My Last Hand Knit?

Kiba-LightArghhh! I have carpal tunnel issues no doubt aggravated by my avid knitting! One handed typing is pretty slow, so this will be a very short post. I do love this vest by Marianne Isager. Both the shape and the color just make me smiled wish for fall weather. The kit came from Tutto, based in Santa Fe, who had a booth at the recent Interweave yarn fest here in Colorado. The yummy Alpaca and Silk Mohair yarns are held together throughout the piece.Kiba-Light_8

The pattern is a little unusual in that Isager has you count rows for length rather than knit for so many inches, claiming that it will all work out in the blocking. After doing a bit of math it seemed my vest was coming up way too short, so I decided to knit to the calculated length. This seemed to work well for me, but I had to keep an eye on all stitch counts after that. Let’s just say this pattern isn’t a good choice for a beginning knitter unless they get gauge in width and height. Intermediate knitters wouldn’t have a problem making adjustments. Isn’t the back pretty?Kiba-Light_7

Physical therapy starts in a week! I have finished sewing two tops so there will be sewing project posts soon….



My dad Fred pretending to play a mirrored art saxophone in his home. Yes you can see where my love of pattern and color came from!

When a parent’s health begins to fail it takes physical time to help them, but even more consuming is the mental time needed to process the changes. That is the place I have been in for the last 6 months or so. My dad passed away two weeks ago, and it took more energy out of me than I cared to admit.

Fred was what people describe as “a character” which meant that most people found him absolutely charming, but at times his only child struggled with his craziness. He could be great fun,  creative, and loved me, his little girl. While he was 89, a large part of him still wanted to party and he was pretty darn angry these last 6 months that he couldn’t go out to wine and dine a pretty woman! As I ponder this loss, one thing I can truly say is I’m happy to have his spunk, spirit and creativity in me. He loved my sewing, and was very proud of my artistic side so he would say, “it’s time to get back to it”!


I’ve done a little sewing in the last few months. I made another pair of my self-drafted pants that came out well, however when stress hits knitting is a must. It just calms my nerves when the project is easy and repetitive like this tunic length sweater pattern, Truss from Shibui Knits. Their patterns are simple, but have an understated elegance and a nice fit.Shibui-Truss_2

Cascade Eco-Duo in Hazelnut made for a warm top that I wore over a turtleneck before the spring weather hit. The stripes were a BIG surprise, but luckily I found the subtle pattern very attractive. It’s a great pattern, and I may splurge on the recommended Shibui Knits yarn next time.

Shibui-Truss_3I will be sharing some spring sewing on my next blog. It’s time to welcome the warm weather!

Knitting a Poncho

There were delightful positive responses to my last post on the Random Poncho. Thank you! The question asked by several readers was about the size of the poncho. I posted another poncho over a year ago, and being a different size, I thought I would show a comparison. I once made a poncho that draped within 6″ of the floor! I sold that one and never took a photo, but I believe the longer the drape, the more elegant the look, however the shorter versions are more practical.

This alpaca poncho is my constant companion around the house, running errands, and even to dinner to fight off a chill in the air. It fits in my purse so I can easily take it along. Smaller than last weeks poncho, the dimensions are a 25″ x 50″ rectangle with a 13″ neck opening. This wrap never gets in my way so I can wear it while working.


The Random Poncho is a 28″ x 56″ rectangle folded in half. The neck edge is the stitched side so it is also 28″ long when folded. I left a 13″ neck opening (that number works for me) and stitched together the remaining 15″. I started with 8 rows of garter stitch, before the main rows that are 8 stitches in stockinette on each end to give a nice edge. I think the stockinette edge also looks good at the neck and on the shoulder seam.

Both of these ponchos are asymmetrical when worn. I like the point hanging down one leg, but if you want symmetry, you would add the folded edge length to the neck opening. In other words, the rectangle in this case would be 28″ in width but the length would be 13″ for the neck + 28″=41″ then of course doubled so a knitted dimension of 28″ x 82″ before folding and seaming. The bottom point would swing down between the legs and the whole poncho would be longer.

Ok, I admit it, I’m a poncho nerd!

I’m in Bar Harbor, Maine next week, but hope to come back to my clean studio and start back into my fall sewing!

Random Poncho

Random-poncho_3I finished my first accessory for fall travel to Rome and Italy! Taking my chosen color swatches I went to The Loopy Ewe and picked out four skeins of yarn. Three are Hedgehog fibers sock yarn and the gold is ShibuiKnits Pebble. I wanted to make a shawl or poncho, but I just couldn’t decide. Making a swatch of the knitted fabric didn’t help solve the question. A shawl that would have good dimensions as a poncho was the temporary answer and as you see the poncho won out in the end. Ponchos can be worn as a scarf but are also cozy and easy to keep track of during travel.


The pattern is my own and completely random! I’m kind of a math geek and love the idea of randomness. You almost have to put your brain outside of the project and just knit. I started out and knitted the rust color until I was bored with it. Then I divided the piece into 3 sections and knit with the main colors. At that point the knitting looked a little bland so I started a stripe of yellow. The four colors were getting all tangled up so I stopped the yellow as it became a square. That gave me the yellow square motifs.
Random-poncho_2The other bit of randomness are the tassels. I had a million (I tend to exaggerate) ends to weave in, and thought why do we always have to weave them in? Aren’t there other options? Yes some of them are tassels! Randomly placed of course.

A girlfriend and I are going to Anderson Ranch for art classes this week. I’m looking forward to the cool days in Snowmass Village, Colorado. I might even try to blog with my iPad if I find a few minutes. I need to start practicing for my Europe trip with the Tilton sisters.

What’s going on?

I have a few things in progress, however I’m making lots of plans for the next couple of months. This week will be an overview of things to come including WIPs (works-in-progress), new fabrics for spring and a couple of light fixtures I’m making for the house. I’m not sure which project is the most exciting!



First I have two projects I’m working on. I want a little more color in my living room. At the same time my yarn stash of leftover skeins is getting out of control. Yep, an afghan of many Wendy colors! I picked a basket of colors that coordinate with my living room and the lime green patio furniture outside the windows. I rib knit a couple of inches and from there on I’m knitting in garter stitch with a very occasional few rows in stockinette. When I get tired of a color I just switch to something different. I’m not even giving much thought to the weight of the yarns other than doubling some of them at times. One end will have fringe from all of the loose ends and I will need to do some finish on the other end. I might bind that edge with suede, wool, or crochet an edge. Sometimes it’s just relaxing to just knit without having to worry about shaping or fit!


The second work in progress is some embroidery with no plans on where I will use it. I love a little handwork now and then, but when I’m almost finished with a project I can’t get myself to wait for a small labor-intensive detail. I’m making some elements to have on hand to enhance a project when I desire. I may even design something just to use these decorative pieces. Shown here is the beginning of three button-hole tabs for a future jacket or blouse.

Fabrics for Spring

My spring wardrobe sewing plans are coming together. I just drafted a classic straight pant that I hope will work well with some of my knits. Then I can modify the pattern to work with the linen pants that I love to wear in summer. Here are a few fabric combinations that I have grouped together to make outfits.

Projects-022115_4Green knit pants with coordinating floral and solid top options.

Projects-022115_7Thin stripe linen pants with a soft rayon challis for a blouse.

Projects-022115_6Lime green linen pants with a cotton lawn shirt.

Projects-022115_5Black linen pants with a red and black cotton and linen blouse and a stripe and plaid seersucker blouse.

I have more rayon challis coming in with some wild prints for a change. I’m normally a fall color person who struggles with spring/summer colors, but I think the upcoming season is looking up on the wardrobe front!

Light Fixtures

Projects-022115_3Then I’m making light fixtures. For several years I have admired the work of lighting designer Lindsey Adelman, but couldn’t afford the fixtures.Adelman-ceiling-light


Her fixtures run from around $7,500 to 15,000, but she is now offering directions and supply lists for a cool branch series. The kit for the chandelier is $145!!!! I have parts for the You Make it Chandelier, and two of the You Make it Desk Lamps. So Cool!!!!

You did it again Marcy!


I didn’t get much sewing done this week, but I did have one sewing afternoon with my BSF. This is my first pair of sewn pants in years! With all the nice heavy stretch knits available, making a well-fitting elastic waist pant is easy. Or perhaps (definitely) they fit because the designer did a great job with the pattern. I used Marcy Tilton’s close-fitting pants pattern Vogue 8859. Many of my fellow bloggers have made these pants with success and I can see why. While easy to put together they have a few extra details like the knee pleats and a back waist yoke that make these look stylish.Tilton-Slim-Pants_4

The poncho I put on Roxanne is a couple of years old, but an absolute favorite. It’s just a 25” x 50” rectangle sewn together on the long side except for a neck opening. If you don’t have one, get to your needles now! I wear it almost every morning before I warm up for the day, and just decided to put it on Roxy at the last-minute. Looks good with the pants!

The story of the $1300 Poncho

$1300-Poncho_3Snoop shopping is fantastic in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Long gone are the days of coyotes with bandanas! Designer labels and art-to-wear where abundant when my husband and I were there last Thanksgiving. At Santa Fe Dry Goods, I had great fun trying on Issey Miyake jackets. Then I discovered Sophi Hong who uses mud dyed silk for her luscious coats and jackets. I used a few of her little details on my recent black shirt like the stitches on the placket indicating snap locations.

My generous husband bought me a number of fabulous things at some of the other stores (I guess I’m not going on a ready-to-wear fast anytime soon). Then at one store I spotted a big pile of knitting on a lower shelf and pulled it out. It was a soft, squishy, lovely, yummy big armful of yarn that turned out to be a big poncho with a pouch pocket. I was in love, and slipped it on…more in love. Cashmere I asked? No, it was 50% alpaca and 50% merino and it was hand knit AND 1300 dollars! I eyed it up for a minute and folded it back up. I can make that I thought to myself.


How often we say that and don’t ever take the project on, but when I got home I started planning. I decided that Blue Sky Bulky Alpaca Naturals was the identical yarn. I bought one skein locally to swatch and plan the pattern. This yarn is a super bulky and I finally went with #17 needles and about 7 stitches for 4”.


After planning and swatching, I ordered 23 skeins just to be safe. It took 20 for the poncho I made, and took about 30 hours of knitting. Those stitches were pretty hard on my hands and I managed to knit about 5” per 2-hour movie.

I tell all of this because it is interesting to note that $1300 is not an inappropriate price. The wholesale price for a $1300 piece of clothing can be calculated to at least half of retail at $650. I received a bulk discount at, however the yarn still cost $217.50 (I’m sure a designer can get this yarn for even less). Then I knit for 30 hours. Even at $10.00 an hour that would be $300 and at $20 an hour we are way over the wholesale target. I’m not even including designer showroom and rep costs or shipping.


Wow, it’s no wonder hand knits are so expensive. I’m going to go hug my poncho…yummy!

Sunsets and the Lake Placid Sweater

My first blog of the New Year! It took me a number of days into this year to start writing, but not because I haven’t been creating. I received a new camera for Christmas and it took me quite a few days to get used to the new features. The High Dynamic Range shooting feature is fantastic! It takes three photos at different settings and combines it into one photo with near perfect settings. Here is an example taken from the backyard looking toward the Rocky Mountains.web- It was a spectacular sunset, but my eyes saw purple, pink and orange in the sky and reflective snow in the foreground. Just like this:Backyard-0115

I use photography for documentation rather than as an art form, however I will be taking a class at Anderson Ranch this summer, so I hope to get a little more involved with my camera.

I did finish my Lake Placid sweater I showed in progress in December. Yes, I did name the sweater after the movie with the mega-gigantic alligator. The actual name of the pattern is Flet which was designed for the new yarn Woolfolk Far.Lake-Placid-1 It’s a chainette type yarn so I was hoping that the pilling would be less, however those little balls are unfortunately showing up everywhere. Despite that issue this is very soft yummy yarn that feels almost like cashmere (its high quality merino) and is a beautiful color. I think the chained rib details add a beautiful touch to fairly simple raglan pullover pattern. Lake Placid Sweater DetailIf I made this again it would be about 2” longer, and maybe an inch shorter in the sleeves. While I have become better at picking knitting patterns that fit, I think it’s time to start comparing measurements of sweaters I love and altering the new patterns before I knit them.Lake-Placid-Sweater-2My next knit is a poncho made from a super bulky yarn. I couldn’t resist trying on a very expensive hand knit poncho ($1300!!) in Santa Fe over Thanksgiving. WOW, it was sumptuous! I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I’m recreating my version from memory and I can’t wait to show you!

Around the World Blog Hop

I was delighted when my sewing friend and fellow blogger Myrna Giesbrecht invited me to follow her on the Around the World Blog Hop. As Myrna explained on her entry, we officially met in the lobby of the Ashland Springs Hotel while attending the Spring DOL. While there was immediate recognition, it took a few seconds to realize that we knew each other solely through our blogs! The same day, my husband and I stopped into a restaurant for lunch and the same thing happened with Gayle Ortiz. I have invited Gayle to follow me next week on the 15th. Both women have wonderful blogs documenting their creativity. In addition, both inspired me to start my blog a little over a year ago before I had met them in person.

The Around the World Blog Hop suggests answering four questions.

#1. What am I working on?

This weekend I finished a mask for the annual fundraiser of the Fort Collins Museum of Art . While I can’t show you the 2015 mask until it gets mounted in the show next March, my art website has a page of masks covering the last 10 years.

yardsticks-webLater today I’m starting an alternative Christmas tree project made of vintage yardsticks that I have been collecting all year. I hope to show it in next week’s blog.

lake-placid-sweaterI’m almost finished with the Lake Placid sweater. Of course that’s not the real name, but if you follow my blog you will know that I usually name my project after the most horrible movie my husband picked while knitting. Do you remember the movie? It’s about a mega-gigantic alligator that has found it’s way to Lake Placid New York. Betty White is feeding it cows, and it crashes a helicopter before they catch it. There is no way I could be making this up!

more-fabricWe drove to Dallas to celebrate Joan’s (Husband’s mom) 90th birthday. Some of you will notice that she follows my blog and often writes clever comments. She is a delight! While on the road trip, I bought tons of new fabric at a great independent Dallas area store Fabrique Fashion Fabrics. Then I bought even more in Santa Fe, NM at Santa Fe Fabrics, so I know I will be sewing something in the next few days.

I also have a few Christmas gifts in the works that I can’t show until they are given to friends. Whew! I love having projects going!

#2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While I don’t work solely in one genre, there is a universal aesthetic that comes through in my work. My background as an architect appears throughout my work. Math, technology, nature and color all inform my design process. However, I also like to throw in the surprise of something unexpected. This is when I throw process to the wind and try to add a bit of spontaneity to the work.

#3. Why do I create what I do?

I think we all have that one thing that guarantees that we will be happier when we pursue it. My husband is always happier after watching a movie. Yes, a man-eating alligator movie actually cheers him up! If I feel the blues, or pulled in too many directions, I just need to go to my studio. Just looking at my fabric stash or planning a project puts me in a great mood. Creative pursuits define who I am. Wearing or seeing someone else wear a piece that I made gives me much joy.

#4. How does my creating process work?

I’m well trained with 8 years of architecture school and 3 years of art school, so I follow a fairly conventional process.

First, define the problem. Something like I want an alternative Christmas tree.

Second, define the parameters. Where is it going? Does it need to fold up for storage? Is there a specific size or shape needed?

Third, research influences and ideas. This tree is a good form for inspiration.onetwotree-600x400-600x400This one gave me the idea of using yardsticks.IMG_0717I love the Internet! While I did not find a tree that was exactly what I am making, the internet provided the inspiration to go in my direction.

Forth, design the project. Somewhere in the previous 3 stages the idea will gel and materials gathering starts. In the case of this tree it took several months to gather that many yardsticks.

Fifth, make it, but be flexible if an idea does not work exactly as planned.

Sounds easy and methodical, but of course there are moments of both frustration and pure inspiration.

Around the World Blog Hop Next week

Please make sure to check out Gayle’s blog: She is an inspiration to me and many other sewists, and is one busy woman. She owns a bakery and rosticceria/café that opened in 1978. Locals have told me that this is not simply a bakery, but a destination not to be missed! In addition, she’s on her town planning commission, so I have no idea how she manages to sew. Like many of us, she learned to sew as a young girl and has only started again in the last 10 years when she travelled to New Zealand and learned a sweater reconstruction technique from a very creative gal. She sews art clothing and everyday clothing occasionally for sale but mostly for herself.

Araucania Panguipulli

Design-Nine-SweaterThis week features a little cardigan I knit with yarn purchased in Bandon Oregon this last summer. It was an easy knit, and I think I will enjoy having something cute to just throw on as the days get a bit cooler. We are having a delightful fall with cool air in the morning and evening.

The yarn is Araucania Panguipulli (what a mouthful!) in shade 8. The pattern is Design Nine. Design-Nine-Sweater_3I followed the pattern with the exception of making the back longer than the front, similar to my Snowpiercer Sweater. My spell checker is going crazy on this post with all of these unusual names.

The process of knitting always leads to a few surprises in knitting. I have become fairly adept at deciding what size to knit, but fit and drape are often different than expected. Design-Nine-Sweater_2The other surprise comes with the yarn itself. I always swatch for a sweater by making a small sample. This tells me how the knit will feel in the project, but it’s not enough knitting to tell how the colors will pool when using a multicolor yarn. If one is to use this type of yarn you need to embrace the color changes!Design-Nine-Sweater_4