Dec 22


See what I mean?

This is destined to become waffle-weave towels.  And it’s about time, too.  I’ve had this waiting for me for 2 years.  Now it’s time to weave them off and get other projects on the loom.  2015 may be the Year of the Sheep, but it’s going to be the Year of Weaving for me, too!

Dec 15

Because I was gone all day Saturday, which is my scheduled day to record my podcast, I recorded it yesterday, edited it and got it into the upload to YouTube mode by about 9:30 last night.  It is still uploading.  Sheesh!  I need to do more research into compressing video files.  if any of you know a good program for this, please let me know.

I tried to knit for a bit yesterday, but was just not in the mood.  So, I washed the rest of that Shetland fleece from the ewe named Amy.

clean Shetland

Isn’t this beautiful?  It is so soft!  I put this link on Facebook, but if you want to learn something about Shetland wool and the traditional lace spun and knitted from it, this is a great video.

This next weekend, I’ll cook down the yellow onion skins I have been saving and, using alum as the mordant, I’ll dye this fleece and get it ready for the drum carder.  I want to blend it and diz it off into a roving for spinning.  I think it is going to be beautiful.  There are some areas of darker gray in this that you can’t see and I want to be careful at not letting it blend too much so I can get those nice gradients in the finished roving.  What do you think?

I had drawn grids several years ago with a black gutta resist on silk and decided that I was in the mood to experiment and play with color.  So I took each primary and did the tints and shades by 10% increments, then mixed the remaining tint and shade solutions in an opposing manner (10% with 90%, 20% with 80% and so on), then I mixed that primary with the two others in 10% increments.

So, Yellow:

yellow grid


blue grid

And Magenta:

red grid

Man!  Yellow is only yellow unless something else is added.  Even 10% of something else like black, cyan or magenta and it is no longer yellow.  Blue can still seem blueish until you get further along in the other primary additions, but Magenta!  Magenta is magenta down to the last on the yellow or blue additions.  I know the red dyes are the strongest and have a tendency to take over the other dues, but this just proves how much that really is so.

rainbow grid

The last I did (there were 4 grids on one long piece of silk) was started at yellow, went through cyan, went on to magenta, then back to yellow.  Then I did two triads (primary and secondary) and then complimentaries.  The extra areas with the dots were me playing around with wet dye on wet fabric (the rest were wet on dry) using one drop of some of the dyes to see how far it would flow.  There were two white square left over, so I just left them.  A very interesting experiment and just the tip of the iceberg on this color study business.  I have several other grids all prepped and ready to see where I can take this and see what I can learn.

I hope all of you had a great weekend!

Dec 9

I have finished two pairs of socks in this last week (one last night), so here they are.

amathyst socks

This pair I knit for a co-worker, and she said she had to hide them from her teenaged daughter when she took them home.  It looks like the teenaged daughter now needs a pair so her mom’s socks are safe.  These I knit in about two weeks.  They are from some Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Yarn in the Amethyst colorway that I bought several years ago.  There is still 37 grams of this yarn remaining and I am giving it away in the Fiber Pusher Podcast Ravelry group, but you must be a member to be eligible, so go there, sign up for the group, then say what you would make with the 37 grams in order to have a chance to win it.


And this is the Kethry socks by Spilly Jane that I knitted for me.  I started them back in September, believe it or not.  Did I ever mention that I am not fond of knitting lace?  And this was a pretty easy knit, really, with great charts and clear instructions.


Speaking of lace, here is a close-up of the leg of the socks.  The yarn is 80% Merino/20% Bamboo hand-dyed by A Good Yarn by Maryann.  There is no colorway number, unfortunately.

Tell your friends about the Fiber Pusher Podcast.  I am trying to get my 1st 100 members if the Ravelry group so I can do a special give-away.  And if you haven’t watched the podcasts, yet, then, please, do so and let me know what you think.  I need all the feedback I can get so I can make them better and more informative for you guys.  Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.  You might give me ideas for future episodes.

Dec 1

This past Saturday, Starstruck Cat Studio had a Spin-In from 10-4.  I was there the whole day and what a great, fun day it was!

Soon after getting there and set up, a new, beginner student brought in a wheel she bought from a yard sale along with several other items (cards, flax, silk, etc) for $70.

Fricke wheel front

Here is the wheel from the front.

Fricke wheel side

And here it is from the side.  The wheel needs some work – for one, the wood is very dry, so I suggested getting some tung oil and giving it several coats after giving it a thorough cleaning with some Murphy’s Oil Soap.

Then the student showed me the label and I have to admit, I squealed with delight.  Why?

Frick label

This is the very first Fricke wheel I have ever seen.  I’ve heard about them, heard that they are great workhorse wheels and that they are hard to find.  I looked at their website and this wheel is old enough to not be sold any longer, but what a find!!!  I think this wheel, as-is, could be worth $400 and with some cleaning and oiling, she will have a gem of a wheel to last her for many happy years of spinning.  Even as-is, the treadling was so smooth and easy.  One of her daughters (who looked to be about 10 or 11) was already telling her that she wanted the wheel when her mom died ( we all laughed at that).  Oh, yes, I will be teaching her two daughters to spin starting on drop spindles as well.  Woohoo!!!!!!!!!

One of my advanced students, Pat, brought in her finished yarn and the beginning of the shawl is it to become.

Pat's shawl begins

Isn’t that lovely?  It’s so soft and skooshy, too.  I just love the color.  This third is Navajo plied and the other two cakes are 3-plied.

3 wheels all in a row

Pat let Heather try out her Matchless wheel, and Heather really liked the double treadle.  The Ashford in the foreground is Heather’s wheel.  Also, I have the feeling a Woolee Winder is in Heather’s future.

BFL Butterscotch Long Draw

Heather won this BLF batt in our Butterscotch colorway from YARNO this past summer, and she is spinning it long-draw for a hat.  I think it is beautiful!

hand knit socks

And Pat, Heather and I decided to get a shot of our hand-knit socks before the end of the day.  Pat’s are on the left, mine are at the bottom and Heather’s mis-matched ones are at the top.  Heather had been teaching a knit-two-at-once class and had the socks in different colors to make the class easier to understand.  So…  🙂

I came so close to spinning the rest of the Raspberry Ice 80% Merino/20% silk that I started over a year ago while I was there.  In fact, it only took me about half an hour once I got home to finish spinning the last bobbin of singles.  Then I started plying the two bobbins together.


When I went to bed, I had this done.

I had a slight issue with plying at first.  I could not find my lazy kate.  I still need to do some organizing on my studio, and with all of the searching I did, I decided I needed to come up with an alternative so I could get the plying done while I had the time.  So, what could I do?

Lazy Kate Alternative

Extra-long, straight knitting needles sure come in handy.  I just stacked my full bobbins, used the top hand as a break, and plied away.  And, you know, it worked very well.


This is my two-ply yarn.  I am very pleased with how it turned out.  I ended up with 9.5 ounces of this yarn, which means the 1/2 pound of fiber was actually closer to 10 ounces when I began.  There was some veg to be pulled out (but very little actually).  It spun up so easily.  I have more of this in a different color that I think will have to be spun up as soon as I finish the other two spinning projects I am in the middle of – time to clean off some bobbins!!!

I think we need to do these Spin-Ins once a month.  Susan?  😉


Nov 3

That’s a rather long title, but that is the class I taught at Starstruck Cat Studio on Saturday.  There were five students and we had a lot of fun.

I went over a list of items to look for when looking for a fleece – Canary stains, soundness, scurf, veg matter, coated versus uncoated, etc.  Then we took out a lovely Shetland fleece that I had brought (from a sweet ewe named Amy).  This fleece was unskirted (the belly and britch had been removed at the time of shearing, but nothing else had been done).

dirty Amy

This is Amy’s fleece dirty.  It had poopy tags, second cuts and hay in it, so we thoroughly skirted it and cleaned it before starting the washing process.  The students were amazed at how dirty the water got just seconds after dropping the laundry bags of fleece into the hot, soapy water (I use Dawn to wash my fleeces).  I wish I had gotten a picture of the clean fleece (And I might take one tonight and edit this post to show you how clean Amy’s fleece got).

While the fleece was washing, we discussed different ways of preparing a fleece for spinning.  We used combs, cards, flicking the tips, the drum carder (both dizzing it off and as a batt) and blending board.  Guess what almost everyone liked the best.

blending board

The blending boards were hugely popular.  I can see several of the students buying one in the near future.  The fact that they could blend their own rolags while traveling in a car was interesting to them.


And then there was Susan, the owner of Starstruck Cat Studio.  She fell in love with the drum carder.  I think I have created a fiber monster. 🙂


The idea of making her own blended batts to sell in the shop really intrigues her.  I hope she gives it a try.  It’s a great way to play with color, and dizzing the batts from the carder will give her lovely roving to sell, too.


Both of these were made on the blending board.  I really like the one on the left, but everyone else liked the right-hand one.


While playing with the drum carder, the students put colors onto the carder and kept adding them until it was full.  We dizzed off half and took the rest off as a batt and reblended it onto the carder.  The yarn on the right is from the dizzed, one-time through fiber and the yarn on the left is the twice-blended batt.  Again, I was a minority of one as I love the left one and everyone else loved the right one.  And that’s the fun of experimenting like this.

One of my students, Tina, brought the shawl she is knitting from her handspun Lincoln roving she got from Dyed in the Wool.


Learning to spin her own lace-weight yarn was her reason for taking my spinning classes, and look at what she is doing with it.


Here it is stretched out showing the pattern.  Lovely!

Now that winter is approaching, and it is getting colder, I pulled out my Hip to be Square blanket that I knitted last winter.  I don’t think I ever showed a picture of the completed blanket.

hip to be square blanket

Isn’t that fun?  And it’s toasty, too!

I hope everyone had a great weekend.  Can you believe it’s November already???


Oct 20


Saturday was the Kokomo Comic Con and the last comic con of the year for Scott and I.  We had a great day, sold several Johnny Saturn books and I got to actually sit and rest for a while.

While I sat and rested, I finished these:


These are my Mary Jane Socks and I love them.  They fit very well (I have them on today) and are comfortable.  They are made using left overs from two pairs of socks and I still have a bit of each yarn left over, just not enough for a sock.  I put them with the rest of my left over sock yarn bits and bobs and you never know what they will become one day.


I finished these several weeks ago, but I never showed you the finished product.  These are for my SIL, although I don’t think I am going to get to deliver them until Thanksgiving.  It was the left overs from this pair that ended up being the main body of the Mary Jane Socks.

Yesterday, I worked hard from 10AM until about 5:30PM sorting and organizing on my studio in order that I can move my bedroom down into it.  I now have room for my bed, empty shelves for clothes and soon will have a rod up to hang clothes.  The studio bathroom now has a shower curtain and a new toilet seat and will have a towel rack hung before too long.  Then I started moving stuff out of my current bedroom to make way for Kim, my oldest niece, to move in on November 2nd.  I’m about 50% done with that, but I need to find more places to put yarn and other supplies.

Speaking of yarn – does anyone need any Sugar & Cream cotton yarn?  I have too many in lots of different colors.  Obviously, they knit up into great wash cloths, but they also weave up into great baby blankets.  If you want what I have, please let me know and we’ll see about getting them to you.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and has a great week ahead.  Don’t forget that Sandy and I will be at the Fiber Expo in An Arbor, Michigan next Saturday and Sunday with Dyed in the Wool.



Oct 7
Just a quick update
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 10 7th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

The only things I have on the needles that are actively getting knitted at this point are two pairs of socks.  The first is pair are my before bed-time knitting socks, and I am making them up as I go.  They include left overs from the two previous pairs knitted.

MJ sock

Obviously, these are toe up and I decided to do the toes, heels and cuffs with the left over dark green Kraemer Sterling sock yarn.  But because I am using Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel, and after each wedge, you have to work in pattern across the instep, I ended up with a dark green stripe that reminds me of a strap to Mary Jane shoes.  I tried them on last night and they fit great and look so cute!  The mate to this sock is ready to start the leg, so once I get this one to the cuff, I’ll knit the leg of the mate and do the cuffs at the same time to make sure I have enough of the dark green to finish them both.

The second pair of socks are my lunch time knitting project, so they are going much slower.

Kethyr sock 1

I am into the third repeat of the lace chart on the first sock of Spilly Jane’s Kethry pattern.  The pattern calls for two repeats before starting the heel, but that would have made these socks too short for my taste, so I am doing a third repeat.  Once I get down to the heel on this first one, I’ll do the leg of the second one.  I am seriously considering doing a modification on this pattern, though.  I have knit lace socks before and the lace has continued down onto the foot.  I just find this such a waste of the pattern to be hidden in a shoe at all times, so I think I’ll just do a plain stockinette foot on the foot portion of these.  We’ll see how I feel when I get to that point.  What do you guys think?

Other than that, I am nearly prepared for the weaving workshop this weekend.  I hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Sep 29
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 09 29th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

This weekend was one of rest for me.  Saturday morning, both Scott and I woke up tired.  The busy weekend before, a long week at work, and being at the half century mark all added up, so we decided to take it easy.  So I knitted most of the day and did little else.

I finished the socks I knitted for my SIL (and forgot to take pictures of them all done), but did not feel I had the thinking capacity to work on my Kethry socks.  So I look around to see what I had.

what to do

I had left overs from my Disco socks and Missy’s socks.  Quite a bit of left overs actually since that bottom right ball is a full one.  And they seems to go together.  Hmmm…

twinkle toes

By the end of the weekend, I had this done.  Both toes and feet and one had the first wedge of Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel done.  Don’t let how short they look fool you.  The box stitch I am using for the tops of the feet squoosh down quite a bit, and it did measure to the 5.5 inches I needed before starting this type of heel.  I know I have enough of the green to do the toes and heels of both socks, and I’m betting I can get both cuffs done as well.  The little bit you see here of the colorful one is left over from my SIL’s socks and I still haven’t touched the full ball yet, so I will have plenty to finish them – and probably left-overs as well.  I’ve always wanted a pair of socks with the toes, heels and cuffs in a different color, and now I am going to have them.

So, these are going to be twinkle-toes (and heels and cuffs) socks.  🙂

Sep 26
My Sox Life
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 09 26th, 2014| icon32 Comments »

With two nights in a row of sleep interrupted by a skunk getting mad at something near our house, I decided that last night was knit night while watching Gynx’s latest podcast, and an older one from Knitting in Circles.

missy socks 80

I knit on my SIL’s second sock for a while.  I’m nearly 1/2 way from the gusset to the toe and I really hope I can finish them up by the end of the weekend so I can get them to her.  I’m going to have enough yarn left over to do something with, but I don’t know what, yet.  Actually, I have lots of left over sock yarn that needs to become something or somethings.  Maybe more “ugly socks” that uses up lots of bits of left overs.

Kethry start

I also worked on the Kethry socks by Spilly Jane.  Both socks are through the cuff and 2 rows into the lace chart of the leg.  I am going to like knitting these very well.  The chart is well-written and the lace part is not daunting at all.  These would make a great beginning lace sock knitting pattern and I may consider using this pattern to teach a class on knitting lace socks and chart reading.  I’d happily pay the $6 per student in order to use this pattern.

Even though I have to pay closer attention to the pattern and what I am doing with these socks, I think they are going to knit up pretty fast.

Sep 24
Thinking Time
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 09 24th, 2014| icon33 Comments »

I’ve done so many “vanilla” projects lately, that I feel it is time to do something that takes a bit of thinking and concentration.

kethry all

Spilly Jane had this on Ravelry for free for a short time (and at $6, it’s still a bargain!).  I just liked how it is lacy without looking fussy.

I wanted to get a color of yarn that I found interesting to knit without hiding the lace elements of the pattern.

kethry yarn

Here’s a close up of what I found.  It is from A Good Yarn by Maryann and is 65% Superwash Merino and 35% Bamboo.  It is 105 grams and has 520 yards.  The code on it is AGY-C, but I don’t know if that has anything to do with the color or not.  I just liked it because it is neutral, but not neutral at the same time.  I think it is going to look like shimmery gold when knit up as if the little pops of color are reflections on a goldy surface.

Of course, I have already had to frog it once after just three rows into it.  Why?  Because I thought I was careful not to twist it when I made the join, but, obviously, I was not as careful as I should have been.  That’s one lunch-hour’s worth of work wasted.  Oh well, at least I hadn’t knitted more than three rows before I noticed.  If someone wants to be sainted in the knitting world, they’d figure out an easy way to fix that situation without having to frog it and begin again.

Yes, it definitely is time for a thinking pattern.  If I can’t cast on and join it right off the bat, then I need the brain exercise.

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