Thursday, February 9, 2017

Knitting Treasure Trove

It is always a pleasure when my neighbor, a very kind elderly lady called Lilian Ponders, knocks on my door. I have never had such good neighbors in my life- kind and friendly and helpful. Lily, as we call her, lives with her sister who is just older than her, and her daughter, Rebecca, who is my age. Rebecca has cerebral palsy. Lily has devoted her life to caring for her youngest child, so it is not really surprising that she is giving and thoughtful to everyone. Whenever she makes vegetable soup, she brings me some, as she knows how much I love my veggies. When I get in the mood to bake something, I put half of it off on her so the calories are spread around more reasonably. In the summer I cut her grass when I am cutting mine. She lets me borrow her hedge clippers. She knows where my shovel is kept and is welcome to use it anytime. We've built tomato cages together and helped each other clean up the yards after a storm. And her sister, Lena, is always full of good gossip and can always make me laugh. Just really good neighbors.

This morning she had an extra special kind of gift, and I think she didn't know just what a treasure she had found. She has picked up yarn for me at yard sales before. She tries to refuse the few dollars repayment, but we both know I will insist until she does. This morning, however, she had a box of stuff and I could see knitting needles poking out and I got really excited. Her $1 yard sale find, she claimed. I am not sure I believe her that it cost so little. I think she has outsmarted me at last.

But this isn't a story about me. This is a story about some lady, now gone, that had a love of knitting. As I opened the box I was completely overwhelmed with the history of some stranger, some woman, like me, that loved her yarn and could not get enough of knitting and crochet. There was little yarn, but oh so many tools of the craft. Many still in their packages, possibly never used, but still loved and - as every stitcher knows - definitely needed. Every bit of it smelled like sweet, fresh cigar as she had stored her crochet hooks in cigar cases.

The biggest part of this treasure was this beautiful project standing bag. It has one tiny tear near the top, but otherwise in excellent condition. Inside were pocket full of goodies, some booklets, and a yellow cabled sleeve just begun. The second needle was still stuck through the stitches, waiting to be picked up again.

I began to wonder just how old is this stuff? Where did she live? Was this beginning of a yellow sleeve intended for a grandchild? What other gifts had this woman created over the years in love and obvious skill? Did those recipients know just how precious that time spent, the anticipation of seeing smiles motivated the movement of her hands? 

Hand-written patterns here, paperclipped in side of this booklet.

It was published in 1966. And there are notes throughout. 
The small booklet sticking out of the bag at the top was published in 1965.

There was a small collection of circulars and double-pointed needles, some still in their packages. The stitch holders look just like the ones we use today, except I have never seen any quite that long. They say they are for bulky yarn. The little rubber point protectors have long since hardened. Those were down in the bottom of a pocket. I was amazed that everything was still in its proper pairs or sets. I didn't dare try to unroll the measuring tape. The small plastic ruler say 'Golden State Fabrics' and someone has written 'Mom' on it in permanent marker. I imagine her fussing at kids stealing her ruler the way my mother, a seamstress, had ranted about us kids taking her scissors. There was a little notepad she was using to keep counts - possible for when to put in the cables on the yellow sleeve.

More circulars, still in their package, a great deal of straight needles, a small gauge ruler, cigar cases holding tiny crochet hooks, and a box of stitch markers almost identical to a box that I have today. Only they came in more colors then. There was a small case of double-pointed needles. Also included, were several more of those cases, though they were empty, but now I know what they were for. A thick little book of knitting and crochet patterns, held together by a rubber band, its spine long worn to nothing. This was the best find of all.

This little book finally gave me some clue to the lady this entire treasure had belonged to. Dated 1965, on the back of which, held on by the rubber band was...

A letter. To Mrs. Ruby Hitchens of Townsend, Virginia.

Inside was a very fragile page showing various monograms and a few hand-drawn loose-leaf notepad pages with the numbers 1-5 drawn out in graph-form. They were labeled 'for duplicate stitch'. What had Mrs. Hitchens of Townsend, Virginia been making that she wished to add letters or number to? I guess I don't have to say how tickled I was by finding her name...

And seeing this December 12th, 1964 postmark from Cape Charles, Virginia from Mrs. Paul B. Brownley to her friend. Note the 5cent postage. 

Mrs. Hitchens, wherever you are in the afterlife, I just want you to know that I have your knitting treasure and it will remain intact and in a place of honor in my studio. We were sisters, even though we didn't know each other, because we share a love of this tradition that goes back further than either of us can comprehend. I think I will have your little start of a sleeve framed just like it I found it with  the needle left waiting for you to pick it up again. Thank you for leaving this for me to find someday and give me happy wishes that some years from now another knitter will unbox my treasures and for a day, at least, wonder what kind of person I was.


Friday, February 3, 2017

Labradoodle Blankie Buddy

A handsome hybrid of the Labrador Retriever and the Poodle, the Labradoodle is known for its intelligence and friendliness. Often used as guide dogs, the Labradoodle is also a popular choice as a family dog, often for its hypo-allergenic fur.

This pattern is a fun mix of textures and stitches, curly and wavy and shaggy in turns. Included in this pattern are bonus parts to turn your blankie into a Goldendoodle, another beloved Poodle hybrid. 

Difficulty Rating:
Crochet Terms: American
Language: English
Finished Size: 28 inches tall
Skill Level: Intermediate +
In-Line Color Changes: none
Shaping: minimal
Sewing: some
# of Pages: 11
# of Images: 31
Also includes: Extra parts to make your Doodle a Golden, 
chart for the stitch used on the Blanket, 
Photo Tutorial for the Loop Stitch

#4 Medium Weight Yarn in:
·         MC – main color – 530yds
·         Nose/Paw Pad Color – 20yards
·         Small amounts of: white, 
eye color, and optional lighter 
and/or darker shades of MC
Crochet Hooks:
·         E/3 3.50mm
·         G/6 4.00mm
·         I/9 5.50mm
Tapestry Needle

Long Straight Pins

Stitches Used:


Digital Downloads:


Thursday, January 19, 2017

No No Yes Yes Baby

Based on the adorably simple drawing of a baby in the Leslie Patricelli board books. The first book to catch our attention was No No Yes Yes, though there are many more and most feature this cute little almost-naked baby with a world of expressions, exploring and learning little life lessons. This baby, coupled with a book or two, makes a fantastic baby shower or 1st birthday gift. 

Difficulty Rating: 
Crochet Terms: American
Language: English
Finished Size: 7 inches tall, seated. 10 inches tall, standing
Skill Level: Easy
In-Line Color Changes: n/a
Shaping: none
Sewing: minimal
# of Pages: 3
# of Images: 6

#4 Medium Weight Yarn in:
·         Flesh Color (A) 50yards
·         Diaper Color (B) 8yards
Crochet Hook:
·         E/5 3.50mm
Tapestry Needle
Stitch Marker
Black Embroidery Thread
Blusher/Chalk to make rosy cheeks

Optional: Felt, paint, or other colors of embroidery thread to make alternate faces
Stitches Used:
American Crochet Terms
MR – Magic Ring or Circle
Sc – single crochet
Sc2tog – single crochet 2 together
Slst – slip stitch
Ch – chain
Sk - skip
BLO/FLO – back/front loop only
InvDec - Invisible Decrease:  Sc2tog by working into the front loops only to create a less bulky decrease.
Bpdc – back post double crochet
Dtr – double treble (YO 3 times)
FO – finish off

Digital Downloads:


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Skipped Cables Fix

 Working nonstop on the last couple of Christmas gifts.... so close to beginning the crown on this hat when I think 'hmmm... I should check the pattern to see where I stop.'

I should have checked the pattern long before because 2 rows back I failed to put in the cables. I was concentrating so hard on the more intricate cables, that simple little C6F to the side was neglected.

*Brief Panic*

Okay. I have done this before. It was a cable that I crossed the wrong way and had to go back and fix. Not like I had a great deal of experience with this, but I knew I could do it. Since I managed it successfully, I thought I'd share here. (I am sure there are other places online to show you how to do this and probably even better, but that does not allow me the opportunity to procrastinate.)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Snowflake Hexagon

SnowFlake Hexagon
Picture Tutorial to make an Overlay Crochet Snowflake Hexagon with bonus diagram and tips to complete the Christmas Stocking shown.

I made this stocking for my grandson's first Christmas this year (at 11.5 months old... he gave me plenty of time to think on it!). I had done one for his older sister Clementine on the same concept using African Violet hexes in poinsettia colors. I decided to do Snowflakes on a Night Sky theme so that it would grow with Sullivan for many years, with no complaints about baby colors when he's seven. I think it would be really pretty with a light blue background, though!

My Project:
The yarn I used was RedHeart Holiday for the snowflake and I Love This Cotton for the background. These are both thinner #4 or Aran weight yarns. With an F hook this gave me a 4 inch wide Hex, which was just the size I wanted.

The 'leg' of the stocking is going to be 1.5 hexes wide, if that helps you decide on size. My finished stocking is 6 inches across and 16 inches tall. It can stretch to hold a nice amount of goodies, but not so huge that you are scrambling to fill it!

I thought the Snowflake looked neater with a smaller hook than is usually recommended for the yarn, but if I were going to make an entire afghan out of these, I would probably want each hex to be as big as possible just so I wasn't doing it forever. The sample Hex I made is the 6inch one.