Friday, December 19, 2008

'Tis The Season

Yes, this is the season for parties with my various groups. Some have opted for no gift exchange, but two groups are wonderful for hand created packages of wonderfulness. Over the weekend I received this wonderful bun warmer. LuAnn gave me the pattern last year but she knows me too well and knew I would never get around to making it...and this with fabulous machine knit dishcloths, and jars of tasty goodness from her garden.

At the spinner's Christmas luncheon I received this wonderful angora which Kim raises herself along with some marvelous hand dyed wool to spin with it.

The sheep shawl I made was well received. Do you think I remembered to take a picture of Karen wearing it? No! Well she said she wouldn't be taking it off, so I'll snap one at the next meeting. :-)

Here it is blocking. It does look better on.

So the holidays are starting out okay. There hasn't been a lot of stress shopping. Perhaps next year everything will be homemade. Wouldn't that be the gift of one's time. Meanwhile, the lottery ticket to my husband is the gift of hope!

Monday, December 8, 2008


I had my doubts a couple of weeks ago, but it's done!

I finished whipping the edge and blocked it yesterday. Now to find the right size pizza box. I feel so competent and in charge. Too bad my house does not reflect that. :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Camp Poose

Every year I make one gift that's a major investment of time. This year the "lucky" recipient is Tad, my daughter's SO, soul mate, partner. I'm hooking a chair pad of the family camp. This camp, in the backwoods of Maine, was originally built by his grandfather whose nickname was Poose, hence the camp's name.

This is what I started with. I printed out the picture in thirds and transferred the "essence" to monks cloth.

This much hooking took me a week.

This is the end of week two.

The saga continues.....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Punched Pumpkin Mat

I can't believe I finished something in time for the season. Usually, I would be done at the beginning of the next season and have to wait a year to use it. When deciding to make this particular mat, I discovered the secret of designing and getting the picture on the rug backing material. I know everyone who hooks probably knows this, but this is for the me, who has so many "duh" moments.

You start out with a pencil, eraser, and paper...preferably printer paper. It's nice and white. Draw the design you want tweaking as you go. That's what the eraser is for. :-) When you are totally satisfied with your picture, trace your pencil lines with a thin magic marker. I have been told the name 'magic marker' went the way of the dinosaur. I actually used a Bic Mark It ultra fine point. Erase any visible pencil marks. You may not see them too clearly now, but trust me, they will show on the computer when you blow it (the picture) up.

Now scan or take a photo of your drawing and get it in the computer. Your rug or mat will probably want to be larger than the actual size of the picture. Rather than spending money at an office supply store having them blow it up, you can do it yourself and it will only cost you a little time and paper.

For the rug above, I simply cropped the picture into thirds saving the original and each third separately. I then printed out each third to full size on the 8.5x11 paper and then folded the edges and lined up the design and taped them together. My original hand drawn picture of 5x9" turned into a rug of 9 x 22". If you wanted a larger rug, you could grid out the picture into 6, 9, 12 sections. OOOOh! I think I'll make a matching floor rug! I digress.

Tape red dot or quilters transfer paper (located in the interfacing section of most fabric stores) on the enlarged picture and go over it with a larger size magic marker. Now your design is ready to be transferred to your backing in the same method.

Nothing is written in stone. Even after your picture is on your backing, you can still tweak. I added the crow at the last minute. The only thing to remember if you are PUNCHING the rug, is that your image will be reversed. I realized that in the beginning and the rug turned out as it should have...only since working from the back all the time, I've come to like the rug better from the back side. Will I ever be satisfied with how a project turns out? Probably not.

p.s. The yarn used for the pumpkins was hand dyed on cream wool using Landscape's "Dingo". Each skein was around 200 yards. The lightest pumpkin used 1/4 teaspoon of dye and I increased the dye in increments of 1/4 teaspoon to get the deeper colours.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Pocketbook

I promised this pattern and I'm doing it now! Some people might like to get some done before Christmas. So, in all it's glory, is the WoolTales Pocketbook.

WoolTales Felted Pocketbook
With Pocket Options

Winter Pocketbook/Flap

Fall Topless Pocketbook

Topless Bag
Materials: 600 yards of feltable worsted weight wool in a solid colour
140 - 150 yards of variegated feltable worsted weight wool
1 or 2 buttons for pocket flaps

Flap Bag
Materials: 4 skeins Lamb’s Pride worsted (190 yards each) or about 750 yards
2 skeins Noro Kureyon (110 yards each)
1 large button for the top flap
1 small button for pocket flap
You may want to purchase the buttons and then select the yarn to match. I discovered it’s much easier that way.

Needles: US 11 double points and 16" circular
Crochet hook “H - K” Size not particularly important.
3 Markers and 1 End of Row Marker

Gauge: Not important. Finished felted bag is approximately 12-14" wide and 10 - 12" high.

BO - bind off
CO - cast on
sts - stitches
SSK - slip two stitches one at a time as if to knit. Place back on left hand needle and knit together through the back loop
dec. - decrease.
K2tog - knit 2 stitches together
YO - wrap yarn over needle

Ribbing: I have used a 2 x 2 ribbing in the pattern. If you prefer a 1 x 1 ribbing, do that. It’s your purse!

Bottom of bag -
With the solid colour and variegated wool, cast on 12 stitches and work garter stitch (knit each row) for 28 ridges. Knit one more row with the circular needle. Place marker. Pick up and knit across side (1 stitch per ridge), place marker, pick up and knit across the cast on edge (1 stitch per stitch), place marker, and back up along the last side, place end of row marker. You should have a rectangle with 12 stitches on each end and 28 stitches on each side. This is Round 1.

Rnd 2: Knit 12, slip marker, knit 2, *make 1, K2 and repeat from * down the first side (41 stitches), slip marker, knit 12, slip marker, knit 2,* make 1, K2 and repeat from * down the second side (41 stitches). (106 sts total.)

Rnds 3 - 6: Knit around

Rnd 7: Cut variegated yarn and join second strand of solid yarn and knit around.

Body of bag -
Rnd 1: Knit

Rnd 2: Knit 12, slip marker, SSK, knit 37 (to the last 2 stitches), K2tog, slip marker, knit 12, slip marker, SSK, knit 37 (to the last 2 stitches), K2tog. (102 sts total.)

Pocket Placement -
Rnd 3: Knit 12 end stitches, on each side: knit 13, purl 13, knit 13. These purl bumps are what we will be picking up and knitting when we put in our pockets.

Rnds 4 - 19: Knit.
If you would like to add a small cell phone pocket on the side, purl the middle 10 of the 12 sts for one or both sides on round 8.

Rnd 20: (for small flap pocket only) - knit 12 end stitches, knit 13, purl 13, knit 13. Work to end of round.

Rnds 21 - 34: Knit around.

Handle holes -
Rnd 35: Knit to 7 sts. before end of row marker. *K2tog, YO, knit 5, slip end of row marker,

Rnd 36: Knit 2, YO, K2 tog, knit 4, K2tog, YO, K2 , slip marker, knit 5, YO, K2tog, K25, K2tog, YO, knit 5, slip marker, Knit 2, YO, K2 tog, knit 4, K2tog, YO, K2 , slip marker, knit 5, YO, K2tog, Knit to end of row.

Rnd 37: Knit

For Ribbed Top:
Rnds 38 - 41: Knit 2, Purl 2 around.
Rnd 42: Bind off in pattern.

For Flap Top:
Rnds 38 - 40: K2, P2 over side sts, K39, slip marker, K1, P2, *K2, P2, repeat from * to end of round.

Rnd 41: K2, P2 over 12 sts, K39, BO remaining sts of row in pattern.

Rnd 42: BO first 12 sts, K remaining 39 sts.

Start of actual flap:
Using 1 strand of black and 1 strand of variegated
Row 1: Slip the first stitch as if to purl and purl to end.
Row 2: Slip 1, SSK, knit to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Repeat rows 1 & 2 twice more.
Row 7: Slip 1, P.
Row 8: Slip 1, K.
Row 9: Slip 1, P.
Row 10: Slip 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.

Repeat rows 7 - 10 until 15 sts. Remain.
Next row: Slip 1, P4, BO 5 sts in P, P5.
Next row: Slip 1, K4, CO 5 sts, K5.
Next row: Slip 1, P.
Next row: Slip 1, K.
Next row: Slip 1 P
BO Row: Working a corded bind off, add three sts by placing the right hand needle between the 1st & 2nd sts, K. Place new st back on left needle. Repeat twice. After you have added the sts, *K2, SSK. Slip 3 sts back to the left hand needle and repeat from * until all the sts are BO and there are three sts remaining. Cut yarn and draw through 3 sts.

Short Pocket -
With US 11 double point needle and leaving an 8 - 10" tail of yarn, pick up and knit 13 sts at purl bumps toward the bottom of the bag and holding your purse with the BOTTOM TOWARD YOU. This is row 1. Turn your work and purl back across these stitches. Continue in stockinette stitch until 10 rows have been completed. Bind off in knit on the next row. Pull yarn through last stitch and cut leaving an 8 - 10" tail.

With the tails at the beginning and end of your pocket, sew the respective sides of the pocket to the bag. I used a whip stitch.

Short Pocket Flap -
Using one strand of solid and one strand of variegated wool and holding your purse with the TOP of the bag TOWARD you, pick up and knit 13 sts from the top line of purl stitches. This is row 1.

Row 2: Slip first stitch, purl to end of row.
Row 3: Slip first stitch, SSK, knit to last 3 sts, K2tog, knit 1.
Row 4: Slip 1, purl across

Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until 5 stitches remain.
Next row: Slip 1, slip another, K2tog, pass second slipped stitch over, knit. (3 sts).
Next row: Slip 1, purl across.
Last row: Slip 1, K2tog, pass slipped stitch over. (1 stitch).

With this last stitch, crochet a chain of 9. Fasten off and weave tail to base of chain creating a loop which will fasten around the button of your pocket.

Long Pocket -
With US 11 double point needle and leaving a 10-12" tail of yarn, pick up and knit 13 sts at purl bumps toward the bottom of the bag holding the bag with the BOTTOM TOWARD YOU.

Row 2: Turn your work and purl back across these stitches.
Continue in stockinette stitch until you are approximately 1" from the start of the ribbing at the top of your purse. Knit 2, Purl 2 for three rows. Bind off the next row in pattern leaving a 10-12" tail.

With the tails at the beginning and end of your pocket, sew the respective sides of the pocket to the bag.

Handle -
Using 2 double point needles, one strand variegated and one strand solid wool, cast on 5 stitches. (If you prefer a solid handle, use two strands of your solid yarn.) Work I-cord for seven feet (7') for a shoulder bag handle. If you would like shorter handles, 5-1/2 to 6' should be fine. Remember that these will shrink during the felting process. Cast off leaving a tail. Feed the handle through all the handle holes and sew the ends together. Neatness counts but we don’t need to be compulsive. The felting process will even out slight blemishes in our work and the handle seam can be placed in the small area on the side between the holes.

Side of the purse with handle in place. The ribbing is the top of the cell phone side pocket,

Before you felt:
Do you want any more pockets? Perhaps one or two inside? Simply pick up some purl bumps from the inside and repeat the process for knitting a pocket. You could make a large divided pocket by simply picking up across most of one side, making the pocket and then sewing down the middle. It’s your purse.

Time to felt!
Use your favorite felting method your purse in a pillow case protector or pillow case tied at the end and throw in the washer. Just let it run through the cycles. Two to three complete cycles should do it. Lamb’s Pride felts more quickly than some yarns. Check your progress. Make sure your handle swings freely and doesn’t knot up in the washer or it can not felt properly. Pull it out before the last spin cycle to prevent creases. Let it drip and then press with towels to soak up excess water. Shape and let air dry - two to three days.

You may have to shave your bag after it is dry unless you like the fuzzier look of Lamb’s Pride. The fuzziness sucked up some colour of the variegated in the above. I will try the next bag using Galway.

Sew your buttons where you need them and you are ready to go. Enjoy!!

Copyright 2004 by Janis Garwood a.k.a. WoolTales. Revised 2008.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

There was "Timing" "Time"....

and questions like, "Where does it go?" It's the end of the month already and what have I accomplished? It doesn't feel like much. I did take a whirlwind week and drove from Tennessee to northern New York. I should say I 'rode', but I got some quality knitting time in. I started FiberTrend's S-2003 The Sheep Shawl

using Web's wool/cashmere blend in a finger weight. I always say I don't like lace and doing an overall lace pattern repeatedly IS pretty boring. Mixing up the patterns and doing one chart after another is pretty exciting like working fair isle in Meg Swansen's Dubbelmossa and I LOVE fair isle. I'm already down to the sheep so let's hope the border doesn't finish me off.

A quick hour where I grew up was enough to visit the lake and pick up some cheese. Ahh, the power of cheese. After seeing Lake Ontario again and remembering how great it was growing up there, I know why my daughter loves Maine so much. It was still two weeks too early for any foliage, but just in time for the salmon fishing!

Friday, September 5, 2008


I've been re-writing an old pattern up for one of my lists. It's a felted bag. I usually just wing it when I'm tweaking or creating something new. One just needs to remember to write everything down...even the tiny minutia. So I'm done and need a button. Not just any button. This thing has to "pop"! Startle the senses. One of a kind. So the hunt begins through my vast stash of buttons. Buttons can make or break a project. What you have created may be wonderful but if you put on a blah button, what's the point?

My search ended in Knoxville at Loopville. Jinka, the owner, has always been very helpful whenever I've gone there. I've picked up many great buttons there but really didn't think I would find what I needed. It would have to be larger than most buttons, you see. I thought I would end up dragging out the polymer clay and improvising. In one of the four baskets of buttons I looked through, out popped this!

This button is over 2" square and glittery and one of a kind. I must write and find out the creator's name and give her the proper credit she deserves. It certainly made the bag as you can see here. It's hard to tell but the colours match exactly! Once again there is peace in my home.

Update: I just discovered the button artisan....Gail Hughes and you can see a sampling of more of her buttons here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gifts In General

It's always difficult to decide what to get as a gift for someone especially when you do not know who will be receiving it. So I give what I would like to receive. Fortunately, this gift was well received because the recipient is as anal as am I, and I mean this in a most loving way!

I needle punched "Grandmother's Garden" by Stone & Thread (Warning: blatant plug.) purchased at Crossstitch-ville and finished the edges as I would a hooked whip stitching around the edge. I then glued it to the cover of a 6" x 6" photo album using a water based glue. If the album wears out, it can be detached and glued to whatever or framed.

So it's a photo album. What's so anal about that? Inside I placed "Knitting Project" pages where you can enter all the pertinent information. On the opposite side is room for a picture of the finished project. Most people can just remember what they knit. Well, when you get to be my age, you know that just isn't true anymore. I hadn't even hit 40 when I moved and started unpacking items that covered a ten year span in which I was positive I hadn't knit a thing. This is also when my journaling started. Just be glad I am only going to post on new items I'm working and not the past twenty years worth.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rug Hooking!

What can I say about rug hooking? This is my latest passion and I can't get enough. Years ago I bought a kit with a two minute instruction on how to hook at a festival. This is NOT the way to start. I gave the kit away in disgust. I now know it wasn't me. It was the kit, hook, and instruction. The kit had size 3 cut, a hook that I found hard to use, and two minutes is not enough time for anyone to properly learn.

I later found a DVD on Nantucket Rug Hooking by Judy Taylor. Since I was a knitter and spinner and a stash to rival some yarn shops, this was a match made in heaven. The chair pad at the top is my very first venture into rug hooking. I simply threw a piece of burlap in the chair and drew the outline of the seat. Then I drew the picture. It's good to know the picture you draw isn't necessarily the picture you end up with. Otherwise, I would have ended up with two headed sheep and a house in the middle of the bay.

Since then I have watched Gene Shepherd's tutorial on beginning rug hooking...bought "Woolly Sheep", a #6 cut kit from Joan Moshimer when I was up in Maine last summer (I added an extra cloud)...

and Red Saltbox Americana, a #8 cut kit from Sharon Perry off Ebay this summer. Don't look for a bush in her kit. I added it. I can not leave anything alone!

Life is good and I'm hooked!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Acorn Bag

This is my Acorn Bag. The bag itself is not my pattern. It's the Fulled Lopi Tote from Hello Yarn. I LOVE this bag pattern. When everyone was making the Buttonhole Bag, this is the bag I was making. The bottom is perfect, in my opinion. I knit the bag, added an acorn knitted from Nicki Epstein's "Knitted Embellishments" and needle felted the leaf from wool roving I hand dyed. Yes, I can do it all when the lights go out.

The trick of needle felting is perspective. I didn't like my leaf when I was done so it started prying it off from the outside edges. That little bit of lifting gave it the 3D look I wanted to achieve. I grew rather fond of this bag but we were having a spinning demonstration at a local event and I put it up for sale. Of course, it sold. Perhaps, now is the time to make another.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Got 100 gms?

This is a super simple project for that extra ball of yarn we end up with after knitting a sweater. Remember, the yardage is more important than the grams/ounces. Think of this hat as a blank canvas with which to create a stunning/outrageous/gorgeous chapeau. The hat at the top is modified with a simple felted I-cord band. I think the addition of the right feather would be nice...while the hat at the bottom became a pumpkin head. The leaf is from Nickie Epstein's Knitted Embellishments. A hat like this screams, "needle felt on me!" I'll save this idea for the next post. :-)

WoolTales Felted Hat

US 10 - 16" circular needle and/or double points
230 yards of feltable worsted weight wool or mohair

With a SINGLE strand of yarn, CO 100 sts -
Join and knit 65 rows.

Next row: *K8, k2tog* repeat around.
Knit 2 rows.

Next row: *K7, k2tog* repeat around.
Knit 2 rows.

Next row: *K6, k2tog* repeat around.
Knit 2 rows.

Continue these three rows (changing to DPs when needed) knitting one less in the decrease row until 30 sts remain. Knit the next two rows.

Last row: K2tog around. Pull thread through remaining sts and finish off.

Felt to desired size.

If this is your first felting attempt, measure you head and add about 1". That is the size you will look for. Trying on a wet hat is not fun. Throw the hat in a zippered pillow case protector or tie it up in an old pillow case and throw in with the regular wash. A 100% mohair hat will felt fast...usually one load. An all wool hat will generally take about three loads...but not all wools felt equally! Check the hat often. Take the hat out and spread flat and measure. This is the outside measurement and will be slightly more than the inside measurement. If I want an inside circumference of 23", I felt until I get a measurement of 12" across the flat hat.

Let’s say you over-felted. Soak in a little hair conditioner and stretch the hat out on pot or bowl with the circumference you want.

After you get the size you want, shape and dry out of the sun, usually 1-2 days.

Have you made a slight mistake in a stitch while knitting? Don't worry, it usually becomes invisible after the felting process. If it doesn't, it can become the starting point for decorating your hat. This shouldn't be stressful. Go with the flow.

Copyright 2003 by Janis Garwood a.k.a. WoolTales. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Do you have 100?

Yards of wool, yarn, string, that is. Then you can knit these in the smaller size. I wrote this pattern ages ago on the way to visit my daughter in December. I was knitting a pair of mittens and realized I couldn't finish the second if I closed up the tip to the first. The fingerless mitten was born. I thought I was SO clever. Then I started seeing them everywhere...especially more recently. The very first pair did not look quite so polished as the final version. The fingerless mittens above were done in 2003 using hand spun Spinderella Thrums.

Feel free to tweak and add a stitch pattern or cable. Add a kid mohair to the cuff. There is no right or wrong. I'll post a picture of the first pair when I dig them out in the fall. Live in a colder climate? Wear them over your gloves. Then you can make many coordinating pairs. Enjoy!

WoolTales Fingerless Mittens

Materials: size 5 US double points, 110 yards worsted weight wool

Sizes: Medium - women’s, (Large - men’s)

K = knit
P = purl
st = stitch
sts = stitches
= round
CO = cast on
BO = bind off
inc = increase

Cuff: CO 40 (44) sts. Join work and K2, P2 for 3” (20 rounds)
Knit even for three (3) rounds.

Thumb: Rnd 1: K3, place marker, inc 1 in next st, K1, inc 1 in next st, place marker, K to end (5 sts between markers). These are the thumb sts.

Rnd 2: Knit around.

Rnd 3: K3, inc 1 in st. after the marker, K3, inc 1 in st before marker, K to end. (7 sts between markers)

Rnd 4: Knit around

Continue in this manner until there are 15 (17) sts between markers.
Knit 1 round.

Next row: K3(k1, p1 between markers), knit to end. Repeat this row 2 (3) more times.

Thumb Finish: K3, BO sts between markers while working rib pattern, knit to end.

Hand: Next row: K3, CO 3 sts, knit to end.

Knit 2 (3) rounds even.

Work K2, P2 for 10 rounds.

BO working in rib pattern.

Weave in ends.

The best news of all, the mitten will fit either make another mitten now.

Copyright 2000 - Janis Garwood, WoolTales

Sunday, June 15, 2008

It's all about preparation.

Like this? I am preparing to start my daughter's Dale of Norway "Park City" sweater. I have been swatching and testing yarn. Above is what I made in Hauk and which I think I will end up using.

This is easy to do. Simply find a charted pattern of approximately 25 stitches for each side and work it in the round for however long you need. I think this chart work was 27 rows and then I added the stripes. Work the four decrease until it's the size you want for your top opening and voila! This particular chart came from Vogue's Stitchionary 3.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Whale

The Whale - A Cautionary Tale

I found this lovely pattern at my local CrossStitch-ville and the frame for only $1 at the local Art & Frame shop. I WAS going to outline the whole thing with the gold punch but got too scissor happy snipping the ends of threads from the back side and accidentally cut my fabric! Argh!!

There was nothing left for me to do. I couldn't continue to punch past the cut material so I had to mount the picture on a piece of wool and surround it with the gold cording. Up close it does not look good. This will NEVER be a gift. My only consolation (other than learning a lesson the hard way) is that it is placed on a wall where one can not get within eight feet of it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Everyone needs a blog.

This is my first post on my first I have nothing better to do with my time. Ha!

WoolTales is the name I chose for my business when I was in Virginia ten years ago. I had such grandiose ideas of actually making a living in the fiber world. I suppose some can but they need to be more talented than I AND they need a head for business. I found the pressure of deadlines took the fun and creativity out of it for me.

To add some decent content for the poor soul who stumbles upon this site, I am working the placket bands of a Henley knit in CotLin from Knit Picks. The pattern is Top Down
Henley for Women by Knitting Pure and Simple. I don't usually repeat patterns, but I have worked this one four times.

Now to learn to upload pictures.