Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WIP Wednesday: New Year's Eve Edition

A few updates on my projects as we head into the new year of 2015!

Sekret Knitting:  While away visiting my folks and D's family (with innumerable hours of travel in between), I cast on for a new shawl and a new sweater.  I worked through perhaps a third of the shawl - I was not happy with the third motif I'm using, so I need to rework that chart and then I can continue along with that project.  I'll probably focus on that for a while and get it finished before tackling the sweater again.  I like to not have too many large design projects on the needles, if I can help it.  I get too distracted.  All my other projects have been finished up and are ready to head to the tech editor.

Personal Knitting:  I'm this close to finishing up the double-layered watchman's cap for D.  He asked for a kind of neutral light "camo color", so I dyed up two skeins of my DK MCN blend (Aerten DK) in a randomly-dyed colorway that appears to satisfy that.  I need to knit 14 more rounds of ribbing and then I can finish up the decreases for the top.   I'm hoping to have this done in the next 24 hours, as he'd like to wear it when walking the dog and it's supposed to be snowing AND brutally cold here for the next 3-4 days.

While traveling, I also cast on my Hecate shawl by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops.  I'm using Wooly Wonka Fibers' Ceridwen Sock for this instead of the original organic merino sock weight I dyed up for club members.  I've finished the first section (which is all gray) and started on the alternating stripes section, which I'm about halfway finished.

My hope is to get the hat finished this week, and knit through the striped section of the shawl.

I've got a couple other smaller projects queued up in the wings in the world of personal knitting for early 2015, but I'll share those with you as I get going on them!

A very Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Spinning Friday

This week, I've been spinning a stashdown braid from Two If By Hand.  This is Kaleidoscope on Polwarth (dug out from deep stash).

I decided to spin this up as a 3-ply to blend all those lovely colors together, and to spin this as a fractal.  For bobbin #1, I divided the first third of the roving in half lengthwise; for bobbin #2, I stripped the second third of the roving into 4 lengthwise pieces; and for bobbin #3,  I stripped the final third of the roving into 12 lengthwise pieces.

I finished up the plying on this as well, and wound up with a lovely, warm and squishy DK-weight yarn.

Technical Specs: 
Fiber: 4 oz of Polwarth wool from Two If By Hand
Ply: 3-ply.
Weight:  DK weight.
Yardage: 257 yards/3.5 oz skein.

I'm planning on making a simple hat with it.  I've tentatively got Hoarfrost lined up for this.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Christmas Eve Edition

As the year winds to a close, I'm finishing up some projects at my end so I can start 2015 off with a (relatively) clean slate.

Currently in Sekret Knitting, I've got one final mitt to knit up, which I started Sunday night.  This is a pretty quick knit, so I'll work on it as my in between times project this week and get it done.  I've got a handful of other projects to get cast on, but I'm still working on charting and instructions and the details.

Otherwise, in personal knitting, I'm starting a new project: Hecate Shawl.  This is a wonderful pattern Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops designed for my Shakespeare in Lace Club a while back, and it's been in my queue ever since.  I decided to riff on the original black/red colorway and go with a multicolored gray and a solid bright orangey-red for my version.  (That's Ceridwen Sock in Tinder (gray) and Little Miss Firecracker (red).)

While the pattern looks very lacey and complex, in fact, it's a fairly straightforward knit, and I'm hoping I get some quality knit-time in during some lulls in family and holiday busy-ness.  I won't likely get this finished in 2014, which actually is perfect, since I want to use it as my Q1 KAL/Stashdown Challenge project for 2015.  (I'm hosting a Wooly Wonka Fibers stashdown/KAL challenge in my group.  If you are looking for some fun KAL time, please take a hop over there, and see if you'd like to join.  Minimal requirements, and we'll have different challenges for the entire year, a new bunch each quarter!).  This project with that bright red definitely will qualify in the "red/orange" category, plus the shawl category, and will likely be a WIP that I carry over into 2015 for that piece of the challenge as well!

And to all my readers - have a VERY Happy Holiday season to close out 2014, with best wishes for a great upcoming 2015!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pattern Release: Guinevere Shawl

Pattern #7 of 8 from Legendary Knits V3 is now live:  Guinevere Shawl.

Inspired by Arthur's queen and the legend of Camelot, I chose a group of floral and garland motifs for this circular shawl.  It's knit from the center point out and features four different lace patterns.  The sample was knit from a single skein of 875 yards of laceweight (although it used almost the entire skein, so if you knit this, you may want to budget for a bit more yardage).

This shawl (I think) is a lovely size.  It's generous without being overwhelming and allows you to create a shawl collar along the back of your neck for a little extra warmth.

All photos courtesy of Kristen Brooks Photography.

Monday, December 22, 2014

FO: Norie Hat

I finished up my (modified version) Norie hat this weekend!

I knit my version using an orphan skein of Madeline Tosh DK (merino wool) I had in stash in the colorway "Celadon".  I knew casting on I'd likely have to do some creative design tweaking since I was using a yarn with less yardage than the original (and had pirated some of it for a swatch as well).
I wound up only working 2 bands of the cat's paw lace, and I drastically shortened the number of rounds at the top of the crown while working the decrease rounds.  I had just a wee bit of yarn left when I finished it up.

It's definitely not as slouchy as the original, but I actually would wear it myself and consider it a slouch - although this one is slated for my charity box for the Mittens for Akkol kids.

The pattern is a fun one - I highly recommend it - and I got a skein knit up out of stash for charity, so I'm counting this a win/win situation!

Sunday, December 21, 2014


A lovely pre-holiday weekend here.  Saturday I had a wonderful brunch with some local friends.  It was a great time - we had delicious food and great conversation.  Saturday I treated myself to some "just for fun" spinning, and wandered around in my Ravelry queue trying to decide what I might want to knit next.

D and I have some family things over the next 10 days - obviously the Christmas holiday, but my parents' 50th wedding anniversary is the 26th, so we are taking them out to a big celebratory dinner. We've also got some time planned with our nephews and D's family too.  So with that, I'm trying to decide on some projects I can knit that will be relatively mindless, so I can talk and be interrupted in between things, but I also need to focus on starting some planned designs for 2015 - I've been waffling back and forth about what I'd like to have on the needles for the next couple of weeks!

Today, I'm working on some computer things this a.m., have a few dye studio tasks to complete before I close the studio for 5 or 6 days over the holidays to take a little break, but I'm hoping to get back to spinning this pretty braid of Polwarth from deep stash (a Two If by Hand fiber) this afternoon too.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Spinning Friday: Wooly Wonka Fibers "Sahara" Roving

This past week I had some great spinning time on my new Hansen spinner, and I spun and spun and got all the singles done AND plied the braid of blended roving from the November Wooly Wonka Handspinner's club offering.

The original roving is a 60/35/5 blend of merino wool, baby alpaca and glitter.

 I spun this up into a 2-ply light fingering/heavy laceweight yarn with 416 yards/3.6 oz.

I don't have any specific plans for it... yet.... but I do think I'd like to do something like a scarf or small shawl to wear right up next to my chin as it is very warm and soft, with a lovely drape.  I have a brown suede winter jacket that I think it'd be lovely with.  My second option is to use it with the natural creamy white blend of alpaca/milk/silk/bamboo/glitz I spun up earlier this season in a 2-color project for a slightly larger piece.

Decisions, decisions.....

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WIP Wednesday

A mixed bag of fun knit-worthy things for this WIP Wednesday report.

In Sekret Knitting, I've just about finished the sweater for the small winter collection I'll be releasing in early 2015.  Just finishing up the sewing in of ends and attaching buttons, with a nice bath to happen this weekend.  I am about 80% done a separate cowl project I'm working on, and then I've got a simple hat and mitts set to work up, and that little group of things will be done and ready to move on to tech editing and layout.

In personal knitting, I am about 25% thru a Norie Hat. Such a fun little pattern to knit.  I'm using an orphan skein of MadTosh DK in Celadon for my version.  This one will go into the donation box for the Mittens for Akkol charity group when it's done.

I'm also about 25% thru the double-thick watchman's cap I'm knitting for D.  Pretty mindless knitting. I'll work on that a bit this week, but mostly in between other things.

One of the things I'm focused on for 2015 is to knit down some of my stash - and with that, I've been queing up projects to knit that can use up bits and bobs of things, or those lone, orphan skeins I've got in stash that need to have a purpose in life.  Having had a pretty intensive knitting year in 2014 with new designs (and y'all haven't even seen the 20+ pieces in my Interweave book - although I got contact sheets of the photo shoot a few weeks ago and they came out BEAUTIFULLY!), while I'm working on new designs for 2015, I'm going to definitely try to get a little balanced relaxation knitting in there as well and see if I can empty out a few stash bins in the process.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pattern Release: Boudicca Cardigan

The next release from Legendary Knits, V3 is my Boudicca Cardigan.  (Two more to go!)

Knit from Wooly Wonka Fibers Freya DK, this is a lightweight cardi featuring a pretty Celtic cable motif up the center back, flanked by small rope cables.  It features waist shaping and set-in sleeves. (Sample was knit in the colorway "Woad").

The front has a repeat of the small rope cables, and a wide ribbed button placket with a nod towards a bit of military styling.

My inspiration was Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe in Britain.  A legendary Celtic figure, she led her people into battle against the Roman army, and although defeated by the Romans, she was revered as a symbol of of British nationalism (as well as being a totally kick-butt kind of gal!).

Photos courtesy of the very talented Kristen Brooks Photography.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


I had a very quiet weekend this week - a bit under the weather, but that's a great time to curl up with some knitting. Although it's kind of rare for me these days, I have a bunch of things on the go I worked on.

I cast on for two hats this weekend - the first one to go into the Mittens for Akkol charity box.  Norie is one of my favorite patterns I've knit. It works up quickly, has enough going on to keep you interested, and is a great stashbuster.  I hauled out a skein of MadTosh DK merino weight for this one.  I also cast on for a double-thick watchman's type hat for my DH.  He rarely requests anything knitted, so I was happy to oblige.  I sort of wing this pattern as I go, but I've knit 2 others for him in DK weight yarns, so I snagged one of those and just reverse engineered off that.

I also finished up my Amberwell Shawl.   That's off the needles and blocked.  I wound up having enough yarn to knit 2-3/4 repeats of the Chart B border, and it came out the perfect size, I think: 56" wingspan  x 26" deep at the center back.

I knit this up using a light fingering weight handspun, 80/20 merino/silk from the Wooly Wonka Handspinner's Club fiber from October, colorway Bordeaux.

It's got a lovely drape, is super soft and very warm for it's weight!  I'm really happy with this one and it was FUN not to have to think about stitch counts or anything else and just knit.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Spinning Friday: Happy Hooves Shetland

I finished spinning up my ear-searing pink Shetland singles last week and got them all plied up on my mini-spinner.  (Where have you been all my life, mini-spinner, for plying?!?!?)

Technical Specs:
Fiber: 4 oz of Shetland roving from Happy Hooves Fiber Club 2012 (which I got in a trade).
Ply: 2-ply.
Weight: Sportweight.
Yardage: 343 yards.

This is a bit outside (okay, a lot outside) my usual moody color choices, but hey! That's a good thing sometimes.  I can't actually see myself wearing it, tho, so I'm going to earmark it for a pair of warm mittens to done to one of the Russian orphanages I've been knitting for this last year.

Next up is the November Wooly Wonka Handspinner's Club fiber, which is a custom blended roving of 60% merino, 35% baby alpaca and 5% glitter in the colorway "Sahara".

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pattern Release: Dryad Hat

The next pattern to be released from Legendary Knits, V3, is my Dryad Hat.

Knit in the round from less than one full skein of fingering weight yarn (my sample used about 250 yards), this design can be blocked as a tam (shown here), or as a slouch.

It features a twisted stitch "tree bark" pattern that moves into a styled leaf pattern at the crown.  Decreases that shape the crown are incoporated into the shaping of the leaves. 

I used a soft merino/cashmere/nylon sock yarn but any fingering weight yarn without too much halo would work for this accessory.  (Which would make a great holiday gift too!).

All photos courtesy of Kristen Brooks Photography.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WIP Wednesday

After my post last week, I thought long and hard about my laceweight project (the Mystic Star shawl), and decided to frog it.  That's done and the yarn is back in stash for now while I think about what it's next life should be.

Still working on the Amberwell Shawl - slowly but surely working my way through the skein of handspun for that.  I've finished two complete repeats of Chart B.  The nice thing about this pattern is that you can stop working Chart B after every fourth row, so you don't have to worry too much about running out of yarn.  I know I've got enough for at least one, probably two, possibly three repeats left before I can get that one off the needles.

I know this will sound crazy, but I decided to start a second set of Hexipuffs.  The first set I am earmarking for a booth display, so I'm using my yarn exclusively, but I have enjoyed having these little tidbits to work on so much, I decided I wanted a lap quilt-sized version too.  So I'm pulling from all my leftover sock-weight yarns and I've started that version as well.

In Sekret Knitting, I'm working busily on my sweater.  Sleeve 1 is now done and I'm halfway done sleeve 2.  My plan is to get that finished this week and get the sleeves joined to the body and start the raglan shaping on this project.  I also cast on for another little stand-alone project for my Yarn Club through the shop.  As per my usual, I wound up frogging it several times, but I think it's on track now to move forward and "just get knit."  That project is also on tap for knit time this weekend.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Ten Random Songs from my IPod

I love easy 10 on Tuesdays - this one was perfect!

A random selection of ten songs off my iPhone's music (I pulled these by setting my music queue to shuffle):

1.  Van Morrison: Moodance.

2.  Nickel Creek:  The Lighthouse's Tale.

3.  The Goo Goo Dolls: Give a Little Bit

4.  B-52s:  Love Shack.

5.  Sugarland: Fly Away.

6.  George Harrison: While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

7.  Fleetwood Mac:  Landslide.

8.  Daughtry:  Life After You.

9.  Stevie Nicks:  Edge of Seventeen.

10.  Joe Cocker:  She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.

Uh... Eclectic much?

Monday, December 8, 2014


A lovely weekend here - the weather was just about picture perfect all weekend long.  I took several long walks with our younger dog (younger being relative - she's almost 9, but still acts like a puppy sometimes - but definitely younger than my very geriatric 14-year-old who mostly likes sleeping these days).

I also tried out a recipe variation for some muffins.  I have an easy gluten-free pumpkin muffin that is quite good.  This weekend, I tried it out with the replacement of coconut milk with orange juice for the liquid, added in some extra pumpkin pie spices, and added in orange zest and fresh cranberries. These came out REALLY GOOD.  I had one warm from the oven with a cup of tea while I spun a bit on Sunday afternoon.

Not surprisingly, I also worked on several knitting projects this weekend.  I think I've got about 3 more repeats of the lace border pattern on my Amberwell shawl and then it can come off the needles, which I'm hoping to do this week.  I worked on several Sekret Knitting project things, drafted a couple of patterns to work on next, and generally had a lovely relaxing weekend.

PS:  For those of you who have interest, I've set up an Instagram account.  There will be some shop-related posts there, but it'll also have some personal photos as well.  If you have an account, please let me know as I'd love to follow you!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Spinning Friday: Happy Hooves Shetland

I got an early holiday present this week. I had been looking at the Hansen mini-spinner for a while, to have something really portable to use (I normally lug a wheel up and down a flight of stairs if I want to spin upstairs - which I do a lot in the colder months in lieu of building a second fire in the downstairs den at night), and D and I discussed it and he thought that'd be a great present for me this year.  (And he didn't have to do any shopping for it!)  I wanted to try the spinner out with a relatively easy-to-spin fiber, so I went stash diving and came up with this:

This is 4 oz of Shetland roving from the Happy Hooves club February 2012 (which I got in a trade for something a while back - can't even remember what), dyed in the "Conversational Hearts" colorway.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn't take much adjustment or adaptations on my part to get comfortably settled into a rhythm on the mini-spinner.   I worked thru most of the first 2 oz of singles the first night I spent with it.

I'm spinning up the second 2 oz with small stripped lengths to ply with this first bobbin for a fractal spin.  I opted to get the Woolee Winder option, which it turns out I LOVE.  It's great not to have to stop and start to change bobbin hooks and I like how evenly it winds the yarn on.  I do miss having that sort of meditative noise of the treadle, but that's a fairly small note.  This product spins really nicely and evenly with only a minimum of work on my part.  Happy holidays to me!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pattern Release: Gretel Vest

I almost missed this one from last week with the holiday and some other releases, which would be shame, since I love this design!

This is the Gretel Vest from Legendary Knits v3.

It's knit using Wooly Wonka Artio Sock (50/50 BFL and silk), but would be pretty in any fingering weight yarn that has a nice firm twist and a bit of a shine to it.  Nimue Sock also be a good match.  The vest is covered with Bavarian twisted stitch patterns, and is shaped at the waist by the use of gussets that are hidden within one set of the motifs, for a seamless shaping. 

The front closes with tiny buttons.  I chose some simple coppery-ones to be a subtle contrast to the green.

It works nicely as a casual layer with a tee and jeans, but you can also dress it up a bit with a pretty blouse underneath and a skirt.  I love multiseason knits!

Photos courtesy of Kristen Brooks Photography.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WIP Wednesday

A few new things to add and a few things to take off the WIP list this week:

I decided that, while I love the Dawlish socks, I am too distracted by other charted/more complex things I'm working on right now.  I've frogged these and I'm going to knit a more straightforward basic stripey sock with the yarn, that can be a mostly mindless project.  I'm also on the fence about continuing on with the Mystic Star shawl or not.  I'm going to think this one over and decide in the upcoming week.  It may wind up becoming a wide lace scarf or something like that, but I also know (based on some design commitments), I really can only have one "for me" project on the go right now.

With that said..... my current "for me" knit is the Amberwell Shawl.  I took advantage of some time over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to cast this on.  I've finished thru Chart A and the transitional section here, and I'm ready to get going on Chart B.  I have more yardage than the original called for, so I'm going to work Chart B until I am close to running out of my handspun before calling it quits. I'm really enjoying this one - just the right amount of mindless and paying-attention knitting.

I'm also still knitting those addictive hexipuffs.  I'm knitting maybe one a day, working thru my bag of little scrappy bits and pieces.

On the remainder of my WIP list, I've got Sekret Knitting happening.  I finished up the stole/scarf piece I was working on.  That just needs a good blocking and it's officially done.  I'm working on a casual cardigan right now and I'm just about to the point I'm ready to divide for the armholes.  (I'm working this from the bottom up, seamlessly, so the next step once I get to the armholes will be to get the sleeves knit up.) On deck beyond that, I've got a pair of mitts and a hat for that same collection, and then a long cowl to work on.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pattern Release: Isis Shawl

The next pattern I'm releasing from the Legendary Knits v3 collection is the Isis Shawl.

This is a Faroese-shaped shawl with a center panel of twisted stitch "Hathor's crown" motifs, flanked by panels of a "lotus blossom" motif.  The shawl is shaped with the use of increases along each edge and also on the sides of the center panel. It's finished off with a knit-on lace edging.

I dyed up a new colorway "Purple Lotus" on the new Laysa Sock (which is a blend of SW merino, yak and silk that has a gorgeous drape!), and used 2 skeins to complete this shawl.  (You'll need between 750-775 yards of a fingering weight yarn for this.)

Lots of pretty details and a yummy raspberry color - this is one of my favorites from the collection!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


D and I have had a nice at-home weekend with my parents visiting for Thanksgiving.  We did a big turkey and all the fixings for Thanksgiving Day, which also meant lots of leftovers - maybe the best part of Thanksgiving!  We've had lovely, almost unseasonably warm weather and lots of sun, so Friday we went up to Taos and had lunch out, walked around the square in town and did some window-shopping, and then headed back home, with a stop at the Black Mesa Winery on the way to pick up a bottle of their great dry rose' to go with dinner.

This weekend, I treated myself to casting on for a shawl project with the handspun I just finished up. Since I missed my Spinning Friday post, here's the update.  I spun up a 2-ply light fingering yarn with 584 yards from my 4 oz of merino/silk roving in the "Bordeaux" colorway from the October Wooly Wonka Handspinner's club fiber.

I have used that to cast on Judy Marples' Amberwell Shawl.  I have 100+ yards more than the original pattern called for so I'm hoping to add to the bottom border and make this piece a bit bigger.  Right now, I've gotten about two-thirds of the way through Chart A and it looks like:

I'm  hoping to get some more knit time this afternoon during football viewing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pattern Release: Flower Power Mitts and Cowl

Another pattern release for this week (and I'll have one more on Friday!).  This is the Flower Power Mittens and Cowl set, designed for Malabrigo Quickies program.

Both pieces feature a stylized flower motif worked in stranded knitting technique.  The mittens have a corrugated ribbing at the cuff, and a gusset thumb.  I used Malabrigo's Arroyo, a lovely soft merino sportweight, in Black and English Rose.  (This design definitely benefits from a high contrast between the two yarn colors.)

You can get a pair of mittens and the cowl (or 2 pairs of mittens or 2 cowls) out of one skein of each color, so it's a great gift project for the holidays too!

Many thanks to JS Webb for the photographs, and my lovely model, Erin, who did a fantastic job despite being outside in the pouring rain and cold temps all afternoon for me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pattern Release: Hartford

I was so pleased to have a chance to work with the stellar crew at Twist Collective again for their Winter 2014 edition.  All photos are courtesy of Twist Collective and Faye Schiano.

Hartford is a women's sized pullover with a big cable motif running up the center front, and a simple ribbed back and sleeves.  It is knit in pieces from the bottom hems up, blocked, then seamed together, and a ribbed stand-up collar/mock turtleneck finished the whole piece off.  Don't be put off by the bit of finishing/seaming you have to do at the end - especially the set-in sleeves.  The secret here is that the ribbed sleeve cap gives you a LOT of fudge-factor room, and helps make the seaming-in much easier.

It's knit in a sportweight yarn, so not too heavy a piece - I like sport and DK weight yarns since you can realistically wear them out under a jacket and not freeze, but can also wear them indoors if you keep the thermostat set a bit on the cooler side, like I do.  

My inspiration for this piece was the amazingly talented and stylish Katharine Hepburn, who once said: I wear my sort of clothes to save me the trouble of deciding what clothes to wear.  This is decidedly my sort of clothes.

I hope Kate would approve of this one.

Tour de Fleece - Week 2

I'm pretty happy with my progress for the Tour so far this year!  I've been trying to have a goal of 15 minutes of spinning a day, o...