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harvesting color

DSC00347 it was a lovely mid-weekend*. the temp were just right …not scorching hot. and the sky blue with just a few wisps of clouds. I got a whole lot done in the garden or maybe I should be honest and say the overgrown jungle at the cabin. The native plants I planted are growing faster than I can keep up with and are taking over areas of the garden. Now that things are a bit more settled and I won’t be traveling back and forth to Michigan I will be able to tame things in the garden again. Many of the  native plants are ready to pick and dye with. I started some black eyed Susan dye pots while I was working in the garden and left them to soak and will dye with them this week. There is a bumper crop of jewel weed that could be thinned out in the garden bed and I am seeing lots of Queen Anne’s lace in the roadside ditches that could be picked. But with so much to do in my own backyard I settled for picking black hollyhock blossoms and have started a solar jar of dye. DSC00350I started this jar 2 weeks ago and look at the lovely purple hue from only 15 blossoms. DSC00351this week I added more blossoms and topped off the solution in the jar. Now it’s sitting in the garden and being gently heated by the sun.  after filling the jar with blossoms I mix 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water and just keep adding to the jar as more blossoms bloom. once I have a jar full I add wool yarn that has been mordanted with alum. this fermented bath tends to be on the slimy side but the yarn always rinses out nice and soft. DSC00357you may look at this beautiful burgandy flower and the purple tinted water and think that you might get a blue or purple yarn. but instead once the yarn is rinsed and washed it will be either a grayish green with a hint of blue or a lovely spruce green. Natural dyeing always has loads of surprises and the colors can vary from year to year or even during different weeks of the summer. the rainfall and the amount of sunlight and the temperatures can all influence the color that you will get from the dye pot. for me this is part of the fun of natural dyeing – the magic and the mystery of the process. *when you are retired you have a weekend and a mid weekend. it doesn’t mean you have enough time to do everything you want but it does mean I can go to the cabin when most people are at work in the city so it feels less crowded.

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this project is going slowly it may be a bit over my head. but I am going to try to finish my Mom’s last quilting project. Mom started this quilt last year for my son. she spent a long time trying to find the right material for it. I was always difficult she said to find masculine fabrics.  Mom didn’t finish enough pinwheels for an entire quilt and since I am not a quilter I don’t feel I can make the rest of the blocks. so I had the idea that I would piece together some of it and then tilt some of the squares like they were spinning off to the sides. DSC00322I really don’t know what I am doing and have to experiment a lot. after stepping back and looking at the quilt over all it doesn’t look quite right. there is too much white space on the right side. I guess this is where it helps to photograph the quilt and look.DSC00322I think the lower left block should be tilted instead of straight and that might help. or maybe adding a smaller square of the darker color would do it. or perhaps if I change the position of these 4 blocks to the upper corner of the quiml. or I could sew some smaller pinwheels to add in to the white spaces. But I might have to accept that there will be quite a bit of white space because Mom hadn’t finished enough blocks.

I can still pull it apart and reposition. and believe me I have been doing a lot of that. I think I spend more time ripping it apart than sewing seams. but I do want this to look right. I wonder if ripping out has a special name in quilting in knitting it would be frogging.

well I think that I will take a break from it for a few days and then take a fresh look.

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baby hummers
















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July will be a month of finishing for me. I brought home my Mom’s last quilting project. she was making it for my son. she had finished a little over half the blocks before she lost her sewing mojo. DSC00180I quilted some many years ago when my kids were small but I am no way as good a quilter as my Mom was. I don’t feel like I can finish off the blocks as perfectly as she would have so instead I am planning to have the pinwheels scatter and spin out of control over the edge of the quilt. I laid it all out on top of a quilt my Mom finished a few years back and then showed it to Bud. I got a thumbs up so I started to work on sewing it up this week.

another project that has been sitting is my basket. I took a basket class last winter and was able to weave about 1/4 of my basket during the class. the class was fun but I knew I didn’t want to weave on this project in the house since you have to soak the reed and everything gets wet. I pictured sitting outside on the pier dipping my basket into the water as I worked. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter doing a little yard work on thursday I got out the supplies and started to weave. it took 2 afternoons but I now have a finished basket and I love it!DSC00219in fact I love it so much that I may start the second on that is in the material bag I brought home from the class. but first there is a pile of mulch that needs to be carted about and spread…..before I can play

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image (4)


nov. 11, 1927 >>> june 11, 2014




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tiny mama

back home now.

a little worn out but getting back to normal.

had a quest for dinner last nite. mama hummingbird kept us entertained all evening. and I think one of the eggs hatched too. we saw a tiny little head pop out of the nest.

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the road trip is over and I am glad to be home again



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fo friday

so I live in a state of turmoil and  always seem to be a day late and a dollar short in the best of times. and this spring or winter actually hasn’t always been the best.

so here we are on saturday doing a finished (or actually not finished) overview of the past week.

FOfridayon wednesday I showed some projects along with a finished toy and for my -late to the party- Friday on Saturday post I have mainly unfinished projects.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa mosaic mitten sans thumb, a tiger head, and some wool spun up but not knit. this is how my week has gone – projects started but not completed.

taxes started 3 separate times but still not finished…please don’t remind me that I only have 2 more weeks left.


mittens started but put down because orange seemed more important to work on.

fiber started on the wheel only to have trouble spinning it and walking away so I don’t scream in frustration.


my attention span is short and I am discombobulated so instead of finished objects there are a pile of almosts.

well except for this…Friday is garbage day around here and I played the always fun game of ‘What’s that smell??’ although I didn’t win any prizes I did walk away with a sort of clean looking freezer and a better idea of what will be my next entry in the ‘What’s for dinner?’ game….house work is more interesting if you can make it into a game.

and for the sake of honesty and so you don’t think I am a big slob my fridge didn’t actually smell(this time) before I played this game.

so there you have it my FOfriday check out Tami’s Amis for more.



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loosing it’s grip???

it doesn’t seem like winter is loosing its grip on us. my sisters have reported snow up in the wild north while we have been putting up with a cold rain in our neck of the woods. it just isn’t time to put away the mitts and gloves yet.

TubularityCowl2_mediumthis morning even though I do not need a new project to add to my list — a new project found me and I cannot resist

ok this photo was not the one that sold me  on the pattern but I love the humor and the idea that I could bury my head in this cowl just like an ostrich burying its head in the sand to avoid the idea that winter is not over and the joke is on us.url-3





I am not sure winter is going to end or if it does maybe our summer weather is only going to last a couple of weeks……so I think I need to keep knitting winter gear.TubularityCowl-1this wonderful knit cowl by Martina Behm can be found here. and also probable found on my needles very soon.


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it’s wens. again and old man winter has unfinished business with usOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe dog doesn’t mind at all because it is her business to investigate all these smells and the tracks in the snow just make it all the easierOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbut I think the rest of us are ready to move on and eager to see spring’s flowers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAme I can go either way …I am eager to see the bulbs I planted last fall poke their heads above the ground but I don’t mind the snow it is better than the wet mud the dog was tracking in earlier this week.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe little green martian I cast on last week was trying to help me knit this morning. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAonce I added eyes to his face he was ready to move on – he is packed in my knitting bag so I can carry him along to knitting group this afternoon. I am sending home with Luci’s Grandma so he can start some crazy adventures in their house.

click on this link to see more knitting progress


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstill working with fiber but in a totally new way. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit doesn’t grow nearly as fast as the silly toys I make but it is satisfying to weave  over and under and watch the colors interact with each other. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASaturday I took a class in weaving a very unique basket designed by Steve Pauloski. Steve and Karen are great teachers and I quickly got the hang of weaving the reed over and under to form the sides of my bowl.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe great thing about this class was that it was impossible to not make a beautiful basket. the contrast of the jute and the colored reeds with the bleached bones is so unique and beautiful and made each of our bowls look great.  Steve and Karen teach classes all over so if you ever get a chance to take a class jump on it you will not be sorry. in fact Steve Pauloski is teaching a class in May at East Troy Basketry

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAeven unfinished my basket looks good enough to hang on the wall. the hardest part of any project for me is picking out the colors but as I looked around the table at everyone’s bowls there were no bad choices. each color looked fantastic. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was stunned by the simplicity and how calming it is to weave. Some of the techniques are familiar to me like the use of short rows to shape. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have a second skeleton to experiment with when I finish the first. I am thinking of all the wonderful colors I can add from my garden. I can see how addicting this might become.


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more sillyness from the great frozen tundra

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAanother whatzit??????


nope it is a somebody from Jan Pienkowski‘s book Gossip.

if you have a chance to get any of Jan Pienkowski’s books grab them. he is a wonderful story teller and illustrator. I found a treasure trove of his books in Mom’s closet and we had a great time reading through them. and then Mom and I collaborated on knitting up a couple of characters from the books. above is somebody the Martian at the end of the book titled Gossip
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand also the very silly blue bird from the book. sorry for the rather blurry pictures. Last night I finished putting legs and wings on my bird. now I just need to knit a narrow pink tongue and he is done and ready to mail back to Mom and Kathy. this is going to be a present for Kathy’s grand daughter. I think they will be surprised don’t you???


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Rachel’s hat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAspring is here & I feel like singing in the arrival!!
My Mom and I have been working on these hats for the past couple of weeks. The hat is a super fun project and made our afternoon downright cheery. the pattern Musica is designed by DeborahTomasello is a delightful pattern to knit.


you may notice the first hat is blue and white instead of having the traditional black keys. the first hat was our very important test hat. we knit it on a size #7 circular needle – it will fit the person we have it in mind for but for the second hat we dropped down to a size #5 needle.

I also knit a swatch before starting the first hat. the swatch was rather important because we worked this hat from worsted weight yarn instead of the finger weight that the pattern Musica called for.  after knitting a swatch and measuring we decided to cast on 112 sts for hat #1. we worked only 4 repeats of the pattern and then had to alter the crown a bit. see those long afternoons spent in Mrs. Wolff’s math class did pay off(and just maybe a little more math sunk in than I thought or my grades reflected).

Mom and I worked the hat in a round robin style passing it back and forth between us. I worked the cast on and Mom ribbed. then I established the first row of the piano keyboard and Mom finished the keys. finally I grabbed the hat and started the stranded notes that seemed to dance around the crown of the hat as the stitches grew.

and believe me – Mom and I really needed some cheery singing in the form of our knitting the last 2 weeks. while I was in Michigan the temperatures dipped to 30* below and that wasn’t including the wind chill. we had frozen pipes twice and don’t even get me started on the story of the icicle mishap.


don’t get me wrong I am not complaining because it was awesome and beautiful and I sometimes miss living on a Great Lake but man oh man what a chilly week!!!

but the positive will be that these hats can still be worn this year….now for a little pompom action and we are done.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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1st day of spring??????

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI just got back from a trip to Michigan and even though it is warmer here in Wisconsin I am feeling a bit cantankerous like my friend from Teresha, WI. where are the spring bulbs and  greenery that we expect in March??

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgive me a couple more days to chew my cud and I will be ready to tell you about my adventures in the north woods.

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false springs

there is a bit of a warmup in the weather here. yesterday I went out in just a sweater without a coat or a hat and mittens. it was warm enough to throw open windows and air out the house. today however the wind is howling and it is raining with an occasional snowflake. it is just cold enough that the roads are a little slick. the kind of day me want to stay home – safe and sound.  the warm weather we are having lulls you into thinking spring has arrived but it is a false wicked hope luring and deceiving you. spring is nowhere near yet – the temps will plunge by this week end and throw us right back into the frozen tundra.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

so I am working at the table with wool spread out around me. I am finishing up a  mitt and am rather pleased with myself. the process has been fits of starts and stops but yesterday I finally hit on a combination that is pleasing to me and now it will be quick to knit the second mitt.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI started a few days ago with a general shape and an idea of what I wanted. my first thought was to knit top down. I have done this before and love shaping a mitt this way. it is so easy to know exactly where to place the thumb than knitting from the top of the mitt down. but for some reason I wasn’t excited about the mitt. so this got tossed to the side and I started again with a tiny 1 x 1 rib at the cuff to stop any curling. from there I moved straight into a shamrock mosaic stitch pattern(if you ask my kids they will tell you that you cannot count on spring weather in wisconsin till after a good St. Patrick’s day snow storm).
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAfrom there I knit in plain stockinette for about 10 rounds but even this seemed wrong to me I wanted cables for my false spring St. Patricks day mitt so I knit a cabled ribbing which I pulled out before taking a picture because I didn’t like it. here is the palm side of the mittens(further along than 10 rows) in stockinette just a little too plainOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhowever adding a horse shoe cable in the center made all the difference. most people think cabled sweaters for St. Patrick’s day so here I have lucky shamrocks and horse shoes.


now horse shoes are lucky as long as they are pointed up wards so the luck cannot tumble out but how would you point them on a mitten? I thought they were up until I was knitting this morning and realized my hands are down at my sides most of the time and the luck would spill out. so this morning I inverted the cable at the tip to catch any luck that would spill.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAalmost done the mitten is closed off and now a afterthought thumb just needs to be addedOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAright about where the knitting needle is on the palm of the mitten.  I just need to snip a thread and unravel a bit and pick up the sts and knit a thumb.

you might notice the scale and the notebook under the mitten in a lot of these pictures. I have been weighing my yarn and adding and subtracting to see how much I used for the first mitten. all the numbers look good and I have plenty of yarn to knit the second mitten. and enough to knit a second pair or maybe  a matching hat. so many decisions…..for now I think I will curl up on the couch and start the second mitten while I contemplate my next project.


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scuba diving on okauchee lake

so you have seen posts about my walks on the lake and dyeing with snow,  but how about some shots of some of my neighbors idea of fun in the snow.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthese guys take it to a whole new level. you can’t see Meva’s face here but even she has her doubts about this guy’s sanity. Meva won’t get in the water when it’s hot let alone when it is barely above zero.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the ice was 20″ thick last weekend and the members of the 4 Seasons Scuba Divers of  Southeastern Wisconsin had to work a little to get to the water. they drilled 3 holes in the ice with an auger and then took out a chain saw to cut this large hole. the ice is then pushed down and to the side so they can put it back in place when they are done diving. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we asked how deep it was there and they said about 18′ but swimming just a little  ways from the hole the lake is 54′ deep. we wondered if they were part of the fire department rescue team but they said no they just do this for fun.
I asked what was down there and one of them told me there were 2 sunken boats and they sometimes find motors. and one told me laughing that there were lots of anchors down there from boaters that weren’t in boy scouts and can’t tie knots and someone had planter a 35 mph speed limit sign down there for giggles. well even though it was cold last weekend they did have a good day for a dive the sun was out and it was a balmy 11* above zero in the morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter they disappeared from view we continued on our walk suddenly feeling very warm indeed.

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snow dyeing with kool aide

I am having a bit of fun for the past week. it started with a little snow play day last weekend.
after I posted my dyeing experiments with snow, Linda M decided to try the same experiment only using Kool Aide instead of the dye powder.
and Linda’s way is much easier than buying dye. and even better it is food safe you can use cooking utensils and your microwave and not worry about fumes or what not. so this is something you can do with your kids or take it along to knitting group which is what I did. I grabbed my pots and Kool Aide and took it with me to Wednesday knitting group at Knitch.
Linda washed her wool and rinsed it a mixture of vinegar and water. then followed the same steps I did substituting the Kool Aide for the dye. it was very successful
so all of the steps are basically the same with just different products used.
 First I used a pot with a strainer from my dye shed.I put a measuring cup into the bottom of the pot .
so that when I set the strainer into the pot it would be raised and when the snow melts the yarn would not sit in the water
then I washed the yarn skein   and then soaked the skein in a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 vinegar. I rung the skien out a little and placed it in the strainer pot. then I filled the pot with snow.
and let me tell you there is plenty of snow in our neck of the woods. then I sprinkled 2 packages of unsweetened  lemonade on one side and 1 package of ice blue raspberry lemonade and 1 package of mixed berry. then we set the pot of snow in the sun and forgot about it. we sat and knitted and nattered and had some delicious Irish Soda Bread topped with a heavenly butter topping that was out of this world that Beth made. after an hour the pot was starting to look like a slushy from Seven Eleven and smelled very fruity. and here is where there should be a picture of a blue and yellow slushy but  I didn’t take my camera to knitting because my bag was so full of everything else…. so you will have to take my word for it. instead I will show you a picture of what my yarn looks like this morning.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I put the yarn into a roaster bag this morning. you could also use a plain plastic bag. and then put it in the microwave. Linda told me she heated her yarn for a total of 10 minutes to heat and set the dye but I was a little worried about heating it that long. so I put it in the microwave for 1 minute and then checked. it was warm but I wanted it warmer so I pressed the 30 second timer 2 more times and went out to walk the dog. when I came back it was still warm but had cooled a little so I hit the 30 second button 2 more times feeling it each time for heat. I may be overly cautious about heating wool in the microwave but I heard a story once about wool burning in the microwave so it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.  then I walked away for 20 minutes and then heated the wool one more time.
then I waited for the yarn to cool.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter it was cool to the touch I put my yarn in the sink for a bath and voila! I have springtime from the snowdrifts. it is just as bright and cheery as the picture. nice greens and a little yellow and some beautiful blues.
so the Polar Vortex that is outside my door is good for more than causing traffic jams. I can hardly wait for more snow. I might have to hurry though Linda M wrote me and said she saw a ground hog out her garage when she collected her snow for dyeing …….. apparently it did get the message on Feb 2 that there are 6 more weeks of winter.
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snow play

so was all my snow play successful yesterday????

well…you will have to be the judge.

the first skien took the dye and there are patches of color none of it blended as much as I expected it too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA the fabric absorbed far too much dye in my opinion. and again I had expected for the colors to blend a little. I had used midnight blue, carmine red and yellow thinking if I used the 3 primary colors I could get any color I wanted. so I thought there would be blue then purple where the red mixed with the blue then plain red and purple again. and clearly that didn’t happenOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I also decided to throw a skein under the strainer where the melting snow and dye collected and that skien turned a pretty pinkish purple cherry blossom color.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA this morning I gathered everything and rinsed the fabric a little hoping to lighten it before steaming to set the dye. then I threw it all into a oven roasting bag. you know those disposable cooking bags you use in the oven. I lightly twisted it shut and put it in the microwave for 1 minute. then felt the bag and it was only warm so I hit the 30 second timer 2 more times until it felt hot. (and yes little sister I checked carefully after hearing about your wool experience in the microwave.)  then I left the bag stew for a half hour before taking it out and it is now sitting in soapy water and I will rinse again later then dry.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAok here is the whole mess the way it came out of the steaming bag. it definitely worked although I am disappointed in the light colors on the wool and the way too dark colors on the fabric. but I would certainly try this again. I think the mistake I made was mostly with the colors I bought. somehow I mistakenly thought these colors would mix a little more and move nicely from one shade to another on the yarn. and I didn’t think the fabric would take the dye so dark. so I guess I would  pick lighter shades maybe some teal and green. or maybe if I soaked the wool fiber in vinegar and used food coloring plus snow???

I think I prefer my natural dyes in the garden ; {

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snow day

ok for the sake of honesty it is Saturday so it really isn’t a snow day in the sense that I miss school or work. but then I am retired so every day is a snow day with no work just play.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

there is snow falling right now and it has exceded what the weathermen told us to expect. early this morning we shoveled about 4″ and it is still coming down steadily. but it doesn’t matter I love the snow & the dog absolutely adores the snow.

this morning we met a whole family out and fishing off the point of the bay we live in. they had caught several northerns and were having so much fun in the snow racing from one tip up to the next to see what they had caught. it has warmer up quite a bit – it is 16* that is up more than 30 degrees from last week end.

after getting home I decided a little snow play was in order so I grabbed a dye pot from the shed and mixed some soda ash to soak some yarn & fabric in. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter the soak I twisted the fabric loosely and put it in a strainer. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAon top of this I layered a skein of corriedale yarn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnext I gathered some of the abundant snow from the yard and brought it inside. after dumping all the snow on top of the fabric and yarn I placed my measuring cup in the bottom of my dye pot because when the snow melts I don’t want the fiber sitting in the dye water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthen I placed the strainer in the pot and sprinkled the dye on top. I used blue and red and can’t wait to see what happens as it melts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAearlier this week I started a jar of dye with layers of dried onion skins and silk hankies that I poured boiling water over. I have let this sit all week and occasionally taken the lid off the jar and popped it in the microwave to heat it up. during the summer I leave jars like this out and rely on the sun to heat them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAso I pulled out a silk hankie and am pleased with the color. the problem will be finding an area to dry the hankies before knitting from them

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsince  all play & no work will make Mary Jo  a dull girl I also washed a week’s worth of socks tooOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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design your own socks


as always there are socks on my needles. I am still working on writing the mosaic pattern for my Day & Night socks – I am probable the slowest writer out there. in the meantime I cast on a plain old sock to carry with me when I go to knitting group. I love knitting group but I am easily distracted and find myself picking back a lot. but even plain old needs a little embellishment so I dug through an old pattern book to find something fun to add. with a little math and a basic pattern for socks you can be a designer too.

when I knot plain old socks I always start with 64 sts on #1 needles or 72 sts on #0. this creates a fabric that works for me. I like a tighter fabric because it wears better. then I like to knit a 2 x 2 rib for 1 or 2 inches. then it is time to work in a pattern.







this particular pattern has an 11 st repeat.

Barley Sugar Pattern

multiple of 11

round 1; *S1, k1, psso, k6, wrn to make 1, k3*

round 2; k

round 3; rep. from round 1

and since my go to pattern for socks has 64 sts a round this is a pretty easy pattern to stick into my sock. I just increase 2 sts on the first plain knit row after the ribbing and start my pattern round with 66 sts. I will knit 6 repeats in every round.

some patterns cannot be inserted so easily. a cable pattern pulls in more widthwise so you would need to do a gauge swatch and make sure you increase enough sts for the sock or else you will not be able to pull it on. the mosaic patterned socks I knit also pulled in more widthwise so I needed to increase 6 sts when I began the pattern. so I went from 64 st to 70 st when I knit those socks.

I picked this pattern because I wanted to knit something a little more interesting than plain stockinette but I also kept in mind that the wild colors would over ride any fancy sts. experimenting with this st was a pleasant surprise it adds just enough zing to an already wild yarn. which by the way is Anemone Wildflower by Frolicking Feet

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dump bread recipe

Hi Linda this post is for you. I know I promised to write down the bread recipe that I brought to Sally’s house last week. and I am finally getting around to it. in fact sitting down and writing out all this I decided to get off my duff and mix up some bread so I could measure out everything. now making bread is a little different each time. it isn’t an exact science….actually it is science but so much depends on humidity and temperature that the amount of flour will vary in any household. but with all that said here goes………

well you have probable heard of dump cake….this is a similar recipe but for rustic bread. this is a simple no knead recipe where the mixer does most of the work.

so I should start out by saying that I use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. but you could do this in a bowl with a little more elbow grease.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I start with 1 cup of bread flour and 1 packet of dried yeast or 2 1/2 tsp of dried yeast if you buy it in a jar. and a generous squirt of honey(about 1 TBS). pour 2 cups of warm water into the bowl and mix it up. then just cover the bowl and walk away for a while….maybe 10/15 minutes. Now you might have noticed I say bread flour but really if all you have is some all purpose flour go ahead and use it. only a true baker or foodie can tell the difference between the flours I think. and hey if you want to substitute other flours like whole wheat add some in along with the white flour. last week I threw some spelt flour into the mix because I wanted to use it up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

when you come back and check there should be bubbles in your flour and water mixture. this is good…it means the yeast is working and your bread will rise. if there are not bubbling action by now it could mean that your yeast is old which means you will not get a good rise out of your bread. look at the date on your packet of yeast.

but if you have bubbles now its time to add more flour. normally I don’t measure because I have been making bread for a while. I just keep dumping flour in till it feels and looks right. so to start with add 2 cups of flour and turn on the mixer and let it mix up. so after a few minutes the flour starts to turn into a pretty messy looking dough. if you stick your finger in   the dough will stick to your fingers. at this point if the phone rings or your dog demands to be let out don’t worry just cover it and go about your business. this spongey dough will be ok.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

after the 1st 2 cups of flour I like to add  salt. I just pour a bit of sea salt in the palm of my hand and throw it in. since I am trying to write this out I measured and it is a tsp of salt. I don’t add the salt before this point because I read somewhere that salt retards the yeast growth a bit. and I just want the flavor I don’t want to stop the yeast from growing altogether. on occasion I get distracted and forget to add the salt and that is ok too your bread will still rise and taste good.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

along with the salt I add more flour. now at this point I add slowly and let the machine mix it up. you want enough flour so the bread holds its shape but you don’t want to add too much and bake heavy dense loaves of bread. so add a half cup at a time and gradually you will see the dough pull away from the sides of the bowl and start to look like some thing you could shape into a loaf. feel the dough with your fingers. it may still be a little sticky but you can see that it is almost there.


it probable still looks a bit sticky and bits are stuck to the side of the bowl so at this point I add a tiny glug of oil. a glug didn’t even fill the tsp when I measured – it’s just a little drizzle. let it continue to mix a few more minutes.  I find adding a little oil at this point helps the dough form a nice ball in the mixer. feel it again the dough should feel a little elastic but smooth and not sticky.  if it is sticky you need more flour. my dough does need more flour so I measured out another half a cup but I only add half of it. I let it mix and when it is thoroughly mixed I feel again and throw in the rest of the half cup.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

if you were kneading this dough at this point you would put it on your bread board and knead and work in tiny amounts of flour maybe a TBS or two at a time until the mixture was just right. but you will have to rely on your eyes and a light touch with your fingers to tell if your dough is ready. if you don’t add enough flour your dough won’t hold the shape of the loaf nicely.  it will still taste wonderful – all bread fresh out of the oven taste wonderful – it just won’t be as tall. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAso slowly I added 4 more TBS of flour and decide its done. the dough is forming a nice ball in the bowl. when I poke a finger into the ball of dough it doesn’t stick to my finger so its ready to rise. I drizzle a little more oil on top and cover it and walk awayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


yep its that easy. now for the next few hours I will punch down the dough every time I walk by. so that means every 20/30 minutes or when I remember. and by punching since I leave the dough in the mixer bowl I just walk by and turn it on so the mixer punches the dough down.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

this bread is ready when I am …. so if I am in a hurry I can put it in a warm place to rise faster. but if I find I need to go out suddenly I can put the bowl in the fridge and slow down the rising until later. but after punching it down 3 or 4 times I am ready to shape loaves.

I am going to make 3 smallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA loaves and bake them on a cookie sheet. my kitchen is not all that warm so before I form the loaves I put the oven on very low temp to warm up while I work. Just a few minutes really maybe you have a warm area in the house you could put the dough by a heat register or something.  I take the cookie sheet and put a silpat on it. and then divide my dough into 3 balls. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthen take the first ball and flatten into a rough rectangle and then roll up jelly roll style. it’s that simple. when I have formed 3 loaves I cover them with some plastic and a towel. now if you feel like it you can put different things on the dough before you roll it up. sometimes I put a little tomato sauce, cheese and pepperonis and roll it into a pizza bread. sometimes I just put cheese or cheese and pepper flakes. even corned beef and swiss cheese is very fun. when the kids were growing up they loved pizza bread. and they loved soup night because I always tried to make fresh bread to go with the soup.


once the loaves are shaped just let them rise one more time. we decided to go for a walk on the lake while the loaves were rising and were gone about 40minutes. when we got home the loaves were  double in size. I  uncovered the loaves and  shut the oven door and turn it on to 350* and set the timer for 20 minutes. 20 minutes is just what I set the timer for it takes a little longer than that. but I will check it… when it is done it will be lightly browned and the loaf will thunk if you tap your finger on it.

I love to bake bread. It warms up the house on chilly days and it smells so good. it makes a meal of leftovers taste just a little more special. plus I feel good feeding my family something where we know all the ingredients that are in it. unfortunately I have to work hard at not eating any of this loveliness. last year our household had some health issues and we went on a caveman diet. I found I really felt better if I didn’t eat glutin but its an incredible hard thing to avoid completely. over the holidays I didn’t behave and follow the diet so once again I am back to watching what I stick in my mouth and trying my best to behave myself.

but I can still watch everyone else enjoy it.



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close doesn’t count

so after posting a picture everyday of my sock progress I suddenly go quiet. what happened did I sink in to the bermuda triangle where the second sock disappear.? or maybe I sunk into a deep sock induced coma. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

nope nothing so dramatic – the second sock is about 12 rows from being cast off. but close doesn’t count – but  another half hour of heel knitting and my day & nights will be done. I took a short detour and knit up some samples for a day and then returned to my socks last night while watching tv. I need to take a few notes while I knit the heel of the second sock so I can finish writing out the directions to share with the Wens. knit group and also Linda. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthis is what my notes looked like the morning before I decided to work on translating my knit short hand. well actually the sketch, some numbers and a rough graph. if I leave my notes too long sometimes they don’t make sense even to me. Today I am hoping to cast on a second size and try out the numbers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAso I typed up instructions and have the graphs finished…… unfortunately this is the point where I need technical assistance and the tech editor is off having a good time in NY while I am here in this gray dismal dreary meltdown. the driveway and the road have 1/2″ of inch that you can’t walk on but the lake has about a 1/2″ of water and slush on it that the dog was leary of walking on. so it will be a good day to be inside and knit and maybe even spin a yarn or two.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAlook the Mr. is leaving a wake behind him(that is a summer thing – when you are close to shore or in a bay it is illegal to motor fast enough to leave a wake behind you. so it made me giggle to see a wake in Mr. Tickler’s boot prints. you can just make out Meva by the seawall – she didn’t want to walk on the wet ice- maybe she was afraid of falling through)

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night & day you are the one

you can tell when I am in love with a project I post nearly everyday. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAyou might be getting sick of seeing pictures of my wide flat toes but no matter I keep taking them. and even worse showing off what my socks look like every inch of the way. you would think I have never knit socks before the way I act ; )

well I am quite happy with how these socks are turning out and I am already planning the next pair. yeah you heard that right – I figure I should be able to get 2 pair out of this yarn. also some of the ladies in my knit group liked these a lot and asked if I would share a pattern. so I am taken notes and will write them up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthis might work out very well because I had submitted a pattern for the more or less kitchener toe and heel and Ravelry turned me down it turns out you can’t have a pattern that is just a formula for part of a garment. so if I get this written and tested I will be able to put in in my store. now you might say why because there really is so many sock patterns. maybe this would just be another plain vanilla sock pattern with a st pattern pasted on top. but you see I think my toes and heels are a little unique. to tell the truth I don’t think I have seen any weirdo toes and heels that look like these. I say weird in jest of course. I think the toes and heels look quite nice even on my feet and even better are super easy to knit.

the pattern that I plugged into my ‘plain old standard for me sock’ is just a little different. it looks like a stranded pattern. you know the standard work in 2 colors with floats and twists and all that. BUT it isn’t – you only use one color per row. no carrying or twisting or untwisting. so next week I will carry directions along to the weekly meeting and show a few of the ladies how to knit these socks. I hope to finish the socks before then and to write it up and also to knit a couple of samples that everyone can knit on to try out the technique.

ps Alice this is what -16* looks like. we must be tougher than you guys… your pipes froze at just 9*OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApss. just joking about the temps Al.

see I wasn’t joking yesterday your weirdo mom is knitting the second sock from the toe up instead of cuff down. see my socks truly are night&day. and I will wear them even if they don’t match.


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a year of socks

I don’t make New Year resolutions. not because I am perfect but because I don’t want to let myself down. it’s so hard when your goal is to loss weight or balance my checkbook. I strive for goals all the time but I don’t want to make them a New Year resolution and then fail miserably.

but I was thinking about it this morning and although I don’t make resolutions I kind of have made one. I joined a new group on Ravelry  - friends-of- knitting-sarah. I enjoy reading Sarah’s blog and feel like she is a neighbor even though we have never met – she lives a little NW of me near Beaver Dam.

also there is a KAL starting on Jan 15 in this group. it a kind of KAL with goals that will be easy for me to achieve. the KAL is to knit on socks everyday for the year from Jan 15, 2014 through Jan 14, 2015.  and it is any sock and any pattern you want. it doesn’t matter if you knit one sock or one sock a month. there are no rules except to have fun and have a sock on the needles all year. this is a resolution I can get behind ; )

I have lots of sock yarn in my stash and there is always a pretty sock yarn beckoning me at the LYS. I love small projects that are easy to thrown in my purse as I walk out the door. there are so many wonderful patterns to choose from that range from easy, no thinking, watching TV socks all the way to tough, beautiful lace and cable socks that keep you on your toes as you manipulate your yarn to form the stitches. and to be very honest if I look back on the last year I had either a pair of socks or a teeny-tiny toy made out of leftover sock yarn in my project bag every day. so here is a resolution I can stick to for a whole year. I won’t be skinnier at the end of the year and the checkbook won’t be balanced……

but….. I will have a well stocked sock drawer. starting with these socksOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

my sock drawer will be replenished.

I am thoroughly enjoying my night & day socks. the first one knit up in just 3 days. it is comfy and cosy and very warm. I wore it this morning for my walk.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had to include this picture so that my daughter will shake her head and laugh at her crazy mom. I told her I was going to knit the second sock of this pair from the toe up last night and she said she couldn’t wear socks that were that different. so then I told her since the first sock was finished I was going to give it a trial run and wear it on our morning walk.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAso last night I cast on and started a toe. since the socks are opposites – day & night I cast on in the charcoal color. now I need to re-chart so that the swirls go in the opposite direction and I will be off and running.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApretty snazzy, eh?

well off to run some errants and then to knit group….check out Sarah’s blog and join us for a year long of socks.


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day & night


thats right this sock is my new soul mate. I am just zipping along. the pink yarn is marking my space for the after-thunk heel and I am about to embark on the less is more toe shaping.

if it looks like there is a lot of knitting going on well that’s because there is. I am not going to go on about the weather other than to show you a picture of what I look like on my morning walk.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeva can’t get enough of the great outdoors and is enjoying herself immensely. she really doesn’t understand what the big deal is and why I keep making her come inside.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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night & day

what a difference a day makes.

yesterday I was feeling sloggish and tired of the needles. my 2nd sock was taking an eternity. cotton had robbed me on all my motivation.  my mojo was depleted. but then……. I finished the endless sock.

and so began anew.


it was going to be an off white gray sock in my basic plain old  pattern but boredom struck after an inch of ribbing. I half heartedly plodded along another 1/2 inch before realizing that I am the boss of my knitting not the other way around. I don’t have to blindly follow I can strike out and change it up.

my mojo is back this is just one evening of knitting. a few more rows and I will insert a yarn for the afterthought and then it is a race to the toe.


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAas you can see I made good progress yesterday on the sock front. now I just have a few more stitches before binding off the toe. then an afterthought heel. I knit round and round last night while finishing up this mystery by Karen Fossum.

had a great walk this morning – a bit brisk but still an invigorating way to start out the day. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeva loves this weather and I am happy that she is feeling better and can go out for a walk.  I didn’t have the heart to check the temperature this morning before heading out. I really didn’t want to know – it is all I hear on the news. how cold it is and how cold it is going to get. the local schools announced last week they were going to close on Monday because it was going to be -19* and that is without the wind chill added in.

today the Packers play in Green Bay and the temps are going to drop  even further. the team will give out free hot drinks(cocoa and coffee) to anyone attending. it is also cold enough that the beer will have to be heated in order to keep it from freezing.

so today I am not going to look at the thermometer and just bundle up when I go outside. Or better yet I will stay inside and finish this sock.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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scurry & hurry

I am working to finish the project living in the bottom of my bag.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

it is the sock that have been hogging space on my needles for at least one month.  this is a slow knit and I have to question why?

is it the fiber?

maybe….it is a cotton blend. I am not a big fan of cotton yarns. my fingers feel old and sore when I knit with some cottons. ….. . but this cotton is soft and easy on the fingers.  when the first sock was finished the recipient has tried it on and he thinks it might feel ok(as in it is not itchy wool)

is it the pattern????

well not really it is my go to plain vanilla sock. the sock that I go to when I don’t want to think. it is easy to add a pattern to so I did a lot of knits and purls to add some texture to the cuff. and then my usual ribbing on the foot.

is it the color??????

yeah I am not crazy about the color. it is hard to find a non-wool sock yarn in manly colors. and since I really don’t know if these will get worn or just tossed into the back of a drawer I grabbed this lone skein out of the sale bin. there wasn’t a choice just this ball of yarn labeled orange. but it doesn’t strike me as orange for some reason maybe salmon or brown or blaaa

or could it be…… I am just a bit of a primadonna when it comes to yarn?

OK this is probable the whole problem. I do knit with non animal fiber when it is appropriate but mostly I love a good wool. so this poor cotton substitute has languished in my bag. there is nothing wrong with it. I drag it to knitting group and manage to add a row or two but mostly it gets shoved to the bottom of the bag while I put something more fun on top and knit that instead. and just so you get a picture of what a fun project is compared to these socks I cast on and knit a swatch the other day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also knit a hat, a shawl, a couple of toys and a whole slew of santa ornaments.

I don’t make New Year resolutions but seriously these socks have to be finished. I want a fresh pair of socks on my needles. and I have swore to myself that nothing else will be started until these are done. I am determined –come hell or high water(or snow and frigid temps) I will cast off the second sock this weekend. and then I can cast on……OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwool honest to goodness soft cuddle worthy wool. probable the gray yarn that I wound up Thursday while telling myself it wouldn’t be cast on till I finished. or maybe it will be the blue which is destined to be leg warmers. or maybe that brown yarn that is longing to be a new cardigan.

so hurry up fingersOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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winter shadows

today is the first day I haven’t woken to snow falling. everyday we have had some snow sometimes it is 6″ and other days just 1″or  so light fluffy snow.

it is a warm (almost 30* (don’t you love that Alice? 30 degrees is warm)) sunny day. and all that light fluffy snow sparkles like diamonds as the sun rose.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

so we had a beautiful walk on the lake. we couldn’t go far. Meva has been sick yet again but at least this morning she was willing to walk. yesterday the only place she walked was to the doctors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAstill she seemed happy to take a short walk and explore just a bit.

I asked Marty to take a few photos of me because I just finished a new knit shawlOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made spun the yarn for this shawl myself using some yak fiber I bought at WI Sheep&Wool. want a closer look…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit seems difficult to get a picture of this shawl to show off how wonderful it truly is. in real life the snow is sparkling like diamonds as the shine is shining on it. and the yak/silk/merino just shimmers. but this picture just doesn’t capture that.

so I put the scarf on again and we walked a little further around Nichol’s point. the day is so beautiful we really hated to turn around and go home. and then I saw a bush on the shore where I could hang my new “Precious”(yes, we were watching the Fellowship of the Ring while I knit this. why do you ask?).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe gentle breeze ruffles the edge of the scarf just a little and makes it hard to really see the knit stitches but then the sunlight made a perfect lace shadow in the snow behind it.

this is a quick, easy to memorize knit called Winter Bloom by Kourtney Robinson. It took me only a couple days knitting.

Now I did changed a few things. the original shawl has beads in it but I cast on X-mas eve and couldn’t face the crowds out shopping for last minute gifts to buy some beads. so I told myself that the yak with shimmery silk added to it would be dressy enough without beads. and then when I searched through my collection of circular needles I couldn’t find a #4. Now I am sure that next week when I am looking for a #3 I will find a #4 but that is besides the point. there wasn’t a #4 to be found. still not willing to be out – not even at the LYS I did the next best thing and cast on with a #5.

what’s the worst that could happen ?? it is not the end of the world if you have a larger gauge for a shawl as long as you like the way the lace looks it is fine. well the worst that could happen is that although I had spun 4 ozs almost 400 yards of light gray yak yarn I did run out. seeing as how I am perfectly willing to fly by the seat of my pants and throw caution to the wind I just happened to have 1 oz of a darker yak/wool fiber without silk added which I used pretending that I always intended to have a darker border on my shawl. as you can see even with the little glitches my knitting had I am still delighted with my shawl. and I can also add that yak fiber is indeed very warm I took lots of pictures of my knitting and my ears did get a little cold but quickly warmed up when I wrapped the babuska around my head again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMeva isn’t quite as thrilled with my shawl as I am but with all her fur she doesn’t really need it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


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