Friday, September 28, 2012

After-thought button-holes

It's almost October.

Our summer at home has gone by so fast. We've been busy and packed a lot into the 3 months that we've been home.  I've enjoyed meeting weekly with my knitting group and have been knitting, so I thought I'd try to update this blog a bit.

I finished these socks this week. I started them about 18 months ago, but didn't work on them that much, because I thought the angora in the yarn was causing me to be congested.  Now I'm not sure that is true, but here they are and now that they are done I'll wear them. They are warm and fuzzy.


And yesterday I finished this cardigan.  It is made of some silk yarn I got for half-price. It is 100% silk, but feels a lot like cotton.  I haven't worn it yet, so can't really comment on what it is like to wear.


I made "afterthought buttonholes" in the right band.  The directions called for working the right band first and making buttonholes every 12 rows or something like that, but I always do the left band first and then plan where I want the buttonholes.  so I did the left band and front.  The band is worked with the front. (See my Ravelry project page for more information on the pattern, yarn, etc.) Then I got started on the right side and was half-way up before I realized I had completely forgotten to work any buttonholes.  I'm sure I'm the first one to ever have done this.  :-)  Instead of ripping it all back, I decided to try dropping down in the buttonhole row to where I wanted the first buttonhole.  Then I put a piece of yarn through that stitch and using a crochet hook picked up the ones above it until I reached the location for the next buttonhole.  I repeated the process for two more buttonholes and then kept knitting up past each buttonhole location.  I would go 2 or 3 rows beyond, then drop down and make the buttonhole in the same way I made the others, so they all match.  I think they look fine.  The only downside is you do have to weave in 2 ends for each buttonhole.

Here's a close-up of the button-hole band.




And here's the inside of the band.  It's not pretty, but this is silk.  I think in wool it would look nicer.


We've had fabulous weather here--well unless you are a plant.  The plants would like more rain.

The trees are turning, so I thought I'd post a few pictures, but decided not to take too long at that part, so I just stepped out my front door.  These photos are all taken from my front and back yard.

From my front door.


Looking down the street.


Shrubs I planted in 2004, which were tiny then.


Two kinds of Parsley, the only herb that grows really well here.


Petunias still going strong in spite of the drought. I haven't watered them.


Do you know what this is?  I usually cut these off, but this is the seed cluster of a Clematis.


This one I took about a block away a couple weeks ago. I thought it was so cute.


So that's my update. We're off to Finland on October 5, so look for photos on my other blog after Oct 18th.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Decorating our house in Normandy

I'm back home in Duluth after a wonderful year of traveling and posting on my travel blog, I am settling in back at home again. I've done some knitting this year, but this post is going to be about the decorating I did in our house in Normandy. While we were there in May and June this year we converted our empty attic space into a bedroom. I posted lots of pictures of that project on my travel blog. (link on right)

I decided it made more sense to post these pictures here, because this is really more about my decorating hobby than about travel.

This is how we left the attic:



We did find some light fixtures that were the right color and inexpensive, so we installed two hanging lamps with plastic shades. The name of our company that owns the property is RS Property in France, thus the R and the S. Also we had two pieces of plywood cut to fit the tops of the little end tables, so now they will support lamps and other things.  Those lamps are too small, but they came with the house, so we had to put them somewhere.


We bought that little stool at a Conforama, where we've bought other items for the house.  We assembled it. Conforama is a lot like IKEA, but a smaller store. I can't quite reach the skylights to open and close them, so the stool is helpful for that.







The futon can be folded down into a double bed. It also came with the house, but with an ordinary mattress, so we didn't realize it was a convertible sofa until we finished this room.  This space makes a nice spot to sit and read when it's not nice enough or light enough to be outside.


Nothing in this corner yet.  I measured the window and may make a curtain for it to take over next time we go.



The bathroom on this floor.  The pictures hanging there are ones that came with the house.  I just moved them into this room.



If you saw the attic renovation pictures on the other blog, you saw this window, which was removed from the attic.  I painted it and we put it over the mantel in our bedroom. As I think you can see the fireplace has been blocked off. Someone must have had a wood-burning stove in it at one time.  And it is off center in the section of wall that protrudes.  It was very weird-looking.  I thought about it for a long time and finally decided to try painting it like this to sort of accent the asymmetry instead of trying to hide it or ignore it. I haven't decided what to do with the rest of the walls.  They all have a textured paper on them, that is very hard to paint.



Another note about the fireplace: One day Jim was working in this room. His desk is here, though it doesn't show in the photos.  He started hearing a lot of scratching in the fireplace and realized a bird was trapped in there.  It became clear the bird was not going to find its way out without help, so  we closed the doors, opened the window and then cautiously opened the panel at the bottom of the fireplace.  It wouldn't open more than a couple inches, but I knew that would be enough.  The bird ducked under and flew out the window before we barely had a chance to see what it was.  It was a Choucas. A grey/black bird that nests in chimneys.



One more photo showing the bed and window.  Jim's desk is just on the right here. Those canvas and wood clothes storage units also came with the house.  Some day we would like to replace them, but for now they serve the purpose. The bird prints were in the other bedroom, but they seemed to go in here, so we moved them. You can't tell in the photo, but the mats are teal-colored.


FP-screen 002_1_1

Because this is a Rosemaling blog, I'll include another photo of the panel I painted to hide the very ugly fireplace in the living room. We finally got it hung.

drapes 002_1_1

And this photo shows the front window and door. I bought those drapes from Country Curtains and took them over with me in my luggage. I think they suit the room. I couldn't find anything with such a traditional or old-fashioned print in France.  Not that there is a lot of selection near us in rural Normandy.  But everything I saw was either solid color or very modern.

The house has another bedroom and bathroom, but they are just functional and not decorated, so no photos of those spaces just now.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Balancing my hobbies


The topic for today is: Do you both knit and crochet and if so how do you balance the two? 3KCBWDAY7

Currently I do not crochet, except occasionally to finish a knitted garment, though I did a lot of it in the 70's and 80's before I picked up knitting again. I also used to sew a lot. By the 80's and 90's I was making most of my own clothes and sewed a lot of gifts too, then I suddenly lost interest in sewing.  I sewed doll clothes for a while and then stopped doing that.  Hobbies do go in phases for many people.

Knitting is such a versatile skill.  You can knit things that are useful and comfortable to wear, especially if you live in a cold climate, such as Duluth, Minnesota. You can knit things for babies and children or dolls, you can knit toys and accessories and you can carry knitting and knit almost anywhere.  I especially enjoy knitting with my knitting group. We meet every Tuesday. I hardly ever miss a Tuesday unless I am out of town, which has been a lot this year. (see my travel blog

The hobby I have to balance my knitting with is Rosemaling.  I have been rosemaling for 11 years. I started in 2001, by taking a class at my local Michael's store.  It was a 3 or 4 week class--one evening a week.  Not really much and the teacher wasn't that great, but I decided I wanted to keep at it and learn more.  This teacher convinced me to join the local Rosemaling Society, so I did that in 2002, I think. Through them I have been exposed to more rosemaling and some very good teachers and painters. I have taken a lot of classes and am developing a style of my own. I have done some commissions and special projects, which has forced me to hone my skills more. 

Here's a link to our society's web site.  The Twin Ports Rosemaling Society.

How do I balance the two?  The rosemaling isn't portable and takes up a lot of room.  When I am painting, I spread out all my equipment on a large craft table in my family room and it's kind of a mess.  I pack it all away when I am expecting company and then don't like to get it out again, because it's so much trouble to get it out and put it away.  I need a studio.  So I do the rosemaling in spurts.  I sign up for a class and get into it and may continue at home for a while after that until I put it all away again.  When I have a specific project I get it out and do that.  My most recent project was a panel I did for our home in Normandy. I do all my own designs and paint freehand.  I use either acrylics, gouache or oils. This one is done in gouache, which, I think are oil paints that you dilute with water.  I have no idea how that works.  I need to learn more about paints.




And this is the last post for the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  It has been an interesting experience. 




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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Improving my skillset


So this is the topic for today's post.  3KCBWDAY6

I love doing colorwork.  I have recently been working on two projects with cables and it has reminded me that I really prefer colorwork.  I did learn to do cables without a cable needle (from Jared Flood) and that made cables more enjoyable, but still they are not my favorite. I feel I can still improve my colorwork knitting, though and my next big project will be a colorwork one. I haven't done any for a while now. I would like to do a big Fair Isle sweater.

Other skills I would like to learn are shadow knitting and double knitting.  Shadow knitting just looks so fascinating.  I want to know how it is done. And I'm not sure what double knitting is, but would like to try that some day. I've tried "twined knitting" but that is really putzy. You have to twist the yarns after every stitch, which really slows the process, so I wasn't crazy about it.

In case you aren't familiar with shadow knitting, here is a pattern on Ravelry using this technique. It looks like magic to me.

I knit socks and sleeves and other small circumference items on 2 circular needles.  I used double points when I first learned to knit some 40 years ago, but switched to 2 circs and prefer that method now. I have done magic loop too, which is very similar. I like the 2 circs.

I also used to crochet years ago and can do that, but mostly I like to knit sweaters, which is why I switched to knitting from crochet.

Maybe one area I could expand into would be writing patterns. I sometimes design my own sweaters, but those patterns tend to be very basic.  I have written and published patterns for doll sweaters, but never for a garment for a person.

I would like to know a lot more about sheep and other fiber animals, fiber, and the various characteristics of fibers and yarns available. 

I have run out of things to say on this topic.  If this were the knitting and rosemaling blog week challenge, I could add that I have a lot to learn in rosemaling and hope to improve my skills there.

Since this is a post about things I don't know or haven't done, I don't have any pictures.  Since I don't have any pictures, I think I'll just stop now and work on tomorrow's topic.  I'm not sure anyone has read this far down in the post anyway.  I could just add nonsense here to make it look longer.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Knitting throughout the year


Today's topic for 3KCBWDAY4 is "seasons" and how my knitting changes with the season.

That's easy.  I knit with wool mostly in the fall and winter and with cotton or cotton blends in the summer. Here are some projects I have finished in the past few years, listed according to the month in which they were finished.  Thanks to Ravelry this is information that is easy to look up.


January, 2008  --  Gjestal Nagano 100% wool sport

This is a good one to start this post with, because this is what I was working on when I heard about Ravelry and requested an invitation. I did this sweater as a Tour de France 2007 knitalong, which was fun. I didn't finish it before we left for Paris. I didn't have a lot of knitting time while we were there, so it got finished in January, 2008. I blogged about it on this blog.  And here's the link to my

Ravelry project page.



February, 2011  --  Kauni wool

When this Kauni wool came into our yarn shop, all the ladies in my knitting group got excited and bought some.  Until I saw this colorway, I wasn't planning on buying any, but I just fell in love with these colors. Ravelry project page.


March, 2010  --  Dale baby wool

I have loved these Norwegian sweaters for years, but didn't feel my skillset was up to knitting one.  Finally in 2010, I was ready to try this. This is my own pattern.  I wanted to keep it simple and the Dale patterns  as well as other commercial patterns tend to be more complicated. Blog postRavelry project page.


April, 2009  --  some wool I bought in Japan and some Nature Spun fingering wool.

Okay, this one looks more complicated than the one above.  No explanation for that. Another pattern that I created to use this yarn. I like the back better than the front.  For more information see my Ravelry project page.  or  This blog.


May, 2011  --  Rowan cotton glace sport

One of two shrugs I made to attend 2 weddings in June.

coral shrug

June, 2011  --   Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima 100% cotton DK

I made this one for my niece's wedding. I wanted something to wear with that necklace, which had been my Grandmother's.  The handsome young man is my son.


July, 2010  --  Filatura di Crosa  cotton/rayon/nylon  Aran

This one is nice to wear over a tank top in the summer.


August, 2010  --  Taki Yarns cotton classic DK

I needed a white shell.  Both this pattern and the one below are from Ann McCauley's Twinset knitting book.


September, 2009  ---  Nature Spun Sport 100% wool

It's getting cold here by September, so I'm back to knitting with wool.

Ravelry project page.


October, 2010  Bergere de France Ideal Nylon/Acrylic/wool sport

I bought this yarn in Falaise, Normandy in May.  This is another pattern I made up to use the yarn I had. sometimes that works out better than other times. Ravelry project page. Blue nordic-done

November, 2007  --  Noro Silk Garden mohair/silk/wool Aran

I bought this yarn in Japan, then took it to France.  I needed an easy project there to take to the Knit-cafe I attended a few times. It's kind of a boring pattern, but I couldn't find anything else that I had finished in November.

Noro scarf-cap

December, 2008  --  Jamieson's Double Knitting 100% wool DK

This was made with yarn left-over from another project.


So that's one project for each month.  Looking back, I want to remove some of the photos.  I don't usually post so many pictures of myself. But I think knitwear garments look better modeled on a person, than laid out flat and I don't have a dress dummy, so I try to take pictures of myself in my finished garments.  My deck is just off the computer room, so that's the easiest place to take photos.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A peek into the past


Day 2 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012.  3KCBWDAY2  The theme for today is photography.  Since I'm not such a creative photographer, I decided to look in an old photo album for some knitting-related photos.

Here's a lovely photo I found of Miss Lily Pearl and Miss Ophelia Rose having tea and knitting.  It's a bit hard to see in the photo, but Miss Lily Pearl is just weaving in the ends of a pair of mittens.  The finished one is on the table.  I remember those mittens. They were light blue with white and dark blue designs.  My mom was very strict with me any time she let me wear them and made sure I knew I was NOT to lose them. I don't think I ever did.  I wonder what happened to them.

knitting ladies1

I used to love it when these two ladies came to visit Grandma.  Miss Ophelia had the fanciest hats and jewelry.  I was a little in awe of her, but Miss Lily was so kind. I was too young to learn to knit from them.  My grandmother taught me years later, but Miss Lily would let me play with some of the things she had in her basket--balls of yarn or buttons.  I so wanted to be big enough to knit with them.


And here's one my dad took in the 60's of an old woman we saw in Provence.  She's working on a sock on dpns. She didn't speak any English and our French was pretty weak then, so we didn't learn anything about her. I was just learning to knit on dpns myself, so I was fascinated to see her doing it.  She barely looked down at her needles. I was impressed.



[note:  The dolls in the top photo are by doll artist Joan Rydberg of St. Cloud, Minnesota. As far as I know she doesn't have a website, but I have an address and phone number for her. I added the knitting and took the photo for this post. The doll in the lower photo was a gift to my mother from friends in France. She has been added to my collection and I treasure her. I did nothing to alter her.]

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Monday, April 23, 2012


          I've always loved colors.  I can remember as a young child loving all the colors in my box of Crayola crayons.  I still remember the square cross-section shape of the box of 64.  But when I was old enough to have a double-wide box of 128, wow that was really fabulous.  My mother liked the fall colors and I did too, though I have also always been drawn to blues.
          I was more in tuned to fashion trends than my mother and in the 80's and 90's when the olive greens and rusts were replaced in popularity by the jewel tones, I thought I would never go back to the colors of the 60's and 70's. My mother bought herself a chartreuse pantsuit in the 90's.  She said she'd always liked that color, but I wasn't ready to go back to those colors yet.  About 10 years later, I finally realized I really did love the rusts and oranges, deep reds, olives, and natural colors. Now I have an orange bathroom!
          I have seen these color inspiration pictures on Pinterest.  They are usually for paint color inspiration, but why shouldn't the same thing work for knit-wear?  I love color-work and like to chose my own colors.  I often see a landscape or just whatever is outside the car window and think those colors would be great in a color-work sweater.  I am especially drawn to the softer tones-taupes, tans, greys, blues, such as are found in this beach scene in Hawaii.

          So for this post I browsed my computer for photos with different color combinations and made up some of my own color samplers.

A park in Paris in late autumn shows the golds and greens that I love.

The big round lake in the Jardins Luxembourg on a somewhat grey day in late fall.

Grasses and Verbena near a lake-side path in a village in Normandy.

Two trees hugging in a forest in Maryland, USA. I love the soft colors in just two color families.

Ancient carved stone of the Qtub Minar in Delhi, India. These are my colors.  I could see using this combination.

These are colors I would not have picked to go together, but look how great they look side by side in this garden bed. The grey at the top is from the dirt and the taupe at the bottom from the stone of the buildings in the background.

This is my first post for the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2012.  3KCBWDAY1

To tie this into knitting, I should go out and buy yarn in these colors, photograph it, make up color charts using those colors for some fair-Isle sweaters, and then post the finished sweaters here.  Yeah, come back in a couple years to see if that has happened.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A test and some rosemaling

          I just wrote a post for this blog to be posted on April 29. At least I hope it will be.  It is the last one for the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  I will be out of town that week, so decided to do all my posts for the week ahead of time and schedule them to be posted that week.  I have never done this scheduling thing before.  The first post I uploaded and then scheduled on the blogspot site, but then I discovered that Windows Live Writer has a scheduling feature.  This is the program I use to write my posts, mainly because it is easy and when I hit "publish" the post and all related pictures get published all at once.  I don't have to do the pictures separately. But I have never used this feature and want to see if it really works, so I am now making a test post. 


          Since this week of blogging is related to knitting and crochet, I thought my test post ought to relate to rosemaling. There aren't many rosemaling blogs out there.  As opposed to hundreds or thousands? of knitting and craft blogs. There are at least two good reasons for this. A) there are more knitters and crafters than there are rosemalers. (needs citation) and B) Knitters and crafters tend to be younger and more tech-savvy than rosemalers.

           In my google search this blog came up on the 3rd page. Most of the results are either professional sites of professional rosemalers and teachers, organizations or just a mention of rosemaling on a blog that covers a variety of topics. One rosemaler who blogs about a variety of topics has left comments on this blog. Her blog is at Forestwoodfolk.

          I'm not sure the world of rosemaling needs more rosemaling blogs, though.  Are there enough rosemalers out there looking for inspiration and or tips through blogs? probably not.  Be sure to let me know if you think otherwise.

          What is rosemaling?   Well, here is one description.  I have to agree with this pretty much.  I wrote it, so I should. If you want to see some examples check the Gallery on that site.  Most of those pictures are done by amateurs, though there are a few done by teachers, who are professionals. All the photos are mine.

          And now here are just a few photos of my work that I haven't published here before.








These are done on paper with acrylic paints, my preferred media. 


Okay that's it for this test post.  I will schedule it to appear in two days or on April 18th, 2012.

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