Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Handwarmers

Last year I knitted an alpaca scarf for each of my brother's three daughters, and had fun trying different combinations of reversible cables. This year I decided  matching handwarmers might be fun, and I found some worsted weight alpaca that matched the colors of the scarves. Over the summer, I  had participated in BadCatDesigns Summer SwatchMe project ( http://www.badcatdesigns.blogspot.com/ ) , so I have a wealth of lovely  14-stitch lace patterns to play with. I decided to use the same dimensions for each set, but vary the lace, so here is my generic formula:
Fingerless Gloves: Worsted Version: 7 inches long
Aslan trends Alpaca; 100gm/220 yds. Need 40gm, or about 100 yds for a pair.
Size 6 Double pointed needles, and size 4  DP needles.
Cast on 42 sts ( 3 reps of 14 sts)

Knit one round,
Purl one round

Start lace pattern.Repeat 3 times around ( once for each needle)

Work 40 rounds (e.g. 2 1/2 reps of 16 rows).
Bind off 8 sts, continue around
Cast on 8 over the bound off sts on next plain round.
Work another 8 rounds ( e.g.½ rep).
Switch to size 4 needles and work K2P2 for 8 rounds. BO in pattern.

I decided not to make thumb gussets, so these can be pushed down to the cufffs if needed for extra wrist warmth when you are wearing gloves with them.
I hope they love these as much as I do!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


What is it about knitting that so appeals to me? I think it is all about transformation and possibility. I love the idea that I can start with an image in my mind and then , through the slow and steady application of a skill, involving problem-solving, geometry, chemistry, or just plain magic, gradually see my imagined idea appear in reality. The transformation of a hank of soft, lovely yarn into a fabric has been very captivating, and I know I'm not alone because there are at least a million folks out there who love this metamorphosis activity so much that they have joined Ravelry.
A few months ago I was invited to participate in a design challenge with Andrea of BadCatDesigns, who blogs at http://www.badcatdesigns.blogspot.com/ , and designs the most gorgeous lace shawls. I have been following her for some time now, and last summer participated in her Summer Swatch Me project. So Andrea and I are now collaborating on a lace  knitalong idea, which will debut on January 1st, and be called Metamorphosis KAL!
Stay Tuned!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Holey Cowls

It has gotten cold here in New York, and I wasn't happy with any of the scarves I have. I needed a cowl. What is a cowl, you might ask? I think it is like a big snuggly turtleneck, or maybe a circle of warmth that you pop over your head. Like a scarf, but not dangly. The wool goes where you need it most! It shouldn't take much to make it, so I thought perhaps I could design one quickly. I remembered I had a skein of electric blue Big Wool which I had purchased for $3 at the LYS sale in the summer of 2009. The largest needles I had were 13s though, and I didn't think I wanted to run out in the cold to buy some 15s. Pencils were even too thin to use for DPNs. In the end I went with knitting really loosely on the 10.5 DPNs I had, and switching to my 13 circular when it was big enough.

This idea was a welcome break from the secret project I've been working on, which involves fingering-weight yarn, lace and much smaller needles.I thought it might be fun to make another one, so I got out the Noro Cashmere Island  I bought a while ago. That yarn has long color repeats, as is a feature of Noro yarns, and it was so pretty  that I had been saving it for something special. I thought it might be fun to double strand it  and see how the colors interacted. Plus I could knit on large size 11 needles and have another really fast project.
I decided to call these "Quick Leaf Cowls" although I thought of them as Holey Cowls, but that name has already been used!

The Cashmere Island yarn is 60% wool and 30% casmere with 10% nylon, so it is soft and warm. And my cat loves it! He likes anything Noro, and carries little balls of it around if he gets the chance. I forgot, and left a ball of grey on the table, so it ended up in my bedroom this morning, in a tangle on the floor!
I've uploaded the pattern to my Ravelry store in case you need some instant gratification, too...Now it is back to the Winter Project...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Birthday Beatitude

This amazing piece was given to me by Teri Lucas, who blogs here: http://terificreations.wordpress.com/. It is the most beautiful thing I've seen in a long time! I am speechless with amazement! I'm thrilled to own it and certainly it makes my birthday week complete!
Speaking of which, I finished this one for myself: on my birthday, hand dyed fabric, black thread. I'm pleased with it, but after seeing Teri's quilting, I have lots more ideas for the next one!

And my cat joined in the celebration:

Here I am dressed to go out with my dear husband Peter for birthday dinner. Lots of rayon chenille, hand painted and made by Judy Zemel, whose work I adore.

It always amazes me how fast the birthdays come. Every year is fizzing by faster than the year before. I'm so lucky to have a group of marvelous friends who manage to make me feel so special and blessed! This year, I had a surprise celebration, complete with gluten-free cupcakes and presents, with my dear Knitting group friends, who gave me lovely gifts:
Square needles, hand-made stitch markers and a book on thread sculpture! What fun!
As time whizzes by, it is always good to stop and be thankful for the connections and joys I've had through the fiber world and the amazingly beautiful things people make. I am really lucky to be alive at a time when Ravelry ( http://www.ravelry.com/ ) has hit a Million members! and so much good is here on earth. Thank you to all of my wonderful friends and family!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October projects

I finally finished a vest I have been wanting to wear , and not a moment too soon, as the weather is growing colder now that it is autumn. And speaking of which, NY Sheep and Wool Festival was last weekend and as usual, the festival was marvelous. A gorgeous cool day, and lots and lots of people and vendors selling every kind of wool, yarn, fleece, knitting needles, alpaca, buffalo yarn, musk ox yarn, regular hand-dyed wool, and lots of animals: goats, sheep, llama, alpaca, angora bunnies, etc. It was huge. We got there at 11 am, and left at 5pm, having looked at all of the hundreds of vendor booths, bought lots of yarn, and patted many sheep and lovely alpaca! And managed to have lamb for lunch!

I was very much entertained, and while I didn't watch shearing, there were many opportunities for that as well. They also have wine-tasting, and a whole room filled with hand-made food such as cheese, pickles, breads, wines. It is like a county fair, only centered around wool and knitting. The link for it gives a bit of an idea: www.sheepandwool.com . It was huge, and lots of fun, but I wished I could go for both days, as one day isn't really enough to see everything.
And the people there are a lot of fun, as everyone wears their hand-made clothing and hand--knitted sweaters, hats and shawls, so there are many chances to meet folks by going up to them and admiring their garments.I wish I had more time for that, but I did meet some folks I've known from various knitting lists, and it was great fun.And with the rise of http://www.ravelry.com/,  our own social-networking site with 650,000 world-wide members on it, it is such a blast to meet people you know from there, too.! Kind of like MySpace for knitters. So, I am involved in that community, and this festival is one of the big highlights of the year for us! And of course, buying yarn is always fun, but the choices there are astounding. I managed to do my part for the yarn economy thusly:

And I also made a small quilt, which is 12x12 inches, intended for the SAQA NY show, Fiber Celebration, which will be hung in Chappaqua Library in late November, thanks to the dedicated work of Susan Schrott, our NY SAQA( http://www.saquany.blogspot.com/ )  rep who has a great blog here: http://www.susanschrottartist.com/weblog/

Time Unfolding #1

Monday, October 18, 2010

Summer's End

Well, it has been a whirlwind month so far! I was invited to accompany my brother's band, Phideaux,  ( http://www.bloodfish.com/ ) to the UK, where they were performing in the Summer's End  Progressive Rock festival,( http://www.summersend.co.ukm/ )  in Lydney, UK, at the Lydney Town Hall, the same stage where the Beatles played in 1962.
We flew into Bristol Airport, on an overnight flight from Newark, NJ, landing in the morning after not much sleeping on the plane. The weather was foggy and cold, but it was delightful to be driven on the "wrong" side of the road and to be hearing English spoken properly.

Bristol Airport was small and cozy, and we were glad to be here, especially since we had a lot of instruments and equipment to schlep. Amazingly, none of it got lost..
Phideaux performed on Sunday, so we had 2 1/2 days to enjoy the music festival, check out the local Tesco supermarket,and  enjoy our accomodations at Whitemead Forest Park, a "fabulous holiday setting in the idyllic Forest of Dean"( http://www.csmaclub.co.uk/ ). On Saturday, the band had an acoustic rehersal in the apartment.

The festival was wonderfully organized, thanks to the efforts of Stephen Lambe, Huw, Graham and the rest of the folks who laboured tirelessly to make this a success. People came from as far away as Cairo, Egypt, Norway, Spain and all over the UK to hear the music and enjoy the fun of listening to the 13 bands who played over the weekend.

It was such fun to hear the rehersal and see how wonderfully prepared   the band was after a week of rehersal in New York.
Hearing Phideaux play was the high point of the trip, of course, and it was magnificent to see how much the crowd loved the music.

A large crowd enjoyed the music

Anyway, back home we flew on Monday morning, after an amazing weekend ,having made some new friends, eaten some great Indian food, heard some lovely music, and not gotten much sleep!
Setting up

Phideaux performing

All in all, an unforgettable weekend, despite being completely exhausted afterwards! But so worth it. I am already looking forward to their next performance at Rosfest, http://www.rosfest.com/ , in May 2011..

Monday, September 06, 2010

Bye bye Summer...

Alas, the days are slightly cooler and the evenings come just a bit sooner. Tomorrow is the first day of school around here, so that means Summer is over. I managed to snap some photos of Fuchsias at my local Plant Nursery, as these are a much better match for the pattern in my sweater. I was thinking of Tulips, but since the sweater is worked top-down, the image is reversed so the flowers hang downwards, just like these Fuchsia flowers. Finally I had  photos to share.
Meanwhile, my Summer Swatch Sampler Sweater is done. I got the buttons on and took some photos. It is as yet unblocked, which I will save for another day. I think Andrea of BadCat Designs(http://www.badcatdesigns.blogspot.com/ ), who designed the lace which I used to make the sweater, did an amazing job, don't you? Each pattern was such fun to knit. I managed to get all 9 patterns on the sweater, but unfortunately, ran out of yarn before I could do the edging, so that will have to appear somewhere else.
Now I must start to think about wintery sweater knitting...but I still am enjoying the final bits of summer...

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Buckyball Day

As today is the 25th anniversary of the Buckyball
I thought it would be fun to share my month-long obsession with making beaded beads, using wire or fishing line to string crystals in various configurations. You can make dodecahedra, icosahedra, octohedra, etc very nicely using Czech crystals or Swarovsky crystals, and weaving them into Platonic or Archimedean solids!
Here are some of the ones I've made this month:
I first learned how to make these from this website: http://mydailybead.blogspot.com/
and then have been playing with this idea for a while. It is very addicting!

I also finished a vest:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Harvest Time

Finally, the sweet smell of pineapple in the greenhouse lets me know the fruit is ready. That and the fact that the stem has drooped under the weight of the fruit! Fun fact: apparently Victorian greenhouses were specifically introduced to allow folks to grow pineapples! Who knew? 150 years later, I'm growing some, too.
Meanwhile, as I cannot grow tulips outside anymore because of the voracious deer, I've designed a sweater with tulips in mind.I wanted this to be more of a knit/purl design rather than openwork lace, so I closed all of the yarnovers by knitting into the back loop. I really like how this came out.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dear Deer Deer

Last Thursday, the cats and I were mesmerized by this baby deer who hung out in our back yard for several hours.
It was accompanied by its mother, a considerably larger creature!
They were amazing to watch.

Their ears swiveled with the slightest sound, and they stood still as statues. The cats were very intent on watching them, and so was I. Eventually they ran off , and I could finish my sweater:

Now I have to block, obtain a zipper, sew it in and all will be well!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Swatch

St Margaret is coming along nicely. I decided to try the braid cable on the bottom, and figured I'd have enough yarn with my last skein....drats! FOILED AGAIN!
I started the edging with an I cord cast on of 17 sts, then began working braid cable, attaching it by SSSK on every RS row. I was moving along pretty well, but ran out of yarn 8 inches before the end! Luckily Ravelry has a stash feature, and generous folks who want to sell or trade their orphan balls sometimes list them in the database. So, I got really lucky, and found someone kind enough to trade a ball of yarn ( same dyelot! Joy!) for a copy of my Ingrid Cardigan pattern....so now I wait until it arrives...
Meanwhile, what to do? I finished Cosmos Cardigan.
I decided to cast on for The Summer Swatch Me Sampler, hosted, created and devised by my friend Andrea of Bad Cat Designs, who blogs at http://www.badcatdesigns.blogspot.com/ . This is an amazing knit- along, with a sampler stole as the focus of a 9 week extravaganza of lace. There is a Yahoo group for it here:
So I collected all of the laceweight and sock yarn I had and petted it and thought about what I wanted to knit. But, knowing me, I would never really wear a stole, nor a shawl. I'm currently focussing on sweatery things, as you know....So, what if I knit this as a sideways cardigan, and added sleeves along the way? I found 2 lovely skeins of Great Adirondack laceweight Egyptian cotton that I bought last summer. 1000 yards in total.That might be enough for something lacey...So I cast on provisionally as directed in the project , thinking 5 horizontal repeats on a size 5 needle might give me enough width for something useful. Three vertical repeats ( 25 rows) into the lovely pattern, however, I had about 14 inches in width and 2 1/2 inches in depth.Even with a deep border, this wouldn't be enough to make the 24 inches I'd need for a sideways cardigan.So, hmmm...it would be enough for the back of a top-down, set in sleeve sweater, however. I pondered this idea, not wanting to cut the yarn, as each skein was 500 yards and the knots would be difficult to hide in laceweight. And if it didn't work out, I would be sad to have cut the yarn...
So, here goes craziness! I put in a lifeline, and picked up 12 sts along the 2 garter stitch edge, which brought me back to the provisional edge. I picked up 25 live sts along the provisional edge, being careful to capture the stitches, and leaving the provisional yarn in place in case I need to rip the whole thing back to the lifeline.
Now I worked 25 rows, following the pattern, but adding a stitch at the outside edge, and increasing every 4 rows at the neck edge, so when I was done with the 25 rows, I had 12 edge sts already picked up.This left a bit of a lacey edge, which in retrospect I probably shouldn't have done, as I could have just picked those up, but no matter. I placed an orange marker, and knit across the 24 edge sts which formed the top of the sleeve, around to the back, worked across the back, and then picked up 12 along the other side. Then worked 25 sts across the provisional cast on, and so forth. Voila! Now I had 2 fronts and a back, and sts picked up along the top of the armholes. Not exactly symmetrical, but one row extra isn't going to matter much in this busy yarn and lace pattern. Now, I proceeded to add one stitch on each side of sleeves every RS row, and one every 4 rows to each front, keeping the stitch pattern when possible. Here are some views  to row 48:
I am having too much fun! On a hot summer day, playing with cotton lace is wonderful. Thanks, Andrea!