Friday, December 31, 2010

My Little Monster

I've been trying for several years to get one of my sisters to learn to knit. To no avail--until last September.

Tommie retired from teaching and since summer was ending and her amazing organic garden wouldn't be needing so much of her attention, she finally agreed to give it a try.

I suggested she start with a wash cloth. She huffed. "Uh uh! I want to make something beautiful that someone can actually wear."

Well, alrighty then!

Forget garter rows on two needles. Forget stockinette even. She wanted her first project to be a cowl for one of her daughters for Christmas. It was already September and I didn't know how things would go, how much time she'd find for knitting, but I wasn't about to discourage such fearlessness.

So we jumped in. She quickly tackled and perfected techniques I didn't even know existed until I had been knitting for years: circular needles, double pointed needles, cable stitches, button holes, and textured stitches in complex patterns.

In less than a week, she finished the cowl and then made another one for her other daughter.

Then honeycomb scarves for her two oldest granddaughters.

Then a lined hat with matching mittens for her grandson--which she also designed by the way.

Then a camouflage tobaggon for her newest granddaughter (to go with the lifetime hunting license of course).

She finished all of her Christmas gifts and jumped right in to a complex aran-patterned afghan for herself. I can only stumble back in awe and stammer, "You go girl!"

A few weeks into the knitting mania, my husband and I were watching TV when the phone rang. We let the answering machine get it and  listened to her talk for a minute or two. It was an urgent request for help; she was almost finished with one project and needed yarn and pattern advice so that she could get started on the next project without a delay. She didn't want to go a day without something on her needles.

I smiled and rubbed my hands together, "My little monster."

My wonderful little knitting ninja monster.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Knits for Kate

My third grand-girl was born this summer. After hearing my daughter was in labor, I made it from rural North Carolina to downtown Chicago in time to see her take her first breath and to be wrapped in the knits I'd made for her.

Her newborn gifts were a combination of pricey and practically free. The reversible cable blanket is made from Venezia Worsted (pricey) but the cashmere vine lace hat and booties were made from a 100% cashmere sweater that I found for $4.00 at Goodwill.

I tripled the lace weight yarn into a fingering yarn while working with just a single strand. It's a very useful technique called Navajo knitting or Navajo plying. You can see it here. Or, check out the video at the end of this post.
Good Kate, sweet Kate.
I just finished her very first winter hat (the Inca Snowflake from Itty Bitty Hats)...which she's already had the chance to wear in Chicago. It was made from unraveled J.Crew sweaters in two shades of gray that my daughter found at a thrift store.

My favorite part is the organic cotton fleece lining that I found at WorthyGoodsTextiles. It's soft and thick and luscious.

She likes it!

Holy Bible "Big Red" in 3-D by Thomas Nelson Publishers

I have a strong and pleasant memory of being fascinated by the illustrations in my mother and grandmother’s Bibles when I was a little girl. The one I stared at most (usually when bored in a church service) gave me the willies. It was of a blinded and bleeding Samson laboring over the lever on a millstone. A strong runner up—but one that didn’t give me the willies, was the one of Jesus knocking on a door. These illustrations helped me understand the stories and concepts I was hearing about at church and home.

I don’t particularly care for the computer-generated style of illustration used in this children’s Bible, but it appears to have been executed by a talented artist. The content appears accurately portrayed and the compositions are engaging. I think it’s great that Thomas Nelson has created a Bible with illustrations that will make the Bible feel relevant to children’s lives.

I review for BookSneeze

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Sweet Daughter

Allie precious . . .
Nothing's sweeter than my grandgirls . . . 

and baby Kate. 
But their mommy surprising me with 56 wool, cashmere, angora, and camel hair sweaters was pretty daggone sweet.

My Blue Italian Lake of a daughter has a two-month old but still managed to scour thrift stores to surprise me on our last visit to Chicago.
She had them in two big piles--one on the
couch and one on the ottoman. 

I couldn't stop laughing as I sorted through them. It felt surreal to see so many luxury sweaters in one place.
God bless the well-dressed people of Lincoln Park.

A sampling . . .
55% Merino, 45% Alpaca. Now in my Etsy shop.

100% Merino. Now in my Etsy shop.

100% Wool

Arriving in my Etsy Shop
and in Phat Fiber Sample Boxes in mid-October.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Contest Winner!

Congrats, BunnyKnut!

Just like the proverbial white rabbit, your name jumped right out of the hat (actually a snowman ceramic vase).

Email me your address at TaddieBeeKnitting at gmail dot com and I'll get your Green Apple Wool right out to you!

Thanks everyone for participating!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Box Day Contest -- Farmer's Market

Because I like reading as much as knitting, this month's contest will again feature one of my favorite books, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

In the book, Kingsolver journals about the year her family spent as loca-voreseating ONLY local foods or whatever they grew or raised themselves. 

Correctly answer TWO multiple choice questions from the book for a chance to win TWO hanks of this Green Apple Wool. The winner will be chosen at random. Let me know if you post on Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, etc. about my Etsy shop. Your name will be entered once for each post.

100% Wool, 150 yards, upcycled from a J.Crew sweater
Hint: Answers can B deduced by context clues. I want it to B fun!

1.  Americans put almost as much fossil fuel into their refrigerators as their cars. Each food item in a typical U.S. meal has traveled an average of ________  miles. 
  • a. 15 miles
  • b. 1500 miles
  • c. 150 miles
    2.  Kingsolver explains that small changes in buying habits can make a big difference:  "If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over ________  of oil every week."
    • a. 1.1 million gallons
    • b. 1.1 million barrels
    • c.  it doesn't matter, meat and vegetables grow in supermarkets
    The winner will be announced on Monday evening, September 20.
    Have fun visiting your local farmer's market this weekend :)

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Farmer's Market Samples

    I wasn't sure I was going to make it in time this month....but I got my samples off to Jessie just in time to make it into the September box--with the theme Farmer's Market.
    Each sample includes a fruity tea bag--in honor of the theme.
    Samples include 100% camel hair, cashmere, alpaca, wool, and one mohair blend....from sweaters like J.Crew and Ann Taylor.

    My favorite yarn this month is this 100% Camel Hair. I'll have six 200-yard hanks available (DK weight).  I read online that camel hair is usually not dyed, but left in it's natural state "a buttery golden brown." So, this appears to be undyed. Absolutely luscious! 

    My daughter found the perfect-condition sweater in a thrift shop in Chicago. Labeled "CoxMoore of England" with European sizing.

    It's fun to wonder about this sweater's history. Evidently bought in England, belonged to someone in Chicago, then unwound into yarn in North Carolina....and now where will it end up next?

    Please visit my blog again on Box Day for another fun contest...which will be based on one of my favorite books. 

    Hint: It might be helpful to have a copy of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" handy.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

    The author recreates implausible childhood scenes of four men associated with plant engineering: Norman Borlaug, Henry Wallace, Moses Carver and George Washington Carver. The text somewhat clumsily connects these stories as it introduces each boy and then explains his future accomplishments. 

    The prose doesn't engage me. Each boy's story begins with, "I want to tell you a story about the boy who changed the world". Ugg. The story reads like there was at one time maybe a spark there, but having to make all those connections in the chosen format sucked the life out of it.

    Having worked in children's publishing, this book feels to me like there were too many cooks in the kitchen and someone tried to make them all happy. Like my favorite publisher ever (Sherrill Flora of Key Education), used to tell me, when you try to make everybody happy, nobody will be.

    I review for BookSneeze

    Beyond Opinion by Ravi Zacharias

    Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend is a collection of essays by editor Ravi Zacharias and other apologists.  The essays include the existence of God, the problem of evil, the evidence for intelligent designs and Eastern religions.
    The book is challenging, but worthy of rereading and study. It would be especially good for youth groups, college courses, or book club study.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Contest Winners!

    Yay, Juliaknit! You answered the four questions right off the bat! I'm glad a true fan of these charming books got in there with the correct answers right away.

    Jessie, what a great new name for Etsy! It says it all and in a fun, alliterative way! Etsy should buy it from you as a new tagline.

    The Make it, Sell it, Buy it, Love it Marketplace!

    Juliaknit and Jessie, please email me and we'll make arrangements for you to choose your free yarn! 

    taddiebeeknitting at gmail dot com

    Thanks so much to everyone who entered! Your responses were funny and cute and catchy and showed lots of Etsy love :)

    Look for another contest in October when the STEAMPUNK boxes drop!

    Sunday, August 15, 2010

    PhatFiber Secret Site Contest!

    Welcome to Taddie Bee Knitting! I'm excited to be a first time contributor to Phat Fiber!

    I'm especially glad to start with August because of the theme--AFRICA! My family has a special connection to a beautiful country there that will be the focus of TWO contests this week. I will be giving away a hank of yarn to two smart and creative winners   . . . or the same person could win both!

    CONTEST #1  Be the first person to answer FOUR questions about Africa correctly and you will win your choice of any hank or ball of yarn in my Etsy shop (free shipping of course).

    CONTEST #2  Rename ETSY and I'll choose another winner of a free hank of yarn.
    This handwoven basket was made in "The Gem of Africa."
    The yarn is from an Ann Taylor sweater, 100% cashmere, 
    now available in my Etsy shop
    CONTEST #1
    FOUR QUESTIONS Be the first person to answer these four questions correctly: (Type your answers in a comment box.)

    1. Name a certain country in Africa. Here are three hints:
    • My son-in-law grew up there. (ok, not so helpful for most of you)
    • A popular book series about a lady detective takes place in this country. HBO also produced a TV series based on these books.
    • This country is called "The Gem of Africa."
    2. Name the fictional detective who lives at #5 Zebra Drive in this country's capital city (Be very specific; use her given first and last name.)

    3. What is this fictional detective's favorite drink? (Use the name that she calls it--not what it is called in America.)

    4. In this country's language, the word for money is the same as the word for rain and blessing. What is this lovely word?

    Since all those answers can easily be Googled, and since Phatties are so creative, I want to add another contest that offers a chance for some creativity, and that won't necessarily favor the first visitors to the contest.

    CONTEST #2 
    RENAME ETSY  In the book and HBO series mentioned above, the shop names (and the name of the detective agency) in this African country all have charming, unpretentioous, straightforward names. Names like:

    The Last Chance Hair Salon
    The Go-Go Handsome Men's Bar
    Speedy Motors
    The Double Comfort Furniture Shop

    Rename "ETSY" in this style, and I'll award a free hank of yarn to the creator who, in my opinion, comes closest to the quirky, fun-loving spirit of these shop names.

    The creative and knowledgeable (or Google-savvy) winners will be announced on Wednesday, August 18.

    Have fun!

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    My Phat Fiber Sample on YouTube

    I became a new "phattie" this month!! contributing for the first time in the PhatFiber sample program.

    Phat Fiber Sample Boxes are sold on Etsy. They are a mystery box of samples from independent fiber artists that include artful yarns, bits of roving, small batts, stitch marketers, original patterns, and now . . . luxury recycled yarns from Taddie Bee Knitting! I think I'm one of the very first upcyclers to participate in Phat Fiber.

    Phat Fiber bridges the gap between online artisans and consumers hungry to support independent small businesses.

    If you go to YouTube, you can see Jessie talking about Taddie Bee Knitting at minute 5:15. 

    On this embedded video, my sample is about exactly halfway through the 10 minute video.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    August PhatFiber Samples "AFRICA"

    I'm so excited to be a new contributor to PhatFiber! It's perfect for me because from each sweater I unravel, I usually have several small balls where the yarn breaks or I have to cut it. My limit is one join per 100 yards, so I've just been stashing these smaller pieces or sometimes even tossing the smaller ones out.
    My 50 Samples for the August Box
    These samples include sixteen cashmere hanks, thirty wools, and four silk/cotton blends. These yarns came from sweaters like Ann Taylor, LL Bean and J Crew. 

    I put each sample in a baggie with a tea bag from Africa
    and a tag (business card) that notes fiber content on the back.
    I'd like to thank Galia of Galia's Spindle Designs for telling me about PhatFiber! She lives in Israel and makes the prettiest and most unique spindles I've ever seen.

    Galia not only told me about PhatFiber, she was so sweet to help me get started--answering many questions and taking the time to give me advice about samples, yarn tags, and other things. Thank you, Galia! 

    Each of Galia's lovely spindles are point balanced, tuned and tested.

    Galia also makes other beautiful things for knitters at her PurlyPurl Etsy store. I plan to do some Christmas shopping at her store. My friends would love handmade items from Israel and her shipping to the US is very reasonable--only $2 shipping for these stitch markers!
    Galia's bamboo stitch markers with heart-shaped rings.
    She also makes these as earrings using sterling silver instead! Gorgeous, huh!

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    July Cashmere Shopping in Lincoln Park

    I went to Chicago in early July to witness the birth of my third granddaughter, Kate. 

    Welcome good Kate, sweet Kate!

    On the way to Kate's first checkup, my son-in-law dropped me off at The Brown Elephant Resale Shop. Proceeds there benefit the Howard Brown Health Center.

    Another afternoon, I slipped away to the White Elephant Resale Shop which benefits Children's Memorial Hospital. (That's another thing I like about unraveling--it's such a win-win for everyone along the recycling chain.) This shop is within walking distance of my daughter's house and it's so much fun walking around in Lincoln Park and feeling part of this vibrant and trendy yet classic Chicago neighborhood.

    Because Lincoln Park is an affluent neighborhood and because Chicago has such cold winters (my daughter describes them more colorfully), I always find great sweaters there.

    Here are my latest finds . . . they'll appear in my Etsy shop in mid-August.

    J Crew 100% Lambwool
    Drying after hanking and washing.
    This punchy pink sweater yielded six 150-yard hanks.

    This luscious sweater yielded 450 yards of lace weight cashmere.
    I combined three strands to create a
    more substantial fingering weight yarn.
    Alexander Julian 100% Shetland Wool
    The flecks of tweed in this wool are gorgeous.
     I'll have six 165-yard hanks available.
    I got a good deal on this cashmere
    top because the shoulder seam was torn.

    I'll only have one 115-yard hank available
    of this lovely turquoise lace weight yarn.

    I'm really excited about this Peruvian sheep's wool sweater. I usually don't unravel multi-colored sweaters, but I imagined they could be separated and used to make smaller Fair Isle projects in these same beautiful colors.

    I was right!
    The colors separated nicely and I was able to create
    four Fair Isle kits. Two small kits from each sleeve
    and two large ones from the front and back.
    It doesn't get much better than this in the unraveling world.
    Ann Taylor Cashmere in a fingering weight neutral.
    I call it "oatmeal."
    I'll have five 150-yard hanks available.