Category Archives: Fiber Artistry and Equipment

Selfish knitting

The holiday knitting was completed, the baby set, the finger puppets, 3 pair of kids socks, the scarf for my sister. That one required that I first spin the wool/silk blend, ply it, then knit the scarf.

Now it is my turn. A couple of years ago, I purchased a 3 13 ounce bag of wool/silk blend fiber from Green Dragon Yarns at a fiber festival.  The color way was called Tidal Pool, predominately teal with other seaside accent colors.  This bag of fiber has been in my stash since then. Today I decided to spin it into a single. Santa brought me a new wool coat for Christmas, so I don’t always look like the marshmallow man when I go out in my ski coat. My Ruby scarf and hat look great with it, but I wanted choice and decided that this new yarn to be is a good color.

I know there isn’t enough to ply for a hat and scarf.  Recently when looking for yarn for the baby outfit, I purchased two skeins of Green Dragon Yarns fingering weight called Cypress.

The colors looked very complementary and though I have never plyed homespun to commercial yarn before, I knew it could be done and decided that was an excellent way to extend the homespun and make a yarn that would look great as a hat and scarf.


This is one skein of the plyed result. This is about 245 yards of yarn. When the rest is plyed, it should be enough for the scarf and bottom couple of inches of the hat, with the crown just the Cypress color.

The scarf is The Yarn Harlot’s pattern, One Row. Homespun Scarf. The hat will be a new design utilizing her stitch pattern from the scarf.

The Stockings

Growing up, the tradition at Christmas was to have Christmas dinner on the eve of Christmas day.  After dinner, stockings were hung and my sibs and I were shuffled off to bed so Santa could come.  As an adult, I have heard some tales about this gift or that requiring assembly that only a child can handle.  Our stockings were red felt stitched with white yarn and decorated with white felt cutouts, commercial and not very sturdy, fading and failing a bit more each year.

When I married and we started our family, I was committed to handmade stockings for each of us.  I bought a crocheted pattern kit for hubby and decided that the same pattern could be made for me.  The yarn for his is nice and firm and holds it shape well, mine on the other hand stretches and distorts.  As each child was conceived, I bought a crewel work stocking kit which I lined for stability and wearability for each of them and the first two children got theirs for their first Christmas, the youngest didn’t get his until his second Christmas.  Hey, after all, I had three children under the age of 7 and was outnumbered even with hubby’s help.  Each of those stockings moved with the adult child to their new home, except eldest son’s and he generally spends Christmas here.


The tradition allowed the children to have their stockings as soon as they came downstairs to the living room, but the rest of the gifts had to wait for breakfast and the Christmas story.

When our second grandchild came along, daughter asked only a month before Christmas if I would make her son a stocking.  Not having enough time to do a crewell work one and having yet to make socks successfully to knit one, I quilted it.  It is cute, but firm and tight and hard to stuff.

Two years ago, daughter was due with her second in late November, but she asked way in advance and my knitting had improved to the point where I felt I could handle not only knitting the stocking, but doing colorwork to have a pattern on it.  This stocking led to youngest son, who had also had a child that year asking if I could do one for his two children and our eldest grandson had never gotten his own stocking, so he also entered the queue.    That meant I had 4 knit stockings to complete and send off by Christmas,

Traditionally, the toe of the stocking holds a small mesh bag of gold foil covered chocolate coins.  They have become more difficult for me to find here in the mountains, but generally I can get them at Target.  Not this year.  There will be no gold foil covered coins, but the other traditions will live on.

I hope you and your family celebrate your special holiday with love and peace.


Is it going to be done?

The Christmas knitting projects included

Finger Puppets to go with a book


Mickey and Minnie Mouse finger puppets – Done

Headband/earwarmer for Daughter by love



A scarf surprise for someone I love



Repurposed sweater into a large art tote for Daughter by love



Mismatched Batman socks for a grandson



Still about 2 inches of knitting to go.

A pair of socks for his little sister, also mismatched.  So far these haven’t been started and I’m not sure I have time, but I will sure give it a try.



To Make Gifts Special

We have 3 children with significant others and 5 grandchildren and each other for whom we prepare Christmas gifts.  We have long ago discussed and decided with our siblings and my Dad that the children are more important and as each of us had children then grandchildren and in my Dad’s case, great grandchildren, that we would quit giving gifts to each other.  That is not to say that one of us will occasionally surprise a sib or parent with an unexpected token of our love, a “Just Because” gift.

Each of our children are trying to instill the true spirit of Christmas in their children and have asked us to not be too generous in our giving.  They also, all requested of us (hubby) that there be no electronic toys this year, nothing that requires batteries or makes noise by itself.  Two of the mom’s have asked for something knitted.

The granddaughters like finger puppets.  One is getting a book and handknit finger puppets of the characters.


The other granddaughter is going to Disney World with her big brother this winter when they host a homeschool weekend.  She is enamored with Mickey and Minnie and I am diligently working on the design to make finger puppets of those two characters.  I think I have Mickey ready to stuff and sew together as soon as I embroider the rest of the face.  Minnie will be basically the same but with a polka dot skirt and “hair bow.”

Daughter informed me that her son made the statement that he didn’t have anymore of grandmom’s hand knit mismatched socks.  He is a Batman fan and my local yarn dying friend quickly dyed me two skeins of sock yarn to convert into Batman themed socks for him.



His little sister will probably also get a pair of mismatched socks, but of different colors.

Along with books, some sports gear or Legos. Some costumes for pretend play for the girls, the kids are nearly done.  Their parents are always a bit more challenging and hubby is the toughest this year since we went on a cruise, we decided to go cheap on each other, but the one item I want to get him as he is now riding a motorcycle is not inexpensive.  Oh well, it is Christmas and it is only money.

The Scarf – Part 2

The scarf is completed, the one to match my favorite hat.  I love Unplanned Peacock Yarn, it knits so beautifully.  This pattern combo will soon appear on Ravelry.




The Ruby Hat is an easy hat, knit in the round and a good way to sample several stitch patterns.  It fits a 22” head.

Material required:

1 skein worsted or heavy worsted (this hat was worked with Unplanned Peacock worsted)

Size US 8 circ or DPNs

Tapestry needle



Cast on 80 stitches using a stretchy case on such as Long tail, place marker and join in the round.

Row 1 Knit

Row 2 Purl

Repeat these 2 rows 4 more times



Row 11-16:  1 X 1 rib



Row 17: *K2tog, YO* repeat to end of row

Row 18: Knit

Row 19: *K2tog, YO* repeat to end of row

Row 20:  Knit



Row 21:  Purl

Row 22:   Knit

Repeat these two rows 3 more times ending on a knit row



Knit 8 rows


Decrease for crown:

Row 1:  *Knit 8, K2Tog* to end of round,

Row 2: Knit round (repeat for all even numbered rows)

Row 3: *Knit 7, K2Tog* to end of round

Row 5:  *Knit 6, K2Tog* to end of round

Row 7:  *Knit 5, K2Tog* to end of round

Row 9:  *Knit 4, K2Tog* to end of round

Row 10:  K2Tog to end of round

Row 11:  K2Tog to end of round

Cut yarn about 8” long and thread through remaining stitches and draw up tight.  Secure and weave in loose ends.

Copywrite 2012 Fran Stafford


Worsted weight yarn:  This pattern was worked with 2 skeins of Unplanned Peacock Studio Superwash Merino Worsted Weight

Size 8 needle



K2tog=Knit 2 together

YO= Yarn Over

Garter stitch=knit every row

Section 1

Cast on 36 stitches.

Knit garter stitch for 3 1/2”.

[Knit 8 rows of 2 X 2 rib

Next 4 rows is a simple lace, *K2Tog, YO* to end

Knit next row, increase in first stitch

*K2Tog, YO to end*

Knit next row, increase in last stitch]

Knit in garter stitch for 1 ½”

Repeat [ ] pattern

Knit in garter stitch for 1 ½”

Repeat [ ] pattern

Knit in garter stitch for 1”

Center section of scarf

K2tog, knit across row to last 2 stitches, K2tog

*K2, K in back loop, P* repeat to last 2 stitches, K2

Repeat this row until scarf is 12” less than the total length you desire.

Section 3

K front and back of first stitch, K to last stitch, K front and back of last stitch.

K garter stitch for 1”

[Repeat simple lace from beginning section.

K2Tog, YO to end of row

Knit in front and back of first stitch, knit to end

K2Tog, YO to end of row

Knit to last stitch, knit front and back for last stitch

Knit 8 rows of 2 X 2 rib]

Knit 1 ½” garter stitch

Repeat [ ] pattern

Knit 1 ½” garter stitch

Repeat [ ] pattern

Knit 3 ½” garter stitch.

Bind off loosely.

If you want a narrower scarf, work in multiples of 4 for your cast on.

Copywrite 2013 Fran Stafford:   Please feel free to knit items for sale or gifts and print this pattern for your own use.  Do not sell or otherwise distribute or publish this pattern without owner’s permission.


The Scarf

In late September, an independent yarn dyer friend, specially dyed some yarn to match a hat made of yarn I had purchased from her several years ago ( .  I love the color, it is my favorite winter hat, my own design.  Ever since I knit the hat, I have wanted a scarf to match the hat.  She had tried several times to duplicate the color, which had been an unintentional, wonderful accident, but had not been able to make the match.  When I asked again this year, not for a match, but a yarn that would coordinate, maybe blend with the hat color, she tried again and hit it true on.


Other items had been on my needles, the reknit of daughter’s black lace sweater, a sweater and hat for a baby due in December, the two hats for the grandkids for their Halloween costumes, and the finger puppets for the grand daughters, so I had not begun the design for the scarf.  The very cold couple of days this week were incentive to get on this scarf design, to get it knit before the winter weather is consistent.  The past couple of days knitting have been dedicated to the scarf design.  I have completed three repeats of the hat pattern and am now trying to decide how to proceed.  The hat has a simple stockinette upper part, decreasing to the top.  My dilemma is whether to continue to repeat the pattern to the center, reverse it for the other half, to work in stockinette like the hat until the length is near what I want then reverse the pattern for the other end, or doing a lighter simple lace that is part of the pattern for the center section.  What do you think?


Once it is complete, the pattern will be published to go with the published hat and finished photos of the hat and scarf together will be posted.

Still Away


Today is day 17 of suitcase living.  Leaving home 17 days ago with a suitcase packed for a cruise, a backpack packed for the week of fall weather in Virginia Beach and the half week of even cooler fall weather in Northern Virginia and my laptop, and a large leather tote style bag that serves as my travel tote with knitting, necessary papers, a lotion bar, anti inflamatory meds, anti seasickness meds, and antacids, just in case, a camera plus a paper back book.  The backpack remained in Virginia Beach during the cruise and after the return week there, the suitcase was relieved of its summery cruise clothing which were sent home with hubby and repacked with the fall clothing.  The backpack, then lightened to the laptop and the newly acquired bag of fiberfill as my knitting projects are finger puppets to go along with two story books for the 2 year old granddaughters for Christmas.  The two stories have 5 of the same animals in them, so there will be two of each of them, then 3 other animals must be completed to make the two sets complete.  They are quick knits, however, the first was done while I was a passenger in the car and my attention was not there, so it ended up looking less like a rabbit than I had hoped.  It was knit from my homespun which I feel contributed to it being less than perfect.  Today, while entertaining grandson, we went to a local yarn shop and bought a small ball of commercial cream colored yard to make rabbit # 2.  The first Badger seems the correct scale and Badger #2 is on the needles.  The girls should have fun with their puppets and their new books.


Travelling Companion

My favorite skirt for travelling and packing is a mid calf brightly colored crinkle skirt from TravelSmith. It can be worn with just about any color top you can imagine. Often when I am traveling and end up on a plane or in a restaurant, I get chilly from the air conditioning (we rarely need to use it up here on the mountain). About 2 years ago, I made a generous shawl that went everywhere with me and was used as a shoulder cover in restaurants, a pillow on a plane, or even a small blanket for my legs if I didn’t have on long pants or a long skirt. Within a couple of weeks of bringing the German Shepard into the household, she chewed two decent size holes right in the middle of it. The holes were too large for me to try to mend, so I pulled the shawl apart and began reknitting it in the same pattern. I just couldn’t get inspired to knit it again, and besides, it wasn’t very warm.
After reknitting daughter’s black lace sweater, the one that was ruined a few short weeks after it was made last year, and getting it mailed off to her, I tackled a different shawl with different, very colorful yarn. The colors are very jewel like, the pattern, the Travelling Companion Shawl, the yarn, 5 different skeins of Koigu, a Canadian yarn. My attention to lace knitting isn’t good, especially since I often knit in the car when hubby is driving, or in front of the TV or a book on my tablet, rarely giving it my full attention and when I got to the last section of the lace on this shawl, I was surprised that my stitch count was dead on, the last section seemed straight forward enough and off I went. About halfway through the section of 23 rows, two of the three sections were off stitch count. I unknitted the row, counted the stitches and at this point had well over 350 stitches on the needle and the count was wrong. If I were a really meticulous knitter, I would have ripped back to the last point that I knew I was correct and started that section over, but instead, I switched to a simpler lace that had been used earlier in the pattern and kept right on going. After reaching the requisite number of rows, the shawl didn’t seem quite large enough for me, so I added another couple of inches of garter stitch to complete the shawl. The colors are perfect for the skirt, the shawl is generous and very warm. I love it.


Now on to the baby sweater in my queue for a December baby and then two sets of finger puppets to go with books for granddaughters for Christmas. Maybe someday, I’ll finish the socks that are about half done and figure out what to do with the yarn from the chewed shawl, plus design the scarf to go with my favorite hat with the yarn that was specially dyed for me.

Alone Time

Having been married for more than 33 years and being retired together, this couple is always together. So goes one, goes the other, especially when one car is unavailable. Occasionally, this couple tries some alone time adventures, and they have very different fun things to do. Mister half of this couple has become the more adventurous half and the most recent adventure is to learn to ride a motorcycle and eventually motor across the country. The area in which this couple lives is very conducive to riding with parkways and mountain roads to explore. Missus half of this couple has absolutely no desire to share this adventure on her own cycle or behind mister, so if the cross country trip ever happens, Missus will follow along solo in a car some time later, towing a trailer or renting one on the west coast and bringing Mister back home.
Missus is more conservative in her senior years, preferring walks, hikes, the horseback riding if the stead is well broke or enjoying the knitting, spinning, gardening, soap making, and chicken raising.
This state encourages new motorcycle riders to enroll in a 2 1/2 day long safety and learning to ride class and that is what Mister is doing this weekend.
Missus elected to take a longish drive several counties over, along the Blue Ridge Parkway (a National Park area, closed except for the actually roadway, due to the government shutdown) to visit a friend, who owns Greenberry House, a yarn shop and to purchase local cabbage, winter squash, some corn meal and more Ashe County cheese. The drive was beautiful, the day is gorgeous, blue skies, light breeze, mild temperatures. The visit was very enjoyable, seeing her new shop, visiting with one of her dogs and her chickens, and having a very pleasant chat. The produce and other goods were purchased at the Poor Farmer’s Market, and included a couple extra heads of cabbage for a friend. Another delightful drive back with a stop at another friend’s yarn show, Green Dragon Yarn, see who was knitting there today and to visit with the owner and knitter friends and luckily deliver the cabbage just bought. She came out to the car to get her cabbage and said, “Oh, you bought grits, too, I love grits.” Oh no, Missus’ inattention in the very crowded market, had picked up the wrong product. She got a very welcome gift, half of the grits purchased, as Missus’ year’s supply was purchased about a month ago when sister-in-law was visiting.
It feels good to share . . . even when it is unplanned.

Girl’s Day Out

Today is totally abysmal. The windows on 3 sides of the house are getting rained on, as the wind can not decide which way to blow. Being retired, we find ourselves together nearly 24/7, unless I venture off to provide grandmom or mom support with one of our kids or grands and leave hubby to doggy and chicken sit. I belong to two groups, a knitting group and a spinning group and could, if other scheduling doesn’t get in the way, go out one evening and one afternoon each week solo. It doesn’t happen as often as I thought it would as we let other scheduling issues interfere, such as riding lessons together or sessions with the canine behaviorist that is helping us resocialize the big guy with other dogs that he doesn’t already know.
Several years ago, one of my two favorite indie dyers, accidentally created a colorway of yarn that she only had a few skeins. I fell in love with it at a trunk show. She was making a hat out of a skein of it and I bought the last one she had. With that yarn, I created a pattern for a hat that has become my favorite winter hat. It has a story that goes with it and as a result, a local restaurant is called the Mexican hat stealing place. I inadvertently left the hat on the seat when we checked out, realized it and returned immediately to retrieve it, to be told “No hat.” I asked the waiter, the busboy, and the manager and left devastated over it’s loss. Hubby offered to go in and I initially said no, but changed my mind. He approached someone and was given the same answer. Being a retired lawyer, he stated to them that it was one thing to keep something that was left in the restaurant, but it was another issue when the owner returned for it and was told it wasn’t there, that it then became a police matter. The hat reappeared almost instantly and was returned to me. Needless to say, I am much more careful with it now when I go out.
I have wanted to knit a scarf to go with the hat and preferred to knit it with yarn dyed again by Natasha at Unplanned Peacock ( She has tried a couple of times and could not duplicate the color. Her hat had been destroyed by her puppy, so she only had a photo of mine to try to match and the photo showed the red, not true to its beautiful rich tone. This late summer, I asked her if she could just pick out a variegated yarn that picked up the color. She took the challenge to again try to recreate the original color. We have messaged back and forth with photos and discussions for several weeks and a few days ago, she let me know that she thought she had hit the color. We decided to have a girl’s day out, meet up at a restaurant part of the way between our houses that are almost 2 hours apart. After a delightful social time, good food and some visiting, we walked down the town street to The Wooly Jumper ( ), the yarn shop in that town and visited with the owner, Michelle, and had more social time. Natasha went and got the box with the yarn she had dyed for me and a selection of variegated yarns from her collection to try to match my hat, which I had taken with me.
I am excited that she hit it spot on and now I am challenged to design a scarf or shawlette to go with the Ruby Hat. It was a miserable drive in rain and fog home, but my enjoyment and excitment were not tempered.