Update on TKGA Masters Level I - tearing out my knitted swatches ...


I'm not perfect, here is my new mantra, "I am not perfect."

If so, then why.

Why can't I accept my non-perfect self and just knit a 4 x 4 inch square and be done with it, put it in a top-loading page protector, put it in the notebook, type the answers to the question with references and stick the lesson in the mail????  Why does it have to be perfect to move on to lesson two of Level I.

I knit it, I see stitches that aren't perfect, I tear it out, I knit it, ... you know the rest.

I've knit sweaters, purses, scarves, hats, blankets, gifts, household items, etc.  Why can't I knit a 4 " square?

Now, I did discover one of my HUGE errors while knitting, but fixing it is totally impossible.

I cast on a row of stitches, like I always have done - years and years, I knit a ribbing row, for the first few rows - a little more methodically than I've done for the same length of time, then it happens, I look at my second stitch - just the second stitch, no the 1st - not the 3rd - and randomly sometimes the 8th or 12th or 16th but mostly the 2nd stitch.  What the hey!!  What am I doing wrong.

That vertical row on the right side is just WRONG!!  I think I figured it out - going to experiment.

OK this knitting a swatch for a test thing is causing me to do research and read and web browsing and nailing down back issues of magazine articles and dusting off old knitting books and a quick trip to the library.  If this ends up interrupting my free-spirit knitting self, I may call the money I spent a business investment loss and quit before I begin.  Herein lies the problem ... I want it to be perfect and will settle for nothing less, because of this, I press on.  I stopped for awhile to begin dressing my loom, maybe some weaving on my loom will help me go back to knitting a 4" square without the big stitches on the second stitch - every single row!!

I'm a knitter - not a photographer!



What a relaxing anniversary. Stopping to smell the roses.

We drove about 450 miles to go to a friend's 60th birthday party, then headed south into the AR, MO foothills down to a creek bed, where the hubby loves to fly fish for trout.  My Mom calls it stopping to smell the roses.  Anytime our lives got really hectic and I'd share with her the details of our woes, she'd ask when was the last time we stopped to smell them.  I'd laugh her off, like she was from another planet and wonder when we'd ever have that kind of time.

Now, I understand.  Wish I had known how vivid the wildflowers can be early in the morning, but I was always rushing the same hour that the world was - pushing each other in our muffler exhaust and pulling each other with our vehicle's draft - hoping no one is distracted causing the phantom stops and false starts - passing the same 2 or 3 vehicles after they just passed me in the other lane, never looking, only smelling the morning's accumulation of pollution.  32 years of working, rushing, eking out a paycheck, oozing predictable responses and stifling creativity.

So - I took my knitting to the mountains.  I took my Masters Hand-Knitting  course.  I knit, I tore it out, I knit it again, I walked to check on my fly-fishing hubby, I sat on the balcony, stared at wildflowers, listened to birds, watched baby grasshoppers, and was stared down by a house cat. 

He caught trout.  We brought them home, I stuffed them with a crab stuffing, baked them and we ate like kings.  Happy Anniversary to us. (43 years)


OK So I started the TKGA Masters Hand Knitting Level 1

It is a pretty involved course.  You don't just knit a 4" square and send it in for evaluation.

First off, finding needles that I'm comfortable with and that meet the gauge "tension" that they're looking for has been tricky.  Didn't know there were so many varieties.  My current blog picture is one of my older needles that I used to learn knitting.  Some of them are over 50 years old.  Some were used for baby items for my babies.  A few were gifts when I started knitting, some are the modern plastic kind that I HATE!!

There are two other containers of needles, circular, and shorter, lots of wooden needles, which I LOVE!

The first lesson is a swatch that starts with ribbing, increases and goes into garter stitch.  Now the ribbing I've done hundreds of times, but never paid this much attention to detail.  I mean to the point that I'm on my third try, 2nd size needles and I may be over reacting to the instructions.  I hope to relax and just knit the test swatch and get on with it - what are my chances?

I'll probably be referring to my journey to the Masters a lot here, why not, it's been 3 days and it's already a huge challenge.  I got the material, looked at my "craft" room and supplies, and freaked.  How can I take a Knitting Masters Level 1 course in this mess.  Thus 3 days of cleaning and reorganize before I could get cozy in my chair to knit.  Then I re-read the instructions and realized I have questions to answer - in writing, and research to do as I go.  It isn't just knitting - (really I knew that beforehand I was just in denial!)

So why do I add this level of stress to my life at this moment in time?  I really have to keep challenging myself to learn new things and improve what I know or, I could admit myself into a rest home and forget it ...

gotta go

gotta knit (and write and study)


My Fiber Nook & Cranny

OK so there was a lot of wheelin' and dealin' going on to get this space eeked out for my fiber use.  I wanted a place that I could weave and look out a window, look at a shelf with all my yarns in baskets and look at a display of finished items.  My view as I weave was important.  I also needed enough room for my Navajo Weaving Loom to be displayed, even if I never use it again, I wanted to keep it and have it handy.

Navajo Loom back right.  Harrisville Treadle Loom foreground

Behind the loom is a two shelf unit with baskets of yarn here's a better close-up pic -

On top of this shelf unit are some gifts I've received through the years.  The stand-up wooden box with a handle my dad made in his wood shop many moons ago, I've stored some of my pattern books in this piece.  My shuttle, spools and a couple of combs for weaving are standing in the other side of the unit.  The drop spindle on the left and the small piece of wool roving is from Guatemala from my d-i-l when she adopted our granddaughter.  The leather zip closed case is my mother-in-law's crochet needles I acquired when she died nearly 3 years ago.  And a sweet needle case from my d-i-l at Christmas last year.  The basket on the floor was a gift from my mother-in-law many years ago.  It was full of twine and cord from when I used to do a lot of macrame'.

I knew that I would have to share this space with something that already existed in our living area, but wasn't too concerned with what area it was, necessarily.  Well, the office ended up moving into the closet.  Really it has it's own little nook, a drop leave table with a folding desk chair, a little stand for the printer that sits to the back of the table, a two drawer matching file cabinet in my Fiber Nook, but it matches the light oak of my loom and allows me some eye level display footprint for my needles, and some small books with bookends.

The office space has reduced in priority over the years.  The laptop is in the living room more than the office anyway, and the printer is only used occasionally.  So the closet is perfect, with both doors shut, you'd never know it was an office in there.

In the Fiber Nook, the only remaining reminder of an office is the mile high bookshelf.

But the compromise here is one side is books, and the other is my display area for finished items, works in progress, specialty yarns, and a few knitting and weaving books.


I officially have a room to set up my loom and display/store my yarn.

I'm emptying a closet, slipping a small office area into it, and using our office for a knitting/weaving studio.  I'm going to redo the window covers, pull everything out and paint, and maybe even get new flooring - I'd love wood floors with an area rug under the loom.

I'm looking for large baskets and hoping my woodworker will make me a cabinet for the storage baskets for the yarn and magazines, patterns, needles etc.

He built a great storage box for my Loom supplies this winter.

So, here's a picture of my loom.  And above is one of the scarves I made this winter - it's my favorite so far.  I designed the pattern, drew it out on graph paper and set up the loom for the design.


Knitting Guild Member - I'm going to take advantage of some classes.

I've longed to be able to do complicated knitting projects like cardigans that people would wear, and to design my own pieces.

Today, I'm biting the bullet, so to speak, and ordering the Master Knitting Program through the Knitting Guild.  They'll be sending me all the instructions via email.  And I'll get started perfecting the art.  I'm pretty excited about this new venture!!

Hope people are excited about future gifts - very professional looking ones at that!


Great Article on Why Wool Yarn Felts

I saw this article in my Knitting Guild Newsletter and copied it here - so interesting.

The link above also takes you direct to the article.

Felt Making with Knits Ideas from Crystal Palace Yarns - Straw Into Gold

Why Does Wool Felt?

Recently I was reading various online sites about felting and about making felted purses and I was amazed to see a felted bay designer explaining that wool felts because it has a spiral structure and the coils get tangled and that makes felt.
This is an incorrect explanation of why wool felts, so I decided I should write a little about it.
As someone who has taught spinning and fiber classes since 1970 I have always explained felting this way:
Wool fibers have tiny microscopic scales along their surface. Some types of wool have larger scales than others. The types of wools that are coarser and smoother and have the highest sheen to them (such as Lincoln, Leicester, Wensleydale) have larger scales and reflect more light off their surface leading to the sheen. Finer wools (of which Merino is the main example) have much, much smaller scales and do not reflect light and have a more "matt" look to the surface of the yarn or finished knitting.
When wool fibers are shocked by temperature and rubbing the little scales lift up and as the fibers rub against each other they lock down on nearby fibers and form a tighter and tighter mass and form felt. Felt can be made from "just the fibers" unspun, or as many knitters are discovering, from knit pieces that are felted after knitting.
Many unhappy owners of fine wool sweaters have discovered felting by accident when a (usually well-meaning) mate or child dumps a wool sweater into the washing machine and out comes a much smaller, thicker sweater.
Superwash wool is a wool that has been treated by one of several processes or surface treatments that smoothes or "glues down" the little scales on the wool so that they do not lift up and lock down on neighboring fibers. Some treatments are more stern and really lock the fibers (with often a textile "glue" made from a nylon type solution that will dye similarly to the wool) and these treated wools can go through both a washer and a dryer. Most Machine Wash yarn labels, however, mean you can do a gentle wash cycle, but dry flat and NOT put in the dryer.
Remember, however, that machine washing will eventually soften the surface and lift fibers - even if the garment doesn't actually felt - and your handknits will look their best the longest if you do as much handwashing as possible, even on Machine Wash labeled yarns. I also recommend using a Lingerie Wash bag for washing machine washables (and many also use them for felting for a less fuzzy surface.)  See information here.
Here are some links to see the wool fiber under a microscope (I used to have a small microscope I took to classes I taught to show students wool, cotton, alpaca, etc. under magnification - great fun!)
This page shows microscopic views of various wools & a lot of information on wool:
Why wool shrinks - this article refers to the scales as "shingles" on the wool
Electron Microscopy of Wool - see page 6 of this PDF for a CLOSE View!
Comparing Alpaca fibers and structure to wool
I've been experimenting with making felt using the printed colors of our Labrador (thick-thin spun yarn) and Iceland (smooth spun soft wool) and the interesting patterning and texture of the surface of printed colors adds an additional fun aspect to felting.
With both Labrador and Iceland being bulky you can knit up the piece for felting quickly on size 15 needles.
Here some before and after felting swatches using Labrador (with measurements):

Above knit on 15s in garter
using Labrador wool
stitch using color Picnic #7263
with a little stripe of solid
 color #1219 fuchsia Iceland
6" x 5.5"

Above after felting*
4.5" x 4.5"

 Above knit on 15s in rev Stst
areas on 15s with Iceland in color "shadows" #7268
100% soft wool
5" x 5.5"
Above after felting*
4.5" x 4"
* For felting these - I put the pieces in the washing machine with a small load of bath towels and did a 5 minute wash cycle. Since they were not felted as much as I wanted, I put them in the dryer with the towels and took them out when the towels were about half dry (10-15 min.)
Susan Druding
SEE also photos of Iceland felted with Blippity yarn here.
Retail shops in the USA should contact CPY Wholesale for information on purchasing Crystal Palace Yarns.
email: cpyinfo -at- straw.com (change the -at- to @)

or write to:
Crystal Palace Yarns, 160 23rd Ave, Richmond, CA 94804
phone: 510-237-9988,  fax: 510-237-9809


Noni patterns, Savage Maryland

I was searching for a touristy place to meet our friends, half-way between Washington DC and Falling Waters, WV, when I came upon a Weaving Mill that was restored to a specialty shopping center with restaurants, unique shops and best of all a Noni shop with yarns, patterns and knit felt items from the patterns.

We made the arrangements to meet, but found the shops to be closed ... even though the web page had the advertised as open.  But there were windows in the Noni shop and I saw first hand many of the items that I've only seen in photos in yarn shops.  I so wanted to look inside each knit felted bag, and examine the huge felted flowers, and embellishments, but that wasn't possible this trip.

The 45 minute trip back to DC took over 2 hours, but we were in a borrowed vehicle - rather than on the bikes, so the scorching heat wasn't the issue it would've been on motorcycles.  Here are a few links to Noni bags, and the link to Savage Mill

Noni Bags and Patterns

You can buy this poster.