Archive for the 'Tool talk' Category

Drunk Monkey


I love these new socks!

Thanksgiving weekend, we took a road trip to New York. We had a lovely time and visited several yarn shops. My favourite was Brooklyn General Store:

BGS storefront

It’s a very cool store, chock full of lovely yarns, nice fabrics and lots of nifty notions. I spent almost an hour there, happily browsing and finishing some socks on their couch.

bgs store 2

bgs shop

I didn’t do a lot of damage to my bank account, but the one thing I REALLY wanted was some nice sock yarn. I got this:


(a yard of cotton fabric, merchant&mills eyeless safety pins and …drumroll, please… Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in color “In Vino Veritas”). As soon as I got home to my swift and nostepinne I cast on for a pair of Monkey Socks.

And now they’re done.


I made a few changes. I used the eye of partridge heel stitch instead of a plain heel flap, and knit the heel flap for a few more rows than called for in the pattern (inspired by my newly finished Hedera socks, where I really liked the tall heel flap). The Monkey pattern is knit over 64 stitches, which is probably realistically a little wide for me. By the end of a day, the socks are a little looser than other socks I’ve knit. They are lovely, though.



Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

I started spinning while I lived in Slovakia and got my first spinning wheel when we lived in Norway. Nice countries both, with vibrant handicraft and knitting traditions, but spinning is very rare both places. It is fun to finally live somewhere where there are actual fiber guilds and wool festivals.

I’ve recently joined the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild, which has its own spinning study group. And this last weekend, I took the family to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. After these three years spinning in complete solitude, it is a little thrilling and also a little terrifying to find a whole huge festival of people who know the difference between roving and top, and who have definitive opinions on the merits of double-treadle versus single-treadle spinning wheels.

We only spent a couple of hours at the festival, but I got to see some of the nice things about a wool festival.

Sheep to Shawl – three of the teams (I’m sorry I neglected to note their names!)

(this one seemed to have a pirate theme going. Okay, then!)


I kind of regret not buying a flicker when I see this picture. It looks deceptively quick and easy.

While I was browsing the shops, my family looked at the sheep dog demonstration. Those are some impressive (and slightly scary) dogs. No wonder the sheep haul ass, with those dogs coming at top speed, then suddenly crawling towards them with that hunting grin.


The loot:


I’ve wanted a new spinning wheel for a long time, and this wheel is ideal for taking to guild and study group meetings. It is also significantly easier to spin on than my old Traddy. I love, love the double treadling and the ball bearings. The fiber I bought is from Hobbledehoy Fibers – the braid is SW merino/bamboo/nylon (60/30/10) in colour Strawberry Jam, picked by my daughter for a scarf for her. The bag is something called a Ply Pack, whatever that is, of 50/50 merino/tencel in colour Cherry Jam.  We’re jam people, clearly.


Did I mention that I love my new wheel?

PS! This is my 200th post! Woo!

Craft area

One of the great things about moving to the US has been the amount of space in our new house. I finally had room for a proper crafting area, and promptly did what every other crafter does – hauled off to IKEA and bought some Expedit…

Craft room

The Expedit desk and shelves, a new sewing thread bobbin stand from Michaels and my magnetic whiteboard from the Container Store have really helped with the organisation of all my crafting stuff. Now I actually look forward to sitting down to sew.

Craft room

All my books and patterns are close by, too.

My spinning wheel has got its own corner where I can keep it if we’re having guests and can’t have it in the living room.

Craft room

My inaugural sewing project in my new space was a trash bag for the sewing desk. I have seen this ingenious type of bag in my mother-in-law’s sewing room, and I wanted one for myself:
Craft room "trash can"
It sits on the desk, right next to the sewing machine, so I can get rid of small fabric remnants and snipped threads right away, keeping the work area clean.

If you click any of the pictures, you can see notes I added to the pictures in Flickr. But you probably aren’t THAT interested about just what is on my shelves, are you?

Memories of Summer

This weekend has marked the start of Christmas preparations at our house. Advent Calendar gifts have been purchased and the first three batches of Christmas cookies have been baked. But before I get to that, I need to share some pictures I’ve been trying to find since I shot them in June. Turns out I had uploaded them to my MP3-player, which I never use for picture storage and deleted them from the camera memory card. I wanted to share them to remind myself that summer will be here again, even if its -13 and several centimetres of snow right now.

Museum Tunic:
Museum Tunic
This very simple – and not altogether flattering, unfortunately – dress was made after seeing Anna Maria Horner’s beautiful dress and instructions. I made things unnecessarily difficult for myself by making a mistake in the cutting – I split the fabric lengthwise as well as widthwise. I’m not too happy with it, but it’s comfortable for summer lounging. Next year I’ll probably get it out and close up the sleeves alittle while lowering the neckline a little both in the front and back.

I’ve been working on this little flannel suit for my nephew since well before he was born. Unfortunately I ran into some trouble with the fabric, which frayed more than I had anticipated, and with the twin needles I used to attach the ribbed edging. As always, the solution is “get better tools”, and after I upgraded from cheapo twin needles to the proper Bernina needles, I had no trouble.

Baby kimono
 Baby trousers

Both patterns are from SikkSakk, but the trousers are really an amalgam of two patterns, where I combined some balloon-type trousers with a pair that has some very practical long ribbing in the waist. For the smallest babies, I remember liking the long ribbing very much because it kept them warm even if the jacket rode up and sat on while not pinching their waist.

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Some more from the summer archives: One of the best things about our house is the giant rhubarb plant that the former owners had planted. It keeps us supplied with fresh, lovely rhubarb all summer long, and one harvest gives us exactly enough for a proper rhubarb crumble.

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I like to use less sugar than called for in the recipe, but I serve it with fresh whipped cream, which makes it exactly sweet enough to eat while keeping the fresh taste of the rhubarb.
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And last from the summer archives – we went with some friends to Vinga, and I got these two pictures of the inside of the lighthouse. I like the pattern on the lamp – I wonder if I could replicate it in knitting?
To the lighthouse

To the lighthouse


Sorry I’ve completely fallen off the face of the earth. For some reason, I haven’t remembered to get pictures of a lot of the stuff I’ve finished recently, so I’ve fallen out of the habit of blogging it. But here is a selection of stuff I’ve managed to both finish and photograph.

Wrap sweater of my own design:

Wrap sweater

Started sometime late spring, I finished early this summer, but it took some time before I put the i-cord ties on.

Yarn: Gjestal Østlandsgarn (I think)

One in a long line of baby gifts this year, finished in September:


Yarn: leftover Lana Grossa Cool Wool 2000 in #482

Pattern: Madam Møllers babysokkar from Strikk til nøstebarn.

I love the polkadot ribbon.


I got the very strong urge to spin just before we left for our summer holiday at the cabin in August. My wheel is much too big to take on holiday, so I brought my spindle instead. I haven’t spindle spun in a long time, but this was very nice. And I love, love the allspunup fibre that I spun.

A leftover that should have been blogged in May(!):

Same pattern as above (third pair this year, the first one is here), the yarn is Sandnes Garn Sisu Fantasy, colour #7648.

Things I’ve done


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Pattern: Madam Møllers babysokkar

Yarn: Askeladen silke-merinould

Knit in two days for a colleague’s child-to-be.


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Three skeins of Jamieson & Smith Shetland fibre, colour moorit. I still have plenty of wool to go, but I’ve made a start on what I hope will be my first handspun sweater.


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My new sewing machine! It’s a very simple Bernette 56, but I like it very much. I’ve already sewn a pair of trousers for my son on it, which I’ll show in my next post, as soon as I can get a good photo.

What you can do with two worn-out shirts

I’ve wanted a spinner’s lap cloth for a while, but the cost and the shipping have deterred me. My husband recently discarded a few shirts that had gotten old and worn-out, and so I had the perfect materials to try making one myself. I looked up pictures of various types of lap cloth, both homemade and storebought ones, and measured my lap while sitting at the wheel in the typical spinning position to determine the dimensions I wanted.

Spinner's lap cloth

It is reversible, one side is black, the other light blue, so I can use it for contrast when spinning both light and dark yarns. There are pockets on both sides, two pockets on one side and three on the other. I stash my singles reference card, my threading hook, oil bottle and my nøstepinne in the pockets so they are all close to hand.

Spinner's lap cloth, reversible

I won’t claim that the handiwork is particularly impressive, because it absolutely isn’t (notice, for example, the bias tape hanging off the end), but it works beautifully to provide  contrast to help me get more consistent singles and protects my trousers from stray fibres.

Spinner's lap cloth

And best of all: Using old sewing thread, bias tape from the corner convenience store (yes, really!) and two old shirts, I now have a perfectly nice lap cloth for next to nothing! I feel so very, very thrifty 🙂

What I’m spinning? I’m glad you asked…


Shetland top from Jamieson & Smith. I bought a sample pack (25 g each of 5 different fleece colours) and 1 kg of the moorit colour. I have started sampling the moorit with a view to spinning for a whole sweater. My two-ply samples using short forward draw and aiming at a DK/light worsted have bloomed to a surprising extent and are probably closer to aran weight. Sampling will continue. This is lovely spinning fibre, and considerably cheaper to buy than comparable amounts of fibre from most other sources, European or otherwise. So far highly recommended!