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Beginning Knitter

I have always admired the process of taking a raw material and turning it into something beautiful and functional.  As the daughter of a cotton farmer, I watched my dad prepare the ground for planting, plant the seeds, plow the ground to keep it weed free, fertilize the ground, and pray for rain at the right times for his crop to grow.  We won't mention here the number of times we walked every row of the fields to cut out any weeds that grew after the cotton was too tall to plow. After all of this time and expense of fuel, equipment, seeds, and fertilizer, if the weather cooperated, you received the blessing of harvesting the cotton.  Each trailer load of cotton was taken to the cotton gin to remove the seeds and bowls from the cotton fiber.  The fiber was pressed into huge bales and sent to mills.
The mill removed any leftover trash in the cotton fiber.  They comb the fiber into straight sections to get it ready to spin into thread.  The threads are wound onto huge bobbins.  The bobbins of thread are woven into fabric.  The fabric is dyed into beautiful prints, The fabric is cut into about 15 yard lengths and purchased by our local quilt shop.  At this point, it is ready for us to purchase.  Is it any wonder cotton fabric is expensive?

About 18 months ago, I took a field trip with the Plano chapter of the American Sewing Guild small group named the Needle Nuts. We drove to Fancy Fibers Farm in Farmersville, TX owned by Mary Berry and her husband.  Mary has sheep, goats, alpacas, and rabbits that all produce wonderful fiber.  This is where my story ties in with being the daughter of a farmer.  The State Fair of Texas years ago had a competition on the last Sunday of the fair call "From Sheep to Shawl."  Teams of people who competed arrived with washed fleeces, carded the fiber, spun it into yarn, and knitted a shawl.  Judges decided at the end of the day who had to best shawl. I loved watching the process from the raw materials to the finished shawl.  Mary Berry is very generous with sharing her farm and knowledge with outsiders.  I have been able to help her on a day when the sheep and goats have been relieved of their beautiful fleeces.  Holding a freshly sheered fleece is like hold mink - so soft and yummy.  So to spare you the details of her purchasing stock, breeding and delivering babies, feeding, vet bills, fencing costs, to finally get to the point of harvesting the fleece.  The fleece must be washed before sending it to a mill to cleaned again and carded.  It returns to Mary in bats.  (I am probably leaving out some steps here.)  Mary can combine fibers if she wishes so that it won't be too warm for our Texas winters.  The fiber can be dyed at this point or left its natural color of the animal it came from.  Ultimately, it can be purchased to spin into yarn or you can purchase yarn that Mary spins herself - for those of us who do not spin.  I love the process of taking the raw material, wool, and turning it into a function and beautiful project.

After getting some beautiful yarn from Mary, I needed to learn how to knit.  My friend Barbara has been a patient and encouraging teacher.  My first project was a simple shawl with some different stitches to make the ends pretty.
Shawl
In the process of finishing this shawl, I made a couple of the lacy looking quick scarves.  They were so much fun to make.

On to my ultimate goal.  I have cold feet and I love socks, all sock, I want to knit my own socks.  After starting three times, I think I have a good start on these socks.

The little half circle of knitting at the bottom of the picture is the toe of the sock.  It doesn't look like much yet, but I am very proud of it. I am knitting on circular needles.  The flexible part of the needles between the ends absolutely drive my cat crazy.  She can't sit in my lap while I knit without giving in to the temptation to playing with the needles.
I have also learned that socks have many components.  They are complex little garments that we take for granite. 

There is a toe section, heel section, a ribbed section that goes up our leg - and each area has to fit your foot.  Who knew?  At any rate, I have progressed past the toe section on sock #1 - remember socks is a plural word.  Not much good to knit just one.  I am headed toward the heel section which will be learning curve #2.  But I am enjoying the process of taking fiber that was once on an animal, and turning it into something beautiful and functional.  I hope to have a new pair of warm socks to wear this winter.  Glad I don't have to knit socks for my entire family!

YOu have a good teacher! You

YOu have a good teacher! You are doing beautiful work. I knit too tight. My socks would fit Barbie!

Knitting

I have started this sock three times. Socks would be beyond me at this point if I did not have such a great teacher and determination to learn. She sometimes has me stop and do a side practice project just to get ready for the next step. I also have a great knit shop close by that handles great needles - better quality ($$) than those carried at the local fabric and craft stores. Tools do make a difference.

Several years ago my hubby and I took a trip to the Boston area. While there, we visited a mill museum. Everything was water driven, located on a fork diverted from a river. We got to see each station of how the compressed bale of cotton was turned into thread and woven into fabric. Every machine was run by a belt system up on the ceiling that was connected to the big wheel in the water. Would love to visit again.

Knitting

Your knitting is beautiful!!!!!

I so enjoyed your mini lesson

I so enjoyed your mini lesson on cotton farming! I know absolutely nothing about growing cotton, but farming of any type fascinates me. I passed a cotton gin museum just the other day on a hay run!

I have knitted for years and really enjoy it, but socks confound me. Best of luck with those!

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