29 November 2006


inspiration for this year's Christmas card lino-cut illustration

blue roses at fabric TALES...this stunning photo at
c h r o m a s i a...a great stamp from paper source...

21 November 2006


for (among many other things) 260 rows of two alternating colorways of Noro Kureyon
YARN: Kureyon in #92 (mellows) and #154 (brights)
PATTERN: Joelle Hoverson's Child's Rainbow Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Norovember!

20 November 2006


yarn, dye, pattern, and gift sources

YARNS: Henry's Attic undyed yarns are available from Discount Yarn Sale. I used Carrera (laceweight merino/silk), Kona and Kona Fingering (superwash yarns), Kid Mohair 2000, Texas (dk weight merino/mohair) for the yarn sale and Texas Bighorn (worsted weight merino/mohair) for the afghan.

NATURAL DYESTUFFS: Aurora Silk is a great resource for dyestuffs and information about dyeing processes. Aurora's Master Dyer Cheryl Kollander is very generous with information and service is fast and courteous. Aurora also carries undyed yarns. I also used Earthues natural dye extracts that I purchased from Jody MacKenzie's Botanical Shades booth at the 2006 Maryland Sheep and Wool Show. Earthues are available online, too. When I decided to make a color-run remover indigo vat rather than the fermented madder vat that I planned, I found the chemical Thiox at Dharma Trading Co.

BOOKS: There is a lot of free information about natural dyeing on the internet including at Echoes of a Dream (see sidebar), and I recommend getting a basic book so that you have a resource on hand for safety guidelines. I own Wild Color by Jenny Dean and Natural Dyes by Gwen Fereday. Wild Color guides and inspires me to investigate what colors come from the plants that are easily accessible to me. Gwen Fereday's book is valuable for the palettes of colors she produced from just five substances: weld, cochineal, madder, cutch, and indigo. The indigo procedure in Wild Color was the one I followed with the most success.

PATTERNS: I can't highly enough recommend Toymaking with Childrenby Freya Jaffke. It has all the animal patterns (except the elephant which is available in the sidebar under "recipes") and a lot more ideas for parents of young children. The horses pictured here are from the book. Floris also publishes other crafty titles including Crafts through the Year by Thomas and Petra Berger that has directions for making window stars, beeswax models and transparencies, sewn felt creatures and puppets and a lot more toys to make with and for children. The Knitted Farmyard by Hannelore Wernhard provides patterns for a complete farmyard of animals, buildings and a playmat. I'm thinking about putting one together over the course of 2007 for Elio's third Christmas.

CRAFTERS: At this year's fair, I bought items from two wonderful vendors whose very different looks represent the range of things our fair coordinator brought together in this show. I loved Gauchita's backstitch designs. Her little totes are finely crafted, too--this one with a leaf embroidered on it is lined with a pattern of gingko leaves. The robot is on a t-shirt for Bruno. Alicia Freile of Gauchita is part (Consigliere, maybe?) of the Philadelphia Craft Mafia. For Elio I bought a needle-felted pond and sewn felt turtle from Patti Michaels of Sage Dream Design.

10 November 2006


yarns I dyed with natural materials

superwash sportweight sock wool in weld/natural, osage orange/osage orange+cochineal, cochineal+logwood/light cochineal$25/560 yards

superwash fingering weight sock wool in (clockwise from top of right stack) madder+cutch, osage orange+logwood, cochineal+logwood, weld, madder, cochineal$20/550 yards

laceweight kid mohair in (clockwise from top) weld, ivy, osage orange+logwood, pale indigo, indigo, cochineal, cochineal+logwood, black walnut and madder+cutch in the center$20/200 yards ($38 for the 400 yards of madder+cutch)

mohair and wool blend dk weight in (from left to right, top to bottom) pale, medium, deep indigo; osage orange overdyed with indigo, weld overdyed with indigo, osage orange+logwood; osage orange, madder, madder+cutch$15/245 yards

silk and merino laceweight in pale indigo and cochineal$40/660 yards

These yarns will go on sale at 5pm, Friday November 17th at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia's Holiday Craft Fair. (My time and effort are a donation to the school, so the full purchase price for these yarns goes toward fundraising.) This won't be the only yarn for sale at the fair. Rachel-Marie will be there with her handspun and hand-dyed yarns. Natalie Moss will be there with yarns and fleece from the sheep on her family farm. More plant-dyed and handspun yarn will be in the school store along with other crafts supplies and handmade gifts. Don't get me started about the food; (too late) several professional chefs and bakers are among my fellow parents at the school and their entrees, sandwiches, soups, pies, cookies, etc. will be for sale at the Fair, too. There's a children's craft room and a children's shopping room with handmade items all priced for $2 or less. The silk marionette play this year is "Snow White and Rose Red." Children are admitted free to the Fair (there is a charge for the play and for crafts) and adult admission is $5 (peek in at your Philadelphia lys for a postcard for $1 off admission or email me cbshiffman (at) yahoo (dot) com with your address and I'll mail one to you). Be sure to introduce yourself if you come by the Parent Handwork Table on Friday night--I'll be there from 5-9pm.

09 November 2006


shades of blue (that are significantly darker in reality than they appear on my monitor)

These yarns (and paper and mother-of-pearl buttons) are "curing" before their final wash and rinse. The yarns will be on sale along with all the other yarns I've posted in the past few weeks (and more) at the Holiday Fair of the Waldorf School of Philadelphia on November 17th and 18th. Postcards that give the bearer $1 off admission to the event are at many Philadelphia yarn shops and I'm happy to send them out to any area readers who think they'll attend--just email me at cbshiffman (at) yahoo (dot) com with your address. I'm planning to post the full inventory on Saturday or Monday. I'll be at the Parent Handwork Knits Table all Friday 11/17 evening. Hope to see you there!

07 November 2006

ursus major

a big knitted bear

MATERIALS: Four skeins Lamb's Pride Worsted in Sable, short lengths of Wild Oak and Roasted Coffee for the eyes and nose, about one pound of wool stuffing and one 50 by 5 inch length of fabric (this is Kaffe Fassett's Roman Glass in gold) for the bow
TOOLS: Size US4 needles and a tapestry needle for sewing up
PATTERN: Debbie Bliss's Sailor Bear from Toy Knits
NOTES: This was a very fun pattern to knit. I loved the 3D shaping. I might knit it again at a looser gauge and felt the pieces the next time I make it, but it's beautifully squishy as is. I made the bow by folding the fabric lengthwise inside out and sewing along one long side and both short sides (at an angle at the short sides) leaving an opening in the center of the long side to turn the piece right side out. I pressed it and topstitched along all edges.

06 November 2006


my merry men

The internet came to my rescue when on the day before Halloween I still hadn't put together Bruno's costume. It seems to be a trend that he wants to be a character in a book we're reading around the time of the holiday; we recently finished the version of Robin Hood told by Robert Leeson. I googled "robin hood hat pattern" and "sewn cape pattern" and happily arrived here and here. The cape fastens with a button on one side and a crochet chain loop sewn to the opposite side. I made the buskins using men's socks with the toe and heel cut out and fitted over Bruno's boots with crochet chain laces. The quiver is just a rectangle of felt folded and sewn along one side and at the bottom with a strip of fabric attached to the two ends for a strap. His belt is a long strip of garter stitch knitted wool. Since Elio arrived, he's been happy to be Bruno's sidekick each Halloween. This year he was the steadfast Little John in a Robin hat of his own and Bruno's Viking vest from a few years ago. Bruno's whole outfit came together in less than an hour which had me thinking it would make a good gift to put together (with a bow and suction-cup arrows set) for little boys on a holiday gift list.

02 November 2006


more felted Kureyon for lucky meIn the spring my friend Cheryl and I got serious about the knitting exchange we had talked about for over a year and got down to making bags for one another. I made this. And yesterday Cheryl unveiled...
Yes, she made a pieced lining for it!
Here's a close-up of the strap/bottom of the bag that was knit in the round first and to which the miters that form the sides were added. There's even a clever gusset at the place where the strap and sides join. Cheryl says she'll get around to posting the pattern on her website, but that anyone who wants the pattern sooner rather than later can contact her through her site.

01 November 2006


containers for your joy-giving holiday tidbits

Here's a set of nesting boxes from Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne's Mason-Dixon Knitting made by Kay her very self with one skein of Noro Kureyon. I plan to whip out a few of these one-skein wonder sets and tuck in goodies from the Japanese candy store. FYKI (for your knitting information), the bottom of the biggest box is 18 stitches, the middle box is 16 and the smallest 12.

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