Fashion statement

My year of no purchased clothes is well underway but I haven’t really had to defer any purchases at this point.  I made my own piece of fabric for fabric’s sake though.  One Christmas, I made towels for everyone and Andre thought he might like the same fabric for a pair of pajama pants, which he has expertly sewn in the past.  Well a birthday came and I wove some fabric.  I wove it in a small rose path pattern with an easy to remember treadling sequence.  It’s been cut off the loom and sent to the tailor.

Then it gets complicated.  I made a scarf for a friend of a friend of my DD.  The wearer has been replaced by a new bare neck and a second, albeit slightly better, scarf has been requested.  I worked up a shadow weave.  I’m not sure if this is leaving my house yet though because it feels luscious.  The two colors, variegated tencel, and alpaca wool, are too close to really work with shadow weave, which can be a tricky weaving pattern because you use each color every other row.  My feet refused to cooperate.  Sometimes I would be muttering #1 to myself and look down and find my foot, which I thought was on the first treadle, actually on the fourth treadle.  Happily, these mistakes, like most of the pattern, can’t be seen.

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This got me thinking about weaving and sewing something for myself.  I think I’ll make a vest for a big event in DD’s life, for me.  Maybe I’ll look as handsome as this guy.

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Look how pretty

Sometimes it’s fun and educational to follow a knitting pattern as written.  I rarely do and end up with a variety of results.  Not so with my most recent hand knit projects.  The patterns are from Brooklyn Tweed kids and are beautiful and a fun knit.

The first is a young girl’s sweater, Petal.  It all began when a niece requested another sweater for her daughter, in white please. Well she also has a son, and a sister with two boys. You see how it goes.  One white sweater became four.  I had fun planning the projects.  

Here’s Petal.

Look at those details. Not your average circular yoke cardigan. I have a cone of lovely sock yarn from Webs I’ve been using for all sorts of projects and it really softens after washing.

The next is Wyatt.  I liked the Henley style and stitch pattern.  I happened to have some yarn recycled from a girl’s dress made of cotton, cashmere and angora that is machine washable. It knit up beautifully and I have some left over for a soft hat.

Now for the older boys.  I wanted to knit sweaters on my two knitting machines. One can handle worsted and bulky weight yarn.  I found a nice raglan sweater on the Webs’ sight and converted it to work flat.  I liked the bold stripe and, since the boys are big Islanders fans, I incorporated their team colors.  It worked out beautifully.  What a way to sail through all that stockinette. The pattern is Jonathan.

Finally, I wanted to do some stranded color work on my knitting machine that works with fingering weight yarn.  I saw another pattern I liked in Brooklyn Tweed called Carson, which appealed to me because of the way the colorwork was used in the hem and sleeves.  But it was too small and a little tricky to convert.  I decided to make my life simple and knit a modified drop shoulder sweater with a V-neck.  Then I found a stranded pattern I liked in the book, Traditional Knitting by Michael Peirson, and made a punchcard to work with my Passap Dm80. I kept the neck detail from Carson, which rolls a little.

The first two sweaters took two months.  The last two, four days!  
Now I can finally get back to working on Tim’s quilt for the log cabin. 

Take a hike

Tim nearly dragged me out of the house today to take a hike. I’ve been down with a cold and my exercise plan has gone to pot – for now at least. 

All’s good though. I finished last minute Christmas gifts and shipped a wedding gift. It’s a tartan throw I wove. The plaid was from a wedding dress from 1766 in Scotland. 


 I’m pleased with it. I hope the bride to be is too. 

We snowshoed next door and saw evidence of a piliated woodpecker


Some little critters that live in a hole in the snow

And people who build rock cairns


Except for a small meltdown by me, a good time was had by all (Tim).

Put it in writing

The holidays are behind us.  The stockings, which were hung with care, are back in storage.

Attention turns to the New Year and our resolutions. Here’s mine.  In 2016 any additions to my wardrobe will be made by me.  That is not to say I will only wear handmade clothing but I have to make everything I would normally buy.  

Needless to say, I shopped at Victoria’s Secret and the Gap on December 30.

First on my list is a few silk camisoles.  Perhaps pajama pants from handwoven fabric.  My homemade bathing suit (sewn, not knit) is holding up just fine. I’m flush in hats, gloves, and slippers. I may need a wool coat. We’ll see what the New Year brings.

Feeling blue

It was time to pull out the dye pots and Greener Shades dyes.  Before Thanksgiving, my first attempt at dyeing my own self-striping sock yarn was a smashing success, almost. The dyeing process and results were great. I just couldn’t get to the yarn. 

How could that be? Well it’s a mildly involved process. In order to make two balls of identical yarn, to knit a pair of matching socks, first I knit two strands of white yarn together into a large rectangle. I knit it with very large stitches so the dye can easily penetrate the yarn.

The process is made easier because I knit the rectangle on a knitting machine but that’s a whole ‘nother story. Then I “paint” the rectangles with dye. In this case I painted half of each with black and the rest with varying shades of blue and green and maybe a little purple, my favorite color way these days. 

Then I let them dry during our beautiful fall weather.  Next step is to unravel the rectangle into two balls of yarn. That’s where I had a big fail the first time and kept trying to unravel from what turned out to be the wrong edge. Who knew?  It would unravel most of the way but get caught on the end stitches. I wasted so much yarn, I only had enough to make the cutest pair of tiny socks for little Otis. Now I know. 

We’ll see how these knit up big people socks.

In the meantime, I’m proud of my latest weaving endeavor. 

My floor loom is presently occupied by a small blanket in progress.  It’s inspired from a plaid from the 1700’s found on a wedding dress.  Despite careful planning, I ran out of weft yarn and am waiting for it to arrive so I can proceed with holiday weaving. In the meantime…gotta keep weaving. 

Holy mackerel, look what I found

I looked up from the newspaper this morning and saw this beautiful rainbow.  A double rainbow tried to emerge but this one one arced from peak to peak. I went up the hill to the cabin to look for the pot of gold but only found two mice. 

We are lucky to be home during the peak leaf colors for a change.  Last week we hiked a new trail up to a fire tower which provided 360 degree views of striking colors. Somehow I forgot my camera.


 I finished a bunch of hunting hats just in time.

The orange one is hand knit. The three deer hats were made on a Passap knitting machine.  Learning to use the knitting machine has sapped days of my time, to the point where I had to vow to exercise before I got caught up in it.  And sometimes it works like a charm.  Unfortunately, a few are too small and they’re not really appropriate for a child’s head so if you know of small headed adults, let me know.

The orange seemed appropriate for hunting season because the cable pattern is antlers.  The pattern is free on Ravelry called Antler Hat, worked up with worsted yarn, makes a quick knit.

Lots of projects under way. A homespun quilt, 8-shaft woven scarf, cobweb lace shawl, child’s sweater. I bounce around the house like a pinball.  Stay tuned. 


It was harder for me to settle back into my “old” life than it was to leave it for several months (except for being apart from loved ones). Schedules demand our time, utilities can’t get it right – we still don’t have functioning internet. It was better when we were 60 miles offshore and expected less.

But here we are. I got socked with some viral syndrome for ten days upon our return. So much for being cooped up on three planes, with hundreds of other passengers, for more than 28 hours. At least my 21 day incubation period has passed without anything serious.

And now – I’m back!

My peonies waited to bloom until I got home and the garden needed lots of trimming. It was strange to see how well the lilacs bloomed by the number of withered blossoms.


I finally found most of my fiber stash, which was hastily, but neatly, put away before we left. I was eager to make a holder for the Majacraft wool combs I had acquired in a yard sale but was reluctant to use freehand. These babies aren’t for the feint hearted and I’m certain my tetanus vaccine is up to date.

Yesterday was the day. I remembered seeing a clever holder for Valkyrie combs at my dear friend’s studio in Lachlan but couldn’t picture the design, other than remembering it was elegant.

A brief google search resulted in some photos and here’s my version from materials on hand. It needs a little tweaking but works just fine and combed alpaca is luscious and spins like buttah.

Three pins secure the comb on a board which can be clamped to a table. I embellished by including a holder for the diz and crochet hook used to pull the fiber into a long thin fluff of fiber.

It soothed me to comb and spin some of a beautiful alpaca fleece. Once I have enough, I’ll venture into dyeing with Greener Shades dye

Tim’s having his own fun. He really enjoys playing piano and brought a full size keyboard to Deal Island. When we got home, he learned a friend was selling his beautiful Steinway grand piano. Now it’s Tim’s. I got to watch its move via the cellar stairs into the basement. It fit, and now sounds and looks – grand!


The bands of Deal Island


Warning, the content herein is solely about fiber. If you’re not interested in fiber, talk amongst yourselves.

Since I’ve become more interested in weaving, I decided I would weave during my three month time on Deal Island. And weave I did. Without any loom! I found great resources online: for backstrap inkle weaving and lots of interesting techniques; TWIST, a newsletter and group for tablet weavers; and great tablet patterns from

So I started with what I knew, tablet weaving and made a belt. 20150423-070310.jpgTablet weaving dates back thousands of years and patterns are created by a combination of how the tablets are threaded and then how the pack of tablets is turned. It’s really pretty fascinating because it puts a four shaft loom in the palm of your hand. When I needed more cards, I cut them out from discarded cardboard boxes.

When I ran out of commercial cotton, I spun cotton on a charkha loom and used it in in both tablet weaving and inkle weaving. I used various devices to keep the yarn stretched out while I wove, depending on the weather and on my mood. During nice sunny days, I tied one end to me and the other to either the laundry post or a vertical post near the house. Some days I sat in the sun room and attached to the lovely goose that adorns the coffee table there. often got started by attaching to a door latch and a chair. And off I went.

I occasionally fashioned a backstrap from a pillowcase, but for the most part, I used an old camera case strap I found for the strap. Although I brought string heddles with me, I learned how to make continuous string heddles from any yarn, which was very handy. I found the idea for a simple tensioning device in a back issue of TWIST.20150321-232156.jpg

When my spun cotton dwindled, I turned to sewing thread and wove a couple of ribbons. I had this idea I would weave my own labels for hand knit items, and I did. I experimented with Baltic weave, Andean pebble weave, supplementary weft and horizontal stripe pick up patterns. The patterns are endless and now I want to incorporate them into larger pieces. We’ll see.




All tied up



I can spin cotton yarn on my charkha loom.

It’s a magical process as the thread draws out of the handful of cotton. That little oil can holds lanolin, sold in large cans as a lubricant. Now I am trying to gather enough for a weaving project. I ply (twist to yarns together) on my drop spindle.

Tablet weaving is progressing swimmingly. That’s where I use cards with 4 holes in them as my loom. I have been wearing my new belt for several weeks.

I found a zinc washer to work as a buckle and my pants haven’t fallen down yet. I tie my backstrap loom to the crank on the hoist clothes line. The spinning clothes line was invented in Australia and it’s a marvel. On windy days, it twirls with the wind and clothes dry in an hour!

I am working on a second strap – belt, camera strap – with the cards, in wool. Pretty.



I have also figured out how to inkle weave on a backstrap loom thanks to a fabulous website, published by an Australian woman who lives and weaves in Bolivia.

This ties me to the coffee table leg. I also turn the table on its side and use it as a warping board to measure and organize the warp threads.

Ravelry then put me in touch with another Australian woman who has lived and traveled in Asia to study weaving techniques. And, she’s teaching a course in October in the States, and I’m attending!

So much to do, so little time.

Tim corralled me for the road gang yesterday, gang of me and him, to clear the ditches and culverts on the lighthouse road. It brought back physical memories of the last time we did it. He’s been on his own there for a while so it’s time for me to chip in. I think I cleared 100 yards an hour. Hoo boy.

And my garden grows. Maybe, just maybe, we’re at the end of the tomatoes. I cooked up another batch of sauce a couple of days ago and had soup yesterday.

We are eating arugula, silverbeet, green beans, radishes, beets and carrots. Broccoli and cabbage is coming along but not quite ready to harvest. I seem to be winning my battle with the aphids and rats.


These are some of my hopefuls. I have planted cauliflower , broccoli, cabbage, spinach, carrots, green beans, peas, broad beans, beets, and lettuce. Oh yes, and…TOMATOES! I just hope the little seedlings take hold. Beans are doing well, just like Jack and the Beanstalk. The others are slower.



And here’s where I get to prepare our delicious meals. Nice view!


Fiber interlude on Deal Island


This is really a post about fiber so for those of you not interested, here’s the photo of the day.

We’ re here in the autumn and there’s no central heat. It shouldn’t get too cold but both bathroom windows are permanently open with louvers. There’s a portable oil electric heater in a pinch. The old gas heater in the living room doesn’t seem to work. I knew this ahead of time and bought a kit for a merino, mohair blanket from the Elegant Ewe in New Hampshire with yarn from Mountain Colors. I started it after we left home, worked on it in New Jersey, Tasmania and Finished it on Deal Island. It’s lovely: soft, light and warm.

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My hair is a bit, ahem, unruly. Especially in the winds we have here. So I knit another calorimetry headband with yarn leftover from the blanket. It keeps my hair in check and my head and ears warm.

I brought a charkha loom with me to spin cotton. I hadn’t been able to use it successfully at home but with time, patience and great instructions from urbanspinner, I made thread. I spent several Hours and literally made a spool of thread. But it’s my thread and I was able to put it straight to work.



I am knitting a Shetland shawl with miles of cobweb yarn, which I wound into balls before I left home. It begins with a provisional cast on and I used my new thread to crochet a chain to use as my starting point. I love the loom for all it’s gadgets. There’s even a skein winder. I wound the skeins on to paper quills and then plied them together using clothes pins to create a tensioned lazy kate. So cute and it all folds up into a little box shaped box.

Finally I need a belt and a pair of slippers. There’s too much Cape Barren Geese poo to wear my crocs inside and out. So I found an easy pattern I’ll make sometime. For a belt, I brought my cards for tablet weaving and some mercerized cotton. I also brought 3 spools of thread if I decide to make ribbons with sewing thread. Or if my spun thread is strong enough, which I highly doubt, I could use that. It may be possible because I brought some silk (empty of their larvae) cocoons and if I can figure out how to spin silk from them, the thread should be very strong.

So anyway, I needed to create a loom on the go. There are c-clamps in the workshop but then I’d have to weave indoors and it is too beautiful for that. I saw an old article in TWIST which showed an interesting tensioning device. It used to pieces of wood that the warp wraps around an holds itself tight. So found a scrap of wood, cut it I two and drilled a couple of holes. A scrap piece of wire holds the whole thing together and laces through two belt buckles on my jeans. So it works like a backstrap device without the back.

Just trying to have fun.