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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Monday, December 29, 2008



I am not a great knitter but I do enjoy it.

Unlike sewing which is a pretty obvious activity to people, you can maintain some level of creative output during social times, my entire family are mega conversationalists, myself at the front of the line, without appearing too distracted if you knit while you talk.

I started this holiday season struggling in quiet desperation with Lopi yarn. Lopi is made in Iceland from I assume Icelandic sheep and logic would
suggest that anything knit from Lopi yarn would be warm, which in Nova Scotia in winter is generally a good thing. The trouble with Lopi yarn however is that it is about as bouncy and flexible as steel wool (poor cold, tough sheep) so having invested in a fair bunch of this stuff I have knit and unknitted 3 whole sweaters of the same yarn this year, all because each product was rejected by the recipient as being too stiff, tight and uncomfortable. ( I sew for myself, knit for other people). These were 3 sweaters that I completely unraveled and started again, mainly because I am as stubborn and as stiff about somethings, like wasting money, as an Icelandic sheep.

Finally I found these great free designs from Norway and a simple pattern for a garter stitch dog walking jacket for my daughter. Finally I was able to make something that had some stretch to it with this yarn and she loved the sweater, as rough and rustic as it is. And most importantly that Lopi is now of my house.

With a few remaining balls of Lopi I also made some felted mitts, that in Lopi are Arctic duty warm and completely wind and water proof.

I actually enjoy making felted mitts, because the felting, which I do by hand, sometimes even in my nightly bath, is fun and all your knitting mistakes disappear. For those of you who haven't done it yet, felted mitts are knit large and then scrubbed in hot water until they matt and shrink. The blue pair here (knit in a lighter worsted weight here and not so steel like) is a before and after.

I should emphasize, in case anyone thinks I know what I am doing, that it is very, very important to establish that the yarn is all wool before you start this. I had a lovely mystery wool pair made for my son and I spent the 24th of December locked in the bathroom scrubbing away in boiling water to try and make those suckers shrink. To cut to the punch line 30% silk yarn will not shrink. At all. However my Dr. Seuss mitts were great for comic relief Christmas morning and my belief has always been that any cause that produces a laugh is not totally lost.

Since then I have been knitting a compensation pair from some real 100% wool, but do suspect that I will run out of this unique yarn 75% of the way through the second mitt.

As a knitter my success rate is fairly consistent.

Another reason to enforce some quality sewing time tomorrow.

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