This could be one of those days

and I carry this, it’s heavy

I went on a sewing retreat this past weekend at the Stitch Lounge in Greenfield.

Spinning wheel cover in progress

(See that amazing circle and polka dot log cabin business happening on the table? That’s a pillow that Annie is making around a drawing her middle son made of their last vacation.)

It was so much fun! 2 days of sewing with no kids or husband, time with my bestest friend, Annie, and a bunch of other great women and I got a few projects done that I’ve really wanted to get to.

I made a travel bag for my spinning wheel, Mathilde – you can read about my love affair with my wheel here. The cover has a hidden pocket type opening so I can reach in and grab the front handle for easy travel.

finished spinning wheel cover

I finished that project the first day and had all of the second day to make myself a new bag. Amy Butler pattern and fabrics and LOTS of interfacing!

my amy butler bag

The Stitch Lounge puts on a great event, they have everything you need for a fabulous project experience  knowledgeable employees more than willing to help and demonstrate new techniques and offer advice and Lots of amazing food for us hungry sewists. Check out a class or one of their Social Sewing nights.

But some kind of madness is swallowing me whole

I have finally seen the light :)

Crochet madness, my friends, and I’m not fighting it. This has got to be one of the most happy and productive times in my life. I’m going to make a concerted effort to be here at least once a week going forward. Facebook and Twitter are great but limited, though you can follow me there as well.

And what crochet madness have I been up to? 3 Spring designs for Valley Yarns as well as a few I’ve put out on my own.

Riparia

Riparia is a quick and easy one-skein cowl that’s not too heavy for Spring.

frostlattice

Frost Lattice is a romantic little bag with serious vintage appeal.

plaid_with_bird_medium2

And I even did some knitting! Random Plaids is a great way to play with color.

You can check out all my designs on Ravelry, I’ve been busy!, I have a few more in the pipeline and lots more news in the near future.

I’ll be leading a CAL, Crochet-a-long, over on the WEBS blog starting on March 28th so keep an eye out for that and join in if you can.

Are you kissing the starry birds in the sky

Will you come and visit us down below

Dusting the old girl off.

Making plans to visit regularly.

I’ve been super busy, 35 designs in just over a year and I’ve got 5 or 6 more to give you before the end of 2012,  but I’m finally feeling a bit settled and finding time for things that have been neglected.

Also feeling slightly obsessed with the American west and Blue Grass.

Sneak peek!

Image

Toots

Hey man slow down, slow down

;) - That’s when you see sparks

As promised, a garden update and a freebie!

Garden first, well lets call it the Micro-farm cuz that’s kinda what were trying to do here. The apple trees are bearing up well and we discovered a surprise on the new pear tree, an actual PEAR!

I am so planning on doing this in a few years

The beans are climbing all over the fence, the peas are beginning to flower and the tomatoes are really beginning to take off. Over in the main garden we are almost done with the first bed of radishes, a few more coleslaws and salads and we’ll be ready for a second planting.

We also have a bunch of little berry patches that we hope to consolidate for next year.  Black raspberries, I feel a pie coming on!

The cockerels and pullets have been separated. The male Steves are living in the new “dude-coop” and the lady Steves have moved down with the hens.

We also picked up 5 Leghorn chicks, from Mr. Lipman’s 2nd grade again, whicj brings us to a grand total of 35 chickens. I know, but really, we’re pretty sure that 2 of the leghorns are male so that means that by the end of the summer we’ll be down to 21 hens. Holy shit, did I just say 21 hens?

Who needs eggs? You do, right? Right!

And how do we corral all these chickens? a Liberal use of chicken wire and other fencing which brings me to the freebie!

My hair is kind of a crazy thing to begin with and the summer humidity does terrible things to it. I often wear my hair in a ponytail but sometimes I just want it out of my face. So what’s a girl to do?

Chicken Wire!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a simple mesh kerchief that ties at the back neck to help corral your frizzy summer locks (it also doubles as a great neckerchief!)

Grab the PDF of Chicken Wire here or over on <a href="download now“>Ravelry

Toots

I’m fancy free darlin’

;) – So who shall I start with

New Summer patterns are up at Webs!

Math for Kathy, Hill Log Cabin blanket, Bartholomew’s Cobble vest and my favorite, The October Mountain cardigan.

This sweater went through SO many changes from idea to garment but I am thrilled with how she came out.

Rav links are all here.

I’m also really happy to finally show you my current favorite sweater. Kirsten was designing this as I was getting my feet wet with spinning. I decided to spin my own yarn so I could make one. I spun up 8 oz of Kangaroo Dyer Merino and 8oz of Louet Merino and Silk and plied them together.  I love the color!

I knit and knit until all that was left was scraps of yarn for seaming and sewing on the buttons.

I am over the moon for this sweater and I wear it all the time, I’m wearing it now.

I’m hip deep in Fall design work now but I reward myself with mini spinning breaks. The bag of sample nubbins that I got at the 2011 MSWF from Into the Whirled is filling this need perfectly.

Alright, I’ve got a pattern to get typed up and a class to finish packing up supplies for. Next time I’ll have a garden update and a free pattern for you :)

Toots

I have an ability It’s pounding at my door

;) - So fly one time

Here I sit filling in my June schedule on the calendar and updating my projects whiteboard and I realized just how much I already have planned for this summer. Then I realized how much of what I did this past Winter and Spring that I never told you about!

I had 4 design in the Spring 2011 Valley Yarns Catalog, the Old Sheldon House Capelet, the Pincushion Moss Shawl, the Carle baby sweater and a collection of Potholders.

Here is the Shawl blocking.

I’ve also been working on a series of small, round, animal, amigurumi with Webs Design Coordinator Kirsten Hipsky. She does the knit version and I work up the crochet. This project has been, at times, frustrating and hysterically awesome. Wait till you see what we come up with next!

I guess I should tell you a bit about this summer so you can get in on some of it if you’re local. I’m teaching another great series of classes at Webs.

We’re starting out with a Design your own crochet cowl class that runs for 4 weeks and really gives the students insight into what it takes to design something as simple as a tube! Yarn choice, hook/gauge choice, choosing a stitch pattern or several and deciding on the type of construction: flat and seamed or in the round.

Then we have 3, two week workshops for specialty crochet techniques.

Broom Stick Lace, Hairpin lace and Tunisian or Afghan crochet(which is already full but you could add yourself to the wait list if any seats open up).

As always, if crochet interests you but you’ve never picked up a hook or its been years since you have, I’ll be running the Intensive version of our Crochet 1 class the second week in August.

Today I’m finishing up with some editing of patterns that will be released in the Webs Summer catalog (soon my pretties!) and working out details for some fall classes up at Metaphor Yarns.

What have you been up to? Anything you like to see? Let me know!

Toots

Somebody hit me hard, right in my own back yard

;) – I heard you callin’ to my soul

We are in full swing with the Yarden this year. We’re making a serious effort to convert most of the yard to food production over the next few years.

We have added 9 fruit trees.

This is our line of apples at the North side of the property. 5 trees. 2 MacIntosh, 2 Courtland and 1 Red Delicious. My secret hope is to plant seeds from some of these apples and see what kind of awesome, or terrible, new apples we’ve bred. 3 of the trees went in last summer and we just wanted more, it didn’t feel like enough. What is truly lovely is that we will actually have fruit this year! We’ve also got 2 pear trees and 2 cherry trees that we’ll get into the ground in the next week.

To expand the garden we put up a partial fence this year for the climbers. We have cucumbers, peas, pole beans and a couple varieties of pole tomatoes. We’re calling it the “Hipster Garden” because the raised beds are made of old barn wood and we all know that Hipsters LOVE old barn wood. Today Patrick dug out the old hanging racks for his Pez collection and converted them into climbing frames. This man is awesome!

On the chicken front we have 4 laying hens, collectively known as, “the Ladies” and 25 chicks known this year as, “the Steves“. They are 5 weeks old now and we have about 2 more weeks before we separate the males from the females. We have 4 New Hampshire Reds, 5 Buff Orpingtons, 5 Black Australorps, 5 Barred Rocks, 5 Silver Laced Wyandottes, and 1 Patridge Cochin.

Here are the Ladies doing what they do on hot days, we call it the flop. They dig their way down to cool soil and spread their wings out to cool off.

More garden news and CROCHET soon.

Enjoy this beautiful Spring my chickadees!

Toots

 

 

 

When I raise up my hands

;) – I snuck up to the balcony

I know we’re due for the final installment of the Motif scarf but I have to show you what’s been distracting me from everything else.

Spinning!

2 weeks ago I got myself a birthday present, a Ladybug spinning wheel, and I have not been able to stop. I had one braid of fiber in my stash, I bought 3 more and a good friend gave me a giant bag of fiber for my birthday. Everything but the bag has been spun and plied. I offer you now, pictographical proof of the learning curve.

Yarn 1 – Sheep Spin from Sheep Shop Yarn Company (color Lime)

I  got this braid of fiber over a year ago in the hopes that one day I would be able to spin it up. I loved the colors.  Sadly, I have moved it around so much and fondled it so frequently that most of the outer fibers felted and it was a bitch to draft. Also, in my excitement to get-the-damn-thing-plied, I forgot to ply in the opposite direction.  Overspin, anyone?

Yarn 2 – Louet Northern Lights (violets colorway)

I thought this one would make a great second attempt since it was pre drafted and I could concentrate on getting my rhythm down between hands and feet without worrying about spinning a fiber to thick to fit through the orofice (Shut up, Kevin! That is the actual name of that part of the wheel. Shut up.) I did get better but I made the same mistake when plying – some direction plying equals wikkid curly-uppy yarn.

Yarn 3 – Coopworth Cross hand dyed by Sojourner Design

This was where I got it. I predrafted the fiber into 4 strips and spun 2 on each bobbin in the same order to get a plied yarn with a gentle transition from the blues to green and back. I rigged up a Lazy Kate and remembered to ply in the opposite direction and – Ah, Happiness!

Yarn 4 – Frabjous Fiber merino top(Green with Envy)

This stuff was like handling butter! So soft. I predrafted this into 8 different strips and spun 4 onto each bobbin, not really paring attention to color proportion or order. I ended up with one bobbin larger than the other by half. So, I plied until I ran out of fiber on the one bobbin and then I Navajo plied what was left on the other bobbin – Hence the 2 skeins.

Yarn 5 – wool/alpaca blend

This is a ginormous bag of fiber that my friend Annie gifted me for my birthday. I have filled this bobbin and the bag looks like I haven’t made a dent. I may need to spin all of this before I ply any of it. That may just be how I roll with this one.

We’ll finish up the crochet-along soon. Soon!

Toots

So wipe that dirty smile off

;) - Who wants to be right as rain

Ah, week three. I thought I’d give you a bit of a break and let you get those thirty some-odd motifs done. It really does finish up much faster is you have everything ready to join when we get to Row 2.

So, how about weaving in ends? Awesome.

Here we have a motif all done through Round 3. Let’s get rid of some of those pesky tails.

I always work from the inside out. You’ll notice that there is no dark green tail. Since the stitched in the second round are fairly close together I was able to crochet over the tail from round one, eliminating the need to weave in that tail.

3 easy steps to weaving a tail into a stitch (or group of stitches)

1.) Back through the tops of the stitch(s)

2.) Down through the body of the stitch(s)

3.) Through the “feet” or bottom of the same stitch(s). I try to g through the feet of at least 3 stitches in this step.

Trim that tail and call it done!

Now, chains are a little bit harder to work a tail into but it is possible.

You’ll need to get the tail up t the top of the chain by working up through the body of the stitch.

Then you’ll meander through the chain stitches. following the yarn through to mimic the stitches as close as you can.

Once you’ve reached the next stitch, head down through the body of the stitch. I like to double back through this stitch once more.

All trimmed, no tails dangling, ready to join everything together!

Next week we’ll tackle the tricky part that pulls the whole thing together.

Pop me a question if you’re stuck. Till next week Chicadees!

Toots

 

For a while I held your hand

;) - Honey, it’s ok

So, ready for the 2nd installment of the crochet along?

For this week you needed to have 3 pieces ready, 1 done all the way through Round 4 and 2 through round 3.

Let us get to the joining! Begin round 4 on the next piece and stop after the first 5 dcs.

Here is where the magic of joining while you go happens. There are 3 chains that you have to make here in the corner. If we exchange that 2nd chain for a slip stitch we keep the style and length of the corner the same but will will connect it to the previously finished square.

Chain 1, then slip stitch into the chain 3 corner space on the finished square

Chain one more to finish the corner space and then complete the next 5dcs in the same ch5 space.

You should join in the middle of this side as well as at the corners for stability. Sc in the next ch5 space, ch2, slips stitch to the corresponding ch 5 on the finished square, ch 2 more and sc in the next ch 5 space.

Now repeat the corner – [5dc, ch1, slip stitch to ch3 space of finished square, ch 1 5dc] in next ch 5 space

The joining is now finished, complete this square by finishing Round 4. 2 squares joined.

Follow this sequence once more to join the 3rd piece.

Thats it for this week. Next week we’ll join the second group of 3 which gets a little bit tricky because it puts the whole scarf on the bias! But if you can follow along this week you’ll do fine next week.

Remember to pop me an e-mail if you have questions and if you’ve got pics of your progress send those along as well. I’d love to see how you’re doing :)

Toots