more toys

So I received another package in the mail. When I opened it….…toys came tumbling out.

it seemed like for every toy

that came out of the box there were two more

behind it.

it was like the circus act where a tiny little car

up in the middle of the ring and parks.

the door opens and out comes a clown

and then another

and another

and another

and just when you think there can’t be another clown squeezed into the tiny little car out comes two more.

Thats how this box of toys seemed –every time I thought that I had grabbed the last toy that could possible fit into the box I would reach down and find another.

And my July charity of toys

has come to an end too.

It stretched all the way to

the end of August

and was loads of fun

but it is time to have the

drawing I promised.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t knit toys for PB&J. They take donations year round.  
 Knitch is the LYS where I drop off my toys. I went there last week to drop off this box and much to my delight I saw the window had quite a few toys displayed in them.This is window #1 . And as you turn to the other side there are more toys in window #2There are toys in a tree tooIn fact there are toys all over the store. On the big comfortable chair in the front of the shop. And the baby bassinette by the front counter. And even in the back room. So go and take a look and get some ideas for your own toy making.  Or better yet cast on and make a toy and drop it off for PB&J because these toys go to a very worthy charity.

But I did say a drawing — didn’t I and everyone who donated is eligible for the drawing. So first I would like to thank everyone who donated. I think it is very hard to donate a toy as opposed to a hat or mittens. Don’t get me wrong hats and mittens and scarfs are lovely. And lots of time and care and love goes into them. But a toy…..well toys take on a personality as we knit them. Sometimes they even whisper their names to us as we knit. We lovingly pat their round little bums and hugs their soft squishy tummies as we stuff them. I grow so attatched that it can be hard to pry my fingers off them…..until I remember that some child out there will adopt these little cuddles and sleep with them at night and read stories to them during the day. Or hold them for comfort as they undergo their treatments at the hospital. It makes me happy to know these guys are going to good homes ; )

Oops got distracted again and blathered on and on so I better get to business here and draw a name. So with out further delay the winner of the drawing is Jessica who’s ravatar on ravelry is Knitgineering. Jessica donated Mr Sssssnake and Bun Rabbit

Jessica donated Mr Sssssnake and Bun Rabbit

Aren’t they adorable. I will contact Jessica on ravelery and post a package tomorrow morning.

Thanks to every one that donated a toy for the August charity in the Itty Bitty Knits group


Kazow to Ka-zing

remember Kazow….I managed to get a more accurate picture see the gray and blues and lilac

There is even a hint of green in the yarn. it is pretty — even the twine that I tied off the skein with is a brilliant purple.

This morning the skein was dry. I like to dry my yarns straight out of the dye pot with out rinsing first. I think it helps to set a darker color. When I rinse right away sometimes the color washes out too much. So I usually give it a day or so before I wash and rinse.  So you can probable guess where this is going – can’t you?

yes I washed with a mild soap and rinsed and then used a conditioner to soften the yarn and Kazow turned into Ka-zing

still very pretty but not the purple, grayish blue of the Kazow post. The actual yarn is a little darker than in this photo.

It is more of a sage green and Mr. Fish Tickler likes this one better – he wasn’t enthusiastic about the purple hues. I like this too. I had expected to get more of a grayish blue color with a hint of green but it is always hard to predict what color will emerge from the pot.  I am not sure of the scientific reasons that the yarn changed so drastically but I believe it has to do with the ph of the water when the yarn is washed..or maybe the soap. But I suspected it might change because purple and blue are hard colors to achieve. And also I did have a little trouble getting any color to adher to the wool.

for me it is kind of like the magic of an indigo pot when your yarn comes out of the vat there is only a hint of yellow to it and magically as it gets exposed to the air the yarn will turn indigo blue.  In this case my yarn turned color when it was re-emersed in water and it turned this beautiful teal color and then as I continued to rinse out the yarn it turned darker and more of a sage green. The water stayed purple as I rinsed out the vinegar smell and the bits of hibiscus flowers.

So these are the four yarns I dyed this week the lightest one is lace weight dyed with blacked-eyed Susan flowers it is a very pale celery green. I had expected more of a khaki green and am still considering over dyeing this. The darker green is my hibiscus or Ka-zing as I will think of it. I wish I had more than one skien of this sock yarn — maybe 3 would be enough for a nice sweater but since I have only one skeins will  be used for stranded knitting.  The two orange skeins of sock weight yarn are dyed with jewelweed I think this is my favorite orange of all. A girl can never have too much orange and yellow – I love to play around and over dye these colors. I have 1400 yards of worsted yarn I want to dye with jewel weed and over dye and turn into a sweater that I will be test knitting soon ; )


I have other posts partially written that just need to be finished up before adding them here but I decided I just needed to share this with you. Look at this blast of color

Have you ever seen anything so beautiful? Well I am sure you have but I am just so excited about these flowers.

They are as big as a dinner plate and spectacular. And they grew in my garden!

Sure I can grow big yellow squash flowers that are pretty amazing and large.

But these beauties are so exotic and tropical looking

That is the unbelievable part – something that  looks like this can grow in the midwest and it is a perennial–it will come back after the long cold winter. Amazing.

So can you figure out what I did when I saw the flowers?   Put them in a vase ……

of course not —   I plucked them off and squished them into a jar of water and set it in the sun to ferment…

I had to see if some of the color would dye material.

As you can see the water turned purple in the jar –very purple as it stood in the sun but alas the fabric didn’t take up the color. So after 2 weeks I added a 1/2 cup of vinegar. I also keep adding flowers as they appeared on my bush(about 20 flowers). The vinegar did the trick–the cloth did change a little.

I wouldn’t call my cloth a resounding success but I will keep experimenting with this idea.

I still had lots of color in my jar and I noticed the twine and the wool yarn I tied the fabric with took the color very well. The twine came out a deep purple and the wool a lovely dark purplish brown.

So I stuffed a skien of sock wool in the jar and left it for 2 weeks just shaking the jar and adding flowers here and there. 

So yesterday I pulled the yarn out of the jar and this is what I saw–its purple and gray and lovely. Now the yarn and the water feels rather slimey at this point and stinks like a vat of pickled vegetation but I have smelled a lot worse.

I put everything in a dye pot and set it to the side of the fire pit and let it get very warm but not boiling. The color didn’t change at all and now it is drying outside. Tomorrow after it has dried I will wash and rinse it.

*one of these days I am going to have to talk to the kids about how I can get better color picture because the color just doesn’t show in this photo. the yarn is quite a bit darker with streaks of purple and gray and a greenish gray in it. You will have to take my word it is very nice. I don’t really understand why it is so hard to capture the color on yarn


when my camera takes great pictures of flowers and the color is pretty accurate but the picture of my yarn look washed out and drab.

sorry for so many pictures of my big beautiful flowers but they are just so ….Kapowwww I had to share them





cast on

My latest knitting project.It’s a selfish project–another sweater for me. It’s the cardigan in the picture. I like the cut of the sweater and the zipper. The way the shoulder is constructed is intriguing. I can’t wait to sew it up and see how the shoulder works out.  I did change the stitch pattern cause I didn’t like knitting it. It was too fiddley and I wanted something mindless to knit.

This broken rib stitch is much better for mindless knitting and I even like the wrong side of of the patter.
While I knit I have been browsing through other leaflets and I like this red mohair set too. while I don’t think I would like it in mohair I could see myself wearing this set. Maybe I will knit the hooded dickie in mohair  and then decide if I want the sweater too or maybe I will want the set in a different yarn.

Somehow I can’t imagine wearing this sailor outfit in red and blue – – I guess I just am not Fashion forward enough ; ) I am not fond of the late 60’s and 70’s styles – maybe because that is when I grew up and I don’t want to wear the fashions from my teenage years. I guess I would rather leave all that behind.   The 80’s also don’t do much for me with the boxy sweaters and the football shoulder pads.  But I still get a kick looking at them.

The man in the leaflet underneath wearing a turtleneck is a very young Jackie Cooper. The leaflet is from the 40’s and has a lot of classic men’s styles on different movie stars I don’t even recognize. They seem to be styles that don’t age and could still be knit and worn today.

shades of summer

spent a relaxing couple of days at the cabin. First we had to do some work – resealing the driveway. But with 2 pairs of hands it went quickly.Then we were able to go out on the lake. The temps have cooled off so we thought a little fish tickling was in order.

But the fish didn’t cooperate. Of course it doesn’t really matter if you catch fish when the scenery is this pretty.

The biggest part of fishing is just to be outdoors and enjoying the fresh air. Maybe next week we will catch some fish….or maybe we won’t — but it’s all good.

I did get to a bit of dyeing though. This is yarn dyed with cosmos flowers. What a riot of orange!

Often when I dye The color is nothing like the plant but with cosmos blossoms you get the oranges that you see in the flowers. Look at the variegation in that flower. It matches the kettling that is in this yarn.It is almost magic the way the yarn echos the flower petal’s subtle hues.

This yarn is going to remind me of the warm sun in my garden as I knit it in the dead of the winter. Well you might have to take my word for it because for some reason my camera doesn’t capture the orange colors as well as the yarn did.

This is the yarn dyed with golden rod. Isn’t the  yellow bright – it’s almost neon yellow with just a little green cast to it.  The dye pot on this one last forever – I usually throw out the pot of dye before I exhaust all the color. And this flower also dyes the same bright flower you see on the plant. Bright and sunny flowers that you have probable seen in ditches along side the road. A common weed blamed for sinus problems. But this plant doesn’t cause you to sneeze it is more than likely ragweed that is in bloom at the same time. Golden rod gets the blame because it stands out more.

Some of the yarn will get overdyed with walnut for rich browns and some will be overdyed with indigo for greens.

I also dyed some square of wool fabric to send to my daughter. I know you can see the orange and yellow are from cosmos and goldenrod. The  brown underneath the yellow was dyed first with golden rod and then walnut and the one underneath the orange wool was dyed first with cosmos and then walnut.

I am happy with all the bright colors I dyed this week.

Just wanted to share some quick pictures of my vest being worn.As you can see I threw it into a bucket of walnuts and changed it dramatically. 

It suits me much better now. I really love this vest and the rich brown color. The different yarns I used to be able to finish it all blended together now it doesn’t look like a hodge-podge of leftovers.

All this from a bucket of rainwater and a couple dozen nuts.

fiddley dee!

I am sitting this morning enjoying my tea with my very own fidstix mug –how fun is that!!

Catching up with e-mail and what’s going on on my favorite blogs and looking at the grey skies outside my window avoiding the fact that I swore today would be the day I clean up the piles of stuff everywhere.

well I am going to straighten the house but first let me tell you about my new friend, Lynn.

I was trolling around on the internet last month and discovered fidlstix by accident. And it was a very happy accident I discovered Lynn is exploring the world of natural dyes – like I am. And she is from Michigan where I was born. She met her husband on Mackinac Island – my Mom can see the Island out her window and my great grandfather served in the last battalion on the Island. She spins her own yarn – ok I don’t spin yet but one day soon my daughter has promised to teach me. So when I found out she choose me for a surprise package in the mail I was thrilled.


You might say this is kismet.

ps Lynn also has an etsy shop

finish line

I finished my ravellenic games a day early. Its kind of nice I finally have time to catch up on everything else. Tonight my big project will be sewing a zipper in my finished vest.


Here it is drying on the deck. I love this wire table for blocking and drying.

This vest has been a thorn in my side since starting it way back in February.

It started its life as a shawl The february shawl from Knitspot Barenaked club.

Its a beautiful pattern but when I started it I misread and didn’t do the correct size so I      ran out of yarn. but even before running out I had my doubts about my project.

I wanted to be selfish and keep this for myself ..but white isn’t the best choice for me. I think I will be ladylike and careful enough to not ruin and stain something white but life happens and I invariably fail at the lady like stuff.

A long shawl is just asking for trouble. I can see it now draped around my shoulders and a spot of red wine on the top and the end having a brown stain because it got dipped in the gravy bowl when I reached for the salt.

I tried to order more yarn on the internet on a weekend but due to a glitch on my part failed. The more I thought about it fate was trying to steer me in a different direction.



So I remembered a vest I made many moons ago for my daughter. It is a much loved vest made out of yarn I frogged from a sweater that was washed improperly and shrunk. Don’t ask how I managed to frog a shrunk sweater or why I take on these impossible tasks – I don’t know but somehow I ended up with enough felted yarn for a vest out of that man sized sweater.  But this vest is a much loved sweater and gets pulled out every fall and worn until it is just too hot out and it must be at least 10 years old. If we are lucky Alice will read this and take pity on the mom who never took a picture of her in that sweater and send a picture so I can add it here.

But anyways I wanted that sweater for myself. There wasn’t enough club yarn but I had a yarn that was somewhat close to it in size(if you squinted and crossed your eyes when you looked at it). So I would stripe  and  then over dye the sweater when it was all done.

It could work right?

So I started to piece it together. Putting in the sky ladder lace on the body– finishing the armholes (which seemed too big). It was coming together. Then when I started the hood I could see that there wasn’t going to be enough yarn even though I had striped the bottom with a yarn I dyed in onion skins. And a stripe wouldn’t look good on the hood. So out came some undyed yarn in a similar size and I striped it with the club yarn. Then I finished the hood with a 3 needle bind off.  Now to clean up the front edge I decided an i-cord would fix it. Well it did and it didn’t. I was fine for the first half but on the second half I was running out of the onion skin yellow again and I must have tightened up my knitting cause when I cast off I discovered that one side was much shorter than the other.  I stuffed it in a bag and hid it out of my sight in disgust. 

But I still wanted the vest–when the games were announced I thought this would give me the chance to finish it. I am slightly competitive and with a deadline I might make it. After all I just needed to fix the front and finish the armholes that were way too big. (yes I know very bad pictures but at least you can see the progress)

Now a normal person would have pulled out the bag and checked the supplies and assessed the problems before committing. But then what fun would that be. I started and finished my toy caterpillar. I started and just needed to cast off my sheltie shawl. I threw my bag with my vest into the car for a trip to the cabin. SO you can guess where this is heading. I finished the cast off on my shawl on the drive to the cabin. When I opened my bag to start the vest the needles were not in there. And neither was the magazine with the project my vest was loosely based on. Arrrrrrrgggg. Ok I can deal with this — I ripped out the icord that was bad and cast on with the loft yarn that was left over from the sheltie shawl. it isn’t easy to knit icord with 2 straight needles but it can be done so I got the front done. But the armholes would have to wait until I got home and had some circular needles to knit them.

Now once I was at home I found needles but the magazine wasn’t anywhere to be found. But that wouldn’t stop me – I was going to hobble across the finish line some how. I cast on in a 4×2 rib and threw some cables in it to match the hem and executed a few short rows and cast off. It is almost the vest of my dreams and it was done. It wasn’t going to haunt me when I cleaned under the bed. But it did haunt me a little —I knew when I started I wanted to dye this so why not. 

So now it is dyed and drying — I will pull out a sewing needle tonight and stitch the zipper in(please don’t say anything about the zipper I had an awful time shopping for it I know it isn’t right but it will have to do). Tomorrow when I walk the dog I will wear my vest with the same pride the olympic winners wear their medals. I doubt I would win a ribbon if I entered it in the county fair but it doesn’t matter I took my yarn and made something I will use-hopefully for many years to come.


Sheltie Shawl

This is my secret garden it is my hidden corner where I can sit and contemplate the world. My neighbor’s driveway is only 20 feet away but unless I call out a hello they don’t even know I am here. Several years ago we started a pussy willow hedge on the lot line and every year it grows taller and thicker. It has made a nice shady haven for me and the birds and one very tame chipmonk who is missing its tail(but that is another story). It is quiet corner where  I can sit and knit or work at my table. And speaking of knitting ….

Yep ….. I finished my Sheltie shawl from Anne Hanson’s Bare Naked Knitspot club . Doesn’t it look pretty draped across my chair and it isn’t even blocked yet. So  I gave it a little soak and then spread it out on the hill to dry.

AH!!! the dog days of summer – just relaxing and trying to stay cool.

Meva finds it somewhat annoying to have her beauty sleep interrupted. But she really doesn’t have to choose the exact spot where I set up to work as her nap place.

I love this shawl in all it’s naked beauty. the yarn is lovely It is 3 shades of Jared Flood’s Loft it is undyed and spun from home grown sheep. The yarn is lovely and soft and has that grabby texture that makes it wonderful for stranded knitting -which might be my next project. But it’s also just the right choice for this lace shawl.

Not content to leave well enough alone– as I knit my shawl I thought about dyeing it. The white yarn added too much contrast for my taste. So after I cast off I set up a dye pot of golden rod. Above are the yellows that I got from this pot. The first skein I threw in the pot is dark yellow and gold colored. Golden rod is very intense and vibrant. The second skien is much lighter. After 2 skeins I strained off some water to soak the shawl in a second pot. And I threw 2 skeins of indigo yarn my daughter sent me in the first pot with the flower buds and some water. I wish my camera took a better picture of the color on these blue skeins. They are blue with hints of green now and I can’t wait to ball the yarn and cast on for some socks with this surf colored yarn.

But this isn’t a post about future socks it is about my hap shawl.

I didn’t want a yellow band in my shawl but I knew I could first dye it with golden rod and then over dye it with walnut.

I have 2 buckets of walnuts that have been soaking in the shed since last fall. The first few dips in the walnut buckets yield the best and richest color I think. The first few skeins have red and oranges in the brown. Then the browns seem to get duller as the dye is used. Still brown but grayer or dull. So my solution is to dye first with yellows or orange and then over dye to get a more layered color. I loved how it turned out–it is more muted but still has a lovely contrast. I didn’t get a very dark brown -I think my walnut dye pot is almost exhausted- lucky for me I have already started picking up walnuts for this years dye pot.

This is my kind of shawl – a working shawl not too frilly and  just a little lace.

Light and airy but also wooly enough to be a warm layer just right for a midwest girl.

Now I hope you aren’t cringing over my blocking in the above picture. I needed to rinse and hang the shawl. I didn’t want to leave it on the lawn and risk Meva rolling on it. And I knew that if I spread it out on the bed and pinned it that even though I rinsed it thoroughly it was sure to leach out brown dye onto my quilt.

So yes I pinned it.

And you know what –it dried beautifully – perfect in fact. This really is a work woman shawl. I will be able to throw it over my shoulders and go and if it gets dirty a quick wash and rinse and some time in the sunshine and it will be good to go!

Now I just need to sew in 2 ends(I know only 2 ends–how smart –Anne Hanson’s instructions direct you to spit splice each time the color changed so just 2 ends ; )

Meva can’t quite understand what the big deal is. Her fur is growing out and she thinks if I would just grow some fur I wouldn’t need to worry about shawls and sweaters and could just worry about walking her.

Toy toss

What’s going on in my neck of the woods? well there is always a little knitting going on. I decided to participate in Ravellenics. I wanted to knit my wool hap shawl from the barenaked knitspot club. It is going to be a nice warm wooly scarf for me. well technically  it is still a shawl but I tend to wear them wound round my neck in the winter more than I wear them draped across my shoulders. But before I could work on this shawl in earnest I had to finish my month of toys. I cheated only a little and cast on my shawl while watching a bit of the opening ceremonies a week ago.

But then I behaved myself and cast on my last toy. I have had this toy in mind for a long time- gently simmering on a back burner. Slowly I have been collecting the ingredients- weird odds and ends that didn’t seem to go together with the yarn.

The head is a tennis ball sized cat toy-a plastic cage with another little ball inside with a jingle ball inside of that. I knit around my ball and as I enclosed it in yarn it jingled and chattered with each stitch. As I decreased my stitches and started on the long tube that would be the body I stuffed it with some rope batting that I picked up at Ben Franklins in a remnant bag. I always check out the remnant bags in the fabric department and grab bags full of ribbons and ric rac and this rope batting was in one of the bags. At the time I had no idea how or what I would use this for but I squirreled it away in a bin. I liked the way this worked out for my chatterpillar – its a nice firm thick body(which the fish tickler saw and questioned my sanity cause if you’re mind is in the gutter it looks like…. well I am not going it to say here). I quess that the real use for this rope batting would be handles for purses. When I decided that the body was long enough – I knit two long i-cords for the tail and cast off. Actually if I had planned better I wouldn’t have started with the body I would have knit the rings first because I made the body too long and had to shorten it. But then I needed a body to know how big to make the circles.

The rings were easy to knit they are just tubes stuffed with fiber fill. I could have just knit the tubes and and then sewed the ends together in a circle shape but after the snake experiments I decided to use what I learned and shape the circles with short rows. So I used a provincial cast-on and knit a tube with short rows added in. There are 10 of these rings so I got very good at the provincial cast on and the kirchener stitch I used at the end to make my circle look like they were seamless. I got so good that I didn’t even have to refer to a diagram each time I cast a ring on and off . I even figured out a way to make the provincial cast on with out a crochet hook because I was too lazy to get up and look for a hook one evening. You might say I started to get a big head. And that is always a knitter’s downfall. A swollen head leads to trouble and on the very last ring I kirchenered my way around the tube only to discover I some how twisted the stitches and my ring was wonky. But my 10 rings were finished – 9 perfect and one slightly wonky which I soon discovered would be hidden with the addition of 20 little legs. 

As I worked on the 20 little feet I thought about the antennas my chaterpillar was not looking a lot like the caterpillar that inspired my knit. The body was black and the tail end of the bug looks a little like the monarch caterpillar but the black, yellow and white yarn I bought for the toy seemed boring so I rummaged through scraps after doing 2 yellow rings and came up with some bright additions. Since I had already deviated from the original idea so much I figured the antennas in front didn’t have to look like the ones in back. So while doing the legs I came up with a method to make green horns that stand up nicely without the pipe cleaner I originally though I would add.

I made another stop at the fabric store hoping to find something to keep my rings on the body. I though I could find a very big button. But nothing had big enough holes to work. Then I thought maybe I would cut a slice off a branch and drill holes in it but since I am donating this toy I wanted something cleaner. So back to Ben Franklins- this is really a great store. When my kids were little I took them to a Ben Franklins in town – it was more of a 5&10 store with goldfish, toys, clothes and hardware. They loved to browse and walk out with treasures bought with their allowances. The Ben Franklins in Oconomowoc has toys and crafts and unusual gifts. It is a destination store for quilters – they have a beautiful selection of fabrics and always have a wonderful array of quilts hanging in the store. There is a beading department and flower arranging supplies and they are expanding the yarn selection. But I knew I would find something in the wood craft section. I knew I could find a blank disk that I could turn into a button. And I did –but even better –I found a heart shape and took it home for only 59 cents.  After all is said and done I like this toy. I think a tot can have fun with this cuddly bug. It can be taken apart and the rings sorted into pairs of colors or toss the rings around. A kid could count to ten while threading the rings onto the body and then learn to tie a simple knot. (by the way how do you like the way I snuck to  rings into my olympic toy toss ; )

So my July toy month is done — I knit a lot of toys and collected a bunch more.(This is only a few of the toys!! there are 3 more boxes at the store)

There is a week to go in Ravellenics and have competed in the  toy toss and charity rowing. I  am almost at the finish line with my shawl event. And no I haven’t even started WIP wrestling vest for Ravellenics  and…… oh well I swear it will be my next project.  I may not finish it before the Olympics are over but I will finish it before summer is over …or I will frog it and start again!

Phew it has been a busy week! What’s new with you?