Saturday, November 2, 2013

Victorian Booties

 Family Booties from 1911
Happy Wovember!  For my first entry of this festively wooly season I present the rebirth of a family heirloom! In my treasure chest of inherited family textiles I found a pair of wool booties knit by my great grandmother Louise for her first baby born in 1911. They were well used and then tucked away. I thought how much I wished I had a knitting pattern from one of the past knitters in my family, so I decided to decipher the knitting of these booties. It has taken me a while, and I made some false turns, but all along the way I felt I was knitting with Great Grandma Louise. I have figured out the puzzle and here is the result. I plan to make the pattern available on my Ravelry page in the next few days. Give me about a week to figure out how to post the pattern. My Ravelry name is purrly.

Such tiny stitches. As I worked I thought a lot about Great Greandma, whom I never met. But I learned some new things about knitting from her as I worked out her pattern. It is a pattern I will cherish. Thank you, Great Grandma.

The old and the new. Since there are two rows of eyelets for ribbon I tried it both ways: One ribbon tie like Grandman Louise apparently used, or two ribbon ties as the booty pattern seems to be made to flaunt. Victorians loved their decorations. Help me decide. Which ribbon style do you like best, single or double?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Love Story

See how the tree and the stone lean toward each other?

In one of the places I like to take a walk, there is a small tombstone marking the grave for a little girl who died nearly one hundred years ago. The girl was "Our Beloved Little Jeane" who was a baby only a few months old. She was born on October 26, 1917, and
Jeane's Tree
while taking a walk in the field the other day on October 26,  I couldn't help but notice the tree that grows on Jeane's grave because the tree was standing out all bright yellow against the dark evergreens, as yellow as a lit candle. No mater where I walked in the field, looking across I could always see Little Jeane's tree, different from the trees around it and all lit with golden yellow. The tree is a birch, very old. Maybe 100 years old, and I can imagine Little Jeane's parents planting it for her so that every year on her birthday it would be like a lit candle to the memory of her. It's exactly like a candle. Their love for her shines on.

It is not an accident that this tree grows here amongst the darker ones. And it looked like this on October 26. Aglow.

Their love still grows

Sunday, October 27, 2013

(Nearly) Lace Cap

Is that a bit blurry? Well, you get the idea anyway. 

Well, Here it is! All blocked and being modeled by the darling Conner, my daughter's out grown life size baby doll. I think I may yet attach some satin ribbon, but I wanted to let you look the way I'd promised. I am quite pleased and ready to go on to more lace projects. HA! I am capable of knitting lace! The important thing now is to not stop! Eventually I think even my skeptical self will come around. Don't you?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jenny's Neighborhood

There is nothing better  than a walk
Due to yesterday's accomplishments I slacked off a bit today. The baby cap is done and so are a pair of booties. I'd show them to you but they are being blocked. So since all the knitting is taking a bath and getting into shape, how about pictures of the scenery around here. Jenny-Dog and I took a walk. Let's go see!

Follow Jenny

Bravo! Mother nature is such an artist! This dry Hemlock is as good as fireworks.


Rose hips and the fuzzy part is known as Robin's Pin Cushion. 

This old rake from the days of horse drawn equipment has had its day.

the bend in the creek where the water slows down. Nice and shady in the summer.

Another view of the same creek further on. Looks like  its full of sky.
Another neighbor

See that one yellow tree in the middle? There is a story, nearly 100 years old, that goes with that. I will tell you in my next blog so I can show the proper pictures that go with it. It's a story that touches my heart.

Time to go home. Lets turn around and follow our steps back the way we cam. Thanks for walking with Jenny and me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Update: Done! (or nearly)

A curved textile suffering on a straight needle. I will draw together the top eight stitches, seam up the sides and set it free.

Ahem. . . .I would just like to point out to anybody who started out feeling skeptical at the beginning of this lace knitting project that I am now done with all the knitting and have only to seam the two sides together. That part of me that voiced her doubt in a snide little voice about lost yarn overs, mistakes and barely lace, is now invited to feast her eyes on the fact that I have not only NOT lost any yarn overs, but am now done with my first lace project and feeling pretty pleased. I am proud of my more adventurous side for going forward in spite of the snide voice and bad past experiences. I would like to invite that part of me to stand forth and receive her congratulations and I would like to offer her an opportunity of partnership in a new phase of our knitting life as CEO of all further lace endeavors. Optimistic Me is a risk taker, a visionary and has proven herself to be a dedicated, focused worker. She did what others said we couldn't do and so now, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce plans to develop a whole new department to Lynn's Knitting Life, the department of Lace Knitting! I am thrilled, just thrilled about this. I have great faith in our new lace knitting department and believe that if Optimistic Me accepts the offer of promotion to Lace department CEO she is capable of expanding out knitting growth exponentially and of taking us to great heights of frothy frilliness. Thank you. 

Skeptical me, I believe I will make you CEO of the laundry.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Update: on to the Crown!

I have arrived at the decreases for the crown! HA! My skeptical self has pursed lips again and is rather silent except for a teeny little comment, something about this barely being lace, but its weak and I choose to tune her out. Pardon me for a few moments while I gloat upon these dizzy heights of my lace accomplishment! 

I can see I am not much good for anything else today, I am floating around here with a smile of pride on my face. I am supposed do the laundry, but I'd rather just sit here and gaze at my lace. A weekend's worth of dirty laundry to contend with can't possibly get a lace knitter down! Sure handling stinky socks could be considered unglamorous, but what does it matter when those same hands can turn around and knit something so beautiful and magical as lace? Surely the mundane no longer can get THIS lace knitter down!  I mean, I am practically magical! Just look at what beauty is possible on my needles!
Excuse me, I hear my skeptical self calling me from the laundry room. Piles of laundry are waiting.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Wool booties, antique wool booties. Just to show you I am not entirely swept up in my wild endeavors to discredit all my own skepticisms about my ability to knit lace (not entirely swept up YET that is), I decided to show you what happened recently when I knit a pair of booties for a friend's baby. I started wishing I had a new pattern, not the same one I always knit. I got on Ravelry and sort of shopped around marveling and awwwwing and making the kind of appreciative sounds one makes when looking at darling baby items, but I didn't find what I was looking for which was the type of booties I'd seen in old fashioned pictures. Booties, maybe slightly lacy with ribbon ties and appealingly classic, almost sock-like shape and not a lot of bulk (mine, which I will show you some other time, look a little teeny bit like the square toed boots Frankenstein might wear. I don't know about you but I don't like to link babies cute little feet and Frankenstein together in the same thought). Where could I find such a pattern? And then it occurred to me that upstairs in my treasure trove of heirloom textiles (Which I have been sadly remiss in blogging about, shame on me. I promise to do so more often) I have these little sweeties. Made by my great grandmother or perhaps great-great-grandmother for either my baby grandmother or her baby elder brother, these were created in about 1910. I promptly sat
down with pencil, pad and a magnifying glass (seven and a half stitches per inch!) and began to  make little cryptic notes such as "K2tog, bkwlp" which I totally understand because I made part of that language up. Anyway, I hope to decipher my way through the bootie and then knit up what I think is correct and see in the end if it looks like the kind of baby bootie expectant moms and grandmothers knit in 1910.  And just in case you're wondering, the skeptical me, the one that purses her lips and shakes her head silently as I take up my needles to knit lace each day, is completely on board with this one. Skeptical me shouts things like this at me, "What are you doing wasting time eating sleeping and taking your dog for a walk? Get your heirloom bootie pattern figured out!!" I can be such a tyrant.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Another Update, and the Season

I'm not so sure this is what I'd call pretty lace, but that isn't the point! 

Another update on how I'm getting along with yarn overs and stunts such as alternating three purls with three knits in the same two stitches before allowing those stitches off the needle (that's a six stitch increase in two by the way. See how knowledgable I'm getting?). I'm not doing too bad! I did have a long session yesterday with a mistake involving three stitches, but I caught it early so there was no un-kniting other than half a row. Those three stitches and I did spend quite a bit of time together. I really got a chance to know them well and they gave me plenty of opportunity to throw lace knitting aside again and shout curses, but I persevered and won out in the end. And I'm pleased to say I was the picture of patience. In other words, I totally fixed it and with out making a scene! So now I'm humming right along and I am having a grand time showing off to my more skeptical self. See?! I can do this!!! I am starting to have fantasies of gauzy things knit with delicate yarn. But even I don't need myself to tell me I am not quite there yet. Instead I am thinking of another baby cap of a different pattern done with lace weight yarn. And I'm pleased to say the skeptical me has no opinion on that plan which I am going to accept as a positive sign. 

In other news around here: It's fall. My favorite. The air is warm but crisp and there is a hint of woodsmoke in the air and everything is golden and red. Next walk I take I will have to snap some photos of the wheat fields all harvested of their wheat.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making Progress

I wish you could see me, knitting along on my Barely Lace baby cap, taking extra special care of my yarn overs, and listening to ethereal celtic instrumental music on my ipod (perfect music for lace knitting). And yesterday when I realized I had messed up one of my "(K1,P1tbl)in yo"  and had to take out four rows to get to it, stitch by stitch because I'm scared to death to frog anything lacy even Barely Lacey, I ignored the voice inside my head that said, "See? Didn't I tell you this would happen? You're crazy for knitting lace!" It is true that no matter how careful I felt I was being, I still made a
mistake, but  I refused to see that as anything but a strange fluke and calmly continued to unknit stitch by stitch until I arrived at the problem. WIth an amazing display of patience and determination, I fixed the mistake (Which was just a fluke remember, not a sign that I should knit stockinette instead) and forged on. I'm so pleased now, I thought I'd show you that it's only Tuesday and I am a third of the way through the pattern! If I keep this up I might even be done this weekend as I planned, providing, of course, no more flukes happen. I'm mentally prepared though. If I find a mistake and the voice of skepticism speaks up again, I will just turn the volume up on my ipod.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


For a long time now, years actually, I have been pleading with myself to let myself knit some lace. It isn't easy. I'm pretty firm due to some bad lace experiences in the past. Inside my head it sounds something like this:

"Ooooooooh! Look at that gorgeous shetland shawl! Look how pretty! It's so light! Like Angel wings and snowflakes, and so cleaver with all that frothy, frothy trim! I want to knit that! Lets get some lace weight yarn and start right now!"
"No. You are not going to knit lace."
"I want to. I really want to knit something that beautiful."
"No. No lace. You tried to knit lace once, remember? You lost all those yarn overs."
"But I wont loose the yarn overs this time. I'll take really good care of them. I promise."

It sounds like a kid begging for a puppy. I have knit just about everything else and I make up my own patterns for sweaters, but I have NOT managed lace yet because I get lost, drop the yarn overs and just generally make a lot of mistakes. But I still want to do it!! So this past weekend I worked on myself for a while, wearing myself down and I finally talked myself into a simple lace project. I had just finished making booties for my friends new baby so when I saw a darling little cap I pointed out to myself that not only was it BARELY lace, it was small too. AND when I am done I would get to add it to my family heirloom textiles, a worthy place for lace, where it could wait until someday in the far future when I have a grandchild. So I caved in and am letting myself knit a BARELY lace item that could turn out a success.  I didn't have any lace yarn so I used some sport weight. I am focused because just wait until I show myself what I am sure I can do. I will be impressed and surprised and I will have to agree with myself about lace. And then, I have even bigger plans in store. But shhhhhhhh don't let myself know that yet. First I have to prove something to myself, that I can knit this barely lace cap. 

So far, I haven't lost ANY yarn overs. Wish me luck. This time next week I feel sure I will have a lace (barely) baby cap to show you. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Northwest Tea Festival

Now, a bit about tea.

I attended the Northwest Tea Festival last weekend in Seattle and it was well attended. It turns out Seattle is the city for tea the way it is for coffee. If you are looking for a good cup of tea, its in Seattle amongst the serious tea community that thrives there. Interesting. A great thing about attending the tea festival is that you get to try all kinds of stuff. You carry a little cup around and fill it with samples of all kids of teas from the venders, tasting the differences and varieties. You learn a lot that way and drink gallons over the course of the day! Ten dollars at the door gets you a free porcelain tasting cup and free tote along with your entry inside.

Lots of venders. Lots of tea paraphernalia. Lots of tea lovers. Several speakers who are notables in the tea world such as  James Norwood Pratt. There are many free information sessions about things like Chinese teas, or cooking with tea or Tea 101. Then there were workshops that cost $20 to partake in, which I didn't. I went only to free things and still saw and learned plenty. The chocolate and tea paring workshop I went to was free because the chocolate venders donated the chocolate and likewise with the tea. I learned there are subtle differences for the different tea and kinds of chocolate, but I still think most all chocolate goes with most all tea. I won a $50 tin of Japanese Matcha in that class at the end. Shock! Me? And I had been wishing I had the guts to spend $25 on some lesser quality Match just before gong into that class! This stuff is Japanese ceremonial quality. I will now explain Matcha:

Matcha is Green tea from Japan and China. It is what is meant by true green tea. The leaves are grown certain ways, harvested, deveined, crushed into powder. Everything take lots of time. Lots and lots. Then in the end the result is a bright green powder that is measured by the teaspoon whisked in a bowl with a little water and sipped out of tiny cups held in the palm. The result is a tea that hits the liver and slowly releases itself through the bloodstream with some kind of result to the brain that releases a sense of calm. It is drunk daily sever times a day in Asia and is full of antioxidents. There is daily and ceremonial matcha but the best quality never leaves China unless you know somebody who can send you a bit. I plan to hit up my mom and dad's Chinese friends who live in Shanghai but travel often to the states on business and see Mom and Dad from time to time. I leaned that I love the Asian teas and the Asian traditions. I like the British tea traditions too, but the serious tea side of me is with the Asians. I would love to study the Japanese tea ceremony. I am sending you a photo of my Asian tea treasures. The small canister is the Matcha. The paper wrapped rectangle is a brick of Chinese Pu-erh which tastes mellow and deep, costs $30 dollars a brick but lasts indefinitely and with each bit you use you get multiple emersions. Estimation is there is 35-40 cups of tea in each brick and good for up to 5 steeps each. The teapot was one which Mom's Chinese friend brought her from China and which Mom has now given me. With these teapots you brew in the pot, sip from the spout and the unglazed clay is an important part. The tiny tea pot and little cups were also from Mom and Dad's friends. The British style cup is there to help you make size comparisons. The bamboo whisk over to the far left in its clear container is to use while making matcha. When I asked if I could use a regular kitchen brush or whisk they giggled. And actually, this little bamboo whisk is like nothing I've ever seen before. Not even close.

I learned that flavored teas are good for easing the coffee trained pallet over to the tea pallet. A pure tea is white, green or black, nothing added and is the way tea is drunk in Asia. 

I went to an Asian class in which they taught us the way to drink tea, the calming way to brew, sip and share it so it is a whole body experience. Asian teacher was great but so were the asian folks sitting next to me who filled me in to greater depths on things.

I met a darling young woman from India who launching her own chai company. She was just back from a trip to New Delhi and was selling her chai at the show. I applaud her. Her company is called The Chai Diaries. We bought some of her Chai. She did very well with her pitch and explaining what we were sipping, and I would never have guessed she had Jet lag.

Now I am home with my treasures and the home sipping may begin. Not sure when I will ever be brave enough to open the Matca!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

News from the Kingdom of Albion House

We caught the cutest mouse I ever saw. He had rounded ears and a long tail and was about as big as my littlest finger. It looked like a storybook mouse and would have made a darling pet. Sigh. Anyway, he's dead now.

Well, at least the wool blankets are safer and breathe a sigh of relief after the frightful carnage that came to light earlier this week. One of the elder members of the wool blanket community who that can trace her connection to the ruling family back three generations, was found brutally shredded. Clues and sighting by the royal family led to a warrant of arrest for, to quote one observer, "The cutest mouse I ever saw!" The suspect was seen lurking around the neighborhood of Storage Closet in the provence of T.V. Room,  and acting suspicious. Information that kingdom officials believed the cute mouse was in search of food and nesting materials in order to support a possible mouse sleeper cell was leaked through out the kingdom causing panic in all wool communities in the kingdom of Albion House. A committee of security officials checking into the situation for possible connections to the brutal shredding incident designated mouse NOT CUTE and possibly linked to larger, more organized mouse and moth terrorists organizations feared lurking in the kingdom of Albion House and surrounding environs even as far away as Neighbor's Barn. A decision to employ covert action using top quality weapon grade sticky tape and poisoned mouse delicacies was put into place. The action was a success, the terrorist was surprised and captured and his body put on display in order to dispel any possible rumors that mouse was only captured and jailed in the notorious Hamster Cage prison as a pet creating further worry of future escape. Tonight there will be a wool blanket jubilee as the wool blanket community casts off their fear and mourning in order to celebrate. I'm sure it will be a sight to see. (incidentally some upheaval in the wool community has begun to brew this afternoon because the wool sweaters, scarves, skirts, mittens and yarn have not been invited to the jubilee and are staging racial protest. The wool blankets have declined to comment).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

End of Summer

Maybe its because of the rain but I finally feel as if the hot heat of summer is now a thing of the past. I can come in from the garden a little more and settle in for. . . .well if not winter yet, at lest some fall-like weather. On sunday it was so hot even walking in the evening made us sweat. Then Tuesday cam around with its storm and it's as if the fever has broken. Our first rain in months arrived Tuesday night and its been much cooler since. So, I will resume this blog which I am sorry I became lax with in the summer heat. Alright now, onward!

For the first blog post of the nearly fall season I want to show you how my gansey did at the county fair in August. It was a thrill to see my own pattern and own work on display. I didn't have that opportunity while living in isolated locations in Alaska. Now, in the Pacific Northwest, I do! I knit this traditional gansey by using the E.Z. percentage system. I highly recommend Elizabeth Zimmerman's books for all your knitting education. This gansey has all the traditional gansey features such a under arm gussets, upper body pattern with lover body stockinette, etc. I picked out a few knit and purl patterns I liked from Gladys Thompson's Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans book, which is a fabulous treasury of various knit and purl combinations if you're looking for one. I knit the neck band high and with button holes because I've always liked the look of two little silver buttons in the neck band of some kinds of sweaters, so I decided to do that to this one. I also put in neck gussets. In the end the sweated fit perfectly. I sent it out into the critical eye of the world and like any mother it was an anxious feeling leaving it in the hands of fair officials on crowded check in day. How would they keep it from getting lost in the mob and clutter? But they took very good care of it and were organized people. It did fine out there on its own and came safely home later, decorated with ribbons.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Quick Update

A card from a very dear friend in an antique frame.

If I wasn't spending so much of my free time doing this. . . 

Taking raw wool (this batch is Shetland). . . 

scouring it. . . .

drying it. . .

carding it. . . 

(carded bats fluffy and oh so satisfying! They are waiting to be spun) 

and spinning on wheel and drop spindle. . . 
'Id be making faster progress on this handspun sweet thing! But it is coming along faster lately as I have started sitting up late at night with it. Just like with a baby.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Baby sweater update

I thought I'd post an update on this little homespun sweetie my last post was about. Here is how far I have come, and yes, those are some of my notes on that paper! I am actually writing things down as I make this one. Amazing how much easier it makes it to go back and figure out what you want to do again. This is sweater is just one of my projects lately so it only gets part of my attention, but yesterday I connected the arms and after realizing a little misunderstanding between me and simple arithmetic, I took one of the arms back off, made an adjustment then connected the arm back to the body again. Things are going along rather well using a percentage system to invent the pattern as I go and a baby I borrow from time to time so I can have a living model to try things on. Now comes the yoke around the shoulders so I am going to take some time to hit the books, draw out ideas and dream. In a way it's like shopping through the dot matrixes. I will try out various things and report back with what I finally settle on. Half the fun is trying out the possibilities. Wish me luck in finding nice designs that have the appropriate mathematical factoring.

It helps to have a selection of books to shop through

HA! An old and venerable pattern, but some how not right in this case is don't think. Too large anyway. A nice idea though considering this could be a boys or a girl's sweater and reminds me of paper dolls which is charmingly childish. Of well. Onward!