Thursday, December 31, 2015

Knitting to Help Santa 2015

This year I thought I had Christmas covered, but certain events happened and I realized I was short of both gifts and money which over the years has occurred many times in my household. So since yarn, knitting needles, and ideas abound in great quantities at our house, it was knitted gifts to the rescue this year. Fingerless gloves and mittens seems to be the craze, and I know my tech loving daughter at college would probably enjoy a pair. Off to search for a “simple” pattern and to take a gander at what yarn can be found in my stash. Picked the pattern from the every expanding pattern base. Careful! It can be like falling down a rabbit hole. was the winning pattern. Fairly simple because I don’t have to knit each and every row different . Been there done that. Found many, small tattletale (Can see they were spun on my Jenkin’s Turkish drop spindle.) balls of mernio single ply that had been spun years ago before I had a wheel. Somehow being some of my first spun yarn they never “looked” good enough to be used, but they jumped to the front this time because my color choices have thinned out some.  Plied some of them with a white wool and some with a gray wool I’ve spun recently, and Wow! Even my youngest son who help me run my ball winder was committing on how nice the yarn was. As usually there were sessions of knitting both forward and backward, thankfully knitting forward occurred more often. They were finished before Christmas and I tried to convince my daughter that since I knitting them it was her job to tuck the yarn ends into invisibility. She laughed at me and said, “But Mom, they are MY Christmas gift.” Guess who ended up tucking them in?

The mitts turned out well. They are a little big for her were the mitten and cuff meet, however considering she wasn’t here to try them on as I knitted I am pleased with them.  The major thing I would change if I made them again would be to use a thinner yarn, I wished the whole way through knitting the mittens I had double plied the yarn instead of triple plied it. Mainly just because she didn’t need a heavy mitten for sprinting between buildings at college.

Ah! Once started down a course one must finish it, a second pair of fingerless mitts were needed for her sister. Not being smart enough to choose the obvious and quicker method of knitting them both a pair from the same pattern, it was back to the raverly pattern search. was the chosen one, this time for two reasons. Reason one, my daughter had always told me she didn’t think she would like fingerless mittens because she dearly loves the knit each and every row different cable mittens that I made her, so these would make her smile and at least reach for them in fun. Reason two, they used little bits of different colored yarn which worked well with what was in my stash. I cast on and started knitting. Agh, only eight rows in and the can’t follow a pattern disease hit. Thus her mitten ended up based on the above pattern (which is well written), but entirely different. Needless to say I learn my lesson and tucked my own yarn ends in on these mittens. I mean why waste the breath to ask when you know you are going to get the look. ; )

Wait, there is yarn left over! A matching hat is always a good idea, so I made up my own hat pattern based off the mittens I made her. Finished it off with a little button on top, and reminded her she was loved as I tucked in all the yarn ends.  The occasional dreaded compliment was spoken. (Look out Mom! Cover your ears.) Hey that is cool. Can I have one? At times like these having a smaller number in the family tree would be handy. But what can I say, I would like one too.

My boys are not impressed with fingerless gloves. What good are mittens or gloves with the ends open? So I decided to knit my youngest a hat.  I tried the searching the pattern base again. Just couldn’t find what I was looking for, so it was time to ask for help. Someone suggested the bun hat. (With that name I would of never found it.) I tried to start knitting it at night. Nothing was going right, too tired, so off to bed. Spent the next morning undoing the previous nights attempts so I could start fresh. Made a phone call to a fellow knitter for advice. (She keeps me in line.)  Finally, I wrapped my brain around how to enlarge the pattern. What fun this pattern was. My son picked out the design he wanted knitted into his helmet and we graphed it out. He also asked if I could put a red plume on top of it. The end result just makes me smile and causes a rousing, battle cry to silently rush through my head. Can you tell this hat was made for a child by someone who inner child is not buried very deep?

Oh by the way the gray wool is 3 ply hand spun Finn from our flock, the red wool is a from my stash and silver is a shiny, slippery yard sale find. (Not fun to knit with!) I balled six small balls of it on my ball winder. Putting each ball in a different zip-lock bag with an end sticking out. Took the bags to my spinning wheel and over spun it to get it thick enough. Put the six ply ball in it's own zip-lock back, and let  about two feet out to untwisted as needed. Pretty sure being willing to do that means I might be crazy, but the end results help make up for it's knitting difficulty.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Braintan Toting School Gals

At some point in your life you must admit that your family is different and there are no others like them. This has probably happened to my children many times over the years, but I am certain one of the times was when my daughter came home from school and told me she needed a book cover for her math book by a certain date. For whatever reason an image of a patched leather book cover popped into my head, though a more normal mother would of got the image of a brown paper book cover or at least something along those lines. But no, I could not shake the image of a leather cover, so off to check my braintan leather scraps supply. I measured, cut, stitched, fringed, and thought I had it right, but no, some of the leather stretched. Grrr... now what? Buttons to the rescue. The end result was a one of a kind, never to be recreated braintan leather book cover that she used all year. Nothing like your mother helping you stand out in a crowd.

 My daughter told me that she liked it, and got many comments on it. Since it would not fit any of her books the following year, she  reluctantly handed it down to her younger sister for her math book that year. At the end of the school year I thought we might have to donate it to the teacher because it would not fit another book, but my younger daughter found a book on her bookshelf that was a close enough fit. Needless to say I have made many braintan leather book covers, even beaded ones, over the years, but never another patched one. Hopefully they will remember their years of toting a braintan book cover through school fondly and know that their mother loved them.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Basket of Buttons

This project was born out of a need for a Vacation Bible School craft and a love for buttons. I truly wish I had pictures of button baskets that the children made that year at VBS, but someone else took the pictures of them. Somehow I never manage to get a copy of them. We had close to 150 children make a simplified version of this. Each one was as unique as the child that made it. My poor craft helpers spent hours helping sort, bag, and prepare over 50 pounds of buttons before the children every got them, and my dear father got roped into drilling the holes in the all the wooden bases. We had some good times of fellowship over those buttons, however many of them I fear thought that their leader was over ambitious, crazy, and total unrealistic of what the children were cable of doing. (They may have been right.) The kids on the other hand loved the challenge and thrived on my belief in them that they could do it.   
I have taught adults to make these too. It is always a fun class full of laughter and amazement as each individual basket takes on it’s own design. No two ever turn out the same.

This particular button basket was made specifically for my mother. I used copper wire instead of the floral wire used in the VBS baskets, and I also chose to use a nicer base.  A major part of the fun in making one of these baskets is in the choosing of the buttons. The possibilities seem endless. Using all white and older styles of buttons on my mother’s basket gave it more of a classic look.  Basically, she ended up with another pretty knickknack to dust instead of a woven basket with many possibilities of usefulness.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Unfinished and Unruly Basket Project

This project has a mind of its own, and is currently in the “unfinished” project pile. It was started years ago on my birthday weekend. At that time in my life I had young children and was feeling the need for some “Mom alone time.” I decided to give myself the an unusual birthday gift of allotting the whole weekend for a project. With a trip to the grocery store for a large supply of cereal and easy foods that the kids could fix for themselves done, I now had to pick what project to work on. I decided I wanted the freshness of a new project. A twine weaving project sounded like fun, and I had been given this gorgeous multi colored yarn recently. A small, twine basket would be a fun, relaxing, me-time project for the weekend. The family was told of my plans and the basket was started.  The farther I twined the more it didn’t look like the image I had in my mind’s eye. Upon turning the basket over I discovered it looked more like a turtle shell. It just would not listen to me. This was to be a fun project with no pressure so it you want to be a turtle shell I am done fidgeting, and fusing with you. You have my permission to be a turtle shell. (There I am still in control.) Of course the weekend ended before I could finish a twined turtle so the project was put up.
Upon getting the project back out about a year or so later, I got the wouldn’t it look cool disease and decided to add brass beads to the edges. Adding the beads was a lesson in patience, and a awkward mixing of skills since I had to use a crochet hook and pass the threads through the beads twice. The first pass being doable and the second pass being a “why did I think this was a good idea procedure.” I must admit to really liking the end result though. The designing of bottom of the turtle shell needed to seep in my mind for awhile so the project was put away for a later day.

Time passes and a lot of pictures of turtles have been examined. A few were even printed off. The strands were divided  and about five rows were twined on, starting the bottom of the shell. The thought of I will need to make a turtle for in the shell occurs and the search was on for a thin, brown yarn that would work.  A small skein of a rich, brown, silk blend was bought. Thoughts of the turtle project were interrupted by life, and put off because it is no longer an easy twined basket “we” (Obviously it has some say in the matter.) are designing. If ever finished it will probably either be my lifetime twined masterpiece or a why did I ever think that was possible glob of intertwined yarn. I have thought that if displayed right it kind of takes on a jelly fish look, however it whispers, “Turtle, I want to be and am a turtle. Please help others see me that way too.” So it sits unfinished on the shelf waiting rather impatiently for me to interrupt my life long enough to either finished it or mess it up completely.



Globe Trotting Braintan Camera Bag

The need to protect my camera was what prompted the making of this bag. Deciding that I wanted something a little fancier than the regular poke style bags I had been using, I chose to work with contrasting colors of leather. Adding the laced edging to the opening of the bag was kind of an after thought, but I really learned to appreciate it later. The laced edge kept the opening stiffer and made the camera slip in easier. The abalone shells on the draw strings were from my small stash of abalone that my kids had drilled holes in with my pump drill. I was pleased with how it turned out and how perfectly it fit my camera, however it did not stay with me. 

Agreeing to help run an old high school friend back to the airport after her visit with family (Country folk, who don’t go to the city often, need moral support and an extra set of eyes to read signs.) meant that I would have to get up in the early hours of the morning because of the distance I live from both her and the airport. I asked my husband to set the alarm and trustingly went to sleep. I bolted awake for no apparent reason, looked at the clock and groaned. I was to meet her in ten minutes! This was not humanly possible. My alarm had not gone off! Praise God for His internal “alarm” that woke me up that day. I called them apologizing and reworking our routes so that I could meet them on the way.  My husband and I were rushing for the door with no thoughts or time to grab anything extra. Perfect timing at the meeting spot and I was off to the airport with them. Enjoying our ever shortening time together as she was headed to her home in another country and every one of us in the car living with the knowledge that her cancer had returned.

Upon arriving at the airport she smiled and whipped out this wonderful, unique gift for me. My heart swelled with her kindness and cheerfulness. I so wanted to give her something that was mine for her to keep as a reminder of our love even though we live worlds apart. Realizing that most of my “stuff” was left at home, I reached into my purse, slipped my camera out of it’s bag, and offered it to her. She refused saying, “That’s yours.” The battle was on. lol I won. (Being much more insistent than her) This little, leather bag now resides in another country as a link between two people whose friendship has endured both time and distance. (With no lack of leather, sewing skills, and ideas...the making of another camera bag is a new adventure to look forward to.)

Praise the Lord she is still battling on and I’ve had the privilege of seeing her again! Life with all of all of its ebbs and flows is most precious to those who have teetered on its edge.


Monday, November 2, 2015

My Original Elf Sock

Oh the joy and satisfaction of watching wool turn from roving into strands of yarn as it passes through your hand and off your finger tips, but now comes “the what do I do with it” part. I’ve plied the individual strands and made yarn, however my confidence in that yarn has yet to be tested. What to knit becomes the question. Socks? No, I don’t think the yarn will hold up to the wear.  A scarf? No, I hardly wear them. A hat? Do I really have enough spun for that? Plus, what if it doesn’t hold up to knitting and unraveling as I make up my pattern. A compromise is planned. How about a miniature sock? No one wears it out and I have a keepsake of some of my first “quality” handspun yarn. There is a learning curve that must take place before you reach the “quality” stage; well at least there was for me. Ok, a mini sock is the plan, but since I have more yarn than needed I feel comfortable with designing my own, because even if the yarn doesn’t hold up to being ripped out I know I have more.
How proud I am of my little, useless product. It reminds me of an elf with its pointed toe. That cuff needs something...think...think...   Aha! I have it buttons. Off to raid my old shell and bone button jar. Finished! Satisfied and smiling inside and out, my first project with my own homespun is done.
May I present to you the very first of my Elf Socks.


And it all started from the first few balls of "quality" yarn made and plied on my Jenkins Turkish Drop Spindles.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Braintan Gift Bags

I have a habit that started long ago of making braintan bags and gifting them to others. The habit started years ago after my husband lost his job, and things were financially tight. When I needed a gift for someone I would have to make it. I had sewing skills and braintan leather available so the obvious result was making one of a kind “gift” bags. The habit has stuck even though I don’t have to give homemade gifts today. I find joy in the making of them and in the gifting of them, well, that is, unless I’m in a time crunch. These bags were given away. lol I no longer remember to who or even for what occasion. My hope is that they were a blessing to those who received them.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lonely Sock 2011

Ok. Let me be honest, not everything I do turns out well.  Sometimes I lose momentum and objects stall and  are never finished. That is the case with this sock I designed. I really like how it turned out, however there is a major problem I never managed to knit the second one. I have a really bad habit of just knitting off the “cuff" that is making up the pattern as I go and not writing anything down. If my knitting gets interrupted for too long of a time period, it can be challenging, to say the least, to knit a matching one. By the time I got back to this one, the person I was making it for had outgrown it which resulted in lost drive to start and finish the matching sock. One lonely cool sock is not much good, anyone know of someone who would find one hand knit, wool sock a blessing?

Braintan Vest 2015

Bragging Rights. lol I promised my son a long time ago that I would make him a vest of the braintan from one of the deer he took during deer season. A lot of time passed and a few days ago he reminded me of that promise because he wanted to take it to camp to show off of course. Camp is like tomorrow!!!
So mom dropped everything to make good on her promise. (Good thing his Dad already had his deer hides tanned!) Thursday he search the web for vest pics he liked and tried on a vest we have for size. Here is what he picked so Friday I grabbed a brown paper bag and a big gift box (for making my pattern) and fabric (for sample), I was off and the timer was ticking. Trying to get it all out of one hide. Had to get a little creative and support some of the thin places. Also tried to leave growing room as it seems that he is getting taller every other day. It is definitely not an exact copy, and the front pockets will be added later. I left them out because of the time factor. But it turned out better than I thought it would with the time crunch.
Used my new industrial sewing machine, and the top stitching could be a whole lot better. (lol Still trying to get use to a new style of pedal.) But if you go by the re-enactors three foot rule it looks a whole lot better. It is not finished yet. Have to roll and trim the bottom and sleeve edges under and hand sew so they will look like the back of the neck. Plan to do that in the car on the way there. ; ) I couldn’t resist taking a pic of it before he left. Guess mom and son are alike...we both want bragging rights to this vest. Will post pics again when it is finished and has the pockets.

So here are our pictures!

 Would look even better over the right shirt! But my son is not a fan of being a model so I was lucky to get these.

That color work on the back. It has a story behind it. I decided to use the thicker leather for the back and back yoke because if the back and yoke lay nice it goes a long way to helping the front stay in position and hang right. I did not have enough leather so I split the back yoke into two pieces which would of resulted in one seam up the middle. Only Mom made a huge mistake I cut two lefts instead of a left and a right. I did not have enough leather to cut other. Frustrated I walked away, stewed on it for awhile and came back with the idea for the color work. (That way I could use smaller pieces of leather.) My Dad always use to tell me the only difference between a master craftsman and another is that they can hide their mistakes.  Not that I'm a master of anything,  still very much learning.

He carried it off well, just a slight smile, nod, and a quiet thanks when someone commented on it. One of his friends shot the biggest buck this year. (It will be his life time record I think.), so hopefully this vest goes a long way to making them even at camp ; )

A lot of prayer was going upwards as I was working on this vest. In a letter I got from him, he mentioned that he has had complaints about the smoke smell in his room. lol Trust me there are over 6 boys in that room, the last thing I would be complaining about would be a smoke smell,

The update is I never did put the pockets on the vest. It turned out so well without them my gut feeling was to stop while I was ahead.  ; )