coming up roses

Thanks for the compliments on Ween! As far as I know, he’s still being lovingly mangled and slobbered on enjoyed at every opportunity.

Awhile back, (erm, last spring? ahem.) a friend here on the island gave me some yarn and requested that I make her a couple (or a few) berets/tams. Felicity has bouncy, curly hair that is adorable but often gets out of hand when she rides her bike, which she does nearly every day to run errands, get to work, etc. She has a battered tam that she has worn for years to tame her mane in the wind, and had planned to knit some similar items but never got around to it. She graciously told me that time was not an issue, so I am just now filling her request. Better late than never, hmm?

The yarn she gave me is Rowan Wool Cotton, various amounts of three different colors. For the first hat, I decided to make Ysolda’s Rose Red. I used the color yarn I had the most of, a discontinued grayish mauve, shade 902 “Pinky.” I cast-on late yesterday afternoon, and knit away happily while watching episodes from season 1 of “Tudors” on Netflix. (Yes, I’m totally addicted by now. Don’t know how I didn’t find it earlier; the “historical” context keeps me from feeling too guilty about enjoying the daytime-soap type drama.)

I finished this morning over coffee.

I knit the side medium, and I’m pretty certain it will be the right size. Because my yarn is not as “springy” as pure wool, I may insert some thin elastic along the cast-off edge (the hat is worked top-down) to make sure it stays put.

“Tea Rose,” Ravelry link

The pattern was a delight to use, clearly written and easy to follow. I was impressed that Ysolda included both charts and written line-by-line instructions for the entire piece.

And I think I may have to make another from this pattern, for me this time. After I finish Felicity’s other hats.

All for now.

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o hai, i haz teh cuteness!

Happy New Year!

Meet my newest creation, la Criatura Chula.

"o hai! i ♥ you!"

This little critter started life as a cashmere sweater in a thrift store. I was in a mood to buy sweaters for felting, and couldn’t pass up cashmere for $2.00; into the basket.

I’ve been watching a lot of Studio Ghibli films lately (My Neighbor Totoro is my all time favorite, perhaps you can see some inspiration here?) and I have a lot of crafting time on my hands. I’m trying to branch out into other needle-arts besides knitting, for the mental variety and also to save my fingers.

"i can haz friend?"

Sometime back, I was perusing a book on embroidery (maybe it was Doodle Stitching?) and I remember seeing a little felt animal, with a pouch for a smaller “friend.” Since it is the time for gifting, and one of my favorite Short People, Thomas, has just celebrated his first birthday, I decided to try my hand at “softies.”

The bodies for both creatures were cut and sewn free-hand (the larger was machine stitched, the smaller by hand.) I used a bit of a felted sweater for the little one too, and stuffed them both with alpaca and wool “waste fiber” left over from when I was combing top for spinning.

I used bits of leftover floss for the embroidery, and some cute (but single) plastic buttons for one set of eyes. (And yes, they are sewn on very securely, and knotted to each other inside the softie’s head.) It’s my first real attempt at freeform embroidery as well, and I’m delighted with the results.

Of course, even wool-y toys need handknits to keep warm.

"i haz a cozy!"

The hat was actually worn by the just-turned-one-year recipient his first week in the outside world.The socks are new, of course.

As if I wasn’t already pleased enough with this little pair, Thomas’ reaction sealed the deal. He immediately snuggled, then licked, the creature; he paraded around in a circle holding it high overhead squealing and gurgling with joy; he introduced his other stuffed toys to the newbie, and seemed thrilled to discover that the socks and hat came off. His mother, my friend Carol, is an artist and crafter, and she was also impressed with Teh Cuteness (who has, spontaneously, been named Ween, to commemorate her son’s self-initiated accomplishment this week. Ha.)

So, perhaps more softies in the future… any of you have experience making stuffed toys?

All for now.

flurry of wool

While much of the rest of the country was experiencing Extreme White Christmas Weather, here on the island we just got the bitter cold weather and some frozen rain. It rarely snows here, and when it does the accumulation is nothing compared to the Alaskan and Maine winters I grew accustomed to in the past years.

So I created my own “flurry” of sorts – I’ve had a cold and haven’t felt much like leaving my favorite armchair (unless it was to settle on my favorite sofa…) so knits have been flying off the needles and I’d love to share with you.

First up is the pair of socks I made in the knitting design class at Folk School. The name of the class was “Danish Grandmother Socks and More,” and indeed one of the patterns generously shared was originally passed down by memory through a line of Danish women, the most recent of which was Hanne, an exchange student at the school. Our teacher, Martha, used it as an example of how to fit your gauge and your body measurements to a pattern. (Most of the class was like that, and while it’s one thing to read it in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books, it’s entirely another to actually do it in a classroom setting. Very freeing!)

Hanne's Grandmother's Socks, Mountain Colors Bearfoot, "Alpine"

I knit these socks for Ignacio (The Beau, or “Novio,” as it were…) and was I quite pleased with the outcome. I was not pleased, however, to finish the second sock and discover that I’d knitted the leg a full inch longer than the first. Martha was thrilled to use me as a subject of demonstration, and we performed surgery: cut and unraveled the long-ish sock in the middle of the leg, then kitchner-ed the two sides back together. I’d considered myself quite good at kitchner-stitch, but doing it in the round on 60 stitches was a hair-raising challenge. The fix was ultimately successful, and the recipient was none the wiser.

Ravelry link here

In fact, he’s already oh-so-subtly requested another pair of wool socks, finding that wool is indeed warmer than cotton in winter. Ah yes, my worldwide wool-conversion plot continues…

Of course, I had to make myself a pair of Christmas socks first. It’s been awhile since I had a new pair, and though my sock collection is sufficient, there are darns in nearly every foot.

Ravelry link here

I knitted these using one skein of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock (in Cedar) and the leftovers of some yarn I used for another pair years ago (it’s the magenta yarn, Rellana Flotte Socke 4 fach.) The color combination was an unexpected whim, but I really like the way it turned out.

Then I spun some yarn, real lace-weight yarn…

Hello Yarn, "Frosted Forest;" 50/50 merino/soysilk; 465 yds/2 oz

… then received another not-so-subtle hint from Mother Nature that new wool hats were in order, as the temperatures plunged into the teens.

For the Novio: “Turn a Square” pattern, leftover yarns; Raveled here

For me: “Felicity”, handspun yarn dyed by All Spun Up

Raveled here

Last, but certainly not least… I have finally been bitten by the crochet bug.

What’s that??? Didn’t I always swear I was strictly a two-needle kind of girl?

While I was at the Folk School, my roommate Renee (who, incidentally, was a swap partner of mine years ago… and was not there taking knitting classes, though she’s a fiber artist of many persuasions… and yes, we were randomly assigned to share a room. Weird, huh?) Anyway, Renee was making some of the most interestingly-shaped items I’d seen. Crochet potholders, done on the diagonal in single crochet.

Raveled here

After watching these things take shape so quickly, I started paying closer attention and received a quick tutorial and was also gifted with a ball of dishcloth cotton. The lessons stuck, and I can now say I’m hooked (pun intended, hahahahahaha!) I’ve used up both balls of cotton I had, and will be getting more next time I leave the island. I’ve got my heart set on learning enough to make a hexagonal granny-square (granny-hex??) blanket like this one

So that catches you up with things around here. Christmas was a low-key event, which was exactly what I wanted and needed, and from here the winter proceeds. Hibernation and creativity shall ensue.

All for now.

stellarjay

Several years ago, in a small yarn shop in Homer, Alaska, I found myself standing in front of overflowing baskets of handspun yarn, wishing I could afford enough of it to knit a whole sweater.

Being the sensible young lady that I am, I saved up my money and bought… a book on spinning and a spindle. Then I bought a wheel. Then I acquired an immense amount of wool in a rainbow of colors, and though I have knit many things with my handspun yarn, that handspun sweater didn’t materialize quite as quickly as I might have expected.

May I present to you…

Stellarjay, my very first adult-sized sweater knit all in my own handspun.

The fiber is “Blueberry Patch” Targhee wool, dyed by Susan’s Spinning Bunny, whose fibers are consistantly beautiful and always leave me wanting more.

I spun the wool a looooong time ago, in another lifetime when I was living in Maine. I started with a pound of fiber, which became 1890 yards of dk-ish weight yarn, and have left just over 4 oz. I knit the sweater hem-up on size 5 needles, did the sleeves then joined for a seamless raglan sweater. The v-neck worked out just the way I wanted, and I’m thrilled with the complete garment overall. I wore it to work and the very first customer in the shop complemented me (“Cute sweater!”) so I’m considering the whole thing to be a great success.

I could have spent $150 on handspun that day in the yarn shop; I’m pretty happy with the way things have worked out instead.

Tomorrow I leave for the mountains, where I hear there are rumors of snow-flurries…

All for now.

(apologies for the not-so-stellar photos, they were the best I could do between rain showers, work, and nightfall. Perhaps more detailed shots from my vacation…)

Autumn Rose, My Precious

Nine months in the making, a love affair the entire time. Result: totally wearable.

Autumn Rose, from Simply Shetland 4: At Tomales Bay (Ravelry links)
Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift, yarn ordered as a kit here
2.75 mm (US 2) circular needles, used 2.25 (US 1) for the last 5 rounds of the neckband

Modifications: I knit between the two smallest sizes for the lower torso (I drew the new shape onto the graph in the book) and increased to the second size for the shoulders. The sleeves are knit using the second size entirely. I also raised the neckline a bit, binding off for the steek on the same row as I bound off for the underarms. I’m glad I did, because it’s still pretty low on me.

I have partial balls of yarn left over in every color, though not significant yardage in any of them. I am completely and utterly hooked on fair isle knitting, and I lovelovelove steeking. So amazing to be able to knit in the round and then open up such a lovely neckline with a few scissor-snips!

Now the question remains: what to knit next?

Beginning to look a lot like…

Yesterday was a busy day: dance lessons (I was the chauffeur, not the dancer), gift wrapping, and finally a holiday party/dinner with the other Coast Guard families. Nevertheless, I got another project finished.


These are some fingerless driving-mitts for Andy, not much of a surprise since he saw me working on them, and I made him try the first one on for fit before I made the second (What?! He was right there…) The yarn is some handspun I bought before I started spinning, and the pattern is my own invention (36 stitches in a 3X1 rib, plain stockinette for the palm, thumb gusset over 13 stitches, and garter stitch at the cast on and bind off.) I used US 5 needles (3.75mm) which created a very dense fabric that should be quite warm and water-resistant, and stand up to wear.

I did offer to give them to him early, since we’re having another snowstorm. I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture, but it’s coming down pretty well.


He said he could wait until Christmas. Like many couples with kids, we feel a little pressure to “have something to open” on Christmas morning, but there is little we actually need or want.

With the snow falling ever-so-furiously, I’m back to the sofa to work on my knitting form…

As Promised

I sewed the buttons on my Tangled Yoke Cardigan last night, as intended. Since I didn’t have any matching thread, I pulled a strand of the two-ply Felted Tweed apart, twisted the single to make it stronger (finger spinning) and used my home-made “thread” to sew with. I felt so clever, just had to share.

I headed out to the front yard to take some photos. I have to say, doing a self photo shoot is awkward at best, generally makes me feel silly and narcissistic, and usually results in photos I’d rather not share. Today was better than usual.

The Front View, all buttoned up.
The Back View. Pretty cable!
And from the side.

Annnd… that’s where the “proper” photo-shoot ended, as my photographer’s assistant entered the scene, anxious for his own moment of fame.

And then he galloped off, leaving me with an unintentional favorite shot of the sweater after all. (Thanks Rudes!)

Tangled Yoke Cardigan, from Interweave Knits Fall 2007
I knit size 38″, ended up with a 37″ sweater (gives me about 1.5″ ease)
Rowan Felted Tweed, “Watery;” 7 balls.
Knitpicks fixed metal 32″ circular needle, size 2.5 (3mm)

Modifications: I knit the sleeves two inches longer than the pattern called for, which is a pretty standard modification for me. I also picked up 12 less stitches for the button bands, as it seemed to work better that way.
The button bands do gap and pull a bit when they are fully fastened, as the fabric is very soft and pliable; however, I don’t anticipate this being a big issue, as I rarely button my cardigans completely. I suppose I could add some ribbon to the back side to reinforce them if it becomes a bother.

I really love this sweater, and it will probably be the most-worn in my wardrobe. It’s very light, but plenty warm, and the color really is great. The pattern is written well and was easy to follow – highly recommended!

All for now!

Last minute Socktober entries

Well. It was so nice to have company that I ignored the blog. Don’t be jealous, I’d do the same if YOU were here visiting too!
We did some touristy stuff (gift shops and the like) and the weather was nice enough to spend a little time outdoors. Mostly is was hang-out time, with lots of knitting 🙂

I finished two pairs of socks, just in time for the end of Socktober.

“Clog Socks” for wearing with the Danskos
Knitpicks Essential in “Tuscon”
My basic 64 stitch sock, on US 0 (2.0mm) dpns.
Monkey socks, by Cookie A.
Yarn by Wooly Wonka Fibers,
Superwash Blue-faced Leicester in “Wasatch”

Really, this pattern is addicting, and it works so well with so many types of yarn. I particularly love Anne’s BFL sock yarn – it’s got a really nice hand to it and just a teensy bit of shine. Not to mention the great dye job 😉

I got tons of work done on the Tangled Yoke Cardigan too, I’m just starting the cable around the shoulders.

Once I’m done with that, It’s all garter-stitch button-bands, and then… swatching for Autumn Rose! The Autumn Rose sweater is one I’ve admired since I first saw it on Eunny’s blog ages ago. It’s going to be a challenge for me, since the only stranded knitting I’ve done so far is mittens and a hat, but I feel up to it; and hey, if you don’t start, you’ll never learn. I figure that if I take it one round at a time… Amazingly enough, it’s not the steeking that scares me the most, it’s the corrugated ribbing.

I also finished a bit of holiday gift knitting for a particularly snoopy person in my life. He checks out the blog regularly, so I can’t post here if I want it to remain a surprise… (Yes, Andy, I mean you. Now shoo! And don’t go digging in my wool room either, you won’t find it.) I think it really came out great, so any knitterly folk that are on Ravelry can check it out on my page. I’ll post a shot on the blog after it’s been given.

All for now!

Socks and sweaters and dogs, oh my!

I have FINALLY finished the “Somewhat Conwy” socks that I started last May. I’m so happy to have these done, I can hardly stand it.

I mostly followed the pattern for “Conwy” from Nancy Bush’s Travelling Socks book (sorry, I’m feeling too lazy to link to the pattern today. This is my third time using it, so I didn’t really need the book anyway…) I used Crystal Palace’s “Panda Cotton,” which is a very nice yarn made up of cotton, bamboo, and some elastic – but I didn’t like it with this pattern at all. It splits rather easily, and I needed to use 2.0 mm needles (US 0) so the twisted stitches were painful to excecute. This yarn has only 170 yards per ball, so with two balls I had just enough to make a pair of socks sized 8 to 8.5 (women’s.) They shall be gifted to someone.
I’m just glad they’re done so I can start a new pair of socks!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I soaked and blocked the torso parts of the Minimalist Cardigan, which softened and fluffed the yarn and seemed to help with the rolling issue. Actually, it looked entirely solved lying docile on the floor, but I had to test it on Zoe (my stand-in). After hanging on her overnight, some of the rolling was brought back by gravity, but I think I can stand it.

Now I just have to finish the sleeves and sew ‘er up!


The Gone Fishing socks are nearly done, I did the heel last night and worked on the foot this morning.

Not for too long though, I had to play with my new favorite toy.

It’s a snowflake spindle from The Merlin Tree (acquired through Amy, she’s such an enabler.) It spins like a dream, the best spindle I’ve tried so far. I’m enjoying the mobility of spindles, now that spinning quantity and speed aren’t my only goals.

Here’s a picture of the my favorite four-legger, just for the sake of it. Is it just me, or do those eyes melt your heart too?


All for now, enjoy your weekend!

Green Thumbs!

First off, a little apology: Andy was home all day today, and we finally got to work on finishing up the shelves for the wool room. Hopefully I can show you the finished set tomorrow (!!!) Additionally, I was having trouble accessing the internet, and so I didn’t get the girls to pick a winner for the book giveaway – so that is on the list for first thing tomorrow, I promise.

Before I go to bed tonight, I have something to show you:


I finished my new gloves, and I believe I’ve fallen in love with glove-knitting.
I was afraid that I would get tired of knitting the fingers before I got to the tenth one, but really they seemed to go quickly. It could be that I loved the yarn so much, it might be that it’s just such a new thing to me… I’ll have to knit some more pairs to find out!

I’ve been thinking about what knitting means to me, or more specifically, how I view the finished projects. Though I enjoy the process of knitting for itself, I’m also driven to create useful things, and I have a definite prefernce for handmade over store-bought. So far, most of my finished pieces have been for myself, because it’s easiest to adjust to my own sizing as I learn new shaping and techniques, and also because I look at knitting as a way to get the things I want to wear without having to shop or pay loads of money. (Last winter when I needed some new clothes, Andy and I worked out a shopping budget; I was warned that “yarn to knit a new sweater” most certainly did not count… How did he know??!?)

I’ve found that I am all the more attached to these pieces for the memories they carry, sometimes of the time and place I knit them, sometimes of where and when I bought the yarn, how I found the pattern, or where I wore them first; usually it is a combination of all three. The memories can be surprisingly vivid, and return nearly every time I see or wear something I’ve made. I will never forget wearing my Marakech knee socks, fresh off the needles, for my last evening out with friends before I left Alaska. I knit the first lace shawl (Adamas) during the first long winter when Andy was out on the boat, sitting on the futon downstairs until the wee hours of the morning. I was inspired to knit the Rusted Root sweater when I saw it in progress on a swap pal’s blog, and wore it several times on the drive from Alaska to the Lower 48.
A knit item is, understandably, particularly nostalgic when I’ve spun or dyed the yarn myself.

These gloves have been a favorite project from the moment I opened the box to see and feel the luscious fiber for the first time, before I had any idea what the yarn would become. Spinning it was pure joy, smooth and easy. Then came the long search for the “perfect” project to knit up. There was much petting of the yarn along the way, and now I’ve found a new technique which I love and a pattern that works flawlessly for me. I will not be able to do anything but smile every time I wear these gloves.

A project that I am still working away at, however half-heartedly:


I don’t know why these socks are so difficult for me to want to work on. I like the pattern (Conwy) and though the yarn can be splitty, it feels delightfully smooth and cool in my fingers. I’m plugging away at them anyway, perhaps I’ll like this project best when it’s done…
All for now.