Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Forever Sweater

I cannot remember when this sweater was not a part of my life. It always was. I held onto it as fashions came and went and came again and I'm glad.

Where to start to tell this story? The booklet that the pattern was originally published in was copyright 1957. This sweater was knit by my father and I think it was the first time he tried intarsia. Knit in brown, red and white acrylic, most likely in the 42" large size, It must have been made for himself and then passed down to my eldest brother.

We did ski a little as a family, but it was more of the "idea" of skiing that interested me at 5 or six, when I had little wooden skies with leather bindings. But back to the sweater...I hate skiing.

Even though it was the 70's and this kind of Retro wasn't really in, I loved it. The only clothes that I could get away with wearing that were "cool" and not bought by my mother, were the things that I could steal from my brothers. As they are 8 and 10 years older, and as soon as they left for college, I would rummage through their clothes left behind to find something that I thought really suited me. (If you're reading this guys, don't get mad, it was a desperate situation.)

When I went to college this sweater went with me and I can see that my mother sewed my name in with a label (still have those too). It wasn't until I started knitting in my late 30's that I really looked at this St. Moritz sweater as a knitter. The pattern had been in the box with all the knitting needles at my parent's house. I actually have a copy of it now because their original was lost in the selling of their house and I was able to find another copy online!
I still wear it all the time and last year it occurred to me that I should really knit it myself. I've had the yarn and it's just been sitting there. Some pretty good reasons: Intarsia, scary instructions, fear of failure. I mean, Dad already knit it, will mine measure up??

Christmas Eve was his birthday. He would have been 90. I wore the sweater and went out for a day of knitting with friends, before the stores closed. I had my friend Emily take this picture of me and now I see that I'm really committing myself to something here. I've got so many unfinished projects and I just completed one. So, even though it was just mittens, I'm adding a whole new sweater to the mix.Of course I should have realized this but after scanning the charts I see that they are all hand drawn and pretty impossible to read. I'm coloring them in with contrasting colors. I'm actually going to knit the body in sky blue, and the rest will be the same, off-white and red. (The hat in this picture is the one from the cover of Vogue Fall 09-- pink) that I knit during Thanksgiving.

So where am I today? Committing myself to something I finally know I can do. Sure, it's going to take a lot of concentration and patience. I doubt I'll finish it this year, but you never know! I do know that I'll want to wear it. Who will this one get passed down to? Who can say...

Friday, December 04, 2009


Folks, I have so many blogs that I manage or write for, sometimes I get caught short when it comes to just writing about stuff!
Here I am, several weeks later, hanging my head in shame....oh, shame has no place here! Just tell it like it is...

That choir in my last post? I joined it. Yeah, two rehearsals and one performance later, I hear that music in my head all day. Now if that were to also mean that I had it DOWN, I'd be in good shape. Fortunately I can sight read because I can't say I've really learned it all yet. Next month a couple more performances and my Monday nights are now spoken for.

Knitting? YES.
There's the stuff for Krafti-Kit that you can oh so conveniently purchase online, like...the Oregon Tweed Socks.
Or, the crochet Faerie Ring Mobius Which comes with the MOST awesome ebony crochet hook that you will most likely NEVER lend out. (Look at the drape of the wool and bamboo on the the lovely Petra)
Then, there are some things I can't show you yet... but I did finish a hat from Vogue Fall 2009, during the holiday weekend. I love it. It's nothing like the pink confection on the magazine cover, but it has sparkles and right now, this girls needs some sparkles...(why can't you see the sparkles in this pic? Click on it to make it bigger.)
Then, there's the spinning. Last in line these days. This weekend is Spinnerati again and I hope to bring the old girl wheel. I do have a fiber confession though. My rational on this on is that I will use up more handspun. I'm entering the weaving world. Don't become afraid, dear readers. I have no intention of slipping down another slippery slope (right...).

What, you want me to stop? My fiber passion knows no bounds, and in a world where I see a distinct lack of passion, I have no intention of holding myself back. I figure that if I continue to teach, and make cool stuff and spread the fiber love around, it's all cool... Yeah. Like that.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Flash Choir Performing

A pirate, deb, me and Petra at our table (photo by Leila Wice)

Deb giving some spinning time to one girl and her sister wants HER turn ;-)

Renegade Rose Morris Dancers, here and above

This past Saturday was the Keep Portland Weird Festival at the Multnomah County (Portland) downtown library. Spinnerati was invited because that's where we meet every month. We're so lucky to be able to grab the space somehow, each month where the room is large, carpeted with tall ceilings and huge windows.

We could see by the schedule, that we would be on the top floor with all sorts of entertainment going on. I was stoked. I spent weeks imaging what fun Portland could come up with.

Portland is a place where, after work, folks actually go out and DO STUFF! Every nook and cranny of this delightful city is filled with extracurricular activities. Some predictable, some not. I think that spinning is a perfectly natural thing so do with my free time, but everyone has their own idea of fun and I think this festival made it abundantly clear. So much in fact that it actually inspired me to join a choir that was performing right in front of us at the festival. Tonight was my first rehearsal and I got to sing the music I heard them perform. How great is that??

Monday, November 02, 2009

So, Sew buttons?

Many, many moons ago, too many to count, I used to be a professional sewer. or rather, a custom clothing designer. Somewhere along the way, I lot my love of the sew. Well, not the hand sewing kind. That I've always loved. In fact, right before I took up spinning and knitting I was quite the hand-quilter.

In the past years, I've become more and more sloppy when I've sewn something on the machine. Even when it has seemed the fastest way to get something mended or put together, I've chosen a needle and thread to the machine.

I had a little tin sewing machine as a child. It had a hand wheel on the left and it sewed a very nice chain stitch. I look at "toy" machines like that in the antique stores and they are a bit out of my range. I mean, for what they are! So, how come my electric, electronic machine doesn't do a chain stitch???

Meanwhile, a friend from long ago who knows that I sew, asked me the favor to make him a pair of Hakama (samurai) pants out of wool. First came the fabric selection, sending him the swatches and then the decision. Although he sent me a pair of store bought ones to use as a kind of pattern, I realized that to create a pant that was not open on the sides was going to take quite a bit re-engineering. Pockets, ties, flaps, etc. And so, he's not here to try them on and I was unable to make a mock up in time. Fortunately we are close to the same size. I cannot imagine making them otherwise. I think I have success. I'm sending them to an event on the East Coast tomorrow and we shall see if they do the trick.

In search of further sewing success and some clothes that actually fit me and my lifestyle these days, I made these two jacket types things (New Look Pattern # 6920) For right now, the machine is staying on the kitchen table...

This one here is a batik with trim done in a really intense Kaffe Fassitt Fabric that I had laying around. You can't really tell from the pictures, but they button right under the bust and have a little A-line from there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My Own Worse ...

I've gotten what was coming to me.

Preface: Please no comments of suggestions, admonition. Only pity please.

Had a little too much caffeine today. Thought I'd take the edge off a little bit with some washing of the huge pile of socks, in a bag in the bathroom. This will mellow me out...this will do something useful with the jittery energy.

So, let's just say that there were around 12 pairs of handknit socks just waiting for me. That's probably about half of what I own, that I haven't accidentally felted at some point.

I'm noticing how dirty they are. Happy to be getting them Lavender soap kinda clean. I've got about 10 pairs, on hangers, on the bath rod. Ah! It all comes tumbling down... CRASH.

This has happened before. No worries. I'll just get some more water out of them and... OMG! There's a hole in the heel of...SEVERAL of my socks? Yes, as I am putting the socks back up on the bath rod I notice that many but not all of my heels have been chewed out by moths.

The were indiscriminate. Didn't touch the Wollmeise, but ate the Shibui. Blue and Red were favorite colors, for sure. My hands are still shaking...

How stupid could I possibly be? For the love of...
I saw moths in the past few months and kept checking my stash and my sweaters. No harm. How strange, I thought!

I will survive. Although I no longer have matching yarn for most of the socks, I will mend them. Although, I have this silly little thought that perhaps I should send them to Brenda to continue with her Pod-Series, Make Do And Mend. (I'm gonna catch what-for from her now on THAT one.)

Carry on..... and don't laugh TOO hard.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Up

Kallerin Designs of Norway

I will now take a moment to say how hard it's been to not be posting about this all the time. For the past 9 weeks, I've been pretty much completely consumed with getting Krafti-Kit up and happening. Today, we finally went live. One day later than expected, but live.

All along I've been working on developing kits for the store and that work continues at an intense pace. I never quite knew I had so many designs in me! It's wonderful to get back to crochet, needlepoint and embroidery as well as continuing to design knitwear.

Building the business in 9 weeks has been completely insane, and I knew that coming into it. I don't think there was any way to prepare Laura. (Maybe I'll have her do a guest post here or on my biz blog).

Thanks to everyone for your love and support.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spinning Hands

Yesterday at Spinnerati, I was determined to get some good "spinning shots". Considering most of the action is at "crotch level", it was a little...challenging to get this right. Oh, and then there's the matter of hands moving so fast, I had to keep telling folks, take it slooooooow.

I'm not going to identify who is who. Just for fun, see if you can guess who is who! Or not.
Do all spinners have such nice hands, or is it that our hands just look particularly graceful when we're in the act of spinning. Clearly rhetorical to us.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

How I Missed Ya..

The wool is back. The cashmere is back.

Seems to me this happens every year. The stuff you finish in late Spring never gets it's moment until the Autumn unfolds again. Funny, that.

It gives me hope for all my knitting, but I must confess: I have spent hours and hours on perfectly lovely projects that I simply don't wear. I've been talking and thinking about this for a while, but need to get it together:

A swap for knitted items that you made but don't like. I can't bear to give some of these away in any other context. Seriously complex cabled capes and the like. It's a busy Fall, so maybe in the dead of winter I'll get this together, dear readers.

Meanwhile, I'm just enjoying sleeping in my old cashmere sweaters. The true luxury of my life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Preparation Underway

Front and back of card

I just wanted to quickly post the "rack cards" I had printed for Oregon Flock and Fiber this weekend. Banner is arriving tomorrow; not a moment too soon!

I am more stoked than ever for this year. As usual, I get the lovely Barbara staying with me and I get to spend 2 days with all my favorite people. See you at the Festival

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Petra, Me and Sailing

The sailing vessel, Sara

Preparing to leave

Someone with a spinnaker sail

That big rotating bridge, moving just for us.

My she's happy we made it!
See, don't I look really really calm? Yeah, this was on the other side of that bridge.

Back at the slip, all relaxed, like.
All the comforts of home

Ah, yes. I believe the wine was poured by this point...

There's a lot of story to this. Oh, I wish I could just tell you all over a cuppa. Seriously funny, amazing, a little scary and yeah, amazing.

I manned the tiller and gave us direction, eventually trying to find the wind, catch the wind and still sail down the river with Petra adjusting the sails and talking non-stop about what was happening. None of it was easy, but somehow it call came back to me. The parts of me that knows about boats and hopping, yes hopping off to safely guide them into slips. I forgot what I knew.

The most amazing and no doubt stressful time for Petra was when we found ourselves on the other side of a massive steel bridge (Hey, let's just keep going to see what we see!). We get up on the bridge and see some other boats hoavering. Hell, let's just move beyond and wait a little down river until they raise that side of the bridge. Oh no! They're raising the bridge and now we're far away and look! They're moving it back again.

We have no radio. We don't know what to do. Petra pulls out the airhorn and I try and look up how many times to signal for "let up the bridge, please!" There's a wee little house actually on the bridge where there's some guy who comes out to see our little 20' Ranger sittin down there blowing our air horn for dear life, going around in circles. Next thing we know there's two speeding trains, racing across the bridge. Well heck, we think. At least there's actually trains. Maybe he really does see us. Maybe that far off signal was, Ok, don't get your panties all in a wad!

Yes, the bridge eventually rotated back to the open position. Mr Man blew his horn in a Howdy Ladies kinda way (seriously, we thought we were gonna have to lift up our shirts any minute because he didn't seem to see us batting our eyelashes) We passed through.

Ummm. I guess she needs a radio for occasions like this.
We did fine. I know I'm gonna be crazy sore tomorrow and that I've gotten myself into "something" there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

World Wide Spin in Public Day (WWSIP)

This is the way my day started, waiting at the MAX in the drizzle in my socks. Only in the fiber arts community is it cool to wear sandals with socks. And so you'll be asking, Nutkin, knitting in the Paul colorway of Wollmeise.
And so I get there, and Bobbie, above, smiling to the left already has the Journey Wheel ready for it's hand-off back to me. Here she is demonstrating carding technique with what I believe are dog combs.

And above we have Carrisa, showing off some sparkly art yarn to Sara on the right.

Left to right, we have Melinda and Jessica down from Vancouver and Sara's delicate hands doing their thing. Oh, so was that great banjo, mandolin and guitar player right above her.
Here we have our very organized spinning organizer, Sheila January with the Black Sheep Gathering shirt on. We compared notes about spinning guild organizing as well as fiber-related trips to Sweden.And thanks to Tami Hawes for organizing this shindig and landing us these great swag bags!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I Finally Did it

As many of you know, my dad had a phase of spinning. It was after he had lost most of his site after some eye surgery. I made some beautiful yarn. His resources for fiber were really limited, but he turned out some great natural colored yarn. I have a couple of sweaters he knit from that yarn and some that I've over-dyed, as you can see in the hank to the left above.

Thing is, I've really gone more to the sleek worsted style of spinning and have had a really hard time replicating the woolen style of spinning that he was so good at. I love the light, airy quality it has. The ply is really angled nicely. The whole package.

Last night I gave it another try. I pulled out some wool/mohair blend that I picked up at black sheep. I set my ratios for a fast spin and I just let 'er rip. As I finished two bobbins of singles in about an hour, I wasn't really quite sure of what I'd come up with. It was only after I plied them that I thought, Holy cr*p! I've done it!

So, here you go. Dad's is on the left and mine is on the right. Oh, happy day.

Now off to finish preparations for the multitude of "end of season" happenings.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It's in The Stars...

...and in the wind. The words that is, to pluck out and put down.
This is one of those posts where I start with no exact idea, no images and then somehow it coalesces and appears on this page.

I was just visiting with my dear friend Paula tonight who has graced the posts of this blog for years now. She is one of the most singularly talented people I know, and for sure, in fashion. These days we seem to be coming to some of the same conclusions about "just doing it."

Today I taught my friend Laura how to hand sew. No one has ever asked me to do that before. To me it's like knowing how to speak or read or walk. How do you teach that? My brain was at a loss for a moment and then I thought about being maybe 5 or so and how I might have learned. (see picture above in making mode) With anything, hands awkward at first and then it just starts flowing, one stitch after another.

Paula and I talked about the gift of being able to make things no matter what. No matter how awful we feel, how anxious or scared. We just keep making things. She told me a story of staying up nights, mending clothes because she was worried about her Grandmother and it seemed like the thing to do.

We all have stories like that in this community of makers. What I seem to be focusing on more and more these days is the passing down of the gift. I was so lucky to have the parents I had who taught me everything I know about making things. My New England heritage is very much about that simplicity of purpose. You make a dress because you need a dress.

I learned to take my brothers' old oxford cloth shirts with the frayed collars and turn those collars to the un-worn side. You pick out all the tiny stitches of the collar from the band and then you turn it upside down and stitch is all right back in place. I did it because you couldn't find things like that for girls when I was 16.

A purpose filled life is a happy life. You can take the girl out of New England but you can't take the New England out of the girl.
"Dyed in the wool" as we say.
A favorite phrase, still.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time Bisected

Yes, we have a logo.
Right now most of my time is spent of getting this business up and running, ASAP. On the other side, today I am about to start developing some of my own kits under the Krafti-Kit name.

Believe me, I know the most time consuming part of making a kit is writing the instructions. Fortunately we have a team of testers up for the task of checking each pattern before selling. As someone who has been a pattern tester for knitwear designs off and on these past years, I know what that means. It is somewhat a thankless job, but the reason I've always done it is to expand my skill set. In this case, we're going to try and do the same thing by having knitters to needlepoint, crocheters doing spinning, etc. An adventurous type is needed, for sure.

On the personal knitting side, I'm trying to finish some languishing projects that I now I'll want to wear soon. But, you know it's kinda bad when I shorten a sweater because I can't stand to knit on the body of it anymore. UGHH! Knitters need a sense of humor, don't we? If not, those pointy needles would become objects of torture for us or those we love...

Oregon Flock and Fiber is next month and if nothing else, it means that I will be immersed again into the fiberarts community again for 4 days. Here's hoping the weather does it's normal sunny September thing here in Oregon. It's great spinning outdoors. It's also great teaching and showing the little ones what we do. In fact, I think I've had more of that going on than ever. When we meet at the downtown library for the monthly Spinnerati meetings, more and more kids drag their parents in to see what we're doing.

Okay, folks. Back to work and dreaming of the next projects to pull together!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sock Summit -- Experience of a Lifetime

photo courtesy of Deb Accuardi

I am not going to do an overall recall of my entire Sock Summit experience. That's why this is so late in coming! There's too much to say and so many feelings about the whole thing. As many of you already know, I spent 3 days doing registration. I have NO regrets about that. It was a wonderful way to meet my sock buds and celebrities alike.

The part of my weekend that was really unexpected is that I was asked to assist a teacher on Saturday afternoon. I didn't know who she was, or what her work was like. I was just looking forward to helping a teacher in any way that I could and get to be a fly on the way of her class.
The teacher that I was assigned to was Marjan Hammick, aka yarnissima. Traveling all the way from her small village in The Netherlands, her tales of rural life and growing up in a knitting culture were fascinating to me.

I'm generally pretty clear about what I find to be "fun" to know socks, and um...NOT. If I had time to examine Marjan's work in advance, I might have been more guarded about the class. What happened instead is that I saw her patterns and was called to the challenge. Marjan's design's caress the foot in the most amazing ways, bringing in traditional twisted, Bavarian stitches to truly fluid and inspired designs.

That Saturday night I went home and immediately cast on the most simple socks "Brainless" using techniques that I was not so very familiar with. A week later I had the socks complete and any worries I had about fit cleared up in the relaxing of the yarn in the first wash. The only thing that I did differently was to work the whole upper leg in stockinette, as it seemed in the pattern to be optional. Probably not, but moving up a needle size, it worked just perfectly for me and it added to the elegance of the design.

Yesterday I cast-on her latest design, Sottopassaggio.

Although better pictures of all of these socks exist elsewhere, these are my pictures of the same socks when I got to actually feel and examine their textures and construction. These were taken my my moment of glee!

Look at that calf detail!
And finally, below is my "brainless" using yarn from Miss Babs.
And for those of you who know me, I always make time to knit, right? Sweaters are just going to have to wait until I get a little of this out of my system!