Blackberry Cowl

It has been cloudy, snowy, and cold here. I mean, really cold! Freeze your (Raynaud’s) fingers before you know it cold. Knowing this was on the way I bought food and gas a couple of days ago and then settled into the house with cat-magnet blankets with space heater to do some power knitting. This morning Greeley, Colorado, a city an hour’s drive north of me set some sort of record at -32 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chill it was -47!!). It wasn’t that cold here, but it was still cold.

Wooden bear modeling cowl
This afternoon it warmed up to a blistering +12 degrees F. so I sneaked out to take a shot of my newly finished Moebius cowl. This was knitted with Hedgehog Fibres Merino Singles, which is a squishy single ply worsted weight yarn. Really yummy around the neck.

I finished another of the leftover WIPs from last year this week. This one is a Moebius cowl using garter and blackberry stitch in a pattern that I sort of winged as I knit. I like it! Here’s what is crazy about Moebius knitting: the cowl is knitted from the middle out, and the pattern is “up” on one side of the cowl, and “down” on the other.

Stitch detail of the cowl
See what I mean? The tiny jog dead center in the scarf is where I started the round in the knitting, and then on the right side of the middle garter section the blackberry stitch is “up”, and on the left you are looking at the backside of the pattern. I like both sides and I think that the yarn looks good in either stitch variation.

The cowl is just the right length to wrap twice around my neck to stay warm, and it also will drape nicely when just worn as it is.

Cowl
Because it is a Moebius the cowl has the same pattern facing up at the outside edges of the cowl and on the side that is displayed in the “shawl collar” folded over. Clever, huh. It also folds nicely at the bottom and behaves itself when you wear it. This color is “off” since I took this picture inside. The yarn really is fabulous jewel tones.
Yarn detail
See.. beautiful jewel tones. This colorway is called Dragonfly.

I like the blackberries the most, so I will wear the cowl the way I took this picture, but it is just as easy to wear it with the other stitch pattern (which looks vaguely woven) facing out.

So, this is my own pattern. I really like how it came out, and I have some cool Madelinetosh yarn that is dying be a cowl too, so I’m fighting an urge to immediately cast on to make another one. I wonder how that yarn will look in blackberries? This yarn was worsted weight and the new one is DK. Will it make any difference? It’s like an experiment!! I used a little more than one skein on this cowl; maybe I can come up with some cool fingerless mitts with the rest of the yarn. Lots of knitting ahead of me.

It warms up this weekend, but looks like I’ll still be on the power knitting drive!

Have a good weekend everyone.

 

Alpaca Dreams: Mill Bag #1

Several weeks ago my friends at Alta Vida Alpacas gave me a few skeins of the yarn made in the first mill run of their fiber. I knit some hats and a pair of mitts with the bulky yarn that came from their Huacaya alpaca, and put off working with the sport weight Suri alpaca yarn for a couple of weeks. This was the yarn that they labeled Mill Bag #1: it was soft, slinky, amazing. It just had to be knit in some type of lace pattern, but what?

I played with different ideas and lace patterns, and finally settled on making a scarf in fir cone pattern. You can check out my early efforts at my earlier post Alpaca Days; I finally finished the scarf last week and with no further ado, here it is…

 

Scarf
Here she is in all her glory hanging on my front tree. The yarn gives this scarf an amazing feel.
Stitch detail
Here’s a close-up of the fir cone stitch.

I still had a half skein of the yarn left after finishing the scarf; just enough to make a swatch for another scarf/cowl idea. Cari from Alta Vida foolishly told me I could dye the yarn if I wanted. Hmmm… how brave did I feel? I decided that I was only a little bit brave, but I did want to see how the fiber looked with some color variation. I decided to kettle dye the yarn with my Gaywool indigo colored dye.

Dyeing yarn
I put the soaked yarn into a crockpot and added a dilute dye solution in several different spots with a syringe. After the first infusions of color had spread through the yarn (and the temperature was close to the simmer) I added a second round of dye solution infusions. See, not very brave. Some variation in color, but only with one color in the pot. Call me a dye baby…
Dyed Yarn
Here is the finished yarn. By the time the yarn was all dry I had decided to make a swatch of a moebius scarf pattern that I had knitted before in a variegated yarn. Cari and I had talked about a scarf that could also be a cowl. This might be the ticket if the yarn looked nice in the pattern.
Knitted Fabric
Swatch! Look at how cool the color is: just a little pooling.  Since this is a swatch for a moebius I did a provisional CO in the middle of the central garter area, and then knit one side “up” and the other side “down”.
Trinity Stitch
There is trinity stitch on both sides of the scarf/cowl. This is the “up” side…
Wrong side of trinity stitch
…and this is the “down” side showing the wrong side of the trinity stitch.

The yarn is just crisp enough to make the little bobbles in the trinity stitch pop up while still feeling incredibly soft. I think the two sides of the pattern look kind of cool and complementary (and luckily for me, so did Cari!), and as the cowl will be folded and doubled around the wearer’s head both sides of the pattern will be visible no matter how it is folded. The beauty of a moebius is that there is no wrong side and you can just put it on and rock it.

Cari gave me two more skeins of Mill Bag #1 yarn to make the full cowl. I get to dye them, too.

Gosh, this is going to be fun to knit.

Alpaca
Alpacas: You all take good care of that fiber, you hear?

They just sheared their alpacas two weekends ago. I wonder how long it will take for the new batch of yarn to come back from the mill?

Yarn Feeding Frenzy

It’s been a kind of tough few weeks and I’ve been missing too much knitting. Last week I pulled myself together and returned to my weekly Wednesday knitting group at my favorite yarn store, Colorful Yarns in Centennial, Colorado. How wonderful to return to my peeps. How great it was to catch up on the new yarns and books. It was a little like coming home after a trip away… there was even a commotion going on between rowdy shoppers towards the front of the store. As shrieking and laughing continued I finally wandered over to see what was up.

Skein of Yarn
Looks pretty innocent, doesn’t it. This yarn, which I wouldn’t have ordinarily given a second glance to, was the trigger for a major yarn event at my local yarn shop. It is Bamboo Bloom by Universal Yarn. The color I bought is called Emperor.

It was a yarn feeding frenzy!! Having caught the scent of blood in the water a great yarn, ladies were digging through a tub of artsy looking yarn on the floor.  Huh? Nice yarn, but what was the big deal?  It makes a cowl, one of the frenzied yarn diggers told me. A second shopper waved the article in question at me… and I froze. Hey, this is kind of cool. I kind of want it. I need some of this yarn, but by this point there were only a couple of disappointing orange/tan colored skeins in the tub. Sniff.

Wait… Why are there more ladies pouring through the door to get this yarn? Answer: A new shipment of the yarn had arrived and the calls had just gone out. The first yarn sharks had pulled up and more were on the way. Oh, no! There was no way I wanted to miss this action. I suddenly realized that the bags of newly arrived yarn were on the floor by the cash register where a couple of unprincipled fearless shoppers had ripped them open and were busy handing out skeins in all the possible colors. Skeins were flying through the air! You know where I ended up… yep! Behind the register where the main action was occurring. After making some yarn tosses myself (go long, go long!)  I gathered up examples of all the colors, plus the cowl in question, and carried them back to the other knitters in the group. Oops. That was that. A major yarn feeding frenzy and knit-along commenced. Woohoo!! I hoarded three skeins of the stuff myself for at least an hour before I calmed down enough to put two of them back into the tub.

So, here is what all the fuss was about.

Yarn
The yarn is a single ply bamboo yarn with 6 inch strips of unspun wool inserted every three feet or so. The barber-pole sections are where the connections between the two fiber types were made, Wow. I think that I need to spin me some of this yarn. With beads!!
Cake of yarn.
Here is the yarn once I had it wound up into a cake. Looks more interesting, doesn’t it. The puffs stand out, but actually there is about 10 times more bamboo yarn in length.
Cowl
and this is what the yarn looks like knitted up into a cowl. Woohoo!! Talk about fabulous. This is the Simple Rules Cowl that is a free download on Ravelry. I knitted it a little bigger than the pattern; I cast on 100 stitches with a size 10 needle. All the stitches are knitted until you come to one of the puffy strips; those are purled to make the puffs stand out. Too easy!

I finished the cowl this morning. Fast, easy, almost mindless knitting that was perfect for catching up on television that I missed over the weekend. Luckily there was a little action to break things up when I heard another (but not yarn related ) commotion occurring at the back door…

Unhappy cat
Mom took away my snake…

The cats had cornered a little garter snake out back and the commotion was Yellow Boy trying to bring it inside while MacKenzie fought to get the snake for himself. Yikes!! No, no, no! No snake frenzy! There was an intervention of the “release the wildlife” type. Cats in, snake out, and me knitting the rest of the cowl.

Tomorrow it is going to be a lot colder. I have a powder blue sweater that will be rocking my new cowl when I go to the Wednesday knitting group at Colorful Yarns.

It is good to hang out with your peeps. 🙂

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. 🙂

Cowl Study Part 2

What can I say? I had some more of the Freia yarn in a turquoise-blue-purple colorway called Blue Velvet, and a tube of beads that kind of looked like they would go with the yarn. The beads , size 6, are called Serenity Mix by Miyuki. I had to get knitting!

Beads on fabric of cowl.
These beads were a mixture of greens, purple, yellow and clear in pastel colors. Pretty good fit!

The last time I knit this cowl (Zuzu’s Petals by Carina Spencer) I was reaching the end of the cowl just as I arrived at the most flashy color in the ball of yarn. To get some of that color into the cowl I knitted a picot edging to use up more yarn and to make sure that I captured the color. I weighed the leftover yarn from the first cowl and discovered that it was 7 grams. To reduce the amount of light yarn for this new cowl, and to maximize the amount of purple color at the end of my cowl project, I pulled off 5 grams of yarn from the middle of the ball before I cast on.

I decided to attach the beads to only the lace portion of the cowl, and only in the part of the pattern that was one knit stitch with a yarn over to either side of it. (YO, K1, YO). To attach the bead I slipped a bead onto this isolated knit stitch with a small crochet hook, put the stitch back onto the knitting needle and then knitted it.  This placed the bead at the tip of the petals in the lace pattern.

Beads in Lace
I decided to place the beads into the lace so that they would be at the tip of the petals.

The edging of the cowl has a pattern of stacked YO,K1,YO sections. I added a new bead into each of these knit stitches.

Lace with beads.
Beads at the edge of the lace pattern. I put a bead into each YO,K1,YO part of the lace edging.

When I got to the end of the cowl I was just getting to the start of the purple yarn. Curses! I thought I was so clever to remove yarn at the start of the knitting, but it just didn’t work out for me . I had to put on another picot edging to get any of that purple onto the cowl. I weighed the leftover yarn again when I was done knitting, and there was 5 grams left over. I must have knitted tighter, or the yarn was a little thinner (this is one-ply rustic spun yarn), or… Such is life in the knitting universe.  Clever tricks will just get you so far. Another lesson learned.

Finished Cowl
Here’s the finished cowl. I just barely got that purple color in, and had to bind off with the picot edging again to do it.

Now I’m wondering what it would look like if I added beads in a scattered fashion through out the stockinette portion at the beginning of the cowl?  Heading to the yarn stash to see what I can find. 🙂