Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice

Today is the longest night of the year...or the shortest day, whichever you prefer. I like to celebrate the solstice. Something about stopping to think about the earth tilting as far away from the sun as it will for a year & realizing that from now on the days will get longer, even as winter is just beginning, makes me feel a little bit more in tune with nature. We now have almost 2 feet of snow on the ground after this weekend's storms. Time to hibernate. Knitting and crafting projects are waiting...

Monday, December 15, 2008


I am back in my warm home typing on my Mac after being without power for 4 nights. We had an ice storm on Thursday night and lost power along with a record setting 500,000+ other homes from Maine to New York. Luckily we could go straight to my father's house and were able to keep nice & toasty as well as have hot coffee & food with one of these....
He still doesn't have power but my Mom got her electricity back on Saturday morning so the girls & I have been living comfortably since then. My husband is an electrician so he's been working pretty much non-stop since Friday morning helping customers but also keeping our pipes from freezing by bringing in a generator for a few hours each night.

I've decided that if we're going to be living in NH, we need to heat our home with wood & not be completely dependent upon electricity (or oil...but that's another discussion). I can go without the luxury of lights, television and internet (although that was a tough one), but HEAT is simply a necessity in the winter!

The amount of destruction caused by just a 1 inch coating of ice was unbelievable. Trees were snapped in half, power lines downed and homes and parked cars damaged by falling branches. There was a lot of beauty in the ice as well. Here are some of the images I saw on Friday morning.

Feels wonderful to be back home and connected to the world. Hope others that have been displaced by the storm find their way home again soon.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Solstice Bird

Here's a simple bird ornament for hanging around the house this holiday season. I'm working a little flock, but for now here is the first one.
You need a very small amount of 100% wool for the body & just scraps for needle felting wings, stitching seams & making beaks. I've used the following needles & yarn for this guy, but feel free to experiment with what you have on hand. Felting is unpredictable as well, so keep an eye on it to make sure it's the size you'd like. The finished measurements of this bird are 4.5" h x 5" w.


Needles: US size 10 for body, US size 6 dp for i-cord beak
Yarn: Cascade 220 wool (NOT superwash...need 100% wool for felting)
Stuffing: yarn or fabric scraps
Felting needle (for adding wings)
2 buttons for eyes
tapestry needle for stitching seam & sewing on beak & eyes

Using size 10 needles, CO 7 sts.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: m1, k7, m1
Repeat rows 1 & 2 making 1 new stitch on each edge of row 2 and knitting all the stitches in between (ie: m1, k9, m1 then m1, k11, m1, etc.) until there are 19 sts then start decreases:
Dec Row 1: k2tog, k15, k2 tog
Dec Row 2: knit
Repeat dec rows 1 & 2 until there are 7 sts left, then knit 1 row.
BO all sts.

At this point you will have a garter stitch oval that is ready to be felted.
Check out this link for how to do felting and then go for it. You can knit up a bunch of ovals at one time and felt them all at once or just do one at a time. Just be sure to separate your ovals from each other (using a pillowcase or a lingerie bag) during the felting process or else they will felt to each other.

Once your felted piece has dried, you can then cut* it into equal mirror images for your bird body following this diagram. Felted wool does not unravel so cut away! You can trim as necessary to alter the shapes so they fit together evenly.

*Please note that when cutting your pieces, hold the fabric with the garter ridges horizontally. If you look at the above photo, the garter stitch pattern runs horizontally on the finshed bird.

Stitch the body together, leaving a small opening at the bottom. Stuff with fabric/yarn scraps then stitch closed. Sew on button eyes & needle felt wings. Using size 6 dp needles make a 3 stitch i-cord ~ 1.5 inches long for the beak then stitch onto body. Hang up in your favorite location!