Knitting Pipeline is sponsored by my Longaberger home businessn and Quince & Co.

Knitting Pipeline is sponsored by Quince & Co. and Knitcircus Yarns

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Episode 152 Midwest Tornado Experience

Listen here or use the handy Flash Player in sidebar.  Flash Player is not very compatible with Internet Explorer.  Try another browser such as Safari or Google Chrome.

This episode is all about the Midwest Tornado on Sunday November 17, 2013.

Click here to donate to the Tornado Relief Fund at Crossroads.

Nikki Hudson is the cook for our Knitting Pipeline Spring Retreats.  She is a volunteer and has taken two weeks or more off work to coordinate relief to feed tornado victims and workers. If you want to participate in the Knitters for Nikki Love gift, you can send donations to:

Knitters for Nikki
Heartland Bank and Trust
130 S Main St
Washington IL 61571

I am trying to set up donations to the account through Paypal.  Stay tuned.

I appreciate all your messages of support for our community and other places devastated by the tornado. Please remember the people of The Philippines as they struggle to overcome the devastation from the typhoon.

Link to Map that shows path of destruction.

Imagine scenes like this for miles.

View across Devonshire Subdivision from Dallas Road

Tornado Day 8

Today is the one week landmark since the November 17 tornado. All of us are thinking of that today.  We think of how life changed in a brief moment for so many people.

I was incorrect that meals would not be served at Crossroads on Sunday.  When we arrived about 8:10 AM I believe they had served breakfast to Salvation Army folks.  The chefs that were here yesterday were preparing food to send out into the field.  Nikki told me that an estimated 30,000 meals have been served at Crossroads or sent out to the field not including what was served last Sunday because no one was keeping track then.  The majority of supplies and food is being donated.  It is truly a testimony to the goodwill of people.

The Salvation Army is so wholly deserving of respect and support.  Along with Samaritan's Purse, Operation Blessing, and other lesser known organizations such as Disaster Relief at Work or DRAW, The Salvation Army is a steady healing force here.  DRAW is the disaster relief organization to which Mary, Greg, Andrew, and Anthony/Jose belong.  They are first responders to a site.  Mary was at Crossroads from the start.  I don't know how she got here that fast from Michigan. I figure she must have a bag packed and ready to go at a moment's notice.

It is very cold here today..  It was 10 degrees at 4 AM when I awoke.  The skies are clear and it is sunny but the cold air and wind are brutal.  Thankfully the first few days after the tornado were mild.  Then we had two days of rain and then the very cold weather.  It could be much worse.

One of the reasons people were not allowed back into their neighborhoods is that it was unsafe.  Without streetlights you can't see where you are going.  There is glass, nails, sharp edges, and debris everywhere.  Initially there were broken gas lines and downed electrical lines.  It seems that electrical lines are still down and possibly a danger.  When people are focused on digging through the remains of their home it would be easy to overlook such things.  We've heard that today, Sunday, is possibly the last day to retrieve items from homes as heavy equipment will be coming in on Monday.

Today is my day off from kitchen duty at Crossroads.  I'm getting things done around the house that have been neglected this week. Monday and Tuesday I'll be back at Crossroads ready to pitch in.

Our services this morning at Crossroads were well attended, as expected.  There were people directing parking.  Inside the church people were hugging one another and sharing their "so glad to be alive" stories.  Therapy dogs were on hand for comfort.  There was counseling available. Traditional Thanksgiving hymns such as "Now Thank We All Our God" and We Gather Together" swelled with emotion as the congregation sang. At our prayer time we joined hands as we sang, "Precious Lord, take my Hand." (said to be Martin Luther King JR's favorite hymn). Again, words that mean so much all the time but even more at a time of tragedy.

Despite the devastation we keep talking about how fortunate we are that there was not more loss of life.  I know I have written this before but when you see the extent of the damage it is truly a miracle that people survived, even in a basement.  The path of the tornado went between two churches, narrowly missed our Five Points Community building, several grade schools, and the high school.  The fact that it hit on Sunday morning when many were in church saved many lives.  Still, people must have been driving on Business 24 and North Main when the tornado crossed these major roads. I'm amazed that people were not killed on the roads with falling trees, downed power poles and lines, and debris flying through the air.  Cars were tossed around by the tornado.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tornado Day 7

Throughout this whole week I continue to think of the people of The Philippines. The situation there is so much worse than here. We have so many resources and facilities to help people in need.  Most homeowners have insurance that will replace many of their possessions and their homes. Help is coming from all directions. Sometimes people come to Crossroads wanting to help and we don't know how to assign them because most jobs are being fulfilled.  We appreciate each person who wants to help.  We try to find a job for everyone that comes especially when they have driven a distance.

I feel so fortunate that I have a role to play in helping people. Each day I learn a few new tasks and procedures so I can help in more ways in the kitchen and food line. In addition to mastering the big mixer for the mashed potatoes, I feel confident keeping the cans of fuel burning under the chafer pans. We write the time to change out the cans.  A can will burn for about 2 hours.  I also try to clean the counters and areas of the kitchen during prep work and cooking.

Today when I arrived about 8:30 AM there was a whole new team of chefs in the kitchen!  Most of them are chefs at Bradley University where my husband teaches. They knew exactly what they were doing. It was a relief to leave the cooking to them.  First I helped with getting cartons of potato salad in aluminum pans and in insulated boxes. Every single food item that has to be kept hot or cold is labeled and the time is written on the cover.  All items in the refrigerator should be dated.  I helped set up the chafer pans and got the cans of fuel lit so the water would be hot when the food started coming out.  Then I made the salad which is not much more than tossing washed lettuce into a bin, throwing in some chopped peppers and shredded carrots, and then mixing it all up. We put out salad dressings and that task is done.

They were serving a smaller breakfast line today as only Salvation Army workers and Crossroads workers were being fed.  Lunch was supposed to start at 11:30 AM but people were lining up at 11:00 AM and food was ready so we started serving.  The people just kept coming and we had a line that extended from the food table across the room and beyond.  With efficient serving I don't think anyone had to wait that long.  It was very cold and windy today.  People were so cold when they came in.

I want to emphasize that in the whole scheme of disaster relief I am doing one of the easier jobs.  Having picked through the rubble of my mother-in-law's small home, I know that this is a lot harder work.  Those who have been picking through the rubble say that it is depressing because much of the time the possessions are dirty, wet, or basically ruined. One worker today told me that if this happened to her she would just feel like walking away from it and not trying to get anything.  It seems worse when they find something of value and it is a mess.

Picking up debris in the neighborhoods and farm fields is an overwhelming task.  The growing piles of debris along the church lane are a constant reminder of how close the tornado came to the building.  Without this building we would not be able to feed so many people.

Nikki was keeping track of how many meals we served today.  She estimated 1,200 were served in house and perhaps 4,000 meals were sent out into the field.  It is hard to keep track because we just keep sending out food.  Most of the food is donated and that is a huge blessing. People are so generous with their resources.

The American Red Cross has moved from Crossroads UMC to Five Points, our local community center complex. If you are living in the area and want to help please go to Threads, Hope, and Love, our local clothing ministry. They are overwhelmed with donations and need help sorting out clothing. 

Tomorrow at Crossroads we will have church services at 8:30 AM and 11:00 AM.  I'm sure the church will be packed. People want to be together and worship. No meals are being served tomorrow at the church because we all need a day of rest.  Power is restored to most businesses in the area so folks can go to restaurants or grocery stores.  That was not the case on Sunday Nov 17th or Monday. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we will served breakfast to Salvation Army and some other workers.  A big meal will be open to the public from 11:30 to 1:30 and we will continue to send out meals to the field.  Thursday will be the Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

If you have not seen enough video of the tornado, this one is perhaps the most personal and also most terrifying.  Gone in 50 seconds.

Thank you all for your encouraging comments and support for Washington IL and all other towns and areas affected by the November 17 tornados.


Tornado Day 6

As of Thursday we are no longer under a boil order or curfew.  There are not as many checkpoints at intersections.  We were having to show our ID's to enter town but that has not happened since Thursday.  Power was restored in many areas.  I believe only the hardest hit areas are still without.  The traffic signal at Rt 24 and N Main is now operating.  The fields around the church are slowly being cleaned up by incredible volunteers. These fields were heavily littered with debris.  There are piles of debris lined up along the church's drive.  They keep getting bigger.  Still, there is so much clean up to do.

I worked at the church in the morning starting about 8:30 AM.  We are tapering off the hot meals that were served from early morning to about 7 PM.  We are transitioning to one big meal daily until Thanksgiving.  On Thanksgiving our church hosts a Community Thanksgiving Meal each year. Normally there are 155 served.  This year we are expecting 500 to 700.  That is a big jump in numbers but we have been offered assistance from food services so some of the food will be prepared elsewhere.  Yesterday, Jim Linsley, of Lindy's Downtown Market, came by to talk to Nikki.  Jim offered to arrange for temperature storage of the turkeys and also offered to donate many turkeys.  This took a big load off of Nikki and she cried tears of relief and joy.

Around noon our team of Angels arrived.  These wonderful guys are part of the disaster team that Mary is part of.  I can't remember the name of this group at the moment but will get it.  They followed us to Alice's house and helped us retrieve some pieces of furniture that were not damaged.  Then they hauled these to her new place.  She cannot move in to her place until they get licensed.  What a blessing that a new senior living facility was opening at this time!
Our team of Angels
These photos were taken on Tuesday.  It actually looked worse yesterday after two days of rain.  Everything was soggy and water was coming through the walls.  The front door was jammed halfway open. Greg said we should not touch the front door as it was holding up the front of the house.

I went back to the church about 2:00 PM.  There didn't seem to be a lot to do so I left about 3:00 PM to pick up my mother in law's mail at the post office and do some banking.  It was a light moment at the post office when they asked me for the name and address.  I told them her address and the woman said, "Oh, we are now delivering mail there."  I said, "I don't know how you could as she does not have a mailbox or a house."

Traffic was slow going back to the church. As I was creeping along Main St my body suddenly crashed.  I just felt I had to get home.  I wasn't sure how much there was to do at Crossroads so I just passed the church drive and went home.  I knew if I went to Crossroads I would get caught in traffic again.  I can't remember having heavy traffic in Washington.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tornado Day 5

I got to the church a little later this morning, about 8:25 AM.  I was up around 6 AM and ran around the house tidying up and cleaning.  It seems I have more energy than normal.

When I arrived at the church the kitchen was busy and the food line active. Mary was making pancakes on a huge griddle on the stove.  Pancakes were flying out of the kitchen as fast as she could flip them. We also had sausage, oatmeal, and egg casserole with the usual baked goods, donuts, bagels. Restaurants such as Panera's are donating pastries and I'm eating my share.  I am eating more than normal and after spending last week in Maine doing the same, I can tell I'm ballooning.

When there is a lull in the kitchen I've been tackling some much needed cleaning and organization at the church.  When my sister and mom hear this they are going to be surprised as this sort of thing does not come naturally to me.  Yesterday I cleared off an entire counter of JUNK so we had working space for making mashed potatoes (Instant, thank you!).  There was essentially a lost and found pile there that was basically old pans and serving pieces that people never picked up after a potluck.  This was stealing valuable kitchen real estate. That was so satisfying that I cleaned up a few sinks, scrubbed them (including faucets), and sterilized. Today's self-assigned task was cleaning out one of the refrigerators.  It was dirty and there was food in there that no one else had the guts to throw out. Guess what?  I have the courage!  Hurrah for a clean refrigerator.

About the time the refrigerator was done and I had eaten my second breakfast of the day I was asked to make mashed potatoes again.  I was basically making mashed potatoes with the big mixer from about 10:00 AM to 2 PM, maybe later.  I went through 3 assistants and I called us "Spud Patrol".  The best part of making mashed potatoes at the church is that when you are done you just take the big dirty bowl, attachments, and all spoons and spatulas and hand them over the the dishwasher crew.  We have an industrial type dishwasher that sterilizes the pans and dishes.  We are not supposed to wash things by hand because they need to be sterilized.

While we are serving hot food from 7 to 7 there are meals going out to the field.  Today was easier as there was a barbecue truck that was doing some of the heavy work. I'm not doing much on that side of the relief operation but it is a big part of helping.  We didn't make main dishes for lunch today, just the sides, which for me meant mashed potatoes.  I'm going to pass on mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.

Mid-morning Pastor Tom announced that our big generator would be shut down and there would be a 15 minute gap until the city electrical was up and running at Crossroads.  At that time I had to stop making potatoes as we needed electricity for the mixer. Other folks were working in the kitchen by flashlight.  During that time I visited with people and also posted a few photos on Instagram.

One thing I've never thought of in case of disaster is who actually coordinates relief efforts.* In this case, no one.  I am talking about people who arrive from out of town.  They have equipment and manpower but they don't know where to go.  The American Red Cross does not do this type of thing.  They provide relief and immediate needs such as food, shelter, and medical.  I was visiting with two young men who asked me where they could help.  They had chain saws and pick up trucks.  One of them had driven down from Chicago.  I started asking around and found out that they need to register at City Hall but even then, they are not directed to anyone's property.  This seems to be a big gap and I hope it gets better in the weeks ahead.

One of the pleasures of the relief efforts is meeting wonderful caring people. As I've said in previous posts, Mary was a great help and we clicked right away.  The ladies of the Apostolic Christian Church are hard workers and lovely people.  I have new friends that I may never see again but I won't forget their kindnesses.

Another organizational task was tackling the kitchen supply room.  This is actually a nursery under the usual circumstances.  So many donations of food have come in that we were losing track of what we had and what was perishable.  I recruited some of the ladies from Apostolic Christian Churches who were already at the church.  We organized semi-perishables such as bagels, breads, pastries, fruit.  We put all those on one table so they would be used soon.  We also tidied up the canned goods, oils, coffee, and other staples.  That reminds me, we need sugar.

After that I packed up some food for my mother in law and husband and headed home about 7 PM.

Thank you all for your kind messages on previous posts.  I seem to like writing all this down at the end of the day as a kind of relaxation.

*After writing the post I read in the local paper:
Volunteers: People calling to volunteer in Washington should call the non-emergency number at 309.573.7000. Please leave a voicemail with your name and phone number. When volunteers are needed you will receive a call.

I'm not sure what that means for people who are already here and ready to help.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tornado Day 4

We are so busy at Crossroads as more people come in for food.  Today we served hot food continuously from 7 AM to 7 PM.  We also sent over 700 meals out into the field to those who don't want to take time to come to the shelter to eat.  It started to rain mid afternoon which makes it harder to salvage anything.  The temperature has dropped too.

It was eerie driving home tonight.  We are still under Marshall Law and a boil order.  There are police cars and barricades major intersections to prevent anyone from coming into town after 6 PM.  I was able to get home because we live outside of town a bit.  You can get out, but you can't get back in.

Today there were a  lot of ladies from the Washington Apostolic Christian Church helping us serve.  They were stationed at the food line while us kitchen-savvy people were assigned to various tasks.  I made four batches of instant mashed potatoes in a huge mixer.  It felt good to wrestle that mixer and win!  My first helper was Bev, one of the Apostolic ladies.  I enjoyed getting to know her and we worked well together.  After Bev left, my new friend Mary helped me with the potatoes.  We kept getting a little wiser with each batch.  I also mixed the salad and kept the salad tub full of greens.  Hurrah for pre-washed greens.  Food keeps coming in without notice. Fried chicken and pizza are the most common donations and are appreciated.  Tonight as we were cleaning up we had too much food left over. Per Health Department Regulations we could not store and reuse this food.  Thankfully, the ladies of the Apostolic Church were able to take it as they are serving workers within their denomination and are not open to the public.  Those AC ladies are good to have around.

I didn't take many photos today.  There are a few on my iPhone but I'm too lazy to transfer them over.  You can see my photos on Instagram where I am knittingpipeline.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tornado Day 3

I left here at 7:15 AM to help with breakfast and beyond.  We served more people today than we did yesterday.  Word got around that a hot meal and a warm place was available.  We had hot food on the table from a little after 7 until I left around 6 PM and I'm sure it was there for longer.  Restaurants have been very generous to send large portions of cooked food.  We have also made food on site.  The Red Cross let us take over the kitchen as they will do packaged meals but not food cooked on site.

I met a woman from Michigan who is part of a disaster relief team.  We ate lunch together.  She was going out later in the day to make a report to her team leader in Michigan.  I offered to be her driver and guide since I know the town.  Mary and I left at 3:30 PM.  Our first stop was my MIL's home on "Easy Street".  Easy Street is not so easy now.  Bob was teaching this afternoon and evening so I was very grateful to have Mary with me.  She helped me make decisions on what to take.  We were able to retrieve some basic clothing and important papers.  That felt good.

On we drove through parts of town that I had not seen. Mary said that she would tell her team leader that all the people he could send would be put to work.  Although we had seen photos of the damage, seeing it in real life was even worse.  There were places that were rubble for miles.  Over 500 homes have been destroyed and so many people are homeless.  All rentals are taken.  People don't have homes to go to.  It is very sad and scary.  It will take years to rebuild.  I will post more photos later but I'm just very tired right now and think I need to sleep.  I usually feel better when I write things down and this has helped a bit.

My knitting friends across the world have been amazing in their support and care.  I have had so many messages and cannot respond to all of them at this time. Please know that if you have written to me it is so much appreciated.  I may put out a short podcast later this week to update you all and there will be photos.

This was formerly a subdivision of nice homes.  As far as we could see there was mostly piles of rubbish with some trees that had been battered and stripped.
If you have seen this on the news I can assure you it is every bit as bad as they portray or worse.

Thank you for your support!

Tornado Day 2

Sunday night we got home about 10 PM.  I could not go to sleep until 3 AM.  I was up a little after 6 and got ready to go to Crossroads to help with breakfast.  Marshall Law was enforced and we could not get into town until after 7 AM.  We had to show our ID's to prove we lived there or were going to the shelter.  I forgot to say that last night when we drove into our neighborhood the police were there.  They asked us who we were and we assured them that we lived in this house.  I cannot fathom how people could loot homes in a situation like this but we all know it happens.

I worked all day in the kitchen helping with food preparation and doing whatever our fearless leader Nikki told me to do.  The church was till running on generator power and that would continue for the rest of the day.

Again, as people came in and we heard their stories the magnitude of the situation was becoming more real.  We were still without power and had not seen the news.  Media started showing up from all over.  I reporter from the Chicago Tribune talked to us for quite a while.  Later we gave her a ride back to her vehicle. The police would not let her by the intersection of RT 24 and North Main St. She had parked on the highway and had climbed a barbed wire fence to get to the church!

We picked up my mother in law at her friend's house and brought her to the church for some food.  She just had the clothes she was wearing to church.  We found some clothing at the church to tide her over until we could go shopping.

About 8 PM on Monday evening we got our power back which is way earlier than anticipated.  We had been told it would be several days.  That was only about 36 hours.  Still, most of our freezer food thawed in that short time.

Tornado November 17, 2013

By now many of you have heard that devastating tornados came through the Midwest on November 17, 2013.  For many of us this date will be remembered for the rest of our lives.  Our town of Washington IL was hit hardest by the winds that were perhaps 190 mph.  The path of destruction went diagonally through town from southwest to northeast.

Bob and I were at church before the tornado struck.  We were on our way home when I photographed what looked like a tornado in the southwest.  This is the direction that most storms come from.  We heard the warning sirens going off as we reached our neighborhood.  We went to the basement but were not too alarmed.  There was some wind and rain but it wasn't that loud or frightening.  We have had thunderstorms that did more damage and were scarier.  Our power went out.  I had shut down my phone because the battery was nearly dead.  It seems whenever  I forget to charge my phone I REALLY need it.  After the storm Bob put on his running clothes and was tying his shoes when another small storm came up.  We had no idea the first storm had done so much damage south of us.  We didn't even have branches down in our yard nor did any of our neighbors.  I was writing some notes and letters when I heard sirens going off, this time fire, ambulance, and police.  I turned on my phone and saw multiple messages from friends and family asking us to please get in touch.  It was difficult to get cell phone service but I was able to send text to say we were fine.  Still, we had no idea how bad it was.  Without power we did not have news.  Bob's mom lives in a duplex in a neighborhood that is mostly single elderly people.  We got in the car to check on her, figuring she was fine.  At that time we saw helicopters flying over town and roads were blocked.  By then it was obvious that the storm had done a lot of damage.  With many roads closed we had to take a circuitous route to get to Alice's home.  While in the car we were able to charge my phone and we called Nils.  Nils said that it was all over the news.  He told us that Devonshire Subdivision was hard hit and other parts.  We were stunned.  As we approached Bob's mom's street I got a sick feeling.  We could barely recognize the houses.  Hers was one of the worst on the street along with her duplex neighbor, Karla.  Karla saw us right away and assured us that Alice was taken care of.  It took us a while to find out exactly where she was.  Her church was open as a shelter and she had been taken by a church member to this kind lady's home.

This is Bob's mom's home.  There was a garage on the left.

The pond at the church was littered with debris all along the edge and in the surrounding fields.
Bob and I went to Crossroads which is an American Red Cross Disaster Shelter.  I worked in the kitchen.  It felt good to be able to do something to help.  We still had not seen the news and would get bits of information about who had lost their homes.  All this was beginning to sink in.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Episode 151 Voices from Cornerstone Inn Fall Retreat

Listen here or use the Flash Player on this site for current and past episodes. Flash Player is not compatible with Internet Explorer.  Try a different browser like Safari.  Or jaunt on over to iTunes to find the show there.

There are many ways to participate in the Knitting Pipeline Community.  You can comment on the show blog, jump in to the discussions on our Ravelry Group, or you can just download and enjoy the show.  Show notes are found at

Show notes are a little sparse with photos as I am packing for the Maine Retreat.  Of course there is tons to do in the next few hours before bed.

Cast of Characters
Sorry I didn’t have time to link everyone.  You know how to find them on Ravelry.
The Cornerstone Gang.  Photo by Sue M Witkin










Photo by Sue Witkin


Piper’s Journey by Paula Emons-Fuessle

Quiver Mitts by Bronwyn the Brave Just released today!  11/7/13!

Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl by Paula Emons-Fuessle

Sweet Little Nothing by Susan DeBettignes aka PinkShawlGirl

Gills Rock by Paula Emons-Fuessle

Lullaby Rain by Paula Emons-Fuessle

Stephen West/Westknits

Vickypresho’s Flared Lace Smoke Ring by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer

Trousseau by Carol Feller

HopeH’s Esjan by Westknits

Einstein Jacket by Sally Melville


Peddler’s Way Quilt Co, Washington IL

Klose Knit Urbana IL

Ewe-nique Yarns Morton IL

The Fiber Universe, Peoria IL


Bronwyn’s Arm Knitting (!)  11 min with Pagewood Farms Swagger

Yarn Pumpkins

Yarn Pumpkins!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Episode 150 Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl

Listen here or use the Flash Player on this site for current and past episodes. Flash Player is not compatible with Internet Explorer.  Try a different browser like Safari.  Or jaunt on over to iTunes to find the show there.

This episode is sponsored by my Longaberger Home Business and Quince & Co.

Find Chickadee and the other Quince fibers at

You can find my Longaberger Home Business at  Please send me a personal message or visit my web site to sign up for my customer email list.

Events and Announcements

Maine Retreat is Nov 10-14, 2013.  I sent out an email with attachments to all of you this week so if you did not receive that please contact me.

Brown Bag Swap.  Skein of fingering weight/sock yarn in a brown bag.  Should be in the hank, not used and let’s also say fairly fresh.  If it has been marinating in your stash for more than a few years and is a little dusty, choose something a little newer.  Something you would love to get yourself.

Cornerstone Inn/Washington IL Fall Color Retreat was fabulous and you will be hearing about that in the next episode.

Nature Notes

Last week during the Cornerstone Inn Fall Retreat and into this week seems to be the peak of the fall color season.  We had two consecutive days of rain this week and the woods are still damp on this overcast day.  The trees are especially beautiful with the damp bark contrasting with mostly yellow leaves.  Among the trees are the oaks that are just beginning to turn to red and brown.  The goldfinches are crowding at the thistle feeder and they look so sedate in their muted colors.  It seems the goldfinches have traded their yellow feathers with the trees.  I’ve been seeing the big hairy woodpecker frequently.  One just flew from the feeder to a nearby maple tree.  Chickadees are gathering in flocks and the white breasted nuthatches too.  I love how the bird activity adds energy to the quiet times on the porch.  Nicole, Sarah, and Bronwyn were here yesterday for a photoshoot of my new shawl.  We had to shoot inside because it was too rainy and muddy outside.  Nicole moved the furniture on the porch for the purpose of the photos and I actually like it this way.  I’m leaving it for a while.

Yesterday I saw the Cooper’s Hawk flying by and swooping the feeder.  At night we hear the owls calling back and forth.

I trust in nature for the stable laws of beauty and utility. Spring shall plant and autumn garner to the end of time.
Robert Browning

Needle Notes

Barley by TinCanKnits  The Simple Collection A Learn to Knit Collection by Tin Can Knits.
Contains links to tutorials, handouts, and simple beautiful patterns.

Magic Cake Tutorial is on previous blog post.  If the tutorial does not appear try a different browser.  It works fine in IE and Chrome. 
Magic Cake in infant stages
Magic Cake complete!

Background for this shawl started at Sock Summit 2011.

Tutorial is on the show blog and included in the pattern for the shawl.

Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl by Paula Emons-Fuessle
Sarah modeling Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl. Photo by Nicole Montgomery.

The Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl is a top down, triangular shawl with a center spine and long tails. It is finished off with a ruffle that drapes gracefully on the ends. Exact stitch counts are not necessary. Gauge is not critical. If you run out of yarn and the shawl is not big enough to suit you, simply join in another random color.  The shawl will stretch considerably after washing and blocking.  It's fun!  It's fast!  It uses up stash!

The Magic Cake is a collection of remnants of yarn and is the ultimate stash-buster.  By creating your Magic Cake before you begin knitting, you eliminate most of the finishing work of weaving in ends.  You can also use up every bit of your yarn.  For this shawl, I used fingering weight.

Thanks to the Pipeliners at the Cornerstone Retreat for being enthusiastic and jumping into Magic Cakes.
Photo by Nicole Montgomery
 Please email your Magic Cake photos to me so I can share on the blog.


How to Make a Magic Cake of Yarn

A lot of people seemed to have trouble accessing the PDF on Google Docs.  So here is the information which you can copy and paste into a word processing program of your choice.  Please consult me if you wish to use this document for a class.  I am happy to send you the free PDF for that purpose.  These directions are included in my pattern Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl.

How to Make a Magic Cake of Yarn

by Paula Emons-Fuessle

A Magic Cake is a ball of yarn made of an assortment of yarns and colors. You can buy magic balls of yarn from independent dyers. If you have scraps of yarn then you can easily make your own.  It is fun and simple.  This is how I did it.

The three steps are: (1) gather, (2) weigh, and (3) join and wind.

1. Gather 100 g or more assorted fingering weight/sock yarn.  Any weight yarn will do, but numbers given are for fingering weight.  You will also need a kitchen scale.

I used 170 g because the ruffle used a lot of yarn.  If you don't want a ruffle, then you don't need as much.  My ruffle used about 40 g.  A garter stitch border would use about half that.

I put the yarn out for a week or so and played with the colors. Some colors worked better than others, but I wanted some variation, too.  Part of the fun is not being too safe in the choices. There are a lot of greens, blues, and reds with a bit of surprise thrown in. The surprise colors are sometimes called poison.  Just about any colors work if you like them.  Use whatever remnants you have.  They don't even have to be the same weight.  Mix weights and textures for an artsy look. Dig out that eyelash or ribbon yarn that has been in your stash for 15 years.  Anything goes.

2.  Weigh each color, and write down the weight in grams on a slip of paper.  For random color order, I weighed each ball on a kitchen scale and sorted them by weight from lightest to heaviest.  With a top-down triangular shawl each row uses more yarn, so the weight order made the stripes somewhat similar in size.  Most of the colors on my Magic Cake Shawl (except for the ruffle) were fairly close in weight with only 1-2 g difference between any color and the next color.  I had 207 g and weeded out a few colors to make a smaller shawl.  The weight of the finished product is 170g.

If you are not into randomness, just choose colors that work for you and go with that.  The striping will have a different look to it.  Each shawl is unique.

3. Join and wind all the yarn balls into one big Magic Cake using the Double Knot.  Start with the lightest, working up to the heaviest, joining and winding as you go. With this method you will only have two ends to weave in--one at the beginning and one at the end.  Magic!  If you do the Double Knot correctly it will hold up just fine. Rock climbers use this knot.  If they can trust their lives with it, then we can trust it with our knitting. I am a huge fan of the Double Knot which I learned from the tutorial by Jane Richmond (How to join your yarn by making a double knot); however, each time I made the knot, I had to go back to the video.  I came up with a way to remember it:  How to Remember the Double Knot.

I wound my cake with a ball winder and made the joins with the Double Knot as I went along, but the same thing can be done by hand .

If you like a center pull ball then start with your smallest weight and the ruffle yarn will be on the outside.  If you prefer the yarn coming from the outside of the ball, then start winding with the largest weight and your smallest weight will be the last color and consequently on the outside.

     Knitting the Shawl:

There are many shawl patterns that will work for the Magic Cake.  If you want to make a shawl like mine, the pattern is available on Ravelry and Craftsy as Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl.

by Paula Emons-Fuessle

The Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl is a top down, triangular shawl with a center spine and long tails. It is finished off with a ruffle that drapes gracefully on the ends. Exact stitch counts are not necessary. Gauge is not critical. If you run out of yarn and the shawl is not big enough to suit you, simply join in another random color.  The shawl will stretch considerably after washing and blocking.  It's fun!  It's fast!  It uses up stash!

The Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl pattern gives weights for each color and instructions for knitting one similar to mine.  Keep in mind that yours will be unique in color.

You could knit items other than shawls with your Magic Cake. Worsted or bulky weight is great for cowls, legwarmers, mittens, wristers, and hats.  Avoid using the knot in socks, baby hats, or anything where smoothness is essential.

You will look at your leftover yarn in a new way after making your first Magic Cake.  Enjoy!

About Me

My photo
I play the Great Highland Pipes, knit, observe nature, and read. My name on Ravelry is PrairiePiper. Find me on Instagram as KnittingPipeline.