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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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…)