Category Archives: Knitting

Is it Time to Start Knitting Yet?

It’s been a long time since I posted anything about knitting…

Temperatures in the 90’s and 100’s, egregious humidity, dog days of summer…are a few reasons why knitting isn’t on my mind lately.

However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been knitting!

I’ve tried a few projects, but they just didn’t work out for me. So I decided I’d work on a hat, at my leisure. I have a feeling it’s going to fit a very big-headed person, since I didn’t consult any pattern but cast just a whole bunch of stitches on to a circular needle. Tired of starting patterns, goofing up, and not knowing where or how I went wrong. There’s pretty much no good TV on at night, so we’ve been binge-watching Netflix shows.

Hat jennyskip
Sheenah and big-head hat

I came across a Netflix show that offers the best of both worlds for me: Slow TV National Knitting Night. It’s national for Norway, that is.  Wonder how that would pan out with an American TV producer:  hours and hours of knitting on TV?  Apparently, when the knitting episode originally aired in 2013, it was a very popular program in Norway. See more here from the Craftsy blog.

I started watching it, and every time I got ready to get up and do something else, a new, interesting scene came up. [I haven’t finished it yet. For some reason, Skip didn’t find it as compelling as I did! Maybe the same reason I don’t thrill to watching hours of woodworking shows and listening to the soundtrack of a saw blade.] The TV stars of knitting  got a project going (knitting a sweater for a tricked-out Harley), a contest going (beating the record for making a sweater from scratch; that is, from the sheep’s hide to the finished article), and all sorts of sidebar activities featuring historic knitting patterns, viewing the gorgeous seascapes the country offers, meeting enthusiastic knitters, touring a knitting museum. All with beautiful music and English subtitles. It’s a great show!

Quilt jennyskip
Pony boy lounging on the quilt I’m trying to sew a border onto



Knitting season jennyskip
More inspiration for the onset of knitting season

What’s on your needles lately?




The Day After May Day and How the Knitting People are Different

by Jenny

May 1 has been a holiday for quite a few different reasons.  If you’d care to get into a study of them, check here at Infoplease and go over the list. But, to name a few, it’s been a labor holiday, a celebration of spring, a saint’s day, and a Druidic holiday. But for knitters (Northern Hemisphere knitters, that is) it ushers in a change in the type of projects one favors.

Since the temperature has been in the 90’s this past week where I live, I’m not as much into knitting sweaters, scarves, hats and mittens. And I’m not the only knitter who has changed. I recently had dinner with some knitting buddies, one who moved away and was back in town with some knitting projects to show (Tina.) She had some beautiful yarn she’d gotten in her new locale, in the eastern part of North Carolina. The other knitter (Ethel) said she hasn’t been knitting as much, as her arthritis has been getting in the way.  Also some of my favorite knit and crochet bloggers have recently written posts about de-stashing, about finishing up the UFO’s with no excuses, and about only working on projects they LOVE.

I looked at my current project, the My Mantra Wrap from Summer 2016 Love of Knitting, and thought, seriously, do I love this?

yarn craftsbyjennyskip
yarn for my current project, the My Mantra  stole.

The yarn I chose from the yarn stash isn’t summery, but I do like it. We’ll see how it turns out…

I went crazy a few weeks ago and started looking out for a certain type of yarn that I’ve worked with before, and I truly LOVE. I won’t tell you what it is exactly, or any of the convoluted things I’ve done in the past few weeks trying to track down a few stray skeins of it, but here’s a pic of some of the pattern books I’ve been hoarding…

er, collecting…that exclusively feature said yarn.

Martin Storey pattern books
Luscious Martin Storey books

The crazy that I went resulted in an addition to the yarn stash, making it stick out like a sore thumb.

yarn stash overflowing
Oops! Ahem.

I went to the Yarn Stash database to add some updates and sort the entries, curious about what exactly I tend to reach for in the stash, what I LOVE to knit with. When I have finished a project, I change the text color of the yarn entry in the database to red. When I am working on a project, I change the text color of the entry to green. So everything I see in green in the chart is a UFO (unfinished object). The rest of the entries, the part of the stash that is just sitting there waiting like wallflowers at a middle school dance, is in regular black ink in the database. Surprise, surprise! My all-time favorite brands of yarn (the most in red text, signifying  “finished objects”) are Berroco, Red Heart, and Universal. Not the outrageously expensive art yarns, and not the super cheap-o big box brands. I’ve favored worsted weight and super-chunky way over fingering and sock yarns.

So, I conclude that May Day has brought a shift in yarn thinking. I’m not ready to de-stash yet. But I’m not reaching out to take some off-loaded skeins off any fellow knitter’s hands either… unless it’s maybe some cut-rate Tissington or Scree or Mineral…do you know what I’m talking about? Just put your two index fingers into your ears and go “La, la, la, la, la !” and what you don’t know won’t turn into a UFO!


Checking the Knit, Knitting the Check

gingham hat craftsbyjennyskip
Gingham Envelope hat

by jenny

I loved this Gingham Envelope hat from Diane Serviss’ Knitted Beanies and Slouchy Hats.  I wanted to knit it in the same brown and crisp white colors that I saw in the book, as I really love the contrast.

Gingham, according to Wikipedia, has been around since the 17th Century, and was mass produced  in England starting in the 18th Century. The checked pattern we call gingham is called Vichy in France.

I used Vanna’s Choice 100% acrylic in Chocolate and  another acrylic white yarn. and my cuticles were torn up for the whole project. I’ll be glad to get back to something oily, like wool, to knit with next time. I would also love to see it in red and white, orange and blue, red and green, blue and white.

This pattern book has been one of my all-time favorites.

Knitting the Trapper/Trapping the Knitter

Brrr! Suddenly it’s really gotten cold, even here in Florida.  We’re looking around for jackets, sweaters and hats.

I’ve been loving Diane Serviss’ book Knitted Beanies and Slouchy Hats more than any other knitting book lately, because it has so many cool hats to knit. During the holidays, I was able to give many of the hats I’ve made from the book to family members and friends, including a pink chenille trapper hat with multi-color pastel peace symbol buttons.

Since then, I’ve made several more trapper hats from the pattern, using different materials to see what sort of gauge I get and the overall effect of the various yarns. The pattern calls for size 6 “superbulky” weight yarn. But, as you may know, there’s a wide range of textures and types of superbulky yarn.

red trapper hat
trapper hat of crimson Universal Gaelic Wool and white pop-pom yarn

I had 400 yards of this crimson yarn, and every year I think about making something for Christmas out of it and then don’t. It knitted up beautifully, although the merino-acrylic blend looks like strips of felt and is thick-and-thin, giving the finished appearance a rustic look. The chenille pom-pom yarn may not be my best pick overall for the front flap and trim.

small trapper
2nd trapper from a faux suede polyester yarn

Using the same size needles, and another superbulky yarn, this trapper turned out significantly smaller than the first one. It looks suitable for a toddler-size head. I used Yarn Bee (a Hobby Lobby brand) Madcap and Madcap Baby yarns. I loved the feel of the faux suede-type yarn, and it knitted up very compact on bamboo needles. This yarn is very stretchy, so an adult might be able to put their big head into it and it will be a tight fit, like a bathing cap. I considered making it over again using larger needles, but I couldn’t find any dpn’s larger than a US size 13 anywhere at the moment.

gray/black trapper hat
gray trapper with black trim

The next attempt was by far the coolest (except for maybe the first one, the pink chenille trapper—which I gave to a sweet friend and don’t have a photo of. Might be one on my photos?) My daughter expressed a wish for a gray and black one, but I think she has since lost interest. It’s only cold enough in Florida to consider wearing these, maybe for 3 days out of the year! The hat is a gray chenille Patons Bohemian, and the flap and trim are black Red Heart Boutique Fizzle.  Fizzle is cray-cray to work with: calling it superbulky is an understatement.

trapper hat
trapper to the extreme….

But the best one I liked making:

black and white trapper
black and white trapper

This one is made with good old Lion Brand Hometown USA acrylic in Oakland Black. The yarn felt thick, soft and consistent. The front flap and single-crochet trim is in Patons Cobbles, a wool-acrylic-polyester bobbly blend, in Winter White.  I will buy this yarn again for some great sitting-in-front-of-TV knitting. Last night, it helped me get through some of the presidential debates. Just a spoonful of knitting helps the buffoonery go down. I feel a little more in control, while trapped in my living room witnessing lies, ego-bashing, put-downs of other leaders and candidates, shameless self-promotion, outlandish ideas, and terrible leadership practices that we may soon be propping up with our tax money, because of who ends being voted into office.

For a little history of the original trapper hats, I found a great site: Overland Buying Guide.  Trapper hats officially became part of the Cossack uniform in the 19th century, although they were worn long prior to that official year of 1855. Reportedly, a Cossack held his hat in such high esteem that he refused to take it off unless his head were to come off with it!

Meanwhile, keep warm! You can easily knit one of these trapper hats in an evening: big yarn and big needles make it go quickly.


nostepinne, winding a center-pull ball of yarn: Quince & Co Kestrel 100% organic linen

Is it the wand of Dumbledore, or the wand of Mickey Mouse the sorcerer, or maybe the switch your Aunt Gertrude chased you around the house with? No, no, no it’s a nostepinne!

The first I ever heard of the nostepinne was a few years ago when my wife asked me if I could make a yarn swift and a nostepinne.  Oh yeah, I can do that…. Sure… they are made out of wood, right?  After some research I found out what these devices accomplish for knitters. In the case of the swift, it is a device to hold a skein of yarn while it is wound into a ball.  The nostepinne is used to wrap the yarn into a ball that will feed yarn from its center (a center-pull ball).

Wikipedia says that:

   “The nostepinne, also known as a nostepinde or nøstepinde, is a tool used in the fiber arts to wind yarn, often yarn that has been hand spun, into a ball for easily knitting, crocheting, or weaving from. In its simplest form, it is a dowel, generally between 10 and 12 inches long and most frequently made of wood, around which yarn can be wound. Decoratively and ornately carved nostepinnes are common. The top of the nostepinne sometimes incorporates a notch or a groove, which allows one end of the yarn to be held secure while the rest is wound into a ball”

If you go to Spinartiste , you will find some images of very ornate nostepinnes.  This site states “The word “Nostepinne” has originated from Scandinavia and in Norway, it is actually called ”Nøstepinne” where the “ø” is pronounced like the “u” in the word “hurt”. In Sweden, it is often called ”Nystepinne.”

The traditions associated with nostepinnes in Norway were many… they were given as Christmas gifts, engagement gifts, or a gift from a boy to a girl to show her he was interested in her.  The more accomplished wood carvers would hollow out the handles of the nostepinne with captive balls inside.  These could also be used as baby rattles.

I have made my wife a couple of nostepinnes and even a swift. This time I decided to be a little more adventurous and add some carvings and maybe even some laser engraving to keep up with our theme of bringing 21st century techniques to 19th century crafts.

The design I lasered onto the handle of the nostepinne is derived from Norse Symbols And Their Meanings


A modern representation of the Web of Wyrd, the matrix of fate (wyrd) as woven by the Nornir, the fates of Norse legend. The emblem, nine staves arranged in an angular grid, contains all of the shapes of the runes and therefore all of the past, present, and future possibilites they represent. The web of wyrd serves as a reminder that the actions of the past affect the present and that present actions affect the future; all timelines are inextricably interconnected- in a sense, it is a representation of the tree of life.

Breast of Times, Worst of Times

October, the month of Breast Cancer Awareness, is almost over…

We’ve pondered and celebrated to some extent, but there’s that vague feeling of not having done enough.

Despite all the claims of “pink washing” it’s still been popular to wear pink in remembrance of, or to show support toward Breast Cancer Awareness. I first became aware that not everyone is enthralled over the emphasis on pink when it comes to breast cancer, when I read Bright Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich. I respect the viewpoint from breast cancer survivors that the rest of us don’t really know what they’re going through.

But that hasn’t stopped the proliferation of t-shirts, colorful hats and wigs, items with slogans, and all manner of pink merchandise from being bought and sold by the droves here. I wanted to chip in, considering that I’ve had relatives and friends with breast cancer, and I wanted to do my bit to help and recognize them in their fight.

So I participated in the local Making Strides for Breast Cancer 5K walk/run, along with thousands of folks in our community.

pink tutus
ready for Making Strides walk

And I didn’t even take pix of the many men participating in their pink tutus, clown wigs, super-sized sequined demi-cup brassieres, pink team t-shirts with near-risqué slogans and drawings of hands cupping pecs. [Tying this in with 19th Century equivalents—forget it, there are none. Can you imagine Ben, Hoss, Adam and Little Joe Cartwright parading through town wearing pink t-shirts that said “Save the Boobies” all over the front and back? American women didn’t even have the right to vote in elections until 1920. People didn’t even want to say C-word.]

Our team didn’t get in on the tutu aspect of this year’s race/performance; maybe next year…

It felt good to belong to a team, to take part in something that was deemed a good thing, but still bordering on outrageous.

And for a project, I knitted a pink turban from Leisure Arts Slouchy Beanies and Head wraps.

head wrap
knitted head wrap

The pink yarn, from Bernat Handcrafter, in 100% US-grown cotton, asserted on the label that

“In 2012 Bernat contributed $30,000 USD to Susan G. Komen For the Cure and a minimum of $5,625 CDN to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in connection with this product.”

(Yes, it’s most likely been in my stash since 2012).

I’ve always leaned toward participating in causes, such as “Buy American” and boycotting certain things because of trade violations. I like being part of a group, and if I am by default included in a group, as in having risk factors for breast cancer, or being a UAW worker, or believing in Christ, I feel that I should participate in group things. What is your opinion on that? Do you think the October pink-a-thon is overdone, or fun?



One last post for Selfish Sewing Week

Funny how one must proclaim it a special “selfish” holiday in order to justify making something for oneself…

I like making things for others but…

1) I don’t have a lot of confidence about my talents and abilities, and

2) It’s risky to spend a lot of time and money on something that the other person might not like or appreciate.

However, if I make something for myself,

1) If it looks crummy or I just don’t like it, my feelings aren’t hurt, and

2) I don’t worry about sending my gift off to Goodwill or the Island of Unloved Toys, Etc.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I did cut out an additional top: finished, and ok, but nothing spectacular. And I had cut out some pieces for a purse, tote, whatever you want to call it.

This item I made from scratch. No pattern, just knew sort of what I wanted it to look like, and went from there.

The body is an old denim remnant I got anciently at a yard sale.

purse making jenny
assembling the various parts and pieces

The liner is Willow Bend Bandana from the Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection c 2006 (ahem, yes, it has been in the stash that long).

bandana fabric
Willow Bend fabric for liner

The knit portion on the outside is half Picasso’s Moon art yarn and half red Mei Mei Bamboo in a circular stockinette.

denim and knitted tote
finished tote

The straps are from Cindy’s Button Company. I found a 1/2 yard remnant of Pellon Flexible Foam Stabilizer in the interfacing stash that was just the right dimensions to line the body, and used some plastic needlepoint canvas to line the bottom and top rim.

plastic needlepoint canvas as stabilizer
stabilizing the bottom

A small red zipper showed up in the zipper stash, and a packet of red bias binding provided the edging for an inner purse pocket and 4 loops to attach the leather straps.

purse lining craftsbyjennyskip
lining has a zipper pocket and a bound-edge pocket
tote bag bottom view
bottoms-up view

Had this idea in my head for years, but it took a designated Selfish Sewing Week to bring it into the real world. Thank you Rachael at imagine gnats for your inspiration!

Knitting, Always

Knitting is in my blood. I learned how (English method) from a grandmother when I was about nine, then never really developed that skill until I retired, a few years ago. My other grandmother, who was born in England and came to the US as a teenager, was an accomplished knitter. Her husband, my grandfather, was a descendant of Catalyntje Tricaud, originally of France but living in Holland to escape religious persecution, and who came to America in the 1600’s. Some sources say that Tricaud came from a family of specialty weavers. Perhaps the name Tricaud is a variation of tricot, from the French “to knit” and in English, a special type of knit fabric.

If you had to classify the degree of technicality of the types of knitting, probably machine knitting would be the most high-tech. We haven’t ventured into the world of knitting machines, probably because I don’t know all I want to know about hand-knitting yet. Most knitters I’ve met are pretty passionate about the type of knitting they like best: English method, Continental method, loom knitting…

Then again, the most low-tech method would be hand-knitting on regular old wooden knitting needles, do you agree? And you could be knitting with your own hand-spun yarn from your own sheep’s fleece, that you made into batts and spun on a drop-spindle.

My variety of knitting probably comes in as medium-tech. I bought this yarn at Hobby Lobby, on sale, and it was already intended to be made into a hat. The necessary amount of yarn was wrapped around a cardboard tube, with the knitting pattern attached on back of the label, and a big pre-fab pompon was stashed in the tube, so that when the yarn was all knitted up the pompon would be freed up to attach. The yarn, Keppi Sparkle, colorway Orange Fizz, was a mixture of lots of different types of fibers all together in a continuous strand, so it was self-striping.

Kepi hat kit skip jenny
Keppi Sparkle knitted hat kit

Rather than the traditional double-pointed needles (which usually spell disaster for klutzy me) I used a more medium-tech circular needle.

knitting needles jennyskip
medium-tech circular needle and yarn needle

This whole project was easy and quick. Meanwhile, I’m on another more complex knitting project, and I just took a break to zip through something rewardingly speedy.

knit hat
Keppi Sparkle hat in Orange Fizz