Golden Blackberries Cowl

I think I should just declare October the month of the cowl. I made a fun cowl early in the month that reminded me of autumn leaves, and then dug into the stash to make another cowl of the same pattern with a difficult yarn that had been placed into time out after behaving badly. While digging out the ill behaved Watercolor yarn I found another forgotten yarn that I had been saving for the right project. Hey, Christmas is coming. Cowls are fun and fast to knit. I already have a long cable needle put together: time to make another cowl!

Beginning of cowl
Look at this gorgeous yarn! I decided to cast on and see what I could get.

I cast on 180 stitches (size 8 needle) using the Moebius cast-on posted by Cat Bordhi (which meant that I actually had 360 stitches on the needle. Moebius knitting can mess with your head…), which I knew from my previous knitting efforts would give me a nice length. The yarn that I pulled out of the stash for this project was Malabrigo Silky Merino in the colorway Piedras. The yarn had a lot of plum mixed with golds, pinks and greens. When I bought this yarn years ago I had a plum colored coat that I loved to wear on winter days that weren’t too cold. I thought that I would make a scarf to match the coat, but never saw a pattern that appealed to me. The coat is long gone, but the yarn’s time had come.

I had learned from the previous Moebius cowls that garter stitch is a good way to present hand painted yarns, so that is how I started the scarf. After 6 rows I switched to the stitch that my mom called “popcorn stitch”, but I think also goes by Trinity stitch or raspberry stitch. (Since this scarf has plum colors in it, I choose to think of the little berries as blackberries) I continued on in this stitch until  the scarf was getting close to the width I wanted, switched back to garter stitch, and ended up with a picot cast off  (CO 2, BO 4).

Close up of the cowl
Finished cowl. The blackberries to the left are right side up, and the ones on the right are facing down. Since I was using kind of big needles the berries are a little lacy looking.

Here’s the fun thing about Moebius knitting: you start knitting in the middle of the scarf, and your knitting takes you around both edges of the scarf until you get back to the beginning.  What I kind of knew but didn’t understand was the knitting is reversed on the two halves of the scarf. One side of the scarf has the blackberries facing up, and the other side is looking at the bottom of the berries. Hey, that means the scarf is totally reversible.  I’m on board with that.

Finished cowl
Finished cowl is long enough to wear draped like an infinity scarf.

Ta-daa. Finished the cowl yesterday. It drapes really nicely and is long enough to double around my neck comfortably. I’m happy with the lacy look of the berries.

The weather forecast is for snow on Monday. Bring it on, I am ready!

 

A Yarn’s Tale

I bought this fabulous yarn one day while shopping at a yarn store that I love in Denver. It was in colorway called Watercolor, and it does have that look that comes with the watercolor prints that I like to hang on my walls.

Handpainted yarn
How can skeins like these be left in the yarn store? Of course they had to come home with me!

I wasn’t sure what I would do with it, but the colors sure looked like ones that would go with a lot of the things in my wardrobe, so I bought it to add to my stash. I don’t quite know why I do these things, they just happen. The yarn stash gets hungry, and I feed it. 🙂

So here’s the yarn once I opened up those skeins.

Open skein of dyed yarn.
Once I got the skein opened i could see how the dye had been applied to the yarn.

Hmmm… this could be something of a problem for me. This yarn is one that has been hand painted in discrete areas. I like the pink and the purple, but the other colors will occur twice for each time I reach one of my favorites.  I really have been disappointed by yarn painted like this pooling in the past, so I decided to try the yarn out in some crazy dragon scale mitts that I wanted to make for fun. (I bought this pattern at Mew Mew’s Yarn Shop while doing Yarn Along the Rockies last year) The magenta in the yarn matched my dragon scaes, so how could I go wrong? The ribbing pattern will break up the colors so that they don’t pool. That’s cool, isn’t it?

Dragonpaw mitts
Here’s the mitts, The scales worked in really cute and you can hardly see the yarn,
Ribbed back of mitts
It’s a good thing that the front with the scales is cute, because I really think that this ribbing does not display the yarn well!

Well, that was something of a disaster. I wanted to break up the colors, but this is a mish-mash of all the colors at once! I bought this yarn for the magenta and purple colors, and what I notice most while wearing it is the gold and tan. I hunted around to find another pattern.

Garter mitts
How fun are these? These mitts are knitted sideways and use short rows for the shaping,

These mitts are knitted sideways in garter stitch, and I like how the colors are displayed better. With this yarn I do want some pooling after all. The garter stitch makes it a little broken up, but in a good way. I still had a couple of skeins of the yarn left, but without a good pattern for them they hibernated in my yarn stash all this year.

Last weekend I knitted a cowl in a fall colorway (my post Weekend in October Cowl if you would like to check that out), and as I finished it I kept thinking that it would be a good project for the Watercolor yarn. There is a lot of garter stitch going in the cowl, and the areas of wrapped and crossed stitches highlight colors well. Since the purple and magenta areas of the yarn are longer, they will display more in the openwork sections of the knit. I put on a picot bind-off again to add a little more color pop to the work.

Stitch detail of the cowl
Look at how the garter and wraps show off the colors of the yarn. No pooling allowed!
Finished cowl
Finished object on my favorite model. The cowl is long enough to wrap twice around my neck.

Happy, happy, happy. Can’t wait for the weather to get colder so I can wear this cowl and the one I made last weekend. Yesterday we set a new heat record, but this is Colorado, so maybe by next week…

Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted Multi  (18: Watercolor)

Dragonpaw mitts: Pattern acquired from Colette Smith 

Garter Stitch Mitts: pattern by Ysolda Teague

Cruzado Cowl: pattern by  Laura Nelkin for Dream in Color

 

Weekend in October Cowl

It is Indian Summer right now in Colorado; the days are warm and balmy and the trees are getting ready to drop their leaves.  I just love the colors this time of year! Within a couple of days last week the leaves on my trees changed to amazing shades of gold, orange and flaming red.  Wow! Fall arrived almost overnight.

For the rest of the week I drove around town and through the countryside admiring the colors and smiling with happiness. Friday afternoon I took out some yarn that looked like fall and cast on a the Cruzado Cowl designed by Laura Nelkin for Dream in Color. I had bought it a couple of weeks ago at my favorite local yarn store, and its colors were now calling to me.

Skein of yarn.
Isn’t this the perfect fall yarn? This is Dream in Color Classy in the October 2014 colorway.

I cast on the cowl using a Moebius cast-on with help from a video online. Yikes! Even following the extremely clear directions by Cat Bordhi in the video I gave it a 50/50 chance that I had done it correctly.  After a couple of rows, however, it became clear that I was OK. Yeah for our team!

Moebius Cowl
Here’s the cowl at its beginning. The cool thing about a Moebius is that you start in the middle and then knit out on both edges at the same time. See the half twist at the bottom? That’s what makes the Moebius.

All weekend I worked on the cowl off and on between trips out running errands amid fall colors. The cowl was fun as it had wrapped and crossed stitches that made it have a lot of interest. It was a fast knit too because the yarn was worsted weight on size 8 needles.

Look at all the fun stitches!
Look at all the fun stitches!

Today I finished the cowl and took it out to the maple tree in my back yard for its final picture. Indian Summer at its finest!

Cowl in tree
Here’s the finished cowl handing in the tree that inspired me to start knitting it.

I originally bought this yarn as I thought my sister in San Diego would like the colors. Sorry Sis! This cowl is staying in Colorado. 🙂

Successful Reboot: Socks are done!

A couple of weeks ago I started a pair of socks, decided that they were a disaster, ripped them out, and then started over in another pattern that I thought would keep the colors from pooling so badly. (The chronicle of that effort is my post “Sock Reboot” in case you want to see what I’m talking about.) Well, I finished the socks last night, and here’s what I got.

Finished socks.
Through some happy accident both socks pooled on the foot in the same manner. Kind of fun, huh.

Wow. I couldn’t be happier with how the colors worked out on the socks. The legs are kind of striped, the colors pooled on the foot in a way that I kind of like, and then the toe ended up with an interesting stripe effect. I think that they are really cute and am glad that I ripped out the first effort with this yarn. The fabric of the upper part of the sock is very stretchy, and it fits my fat little Swedish leg well. The twisted rib on the foot was a little fussy to do, but it brought out the best in the yarn and makes it fit my foot snugly.

Colors on the finished sock.
Here’s another view of the socks that shows off how the color pooling changes on the sock. I really like what happened on the toes.

The pattern on the sock is kind of cool. The criss-cross stitch forms lace columns down the sock that continue along the edge of the heel flap. It is pretty hard to see in the painted yarn, so I cast on another pair of socks last night in a solid red merino sock yarn. The adventure continues…

Sock Pattern: Traversus Socks found in Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin.

Yarn: Simple Sock Fingering Weight by MJ Yarns in the colorway Midnight Orchid

Owls for Eleanor Part 2: Safe Landing in California

A couple of weeks ago I made some little owl mitts for my grand-niece Elly who sustained an injury to her hand that required surgery. I got the mitts done and into the mail just in the nick of time. Here’s how things went down.

Cast coming off.
Elly heading out to get her cast off. This is the first time she’s seen the injury since she landed in the ER. Did you notice that she loves purple?

 

Mail delivery
Not long after getting home the mail delivery brings her a package!

 

Mitts!
Perfect landing! Owls have arrived.

 

Best timing ever. Enjoy the mitts little lady and keep safe.

Love,

Aunt Marilyn

Sock Reboot

Gosh, I really like Corriedale sheep. The very first fleece that I spun was from a lamb named Bob with long, lustrous locks and a gentle crimp. The owner of the flock and I became friends, and I would go out to visit her sheep and even helped skirt fleeces  when she had her flock sheared.

So when I saw this yarn at Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado, I  had to have it.  It was Corriedale sock yarn, dyed locally at MJ Yarns in a wonderful colorway called Midnight Orchid. I couldn’t wait to get started on it, and cast on to make simple garter rib socks to show off the fabulous colors.

Orchid Pooled Yarn
Gee, look at all the orchid pools on this side of the sock.
Midnight Side of Sock
But the other side of the sock is all midnight with one lonely orchid strip…

Yikes! The orchid colors all pooled on one side of the sock, and the midnight ended up on the other side. NOT the look that I was hoping for.  Be strong, I told myself, and ripped it all out in under a minute flat.  Back to the drawing (knitting) board; I started looking at other possible patterns. After going through some pattern books (OK, I have way too many sock books…) I settled on a sock pattern that uses wrapped and twisted stitches.

Criss-Cross stitch
The criss-cross stitch pattern in this sock really changes the fabric of the sock and made the pooling stop.

Problem solved. The colors have settled into stripes and the front looks just like the back. I like the way the twists show off the yarn. As a bonus, this fabric is also very nice and stretchy.

Yeah! Happy knitting again. I hope to have these socks done by the end of the week. 🙂

Sock Pattern: Traversus Socks found in Knockout Knits by Laura Nelkin.

Yarn: Simple Sock Fingering Weight by MJ Yarns

Owls for Eleanor

My grandniece Elly suffered a medical misadventure a couple of weeks ago that landed her in the ER with a badly cut and mangled finger. Wouldn’t you know it, not only was it badly cut, but the bone was also broken. The next morning she was taken into surgery for the repair and ended up with a purple cast. Sad, sad day.

Heading into surgery
Here she is heading into surgery…
After surgery
and here she is afterwards. See the purple cast?

The cast comes off in about a week, and I decided to make her some little purple fingerless mitts to wear as a little padding for that hand. She is into owls in a big way, so of course the mitts had to feature knitted owls.

Elly3_Cropped
Here they are, ready to fly to California. Hope they bring a little TLC to that finger!

These were a fast knit. I cast on 28 stitches and got started Friday and finished today. I used a bulky single ply yarn from Crystal Palace and size 7 and 9 needles. They go into the mail Monday, and I hope that she will like them. 🙂

Elly looking at her mitts on the blog.
Elly discovering her mitts in the blog this morning. Look Mom! I’m in a blog!!

Morning update. I texted Elly’s mom this morning to let her know about the finished mitts and the blog posting. She likes them!

Knitting in the Key of LIfe

“Now, let us all take a deep breath and forge on into the future; knitting at the ready.” – Elizabeth Zimmerman, The Opinionated Knitter

The last four weeks have been terribly hectic for me. I’ve been fighting a chronic condition for some time now, and in May it decided to get ugly. My wonderful doctor ordered a huge battery of tests, and wouldn’t you know it, I tested positive for an autoimmune condition. “Good to be diagnosed, but also a shame,” my doctor tells me. Things have been busy for me as I’ve completed batteries of additional tests, visited new doctors, driven to new clinics, and started new medications. Huh. It’s like I’m starting a whole new life.

How best to respond to a body blow like this? Obviously the thing to do is to stay calm and knit! I have knitted though all the crisis of my life. I knitted a new sweater the week that my mom died, made a pair of socks while sitting in the ICU with an ill son, and created an afghan while recovering from surgery. Stranded in an airport for two days? No problem, I have knitting! Knitting can sooth and center me in a way few other things can. I feel calm, hopeful and pleased to be creating something of beauty and purpose during the process. Cheapest therapy around!

So, I made a pair of socks for my sister’s birthday present the week I was diagnosed.  I then started a big project for one of my friends (a cushy vest that she can wear to Colorado Avalanche hockey games),  and bought the yarn to make little purple mitts with owls on them for my grand-niece who just had hand surgery to repair a badly mangled finger. Still, I needed more. I needed to make… a cat!!

My cousin loves all things cat. We saw this meme that has been making it’s way around Facebook that shows a box of kittens with the  “Crazy Cat Lady Starter Kit” stenciled on the side.  Of course she asked for a starter kit of her own. Of course I started looking for a cute pattern to knit a cat. This pattern by Kath Delmeny fit the bill.

Knitted Kitten
First kitten in the “Starter Kit” crate. We’ll have to get a larger crate as I add kittens!

Here it is. Cutest cat ever! I finished it today (on her birthday) and I couldn’t help posing it all over the yard.  I’m so pleased with how spunky it is, and can’t help but imagine that it will be a little rascal that gets up to no good once it’s at her house.

Kitten in Flower Pot
Doesn’t this look like a kitten that will break house rules?

Why do I knit? Because it makes me feel wonderful!

That’s the best medicine ever.

“Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.” — Elizabeth Zimmerman

 

Elephant Walk Socks

Every year, as soon as my taxes are filed, I head to the nearest yarn shop. I mean, how else am I going to recover from “I have to pay HOW much money this year?!” It’s kind of a ritual now. I buy yarn and needles that I don’t even have a project for; the whole point of the outing is get some joy and to feed the stash. That way I drive home happy, excited and looking forward to some productive knitting. Taxes, what taxes? 🙂

Elephant yarn.
Yarn I bought at a favorite yarn store on my way home from doing the taxes.

That’s how I ended up with this yarn (Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn). It’s kind of a happy yarn, don’t you think? I thought that it would make up into something fun for my sister. These are more her colors than mine, and I had plans to make her a little shawl in time for her birthday.

Well, all I can say is that the stash ate this yarn. I put it into the drawer with the other sock yarns, and I never thought about it again. Then, out of the blue, I saw a pattern for socks (Water for the Elephants by Rose Hiver) that I just loved, I dug in the stash for some crazy yarn and pulled this out. Sorry Sis. This yarn is meant to be patterned socks with elephant details. Who knew?

Yarn on the inside of the skein. Hmmm... what will this look like knitted up?
Yarn on the inside of the skein. Hmmm… what will this look like knitted up?

The reason why this yarn seems a little crazy is, no matter how I try to visualize what the final knitted piece will look like, I get surprised. I looked at the end of the skein, and I was pretty sure that I was looking at orange, green and some golden tan. The sequence looked promising, so I cast on.

Not matching socks
Well, who knew these socks would only look distantly related when finished?

Well, the socks turned out great. I just love the little elephants in the Turkish pattern. They fit perfectly, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. Except… they don’t really match all that much. They kind of complement each other, so that is just the way it is going to be. Knitting, the great adventure. I wonder what this pattern will look like in fingerless mitts? I think that I will put the little elephants onto the palms…

Socks and Noro yarn.
The yarn that I used (Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn) made the two socks have very different colors.
Top and bottom pattern of the sock.
I just love the pattern in this sock. The pattern on the sole is pretty nifty, too.

UFO Rescue: Week 3. Hell hath no fury like an unloved sock…

OK, this was hell week. I took these cute, cute, cute lace socks out of their storage bag and decided that I would finish them up this week. The needles in the sock are a set of my new square double-pointed ones, and I really kind of wanted them back. I had the first sock worked all the way through the heel, and it seemed like it wouldn’t take that long to get them done.

Twisted Flower UFO
Here is the UFO as I took it out of the bag. Once I had figured out where I was in the pattern I was ready to start knitting.

These socks are the Twisted Flower pattern in Cookie A’s book knit.sock.love. I loved the socks as soon as I saw them in the book. The pattern is really interesting, and the design is cleverly laid out to make the pattern flow onto the heel and down the foot. The chart and directions are extremely clear. Fun! I couldn’t wait to get started on these socks again.

Oh, boy. It wasn’t long before I remembered why these socks went UFO in the first place. The problem was the yarn. I had bought this hand-dyed Bluefaced Leicester yarn at a local shop as I thought that the color was really nice.  Once I got into the pattern, however, it displayed some truly unsavory yarn qualities. It was a 4-ply fingering weight yarn, and should have been round enough to show off the pattern well. Well, the yarn was round, but something ugly had occurred in the dyeing process (I think) and it had the sullen personality of garden twine.  There was absolutely no bounce in this yarn at all! It was stiff and slippery; at every opportunity a stitch slipped off a needle and unraveled down three rows in the blink of an eye. The individual  plies of the yarn kept springing apart from one another and I kept splitting the yarn with my needle.

This sock pattern has tons of personality and detail.
This sock pattern has tons of personality and detail.

Then there was the beautiful pattern designed by Cookie A.  This pattern involves lace on every knitted row, cables, twisted stitches and a partridge in a pear tree. You need to read the chart forwards and backwards while manipulating the (slippery) little stitches. There was no way I could watch television while knitting; every bit of my attention needed to be focused on the chart and the sock. Normally this isn’t an issue as this type of knitting has a zen-Iike meditative quality, but things weren’t working out for me with the demon yarn. I had to use five double-pointed needles and a cable needle while working;  I tried four different cable needles trying to find one that wouldn’t slip out. Yeah, right. The cable needle that I needed doesn’t exist.   I began to pull on my hair and refer to socks as THE HELL SOCKS.  More than once they came very close to entering orbit and becoming true UFOs!

Knitted Sock
Too cool for shoes. These babies will be my reading buddies next winter.

Beautiful socks. Wrong yarn. I’m thinking now that I should have washed this yarn before using it to help it recover some of its life before I started knitting.  Oh well, lesson learned.

Tomorrow I am washing these socks to see what will happen. They are beautiful, but I am never putting these babies into shoes. They will grace my feet with their beautiful lace on cold nights while I am reading and remind me that art never shows how long it took, only how good a job you did.