29 May 2009

Epiosde 80: Turning Out

Kite Weather creates gorgeous one off rugs from stuff other people don’t want; Shannon Okey gets her fashion DIY on.

Make Do and Mend Tip ‘o the Day: Cheapola faux-silk roses (center photo, above, click to biggerize) can be made better, if you’re willing to fiddle with them a bit. They are usually held together with hot glue, around a styrofoam bud-shaped core. The glue is not stiff, the petals separate easily, and removal of the styrofoam core, as well as all vestiges of plastic, help relax the fabric and encourage maximum rose blowsy-ness. I stitched a few French knots inside the center to hold the petals toegther, before sewing them to the hat.

The scarf is Briar Rose Fibers Penny Lane. Of course the pattern is by Ysolda. I am her newest fangirl.

Many thanks to my guest this week, Shannon Okey, who edits, blogs, and tweets at various homes on the web, and whose book, Alternation, has a website of its very own. (Click the Tentacle Sweater image above, to biggerize.)

Special thanks to Sage Tyrtle, for graciously agreeing to interview her mother, and to Kite Weather, for sharing stories of her amazing and magical work. (Click the image to biggerize.)

Kite’s rugs are available for purchase via her Etsy Shop , however, everything you see in the photo above (again, click to biggerize) was recently sold at a music festival, where the rugs were, unsurprisingly, extremely popular. Do bookmark her site, and check back often, as her work tends to sell out quickly.

Apply to take part in Antony Gormley’s project and make knitting (or, you know, whittling, or whatever) history on The 4th Plinth!

KniTunes were provided by and used with the permission of:

Additional music by film composer, David Beard, courtesy of David Beard Music Production.


(For Witt )


  1. Liz wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I have been working my way from the beginning of your podcasts and find that I listen mostly while I am taking walks, with my Ipod. I don’t think I would get too much knitting done, because I would be so engrossed in your stories that I would forget to count my stitches! I am currently working on the Ishbel shawl with handspun and it needs my concentration.

    My only disappointment is realizing that I have missed out on some good events and drawings since I am still about 6 months back in time. I guess the only answer is to walk more or take time off from work to catch up!

    Thanks for a great podcast and I even “borrowed” your idea of the Today’s Sweater when I showed one of my Grandma’s sweaters on my blog. http://lizzzknits.blogspot.com/2009/04/mixed-bag-of-tricks.html I credited you with the idea in the subsequent blog post.

    And thanks for also turning me on to Sage Tyrtle and QN as well.

    Warm regards, Liz from Colorado

    Posted on 5.29.09 ·
  2. Liz wrote:
    Posted on 5.29.09 ·
  3. Felix wrote:

    Another great podcast.
    Thanks for the heads-up on the fourth plinth deadline; I just scooched in before tonight’s deadline. If enough of us knitters try to get on there, there *will* be knitting taking place in Trafalgar Square…
    also: I love rocking that Birkenstock + sock look. This look (I decided last year) is the answer to the comfort/style dilemma. I know this look has gathered some scorn in the past, but I really think that the right socks + the right birkenstocks is a totally workable solution to a. being really, really comfortable and b. getting to show off the handknit footwear. Go team Birkensocks.
    Who else is in?
    I also really enjoyed hearing Shannon talking on here about Alternation and the amazing crochet rugs from Kite.
    Well excited about the joyous new online knitting resource! Thanks for another great podcast.

    Posted on 5.31.09 ·
  4. Connie wrote:

    Hi Brenda, another great show. I listen while walking on the treadmill (makes it bearable!). About self-sufficiency, I’ve always had a vegetable garden because home grown vegetables taste better. My daughters also love to pick and eat things from our garden – I can plant anything out there and they will eat it (and will not eat it from the grocery store). I freeze my tomatoes, pumpkins, and basil, and its usually enough for the entire winter. I am thinking more and more of learning to spin, because then I could make my own beautiful handspun,

    Posted on 5.31.09 ·
  5. Melissa wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    This was a great episode! I absolutely adore the new theme/ series on the podcast. I work a very mindless job and your podcast really helps me make it through the day.
    You asked for us to share stories of self sufficiency- my boyfriend and I started a vegetable garden last summer and are continuing it this summer. He was very excited/surprised that the food actually grew. I am working on building a compost bin in our yard so that all of our vegetable and fruit bits don’t go to waste. We also have apple, peach and pear trees, grapes and raspberries growing at our house. He learned that I can make an awesome peach pie last year. The food is just so good and it is very nice not having to worry about ingesting pesticides.
    I was raised with the idea of being self sufficient always present. My father taught me how to grow food and how to build things, my mother taught me how to sew, crochet, cook and bake. She was surprised that it all stuck and by the presence of essentials (rice, dry beans, flour, sugar etc) in my kitchen. My mother’s mother (my Nanna) taught me to knit and not to waste. She came to America from England after World War II and knew a thing or two about making do.
    I am always day dreaming about ways to become more self-efficient like getting solar panel shingles, learning to spin yarn and making my own clothes. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about re-making the clothes that I do have, so this episode was really exciting to me.
    Thank you for the great podcast!
    One more thing- I really think you should check out Frightened Rabbit, they have a song called “Old Old Fashioned” I think you would very much enjoy and also a girl named Zee Avi, her music is right up your alley. ^_^
    -Melissa, from Denver, Colorado

    Posted on 6.2.09 ·
  6. Michele wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    Been a listener (and lover and evangelist) of your show since day one. Wanted to comment on your latest episode.

    I’m really enjoying the theme this round, as I’ve found myself having moved from Washington DC to the deeply rural and poverty-stricken Mississippi Delta where I am teaching English in a critical-needs school. Finding myself suddenly without the posh food stores and great variety of ingredients, I’ve been making do and being self-sufficient.

    I’ve got a vegetable garden going where I grow all the wonderful interesting greens and herbs not locally available. (Salad here means iceberg with carrots and olives). I’ve also started making my own pasta since I could only find plain macaroni and spaghetti (Life without pappardelle was so sad!)

    There are about 3 yarn stores in the state, the nearest 150 miles away, but my isolation has proved to be the greatest stash-buster of them all! I’m working my way through years of yarn! On the good side, I’ve discovered the joys of linen, silk, bamboo, cotton, and other non-wooly fibers here in a hot and moth-ridden land.

    My daughter gave me a loom for Christmas, reviving my love of weaving abandoned for practical considerations 30 years ago.

    So all in all, my new life here in a broken-down town of 3,000 by the Great River has given me new joys and new ways of making my own.

    Lots of love to you and yours.

    -Michele Sabatier

    Posted on 6.2.09 ·
  7. Ruth Temple wrote:

    What a delightful episode! As I listen, I tore through the taking-in and re-hemming of some old-new-to-me pants, this simple task a mystery to so many folks I know.

    Gardening and self-sufficiency go together in my brain – and have since I was a kid, when my father made three 4′ x 4′ beds and let each of us kids choose what we wanted to plant and grow. This included the annual ‘experiment’ or different thing – one year little watermelons, some years, pumpkins – fast forward a few decades, and this is year two for raspberries, that gave us our first double-handful for the morning cereal this week. One challenge another group of gardening friends tossed out for experimentation this past winter was on deciding to grow a year’s worth of Something for yourself. I’m not sure salsa is possible in our yard, but I’d sure like to keep up with the pear tree this year.

    Wonderful to hear the interview with Kite, whose commentary on Sage’s podcast from time to time is also delightful to hear. I’d known there’s no such thing as a machine that can make a basket — every basket you ever encounter will have been made by a person’s hands — but I hadn’t realized the same was true of crochet. How cool is that? So I grabbed the ball of wool I got on a Weavolution auction and started to crochet a rug.

    Again, Brenda, thanks for the music and thoughts and sparkly ideas you foment, and I hope you and Tonia BOTH get a chance to spend time on the Fourth Plinth at Trafalgar Square.

    Posted on 6.2.09 ·
  8. Angie wrote:

    I love your podcast. Love. It. I also love knitting (clothes, needles, yarn, complicated techniques, color or the absence of), gardening, art, music (I am learning violin–two and one half years so far), books, your voice… I would love to hear more about Wales, but whatever, you just keep talkin’ honey. I love the new series.
    Leavenworth, Washington (PNW girl who gets to wear socks with sandals!)

    Posted on 6.3.09 ·
  9. Devi wrote:

    HI Brenda-
    Just a quick question. You mentioned an audiobook awhile ago and I can’t remember the title. I want to say it was a British romance or saga ? with an ensemble cast?? If you remember I’d be very happy to know!


    Posted on 6.3.09 ·
  10. Devi,
    The audiobook I mentioned was Victorian potboiler, The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins. You can find it, and listen to a sample, on Audible.com here.
    Best, Brenda

    Posted on 6.3.09 ·
  11. Crystal wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    As a new knitter, I LOVE your podcast! I’m about ready in my knitting to move on to sweaters (YAY! My own “Today’s Sweater!”) but I have no clue how to fit or adjust a sweater to fit you. Perhaps this will be on your new knitting learning center…how cool!!! I’m also a Norcal Tech Geek (yes, Northern CA) so I can’t wait to see this. Lastly, most of the time I wear my Birks, I wear socks. That is just what we do here! For those still wearing Birkenstocks. So thanks for that comment! 🙂

    Thanks again Brenda!

    Posted on 6.3.09 ·
  12. Susan Prince wrote:

    One request – It would surely be helpful if you’d highlight links in your show notes. It’s sort of a pain to have to mouse over every bit of text to find links in the show notes. Or is it just my browser which shows all the text same-size, same color?

    Thanks for considering the suggestion.

    Susan Prince

    Posted on 6.3.09 ·
  13. Jaclynn wrote:

    Brenda, I think I may be mad at you.

    I was listening to your reverent description of what sounds like a site that will bring all my favorite types of nerdary into one place. All I could think was, “Yes! Give me the URL! Give me the URL!” (for a visual, think impatient child at Christmas) only to be crushed when you said it would be two more weeks!

    It was a fantastic episode, but I am DYING to check out the “Home for Everything Knitting”! I think I will explode before the next episode comes! Can we have more hints? Or at least a countdown?

    In all seriousness, thank you for all you do! Your work is constantly inspiring me.


    Posted on 6.4.09 ·
  14. (note to Crystal in the comments above me: check out Interweave’s Knitting Daily website for lots of resources on personalizing sweater fitting!)

    Hi Brenda,

    Awesome show, as always…

    I wish there was a term like “Pacific NorthWest” that managed to include Vancouver and Victoria… have you heard of any such thing?

    I do tend to wear my Birkenstocks barefoot, but that’s because I’m not a hardcore sock knitter at this point in life!

    Loved hearing about the 4th plinth, and I have a very clear recollection of what I was doing when I heard that: using a pushmower on our lawn (aka grass with buttercup infestation) in the front yard, which is raised off the sidewalk with a rock wall surround.. and I was tempted to strike a pose on the corner of the wall when I heard about this neat art project!

    Really neat to listen to Kite, too… and recognize that I am soooo far away from that style of simple living!

    My goal this summer includes using a bunch of old tshirts and clothes that I don’t wear, and refashion them into favourite garments! I can’t wait to see Alternation in the bookstore.

    Thanks again!

    Posted on 6.4.09 ·
  15. Liz T. wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I just wanted to take a moment to tell you not only how much I enjoyed your last, beautifully crafted, episode, but how much I’m enjoying the series as a whole. The theme of “make do and mend” is an excellent one and the series is inspiring me to think more about how I can fix and fix up possessions that I already have. I hope you and Tonya have a great time at the wedding and that everyone admires your lovely hat and scarf (great tip on the silk roses btw).

    Looking forward to the next episode.

    Posted on 6.4.09 ·
  16. Alison aka Ravelry Pidge wrote:

    Loving the podcasts – which I discovered thanks to my marvellous Guardian reading mum who knows about my knitting obsession! In fact she may not be a million miles from you as she’s also located in mid Wales.

    Drooling over that Ariel scarf but fear it might be beyond my current very basic knitting abilities.

    Have fun at the wedding!

    Posted on 6.5.09 ·
  17. Nina Ruit wrote:

    Hi Brenda,
    Another great podcast! Let’s hear it for socks + birkenstocks… here in Maine I wear my birkis all year, mostly with socks, the way our weather runs :* )

    I am really enjoying the new theme of your podcasts. My husband and I moved to Maine 8 years ago from the NY area where we had 1/2 acre and 8 chickens and were longing to be more self-sufficient and to grow and raise more of our own food. We now have 20 acres, 22 wool/meat sheep, pigs, roasting chickens, and dairy goats for milk and cheese. There are a lot of folks around here who subscribe to being “locavores” and it’s a very satisfying way to live. Sharing our happy animal products with friends and neighbors and doing as much as we can with as little as we can has become more of an integrated lifestyle change it seems.

    Keep up the great podcasts! It’s a wonderful thing to look forward to. And my current Audible.com book fits right into this theme as it’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver!

    Posted on 6.5.09 ·
  18. Rae Kaiser wrote:

    Hi Brenda,

    I listened to your podcast about reusing as I repainted pre owned Adirondack furniture. My reusing was 2 fold in that I had moved my 23” Mac monitor twice in its original box. The box was so sturdy and had a nice handle that I then moved trip by trip all my linens and towels and pillows using this box. And now it is lying flat on my kitchen floor to catch drips as I paint. I enjoyed this podcast a lot. We all need to reuse everything until it is used up. And think before we buy new.

    Posted on 6.6.09 ·
  19. I am woefully behind on podcast listening. I just finished the first three of your new series and I am enjoying them very much. I am reminded of my Great Aunt Jose.

    When he was courting Aunt Jose, my Uncle Leo learned that she liked to sew and purchased for her a used Viking treadle sewing machine and cabinet. He paid the princely sum of $25 for it – quite a lot of money in 1913. Aunt Jose was a wonderful seamstress, and used that machine almost daily for the rest of her long and happy life.

    When Aunt Jose passed away, I inherited the Viking. It came to me with the cabinet drawers still full of her notions – odds and ends and bits and pieces: the metal clasps from old garter belts, a package of needles with a “Benson & Hedges” cigarette ad on the cover, the template for her favorite quilt square, thread and elastic and seam binding, and a wicket awl with a Bourbon ad on the cask-shaped wooden handle (“barrels of luck from old Kentuck”). There were many, many buttons in the drawers. Some were new, but most had been removed from coats or blouses that were destined for the rag bag.

    For several years I preserved the Viking just as I had received it. I did not want to use anything in the drawers because those had been Aunt Jose’s things, and I just didn’t feel right using something for a purpose other than what Aunt Jose had intended. I thought that I honored Aunt Jose’s memory by keeping her notions just as I had found them. Gradually I came to understahd that those things were there “just in case” they were needed and that Aunt Jose would not want them to lie fallow in drawers. The turning point came when my son told me rather late at night that he needed 50 buttons for a school project the next day. Although the stores were closed, I knew there were very many more than 50 buttons in the Viking drawers (and, indeed, removing 50 didn’t even make a dent).

    I realized that the best way to honor Aunt Jose’s memory was to use the buttons and needles and the awl and whatever else I needed from those drawers. And to add my own things in. And now, when I cut the buttons from a shirt that is destined for the rag bag, I add them to the button drawer and smile. And when a button is missing from a blouse, I search through the drawers until I find a suitable replacement. I tuck bits of unneeded seam binding into the corner “just in case,” because, well, you just never know when it might come in handy.

    Some day the Viking will go to my son, who has been repurposing thrift-store finds since his early teens and often remakes clothing to fit his style. In its drawers he will find Aunt Jose’s notions and, along with them, some of my notions. And I hope that he uses them. And adds his own.

    Thank you for a wonderful and thought-provoking series.

    Posted on 6.7.09 ·
  20. Linz wrote:

    I just finished listening to your latest podcast, and want to congratulate you on your new project!!!!

    I am not only excited for you – but excited for all of us students of knitting!

    Good luck!

    Posted on 6.8.09 ·
  21. Gaidig wrote:

    My roommates and I are growing some of our own vegetables, which we have been doing for the last two years. Most of our veggies, however come from a local Community Supported Agriculture farm.

    Posted on 6.8.09 ·
  22. bongomama wrote:


    Your podcasts are such a gift… with each new episode I wait for the perfect time to savor it. No utility knitting – only the best projects get pulled out for the podcast.
    This latest series is especially delightful. I loved Shannon Oakey’s description of thrift store shopping. I am currently working on a sweater with organic cotton that I found at our local thrift store. My thrift store shopping trips remind me that you never quite find what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need…
    Thank you for all you do..

    Posted on 6.9.09 ·
  23. Cecily wrote:

    Thank you for the great episode, one of my favourites so far. The interview with Kite Weather was fantastic, especially her thoughts on the person who accumulated such a huge stash of acrylic yarn and strangely, sadly, never did anything with it. What a great way to illustrate this season’s theme.

    Posted on 6.9.09 ·
  24. Caelidh wrote:

    Hi Brenda…

    As for self sufficiency.. I didn’t grow up with a lot of the skills for self sufficiency.. but since I have bought my house I have been TRYING to really learn how to garden.. (steep learning curve). I am not doing it as WELL as I could.. not because things are nto growing. I am just not as organized about planting enough.. knowing when to harvest and of course.. knowing how to SAVE and preserve… (sigh).

    Last spring I took a Permaculture certification course in Cincinnati, Ohiio in my neighborhood. VERY INTERESTING TOPIC and I encourage everyone to research more about Permaculture!

    I have been trying to be frugal.. which in some ways.. comes easy as I hate to shop.. but I am working hard on the gardening thing…

    I have a lot more skills to learn though…. hopefully it will be easier as more folks get on board…

    :>) Good luck

    Posted on 6.9.09 ·
  25. Erin R. wrote:

    Thank you so much for the podcast. I read the AlterKnits book a few times and didn’t “get” it until I heard the interview. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that they just created projects based on what they found, I kept trying to look for thrift knits exactly like theirs. (now it’s like — duh!) I ‘shopped’ my give away bag and found a delightful pink sweater that is MUCH better now that I’ve chopped off the icky cuffs. 🙂

    Thanks also for the interview with Kite, she’s Amazing.

    We garden off our apartment deck, and we love it. More and more folks in Portland are gardening, and there’s even a meet-up site where you can coordinate with a neighbor to help share the work, and the proceeds. I am also enjoying your steady voice and encouragement. So far that’s translated into making clothes for my daughters, my husband and myself, dish towels, and a bunch of other pretty and useful things it would have never occurred to me to make otherwise.

    Much love!

    Posted on 6.9.09 ·
  26. katrina wrote:

    I loved listening to Kite Weather talk about her crocheting and saving wonderful fibers from the landfill! Very inspiring!

    Posted on 6.11.09 ·
  27. Revdbeth wrote:

    Can anyone say whether the fabulous Ariel pattern been corrected or not on Ysolda’s site?

    Thanks to anyone who knows.

    Posted on 6.12.09 ·
  28. Madelaine wrote:

    Great Podcast – thanks. But a quick check of Wikipedia would have you explaining “widdling” for your UK listeners!!!!

    Posted on 6.14.09 ·
  29. T2 wrote:

    Like so many others, I’m thoroughly enjoying this series. Here’s my example of attempting to increase my self-reliance. I recently fixed my own bike (with the help of some YouTube videos) rather than bringing it to a bike shop. It felt terrific.

    I usually listen to your show while walking or (now) bike riding, so I don’t have paper handy to write down the books you discuss in your wonderfully integrated audible plug. Would you mind adding titles and authors to your show notes? Thank you!


    Posted on 6.14.09 ·
  30. Madelaine wrote:

    I second T2’s suggestion about books!

    Posted on 6.15.09 ·
  31. Liz wrote:

    Just wanted to pop by and say “whittling on the plinth” from your podcast is my new favorite catch phrase. ” I’m thinking it will come to mean doing something simple in a very big way, “Wow that cupcake sure has a lot of frosting – you really whittled on the plinth there!”

    Basically, I just love the way it sounds and I say it to myself a couple times a day!

    Posted on 6.17.09 ·
  32. Love your podcasts. I don’t know if we’re doing the self sufficiency thing, but we like to grow vegetables, like tomatoes on the terrace. Last year we also had some paprikas. And we always have herbs. it’s just fun to go out when you’re cooking and look for the right herbs.

    Posted on 6.21.09 ·
  33. Debby wrote:

    There are so many times that I want to remember the wisdom imparted during your podcasts. I often listen to them more than once. I am always impressed with the musical choices and appreciated being introduced to new artists. I particularly liked the version of I’m Changing by Miss Desmond. I can’t seem to find her on itunes. Any thoughts as to where I can buy her recordings ? Thanks for all you do.

    Posted on 7.1.09 ·
  34. Monica wrote:

    I really liked the idea of the turning out, I’d never heard of this before. I suppose it must have worked much better with the thicker fabrics used at the time – I think of many of my own garments and know they wouldn’t even survive the process! 😉 My own way of rejecting consumerism while indulging my love of fun and interesting clothing is my obsession with op shops – I really related to the “op shop braille” fingers story, I tend to look for my garments by fabric and colour also, so it really tickled me. Picked up 7 gorgeous garments for about $50 the other day, and was enormously chuffed, one of them is a floor length fully tailored skirt that fits me like a glove. Excitement galore! 🙂 As usual, a pleasure to listen to, thanks for your wonderful podcast once again.

    Posted on 8.4.09 ·
  35. Julie wrote:

    I understand that Kite Weather passed away recently and I’m so sorry to hear that. Her beautiful rugs haunt my dreams and I have tried to find the photos of them you previously posted. Is there some place to view them?
    Many thanks.

    Posted on 4.19.10 ·

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