Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Small Pile of Knitted Gifts

I did not do very much holiday knitting this year, owing to several factors.  I usually make several things for family members, but this year the powers that be decided that we should only give gifts to the children, so I complied.  My nieces and nephew have received quite a few hand knits from me over the years, and I decided to spare them this year.  Its not that I don't think they like such things, but I rather suspect that they prefer toys or "cool" things a bit more. Though I consider hand knits to be the coolest of cool, I don't expect this opinion to be shared by everyone.

But, after a lovely visit with some distant cousins in Belgium, I saw and seized an opportunity to knit some gifts, and finished the last one today.
We first met my cousins Chris and Tim nearly 30 years ago when they visited us in Illinois.  Though we often received relatives visiting from Belgium when I was a child, all of them were my grandparents' age and for all that they were kind (and often bore gifts of exotic candy) they were not very interesting to me.   I was thus predictably thrilled when a woman my parents' age visited one spring with her charming little son Tim.  Tim is a year or so my junior, but I being the eldest and closest to him in age, quickly commandeered him for most of his visit.  I recall being very envious and full of admiration for how well he could speak English, seeing as how I knew only a word or two of any foreign language at that time. 

I think we may have exchanged one ot two letters after their visit, and as children do, lost touch.  Fortunately my mother is a lot better at keeping in touch with people, and when Brian and I planned our December trip I asked her to see if she could get in contact with Chris and Tim.  In due course we connected, and as arranged, they met us at the train station in Brussels, where we shared a lovely afternoon that was one of the highlights of our trip.

Farthest left is Gilbert, Chris's partner, followed by Chris, Tim's sweet girlfriend Els, and Tim.  Tim looked exactly as I would have expected, all grown up.  I found it quite amusing that upon seeing me both Tim and Chris commented that I was not wearing my glasses, as they no doubt recalled me as an awkward 12-year-old, resembling nothing so much as an spindly owl with my mousy brown hair and huge plastic tortoise shell framed glasses.

We had a delicious dinner at a pub on the square, and wandered through the Brussels Christmas Market with Tim and Els, who we discovered have very similar interests to us.  Tim, in fact, works for the community environmental department, and lives in the country, raising a few pigs and chickens.  Els likes to knit, and Tim described camping and hiking trips they have taken together.

As for the knitted gifts . . . 

For Chris, a little shawlette based on the Maluka pattern.  I say based on because the bit that I turned into a cable I don't think was quite supposed to be a cable, but since I could not make out what exactly it was supposed to be in the chart, mine has a cable. This is a really great pattern and I want to make more of these.  Is easily adjustable for different yarn weights (I used a sport weight wool for this one, but the brand escapes me and the label has vanished) and is a very fun knit.

I understood from our dinner conversation that Gilbert had been in the military.  As he is not in possession of a large quantity of hair, I thought he might like a soft cozy watch cap, which I made from one of my favourite yarns, Hanneke Exotics 65% merino/35% linen.

For Tim I knit a quick scarf, with a reversible stitch pattern, from a Zen Yarn Garden merino/cashmere. 

I decided to give Els the pair of fingerless mitts that I started on the trip, thinking she might appreciate such a thing, being a knitter herself.  This is the October Leaves Fingerless Mitts pattern, using Mountain Colors Bearfoot.  

You can't see them very well in my sad IPhone photos, but the thumb gussets are formed by darling little lace leaves.  I love these mitts - I'll definitely be making more pairs of these. 

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Raspberry Truffle

I came up with this colorway a few months ago, and though it was not what I was actually going for, it was love at first sight.  It is a blend of olive brown, golden brown, and burgundy.  I had no idea what to name it, so I did what I usually do in such cases -  brought it home and showed it to Brian.

He was sitting at his computer working on something, took one quick look, and said absently "it looks like a raspberry truffle" and then turned back to his computer screen.


So of course I had to knit something with it!

This is a new Swirl, Wild Thyme.  Love. It.  This is definitely my favourite swirl so far.  It consists of two yarns; one an alpaca, merino, bamboo blend that has small loops and is very soft and fluffy.  The other yarn called for in the pattern is a DK weight, so I used a merino and bamboo blend that has a light sheen.  The two yarns take dye in a similar muted manner and I think they are lovely together (kits are available, see our website).

I also made a shawl out of one of my 500-yard skeins - this is a bonus sample for Yarn Durango, a great shop that is now carrying Cat Mountain Fiber Arts yarn.

I liked how this shawl came out so much that I immediately started another one for me.  I think this is my new favourite colourway.  

We'll be doing a trunk show at Needle Rock Fiber Arts in Telluride on Labor Day Weekend.  More details soon!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

All the cool kids were doing it

Of course I am about a year behind the times compared to all the cool kids, but I just had to make a Color Affection.

I think I saw about 30 of these at Vogue Knitting Live in New York, and I really was wishing I'd had mine finished then as it was cold and windy where we were there.

I used three skeins of Cat Mountain Fiber Arts Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in Dusk, New Jeans and Terra Cotta.

I did the added yarn over on the edge that Yarn Harlot suggested, and it was still pretty tight.  Not sure what would solve that, but it seems okay.  Its very cozy, and I liked this color combination. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

More of a Knitter

I am more of a knitter than a weaver.  I weave a little on Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom.  I am not very good at it, I am afraid.

Nevertheless, last weekend I decided that I would warp my little loom and weave a project with a Cat Mountain Fiber Arts Fusion 800 Skein.  To my delight, I was recently accepted as a vendor at the Intermountain Weavers Conference and I really need some hand woven samples to show how this yarn looks woven.

After dusting off and unfolding my loom, I realized that I did not know where my warping peg was.  Correction: I knew precisely where the peg was, but the whereabouts of the clamp that I needed to hold the peg to the table remained a mystery.  Not to be deterred, I devised substitute for a warping peg.  I am too embarrassed to post photos of this, but suffice to say it involved a folding chair turned upside down with the legs up in the air, placed about 6 feet from the table where I braced the loom.  Off I went, using a direct warping method. I used the six different smooth strands of this eight-textured skein for warp, thinking that they would be less likely to break or fray than the two fuzzy yarns would.

Feeling Very Accomplished and Clever, I tied off the warp strands and got ready to weave.  And promptly realized that I did not have a shuttle at the house.  (I do have countless sets of knitting needles at the house, please refer to the title of this post.)

So my weaving project had to wait until this weekend.  Fortunately I remembered to bring a shuttle home when I was at the studio on Friday and now have nearly finished a scarf.

The colorway is "Ancient Mariner." I am using all of the eight textures as weft, and with little rhyme or reason, am just weaving an inch or two with each one and then changing to another. 

My selvedges aren't that great (again see the title, and the first paragraph, of this post), and I am seeing some waves in the fabric.  I think the waves are a result of using six different types of yarns with different fiber content as warp - they stretch differently than one another.  For example, the 100% superwash merino is stretching quite a bit, while the 50/50 merino/tencel blend is not stretching much at all.  I think it will all be okay when its finished, which I hope will be later today.  Very likely a real weaver who is not a hack like me could verify this.  Happy Weaving!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Reluctant Model

I really hate having my photo taken.  Thankfully, I have a very patient husband who also happens to be a photographer who also happens to have taken classes to learn about lighting and posing, er, voluptuous girls to make us look a little less large.   He is so lucky to have me to practice on!

So last week we did a photo session in his studio (conveniently located in the Alamosa Masonic Lodge next door to my yarn studio) to record some completed knitted projects made with my hand dyed yarns. Please excuse the goofy expressions.  A model I am not.

Here is a Swirl jacket from the Knit, Swirl! book by Sandra McIver.  This was "Plum Perfect" in 10-textured Fusion Yarn in the colorway  "Scheherazade."

Next is another Swirl jacket from the same book.  I just finished this one - the pattern is "Sheer Beauty" in the colorway "Aurora Borealis."  This was a special kit created just for this jacket, and is a merino/silk/stellina (glitter) and kid mohair/silk/lurex (glitter) blend.  I have also created kits for this jacket that do not contain glitter, having found that while some knitters love bling in their yarn, others are violently opposed to it.

The yarn that I used for "Plum Perfect" can be found on our web site, at my studio, in our vendor booth if you catch us at an event, or at one of the wonderful yarn shops that stock us (see right).  We are working on getting kits for other Swirl jackets up on the web site, but presently they are available in our studio and at events.  Happy Knitting!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Welcome!  This is the new home of my former blog, In Search of Joy.    Check back for posts about dyeing yarn, knitting, cooking, hiking and more.