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Preview: Floats Knits & Purls & A Whole Lot More -

Floats Knits & Purls & A Whole Lot More -

i talk about knitting, spinning and other craft things

Updated: 2018-03-05T16:01:12.131-05:00


Lost sheep, lost time


Hardly a surprise, I've been occupied elsewhere. Since the last time I posted I have:

Traveled back and forth to Texas more times than I want to admit.

Moved parents to VA. closed their home, sold it.

So now, guess what I've picked up? 

I don't like to leave things undone, so here goes!

I lost my Sheep


My Sheep Mittens are obviously not going to be finished by the end of March. No worries though, I am making slow progress and I do think the tension and gauge has improved. I realized I was putting way to much pressure on myself to get them finished. I once was not sure what people meant when the said "Are you a process or project knitter?"  I'm now clearly a process knitter. I knit to unwind, relax, and don't mind frogging. I once would have tried to convince myself these were OK and just kept on, regardless of the niggling feeling that I didn't like what I saw. 

Maybe that awareness comes with age. I'm turning 66 this year. One of my grandmothers died at the age I am now, and I thought she was old. Youth is a wonderful energetic time of life, and thankfully I don't feel old. Times have changed so much and we live in an age of medical awareness - it seems we are surrounded with stresses. We can Google any symptom. However we can also find a wealth of knitting patterns, help and even like-minded people that share our passions. So very different than my grandmothers, both widows, neither drivers, and living in isolated, small places. 

My mittens will keep me busy for awhile. I have the thumb open so I can try them on. Suggested by another online knitter. I would have knitted on waste yarn and wished I could try them on, not thinking of changing the pattern. 

Tuesday, sheep Mitten Update


I frogged, all the way back to the beginning. This was 3rd attempt. I went up one needle size to a 3 mm. This set of needles are bamboo and only 5 inches long.  Turns out they have been more comfortable to work with. At 9 something yesterday evening (I worked till 5) I discovered the green I had used was splitting and coming apart. I thought it might have been from re knitting using the same yarn, but examination of my ball proved that untrue. Tossed two skeins, and went in search of another green. My only candidate was lace weight, KP heather. I decided to double and proceeded. 

Today's progress has been good. Not only did I get plenty of knitting time, but I also stripped our bed, washed and remade bed ... Even washed mattress cover. I cleaned out a cupboard and wiped down countertops. It was almost like my new start, and satisfaction that I'd made it right gave me motivation. 

I also made another technique change. I'd never done this before but the suggestion in the I Make Mittens ravelery group sounded promising. I am knitting inside out, so the floats have a longer distance to travel. Sounds simple enough, but it made amazing difference in my tension.

The right side looks respectfully flat! I am still off gauge, 36 stitches in 4 inches, but I don't want the fabric to be sloppy.
On the right is an inside out picture showing the floats. I'm much happier. Tomorrow is free, so I hope to finish all except thumb and cast on the mate.
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Insanity, or what did I expect?


That quote about insanity, you know the one, doing something again and again the same way and expecting different outcomes? Well I qualify for the label.  This Sheep Mitten pattern is so darn cute, and I so want to do it justice. I already started over right above the cuff one time. I thought my gauge was too tight so I went up one needle size. I also didn't like the light green I had chosen and the black really bothered me, it was too harsh. Those changes were supposed to get me going down the right path. The pattern is clear, written in a way that makes it easy to follow. So where did I go wrong? My gauge was still too tight, but the further I went, it seemed to be getting smaller, in spite of the larger needles. I persevered all the way to the decreases at the top. Still too tight but what else, way long too?. I had even voiced my concerns in the I Make Mitten group, about my difficulties. Then as I was wondering how did these get soooo very long it hit me that I read one short phrase wrong. The double stranding in the top part of the mitten I had begun at the base of the thumb. No wonder working the pattern was difficult, I was alternating two strands of white And working the gray, alternating the white ...... Oh my gosh how could I have done that?
So, frogging is about to happen. I'll go up another needle size and follow the directions! 

March - in like a lamb


I spent my morning with the Sewing Guild at Meadow Farm. As spring might be arriving we have taken on the task of refreshing our straw bonnets. The interpreters at the house will have many opportunities in the next few months to be decked out in 1850's style. Sheep to Shawl will take place the first weekend in April. The members of my spinning guild, Clothos Handspinners, will be in attendance with their wheels and a loom, Spinning and weaving and meeting the families who come just for this special event held each year. 

Ravelry participants of the Ravellenics Winter  2014 games were called to the podium today to pick up their metals. I entered two events, the Sochi Mittens in the last post, and the slippers I made for Jake's February birthday. He had worn holes in the last pair more than one time.

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Five years later…


I'm going to attempt to update my blog. Highlights only, then I'll try keeping this up again.

In the last five years I have added another grandchild. I've taken a part time job. I'm still spinning occasionally. Sewing for Meadow Farm is still one of my volunteer endeavors. Yoga continues, the joints are aging, but I'm still moving. Family are well, parents amazing at 89 and 93. 

Silly, the amazing kitten is 18 now. She's suffering from HBP,  kidney problems and is hyperthyroid. Maybe she decided she needed to keep up with her wait staff? She has a knowledgable vet who is committed to keeping her going. What more could we want?

Knitting continues, and that with spinning will be the main focus here. I'm going to write this for myself.  I have moved away from knitted socks, and am enjoying exploring mittens. 

My last two pairs:


The above mittens are silk, made with hand spun, and hand dyed stash yarns. The info about them is here on Ravelry.

These are from a KAL.

Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival


Here's a slide show from the Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier. Hope you enjoy.


A Birthday Gift to Myself


I did something I thought I’d never EVER do, and that’s get another wheel. It was one of those things that you have to think was meant to be, or why else would it have come into your path? On the Saturday morning before my birthday I was driving to my grand-daughter's last softball game, through the next neighborhood and heading over to Meadow Farm (where I spin and reinact) and the ball park. Out of the corner of my eye as I drive by, I see this garage sale and I notice a spinning wheel. First thing I know I am parked and standing in the driveway, trying not to look too interested. The wheel is between the toys and Xmas decorations, all alone. I check out the puzzles, then the decorations, discreetly look around, and then I ask the man if he knows anything about the wheel, and he tells me It belonged to his deceased mother – and no, he doesn’t know anything else about it. I ask how much, he tells me, and I try not to fall down in shock. Not the price I expected him to say. I drop to my knees, crawl around and look at everything on the wheel. Speechless. Of course, I don't have a cent with me, not a penny, no check book, nothing.I hauled out my cell phone to call my two spinning buddies, but of course, my phone only has their cell numbers, not their home numbers – but I leave frantic messages anyway. The man says another person has shown an interest. I tell him I have to go to a ball game, make an offer, and leave. Of course all during the game I can think of nothing but the wheel, what a deal it is. I rationalize that is is only a good deal if I need one .... I don't need one I tell myself. I decide if it is there when I return, it is meant to be.Once the game is over, I drive back by. As I approach, I see it is gone, but I slow down anyway. I roll down the window, and ask, "Did the wheel sell?" The young kids there say, NO, it is just moved to the back. Whew! I park, talk to the seller again and he says he can’t take my offer and is sticking to his first amount, so I tell him I have to go home and talk to hubby. Please hold it for me.I fly home, talk with DH who says, “Go get it - you will drive me crazy if you don't get it - even if you don't need it, get it”. I call both my friends and relate to them the details of my find, and ask their opinions, the who owns at least 5 wheels says "Obviously you should go get it." Do I need anymore help deciding? The second friend offers to come with me for a test drive, but that in light of the time, I decline her offer. So off I go, with fiber, a drive band, some oil and I go back and ask to take it for a spin. I set the whole thing up, it works nicely and I agree to the price. The people by then are gathered around me, as they are fascinated to see it work. I then ask him, did you mother spin with this? He says, no, it was only a decoration in her home. OMG!So as you can see, I am thrilled. It is a beautiful wheel and an authentic 1800’s flax wheel reproduction made by this guy in Mass. - Who has since quit making the wheels as he sold his shop and retired. It is signed with his name, and I suspect is one of the earlier models, 1981-1985 , not sure exactly when this one was made, but this is my guess based on his ads in Spin-Off magazine and the size of the bobbins. The lady who owned it was named Louise, so I decided to call it Belle Anna Louise. She is too grand for a plain name. I plan to use it at Meadow Farm, as it’s much more appropriate for demonstrations there than the Ashford.It has a 24 inch wheel, which is bigger than my Ashford, and it spins like a demon – once in motion. Being old, it really has needed a lot of oil. Reading online everyone says it is a wonderful wheel, highly underrated, and of course now pretty sought after since it is “extinct” forever. Everyone says, oil it every time you sit down, and you’ll have no trouble, and so far that [...]

Maryland Sheep and Wool


Wishing all who are headed to Maryland this weekend a great trip. Alas, I am still not going to be able to attend this wonderful event. Even though I am surrounded by fiber here in my stash sanctuary, I would still like to go and partake in the atmosphere!

What we do best .....



The retreat was loads of fun, food, fiber and friends. What more could we possibly have wanted? We had wonderful attendance, over 40 folks each day of our two day affair! Fiber was spun, finished objects admired and modeled, and wheels were repaired! We met new people and welcomed old friends from out of town. At least four new members came to the meeting ... some already joining the guild and spinning wonderful yarn .... and of course there was the Challenge!

Our ever faithful and fearless inventor of Challenges played a clever hand this year. First we lined up to pick our bags, by order of our driver's license number! Inside the bag, the challenge rules, and a playing card. Some were red, some were black (surprise) and we lined up again, and two by two, picked fiber. Now how do we spin something, that has something to do with our card? Clever that Susan, wonder if she ever sleeps?

Everything But The Kitchen Sink


I'm off to day one of a two day retreat for my Spinning Guild.Three bags full: fiber, knitting, and library materials as well as my wheel! The annual retreat promises to be a day filled with friends, fiber and food. What more could one want? Four new members are expected today, we are growing by leaps and bounds!! I'm bringing a Cheese Spinach Casserole for todays potluck and have baked up 12 dozen Toffee Almond Sandie cookies for tomorrow! I can't wait!!! Didn't I say we were going to have great food?

New Year - New Outlook - Namaste


The most practical reason for maintaining a blog is that its archive of posts enables one to see what they have accomplished throughout the year or years past. That was my main intention when I started blogging. My personal second reason was to blog in order to share, and see what others are doing.

Blogging creates this virtual community online of like minded people, some unknown years ago. This camaraderie has probably become more important to me than the having a timeline of projects finished. Ravelry has now fulfilled both of these two reasons for blogging. It is obviously a Community of Tight Knit (and Crochet) Folks! A family of fiber minded friends. I'm very thankful for all the individuals who work to make it a better place. Through Ravelry, I can connect at any level with folks across the USA, or around the world with just a click. The big picture is possible, as well as just seeing what my SIL or nieces or neighbors are working on.

My efforts here on the blog this past year have been pretty feeble. That is probably due in part to more activities going on in my life with grandchildren, and friends in my new REAL neighborhood. I thought about discontinuing the blog, but the reality is that blogging is still important to me, and still fulfills a need. It does keep me on tract- even if I am the only person reading it, which I might be! 

Traditionally I have listed my accomplishments on the blog at the end of the year, but this year I am not going to do that. I also am not going to make a list of resolutions since historically I am bad at following them.

So for 2009, my wish for myself, and my friends, is simple.  Be in touch with those you love, love yourself, and share your love with those around you. In Yoga, namasté is a salutation that is a Sanskrit term which can be understood to mean, that I respect that divinity within you that is also within me. Namaste to all of you!

Don't Forget to Exercise Your Rights!



Bird on Hand - literally


My latest self improvement objective is to PLAN and not rush into things without thought and consideration for the time, money and energy a given project will demand. How contradictory to my nature is that? Especially for a Gemini who goes in at least 1000 directions at one time?I want to make a stranded color-work project, using very (for me) expensive yarn imported from Europe, no less. The sweater that caused this inspiration and uproar is The Sweater that won accolades and inspired us all at the Fall Fiber Festival. Rachel, the lady who knit this beautiful sweater is a MASTER KNITTER with the Knitting Guild of America. Not for the feint of heart or inexperienced this kind of project, obviously!Rather than jump in with both feet (hands?) and make a huge error in judgment that will cost me money and anxiety, I have decided to do a couple things. I thought about all the work involved in that sweater and being reasonably sensible, I thought VEST - an ideal substitution. Since I have not picked a pattern yet, the first part of the plan is to work on finding just the right pattern, and the right design for the color-work. That has led to multiple books being checked out of the library, and lots of ongoing research on my favorite site, Ravelry. Of course in the process of looking I found another vest I love, that I do have yarn for, and it is probably going to make an appearance before THE COLOR WORK VEST. The second part of the challenge, is to practice Fair Isle knitting. Hence, the mitts below. Even this project shows restraint and a new sense of practical thinking. This is were you will probably take a break and roll on the floor laughing. I wanted green yarn for a variation of the Endpaper Mitts pattern I chose. I had no green, so I dyed my yarn and had to wait for it to dry, etc. This took a few days. I then knit one entire mitt and it was not like I wanted, too big, fair-isle too sloppy, so I frogged the entire thing, changed how I held the yarns and went down a needle size and re-knit! I did have one nifty revelation at this point. Before I frogged the mitt, I photo-copied it and was able to lay the second mitt over it to check gauge as I knit since I changed needle size. Perfect way to see if things were in fact better!!!!For the mitts, I learned a tubular cast on and cast off. (don't do either with any distractions around you!). The finished mitts match (a good thing), and fit - a better thing! I did make minor errors in the cast off on the inside palm side of each mitt. This I will live with - and next time follow the "don't be distracted" advice I gave above. Other than that, the fair isle technique is improving.Next, I plan to make another more involved pair of mittens, with yarn more like the yarn I want to use for the vest. Meanwhile, I present my Variation of Bird and Vine mitts. Knit on 2.5 needles, Knitpicks, bare sock yarn. Of yes, where's the birds? Click on the "Bird on Hand" title of this post, and you'll see the entire design.And just so you don't worry about me being totally reformed - I'll probably be working on that other vest soon - so I can see if I can really alter a pattern, check gauge, and come up with something that fits like I want it too. Knitting is such a challenge - but then that's what life is all about, no?[...]

What's Flax?


A week ago Meadow Farm, the local museum where I volunteer had their annual Harvest Festival. This event features fall activities, pumpkin races, straw maze, music, candle, rope and cider making, and spinning FLAX into linen. Lines of children prepared their pieces of raw flax and then brought them to us to spin into bracelets. It was a very cold day, and for once, all the layers of the costumes we wear were welcome.


This group of photos shows the steps in breaking the flax outer layers off, to produce the fibers we use to spin. Note we have on gloves, this is how cold it was!!


Recognize these two? My grandchildren thought it was quite funny to see Nana dressed as an OLD LADY!


Recent endings


Longies, or woolies, or soakers have become very popular with the diaper set, and I was commissioned to make a couple pairs for my grandson. We chose two colors of Patton's Classic Wool to go with his current wardrobe, a verigated and a solid. For the pattern, I chose to use the Itchy Fingers Longies pattern, by Jessica, on Ravelry. This pattern is pretty math heavy, lots of calculations to be made before you can knit. But, the fit is wonderful, and I especially liked the gusset in the seat of the pants, and the short rows for the diaper area.


I used a seed stitch border for the hems, and enclosed elastic into the waist bands, which is not part of the pattern as written. Interestingly enough, the two yarns were entirely different weights, even though both were worsted weight.

As usual, clicking on the large picture will take you to Flickr, and then you can click on an individual grid box and see a larger picture. Enjoy!

The Results are in ..... and the winners are ..... ALL!



I'm thrilled, and proud, to say that my five items were awarded 8 ribbons! The silk/wool Skein and Lace scarf each one a first place, and then also placed first in their respective division. The Skein was also awarded a merit award that is presented by the spinning guild, Clothos in honor of Christine Burley. This was a very special honor!

Out Of My Hands


Blogger friends, you may have noticed a lack of activity here at Floats Knits and Purls. It is entirely true that I have not been blogging, but my fingers have not been totally idle. I do have finished objects to show and talk about from the last few months and I have currently been working on gifts for Christmas and some "by request" items. Some sewing has been completed too, as my Yoga Studio has opened a gift area, and I am providing custom eye and travel pillows for sale there. Lots of activity, just not much blogging.


Above are my entries for this years Fall Fiber Festival in Montpelier Station, VA. I have entering two skeins; one of two ply lace weight, and one of two ply wool/silk in the blend category. Also entered are a pair of cabled white socks, in commercial yarn, Hand knit; and my lace shawl in the handspun, hand-knit Category. Of the three, I have hope for the shawl and the Silk/wool lace weight yarn. I also added a felted bag for the "other technique" category. I have no idea if I'll get recognition for any of these items - but all were challenging to conceive and to produce and that's what the fun is all about! The Festival is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, but I won't be there until Sunday to find out how the competition results turned out.

Fancy Kitten Kitten


My new drum carder has arrived - and I am thrilled with it completely. Here's the full story!

A few months ago I acquired a significant amount of nice wool and alpaca and was reluctant to keep borrowing a drum carder to process it. A guild member invited me to try her Fancy Kitty Carder. It's smooth operation, quick results and beautiful workmanship had me convinced. Her carder was a thing of beauty, exotic and top of the line! It suited her. I however, am a more no-frills person, nothing fancy, just funtion. I really was not interested in exotic woods - both from a cost standpoint, and an ecological statement against exotic trees being cut. However, I appreciated the beautiful work, it was obviously not a big factory, stamp em out as fast as you can product. I also wanted to buy American - just because!

I contacted Ron Anderson, the craftsman who made my friends carder and asked it he made a "generic" drum carder, no fancy wood, inlay, etc. I had looked at his website (click title above to go right there) and I told him I appreciated the workmanship and beauty of his top of the line carders, but just couldn't see owning a fancy Fancy Kitty! I wanted his quality workmanship, but not the bells and whistles. He replied immediately, and told me he in fact had on the drawing board a new Fancy Kitty "Kitten", the carder I was hoping for! We corresponded several times, with my questions being answered in a friendly manner, completely and promptly. I asked to be notified when he was ready, and he promised he would, and in fact did. I purchased the first off the line last week. It came in less than a week, fully assembled, perfectly packed and with a hand written thank you card!

Operation is smooth and quiet - in fact, two fingers is all it takes to turn the handle. The teeth are the same as his top of the line product, and my results were also as nice as the carder I tried. I have carded alpaca (very fine) easily and made blended batts of wool/alpaca.

His workman ship is outstanding. One clamp is included, but I did not have to use it, the carder was secure and never moved -thanks to its rubber feet. I plan to put on a tung oil finish - at his suggestion. I will also purchase an optional brush attachment which he will be offering for all his drum carders, it should be available soon.

Ron is an excellent craftsman, his service was polite, prompt and it was a pleasure doing business with him. I highly recommend his products. Just click the title above for his website. The link above takes you to page two of his carders, see page one for the ones made in exotic woods and with inlays.

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Wednesday - Knit Day - Knit Green


Wednesday is middle of the week day - a day I always look forward to. My routine varies on Wednesdays, depending on what week of the month it is. The first Wednesday is a club meeting for ladies in my neighborhood. Sometimes I go, sometimes I opt out. When their program is of interest, you can count me in. The third Wednesday of the month is Book Club. We break for the summer, which is nice because this gives me extra "free" days! So, those other weeks I usually knit! We meet in a neighborhood library, and the group over the summer expands and contracts, depending on who is in town. Today will be the last meet up of a Florida visitor, so we may well all end up at Panera Bread for lunch. Yum!!

My project for the day will be to begin the swatch again with all three color of beads, on the new DPN's (Harmony 4's-Interchangeable) and we shall make a command decision. The first clue is not due out for two more weeks - so I'll be ready!

(image) I am also within 7 or 8 repeats of completing this Mystery Shawl, which has moved to the top of my list of Hibernating projects that need to be finished up. This shawl is the Flowing River Mystery Shawl I started a LONG time ago and it has been sitting waiting for me to get back to it. I think this may be the second shawl I ever started, and it is the ultimate in green knitting - as the yarn for it is from an unraveled shetland wool sweater ..... I am knitting from a sleeve right now. I pull off a bit as I work. I stopped because the knitted on edge was taking forever and I got bored and frustrated with it. Now, after lots of other lace, I am finding it easy and I have been doing about 60-100 rows a day. (5-10 inches).

My gut feeling is it will be huge when finished ..... as the kinks in the yarn will relax and then it will grow like crazy. We will see won't we? Stay tuned.

OK, a little help here ???????



Well I thought it would be pretty easy to make a decision about which beads to use with my yarn. Who was I kidding?




The top photo shows the three beads together on a double strand of the Redwood Forest yarn. They are in order, Translucent Root-beer, Plain Root-beer, and Translucent Cream Soda. SIde by side, as in the top photo, there are some that seem a better choice. Yet, when you look at them in the individual pictures, they each look pretty nice. I hate to think I might have to work another swatch, but that may be my only choice. What do you think sport fans?

By the way, my beads came from Fire Mountain Gems. They have a great online catalog, and really quick service. I ordered the beads on Tuesday, and there were here today! My three kinds cost a mere $9.46, with P/H being $7.40. With gas being what it is, it was worth paying the postage, especially since I didn't even know if the local shop would have what I wanted. The online pictures were right on, and I think all three have potential.

What a concept!



Quite a concept, making a gauge swatch, don't you think? I have to admit, this is the VERY first time I have made a swatch for a lace shawl. Not once before have I tested the waters with needle, yarn, and in this case beads. No, these aren't the real beads, mine are clear probably .... I have three different colors coming and am yet to make a choice. I do know I will NOT be using my size 4 CLOVER circulars, a new set of Harmony size fours are on their way. Why I didn't order 4's the first time I ordered these needles is a mystery. Anyhow, I think this size will be perfect, and I love the tips on the KnitPicks needles, and the cables. They are beautiful and functional. Maybe tomorrow I'll have beads .... Until then, and until the 15th of August, I have noting to do but wait, and finish up other items. Yea!

It's time again!! SOSIII


DK the Nautical Knitter has begun sign ups for Secret of the Stole III. Since I loved the last KAL, I have signed up to carry on a tradition! I have yarn, Knitpicks Shadow, and Harmony Needles. All I need are beads, and I don't think that will be a big problem. We'll see soon. I am using a color called Redwood Forest (discontinued now). It's not the suggested color, but I have it, and I have enough! Need I say more? My niece has also signed up, and several of my spinning guild. Fun! Go to the website for information about joining in if you are interested.

A wee bit of work



The yarn in the previous post has now assumed a new life. It is always amazing to me to see something knitted up and how sometimes it looks nothing like the original skein. In this case, this is only a wee bit of the area near the border. I can't reveal more as this item is going to be entered into competition later this year. Since most of my guild will be involved in judging, it's important that they not recognize the item and it's owner. So for now, just know I am completing projects, and did come away from this happy. The color here is really off - it is much greener.

(image) I share a photo of the amount of yarn left when I was done knitting. The scale amount is in grams, so you can see I was pretty close to running out of yarn on the bind off. That five yard piece was all that was left! I used a nifty formula as I worked: NxN + 5N. Where N is the number of rows worked. This calculates the number of stitches you have worked. Divide your result by yarn weight and you can see how many stitches per gram you are knitting. NIfty! Here is how the formula works.

I working the edging on another shawl, one that had been set aside a long time ago. So, when that is done, I shall have nothing hanging over my head with that kind of history. I have a pair of socks waiting to be finished, but they shall be done quickly -if saying that doesn't jinx me.

Latest Spinning



This skein is 485 yards, of fiber I dyed myself with Wilton Icing Color (the little pots of gel, not tubes). I dyed this fiber nearly a year ago, and finished spinning it last fall. I had divided the 4 ounce roving into 3 equal bits, and each was dyed with the same colors, but different values of the three selections. The WPI are about 16 and it was a 4 ounce roving from HERE of Blue Faced Leicester Top from England.

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The pictures above show the three different pieces after dying.

Apparently I was only impressed with the first bobbin of singles, as only one made a photo appearance.

Here is the two ply I created by dividing each of the bobbins into quarters. I plied as follows; 2 light, 1 light+1 medium, 2 medium, 1 medium+1 dark, 2 dark, and 1 dark and 1 light. So, now to decide what this yarn will become!