There will be Ridged Rib stitching on the sleeves at the upper arm above the elbow.

The underarm gusset stitches are on a holder.  The front and back are knit separately.  

The Lett Lopi Flock, my name for it, (Ápril) pullover is finished.  It was started before the Gansey sweater and the mindless knitting until the yoke was a good take-along project.  There were a few bumps when I started the sheep bodies' section.  I made some chart corrections (purl and color, not stitch count) and now I must wait for cooler weather to wear it, sigh...

Markers placed  every twelve stitches to keep the sheep in order.

I ended up frogging to the top of the brown zigzag and re-working that section of the yoke.

The blocked Flock, ready to wear.  



I have been busy knitting on two pullover sweaters, a Gansey and a Lett Lopi.  Mary, Kathryn, and I had been talking at length about Ganseys and we decided to knit in the old way using yarn we had in our stashes, the percentage system, and elements of the traditional garments.  Kathryn finished her sweater, Mary is working on the front and back neckline shaping, and I started the underarm gussets and texture stitches.  In the meantime, when I have to stop and make decisions, the Lopi sweater came to the front of the WIP line.  The pattern is Apríl by Berglind Sveinsdóttir and the yarn is Lett Lopi.  I finally made it to the colorwork section at the yoke.  I chose to have longer floats on the back side of the knitting because the catch was showing on the front side because of the purl rows on the sheep bodies.  The floats will lightly felt together with wearing and washing.  It is one of the characteristics of Lopi yarn that I love.  Sadly, the shop where I bought the yarn is closing and the shops carrying Lopi are few and far between.  

Happy little sheep

The Gansey pullover is at a point where I need to make a decision about what texture stitch/es to put on the top section and then the sleeves to the elbows.  This project is inspired by the Gansey sweater in Knitting in the Old Way (1985 edition) by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts.  It is fun to knit with a general plan (sketches, stitch dictionaries, travel photos, measurements, etc).   The split hem is in garter stitch and the "seams" on either side are two purl stitches, which split apart as the underarm gusset is knitted. 

Decisions to make at the underarm gusset.
A couple of weeks ago the plein air painting group was where the Rum and Mississippi Rivers meet at a local park.  I found a shady spot beside a large tree and painted a willow tree trunk.  
A lovely spot and beautiful day to paint en plein air.