Monday, March 29, 2010

A soft and rainy Spring

A Ladybug is moving slowly on my windowsill, making her way over to the one plant I have here - a large and pretty jade plant in a purple blown-glass bowl. Outside, 2 or 3 inches of rain is accumulating in the streets. Usually, at this time of year, we get the last Hurrah! of a pretty significant snow storm. But Nature has decided to pass softly over us this time, and let the water come down as 3 days of rain instead. It's a cold rain - like water that's been chilled in the great white refrigerator of the upper atmosphere - but rain all the same.

An early Easter is coming, next weekend! I'm packing up my Easter boxes to send out to my little family that I love, and that means that my knitting fingers have been working until midnight most nights, trying to get things finished!


This bunny is missing his tail, and a really nice neck ribbon, but that will all be remedied by tonight. I love him. He's soft soft soft and just the right squishy-ness for little fingers to clutch onto.

The yarn is Baby Bunny, a Plymouth yarn that has a little angora in it, and the pattern is Cashmere Baby Bunnies, also from Plymouth Yarns. The pattern calls for 100% cashmere, but the yarn I used is washable, which is a plus for a baby toy, I thought...

In case you're looking for a quick spring knit, this baby bunny took me only one afternoon and evening to knit, sew up, and embroider. It's knit flat with increases and decreases to make the shaping, and then sewn up the back.

At the same time, I'm working on a salad of patterns that I hope to finish designing all at once. Colour!

Thursday, March 25, 2010



The baby has already outgrown his Baby Sophisticate sweater, the one I called "The Librarian", so I made a new one, carefully calculating a larger size...

The first: "The Librarian":

At first I planned to make this one exactly like the first - I even bought the same yarn. But I happened to pick up two skeins of navy Baby Cashmerino (Debbie Bliss) at my LYS and it really gave me ideas.


To make the right size for a 20 lb, 6 mo old baby I knit it according to measurements:
21" around chest
7" long from underarm to hem
6" from underarm to sleeve cuff
10.5" length from shoulder to hem

This pattern uses a US size 8 circular needle, and about 125 yards of DK yarn....

It fits perfectly and I hope to get some modeled pictures soon!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

On the Ocean

My birthday week has been spent on the ocean, the beautiful, wild, unpredictable Spring ocean...


I love it here, where every view draws you down to the waves... where walks on the beach through the sea grass last two hours or more. Walking along the shore where early sailors risked their lives the bring ships to the coast - this was the most dangerous shore with its hidden rocks - makes me feel like a character in Dickens; one of his blithe and fey children dancing barefoot on the sand while her family laughs cosily in their house made out of an upturned fishing boat... or perhaps I'm better suited as Anne Elliot of Persuasion, visiting Lyme Regis and the sea captains who housed their families along the shore...


I can see the ocean from my window...


The weather is warm, and I don't need a fire. I can smell the salt air and sleep so deeply with the sound of the waves shushing through my subconscious...

Days are spent walking, playing with dogs, talking, knitting, and exploring. I visited two yarn shops and made Baby Who. You can just make out the owl on the front...


Some lovely yarn jumped into my arms: Ella Rae's new Italian laceweight fine Merino. It's machine washable!


I plan to make a shawl with stunning golden sunrise-coloured one, and a pair of very long, vintage-y over-the-knee stockings with the mossy green. I so love fiber and colour! I wonder what makes it so incredibly compelling? Perhaps it's the...possibilities.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Remember these? My Once in a Blue Moon Cast On socks started on the second full moon of December 2009?


They are now these:


Whew! I can't believe it took me so long to finish these! They were at the bottom of my knitting bag, only brought out between other projects - not the way to get your socks done!


But yesterday was my birthday, and my boyfriend had given me such a wonderful day I was determined to finish these up and give him a present too! He loves them, and happily posed for pictures.

The stats:
yarn: 1 skein Socks That Rock mediumweight fingering (had a few yards left over)
size: men's 9
needles: started toes with size 0 DPNs and finished the remainder on size 3 DPNs
pattern: my own. These are toe-up, with Lucy Neetby's toe cast on and an adapted increase/decrease heel. The stitch pattern is an easy one - and may be my favorite rib pattern:
Row 1: K2, P2
Row 2: K all
This rib doesn't scrunch up but is nicely snug and looks good. The bf said that to him, it looked "Celtic".

The bad news - the heel!


Even though I measured and re-measured, the foot turned out too long on both feet, so the heel is sloppy. You can see the extra fabric bunched on the sides. The good news is that the bf says they aren't too big and are very comfortable (he's wearing them with shoes today and the report is positive). He pulls them up so the heels are tight:


It's not too bad, and I think (hope) that when they're washed they'll tightened up a little bit. Next time I'll make them tighter. Can you believe that these are the first socks I've made for him? I think there will definitely be more!


Sunday, March 14, 2010



I finished the wonderful Mara this weekend and I love it. Mara is a small shawl by Madeline Tosh. Originally designed for her worsted, I substituted the Swan's Island Worsted that I'm currently in love with, in Teal. The above photo is the accurate depiction of this colour - for some reason, the weak sunlight here washed out the deep teal tone in the other photos. Swan's Island is so soft and pleasant to knit with. It's the same yarn I used for my Mr. Woodhouse's Scarf and I have two skeins of a cherry blossom magenta red for a narrower version, and a skein of a deep true red in for a hat, and the same red in the fingering weight for a lace scarf, and a skein of natural grey and one of a deep coral in the worsted that are un-determined as to pattern. I would buy the whole of Swan's Island line of yarns if I could!

Let me just go on about Swan's Island yarn for a moment. This is 100% organic merino, which is why it's so soft, and it's spun in Maine and dyed with natural dyes like Indigo, cochineal, madder, weld, and other plant dyes. Originally used for special woven blankets (that are available form the company) it's now available to the public for knitting and weaving. It's very evenly spun, has a consistent soft twist and results in a predictable gauge and fabric, unlike some softer worsteds that turn out a little 'thick-and-thin' in their spinning. The softness in this yarn comes from the base yarn itself, not from having a loose spin.


When my LYS first started carrying Swan's Island yarn, I picked up these two skeins of teal without knowing what I wanted to do with them. I had a vague idea that this might be a good yarn to use in my quest to learn colourwork. But then I came across the Mara shawl, and there you are - my imagination was captured! Each skein is 250 yards, so I knew I would be short and went ahead anyway as is my usual practice. Improvisation is my creative friend. I didn't know if I would do the fluted edge in a complementary colour, or if I would change the needle size for a lighter, larger shawl, but I wasn't concerned.

As it turned out, I used the recommended needle - size US7 - and ended up with a two inch instead of a four inch flute on the outside edge. It's the perfect size for my shortness (5' 3"). The width is the same as described in pattern. I made other modifications, as you can see:


Instead of garter stitch, I used mostly stockinette with just a few decorative rows of garter near the neckline. I don't plan to block it (the pattern recommends light blocking) and am going to wear it today - a rainy, windy, icy day - for a little knitted comfort.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring colours

Here where I live, spring has an uneasy relationship with colour. While the small shoots make a halfhearted appearance, like a cat sleeping with one eye open, winter still lingers in tattered petticoats that edge the yard and roads. An odd greyish snow mingles with newly uncovered mud and the browned remnants of lawns. Winter is harsh here, and what was left when Autumn ended is seriously battered when winter's clothing recedes. Life always asserts itself in the end, and in the riotous mid-summer of greens and reds, and purples, and yellows and blues, we forget how hard-won that colour was with its long labour of dark and rainy spring.

My favourite yarn source, although all the way on the opposite coast of this country, seems to echo my thirst for Spring colours right about now. I had to pull some of that colour into my house - like a bouquet.


This is Mossley Manly, from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and it looks exactly like the world outside my window right now. I love how the rusts and greens seep into the dark browny-greys. Its hopeful.


I moved a little less cautiously forward into spring with a few more colours:


This is Valenscummy, the Mossley Manly again, Saffron Jungle, Nodding Violet, and Foofaraw. I love them all. Would you believe that they have made me determined to prep my gardens of old flowers this year so they can blossom with abandon? They make me want to go out and dance on the frozen lawn, defying Winter and inviting the excesses of Summer back to New England. That's the power of a few Spring colours.