Sunday, September 23, 2018


 What a bounty! My sister Brooke came for a breakfast date and we decided to do a little garden walk. Her beau uses my jalapenos in his cornbread and I had a huge amount that could be shared. I have more than this in the house waiting to be used, so I was happy to give these away. The peppers did well in their spot in the garden as there was plenty of sun for them. Bugs don't seem to bother them at all. We also had good luck with poblano peppers and the Giant Marconi, which is a really sweet elongated bell. 

 But the real surprise were the sweet potatoes! Huge tubers! I've never tried growing these before and boy, am I glad I did. This one weighed over two pounds! The skin is very thin, so I am guessing that I must do something with them quickly, like cook and freeze them, or they won't last. 

Here's the rest, various sizes as you can plainly see. I shared three giants with Brooke. But I think the skinny little ones should be good to bake up today. Sweet potatoes will definitely be part of my garden from now on. +++++++++++++++++
Here's a little update on Dave. We got some new meds from the doctor and things have been very calm of late. Thank heaven. Just wanted to let you know that your prayers and well wishes have done the trick. Thank you! And thank you for the great response to the knitting offer. I have nine names and have begun clicking needles happily. Yay! Those who missed the opportunity are invited to see some finished work available on Etsy.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Taking Names 2018


I've invested in some really deee-licious yarns and am dying to knit them into these two styles of cardivests. One is a pullover, so it really can't be called a cardi-anything, but it is the same shape as the one with buttons, so work with me. Here's how this works. You pick the yarn combo, the pullover or cardigan and tell me your bust/hip measurement, and I will knit it for you, for $100 plus shipping. I've done this before and it works great. Just email me at fibermania at g mail dot com and I'll get started. Here are your choices:

Chosen by Ellen H.

Chosen by Mimi S.

Chosen by Melanie G.

Chosen by Hilary P.

Chosen by Libby E.

Chosen by Linda S.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Blocking A Knit

 When I finish a knit it is often in need of blocking to adjust the sizing. The different directions of the stitches tend to push or pull areas so that they don't meet the way they should. This is easily fixed with a spritz of water and some pining to my padded table. I don't soak the knit in the tub, but just use my spray bottle and get the problem areas good and damp, and then make my adjustments. Wool is alive and will respond to authority! It will sit overnight and then tomorrow I will add the buttons.

 Here you can see that only a few pins are needed to keep the hem even. 

 The length (30") and width (25") is measured and I keep a photo record for this design, should I desire to repeat it. Of course I do.
 This color combination is Casablanca, which is silk, wool and mohair, and Malabrigo Rios, which is yummy merino wool. So autumnal. SOLD.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Modular Knitting--Designing My Way

Many of my designs begin with a triangle which tells me my gauge, and how the two yarns look together and finally how big the finished garment will be.  In this photo, it is the center bottom triangle that starts it all. Casting on an uneven amount of stitches, say, 69, the triangle will be knit and decreased in the center and at each edge like so: Cast on 69 and knit.
Row 2. Sl 1, k2 tog, k31, sl 1, k2tog, psso, k31, k2tog, p1.

The beginning and ending stitches form an edge chain which is really important for picking up stitches as each module is knit.
The triangle reduces with each right side decreases until five stitches remain, and those are bound off. Then I can measure the bottom width and determine the finished size of the garment. I am using two different weight yarns, so this is really the only way to find out what the combo will do. If I don't like it, it isn't much to rip out. Mostly experience has told me that it will be pleasing.
So measuring might tell me that the triangle is 10 inches wide, and that means the width of the finished product will be 40", before blocking. If I am making a cardigan, I will add a button band on the front which will bring in at least another inch, so that is part of the final size.

 In other designs, I might make a vertical set of diamonds, without starting with a bottom triangle, and add little edge triangles later. Such is the case with the Diamond Panel jackets and vests. The string of diamonds are knit first, front and back and then the sides are picked up and knit to the desired width. In that case gauge tells me how many stitches I will need to make the necessary width.
 An easy project to try this idea is the scarf. And it is a great use of leftover bits of yarn. Try it with worsted weight and a size 8 needle.
After the triangle is knit, pick up stitches along one side and decrease at the bottom while increasing on the top (right side only) and that will keep the diagonal going. Knit to desired length and then go back to the center triangle, pick up those edge stitches and again, decrease at the bottom while increasing at the top.
FYI.  I may start out with a plan but sometimes the whole thing takes on a life of its own. I am just along for the ride!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Knits for Tall Gals

An often neglected demographic, is the taller woman, and with that in mind, I have focused on making some things that are 'long enough' for the taller figure. My height-rich girlfriends volunteered to model my creations.
 Here is Jean, wearing a Taiyo (cotton, silk and wool) and merino cardivest. She is over 5'10" and this does not look skimpy on her. It's 30" long lying flat, but of course drapes longer on the wearer.

Vista, about the same height as Jean, is wearing a waistcoat in a merino combo which is 25" long. SOLD

Not a tall gal, Audrey is more like 5'6" and this tunic is really long on her. But she volunteered to model it to enjoy the squishy extrafine merino yarn. Again, it is 28"  long, lying flat, but much longer on the wearer.

Vista in a Silk Garden and Rios merino cardivest. 
And finally, Vista models the Silk Garden and silk-merino tunic, which Jean had to have! Jean said "It's long enough!!"
All (but this last one) are available for $100 with free shipping. Email me.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Memoir: Knitting

 I was just thinking as I sit here knitting, that it was a good thing that I had my heart broken when I was 15 years old.
After returning home from my first alone-flight to visit my friend Barbo in Erie PA and falling hard for the delicious Joel Tuczynski while I was there, I made my mother crazy with all the moping, whining and general pity-partying that I was doing, missing him and knowing I wouldn't probably ever get to see him again.
Her solution?
"You're going to learn how to knit".
I don't know if the connection was obvious to her, (wasn't to me) but I didn't put up any resistance and so it began, supposedly as a distraction.
Going back a few years, it was my dad who taught me to crochet, which he learned in the TB sanatorium after WWII. Apparently needlearts are a great way to distract from disease, whether physical or adolescent. I mention this because I learned to crochet and it didn't take. But I did learn to hold the yarn and needle in such a way as to ease my initiation into Continental knitting, later on.

After a blur of  learning to cast on and rip out and cast on and rip out, I managed to get the gist and did begin my first project. My mom chose a pattern that used great big needles and a big skein of orlon sayelle yarn (ugh) that was all the rage in those days, summer of 1962. I don't remember too much about this little sweater except that it was peach colored and had very loopy stitches. I finished it in a couple of days, (non stop knitting) and had passed the love crisis sufficiently to rate a tougher design, this time in wool.
I chose for my second sweater an Aran Isle design with lots of cables, diamonds, bobbles, and all sorts of complicated  stitches. I was undaunted. And naive.
Related image
This time I also had a peach colored yarn...could that have been my mom's choice? I think so. Anyway I dove in, and attacked the pattern, learning as I went along. A week later I was finished. It was imho, magnificent. Other's might have said it was, um, recognizable as a sweater.
Part of my education was the rule that a finished knit needed washing to get the oils and dirt out of the yarn and block the sizing. So....I filled a sink with hot sudsy water and proceeded to felt the life out of my sweater and turn it into an unwearable disaster.
I grudgingly gave up on wool and returned to acrylic and kept knitting. By then I was determined to make up my own design. (Where do children get that kind of confidence???) Color-blocked ala Mondrian and 60's clothes was my big idea and multi-colored sections of orange, yellow, red, the ubiquitous peach, and fuchsia went together for this pullover and I was careful not to overdo the final washout. Keep in mind that I was knitting for my own body, wearing a AA bra and having absolutely no hips to work around, and it is no wonder I plowed through these sweaters in days.
One finished item led to another, also of my own design, and by the end of summer I had finished 13 sweaters, some of them school wearable.
I was a real knitter. Forgot about Joel and saved a meager amount of my mother's sanity.
At that time Sears sold yarn, and had a sale. We went and did damage. Thus began my lifelong habit of lying about yarn. We told my dad that we saved him so much money by waiting til this yarn was cheaper. ha!

But I digress.
As I look back on this time I recall that my Christmas/birthday present was the best ever that year. Fabric for a skirt and matching yarn for a sweater! It meant that I was good enough at both sewing and knitting to rate these raw materials. Contrast this with getting the finished garments as a gift. Not the same.
Jumping ahead to grown up years when I traveled so much on airplanes, I passed the time knitting socks, a small project which could fit into my purse and keep me happy while waiting for flight delays. I accumulated oodles of socks which filled my drawers and became gifts for others, and brought me back to wool yarn, especially hand dyed stuff. Wool yarn is so different than acrylic and has a life of it's own, responding to my fingers with squishy springy movement. And now that I have discovered and "invested" in non-itchy Merino, and especially merino-silk blends, it is against the skin bliss. Many of my yarns are superwash, which defeats and eliminates the felting of that early mistake.
Learning to knit for me has resulted in finding a coterie of like minded people and developed into a sort of cottage industry for me. My knitting friends at church are so great, and do such good work for charity. Meeting on a weekly basis we find ourselves healthier mentally for having each other.

So good thing my heart got broken back then, 55 years ago, so I can justify my stash...