Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Knit Unto Others

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Pattern: Sleeper Sack
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Dreambaby D.K.
Needles: US 3
Size: Less than 1 lb. (chest circumference: 8", length: 11")

There's been a whole lot of knitting going on at my house! Participating in KUO has given me the motivation I need to get together a nice donation for The Preemie Project. For me, knitting bereavement clothing it is the most important charity work I do. This gown has become my favorite to knit. It's simple, no frills look makes it perfect for a boy. I only wish you could see it in person, because the picture doesn't do it justice. The Dreambaby yarn is incredibly soft and perfect for this pattern. I still have enough to make another set like this in blue and there are still a few days left of KUO, so why stop now?

Monday, November 27, 2006

That's Enough

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I've reached my limit. Eight Santa hats with matching booties for The Preemie Project. I began the first hat last Monday (though I didn't post about it until Friday) and finished the last pair of booties this morning. Each set represents three hours of knitting. I consider this time well spent. Knitting for others gives purpose to my passion.

For the rest of the week, I'll continue Knit Unto Others by working on a bereavement set (also for The Preemie Project). I haven't decided which pattern to use yet, but I have decided on the yarn: Plymouth Dreambaby. I was lucky enough to leave the 300th comment on Megan's blog, Woolly Interlude, and win this great yarn along with some beautiful Lorna's Laces.
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Thanks, Megan! You must have handpicked this especially for me. It will be put to good use.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Be Thankful...

and Knit Unto Others. That's what I'll be doing for the next couple of weeks. I'm knitting Santa hats and booties for The Preemie Project until the red yarn runs out or I get sick of it, whichever comes first.

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The hat pattern I'm using is my own version. There are other patterns here, here and here, if you would like to join me in knitting for the babies. For the booties, I'm using a variation of this pattern.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

V Neck Cardigan

The cardigan was finished just in time for our trip to Florida, so in the suitcase it went to be photographed on our travels.

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John didn't mind pulling off the highway for a photo shoot on Tampa Bay. It's not hard to convince a fisherman to stop by the water.

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Pattern: Knitting Pure & Simple Neckdown V Neck Shaped Cardigan #241
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca (50% Alpaca, 50% Wool) Color 6279
Needles: 24" circular US 6 and 4; 16" circular US 6; US 6 double points
Started: October 19, 2006
Finished: November 10, 2006

This is the third sweater I've made since I began knitting. The first two were knitted before I began blogging, so I have never shown pictures of those. Maybe I will one day. This however, is the first sweater I've knitted from the top down and the first that is knitted in one piece. If you dislike seaming, this sweater is for you. I enjoyed knitting it very much. The large amount of stockinette stitch made it the perfect knitting project to pack in my suitcase to have for knitting on the road.

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The pattern was well written and easy to understand. The only thing I wondered about was that the materials list said you would need a set of size 4 double points, but nowhere in the instructions were they ever used.

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The yarn I used is well suited to this pattern and a dream to work with. Also a good buy at just under $9 for 215 yards a skein. I used almost five skeins to knit the small size which is a little less than the pattern called for. The pattern is written for six sizes from XS to XXL.

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Simple design and styling makes this a sweater that's easy to knit, will go with everything and will look good on just about every body type. I'm going to be wearing this one often.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Greetings From Florida

We don't stay home long, do we? We're here on business, but today there was no work allowed. Took the boat ride to Caladesi Island State Park, one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier islands in the state.

The beach overlooks the Gulf of Mexico.
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Shells are plentiful.
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I picked up several to bring home.
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John landed a Devil Ray.
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It's not every day you get to see one of these on a knitting blog.
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One last view of the Gulf before we left the beach and hiked the nature trail.
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The nature trail winds through the interior of the island. We were told to be watchful for Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes. We didn't see any.
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The boat returned us to Honeymoon Island State Park. And, since there was still a little daylight left, we decided to see the sights here too. I read that Americans got their first glimpse of Honeymoon Island in the early 1940s through Paramount newsreels and LIFE magazine ads. The ads promised undiscovered pleasures for newlyweds lucky enough to win a glamorous two-week Florida get-away.

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It was a good day.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kid 'N Ewe and Lamas Too 2006

I almost talked myself out of driving to Boerne on Saturday for the fiber festival when I pulled the map out the night before and really looked at how far away it is from my house. It seemed a lot further than I remembered, but I decided to go anyway. It took me fours hours to get there and because I had to be back home for a dinner at 6:00, I only had a couple of hours to look around and eat lunch.

It's a small event and I was able to see everything in that time, but not able to spend much time at any one thing. Most everything is indoors which is good in case it rains, but not so good for taking pictures. Many of the photos I took turned out blurry because I didn't use the flash.

The animals are the only part of the festival that's outside.
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I was glad to see more people in attendance at this festival than last year's. Last year I remember it was hot, but this year the weather was perfect. Maybe that was the difference. It looked like people were spending money too which is good for the vendors and will encourage them to keep coming.

There was lots and lots of roving for sale, spinning wheels, spindles and everything a spinner could ever imagine.
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Brooks Farm was there and not one knitter could walk by without being sucked into their booth and a the very least touching and drooling over their yarn. Most couldn't leave without purchasing some yarn to bring home and I was no exception.
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I think I bought enough of the red (Cinnamon Spice?) Duet for a sweater and the Four Play will probably become a scarf or something small like that. I was hoping to buy some of their sock yarn that I had heard they have started selling at shows, but they sold out before this show and didn't receive their shipment in time.

Two hours went by very fast and then it was time to hit the road again. The drive home took only 3 1/2 hours. That makes a total of 7 1/2 hours of driving for two hours of fiber festival. Was it worth it? Yes. Will I go back next year? Yes, but only if I don't have a schedule to keep. By the way, I made it home in time for the dinner.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Home Stretch

The title of this post is significant in two ways:

1. You may have noticed there are no travel photos this week. That's because I'm actually home for a change. I think this is the first week in two months that I've been able to stay home and just catch up on things. When you spend as much time traveling as we have lately, you tend to get behind and lose touch. All time is devoted to getting ready to travel, traveling and then recovering from the trip, just to start the process over again in a day or two. It's nice to have a little break and I've been enjoying this "home stretch", no matter how brief.

2. The second "home stretch" refers to the progress I've made on my cardigan.

All that's left to finish knitting is one sleeve. It won't be long now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fiber Festival

This weekend, November 10-12, is the Kid 'N Ewe and Lamas Too fiber festival in Boerne, Texas. It will be held at the Kendall County Fairgrounds and is open to the public beginning at noon on Friday. This is a small festival, but still has a lot to offer--vendors, workshops, animals and demonstrations.

I went last year and was pleased to find some wonderful vendors like Brooks Farm and Wyatt Wheels.
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Both are scheduled to be at Kid 'N Ewe again this year. For a complete list of vendors, click here.

Think I'll drive over on Saturday. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sweetgrass Baskets

My favorite part of our visit to Charleston was walking through the Market and watching the ladies make sweetgrass baskets. Sweetgrass basket making has existed in the South Carolina Lowcountry for more than 300 years. This traditional art form was brought to this area by the slaves who came from West Africa. Since then it has been passed down from generation to generation, usually from mother to daughter to granddaughter, though the whole family is often involved. Traditionally the men gather the materials (sweetgrass, longleaf pine needles, bulrush and palmetto leaves) and the women "sew" the baskets.

It is fascinating to watch the basketmaker "sew" her basket. The tools of the trade (other than the natural materials) include a pair of scissors and a "nailbone". A nailbone is used for piercing when making a sweetgrass basket. In the old days a rib bone from a cow or pig was filed down for this. Today most basketmakers use a filed down silver spoon or fork or even a nail.

Each basket begins about the same with a coiled circular or oval shaped bottom, but can become one of a hundred or more styles. A small basket of a simple design can take up to twelve hours to complete, while a larger complex design can take months.

I knew I wanted to buy a basket to take home. I walked through the whole market before deciding to buy a basket from Sue Middleton.

Something about her baskets caught my eye. They are beautifully made and the coils are very uniform and tightly sewn--the work of an experienced basketmaker. I finally decided to buy a round bread basket that incorporated all of the materials in it's design.

The lightest color in this basket is sweetgrass. By the way, it is called this because of it's pleasant fragrance, similar to fresh cut hay. The brown color is pine needle and the black is bulrush. The coils are sewn together with strips of palmetto leaves.

Though sweetgrass baskets are expensive, I don't think the basketmakers are getting rich from this business. They make baskets because they love to and because they don't want this part of their heritage to die out.

I found these quotes made by sweetgrass basketmakers from this article:

Maggie Polite Manigault makes baskets "because she has been doing it for so long that she would feel lost if she didn't sew at least once a day."

"Even though basketweaving is time consuming," says Mae Bell Coakley, "I enjoy it because it's relaxing, kind of therapy."

"Making things with your hands keeps your head together," Mary Jane Manigault reflects. "When you sew baskets, you just concentrate on that one thing. You have to have long patience. You can't be a nervous somebody and make baskets. You have to sit in one place and really get into what you are doing. You can't have your mind running on all kind of different things. You have to have a settled mind."

Sounds a lot like knitting, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Charleston, South Carolina

John and I spent most of the afternoon exploring historic Charleston. We walked and walked and then...walked some more. Too tired to write much about the trip now, but here are few pictures to look at until the next post.

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