Sunday, December 30, 2007

Whew! That's over, too!

I finished the Swallowtail Shawl! It's right purty. I wore it to church this morning and my pastor kept grabbing the edging and telling me how beautiful it was and what a great job I did with it.

I'm starting a knitting ministry at my church. We are progressive, so we have a coffee shop next door and we'll be knitting there. I'm really excited. Now that I have the Knitpicks needles, I'm destashing a bunch of circulars and I know they will go to good use. I'm not going to get rid of my smaller, metal needles because I used them as blocking wires for one side of the shawl and it was way better and crisper than the other.

Whew! It's over!

That's me! The fat lady in the puffy, non-flattering, red coat. My mother is in the aqua/purple shirt. My grandmother and daughter should be obvious.

I managed to survive Christmas quite well. I got a ton of knitting related stuff that I really wanted, but didn't ask for. I now have a ball winder and swift. My yarn dresser is now full of perfectly stacked cakes of yarn. I also got the Knit Picks Options Needle Set, the sock yarn sampler in Warm, and a knitter's charm bracelet. I raked it in.

I love the Knit Picks needles. They are sharp, the cords are flexible, and the tips make a really delicate and pretty noise when they click.

We spent Christmas with my family in Havre. We visited my grandmother in the nursing home. Everyone liked their knitted gifts. My stepdaughter loved the footie pajamas (The red and black prisoner stripes--appropriate for a teenager) I sewed for her. It was just a lovely holiday.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Drive By Yarning

I made a bunch of hats for the Malmstrom gate guards who had to work on Christmas. (They are simple winter caps with ribbed brim and raglan decreases.) It was fun to do something nice for those guys. They are always pleasant and they work outside 365 days a year. Here is the pattern if you want to make one. I used both Paton's Classic Merino Wool and Plymouth Galway in black to make them...

My gauge is 18 stitches and 24 rows with these needles, but I knit Continental Style and very loosely.
Cast on 88 stitches with size 5 needle.

Work K1, P1 rib for 1.5 inches.

Switch to size 6 dpns, putting 22 stitches on each needle.

Work in plain stocking stitch until hat measures 6 inches from cast on edge.

Repeat decrease rows (as follows) until eight stitches remain--two stitches per needle. End with row 1.

Row 1: K2tog, knit to two last stitches on needle, SSK. Repeat for all 4 needles.
Row 2: Knit all stitches.
Cut yarn, leaving a 12 inch tail. Thread tail on yarn needle and sew through live stitches left on needles, following the direction you were knitting. Pull tight. Weave in end going the opposite direction through those same eight stitches, then bury it in the purl bumps on the inside of the hat.
Weave in cast on tail.

Do not stretch to block. Wash gently in mild soap and allow to dry flat. Hard blocking will stretch the ribbing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm done shopping!!!

funny pictures

Now I just have to bake my Stollen and more cookies. A woman's work is never done...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Soap Sweater

I got the pattern idea off of Ravelry. I didn't follow it, though. I just started knitting something "soap shaped" to fit a nice bar of lovely smelling soap.

I used the leftover balls of singles I get when I ply. I keep them all in a basket and I'm always finding uses for them.

This sweater is 100% wool and will felt and shrink down as the soap is used. Fun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Make a kid happy in less than an hour...

blog 011, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

I finished Miss Teenager's headband last night. Actually, I started it last night, too. She's pretty happy with it. She misses her dalmation, but enough time has passed to actually use this yarn. She plans on wearing it snowboarding all winter.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Purl 5 Together Hack

I've started the Lily of the Valley border for my Swallowtail Shawl. The purl 5 together stitches are a big pain in the neck, especially since silk is slippery and inelastic. There have been many times when I have not used a lace pattern because of the dreaded "purl 5 together." Now I don't have an excuse.

Here is my mini-hack...

Insert a tiny crochet hook purlwise (right to left) through all 5 stitches.

Draw up a loop, pulling the stitches off the left hand needle.

Put loop on right hand needle, making sure the stitch is correctly registered on the needle. (Do not twist stitch.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Quick Gifts

I love to make jewelry and I'm always looking for ways to incorporate fiber into every part of my life.

Here is a quick version of a ribbon necklace. I made the handspun yarn necklace the same way.

The ribbon clasps are dirt cheap at any craft store. The only real thing I have to add is that I tie a knot before crimping the ends. It seems to keep slippery ribbons in place. I also have a dedicated pair of nail clippers in my jewelry kit. (No funky toes on my lovely things, please.) I find it easier to use nail clippers than scissors to get in close to the clasp to trim the ends.

This snowboarder charm is for my oldest. I think she's going to like it.

After making the ribbon necklace, I finally thought of a way to use little bits of special yarns to make wearable treasures.

I can't throw out odd little bits of my handspun yarns. It seems such a waste. This black necklace is made from the tiny bit leftover from David's hat. Wearing it feels like I have a piece of "him" with me all day.
I plan to make more necklaces from the trimmings of Isabel's knitwear and my favorite spinning. I think the clasp makes it "real" jewelry, rather than just knotting the yarn.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Guard Moose/Dad Hat

That's the guard moose Izzy wants for Christmas. She only wants it because it belongs to her sister. My grandmother bought her a giant moose for Christmas. Hopefully that ends the controversy.

I finished David's Christmas hat. I spun the yarn myself, dyed it, then knit it to match an authentic Word War II Red Cross soldier watch cap. That ought to keep my hubby's bald head piping hot this winter. I knit it extra long for ear coverage. Is there a man alive who doesn't worry about ear coverage?

(Plus he's allowed to wear it with his uniform.)

I spent last night flicking locks. It was super fun. It's like brushing a 1000 Barbies' hair in one evening. I scratched up my fingers doing it and almost wore a new hole in my jeans.

The locks in this picture took up half of a shoe box. Now they are up to the sofa from the floor. So far spinning them is fun and frothy.
Please ignore our carpet. We didn't slaughter anyone on it. That's just one of the joys of older NCO housing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Crochet - Granny Bobble Cap

ravelry 003, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

My handspun, one ply was Hanspinner's Dream Alpaca top from Alpacas With a Twist. The other ply was Montana Targhee wool.

I crocheted this from the top down. Entire pattern was improvised. Bow is worn in the back, so it doesn't show much, it's more of a safety feature in this insane Montana wind.

My husband hates this hat. Ha ha ha.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So I got tagged...

Me7of11 tagged me for a meme. I've never done this before, but here I go.


1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

About me...

1. My joints all hyperextend. My arms look broken when they are fully "straight" to me.

2. I brush my tongue until I gag every day. I also have to floss. I can't stand not to.

3. My maternal grandparents were Scottish and they made me take highland dancing lessons. I hated it. (Imagine a chubby girl dressed in wool, jumping over swords in the Texas heat. Ugh!)

4. I didn't own a television as an adult until I was 28. People tried to give me tvs all of the time and I refused because I don't really like to watch television. I lose interest almost immediately and start knitting or reading. The only reason I finally got one was for my children.

5. I love bird nests. I throw my yarn scraps in the back yard for the birds to use. I also clean my hairbrushes outside so they can use the hair.

6. I love the smell of wet wool and I hate the smell of wet alpaca.

7. I am a Jesus Freak. I can't help it.

I'm tagging Lavender Knits, Beth, La Needle Loca, Life Changes After Birth, Stephanie, Crafty Griffin (although I could swear she was tagged earlier), and Ava. I'll be commenting on their blogs later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

As if I didn't have enough on the needles...

swallowtail shawl 001, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

My husband did a bit of tsk tsking when he saw me cast on this Swallowtail Shawl from IK Fall 2006. I don't care. The yarn is awesome. (A perfect gift from my dearest friend--a green yarn the exact color of my eyes.)

The dog ate my original copy of this magazine before I really read it. I found the pattern again through Ravelry and my local yarn shop had a back issue.

This project is very fun and the silk is heavenly. Unlike Ick-arus, the actual triangle-building part of the shawl is patterned and engaging.

Unfortunately for me, Captain Smith (my doctor) put me in a "cock up" wrist brace and the knitting is slow. He says I will have to relearn how to knit and spin with the brace on, but that I will pick up speed as I learn to position my hand and wrist. Spinning was effortless because I was teaching myself the long draw woolen technique. Knitting is another story...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Uncle Alan

hats 005, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

Men without hair need hats more than anyone.

I knit this as a test for David's watch cap. It's my handspun. I'm amazed at how such lumpy looking yarn knit up pretty smoothly. The hat has raglan decreases and a deep cuff. I tried it on and it's plenty warm.

It really needs to be viciously lint brushed before it goes out the door.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Aunt Carolyn

hats 002, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

Because I seem to have more aunts than a picnic, I knit another bright hat. Aunt Carolyn teaches second grade. She's a purple lover. I knit this baby for her out of a BFL single. I dyed it with drink mix. (I was going through a phase...) I knit it at a pretty tight gauge to prevent the inevitable pilling that comes from single ply yarns.

I hope she likes it. It shows plenty of ear cleavage. I knit it more for sass than warmth. Oh, and I ran out of yarn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sweet Alpaca

SAL 002, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

2-ply handspun ply is handpainted alpaca from Spunky Eclectic and one ply is undyed targhee fleece from Sugarloaf Mills.

David bought me 11 pounds of the targee I used. He bought it for me at the Montana State Fair. We walked to the car with a giant bag of fleece as if he'd won me the biggest stuffed animal in a carnival game. Rednecks can be so romantic.

This yarn looks yummy and sugary-sweet. It will be a gift for my bestest best best friend. She's a natural platinum blonde and looks like an angel in pink.

Speaking of sweet, my four year old daughter unloaded the dishwasher while I was in the shower. She stacked the dishes under the cupboards they belong in. All of the silverware was put away, including the spatulas and mixing spoons. I am convinced that the hospital sent the wrong baby home, but I am keeping her.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Seussical Socks

Here is my latest spinning adventure. I got a sock kit from Amy Boogie. I was a greedy pig and spun it all at once. It was a joy to spin and I can't wait to start knitting with it after the holidays.
It looks like Silly Sammy Slick...I love Dr. Seuss.

Oh, Christmas Tree

I dyed a bunch of cotton for a surprise project for David to take to Korea. I hope it turns out the way I want. I don't usually dye cotton, so I just bought a tie dye kit for Jacquard. It was pretty fun and the colors are nice.

I'm living in the moment and trying to enjoy it all. We got the Christmas tree set up. My husband loves Christmas and has a huge collection of ornaments. The tree rotates on the stand to show them all off. I took some pictures with a long shutter time and I think they're neat-o.

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Year

My husband is getting sent to Korea for a year. I'm not allowed to go.

A year.

He's going to miss 5 birthdays, a Christmas, a Halloween, our anniversary, Izzy's first day of Kindergarten...

I don't feel like knitting right now. I know I'll do it later. I can't send him to Korea without new socks, an afghan, pillows...

A year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I got all inspired by my daughter's love (love!) of Hello Kitty to spin some cat fur. If you are stuck in a Hello Kitty Nightmare, check of this great site, Hello Kitty Hell. The guy who writes it is hilarious.

At least it's better than Dora! Anything to get a smidgen of relief from that madness.

By the way, if you are making novelty yarn with giant flower buttons, make sure that they fit through the oriface of your spinning wheel before you spend twenty minutes stringing them on the base yarn. Trust me on this one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Letter to Santa, Give Mama Some Yarn

I don't know how to rotate videos on Blogger. If anyone knows how, please leave a comment.

Angel Hair and Baby's Breath

I'm having a lot of fun remixing old yarns with new handspun.

I plied a handspun wool single with vintage "Opalesce" yarn from Reynolds (45% Viscose/ 21% Wool/ 15% Acrylic/ 12% Mohair). The result is lofty, silky, fluffy, shiny...

As long as my house is a foster home for abandoned yarns, I'm going to find them new lives.

Monday, November 26, 2007

(Don't Eat) Yellow Snow

Here is a new novelty yarn for the shop. I used one skein of vintage "Fluffy" yarn from Unger, 4 strands (2 skeins) of vintage "Nevada" yarn from Flits, and two plies of my handspun targhee. I spun the whole yarn two strands at a time, crisscrossing the strands over each other after each spinning. Then I overdyed the whole skein with bright, happy yellow Jacquard dye to perk of the 70's look of the yellow faux mohair. I ended up with about almost 70 yards of bulky weight fun.

I like combining old with new, serious with funky, and wild with sedate. I'm working on some more yarn remixes this week.

Clown Vomit Cloche

Per my darling Auntie Jay's request, I have started the Clown Vomit Winter Set. Aunt Jay teaches special ed kindergarten and likes bright colors. They call her the "Pink Lady" because she wears bright pink every day. (At least that's her story and she's sticking to it...)

The yarn is my own bulky 2-ply handspun carded wool. I love spinning rolags. I am holding a single strand of vintage faux mohair for fluff. I'm going to full it a bit to close up the crochet gaps. The convertable mittens are going to be knit with the same bright flowers on the wrists.
I hope this thing shrinks enough to be a hat.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Handsome, Version 2.0

I finished my grandfather's sweater vest. It turned out better than I thought it would. I made it in his favorite color and it's machine washable.

Nothing makes me happier than making something for my family.

Caron Simply Soft Solids, 3 skeins held doubled

Size 10 needles

My own pattern

I can't wait to give it to him!

Friday, November 23, 2007


Want to make an instant dog sweater? Cut the sleeve off of a sweater and hem it. Cut two slits for arms and hem those. I used a women's medium wool sweater from the thrift store and hemmed it all by hand with a single ply of 4 ply worsted wool yarn. (Cut a 24" length of yarn and separate the plys like embroidery floss.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Stache Hat

The Stache Hat, originally uploaded by Ginga.

Some people have all of the good ideas...

Too bad David's balaclava has to be plain old black.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When will I learn?

I have a 6" triangle left to finish Clapotis and I'm out of yarn. Of course I don't remember the dye recipe for the color I'm using.

Now I have green fingernails and a somewhat matching 30 yard mini skein drying.

I'm leaving you with some lovely pictures of crocheted undies from the Charles M. Russell Museum. We visited last weekend to celebrate a Victorian Christmas. Miss Isabel had a blast.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas Tea Clapotis Shawl

ravelry 005, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

I'm making a door prize for a Women's Tea at my church. It's Clapotis from

The yarn is my own handspun/dyed.

They are rioting at Ravelry about this pattern. I guess it's overdone. This is my first time knitting it and I'm having a blast. It's like knitting a waltz. One, two,, two three... Kate Gilbert is a genius!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cloudy Cowl

cloudy 004, originally uploaded by alexcateye.

My sweater finished blocking. It's hard to see from the picture, but it has about 2 inches of ease. I love it. I took all of the leftovers I had and made a quick easy cowl.

I cast on 50 stitches with a size 11 needle using a provisional cast on and smooth linen waste yarn.

I knit every row until I had 5 feet left.

I picked out the cast on, put the stitches on a spare circular needle, twisted the work 1/2 of a turn, and grafted. Easy.

Grafting is easier than people say it is. Just ignore the directions and use your tapestry needle to make an imaginary row of stitches in between the two needles. When people tell you how to do it, they just mess you up.

Half-Tatted Feathered Fishing Fly Bracelet

This is my Whip Up Whiplash entry. CLICK for more info.

My stepdaughter is in the Fishing Club in school. I wanted to make her a little frippery to show that some fisherman are, in fact, pretty girls.

If you choose to make a feathered bracelet for yourself, it will be a great introduction to the motion of tatting. The entire bracelet is made with one half of the double stitch repeated. Remember hair wraps from the '90's? This is even easier.

I began by sketching out a couple of tatting shuttle shaped pieces on cardboard. I cut them out and loaded them each with a different color of Orlon fly tying thread. If you don't have any available, lace weight yarn, embroidery floss, or woolly nylon would make fine substitutes.
I chose a sturdy scrap yarn for the base. I tied a slip knit halfway down the 36 inch length and hung it from a doorknob. It would be just as easy to loop the knot over the arm of a chair. The point is that you'll want tension to keep the work straight and even.

I attached the first shuttle with another slip knot.

The stitch is simple. Make the thread look like the letter C. Slide the shuttle between the base yarn and the shuttle yarn. Repeat.

Give some slack. Make a loop. Dive the shuttle between the base yarn and the loop you just made.

Every ten knots or so, push your work towards the end with your thumbnail to keep it tight and neat.

When you're ready to add a feather, pinch it in place with your free hand and wrap the shuttle 360 degrees around a few times to hold it still. Then start your knots. Leave as much or as little of the feather free as you like.

If you'd like to add a second color, hide the end under a feather.

Tie the second shuttle on. Let the first shuttle dangle. Work all of the second color on top of the base yarn and the first shuttle's thread. Easy.
Continue adding feathers and changing colors until piece measures desired length.
Cut ends 1/2" longer than finished length and overlap.
Wrap shuttle 360 degrees around join until all base yarn is hidden, then finish with 3 or 4 knots.
Trim ends to feather height.
Alternately, any type of jewelry clasp could be sewn on instead. Because this will be worn by a teenager, I know it will be worn constantly until it disintegrates and a clasp would be unnecessary.