An Afghan Weaver Revisited: Helen Pope

I was lucky to have three mentors in my weaving/art life: Dominic DiMare, Jim Ahrens, and Helen Pope. You remember her afghan in a previous post. This post is to show how she inspired me and so many others. Besides the afghans, she experimented with many textile techniques. She founded the Special Sample Service which was a popular booth at our weaving conferences. She didn’t want little dinky samples; she wanted them 5” x 7” or so—large enough to really get a feeling for the textile. Attached to each sample were the directions and notes from the weaver. At first, she asked famous weavers to submit; but for years it was she herself who contributed the most and local weavers (including me) contributed as well. Oh yes, the highest price for a sample was $2.50. She was adamant about that.

Helen wove these bookmarks well into her 90’s. She got great pleasure from seeing how many designs she could invent with one threading on the loom. All 7 of these pieces were on the same warp. Here is what she wrote in the notes for ribbons she wove with the same idea on 8 shafts when she was 90: “There is no end to the fun you can have. Weaving has always been something I do for pleasure. It does not have to be practical or a great work of art.” (See how she inspired me?)

She mounted the bookmarks in a plexi frame as an art piece.

Here is a lovely art piece she made. It’s about 12” wide.

This is a piece knitted with linen thread.

Color was important to her, even with the samples she submitted every year.

There are purple and green threads in this piece. She had a good color sense.

This is a joke—a sample for a dish cloth woven with steel wool!

“Pink Drip” Every year she had one of her “drips” at the conferences. And pink was her favorite color. She challenged herself to see what 3-dimensional pieces she could get by folding one piece of cloth.

She avoided having her picture taken for years. She sat for this portrait by Ranghild Lanlet when she knew an article about her would be in Handwoven Magazine. Orchids were a passion. There always were some blooming in her house. Her family gave her orchids away at her memorial and I still have mine after 20 years. It blooms just after Christmas.

Cuddling a Baby Lamb at Windrush Farm

I went to Windrush Farm in Petaluma to one of the “Lamb Days” and it was a glorious treat. The wool felt wonderful.and he was so cute. It was a treat to hold this baby lamb in my arms.

Out in the field there were lots more baby lambs with their moms staying close. So far there ar 30 lambs born this spring with one ewe left to give birth.

These twins were especially cute. The black and white is unusual.

Lambs of different types are bred for different types of fleece. This fleece is from a previous year’s shearing. The farm sells fleece and yarns –natural and dyed.  They teach spinning too. Here is the link to Windrush Farm in Petaluma California.

A Day in the Country

Mimis Friends-2
I had a glorious day in the countryside near Petaluma at my friend’s farm with some of her fiber-loving friends. After a fine lunch we sat around and visited while knitting. Then we cooled off in the pool. I love this landscape and drive out to be in it whenever I need a country fix. In August I always look for blooming naked ladies. They were flourishing along the roadside. I brought home some precious green persimmons–perfectly hard–to make my own dye called kakishibu. It might take 3 years to ferment to really do a good job!
Mimis Countryside-2
Persimmon 1-2

Mimis Pool-2Naked Ladies

Here Are My Knitted Yarn People

Peggy Osterkamp’s Knitted Yarn People – click to enlarge

I stayed up late Christmas Eve to make these yarn figures–had one more to do Christmas morning. They were so much fun and I’m glad I can keep the doll clothes for myself for awhile. I stuffed them with little bean bags I made out of old socks. The stuffing came from old pillows –one with grains of rice and the other, rice hulls. I had a mess to clean up when one or another tipped over in the making.

When is a Present Not a Present? Knitted Doll Sculptures!

Knitted Doll Schulptures > Peggy Osterkamp - [click to enlarge]
Knitted Doll Sculptures > Peggy Osterkamp – [click to enlarge]

I intended these doll clothes I have knitted over the year or so to be Christmas presents. When they turned into art sculptures I knew they needed to be in a group and that meant as of two days before Christmas all of a sudden I didn’t have my gifts anymore! I had planned to make one of the dresses into a paper weight for one gift but when it became a sculpture and I was out of that present. Another dress was a gift, too. I was out two at the last minute.  I won’t say how I resolved my dilemma but the next post will show my little people standing upright in a group.

I Knitted a Doll and her Clothes

Peggy's DollFor absolute fun I knitted this doll and her clothes starting at a picnic in July. Since then I’ve made 10 items of clothing. What’s fun is doing these small (and somewhat challenging) pieces that don’t take a lot of time and bring almost immediate satisfaction. I would say in my spare time at night a small piece might take a week or so. The book with all the directions is by Arne & Carlos from Scandinavia and it is a treasure of fun things to make or only contemplate. The title is: Knitted Dolls Handmade Toys with a Designer Wardrobe. An older printing has a pattern correction for the beginning of the doll on page 29 and can be downloaded on this website: Later versions have been corrected, but it’s the beginning of the doll’s feet that’s important so you want to be sure you have the corrected version either way. It isn’t for beginning knitters but I would call myself an intermediate level knitter and I could follow the directions which are spelled out and have very helpful illustrations when needed. I was given a big stash of cones of 6-strand embroidery floss with great colors so I used that for the doll and the clothes, too.  [click images to enlarge]
Peggy's Doll Clothes

My Shawl is Finally Done!

Peggy Osterkamp
Peggy Osterkamp (pattern by Stephen West)


I finished the shawl last night–there were dozens of tails of yarn that had to be woven in. It would have been finished a month ago, but I started another project right after the knitting was done. Since I will wear it tomorrow night I had to address all the tails now. It took a few night’s work.

I’m pleased with it: the color, the softness, and it stays in place so nicely. The yarn is 30% Silk / 30% Super Baby Alpaca / 30% Extrafine Merino Wool.

Back to the loom now!


Peggy Osterkamp
Peggy Osterkamp (pattern by Stephen West)

Knitting’s Coming Along with Joey’s Help

Knitted Shawl - Peggy Osterkamp
Knitted Shawl – Peggy Osterkamp

Here’s a progress report of the shawl I began on March 1. (This is only the back). It’s 12 inches long and I’m now binding off with an I-cord binding. Then the stitches on the two sides will be picked up and knitted. Joey often sits beside me when I’m knitting before bedtime.
I am having the time of my life–loving it. I can’t believe all this knitting was done on #1 needles!

Knitting with Joey - Peggy Osterkamp
Knitting with Joey – Peggy Osterkamp


Satisfying My Weaving Urges: Knitting on a Trip

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Because I’ve been working on reprinting two of my books, traveled to Italy and had knee surgery I haven’t been able to be at the studio to weave for months. During a trip to visit my sisters in Florida last week, I knitted my head off. It felt really good to get my hands in the threads again. Although it was only a temporary fix, it satisfied something deep inside when I couldn’t be at my loom.

The picture shows the shawl I’m working on. Knitting on Trip 1A friend had made one and I loved it. I told him, “Here’s a check, go buy me the same yarn and I’ll make it for myself.” It’s lots of fun and not so complicated that I had to concentrate so I could be social. I’m working on the yoke in the back. The bottom of the shawl and the ends that go around the neck will be added to it.

The yarns came on cones from Artfibers, a shop in San Francisco that I think has very interesting yarns. How often do you see knitters working from cones?

My New Knitting Project


from "Ori Ami Knits" © 2010 Vanessa Yap-Einbund [click to enlarge]
from “Ori Ami Knits”
© 2010 Vanessa Yap-Einbund
[click to enlarge]
I’m having fun knitting this necklace out of the stainless steel/silk yarns (threads?) from Habu Textiles in New York. The pattern is from a book using Habu yarns: “Ori Ami Knits”. I had to learn to do “short rows” and it is fun learning something new (and easy). I had yarn left from my sweater then needed a second strand of another color for the necklace so needed another cone. I guess this is how a stash begins.