Our Friend James

Our friend James died Friday.   My brother, sister and I really considered James to be more like an uncle.  He and his wife Peggy lived across the street from us our entire childhood.  We always referred to them as “PeggynJames”.   We knew they were always across the street (dirt road) if we ever needed them.  James spent a lot of time with my dad over the years.  They often helped each other on different projects they had going.  I always enjoyed going to their house to visit.  Peggy taught me to crochet and helped me discover my love of all things fiber related.

James was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about two weeks ago. He went right into hospice care, and he died at home on Friday afternoon.

I am so thankful that we got to spend time with them this past summer.  We went to their house one afternoon for lunch.  We arrived, and it was like no time at all had passed since we’d last seen them.  I loved that Peggy put me to work in the kitchen helping her finish lunch (and it was a great lunch!), and David and James got a chance to talk.  I am glad that Davey got to see him and that he will have some memories of him.  I sure didn’t anticipate that this would be the last time we saw him.


James loved games.  He’d construct these fun little games made out of wooden or metal pieces.  They were like the intertwined kind that you’d have to figure out how to take apart.  When we visited this summer, he showed Davey a paper airplane launcher he had.  Davey thought this was great fun.  He always had something interesting to show us or something interesting that he was working on.

He had a great sense of humor too.  He always made us laugh, and he had a great laugh himself.

For example, when we visited in July, he told us that he had a guard dog:


I started writing this on Friday, the day James died, but I couldn’t decide just what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, or if I could say anything at all.  I decided though that I did want to write about James.  I will have this written to share with Davey someday, because I’d like to remember James with Davey.  James was the definition of a good neighbor and good friend.  Yesterday Peggy told my sister that “James was at peace with himself.  That’s one reason he was able to accept his untimely diagnosis and impending death”. Karen added that “we can all strive to live a life so we are at peace with ourselves when we die”.   That made a great impact on me, and that’s a life I want for myself and for Davey (and I wish that for everyone).

We will sure miss James though.

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(I borrowed this picture from my Uncle Mike Pantelogianis. Thank you Mike.)

Drop Spindlin’

I am learning to spin!  I was at the fair a few weeks ago, and I was looking at all the fiber related things.  I noticed that there were going to be several types of fiber classes offered throughout the fair.  One of them was learning to use a drop spindle.

I’d tried this once before.  My mom taught me, and I have a neat spindle that my dad made me.  But I didn’t get too great at it, and I didn’t stick with it then.  I decided though that I was ready to try again.

Turns out it is one of my new favorite things to do.  I don’t know why exactly.  It’s very repetitious, but I really like the feel of spinning the spindle and then working the twist into the fiber.  People say that knitting is a meditative soothing kind of activity.  I can see that, but I experience that feeling much more with spinning.

So far, I am a beginner who is not too good at it.  Once I can actually make beautiful fingering weight yarn, I imagine it will be even more relaxing to me.

This is the fiber I bought from a seller named woolgatherings on etsy.


I also bought a really neat spindle from another etsy seller named Snyder Spindles  It is pretty and light and spins so nicely.  I love it.


My spinning is not great.  There is definite variation in my efforts.  Lots of thick and thin and then those lovely slubs of really thick spots.


However, I think the yarn on the right side is a small improvement over the other two hanks, and it is the one I did last.  Slowly but surely I am improving.

I finished spinning, winding, plying, washing and drying it this morning, and I was looking forward to knitting it up.  I had 4 oz of yarn from which I think I made about 150 yards of pretty bulky yarn.

I found a free pattern on ravelry called “Big Chunky Comfy Hat”.  It’s a great simple pattern.  I was able to knit the entire hat this afternoon.

I asked Davey to let me take pictures of him modeling it, but he didn’t want to be the subject of pictures.  Instead, he offered to take the pictures of me in the hat.

Here’s my favorite:


It makes me laugh.  He got much better though.


He finally got tired of me wanting him to try one more, so he decided to put the hat on after all.


It’s just a really simple pattern of p2 knit 1 rib, and then I switched to k2 p1.  The decreases are easy and fun too.  I wanted it to be simple because I like the way the yarn (inconsistent as I was) spun up.


I think I underestimated how much yarn I actually spun, so I am pretty sure I have enough for another hat!  When I was a beginning knitter, I made more hats.  I am back to that now as I learn to spin more smoothly.

This drop spindling is a whole lot of fun.  I have some BFL fiber from a local sheep too that I’ve started, and it’s wonderful to spin as well.  I’ll have to write about that soon!

Fair Knitting Semi-Disaster and a New Project

Our county fair was this weekend.  It’s a lot of fun.  We all three enter something so we can get exhibitor passes which allow us to go in and out all weekend.  David entered a photograph, Davey an awesome dinosaur Lego sculpture, and I had my knitting.

This year, I entered the sweater I made for Davey.


I have not made many sweaters and I think the assembly can be tricky to pull off.  While not perfect by any means, I had thought it went pretty well over all.

So I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see a red ribbon.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I’d worked so hard on the sweater!  I’d hoped for more. It kind of bugged me, and I was looking forward to seeing the critique when I went to pick it up last night.  I had a feeling that the problems might be in the finishing, and it turns out I was correct.  Although I did not anticipate what I’d done (not done rather).

The critique read:  “Finishing ends is just as important as the outside.”

Sure – I couldn’t agree more!  As I read that, I thought, “gosh, I must not have trimmed my carefully woven in ends close enough.”  So I turned my sweater inside out, and here is what I saw:


Unwoven ends.  Not only was one not woven in, it was somehow attached on both sides and needed to be clipped and woven in.

So that was embarrassing. However, I do feel lots better now that I think I understand what the major problem was.  When I finished the sweater early in the year, I had some moments of panic because when I blocked it, it had grown exponentially and was humongous.  In trying to repair that damage, I must have forgotten to go back and finish the INSIDE!

Ugh.  On the bright side, they liked my Wonder Woman Hat.


That’s a mistake I won’t make again.  I can already see myself obsessively checking for ends for years to come.

So I’ve started a new project. When I saw my sister a few weeks ago, she was working on an afghan which I really liked.  It’s a pattern called “Catch Some Waves“.

It’s going to take awhile to finish, but it’s a great pattern for peaceful knitting. The pattern is easily memorized, but it’s not completely mindless so I don’t get bored knitting it.


I am working from leftover yarns from my stash, and it makes me feel great to know that I will be using some of it up!

A little sweater: my first attempt at intarsia

I recently finished knitting this:


This was my first attempt at intarsia!  I wish I had a little human on which to model it, but I couldn’t quite squeeze it over Davey’s head!  It’s a 12- month size, and it’s really a great sweater pattern.  I’d highly recommend it for both a first sweater and a first intarsia project.  The pattern is from Roo Designs.  She has lots of really cute patterns.  Puppies, peace signs, penguins – all intarsia.

Here’s the puppy one.

puppy sweater


I really like this striped sweater with the skull and crossbones too!

skull sweater

I can thank my LYS, Yarn Folk, for inspiring me to finally try intarsia. I’ve been kind of scared of it. I was afraid that I would have big unsightly holes where I had to join the colors.  It wasn’t too hard though.  It was not unlike what I do when I switch colors in fair isle – when I catch the old color under the new so that there is a smooth transition.

Ann at Yarn Folk was leading a knit-along for this sweater, and she helped me lots.  She taught me to make my little butterflies that I needed to switch back and forth between the colors.


It was a little tricky – the butterflies took me a little while to get used to.  I am very skilled at tangling yarn as well.  It seems to happen quite naturally for me.  So there was a few breaks for untangling along the way.


I am pretty happy with it though!  I knitted it with Plymouth Encore which is a great inexpensive wool/acrylic blend.  I like working with it.

Here’s the back:


I’d like to try this again sometime, and I’d like to do another Roo Design pattern.  Maybe Davey would like the skull and crossbones sweater!  It would be a lot of fun to make.

Knitting intarsia is one of those “makes me feel like a real knitter moments”.  I definitely want to try it again sometime.



Little houses



The other day I was getting ready to start on my new scarf – the Rapunzel kit.  Not five minutes after I blogged about the cast on for this scarf, I saw a pattern for these:

Houses-porch-2These cute little house dishcloths!  I decided I had to make some right then.  So for the last several days, I have been knitting little houses.   The pattern is called The Nineteen Hundred House Dishcloth.  It was $3.00 for the pattern, and it was $3.00 well spent.  It’s one of those very simple patterns with just knitting and purling stitches.  Very easy and they go quickly.

I began making the houses with some linen that I had.



I liked the linen, but then I wanted to try them with cotton because I thought the stitches might be more defined.  Davey helped me arrange the houses into a picture, and he decided the linen dishcloths should serve as the shed (or barn?).  He set them off from the other houses.



What is fun too is that I adjusted the pattern by just omitting some rows so that I could make the houses different heights.




I just spent a few minutes looking around at the designer’s ravelry, and I found a West End apartment house pattern.  It looks like great fun too!

I am thinking they will be great housewarming gifts!


Rapunzel and a Cast on

I am starting a new knitting project today.  It’s a craftsy kit I ordered a little while back called Rapunzel Infinity Scarf Kit.  It’s knit with Cascade Heritage (fingering weight). Here’s a picture of what it will hopefully look like when I am done!

rapunzelI just love this.  I love the big cable in the middle (Rapunzel’s braid!), and how it is surrounded by lace on either side.

So the pattern begins with a provisional cast on so that I can graft the ends together when I am finished.  I have always been a little chicken of provisional cast ons because they never come apart quite the way they are supposed to (likely because I’ve done something wrong).  I did a google search though and found a result titled “EASIEST Provisional cast on”.  I thought this is the cast on for me!

Sure enough.  This is an awesome video.  She explains and demonstrates the cast on very clearly.  I was able to follow along with no problems, and I now have my stitches cast on and ready to go!

Link to the video!  Easiest Provisional Cast On.

Finishing Find: The Little Things

This may seem like a small thing, but  I had to write at least briefly about my find.  When I was in Tulsa at Loops, I came upon what I consider to be quite the little treasure: Susan Bates Finishing Needles!

finishing needles


Maybe I am one of the only people who have not seen these before, but I was thrilled to find them.  They have an eye that extends the length of the needle!



They are flexible.  I was able to squish them as needed.



They are great for shorter pieces of yarn that need to be woven.

I tried them out yesterday to finish off a shawl, and they worked most awesomely.

A great find.