Monday, October 5, 2015

In praise of a dishcloth

I don't know if it is the result of working with so much color, but I have recently become enamored with a plain garter stitch dishcloth. In the last few years I have been dyeing sock yarn which is sold at my local yarn shop Spin of Door County. I've also knit 20 small hand-dyed sweaters that were auctioned off for a fundraiser. Each sweater was different, lots of color! More about these later.
I needed some dishcloths and I had a cone of white cotton. So one night while I was watching TV, I decided to get to work. I cast on 25 stitches and knit. The result was a pure white garter stitched square. For some reason I was delighted with its simple elegance, if you can use that word to describe a dishcloth.  Yes, I live a simple life so it doesn't take much to move me.

For the last week I have knit a cloth each night so that I will have a good supply. My husband and I do the dishes together each morning. I wash, he dries. I get to play in the warm water. At the same time my hands enjoy some hydro-therapy. And when my husband puts his ears in we enjoy a pleasant time visiting. Once in a while, not nearly often enough, I appreciate the simple things in life. It feels good. I encourage you to do the same. The easiest way to do that may be to knit a simple, white, elegant, garter stitch square.
Happy Stitches.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Spring is gushing forth with April Fool's Day, the Final Four, Easter, and my son, Mike's, Birthday all in one week. There have already been solo ensemble, prom, forensic meets, tournaments of all sorts, and now there will be award banquets and presentations to celebrate EVERYTHING!! Don't you love it? Have you perfected your bilocation skills for those multi-time,  multi-venue, multi child challenges? 
Not to worry. This is when the joy of knitting comes in. Take a deep breath.   
 Round up your twigs and strings, and all will be revealed. Actually you may be able to knit your way through some of this busyness. I did some Badger knitting during the Elite Eight with my team wristers being the result.

Since we're talkin' Wisconsin life, next is a picture of the yarn I am knitting now. It is one of my hand-dyed Door County Socks designs. It is named "Horses and Holsteins."


Friday, March 20, 2015


Since I last posted, and can it really have been that long ago, I've been busy doing stuff. Apparently, I haven't been posting about any of it. So here are some of the projects I've been up to.

I've continued to dye sock yarn for my lys, Spin of Door County The yarns are sold with the label, "My Door County Socks" and they are designed to evoke memories and the Spirit of the Door. In case you are not familiar with Door County, it is the finger of the Wisconsin glove. It is a lovely area in which to reside, and is also a very popular Midwest vacation destination.

More snow's a comin'
Here is one of the more than fifty yarns that I have designed and dyed. I've been having a great time playing with my colors.

I also have discovered knitting from the top down. I have made 12 different sweaters riffing on Deb and Lynda Gemmell's  "Basic Pullover" pattern from their book Top Down for Kids,  These sweaters have been auctioned off in a fundraiser at my cousin Jackie's church, St. Michael's in Barrington, IL, for the support of the people in the Diocese of Renk in South Sudan.

This is hand dyed and hand knit, and features little bobble snowmen. I like to do small projects. That way I get to get on with my next idea.

Well, I have to finish now because I have to go to my daughter's house to watch the Wisconsin Badger, basketball team win another game.

Good Stitches

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women’s Day
Isn’t it wonderful how so many women around the world are tied together with sticks and string? Teach someone to knit so he or she can benefit from this joyfilled and powerful union.

Happy stitches.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cunctator, yes, cunctator
This is a new word to me, although it describes me to a T. I found the definition to this crossword hint in my Websters. It means a person who delays. The actual word that fit in the puzzle was procrastinator, a word I’ve been familiar with wayyyyyyy too long. And it describes what I’ve been doing since last Friday when I had an experience to share with you. My excuse for the delay was that I was tired. Last week was very busy, but it ended with a lot of fun.
My granddaughter, Gretchen, and her friend Helen wanted to tie-dye some socks. I volunteered to help with this project they were doing for school. They had purchased cotton socks at my suggestion. Let me tell you, it is not easy to find just plain unadulterated cotton socks. We ended up with 80% cotton after finding some with as little as 46%.

I dropped off my supply of marbles and rubber bands earlier in the week so the girls could have that all done. On Friday we were ready to dye, 22 pairs of socks! I had premixed dye solution in six colors. We proceeded in an assembly line fashion using the low immersion technique of dyeing. 

We placed four pair in each bucket. The girls decided to use two colors in some buckets, including green and gold for “Packer” socks. Other combinations were yellow/orange/red, and red/purple/blue. 

While we waited for the dyeing process to finish the girls had fun mugging for the camera. 

After the initial rinse we removed the bands and marbles. 

I’m always excited to see the lovely combinations of colors that result from low immersion.  

The results showed where the synthetic fibers were located, mostly in the foot area. The anklets and upper sections of the socks took the dye well. 

There will be some very Happy Feet at school. And besides the beautiful socks, some wonderful, colorful memories were made.

Gretchen and Helen ROCK!!!

There, I’ve overcome this episode of cunctation. Have a great time getting ready for the holidays.
Happy stitching and dyeing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Dye is Cast

It is official. I am an “indie dyer.” During the summer, the owner of my LYS, Spin, asked me if I would be interested in dyeing yarn to sell in her shop. She thought that knitters who vacation in Door County would like to take home a souvenir of their visit. The colorways would be reminiscent of the scenic splendor and sensual experiences of the area; the reds and greens of apple and cherry orchards, the silvers, yellows and oranges of Lake Michigan sunrises, the pinks, blues and lavenders of sunsets over Green Bay, the foot warming tans of the sand dunes. I liked the idea and worked on developing samples using sock yarn. Who wouldn’t like to wear a pair of socks that regularly reminded them of a vacation in Wisconsin’s version of Paradise?

You may know me enough by now to know that I love to play with fibers and color. So my first three yarns are dyed using a variety of techniques.

“Cherry Parfait” is pink and white with alternating sections of several rows of variegated pinks, and a row of pink and white faux fair isle stitches. The faux effect was accomplished by tying stripes of recycled plastic grocery bags at intervals to resist the pink dye. It has been received with comments including “delicious,” and “mouthwatering.”

“Quiet Side Sunrise” (The quiet side refers to the Lake Michigan side of the Door Peninsula.) consists of hand painted areas of sunrise color dyes with the majority of the skein dyed silvery grays. After wrapping the painted areas in plastic wrap and placing that portion in a baggie atop a section of pvc pipe sitting in my dye pot, the rest of the skein is immersed in the pot of gray dye and all is heat set. When knit in the round, this yarn produces a mostly gray fabric with occasional horizons of promising sunrise.

“Autumn Door” highlights the spectacular fall colors that lure many visitors to take a drive north for a nippy fall weekend. I dye the whole skein the color of the wheat and corn fields.  With this as a background, I continue to add color. I use a winding device, similar to a warping board, to produce lengths of yarn that I can divide into areas of different colors. The finished product is a striped yarn.

My son drilled holes in one by four boards so that I could place pegs on which to wind the yarn. Four boards are clamped together to form a frame. I calculate how long each segment of color I need, add up the segments, and wind that amount onto the pegs. I tie some areas for faux fair isle stitches, in this case, the purple of seasonal asters. I mark lengths where I will dye the colors of bright fall foliage, and other areas that will represent evergreens. After carefully placing each segment of yarn to be dyed in its own baggie, I pour in the dye and manipulate each baggie to insure that the yarn receives the dye. After resting, both myself and the yarn, for a half hour, I place the yarn in the microwave to heat set the colors. 

After the yarn cools to room temperature it is washed, resist areas are untied, and it is hung to dry. 


I replace it on the winding board.

Finally, it is wound back into a skein, labeled, and ready for Spin.

I work on one skein at a time, and although the dye formulas and preparations are consistent, it is the nature of hand dying that variations are to be expected. 

And that is the beauty of manual labor. 

Happy stitching and dyeing.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Candy Corn, love it or hate it?

I like candy corn, but I realize this is not a universal taste. I limit myself to one bag a year. Purchased around Halloween, and rationed to no more than 10 pieces at a time, it still doesn’t last long enough. And this year I made a big mistake. I bought a bag on the way to my Tuesday “open knitting” session. I wanted to buy the right yellow yarn for a Candy Corn hat I was going to make. I opened the bag to share with my “peeps” and decided to leave most of the bag behind so I wouldn’t be tempted to finish it off on the drive home. To my delight, there was some left the next Tuesday. It is all gone now.

I’m pleased with the way the hat turned out. A number of my knitting friends asked for the pattern so I was glad to share it. There are going to be a lot of grandkids walking around with candy on their heads. There is a free pattern for you, too. You’ll find it under PAGES in the right margin. It is sized for a child.

My daughter-in-law, Gay and I had a great time together yesterday visiting a couple of fiber shops. At Knitty Gritty we both found some roving to dye and spin. She selected two tones of gray Romney, while I came away with 200 grams of white Shetland. We had a very pleasant visit with Dan, and met Cindy as we were leaving. Check out the Wrucke’s site at We spotted the sign for Sheeping Beauty Fibre Arts as we were driving home and made a u-turn to visit with owner, Luci Williams. She shared her enthusiasm for all things fiber, especially, teaching the growing, processing, spinning, and weaving of flax into linen. Her site is She is also the coordinator of the Wisconsin Spin-In. More on that can be found at www,

I’m home today. It is a lovely rainy fall day. And like most us in this parched country I heartily welcome the rain. I’m going to finish now so I can do what we all love to do on a nice rainy fall day, knit or spin or dye or crochet or read about it.

Enjoy your ration of Candy Corn, and happy stitches.