Saturday, February 26, 2011

No Name

Well, at long last I've finished my fingering weight alpaca cardi. Five balls of Helen Hamann's Luxury Superfine Alpaca knitted at about 5.5 sts per inch on 4 mm needles. Seamless (like all my designs), top down, and feather light. I washed it at dinner time yesterday and it was mostly dry this morning. I'm going to wear it to the thrummed knitting class at Wool Tyme this afternoon. No name for it yet, but here's what it looks like.

Makes me feel as if spring might be on its way, even though it's cloudy with flurries and miserably Februaryish.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Warm Hands

Next weekend I'm going to learn to knit thrummed mitts. This is a cold climate and single-thickness mitts are never enough. Sometimes I wear gloves inside regular mitts, and sometimes I like to wear fairisle mitts in which the stranding on the inside acts as a second layer. Last year I designed and made these.

Diamanda Mitts--Holly colourway in Patons Classic Wool and Cascade 220

And this winter, I made them one size larger in a new colourway--"pink lemonade".

Diamanda Mitts--Pink Lemonade colourway in Ella Rae Classic

  When I spotted these colours sitting haphazardly together in my stash, I realized how perfect they would be for a lively pair of mitts. Of course, this pattern will work equally well in other colours; I just happen to love raspberry pink and heathery gold, especially when the dark days of winter are at their peak.
These mitts also offer  the following attractive features:

  1. They are surprisingly easy to knit, suitable for a first venture into small diameter fairisle knitting. There are no carries of more than 5 stitches and instead of the usual twisted braid, a simple band of purl stitches demarcates the borders of the cuffs. While at first glance the cuff looks as though it is done in corrugated ribbing, it is actually knitted in straightforward stocking stitch; the small diameter is enough to prevent curling, especially when blocked.
  2. They knit up very quickly in worsted weight wool (yarn that normally knits at 5 stitches per inch, although the gauge for this purpose is 6 stitches per inch).
  3. The size range (women’s S-M-L) is broad enough that the smallest size will fit a large child while the largest will fit a medium-size man (imagine the mitts in masculine charcoal, grey and burgundy).
I'm working on getting the pattern available online. The charts are taking a bit of effort.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Closing Remarks

I design and knit a lot of cardigans and jackets. I like wearing sweaters that give me the option of unbuttoning or removing them. After all, I'm at that stage of life when I'm experiencing occasional "power surges". Also, I'm pretty short, and cardigans and jackets are often more visually lengthening. So, it's not surprising that I have an interest in buttons.

Hand-painted buttons from Peace Fleece
Pewter buttons from Schoolhouse Press and from a booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

I collect buttons when I see ones I like. Usually, this is at places like Rhinebeck, where I found these beauties on sale.

Celtic horse buttons from the Ram's Horn
I admit to a preference for buttons made from natural materials and I don't like to spend a lot--buttons shouldn't cost more than the garment they're attached to! I try to salvage buttons from sweaters that are past their prime.
Right now, I'm trying to decide what buttons to sew onto my newest creation (not quite finished, but it's not too early to start thinking along these lines). Here, I'm auditioning some small, naturally-shed deer antler buttons. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Little by Little

Have you ever noticed how many good things happen little by little? For instance, I've been growing out my hair for the last year, from an insanely short style (as short as my son's) to shoulder length. I can now tie it all back. Alas, it doesn't make me beautiful, but it does make me look better (at least I think so) and it has the added benefit of being less expensive to maintain. (I'm also letting the grey happen--quite liberating!) The snow has been accumulating little by little too. I'm not sure if that is a good thing, but I know I'd like it if I were one of the cross-country skiers in the park. We've really had only one major storm, but there have been flurries almost every day. Because it hardly ever seems as though anything of substance is coming down, I hadn't realized just how much snow is out there until this week. Our window boxes have become mere snowy mounds.

Our patio table shows the full extent of the accumulation.

My knitting has been growing slowly too. My feather-light alpaca sweater is finally showing progress. It seemed as though I was knitting the body forever, even though the body is meant to stop at the waist and I'm knitting the fingering weight yarn at double knitting gauge. For a while I lost interest and started a sock. Then I realized that I was in danger of getting off track on what promises to be a lovely and useful garment. So, I got myself back on task by watching documentaries on my computer ("Mapping the World" and "The Story of Science", among others on TVO's site) and pausing every now and then to admire the airy texture of the work.


I'm on the first sleeve now and I can feel momentum building...