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!

 

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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. 🙂

The Forever Watch

My son has been playing a game lately on his PS4 called Destiny. It has a minimal storyline; mostly the game seems to involve building weapons, armor, working in teams to complete missions, and blasting everything in sight. My favorite thing that I see him blasting is a tank that looks like a giant spider. See, there is biology even in space-themed shoot-em-ups. I do idly wonder about the storyline of this game. The premise is that a “Traveler” came to Earth with new technology that boosted the human condition. Following this event other aliens followed the Traveler to Earth, there were horrific battles, almost all the inhabitants of the Earth and its  colonies on the other planets in the solar system were lost, and humans are now engaged in an endless war.  Or maybe this is all wrong; the game scenario involves activating a long-dead person to participate as a “Guardian” in service to the “Traveler”. The player only knows what he/she is told. What is the truth? Where is the Destiny? Why is the game called that, anyway?

All this has to do with a book that I read recently that continues to haunt me. In the book “The Forever Watch” by David Ramirez we meet Hana Dempsey and her fellow travelers on the spaceship Noah traveling to a distant planet called Canaan. The Earth has been lost; all that remains of mankind is the population of this ship. The journey is a long one; centuries have already passed and there are more to come before the journey is completed and mankind arrives at its new home.

We quickly discover that life on the Noah is very different from the one that we know, and that things aren’t quite right. The Noah is enormous. There are entire cities and biomes contained within its hulls. Everything and everyone on the ship is subject to highly regulated conditions that are designed to maintain the ship, preserve the genetic diversity and survival of the crew, and ensure the success of the mission. Everyone has been tested, enhanced with cybernetic implants, and slotted into jobs that fit their physical, psychometric and mental abilities. There is extreme control of information and society is structured into a type of caste system.

It is in this environment that Hana serves her mandatory Breeder Duty and awakens to find her child gone forever. Say, what? Children aren’t raised by their parents; that duty is assumed by specialists who raise the children of the ship. Hana struggles as she returns to her job as a city planner and reconnects with her friends after the lost months of her pregnancy. She enters into a relationship with Leon and joins him in an effort to solve the mysterious death of his friend and mentor. Here’s the problem of life on the ship: the crew only know what they are told. What is the truth? What should they believe? What actually did happen to the Earth? Are we really on a ship? Where did all of this technology come from? And what is up with all these mysterious and violent deaths?

A lot of questions. I asked all of these and more while reading the book. This is an extremely intelligent book, and it took many twists and turns as the story unfolds and we discover the true history of the ship, the nature of the inhabitants, and the mission that they serve their lives fulfilling. Finally, at the end of the book, the title takes on meaning. Hana, suffering the loss of a child, gains much more at the end of her life.

This is a good book, but it is also not a book for everyone. There are some serious challenges for the reader and flaws in the book. It is assumed that everyone understands homeostasis. Since I have failed to fully explain this concept to neighbors who have invested thousands of dollars into pH machines that are supposed to cure all illnesses, I suspect that it is a more elusive concept than we biology teachers want to believe. I know from personal experience that the alternation of generations in plants is beyond EVERYONE. At one point the author used the conjugative propagation of plasmids through bacterial populations as an analogy of something to do with computers. Seriously. Not everyone has a degree in microbial genetics. It would help readers of this book, however, if they do have a degree in computers.  And what is it with all of the colors? I had to look up some of the colors in descriptive phrases just to figure out what they were. It was kind of fun, but only because I was reading on a NOOK.

OK, enough with the venting. I feel much better. It is mostly because of these negative factors that I put off writing about this book for so long. Truthfully, this book was so good that it continued to nag at me for a long time after I finished reading it. Forget the technical problems; the plot was well conceived, the basic scenario convincing, and the twists and turns took me down paths and through doors that I didn’t expect. I look forward with longing for the next book by this author.

Back to the game. I think that it is time for another mission.

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