Knitting Retreat – Sheep to Shawl

We are sailing away to knit and laugh together and you should come!  Heather Kinne of Highland Handmades and I already got a good start on the laughing part when we filmed The Fiberista Files podcast together recently.

Hanging out on deck and knitting. Let's retreat together!
Hanging out on deck and knitting. Let’s retreat together!
Highland Handmade yarn by the fabulous Heather Kinne.
Highland Handmade yarn by the fabulous Heather Kinne.
Mim onboard the Riggin.

The Knitting Getaway is 4 days and 4 nights of a fiber experience with Mim Bird of Over the Rainbow Yarn (Rockland Maine’s LYS), Dyan Redick of Bittersweet Heritage Farm, and Heather Monroe Kinne of Highland Handmades as we follow the start-to-finish yarn process of shearing to spinning to knitting with handspun yarn.

We begin with a sheep shearing and skirting demonstration at Bittersweet Heritage Farm and wind up back at the Riggin for dinner at anchor.  Heather from Highland Handmades will also be joining the trip to lead a spinning demonstration where you’ll be able to spin your own fiber (roving and combtop provided) on a drop spindle. Mim Bird will be with us as well to help assess the yarn we’ve created and figure out how and what to knit with it.

I mean could these wee ones be any cuter? Photo credit Bittersweet Heritage Farm
Friends at Bittersweet Heritage Farm. Photo credit Bittersweet Heritage Farm

Your yarn and your project will be individual… and as relaxing or as type-A as you’d like.  This is a pretty special trip and all of the details are on the Riggin site.

Check out The Fiberista Files podcast with Heather and me! The knitting cruise part starts around 22:30.

Particulars:  June 8th – June 11th, $779 per person, all inclusive, 5% discount until Jan. 31st (10% for returning guests)

Getting my needles ready

Crafternoon – Skirt Made from a Wool Sweater – Handmade Holiday Gift Idea

Now that we are home and have all of our crafting tools at our disposal, the sewing machine has come out and the knitting needles have slowed (not stopped, just slowed).  Of course there are tons of clothing items that one can make with re-purposed wool and wool sweaters, some of which I’ve shared in the form of fingerless mittens, cowl, and felt-decorated sweaters.  Last week I came home from a school event and shared with Chloe the idea of a snappy wool skirt a student was wearing over leggings – cool boots too, of course.  As I worked my way through the crowd and closer to the skirt (the student I mean), I realized that it was actually the bottom of a felted sweater inverted so that the hem or lower cuff of the sweater had become the waist band of the skirt.

The next morning Chloe comes down wearing one of two skirts that used to be wool sweaters hanging out in the crafting pile ready and waiting to become something.  The second was prepped for a short spin under the sewing machine.

Recycled sweater skirt Photo by Rocky Coast Photography

Directions for How to Make a Skirt from a Wool Sweater
Felt the sweater so that the fibers connect and the ends don’t fray by washing in hot and rinsing in cold water.  Stop the washing machine occasionally and check to be sure that you aren’t felting it more than you want.  The fabric will just become thicker and thicker with changes in temperature and agitation so slower is better.   When the fabric of the wool is the thickness that you’d like, spin it to wring out most of the moisture and then hang or lay flat to dry.  Sometime I’ll roll an item between two bath towels and then press or even step on the roll to squeeze out any excess moisture.

To determine the length of the skirt, measure vertically from where it will ride – waist, belly button or below belly button – to where you’d like for it to end – knee, thigh, mid-thigh.  There is no hemming necessary with this project, so therefore no need to adjust the measurement for hemline material.

When dry, lay the sweater out on a cutting board.  With a yard stick or measuring tape, measure from the bottom of the sweater (waist of the skirt) to the hem of the skirt.  Make a horizontal, straight cut across.   Note:  If the wool is the washable sort, then a quick zigzag stitch along the hemline takes care of any unraveling that might occur.  It also can add a design element if you use a contrasting thread color.

Who needs the mall?

Throwback Thursday – Sea Water and Indigo


Sea water and indigo dyed Swan’s Island yarn hanging in the galley over the wood stove to dry.  Every hank was different and beautiful.  Thank you Mim Bird, Jackie Ottino Graf, and Swan’s Island Company for a great knitting cruise!

Season 2015 posted via @athomeatsea Instagram.  Photo credit Mim Bird

Knitting Vacation – Dyeing to Knit

On a sunny day in June, our Maine Knitting Cruise crowd took to the island armed with indigo dye and yarn.  The process was magical, beautiful, creative, and a complete blast.

Below is the best of the process start to finish.  Ending with the yarn hanging over the wood stove for a final dry.  Of course the day wouldn’t have been complete without an all you can eat Maine lobster bake too!

Lobster time!  Photo by: Margie Ariano
Lobster time! Photo by: Margie Ariano
A happy camper who's had her fill. Photo by: Margie Ariano
A happy camper who’s had her fill.  You go, Nancy! Photo by: Margie Ariano

But before lobster’s were had in plenty…

The kettles of water coming up to temperature over the fire. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
The kettles of water coming up to temperature over the fire. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
20150611_133645 smaller
Jackie passing out yarn for dyeing.
Checking for temperature.
Checking for temperature.
Happy knitters taking a break while the water heats up.
Happy knitters taking a break while the water heats up.
Yarn twisted, tied and loose, ready for dyeing. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Yarn twisted, tied and loose, ready for dyeing. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
At first it's green! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
At first it’s green! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Then it oxidizes and turns blue.  Magic right before our eyes! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Then it oxidizes and turns blue. Magic right before our eyes! Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Hanging to let the dye oxidize and set. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Hanging to let the dye oxidize and set. Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
A rinse in the ocean to remove excess (organic) dye.  (No oceans were harmed in this process - promise.) Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
A rinse in the ocean to remove excess (organic) dye. (No oceans were harmed in this process – promise.) Photo by: Jackie Ottino Graf
Before and after our island time... Photo by: Margie Ariano
Before and after our island time… Photo by: Margie Ariano

Can’t wait to do this again

P.S.  Our next knitting cruise is August 31 to September 5. If knitting is not your thing, try out the Maine Food Cruise – Cooking with Annie, July 6 to 9.

A Knitting Retreat to Dye For

The first of our Maine knitting cruises has come and gone with great success and many highlights to share!

The trip began with a visit to the Swan’s Island Company north of where the Riggin is docked.  Jackie Ottino Graf, the resident dye-master and social media maven of the company, took us through the dyeing process, handed out complementary patterns with yarn, and shared her extensive knowledge.

Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Damp, undyed yarn waiting for the dye vat. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Indigo-dyed yarn hanging to dry.  Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Indigo-dyed yarn hanging to dry. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Jackie displaying limited edition, indigo-dyed throw, "Whitecaps". Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Jackie displaying a limited edition, indigo-dyed throw, “Whitecaps”. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Each blanket is created by hand, each “whitecap” is added by hand. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Swan’s Island Blankets hanging in the show room. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Gorgeousness! Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Our hosts!  Thank you Jackie, Bill and Swan's Island Company.  Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Our hosts! Thank you Jackie, Bill and Swan’s Island Company. Photo by: Elizabeth Poisson
Mim smaller
Mim instructing on the first day.
Hanging out in the galley, knitting away.

The next day found us in the Rockland yarn shop, Over the Rainbow Yarn, owned by Mim Bird, resident knitting instructor extraordinaire, for last minute items and extra yarn (because who doesn’t need EXTRA yarn)?  We left the dock shortly after for our 4-day adventure armed with more yarn than we could possible knit in as many days.

Our first day had us romping across the bay to feisty winds and feistier seas with a promise of sunnier days to come.  Mim started everyone off with information on how to knit with multi-colored yarn, the difference between a tonal yarn and variegated yarn, plus many more tidbits and facts.

As with any knitting retreat, some dug right in to their project and managed to knit furiously, finishing on the last night.  Others meandered their way through the day, working on the official project some and their pet projects as well.

I’ll post photos of the actual dyeing process next, because that cool event deserves it’s own post.

My hands are blue (from indigo), but my spirit is sunny

P.S. When you go to the Swan’s Island Company website, check out what schooner is the setting for some of the photos!  And,yes, the model and the yarn are pretty too.

P.P.S.  Our next two knitting cruises are June 19 to 22 and August 31 to September 5.  You should come!

Easy Cowl – Upcycled Turtleneck

Recycling used clothing has to be among one of the most satisfying ways to spend a cold Sunday afternoon (other than watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl – GO Pats!)  Easy, frugal, fun and useful all at the same time, this sweater became a pair of hand warmers for Ella, a mini-skirt for Chloe and a cowl for me.  Now the rule is that no one can wear their item on the same day.  Fair enough.

Recycled Sweater 10
Lay the sweater out on a cutting board.
Recycled Sweater 12
Cut straight across the top from sleeve seam to sleeve seam.
Recycled Sweater 11
Cut off the sleeves. They will need to be edged in some way. Create a thumb hole with a button hole attachment on your sewing machine.
Recycled Sweater 15
Trim the neck seam. Embellish with a blanket stitch in a complementary-colored yarn.
Recycled Sweater 16
Wear on the days that your daughters are not wearing their items!

New clothes!

Homemade Salt Scrub – A Handmade Christmas Gift

In the winter time when the temperature drops, the air inside the house gets dry and my hair begins to stand up on it’s own from the static electricity, my skin also gets dry.  After trying lotions and potions, some expensive, some not, my mom gave me a salt and oil scrub as a gift one year.  I was hooked.  Yet a jar of sea salt scrub costs over $10 per jar and lasts a month or less.  Being a homemade sort of girl, I wondered if I could make it at home and have it be just as wonderful.  And I can.

Salt Scrub

Homemade Salt Scrub
1 wide mouth jar that you can reach your fingers into to scoop
sea salt, medium grind not fine
canola oil, jojoba oil or almond oil
essential oils

My favorite scent combinations are:
Lemon and Lavender
Rosemary and Orange
Fir Needle and Lemon
Rosemary and Lavender

Pour sea salt into the jar until it is 1/2-inch from the top of the jar.  Add the oil in batches until it has completely soaked in and then add 10 drops each of the scents of your preference.  Cover with a secure lid.  This will last as long as the oil does, so more perishable oils like almond oil will maybe last a month or two where as canola oil will last much longer.  However, if you like using this scrub as much as I do, it won’t even last a month before you are making more.

With happy skin

Can You Guess Now?

Mim is busy knitting away.  If you haven’t yet already guessed, she’s designing a sweater for Jon.  Why is it so huge, you say?  Did Mim have a ‘minor’ measuring catastrophe?  Well, no.  Mim is a knitter extraordinaire.  It’s actually going to be felted, which will make a super warm fabric for those breezy, on the wind days on the Riggin.  Mim’s done a couple of interesting posts on the process already….


This one’s about gauge related to boiled wool and how different yarn and different tension matter hugely when it comes to all things measuring.  Over the Rainbow Yarn.

Speaking of ‘on the Riggin,’ we have space left on both of our knitting cruises.  You should come!  We’d love to have you.  Do both even; it’s too hard to choose!  The dates are June 6 to 10 and/or June 23 to 25.  Book now and receive a 15% discount!  Click here for more details on either Maine Knitting Cruise.


A Schooner Halloween

Who better to be Rapunzel than a blonde-headed schooner girl with some extra manilla line just hanging around in the barn?  Rapunzel’s hair turned out to be quite a project and at the end we were ALL glad that our hair is as short as it is!

First we unlay the line all the way down the driveway and then as it began to rain, we transferred the operation in doors.  The braid ran the length of the house and then we needed to begin coiling to save on space.

My character, Rapunzel, was one of many on our school’s All Hallow’s Eve Walk through the woods.  I spent a relaxing two hours up in a tree raising and lowering my braid and doing a good job of not falling!  As any schooner girl who’s spent any time aloft should do.

Braiding the strands of manilla.

Ella and friend waiting for the braiding to be done.

Attaching it actually hurt a bit so I used the line like a head band and then attached it to my own braid with a scarf.

Super loooong.

Upcycled and Renewed – Second Life For the Couch

Grumpy didn’t begin to describe how I was coming to feel about our 15 year old couch.  My parents still have the couch they were gifted when they married and even more, the couches that were my grandparents.   Yup, re-upolstered, but still have them.  So when I looked at our couch, only 15 years old, piping beginning to show, fabric beginning to fray and the corners much maligned by our dear (grumble) cat, I didn’t like it.

Every morning when I wake up before the rest of the household to meander downstairs and enjoy my first cup of coffee to silence and the dark morning sky dawning to light, I sit right across from this couch.  I was grumpy.  Grumpy that the couch looked like this.  Grumpy that ‘things just aren’t made like they used to be.’  Grumpy that a new couch is $1,000 or more.

Then one morning, a glimmer of a different attitude that is so much more in keeping with my positive self emerged.  I like handmade things.  I like upcycled, recycled, repaired and repurposed things.  Why was I focusing on the things that I didn’t like instead of what I do like?

And so a new couch was born.  One that makes me happy every time I look at it.  Same couch.  Different attitude and much more like it, thank you very much!

This is what I did:


From our local Salvation Army, I found a wool coat in a color that I thought would go with our couch.


I then made a pattern for the arm rest out of newspaper.


Cut out the wool fabric.


Sewed it on by hand with a hidden stitch.  And the best news of all is that the cat doesn’t want to scratch on these repairs!

Back to happy again