Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Knitting-Themed Books...for Kids.

In a previous post, I added my voice to the chorus of Harry Potter fan-fiction [Chapter 3 3/4:  Hagrid Knits, July 2009], but have not yet addressed books which involve knitting and are of interest to YOUNGER children.  I was reminded of this when I read of the recent publication of a lovely new children's book, Phoebe's Sweater, which even includes a pattern ...and considered buying it until I realized that I would have to Gorilla glue my son's south-sides to the chair to engage them with such an estrogen-soaked book.

So, for those of you with Kids (even sons)...here are my suggestions for books that will keep both you AND your boys interested until one of you falls asleep:

Best Illustrations:  Pre-and beginning reader- Crab Cab:  Flip a Word by Harriet Ziefert with darling Japanese anime-style illustrations by Yukiko Kido

Best Illustrations:  Classic:  Fin M'Coul:  The Giant of Knockmany Hill by Tomie de Paola

Best Illustrations:  New:  Russel the Sheep by Rob Scotton

Most Educational, Theme: Warm as Wool, by Scott Russel Sanders [despite the cover illustration, this does feature some boys]

Classic, Theme:  Crictor, by Tomi Ungerer.  [Snakes always work for boys  ;-)  ]

Best New, Theme:  Ice Harbor Mittens , by Robin Hansen (originally published WITH pattern in Piecework, Jan/Feb 2010)  About boys lost at sea utilizing "Compass Mittens" to find their way home.

Best Overall, Theme: ...Most hilarious and book most beloved by all three of my sons:  Traction Man is Here!, by Mini Grey.  This photo series will give a pretty good synopsis.

Friday, July 29, 2011

On the importance of kids...any kids!

Remember having unlimited energy?  Remember doing headstands for an hour while watching the Love Boat and not calling it "yoga."  Remember playing tag or Red Rover and never trying to calculate how far your ran that day.  For most of us, those days are long gone...and with it the motivation to complete tasks that do not fall in to the "absolutely necessary otherwise I will end up homeless" category.  Just last month I was inspired by gathering with my friends to knit for a cause...a GREAT cause.  By this month my energy was already flagging.  I found myself repeatedly back-burnering the task of scheduling our next meeting.  Then, an amazing thing happened.  I threw a small summer cocktail party, and one of my younger guests (the daughter of a guest), told me of her interest in knitting.  She asked about my current projects and I told her about the Pine Street in knit-a-long.  Her eyes grew wide, her speech became more rapid, and before long she had me pulling out my schedule to ensure she would be available to join in on the date of our next meeting.  Her enthusiasm - which motivated her to knit 0.7 MILES of finger knitting -not only landed her in our local newspaper as she attempts to knit a World Record length, but also became an instant motivation for me. I must remember to borrow some kids when my own are no longer around.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Around the World ...Literally.


Three agonizing weeks of cold New England drizzle were at last broken yesterday, heralded by the arrival of my Around the World Swap package.  The sun broke through the clouds and the package broke through my gloom.  Even if my swap partner had not intended to send an Around the World themed package, it was inevitably so, since she is from Korea!

My swap partner, Dani, set the scene with a note describing my "Travel of Dream" journey.  In order to make the trip, I was instructed to utilize the preprogrammed teleportation compass (LOVE this idea).  Should I decide to write anyone about my journey, she enclosed beautiful handmade blank notes made from map paper.

IMG_3520IMG_3524Each region was individually wrapped in its own themed project bag...First in Vietnam where I helped a local woman who suffers from the effects of childhood polio regain control of her life by purchasing a lovely buddhist coin bookmark she made.  Then on to Korea, where, with the help of a very instructive book, I learn about the Korean art of tea.  She also enclosed a ceramic all-in-one cup/strainer and some gorgeous teas from the region to try, as well as some Manju (baked sweets with an indescribable taste and texture...mmmm)  I also pause in Bali to enjoy some journal-writing in this lovely handmade book.

IMG_3534IMG_3533The next bag was from India (Jaipur...and gorgeous!)...it contained a cookbook of great Indian simple dishes, as well as yummy snacks and fun knitting notions.

IMG_3531IMG_3528Finally on to Iceland where I will don my incredible new socks (!!! GORGEOUS!!!) and enjoy an evening of knitting with my special Lopi yarn (a kind we can't get in America) and basking in the midnight sun.  If I would like a bit of a challenge, I may try making the tour-de-force of multicolor knitting...Nightingale Socks....as my new friend sent the pattern for these along as well  :-)

Thank you, Dani, for a perfectly tailored knitterly tour of all my favorite places!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

HELP, Spinners, I need information about this wheel!


I purchased this spinning wheel at Brimfield last year and am trying to find information about it. My understanding is that it is a flax spinning wheel like this one (1850), and not made for spinning woolen yarn.

flax spinner
American Flax Wheel, ca.1850

I also would love information about the painted decoration that might lead to a possible country of origin. I was thinking Scandinavia, but am not certain. Let me know your thoughts!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Around the World Swap

The card I made as an enclosure.
I love to travel.  Granted, having three children under age 10 has limited my travel somewhat in recent years, but it doesn't change the things I love about travel.  I love being 100 percent in charge of my own schedule.  I love the feeling that when traveling one is truly oneself...being away from the demands of friends/family/work has the effect of creating a cultural vacuum where one is only who they really are.  I love the perspective one gains on one's own home and lifestyle from a distance...when one sees that other cultures do things very different and equally legitimate ways.  And of course, I love what everyone loves about travel...that every day on the road brings a new and interesting/engaging experience and so is EXCITING.  This experiential approach is in contrast to many people who travel with a checklist in hand and aim to see sights and move on.  I am not a "tourist,"  I am a "traveler."  Travel has been so central to my life that when I read about a new "Around the World" swap theme through Ravelry, I couldn't click fast enough to sign up. Without further ado, I give you the "itinerary" sent to my swap partner...designed to lead her through all her most beloved destinations in one imaginary trip.

Oddlief's Knitting Tour of the World

Thanks to a color copier she had her very own Passport.

Day 1:  Flight from Seattle to China ...Airline lost your baggage  :-(  Lucky for you this aged flight attendant had an extra original 1970's Beijing Airline flight attendant bag he was willing to give you for the remainder of your trip.  You will be so retro-chic for this tour!  And with all these pockets, it will make a nice knitting bag after the trip.  IMG_0166
IMG_3412You pack your book you were reading on 100 must-see places in your new bag and begin your adventure.
Day 2:  CHINA- While in China you pick up a few stitch markers in the market.  They are symbols of good luck - you may need some luck...it's a long way around the world!
IMG_3414Day 3:  MONGOLIA- You try to fit a Mongolian cashmere goat in your bag, but he bleats too much to go unnoticed.  Instead you pick up some "Kathmandu" yarn made from merino wool, silk, and Mongolian cashmere.
IMG_3398Day 4:  TIBET-  Dang, where's an embroidery needle when you need one!  Luckily you are in a part of the world where beautiful embroidery is everywhere.  You pick up a handy little needle case with images of local gods and goddesses.  They seem more serene than you feel.
IMG_3415Day 5:  AUSTRALIA- Just to be sure you don't lose this bag, too, better get a luggage tag.  Ah, this one works..."Ripping Yarns"- not only the name given to local folk tales of murder/ghosts/intrigue, but also reflective of how you feel after botching the socks you were knitting during that long plane ride. 
DSC04810Day 6:  (PERSIA)- OK, you can't really stop here because it no longer technically exists.  Somehow, the flight attendant passes by with her Duty-Free cart and you spy in the back a bottle of vintage AVON brand perfume (my swap partner listed "any Avon product" as a like)..."Persian Wood."  Your favorite- and one you haven't been able to find for years!  You buy a bottle.   May also come in handy in all these places where deodorant seems unknown.
Day 7:  NORTHERN ITALY- Travelers belly subsides and you find yourself in a land full of wonderful food.  You gorge yourself like a tick for a day and pick up a box of local "Torrone"  candy.
IMG_3416Day 8:  SPAIN-  Desired for centuries, real Spanish saffron.  You buy a jar and debate over whether to use it to make paella or tea. (my swap partner listed saffron tea as a like also).
Day 9:  Fly to London, Heathrow.  Rent car and drive over countryside.  It's a long drive.  Good thing you have some Werther's candies in the car.   Park at Blackpool on the northwesternmost coast.
DSC04808Day 10:  Boat to ISLE OF MAN- Here you pick up a book of graph paper for drawing the cable pattern you've been designing in your head.  You love it because it shows historic images of woman shearing sheep alongside the men, as well as women there spinning yarn.  Perhaps these images of knitting on the Isle of Man are in the local museum.  You vow to go check it out, but never make it to the museum because you are sidetracked by the beautiful countryside.  No worries, you pick up a brochure for the online museum.
While touring the countryside, you stop at a couple of farms and find the locals very friendly.  One teaches you about the species of sheep nearly unique to the Isle of Man, known as the MANX LOGHTAN

photograph courtesy British Wool Marketing Board ©
MANX LOGHTAN sheep are a Northern short-tailed, multi-horned breed native to the Isle of Man. The word Loghtan is derived from the Manx words “lugh” (mouse) and “dhoan” (brown). Both sexes can be horned or polled (hornless), with two, four or occasionally even six horns being recorded.
The wool is moorit (red-brown) and is used mainly for the production of un-dyed woolens but is also suitable for the manufacture of tweeds.
The Manx Loghtan is listed as "at risk" by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
IMG_3418IMG_3420You purchase some of the handspun yarn from this unique sheep.  The family likes you and appreciates your interest in their animals.  The spinner's husband decides to give you a family heirloom - an antique horse brass with the triskelion symbol emblematic of the Isle of Man.  You don't know what you'll do with it (belt? Handbag buckle?), but it is such a meaningful gift that you thank him nonetheless.
When it's time to leave the Isle of Man, you have just a single coin left- the nearly useless 1/2 pence.  You like the "Cushag" and recognize the design as the yellow bloom of the common Ragwort long regarded as the national flower.  You decide to make it into a fifth stitch marker.
IMG_3423Day 11:  IRELAND-  Ah, home- your beloved Ireland.  You pick up some Bailey's Irish Cream candies and head for the Knitting store where you can finally get that pattern for Kilt Socks you've wanted for so long.
IMG_3405Day 12:  ORKNEY ISLANDS-  Only stopping briefly here.  Long enough to stop in the airport gift shop and pick up a coin purse to keep all your change from shaking around the bottom of your bag.  Ah,  and it works perfectly for holding your notions as well!
IMG_3422Day 13:  ICELAND-  Your last stop.  The natural beauty here is overwhelming and you spend the day steeping in the Blue Lagoon and marvelling over the many falls and volcanoes dotting the countryside.  There sure are a lot of sheep here!  What do they eat!?!?  There's just enough room in your bag to fit a pair of Icelandic socks...that's the wonderful thing about buying woolens while travelling- they squish.  Oh, and you could probably fit a bar of the delicious local chocolate, too - after all, there's ALWAYS room for chocolate!
Day 14:  HOME!!!  You've done it!  I hope you enjoyed your adventure  :-)