Uh oh! It was bound to happen. I tried to make an antelope hat but only had a partial skein of yarn. I thought there would be enough, but I was wrong.
Can you say Epic Fail?
Drat. I hate it when this happens and I'm on a time crunch. So keep your fingers crossed. There might still be an antelope hat for this weekend's Wood Badge Reunion Dinner and silent auction.
By now you've figured out that I'm knitting up a storm at the last minute to try to get eight hats ready for this weekend's Boy Scout Wood Badge Reunion Dinner and scholarship fundraiser. Fortunately, I managed to knit up an owl hat in advance. Lest you forget what it looked like, I'm posting another picture so it's fresh in your mind.
I created an antelope hat last year, so I could probably come up with another one for this year. I would modify it to make it even cuter. But the Buffalo, Eagle and Bobwhite get trickier and trickier in that order. I've got a few more days. Let's see what I can do.
Another day - another critter hat. There are eight classic critters for the Boy Scout Wood Badge training. I've already got four hats complete for this weekend's reunion and silent auction -- Owl, Beaver, Fox and now the Bear. I won't make all eight by this weekend... but I'm sure having fun trying.
I was the Troop Guide for the Bear Patrol in 2009, so the bears have a special place in my heart.
This is great fun creating hats for this fun event. I'm trying to take a breath and jot down my notes for these patterns so I can publish them for others who want to create them, too. You know how much I love to share the love. Happy knitting. Stay tuned for more critters.
A fox hat, of course? I'm continuing on my critter cap craze. The second featured critter of the week is the red fox.
By now, you've probably already seen the original YouTube song "What Does the Fox Say?" - but have you seen this Halloween House decked out?
By the way, I will NOT be decorating to this level for Halloween. Suffice it to say that I will have a pumpkin which may or may not get carved and some candy.
Today was one of those special days when I got to combine my passions - textiles and Scouts. I taught Scouts from my friend's troop in Newtown, Connecticut the Textile Merit Badge. It's a four-hour class and the boys generally come to the class thinking it's going to be a little wimpy - and leave - totally surprised at how much fun they had and how boy-centric textile can be.
I added a new fabric to my board - the aramid from a friend's old sail boat racing days. Very cool!
These Scouts were naturals! I honestly couldn't believe they were just learning how to make a primary loom.
Seriously, after this video and a little bit of hands-on instruction, they all made amazing samples of handwoven projects.
And we make it fun by learning how a sheep gets sheared. "It's just like getting a haircut. It only hurts if the barber nicks you." I have a bag of dirty, unwashed fleece straight off the sheep that I share with the boys. While I have them looking at it - I basically talk about the dirty fleece and what might be in it. I ask them if they see anything in particular. The answers I get are: dirt, twigs, grass, until one Scout sheepishly answers "Poop." Bingo!
Did you find the poop?
Needless to say, we don't use this sheep's fleece except for a demo. I have a bag of cleaned, processed fleece. We do talk about how the fleece is cleaned, processed, carded, spun and made into skeins of wool for sale in a store. I even give them a quick demo on my craft mini carders. And since hand carders look like instruments of torture - the boys love them and can hardly wait to get their hands on them. Here's a real demo with full sized hand carders
After they've all taken a turn or two using the mini hand carders, I show them my drop spindle. I'll admit. I absolutely stink at spinning. I need some help in this department. But I enjoy showing the boys how poorly I spin before I show them this drop spindle video
BTW, I let the boys continue working on their weaving projects all the while I'm showing these videos. It's great because they're dual-tasking and paying attention to either one or both of the activities. Most boys seem engaged in both.
After the drop spindle, which was around since time began, I show them the spinning wheel. I have no experience whatsoever with a spinning wheel so I show this Scottish video.
We then begin a discussion of whether to clean or not to clean the fleece. There are many theories - and both sides of the argument are quite vehement in their point of view. Here's a great article from Spinning Forth about the different practices. Of course, I have to share the Scottish method with the Scouts - because what's not to like about using aged urine (aka ammonia) as a scouring agent. Once again, bodily functions come into play. The Scouts love it!
Next up, I show a video of a woman on a Union 36 loom. There are many weaving videos out there, but I like this one because it's brief, interesting, and exposes the Scouts to another use of weaving - making rag rugs.
I show them how weaving has evolved since prehistoric times. From sheep farming, shearing, spinning, weaving, sewing - to more modern methods - spinning wheels, looms and even the industrial revolution. We watch an excerpt of a mill in BBC’s production of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (first episode – 10:54 time mark). This is an example of the weaving machines in the Industrial Revolution in Northern England circa 1885.
Finally, I bring the Scouts to today by showing them this modern clip of computerized looms today. After they've spent the last hour and a half weaving their little sample - I mention that this modern loom could do the same amount of weaving in a matter of seconds.
So the Scouts have now learned the background of the various methods of turning fiber into fabric. I show them a quick video of the basics of knitting, all the while knitting on my sock du jour while chatting and walking around. They love to see that!
After all this talk of making fiber into yarn into fabric, I tell the Scouts that after lunch, they need to BE PREPARED TO DYE! (That's d-y-e not d-i-e.).
We quickly watch this Etsy Lab video about how to dye with natural dyes.
This is a great video and the boys quickly get it. I tell them we're going to dye our fabric swatches in onion skins and cochineals. Then I pass around my ziplog bag of cochineal and ask them if they can guess what it is and what color the dye is.
Sometimes some will guess it - beetles!
Before we dye, we watch one last video about the cochineal beetle. They eat it up - literally!
OK - no actual beetles are eaten in the course of my merit badge class, but the boys will never hear the term 'bug juice' in quite the same way.
If you want to dye with natural dyes - save yellow onion skins in an open container (so they dry out). Use about 2-4 handfuls in 3 cups of water. You can buy the Procion MX red dye on Amazon. Two teaspoons will make a brilliant red dye. It's harder to find the actual beetles - but a quick internet search will provide some vendors.
After today's class, the parents arrived promptly to pick up their Scouts. As we were wrapping up, filling out the blue cards, and cleaning up, one Scout was overheard saying "I can't believe it's already been four hours. It seems like it's only been an hour and a half."
I wonder if any of them will pursue a career in textiles after today's class. I will likely never, ever know. But I'll continue to wonder just the same.
P.S. My personal goal is to move the Textile Merit Badge up in the popularity rankings. It ended up in the bottom quartile last year at slot #92. I hope to push it into the 80s this year, or maybe next year.
Our big day in the city included a trip to Toys R Us in Times Square and a Broadway extravaganza - The Lion King. It was a fabulous day.
Grace, Conor and Pierce posing in front of Toys R Us - before even knowing what Aunt Jennifer's surprise stop was going to be. They thought they were just posting for a picture in Times Square. Hehehe.
The kiddos loved the Legos section - and even the Incredible Hulk was seen flexing his muscles with a little sock knitting. Thumbs up for the Hulk!
It's good to be the King Aunt!
After that we grabbed a quick bite to eat and I allowed plenty of time to get to the theatre - not realizing the Minskoff Theatre is right across Broadway from Toys R Us.
That was just fine as it allowed us time for a Starbucks coffee, a pitstop and a photo op before the show.
There are no pictures allowed inside the theatre, but we snapped some in the lobby. Here the kiddos are with the Scar's costume.
Here's the wax museum statue of Rafiki - the shaman. The costumes are amazing!
My sister stopped by for a surprise visit this weekend, since she was in the neighborhood (as in, Ohio, twelve hours away). We're having the BEST time.
We started by visiting our friends the Ferences and picking pears from their aged pear tree. It's overgrown so most of the pears just fall on the ground. We have plans for these pears!!!
Thanks Bill, Joyce, and Will for letting us pick pears!
After pear picking, we headed up to Shelton, CT for apple picking at the Beardsley Cider Mill. Pierce was a pro. In fact, we picked about 30 lbs of apples.
Let's not talk about the abuse of the child labor laws here. They're smiling!
After a fabulous drive to West Hartford - which afforded us a picturesque view of the fall foliage - we visited the Noah Webster House. We posed for a picture in the classroom.
And here's a shout out to Dave Peterson our lively and entertaining tour guide at the Noah Webster House.
We thoroughly enjoyed our tour. No pictures were allowed inside the actual house - but we snapped this one in the classroom before entering. I love the kids who get in the spirit. Inside the four-room house, we saw how the family lived, slept, and worked. I especially loved the demonstration of the fabric making - from flax to wool, shearing, carding, spinning and weaving.
Lest you think that was enough activity for one day, we stopped at the Pez Visitor Center on our way home. We spent about a half hour enjoying thing center - learning about Pez, seeing the collections, and of course, buying some wonderful candy. Mmm.
Such fun. Who doesn't like a visit to a candy factory? They even gave out free samples. Seriously.
I hope you're not tired yet, because there's still work to do. We had to do something with those 30 lbs of apples. The kiddos helped me clean, core and slice the apples into very thing slices. Conor enjoyed this part the best. Why? Knives!
We managed to fill all the shelves of the dehydrator with some of our bounty of the day. Most of the remaining apples went into an oversized pot to cook for making applesauce and apple butter.
And in our spare time, the kiddos did homework and made some potholders.
Because when you're at Aunt Jennifer's house, it's Go! Go! Go!
What a fun day we all had.
During our lunch break at Old Sturbridge Village's Oliver Wight Tavern on Saturday, Lori asked me "Does that person look familiar?" I'm not very good with names and faces, so even after taking a peak, I was of no help.
"I think it's a famous knitware designer."
Still, no help from me.
After the other table finished lunch and left, it came to her. "That was Amy Herzog!"
Disappointed that I was of no help on the identification portion of this quest, I offered to help when we spotted Amy again on our trek back to our classroom. I simply approached her and asked, "Are you Amy?" She smiled and we chatted for a bit. I asked for a picture and Amy graciously agreed. She was there with friends and family having a normal day.
Lori and Amy at Old Sturbridge Village.
I laughed because one of the reasons I didn't think it was Amy (aside from the aforementioned inability to recognize people like that) was the fact that she wasn't wearing anything handknit. I know, neither were we.
Thanks Amy for being a great sport and for all your great designs. Keep up the great work. Maybe you'll take a Crafts at Close Range class with us next time. We're thinking about Stone Wall Buiding...