Monthly Archives: November 2010

Handspun Elisa

I finished this sweater several days ago and blocked it right away. Since then I’ve been trying to find some daylight for taking pictures.


I’m very proud of this sweater, it’s the most from-scratch sweater I’ve ever made. I dyed the brown corridale, blended it into batts with the green BFL, white merino, and golden silk. I spun all those batts up into about 1100 yards of worsted weight 2-ply, and I knit it up.


That’s a lot of work, but I think this sweater was worth it! This is the first cowl-neck sweater I’ve made (pattern Elisa by Allison Green Will, that’s a ravelry link, sorry!) and I really like it. Wearing this sweater is like wearing a hug: warm, soft, and comforting. Although the pattern recommends positive ease I made the 37″ size and blocked it longer and narrower so it’s just 36″ at the bust giving me zero ease. I also tapered the sleeves more then the pattern described to keep them fitted and out of the way. These are the only two changes though, which is pretty good considering how many changes I tend to make to every pattern! It’s very well written and I think it was pretty quick to knit up too. My biggest holdup was, of course, that I kept running out of yarn and had to spin more.


The last 100 yards were actually spun on my drop spindle, 40 at a time, as I didn’t want to spin up extra and not know what to do with it. I can tell you now, that I spin a much loftier, lighter woolen yarn with the drop spindle then on my wheel. I was worried the texture of those last 100 yards would be different enough to look funny, but the whole thing blocked beautifully and I don’t think the difference is visible, even to me.


I like the simple thistle lace pattern in the cuffs, hem, and collar. I think it adds interest without being too distracting. I was right in choosing a very simple pattern to show off the texture of my handspun yarn, I think anything more complex would have gotten lost in the yarn variations. That being said the final fabric is a lot more uniform then I would have guessed from the original batts. And even more uniform then I believed it would be given the slubby, thick and thin, nature of my handspun. I’m really really proud of the way this sweater came out.


look ma, no eyes!

I was tweeting last night about knitting in the dark. With the sudden switch to standard time the sunset is now at 4:30. My bus arrives at 4:35 and so I’m suddenly knitting in the dark on the way home.


Yes I actually took a picture. In real life I can see the outline of my hands and knitting needles, but apparently the camera couldn’t catch that. I knit color work in the dark for an hour last night. Knitting in the dark is tricky, there’s a lot to watch out for.* I knit along feeling for any changes, splitting the yarn, putting the needles between stitches instead of through them, knitting two together by accident. Knitting in the dark is all knitting by touch, basically I just know what a correctly knit stitch feels like, and feel for anything that’s not right. I have lots of practice, after all this isn’t my first winter on the bus. I can work knit and purl stitches easily, and color work isn’t too hard either as long as I know which yarn is in which place. But decreases, cables, lace, pretty much anything that requires alternative manipulation, is right out at least until I find my mini flashlight.

The color work came out really well though! And I’m making surprising progress on my green and purple sweater. I’m through the yoke and into the turned collar. This is a Norah Gaughan pattern and as you could expect it’s really well written. I discovered this morning though, there’s no shoulder shaping at all. In the photos it looks like they’ve got the turned collar higher in the back then in the front. This seems like a great alternative which allows the yoke to be kept simple, brilliant!

lime pop right side

The yoke of Orange Pop is an example of fair isle color work where the right side shows the purl stitch stranding. I think this is way easier to do poorly then well, and the designer has done great with this pattern. I really like the little purl ridges above the color work, the little nubs of color can mix in so many unique ways, kinda like my Catamount sweater actually! And I really like the way the two shades of green and two shades of purple play off each other.

lime pop wrong side

The inside is pretty fun too.

*even that phrase is wrong, I’m not watching for anything in the dark…

Stick Season

In Vermont we have two stick seasons, one in the spring after the snow melts and before the leaves come in. And the reverse in the fall once the leaves drop and the plants die. We’re solidly in stick season now.

stick season

And to make matters worse, it’s been colder then usual, and cloudy. So yesterday, when the sun poked its watery rays through the clouds I dropped what I was doing (literally, I was half way through seaming a sweater) and went outside. I finished up my yard work for the season while enjoying the late afternoon sun. It was somehow more solemn given the shift to standard time made it dark even earlier then the weekend before.

I finally dug my gladiolus corms. They’re drying now behind the woodstove and then I’ll stash them behind the potatoes until next spring. It must’ve been a good summer for glads, almost all the bulbs split into two while the few that didn’t are almost as big as my fist. I even had a few that split to THREE. Next year I’ll need to find a bigger garden space to fit them all! I also pruned back the ancient sea rose bushes on the west edge of my front yard. There are three main bushes, and this year they combined to make a hedge the size of a VW bus. Pruning them back involves a saw, not a pair of pruners. At least this year I downgraded to a hand saw. The first year we lived in this house Neil pruned them back with a chainsaw…

one lump or two?

It’s been cold and rainy all week, the kind of weather that just makes me want to watch the fire in our stove, knit, and drink tea.

fat toad farm caramel, you should really try some!

And judging by the comments I’ve seen from other knitters, it’s not just me. But I know the “fall back” to standard time will make this urge even stronger for me. I plan to do plenty of knitting and watching the fire this weekend, although I suspect there will be some stacking of firewood and putting in of storm windows as well.

Party dress

I’ve been sadly neglectful showing you this project! I’m very sorry, I know you’ve been worried about it. I made this party dress for my sister’s wedding dress rehearsal dinner. It’s simple and pretty and I love it!

low waist

I also love that it has two different looks. I can wear it with the belt low on the waist, and a bow in the back. Or I can wear it with the tails wrapped around and tied in the front, which pulls the waist slightly higher.

high waist

It looks simple, but figuring out the way to sew it was much more complicated. I started with a medieval dress pattern so I could follow the princess seams. But I removed the sleeves, changed the neckline, added a belt and streamers, widened the skirt, raised the hem, lined the bodice, and removed the zipper. So basically the princess seams are the only thing I kept.*

The bodice is, as I mentioned, lined. I cut two of everything and sewed the inside and outside separately. I cut just one panel for the back, and it’s all one piece including the skirt. I stitched the bodice and liner to the belt and belt liner (and tails). Then I sandwiched the back panel between the inside and outside and sewed it all together on the back seams so the raw edges are all on the inside. I left the neckline and armscyes raw for the moment. In the skirt I used french seams to hide the raw edge in the seams. The hem, neckline and armscyes are all trimmed with more of the white fabric, cut on the bias and folded over all the raw edges. I mentioned I removed the zipper. Instead of a closure the back panel is wide enough that I can just slip the dress over my head. I only had to hand-sew one seam – the inner belt liner is folded down over the top of the skirt and hand-stitched down to hide the final raw edge.

Sewing was actually my first love, I learned to sew LONG before I learned to knit. But it has disadvantages. I haven’t figured out how to set up that sewing machine on the bus yet (and it’s really heavy besides) I think this dress probably took 4 or 6 hours of sewing, combined with another 2ish of cutting fabric and a final 30 minutes for the hand stitching. It’s really much faster then knitting, but it still took more then a month to get it all done because I had to find the time to hang out in my craft room with my sewing machine…

*See? I it’s not just that I can’t follow knitting patterns…


The last skein of purple yarn for my green and purple sweater still hasn’t arrived. The USPS may be holding it hostage, but what for? I do not know.

I ran out of handspun with 1 inch, plus the sleeve cap of one sleeve, and another 2 inches of turtleneck to go. I have enough fiber for another 150 yards, and I think I only need 50 or so. But still, I thought I was done with the spinning.

In my frustration at my sweaters I might have cast on an Aestlight Shawl. Not sure how that happened.

I want this book and I want it now. None of my local book stores seem to have it in stock. Maybe I should have requested they order it in advance?

I’m getting antsy with anticipation for a design that will be release soon. Very soon. You could probably figure out which one, if you happened to check Ravelry… But I can’t show pictures yet. (soon though, very soon!)

I want to make felted boots. I can’t decide on a color. I asked Twitter and Facebook – and so far the colors are tied. It’s not helping. (Cobalt blue, cranberry red, charcoal grey – which do you think is best?)

What season is this anyway?

snowy pumpkin

It snowed 4 or 5 times in October, and collected on the ground twice. This morning doesn’t count though, because it’s November now. The weather guys reminded me this morning that November 1st is halfway between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, and the weather seems to agree that we’re half way between fall and winter. The leaves are down, but the snow isn’t sticking around yet.

This weekend involved a lot of winter preparation. I finished cleaning up my garden. I planted a LOT of garlic – 50 or 60 cloves. Hopefully 50 or 60 bulbs will last us for awhile… We’re still eating lettuce and spinach from the little greenhouse. I have to say, home grown lettuce in November is pretty exciting for me! I also planted a climbing rose (in my defense, my friend said it just needed to go into the ground before the soil froze)

I cleaned out our entry-way too. It collects a lot of junk over the summer. Grain bags, ratchet straps, dog toys, compost buckets, garden tools, and more chicken poo then I really want to admit. It’s all cleaned out now, and ready for our first delivery of firewood! Stacking will be next weekend’s task. Also on the to-do list, cleaning and installing our storm windows, calling the plow man to make sure we’re on the list for this winter, cleaning the chicken coop, and getting the rest of the meat birds into our freezer. The weekends are busier now that I’m stuck indoors in the evenings. It’s hard to do yard tasks in the dark after work.

Inside we’ve cured our squashes and hidden them in the big kitchen cabinet next to a few cabbages (the deer got half my harvest), apples, and the winter share from the CSA (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, onions) we purchased a bushel of potatoes from the local farm stand (that’ll only last us until January, but it’s something) Neil’s got a wonderful batch of pumpkin beer fermenting along side a chocolate vanilla stout. I’m starting to think about bottling last year’s wine and re-racking the flower wines I started last spring. We are settling in and preparing for the winter. That doesn’t really mean we’re slowing down, not yet anyway.