Pretty Things

Aren’t they pretty?  These are the slippers I knit up during Nutcracker performances, all felted up, stuffed with tissue, and almost dry.  Sadly, oh, very sadly, they are too small for the intended recipient and I believe I may have to keep them for myself.  I’m thinking about knitting some small flowers with the handpainted yarn in the picture from www.beemerknits.com, and embellishing the slipppers with some beaded flowers.


More pretty things:  I thought I would share of few of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments with y’all. 

This is the first ornament I ever bought — a sweet little goose girl I purchased from the gallery of an artist in Fanueil Hall in Boston while I was there for summer school in 1977.


I went to school in Radofzell, Germany in 1981, and purchased this delicate little paper cone ornament, which has amazingly survived all these years, at the Christmas Market.


Finally, this little family house, from the year our second child was born.  He was born in October, but wasn’t released from the neonatal intensive care unit until Christmas Eve Day that year, so this ornament is extra-special.


I have a purring Maine Coon Cat in my lap and four skeins of yarn hung around my neck.  I’m off to dye some yarn — hopefully there will be no color changes in the kitten.


Nutcracker Knitting

How much can one Mom knit during breaks from dressing and sheparding hordes of small children through Nutcracker performances and rehersals?  As it turns out, a good bit.

First — and I mention this although I’m still in the boring stockinette panel on the bottom part, because I am enjoying this yarn so much — is the Cahaba Jacket in Ironstone Yarns Island Cotton.  During two nights of Nutcracker, you can manage both the back and the side fronts all the way up to the start of the armholes.


Next?  One Anthropologie Shrug in Colinette Point 5.  This took the next few nights from start to finish.  I have fallen in love with Colinette Yarns and am hoping they will make a prominent appearance under my Christmas tree.  The shrug, which was knit in Point 5 in the Toscana colorway, is unblocked, but still beautiful.


Although the pattern indicates the writer preferred the reverse stockinette side (below), I think I will stick with the stockinette side (above) on the outside.


Finally, accomplished during the last two nights of nutcracker (while also working on socks and starting a new scarf in silk and alpaca, more on that later), is this pair of what will become felted knit slippers.  I’m enchanted with this idea and can’t wait to felt and embellish them.  The pattern is in this book.


All in all, I was sorry to see the Nutcracker come to an end.  The Balanchine version that the Alabama Ballet Company performs is beautiful.  And the knitting was grand.


The weather has finally turned cool here in Alabama

The weather has finally turned cool here, which means that all I can think about is felting.  There is something wonderful about working with roving when the air is chilly.

This year, I started with soap.  Over the weekend, we felted big bars of handmade soaps from two of my favorite soapmakers (and work at home moms), Kristerae at Dreamseeds and Tami at the eponymous Tami’s Soaps.  The kids really enjoy it, and when we’re done, we have wonderful bars of soap contained in their own naturally anti-microbial wash cloths.  The soap is fabulous for scrubbing dirty knees and feet.  Although I used to make it just for the littles, the soap would tend to migrate to the big kids’ and the husband’s shower, so I’ve finally learned to make them for everyone.


Barbara from Mielke Farms has directions for felting soap here.  You want a wool that will felt very quickly so you don’t lose too much soap in the sudsing/felting process.  Merino is best and although it is more expensive than some other fibers, it takes just a bit to felt a bar of soap so it isn’t too extravagant.  Mielke farms has fabulous fibers, as do a growing number of internet businesses.  I have a few colorways of hand dyed merino on my website if you are interested in trying this.  It is the perfect project with children because they take so much pride in making something beautiful and useful.  A perfect gift for grandparents come holiday time!


Unintended Consequences

It has been one of those beautiful weekends here — early fall in Alabama is a time of perfect weather and lush foliage that returns from the death knell of summer drought for one last burst of roses, flowers, and blooming herbs before the season comes to an end.  Miss Ellie and I spent Saturday afternoon making Strawberry jam with a friend from work.  It was blissful.  Ellie was almost as taken with the jam as she was with the two big, friendly German Shepards, Elvis and Jenny.  And this morning, husband and I took the littles to the zoo and saw such oddities as the Victoria Crowned Pigeon.


We came home and I painted some roving, Blue Face Leicester, for a bag I want to felt later this week (this is about three ounces extra of this, and I’m going to offer it for sale at www.middayfaire.com this Tuesday, at noon, if anyone is interested) and worked on some different silk waste products that I want to experiment with incorporating into felting — some throwster’s waste and cocoon strippings. 


While that all was batching, I decided to start in on the short ribs from the Barefoot Contessa Family Cookbook, so that Monday night dinner would just be a warm up kind of thing.  I should have noticed the surreal quiet that rarely descends on my household, but I didn’t.  I was in the groove — mincing fennel and making small herb swatches using chives instead of string to tie up the packets of rosemary and oregano.  Suddenly I heard the husband — "Ollie, what are you doing?"  I could tell he was torn between laughter and horror.  This is what Ollie was doing.


It’s .  Looks nice on him, doesn’t it?


Knitting & Felting

I have a couple of things to share.

First off, I have been so happy with the short sweater that I knit for myself, based on Peony’s Anthropologie inspired capelet, that I decided to do one for my sister in law, again out of Noro yarn.  I hope she will like it — I thought it would be handy for keeping warm and snuggly while open enough to nurse a wee baby.


Then there is felting.  I am still feeling so inspired by the chance I had last weekend to work with Julie Williams.  Here is a much better picture of the scarf I did with her this weekend.


And here is a mohair-embellished piece I worked on the last few nights.