On My Needles – Summer Citrus Shawl

There’s a reason I start my donation project for the March Fashion Show so early. My Rose Trellis shawl is set aside for now so that I can work on other projects. When someone buys/gives me yarn for a project, the new project moves to the head of the queue.

My dear friend Leah bought a huge amount of acrylic worsted weight yarn for making afghans at a flea market. In the batch were several skeins of lace-weight yarn that she knew she’d never use. She hands them to me, asking “Can you use this? Can you make me something with it?” Not only is Leah a dear friend, she’s a sorority sister and a client. How do you say no? You don’t.

I have no idea what the yarn is, not who made it or the fiber content. Leah gave me four skeins of orange, four of green and one of burgundy. They are large “cakes,” ready to work with. I wish the original owner had saved the labels.

I remembered seeing a recent post on Facebook about a shawl made with a bright orange, so I located that pattern. It’s called “Baja Sunrise Shawl,” because the designer, Kristen Ashbaugh Helmreich, said the colors reminded her of sun hitting the waves off Baja. Her pattern calls for DK weight yarn, but my yarn is lighter in weight. The guage swatch was not working well at all.

I switched to smaller needles and have a good start on the project, which I have dubbed “Summer Citrus,” because the orange is the color of oranges, tangerines, mandarins and other summer citrus fruit, and the green is perfect for leaves. When I get down to the “waves” at the bottom of the shawl, it will be like sun dappling through the leaves on a tree.

The pattern is very easy – one row of yarn overs followed by five rows of stockinette stitch. I’ve been working on it for a little more than a week and I’m already on row 68. In another 30 rows or so, I start the stripes. At row 128, I start the lace border. It’s an old-fashioned “shale lace” type, similar to “feather and fan,” which many of us learned when we began knitting lace. Leah has a late July birthday. That’s my goal. Wish me luck!

Many thanks to designer Kristen Ashbaugh Helmreich for this interesting pattern. You can find a link to get the pattern here – http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/baja-sunrise-shawl.

Many thanks to Jimmy Beans Wool for featuring the shawl on their site and inspiring me to make my own version – http://www.jimmybeanswool.com/.

PS – doesn’t it look nice on my favorite summer table cloth?


On My Needles This Week – Progress Report

The yellow rose trellis shawl is coming along. I just started the last set of lace rows. After that, it’s garter stitch to the end!

The last time I wrote about this shawl, I had started “tinking” back to an error that was too visible to leave in the shawl. I am happy to report that I corrected the error and have been knitting steadily ever since. See the “safety pin” stitch marker in the photo above? That’s the leaf that had the error. It was too close to the trellis on one side of the leaf and it slanted too steeply on the other side of the leaf, and it had a hole where it didn’t need it.. Now it looks just like the other leaves.

I took the shawl to our local Relay for Life last weekend and knitted between chores (I was a volunteer, not a walker, and, yes, I am a survivor). I got a lot done that day. I took it to my knitting Meetup on Monday and got another four rows done. I knit at least half an hour to an hour a day while watching TV, so I am still on track to finish it the last week of June or first week of July. I can hardly wait to start the short-row shaping and all that lovely lazy garter stitch. That part of the shawl is going to fly!

Sometimes you just gotta laugh

I have not had enough time to work on my blog this week because I have not had a lot of time to work on the tree. However, I did come across this little gem today and thought if it made me laugh, it will make you laugh, too.

“The records of the births of his children were recorded by Rev. William Douglas who pastured flocks in several Virginia counties.”

Do you see it?

It looks like Rev. William Douglas took his pastoral duties very seriously and put his flock of parishioners out to graze!

Please, dear readers, let me know if I ever use the wrong word.

The Vocabulary of Knitters – Frogging, Tinking and Life Lines

Look at this photo! Experienced knitters will spot my lopsided leaf where the safety-pin stitch marker sits. Less experienced and non-knitters will be scratching their heads, saying “What? Where?”  The line of decreases that forms the right edge of that leaf has a mistake in it. I did the reverse row and started the next right side row. When I got to that leaf and knitted it, I found a huge hole in the leaf. Not good!

I worked back a few stitches and repeated the pattern out loud as I worked the stitches and still had a hole. I worked back a few stitches and tried changing where the yarn-over was placed but that just made it worse. I faced the inevitable. I had to go back and fix the error three rows below. Now, if this was a shawl for me, I might shrug my shoulders and keep working. This shawl is NOT for me. It will be donated to a silent auction at a charitable event. I want this shawl to raise as much money as it can. I cannot leave the hole in the leaf!

How do I fix it? There are three ways to fix an error in lace knitting (in most knitting really). I can use my life line. I can frog it. Or I can tink it.

Oh no! She’s inventing words! No, I’m not. These are three skills knitters eventually learn. I’ll do my best to explain each and then I’ll tell you what method I chose and why.

A life line is a contrasting strand of yarn pulled through each stitch at a critical portion of a pattern. It is frequently used at the end of a lace repeat or when the lace pattern transitions into the next part of the design. It is also used when a garment starts having major shaping taking place – armholes, necklines, etc. If you make a serious error, you pull your needles out of your work and rip out until you come to the life line. You reinsert your needles, picking each stitch up from the life line and you are ready to go.

Frogging is pulling out your needles and ripping out multiple rows or even an entire piece of work. The name is a play on words. Frogs say “ribbit, ribbit.” Some knitter some time back thought it sounded a lot like “Rip it! Rip it!” Frogging became the word in a knitter’s vocabulary that mean ripping out a lot of work. When you have ripped back as far as you want, you will have a row of tiny loops. You must pick up each loop and place it on a needle, taking care not to miss any or to cause any to run like pantyhose. Then you figure out how far back you ripped and start working again.

Last, there’s tinking. Tink is knit spelled backwards. Tinking is reversing the knit process. It is the act of undoing your knitting stitch by stitch; taking the worked yarn out of the finished stitch and placing the stitch on the opposite needle with the rest of the unworked stitches. [Reality check here – we are talking knitting with two or more pointed needles and not crocheting, done with one hook. You are with me on that, right?] Tinking is done when you only have a small area to rip out, when you know specifically where the error is or when working with a fuzzy yarn that likes to grab hold of itself and snarl its fuzzy little fibers together. Think mohair. Mohair likes to do that. Tinking allows you to gently separate those fibers and undo a stitch.

What do you think I decided to do? If you’ve followed this blog since the start of this shawl, and looked at the photos, you will see that I have NOT used any lifelines. I was going to put one in after I’d finished the lace and before I started shaping the top of the shawl. I guess I won’t be using a life line to fix my error.

Frog it? for three rows? I don’t like frogging lace unless I’m ripping out back to the foundation. I have a lot of yarn-overs in this pattern. Those tend to get lost when picking up the stitches. That stitch marker is going to fall out when I rip out and I won’t know where the mistake is.  I have to go just to the mistake, but did I rip out too many rows? Did I quit one row too soon and the mistake is still there, ready to laugh at me?

In the end, I decided the best solution for me was to tink it. I had one mistake that I could clearly see and that I could use a removable stitch marker to locate. I know that there are 16 stitches between each ring stitch marker on my needles. Undo a stitch, move it to the other needle, after 16 “undo’s,’ pass the marker to the next needle, At the end of the row, mark which row I had undone. Tinking is slower than actual knitting. This is a task that I started Saturday and I’m not quite done yet. I’m literally undoing roughly 500 stitches. I’m not enjoying it, but it’s the right thing to do. This shawl will be beautiful when it’s done and whoever purchases it will have a treasure.

In Search of Parents – Joel Sanford Burks (1827-1878)

For the past several weeks I’ve been working on the Burks tree for a distant cousin of mine. She was most interested in finding the parents of Joel Sanford Burks. I thought it might be Joel R. Burks of Indiana. As soon as I started collecting documents to prove my theory, I realized I was on the wrong track. As far as I can tell, Joel R. Burks never lived in Illinois, where Joel Sandford Burks was born. Joel R. Burks did have a son named Joel, but there were three significant differences between the two men. One used a middle initial “S” and the other used “W.” One was born in 1827 and the other was born in 1857. One was born in Illinois and the other was born in Indiana. Clearly NOT the same men.

So, just who were the parents of Joel Sanford Burks? I have to admit failure. I cannot find them. If my readers have any information to share, I’d appreciate hearing from you. Otherwise, I’m going to have to tell my cousin, I’ve hit a brick wall

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Joel Sanford Burks was born c.1827 in Illinois. This is information he gives us on the 1850 US Census, by which time he had been established in Arkansas for at least six years. We know this because his son William R. Burks, age 6 in 1850, was born in Arkansas. According to Mary’s pension request, Joel died January 9, 1878. The 1850 census document is the best document we have for Joel Sanford Burks, however it does not confirm the middle name.

According to several web trees, Joel married Mary Eliza Williams on September 10, 1846 in Hot Springs County, Arkansas. The marriage could have been two or three years earlier, as their first child is born in c. 1844. Mary was born in Illinois, according to the 1850 census, where she gave her age as 20. This gives us a tentative date of birth of 1830. Mary died April 15, 1916 and was buried in the Alford Cemetery, Hot Springs County, Arkansas. Although she consistently gave an age that showed a date of birth in 1830, her grave stone gives us a date of birth as February 14, 1828.

Mary is believed to be the daughter of Jesse William and Polly Barnett, but this is not proven.  Jesse and Polly were married in Kentucky and moved to Illinois. In some documents Mary is listed with no middle name or initial, in some she uses Mary A., and she is also known as Mary Eliza.

We know Joel Sanford Burks fought in the Civil War in the Confederate Army because we have his wife’s request for a pension based on that service. He served from April 1863 to June 1865 in Crawford’s H Company, Arkansas Cavalry.

Joel appears on the 1850 US Census for Prairie, Hot Springs County, Arkansas, where he states he is a farmer, age 23, born in Illinois. His wife’s name is given as “Mary,” with no middle name or initial. Also in the household are three children, all born in Arkansas – William R., age 6; James W., age 1; and Thomas E., one month old.

Joel appears in the 1870 US Census for Short Mountain, Franklin County, Arkansas. He states he is 45 years old, a farmer, and born in Illinois. He does not a middle initial on this census. Wife Mary states she is age 40 and born in Illinois. She does not use a middle name or initial on this census. By this time the family has grown. Seven children are living at home, all born in Arkansas (Thomas, age 20; Daniel, age 18; Jesse, age 16; Nancy, age 10; Malinda, age 8; Martha, age 6; and John, age 1).

By the 1880 census, Mary is a widow. She and her younger children are living with one of her older sons, “D.T.,” in Big Creek, Sebastian County, Arkansas. Everyone in the household except Mary is born in Arkansas. She is born in Illinois.  D.T. is age 28, and his son William H. is age 7. Brother John L. is age 12; brother Joel S. is age 6; sister Martha is age 14; and mother Mary A. is age 50.  The ages are not a perfect match for those given on the 1870 census, but are close. “D.T.” is most likely son Daniel, who was age 18 on the 1870 census.

We have the following documents for Joel Sanford Burks:

  1. 1850 US Census for Prairie, Hot Springs County, Arkansas
  2. 1870 US Census for Short Mountain, Franklin County, Arkansas
  3. Widow’s Request for Pension on the service of Joel S. Burks
  4. 1880 US Census for Big Creek, Sebastian County, Arkansas

Burks Joel - 1850 US Census -Hot Springs Co ARK

I have established this Chronology for Joel Sanford Burks

1827                Joel S. Burks born in Illinois – proven by 1850 census

1830                Mary Williams is born in Illinois – proven by census documents

1844-46           Joel marries Mary Eliza Williams – no source documents

1844                Son William R. Burks is born in Arkansas – proven by 1850 census

1849                Son James W. Burks is born in Arkansas – proven by 1850 census

1850                The family is living in Prairie, Hot Springs, Arkansas – proven by 1850 census

1850                Son Thomas E. Burks is born in Arkansas – proven by 1850 census

1852                Son Daniel is born in Arkansas – proven by 1870 census

1854                Son Jesse is born in Arkansas – proven by 1870 census

1860                Daughter Nancy is born in Arkansas – proven by 1870 Census

1862                Daughter Melinda is born in Arkansas – proven by 1870 Census

1863                Joel Sanford Burks enlisted in Confederate Army – proven by Mary’s pension application.

1864                Daughter Martha Burks is born in Arkansas – proven by 1870 census

1865                Joel Sanford Burks discharged from army – proven by Mary’s pension application

1868                Son John Burks is born – proven by 1870 census

1870                The family is living in Short Mountain, Franklin County, Arkansas

1872                Son Joel S. Burks is born – proven by 1880 census

1878                Death of Joel Sanford Burks – proven by Mary’s pension application

1904                Mary applies for pension based on Joel’s service in Confederate States Army – proven by pension application.

1916                Death of Mary – date from grave stone photo.

Burks Mary Williams - grave stone


Work in Progress – Rose Garden Shawl

I have begun the second repeat of the lace pattern for the border of this shawl. Because of the length of the rows (248 stitches), it is easy to get into the rhythm of the pattern on each row. The even-numbered rows, usually purled across, are not boring, as there are frequent knit stitches to watch for. These “reversed” stitches are making veins down the centers of the leaves.

I am loving the yarn used in the pattern. Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima Quatro is easy to work with, smooth and soft. Think of your most favorite, most worn, most washed tee shirt. This yarn is that soft.

At the rate I am working on this shawl, I expect to have it completed the last week of June or first week of July. Let’s see if I can hit that target.

Interesting Ancestors – Charles Burks of Washington County, Kentucky

Charles Burks of Washington County, Kentucky  (c.1750-1831)

His profile can be found at http://www.geni.com/people/Charles-Burks/6000000033245588231.

Charles Burks is my favorite uncle’s first cousin twice removed’s wife’s second great uncle’s wife’s great nephew’s wife’s fourth great uncle. My husband is delighted to find this fellow in our tree, even if the relationship is distant and tangled. More about that later.

Charles is related to me through my uncle Richard Frazier. Uncle Dick was not only my favorite uncle but he was also a cousin. Uncle Dick married my mother’s little sister, Rose Salter. Their older daughter Sheryl gave me the genealogy bug. But those are stories for another day.

Charles Burks was born about 1750 in Prince Edward County Virginia. He was the son of Richard Burks, proprietor of Burk’s Old Tavern, a combination bar, inn and general store. Charles left home for the new lands being opened up in Kentucky. This much we know. Richard Burks mentions Charles in his will and states that his son had moved to Kentucky. His date of birth is estimated based on the birthdates of known siblings. His place of birth is accepted as Prince Edward County because his parents lived in that county all their married lives.

From there the trail gets murky. The only Charles of the appropriate age found in Kentucky settled in Washington County and operated a grist mill. I cannot definitively prove that Charles Burks of Washington County is the son of Richard and Mildred Burks of Prince Edward County, Virginia. On the other hand I can find no facts to prove that he was not their son.

Two facts about Charles Burks of Washington County make it likely he was Richard’s son. First, he married Sarah or Sally Rice, born before 1765 in Virginia. Two other children of Richard Burks had spouses named Rice. Second, he named a son Richard F. Burks. The “F” is believed to stand for Floyd. Richard Burks named one of his sons Richard Floyd Burks. Based on these two facts, I believe I am on the right trail.

After settling in Washington County, he applied for a permit to build and operate a grist mill in 1805. The grist mill was built at Burks Springs on Hardin Creek, near present-day Loretto, Kentucky. Many grist mill operators ran small distilleries, taking in corn from the farmers when their crops were too large for their own uses. Burks and his sons operated the distillery until the 1830’s. After that, the widowed Sarah Burks could not keep it running. The grist mill, however, continued to run for many years.

In the late 1880’s, George R. Burks, the founder’s great-grandson, reopened the distillery. A lien filed in 1889 gives a list of buildings on the property – Still House; Boiler Shop; Warehouse A; Office (at that time a barrel shed); Quart House; Distiller’s House; and the Toll Gate House. In the early 1900’s, George built himself a home on a knoll overlooking the distillery.

In 1919, with the advent of Prohibition, George R. Burks sold the distillery to J. E. Bickett, who farmed the land around the distillery. At the end of prohibition, Bickett had begun to refurbish the distillery to reopen it. It was back in production by 1937. During the 1940’s and early 1950’s, the property changed hands several times.

In 1953, Bill Samuels, Sr., purchased the property known as Burkes Spring Distillery, which had been unused since prohibition. Few changes had been made since the distillery had been built as part of a water-powered grist mill. Bill Samuels, Sr., restored the mill and distillery. It is now known as Maker’s Mark, the smallest active distillery in Kentucky, and the only operating distillery that is also recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

Why did I say my husband was glad that the Burks were distant relatives? His drink of choice is Makers Mark!

For more information, you may want to visit these sites: