feather in my cap

So I am testing a cap for my favorite designer  Jana http://justblocked.blogspot.com/

So far I love everything about the test. The pattern is a cap with a brim. I am a person that wears baseball caps year round to keep the sun out of my eyes. So I love the idea of a knit cap with a brim. I made one for a favorite little guy 2 years ago. I had made him a knit hat and when he tried it on he immediately said ‘oh it doesn’t have a brim’. His mom frowned and told him just say thank you but I took it back saying ‘well – we will just have to make this right’.  So I picked up stitches and made a folded brim and inserted a stiff felt inside it before stitching it up. This worked and Mason loved the new cap.

But Jana’s cap works out better than my brim –the stitch chosen for the brim adds a stiffness without having to add something to hold its shape. And the texture is so beautiful.

The short brim calls to mind a greek fisherman’s cap that my x used to wear back in the 70’s.but the resembalance ends there cause the cap continues up into a full cap that is a little slouchy.

The brim was worked on US#1 needles. And the woven stitch was a little tight to work. So tight that I broke my needles just before finishing the upper brim. Argg!! I had to put away my cap and work on baby caps for a bit. But once I replaced my needles I finished the brim and moved on to the ribbing ; )

Now normally when I test I follow the directions to a t. That is what a test means you are testing the pattern not altering the pattern to fit your own vision.  But I couldn’t resist making a small change — Jana had a beautiful stitch detail  in the body of the cap. And I couldn’t resist putting it on the side of the cap. The stitch calls to mind a feather. And a feather belongs on the side. If you google a ‘feather in the cap’ you find that traditionally a hunter would take the feather from the first woodcock shot and add it to the side of his hat as a trophy of his accomplishment. And this is fitting– a feather in my cap — whenever I have knit for Jana I feel an accomplishment. Now that doesn’t mean that Jana’s patterns are hard. No not at all — her patterns aren’t hard but they look difficult and so– make you look like a very skilled knitter!! Ahh-a feather in my cap!!

Now that the brim is finished I am zipping along.Which is good the temperatures are cooling a little this week and if I hurry I might get to wear my hat on my morning walks. This is so cute I want to wear it now instead of putting it away until fall.


b day in memphis

I shared pictures of my birthday in the last post and then remembered that I never shared pictures of my daughter Alice’s birthday party in Memphis. doesn’t this look like a blast playing wii on the side of a building!!!


Andrew J. Breig took the picture and shared it. And then it flew all over the internet for a couple of weeks. It even made  Reddit   http://www.reddit.com/   a internet paper that my husband reads every day. Who says Memphis isn’t a fun and happening place?

here is another picture of a video game party at Micheal and Alice’slooks like tons of fun!!

When I was pregnant with Alice I was delighted to find out that my due date was the same due date as my Mom’s May 13. Of course Alice was early by a week and I was fashionable late by over a week. Which I always claim set me up for the rest of my life because I always struggle with being on time. I have tried many tricks like sitting my clocks 15 minutes early and having everything in the car the night before. But I still run late and being late can be stressful. Now that I am retired it doesn’t matter as much — I don’t have a job to get to or a million and one things to take care of in my free time. But at times I find myself running behind. This month I am behind in my charity knitting. I just finally cast on and made 2 caps this week end.

Lucky for me baby hats are so quick to knit. The ends will have to be sewn in and I have to wash them. One is a plain jane stockinette hat. The other is a garter stitch turned on its side. I wanted to make little curled ends for a tassel but had trouble thinking it out. I didn’t want to cut the yarn as I was knitting so I settled for a curled loop. when I sew the side of the hat up I will wrap yarn around this and it will be more of a tassel. If I had made fewer of them I think it would have looked like a flower — I could even put a button in the center. I think I will make another like this and play around with it.And I am still working on my cap. I have finished the ribbing and have 3 pattern repeats done.It is going much faster now. I love the woven brim but it was a tight knit. I even broke the needle I was working with and had to run out and get a replacement. Later I will take a better picture so you can see the fancy stitch I am doing now.

Whew!! Now I feel a little caught up ; )

Memorial day week end

woke up to what seems to be traditional weather for Memorial Day week end.

rain and wind and more rain.

it’s ok though — I got a few more rows knit here. And I am finished with the brim and ready to knit the cap. I love this woven stitch for the brim I wish you could see it up close. And I love this yarn — of course I am a little bias I dyed it myself. I wrote about it on this post  https://whatzitknitz.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/summer-is-offically-over/

the yarn turned out the exact color of Gallagher’s fields in the fall. I love the brown and gold colors. And I love how great the woven stitch looks with the variegation in this yarn. Tonight I will be moving on to the body of this cap and I think it will knit up quickly now.

before the rain stopped we moved on to a nice fish breakfast. I like my fish cooked plainly – so I soak them in milk for a while and then drain. then I toss the fish with flour and a little salt. then into a hat frying pan that I had cooked up some bacon. Now I know bacon isn’t a heart heathy food but I think we deserve a little treat this morning. After all I am one year older today.  So we had fish fried in a little bacon grease, eggs on the side with marble rye toast and  some watermelon.

the rain cleared and I got to go fishing. we saw just a few fish including a big muskie that swam slowly by as we got ready to drop anchor. We didn’t caught a thing this morning probable the muskie scared the fish away.but its nice just to get out in the boat and relax.

Meva loves to go in the boat. We really are a pair of spoiled girls — bacon and fish  for breakfast and  a nice boat ride .

ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone

I had so much fun sharing the quilt I finished on Monday Auntie Em, I thought I would share the 2nd quilt that I found the same day. It was funny — I was in the St Vinnies looking for picture frames when I suddenly felt a need to check out the notion aisle. It was like some thing was calling to me as I dug into the bin of fabrics. At the bottom of the bin were a couple of lumpy bags– the colors didn’t call out to me – bright yellows and reds. And I put them aside and went back to looking for picture frames. I needed large ones. I like to frame the posters my son-in-law makes and hang them on the walls.But some thing kept bothering me and I found myself at the fabric bin again. And I dug through and reached the bottom and the lumpy bags were still there, big clear plastic bags with the loud material all jumbled up inside.The colors wouldn’t go with anything but some how I just couldn’t leave them behind. Some one cared enough to stitch these a cheery place on a cold wisconsin night. So I broke down and put them in my cart.

Once I was at home I sorted through the 2 bags. The quilt I call Auntie Em was completely  hand stitched stitched but a little small so I decided to add fabric to make it larger. The stitches were even and nice clearly sewn by an expert.

The blue and yellow  quilt was not quite finished. It was jumbled into the bag with some squares that were done but never added to the quilt. It was like the quilter had given up hope on this quilt. You could see that she had run into several problems. she ran out of the yellow madris fabric and substitued a stripe in yellow. and then when she seemed to pick up steam and be going good the blue ran out.

I think this was probably a inexperianced quilter. The hand  stitching is not as tidy as on the Auntie Em quilt. And the seams are not straight. Where Auntie Em used white cotton thread to sew this quilter used whatever was on hand —heavy button thread, assorted colors of cotton thread and even what looked like embroidery floss. The fabrics are all different weights — there are silks, cotton and heavier  drapery material.

but their are some treasures to see like the cowboy fabric above.
and this little bopeep smiling shyly  and you can just make out a fox or some animal hiding above with a bow and arrow. A old time cupid waiting to win your heart.
I think this quilt has a story to tell. I had to do a lot of work on this one. I sewed several blocks together to add 3 more rows to what was already done. And then I found a material to back this. and pieced it together with (forgot to get a picture of the back).
I am afraid this quilt also talked to me  as I finished it(am I going completely dotty in my old age?). I found my self humming and singing songs that I hadn’t heard in ages.  But the song that ran through my head the most was  “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”. So as cheery as this quilt looks I wonder if the women who was sewing it was sad. Was money extremely tight and she sewed what ever material -what ever weight she could find in order to finish this?  Were stitches uneven because she had to keep jumping up to tend to her children? Was she humming the same song I was cause she was blue? Had her sunshine gone away?
I won’t ever know but maybe she can rest a little easier knowing that her quilt has found a home and is used and loved. It keeps us warm and it makes my bedroom look cheery even when it is cold and grey outside. And if my family hears me humming while I make the bed in the morning I just won’t tell them I am channeling some long ago woman who sewed this quilt.
don’t worry I am still knitting too but I forgot my camera when we drove to the cabin so i can’t take any pictures. But I can tell you I am working on an extremely cute hat that I can’t wait to show you. And I might have knit another turtle or two ; )


Meva’s newest-  bestest friend….This is Cree only 9 months old and a bundle of energy…you can see its hard to even keep him in the picture frame.But after the frantic running the two have settled down a little.watching them together made all of us think of Sonny
and Meva Its almost like Cree is channeling Sonny’s spirit some how.

The way they play wrestle together and chase is just the way Sonny and Meva used to play.

I think Cree and Meva are destined to become as good friends as Sonny and Meva were.

Auntie Em’s quilt

I am not sure if my quilt qualifies for this festival http://amyscreativeside.com/2012/05/18/bloggers-quilt-festival-spring-2012/   but I still would like to share the story of my quilt.   I grew up in a family where my mother quilted. We were tucked into bed in the evening under quilts that she had carefully sewn from her scraps. our fingers would run over the fabrics while we would recall whose dress this scrap was or which brother wore that particular shirt.

But this quilt is not one my Mom made or even one I made — I found it in a plastic bag at St Vinnie’s. I was looking for picture frames and I don’t even know what possessed me to walk down this aisle. It looked sad and a little dingy and the colors were not really my cup of tea but  I couldn’t bare to leave it on the shelf – not when I know the hard work that goes into making a quilt and the memories it holds. I put it in my cart to take home.

When I took my treasure out of the bag at home I discovered it was all hand stitched. Tiny careful little stitches on somewhat flimsy cloth. And many of the tiny squares were stitched out of scraps. Imagine not having enough material to make a square 1″x1″ and piecing the material together.  The colors brightened considerable when I hand washed the quilt.

I took my quilt to the local Ben Franklins  http://benfranklincraftswi.com/  that has a wonderful quilting department and the ladies there confirmed what I thought — this was a feed sack quilt probable made in the 40’s. I wanted to add some sashing to the quilt to make it a little larger so I bought some yellow and some gingham and some prints to make squares with.

Below is one of the squares I made pieced on my old treadle sewing machine. while I worked on the quilt I imagined the lady who pieced this together I was in a small farming community when I stopped in the thrift store. So I imagined a farmer’s wife sewing in the evening while she listened to her children do their homework. All the while I worked I kept thinking of the line in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy says to Toto ‘I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’. So I call this my Auntie Em Quilt and in the corner I embroidered where I found the quilt and how it was handstitched by someone I don’t know.

For the back I pieced some scraps and added them to some yardage I had bought at the quilt storeI even added a few pieces of a cloth rice bag I had to the mix.I sandwiched this with a cotton batt because it just seemed appropriate for the feed sacks.
The quilt now resides on our bed during the warmer months of the year because I know that is what Auntie Em would want.

Steamed ferns

One of my goals this week was to dye with bracken or fern leaves.

So I took a short walk in the woods by the cabin. There is so much to see in the under growth but I rushed by the jack in the pulpits to reach my goal. It would be easy to get distracted by the cool, calm greens that surround me but I stay on task.

My  favorite dye book –  Wild Color by Jenny Dean  Jenny Dean’s Wild Colour  – says that young fronds will yield yellow shades.  The ferns are already  too large but I decide to pick them any ways.

I pick 3 pounds of the leaves. I started by cutting up the stems but then realized

it would be faster to just unzip the leaf from the stem. I just held the stem in one hand and pressed my fingers on either side and quickly ran it through my fingers –unzipping the leaves.I put half the leaves in to the dye pot and then added enough water to cover. Then set the pot over the fire pit. It simmered for a long time and didn’t release much color. The leaves looked like creamed spinach at this point and smelled good enough to eat. After about 6 hours I lifted some of the leaves and placed my yarn under neath them and pushed the grate to the side so it wasn’t directly over the heat. After an hour I checked it and took out all the leaves and added the second half of the leaves to the hot water hoping to get darker hues. I covered it and let it sit all afternoon.

The color was light when I checked again so I left it on the grate over the fire pit overnight. The fire was almost out. In the morning I pulled it out and the yarn was cold.We have had nice sunny weather in Wisconsin but the nights cool off and in the morning it was only 40*.  I hung the yarn over the railing and  let it dry without rinsing.

Here is the yarn before its rinse.

Now we are home again and I have washed and rinsed the yarn.The color starts out a light yellowish green and gets a little darker and becomes  a light khaki shade.you can see where the yarn has come into contact with the leaves as the color fades in and out. I like to dye with out straining the material out of the dye pot I love the kettled look of the yarn. At first glance the dye job on the yarn seems dull but its light soft shade grows on me. And I am already thinking of stranded work I can knit with it.

Now wouldn’t it be lovely to get the same green as these leaves with the spots of dappled sunshine on them?

Can you see it…….

I watched for about 20 minutes before I decided to try to sneak up behind it and get closer.
Here is a better shot it was so intent on digging out the insects it didn’t hear me. I was nervous because the gravel was crunching under my feet and I really am not very sneaky anyways.but he didn’t fly away he just paused every once and a while and looked aroundIts a pileated woodpecker. It looks almost prehistoric with the long beak. The crest on its head is a very bright red. We used to see these every day when we lived at the cabin full time. And once I spent a wintery afternoon watching as one drilled an old tree on our neighbors property, stripping all the bark off the tree as it hunted for insects. This is a male. you can tell because of the stripe of red on the chin. It is just slightly smaller than a crow. Who needs tv when you watch birds like these?

I came home from the cabin and found this on my doorstepThis is the first yarn that my daughter Alice spun on the spinning wheel I gave her a 1 1/2 weeks ago.
I think it is lovely . She says it was a great yarn to learn to use a spinning wheel with because it was long kinky locks. But it also wasn’t completely clean so there are bits of vegetation in it. There is 250 yards of this rustic looking yarn. And I have the perfect project in mind.  The colors and texture remind me of gnarly old tree bark.And as if this wasn’t enough yarn hidden underneath was …. this yarn doesn’t it make you think of a warm summer day with tiny little wisps of clouds floating above. This is from an indigo vat she had set up.

But there was still more in the box. These 2  beauties came out next. I knew Alice was going to have indigo pot going so I sent her 2 skeins that I had dyed with golden rod. the yellow was very intense almost neon. So she overdyed these for me.The dark skein went in first and darkened very quickly. The second skein was in for a matter of seconds and then out again. The dark skein is the same dappled green that I see on the black spruce trees at the cabin in the fall. The light one also reminds me of pine trees but in the spring — when the candles at the end of the branches are a light yellowish green with the promise of new growth. That is what our pine trees look like now.

These are just the greens I was looking for when I sent her the yellow yarn. But now I can think of a couple of things I want to knit with these– not the original project I had in mind though- something different……

…..and then after that maybe there will be enough  scraps so I can make a little turtle too.

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