Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mother Nature's Trick or Treat



I woke up to 20 inches of snow this morning. Actually, I woke up to my neighbour's snow-plowing man plowing the snow from his driveway across the street and into my driveway. I ran out into the knee-deep snow in my nightgown and yelled to him, but he either didn't see me - hard to believe he didn't see a crazy arm-waving woman with bright red hair in a pink nightgown at the bottom of the driveway yelling at him - or chose to ignore me. Jerk.

But, well... snow. So it's very fitting that I finally made a pair of gloves for myself to replace the pair that was stolen in New York City.


These beautiful soft and warm mitts are from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas on Bainbridge Island. The kit comes with pattern, yarn, buttons, and project bag and it is such a lovely kit! The pattern knits up quickly - it took me about 7 hours to knit the pair - and the result is comfortable and stylish. The yarn is one ball (109 yards) of Rowan Baby Alpaca DK and it is sooooo soft and lofty you might think it's angora!


The buttons are abalone shell, thin and delicate. The pattern calls for 10 buttons, but one of mine was cracked, so I put 4 on each cuff instead. I know I could have asked Churchmouse to replace the button, and they are wonderful so I'm sure they would have. But when I got to the stage of placing the buttons, I liked them better with four - five would have touched my wrist - so I was happy with how it turned out.

I do have a couple of modifications to recommend for this pattern:

The glove on the right was knitted according to the pattern directions, and the one on the left has the modifications.

1. I reduced the needle size to a 5 for the second mitt because the first really was a size Large even though the pattern says its a medium woman's hand.


2. I changed the increase stitch for the thumb gusset on the second mitten to Kf&b because the method given resulted in a not-very-neat edge with holes (this might have been because of the larger needle size recommended).

3. I ended the hand with two purl rows and purl bind-off on the second mitt, because the finishing recommended in the pattern resulted in... well, as you can see it's an unexpected rolled edge that is not only uncomfortable, but cold. I'll be taking out this original bind-off and re-finishing it with purl rows.

All in all I love these mitts and now that's it's Winter, however early and surprising, I've been wearing them every day.


Sunday, October 9, 2011



I have baggage.

Knitting baggage. Crochet baggage too. So much baggage that I feel stranded at the station, unable to go forward or back, unable to carry my baggage onto the train and grab a seat that will take me…. Somewhere else.

Here is some of my baggage:

Quince Chickadee in Glacier, Bark, and Twig and
a hand-dyed skein from the Portland Fiber Gallery & Weaving Studio

Hand Maiden Flaxen (Linen & Silk) in Smoke

Primrose's Long Locks handspun from Dillner Hilside Farm

Earthhues Naturally Dyed Silk Boucle and Prime Alpaca mix

Persimmon Tree Hand Spun and Dyed

Acadia Yarn Festival Hand Spun

Exclusive colourways in Kouigu Mori (Silk & Merino) and Madeline Tosh Cashmere from STRING, NYC

Alisha Goes Around, Panoply of Peacocks fingering in Deciduous, Thrace, and Estuary

Feeling overwhelmed? I am! And that’s just from this year – the year that is rapidly coming to a close. Why is it so much easier to “collect” yarn than it is to use it?

I had plans for every skein I bought. Yes – specific, concrete plans and I even have the patterns for each one and sometimes I put the pattern with the yarn in a little paper carry-bag and place it carefully on top of the bookcase where I can find it when I’m ready for a new project.

But when that exciting way-station of possibilities happens – called “after finishing one project but before another begins”, I always have a Brand New Plan. Sometimes these new plans require new yarn. And so there I am, with more baggage to stack upon the rest.

Now I am happily ensconced in the skeins knitting up little new baby things. Knitting baby projects is like eating chocolates – very little commitment required because they knit up so quickly and each one can be entirely different form the last. So… lots of instant gratification. They are like day trips, not journeys – picnic afternoons.

I am 5 rows from finishing a sherbet-coloured blanket, one half front side and a button from finishing a little coral wrap-sweater, one lace torso from finishing a tiny green vintage vest, a whole skein from finishing a tiny white picot sweater, and a couple of hours away from finishing two pair of STR booties with cunning little pompom ties.

Yup. The colours and the short knitting time lines make baby knitting so, so seductive.

Someday I will settle and unpack my bags. Not today.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Marvelous Box

A most wonderful box arrived in the mail... a box from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas on Bainbridge Island, across the water from Seattle.


One of the best (in my opinion) things about college in Seattle is its proximity to Bainbridge Island and Madrona Lane. The ferry across deep and soothing waters to the little village uphill from the terminal, the Blackbird Bakery, The Eagle Harbor Used Books, and the fabric store across the street....

So this box, traveling its 3,000 miles to me, was most welcome and soothed my soul like a cup of tea with a familiar friend...

There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea.

~Bernard-Paul Heroux

Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.

~Author Unknown


This box was a treasure chest, each layer revealing jewels more precious to a knitter than gemstones to a King.


First, two well-chosen skeins of Koigu: a leafy green and a luscious pink. I love green so much, a cherished lover in my youth having told me that green is the true colour of love because it has so many variations. I'm also drawn to pink - soft, delicate, petal pinks - though, being a red-head, I never wear it. Well, I secretly wear it... in my small-clothes and at night... So these two skeins delighted me.


Beside the yarn, a mysterious bubble-wrapped box revealed itself to be - of course - a box of tea!



Chruchmouse Winter Tea is what they call "a straightforward blend of Yunnan, Assam and Ceylon with a hint of summer fruit that brightens with a touch of sugar or honey." It's lovely with milk and the fragrance is divine.

[I am a] hardened and shameless tea drinker, who has for twenty years diluted his meals only with the infusion of this fascinating plant; whose kettle has scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses the evening, with tea solaces the midnight, and with tea welcomes the morning.

-Samuel Johnson

and beneath this box nestled the lovely card, with images of the Northwest seacoast and of projects to warm a knitter's heart and hands.


If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.

~Gladstone, 1865

This would have been enough wonder for a chill and rainy New England day, but underneath all of this was a sleek smooth linen bag - beautiful and cool as a Boston Brahmin at a tea party. (Boston Brahmins are wealthy Yankee families characterized by a highly discreet and inconspicuous life style.)


and inside the linen, especially chosen to prepare me for this anticipated wild and passionate winter to come: a pattern, with cashmere-y yarn, and a little bag of dark shiny abalone buttons - all to make a beautiful pair of fingerless gloves that will help me transition from fondly remembered summer tea parties in the garden, to warm and cosy gatherings with the teapot in front of the fire...


Surely every one is aware of the divine pleasures which attend a wintry fireside; candles at four o'clock, warm hearthrugs, tea, a fair tea-maker, shutters closed, curtains flowing in ample draperies to the floor, whist the wind and rain are raging audibly without.

- Thomas De Quincey

And finally, I have reached the bottom of the box, which holds more patterns from Churchmouse designers: Wee Ones - beautiful, clever, and simply elegant patterns that will keep me knitting furiously until December.


I'm thrilled, happy, content, and charmed. Thank you. And now I'm off for tea with my sweetheart, play with the magician-cats Holmes and Watson, and my own type of Art.

After tea it's back to painting - a large poplar at dusk with a gathering storm...

~Gustav Klimt