Monday, August 9, 2010

Waves of Grain Lacy Baktus

Lacy Baktus
Originally uploaded by RiverKnits
Everyone has been making these little shawlettes, so I had to try one too. I liked the effect of a strand of lace weight mohair with a strand of sock yarn so I chose one of each for mine.

I used Cascade Heritage Paints color 9906 with Feza Kid Melange 194. At first I wasn't sure if the colors were very exciting. But as the scarf grew Sheryl said it looked like a wheat field and I think she was right. I liked the subtle shades of color.

I wasn't sure whether to do the original Baktus, which is simply garter stitch, or whether I should try the Lacy Baktus for a little more interest. I'm glad I opted for the Lacy Baktus. I'm not a big fan of scarf knitting; they sometimes fail to hold my attention. Having the lacy repeat rows helped keep a fairly simple project interesting as it went along.

Of course I shouldn't knit apparently simple things at charity knitting. I was supposed to be doing the decreases but I started increasing again. Back to the frog pond... Oh well. It was worth it. I really like the end result.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Want to see a magic trick?

So do I. I've been waiting and waiting for my Fairy Yarnmother to come and organize the yarn room. No luck.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Baby Surprise Blob

I've finally done it! I knit Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket. Actually, I knit two of them.

I've wanted to try this pattern for a long time. I love Elizabeth Zimmermann's stories and her attitude. I want to knit lots of her patterns. But they require thinking...and thinking, sometimes, is not my strong suit. At least not thinking that involves numbers.

I made up my mind when I found out my friend Sara was having twins that these were the babies who needed Baby Surprise Jackets. Iowa winters, love their mom, etc, etc. All kinds of reasons these babies deserve these jackets.

Sara makes small babies, if her first baby is any indication. And twins tend to be small babies, because while God has a sense of humor, he is also kind and just. So I wanted to make preemie sizes. And I wanted to make the jackets using EZ's own lovely and terse instructions. ( says terse means "neatly or effectively concise; brief and pithy". That's EZ.) I did NOT want to stoop to using the newly released, newly written out step by mysterious step, pattern.

Ha. Remember God's sense of humor? And Elizabeth Zimmermann's pith? I used the new instructions, line by line. And even then, unpithed, I could not make preemie BSJ's. So Sara better cook a couple big twins or Iowa better have an extended winter this year..

Here's what I ended up with after all the knitting and row-following:

Joe and I marvelled at it. We folded it and unfolded it, in awe of the genius who once thought to herself, "Hey. I could knit this shapeless thing, and then stitch it up in two places. And it will be a sweater." I wondered how on earth that could happen to a person. Joe decided she must have taken a made sweater and deconstructed it, then worked backwards. To test his theory, he cut up a t-shirt.

Sort of looked like my blob. Here's what the blobs turned in to....

And won't these babies look great in those sweaters?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Stranded at the Clinton County Fair (or, Sometimes Teenagers Know What They're Talking About)


Heather: How long are my feet?

Elizabeth: If you don’t know I’m kinda worried.

Heather: I’m at the Clinton County Fairgrounds with a sock almost to toe time but no tape measure. And no memory.

Elizabeth: Colleen says as long as your forearm.

Heather: I think she may be wrong this time.

Elizabeth: Oh, you think not….

Elizabeth: 9.5” but Colleen’s method should work better.

Elizabeth: Inside of elbow to wrist is length of my foot…that’ll mess with your brain…do you have 7” dpns with you?

Heather: Nope. 6”.

Elizabeth: Colleen wondered if you had any butter…but then she remembered those are tbsp not inches. J

Elizabeth: Do you have anything that is 1” long? Aren’t any of those dumb booths giving away rulers or yardsticks?

Heather: I sent Joe around on a tape measure search…no luck. I’ll figure something out. Guess I do need that ruler tattoo. Surely one of these farmers will have a measuring tape buckled on their belt.

Elizabeth: Now she says maybe your glasses have markings that tell how long the ear pieces are.

Heather: Left ‘em at home.

Elizabeth:…or European clothing measured in cm and she’ll look up the conversion for you.

Heather: Between my elbow, wrist and thumb I think I’ve got it figured out.

Elizabeth: Colleen suggests a tattoo of a ruler…but for now she suggests trying them on since your feet are nearby.

Heather: They are nearby, but they are sweaty.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Amanda & I had a great time at TNNA!

I took a class on Chris Bylsma's Crayon Jacket, where I learned about mixing some of my favorite classic stand by yarns like Lamb's Pride Worsted with "dessert yarns" like handpaints and dare I say even novelties to achieve a pleasing overall design.

While I was in that class Amanda took a class on teaching the Undulating Waves scarf in a fingering cotton from Schaefer yarns called Susan. I kept hearing things like "so soft" and "so wonderful" from Amanda. And about a COTTON. Can you believe it?!

That night we got to enjoy seeing 99 new designs in a runway style fashion show. It will all be posted on YouTube eventually but it's not up yet... Then we were off to an ice cream social hosted by Ravelry.
We never did get any ice cream because there were hoards of people and, well at least speaking for myself, I am old and like to actually sleep at night. So after a wonderfully refreshing drink suggested by Amanda (I think it was an Amaretto Sour) and after scoring free t-shirts, we found our hotel and called it a night.

Next day we were up bright and early for our classes. Amanda went to Colorful Cables with Melissa Leapman and I took a really fun class on hand dyeing with Rachael Blackledge. It was FUN, FUN, FUN! We dyed a skein of sock yarn

then we painted a sock blank

The sock blank is a double strand, so once I unravel it, I'll have 2 matching balls of yarn. How neat is that?! Can I say again, it was really, really fun?!

Then we spent Saturday walking the floor of the show looking at everything all the companies had to show us, thinking about what you might like to see at River Knits! We ordered all kinds of things and found out about other things to keep in mind for the future.

We ordered every color of a lovely new laceweight Legacy Lace from Brown Sheep company as well as a very elegant beaded shawl pattern that was featured in the fashion show.

We processed everything we had seen Saturday over dinner that night with my friend Nanci from KnitOn! It was fun to hear about what yarns she had seen that day, hear about her trip to Kazakhstan and of course to polish off not only some Bahama Mamas but most especially a Schmidt's Cream Puff!

I was really excited about a new yarn from Classic Elite called Woodland. It isn't even on their website yet. But it is a is a very interesting animal/plant mix with 65% wool and 35% nettle fiber. Amanda said, "Don't nettles sting you?" Well, they can if you walk in the middle of them in your shorts. But nettles is also a wonderful plant that can be used for fiber as well as for salads, tea and infusions and even for making a rinse for making your hair shine. When I saw the yarn, I had to have some! There is a nice supporting pattern booklet as well, with a tunic type vest that I also fell in love with. I think someone decided to make this yarn just for me!

We also decided to grab 2 new yarns from Berroco; Blackstone Tweed CHUNKY, which as you would guess is a heavier version of the worsted that many of you have already come to love, and a new yarn called Remix. I am rarely drawn to non-animal fiber yarns but know that many of you want them. Maybe you have allergies or sensitivities, maybe you are knitting for someone who thinks that wool is itchy (even if we beg to differ...). But when we felt this one we thought, "Hey! THIS is a great mix that might really be great to knit with EVEN for people who don't want wool! Heck, even people who LIKE wool might like this sometimes. I would even like it!" The pattern booklet for Blackstone Tweed Chunky, Remix AND Norah Gaughn 7 (ooooh, you're gonna love it) are all going to be headed to a yarn shop near you.

What else? Well we were on a roll with chunky yarns because we snagged some Malabrigo Chunky too. I'll be sure to send out an email whenever I see that box. I know you'll all be really excited. Malabrigo never fails to excite. And there will be several bags of lace in that shipment as well.

Oh and if that's not enough we also decided that you probably would love Namaste's new Monroe bag so expect to see those sometime too! And we couldn't resist the cute little magnetic buddy case. I think you'll see why when they come in.

Plus we ordered new patterns from various designers and picked up lots of literature from many other companies that I will probably want to add some items from as we move towards Fall. As much as I might have wanted to I can't order it all at once! But that will give us more to look forward to.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thank You...

And so, it was Mother's Day again. It's not usually a big day in our house...because I'm not really a "celebrate me" kind of gal. But it's a nice day. My husband and kids tell me they love me and wish me a happy day. This year I got texts all day long from a string of teenagers who don't belong to me biologically but allow me to be Mama Wenig to them. It was a nice day.

In church, the pastor asked us to reflect on important women in our lives and to share what they had given us. While I didn't share out loud at that moment, I did reflect. And as I was knitting a sock at the time, my thoughts tended toward how the women in my life had shared craft with me.

It starts with my Grandma Alvy, the grandmother for whom my daughter Josie is named. I spent a lot of time in the summers with my Grandma Alvy. She would get up early and cram all her farm chores and household chores into a few hours so that the afternoons were ours. While she was working and it was still cool outside, I would be running free and playing on the farm. But when afternoon hit, Grandma and I were inside. And a lot of that inside time was crafting time. Grandma taught me first how to make potholders. She had an old metal loom, much different from the plastic looms we find now at Hobby Lobby....this was old, green, sturdy metal. My dad eventually secured it to a piece of wood and covered the bottom of the wood with carpet to make it a little more comfortable to use. I spent hours making those not-so-useful potholders. When I ran out of the colorful loops of nylon Grandma had for me, she'd cut up Grandpa's dress socks and I made potholders out of those. (I guess that's Grandpa's contribution to craft....). After potholders came embroidery. I remember vividly making the trip "in to town" to visit the Ben Franklin store and choose my preprinted embroidery fabric and choose the colored floss I would use. I think the first piece I finished was a squirrel under a tree. I remember struggling with French Knots and loving the stitch that looked like a flower petal. When I was done, Grandma made it into a pillow for me. The next summer I moved from embroidery to latch hook. I was in love with horses that year, and Grandma found a latch hook kit of a horse's head. I finished it quickly and again she made a pillow for me. Grandma was a wonderful seamstress (she's going to be 98 years old this summer, and was able to embroider me a set ot tea towels a few years ago, and up until two years ago, was still repairing her great grandchildren's jeans).

I was eleven when I stopped spending time at Grandma's farm. I took a break from craft when I was no longer able to sit at Grandma's side and learn it from her. When I was 12, I discovered Little Women and read it and reread it and reread it. Does this count in my "women in my craft live" inventory? It should. They were very real to me. The idea of Beth knitting mittens and dropping them out the window to passing children touched me. The picture of the March girls sitting together, with their workboxes at hand, stitching a set of sheets charmed me. I wanted craft in my life. I needed a guide.

When I was 19, I married into a wonderful family. My mother in law is a kind and talented woman and from her I learned cross stitch. She was generous with her materials, letting me raid her stash of patterns, fabric and floss. She showed me how to get started....I was so confused when there was no picture printed on the fabric for me to follow. The materials she gave me were a gift. The skill she shared with me was a gift. Mae moved on from cross stitch to crochet. I didn't take advantage of her crochet skills at the time she was making afghans and dishcloths and baby sweaters. (That's not true....I did take advantage of her skills in that I was the recipient of a beautiful baby sweater/bonnet set when Josie was born.) A few months later, we moved to Indiana, 800 miles from home. That's when I decided I wanted to learn crochet. I bought a book and yarn and needles and proceeded to frustrate myself. That crazy chain would not stay still to be worked into! I called my mother in law, frustrated and frantic. Her response? "I'm not sure what I can do for you from 800 miles away." :)

I eventually got it and crocheted afghans and dishcloths for anyone I could think to give them to. And then....I discovered knitting.

I didn't know any knitters when I decided that was the next craft for me. I learned again from a book (with some help from my husband, who is better at looking at pictures to learn how to do things than I am). But after I learned to knit....I met the Knitters. I have a whole new group of women from whom I can gain inspiration and knowledge as I continue my life in craft. And I am grateful. So thank you to all of you who have come into my life through knitting. And thank you to Grandma Alvy and Louisa May Alcott.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Touch of Haze Scarf

Originally uploaded by RiverKnits
I saw this pattern from Theresa Gaffey and thought it looked fun. I can't resist anything that uses sock yarn. Although I really like using sock yarn FOR socks, sometimes it is fun to find other ways to put something so addictive to use.

This is a simple K2,P2 rib with garter stitch borders on the ends. So the knitting is simple but not as boring as all garter stitch or all stockinette. It's the kind of project that is an especially nice time to use that set of "fancy" needles that you probably have. I used a set of ebony #10's although I think the pattern calls for #10.5's. I like that set and I figured I knit loosely anyway.

I picked Classic Elite's Alpaca Sox because I had never knit with it and I was drawn to its softness. Then I found a teal-y color of K1C2's Douceur et Soie that looked like it would be pretty together. Then I watched Pollyanna with Heather (and probably a few other programs) and Voila! The Touch of Haze Scarf is done!

Mine is at River Knits for the time being. But I think it will make a wonderful present some time. If I were ambitious enough to do a "basket of scarves" for Christmas, this would definitely be included.
Oh, and there's a hat in the same two yarns; I couldn't stop with just the scarf! They're both at the shop if you want to see them up close.