pink peony

pink peony
old-fashioned peony

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting for Winter

Progress on my quilt is nil, and work on the newest prayer shawl is ... well, it's a lot of garter stitch right now, until I get to the fun part, the lace edge. Does not make for an exciting picture, yet I'm making progress. But I always have more than one project going at a time, so I thought I'd show you my recent completed items --

This little scarf was so much fun to make! It's called the Mermaid Neck Warmer, the pattern for which came from this wonderful little book...
I've used several of the patterns in this book and always love how they turn out (including three of the ruffled scarf pictured on the cover, upper left.)

Back to Mermaid: you can see how her tails fans out -- hence, her name. And the fun button that I found at One City Market (read about this lys here: matched the yarn perfectly. (Can you call it a "local yarn shop" if it is 70 miles from your home? It's the local-est one to me, anyway.)

What can I say to explain how lovely this yarn is? It's Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend (color 3016) and is so much fun to knit. But the very neatest thing about Manos is the how the company operates. They are a part of a non-profit that "aims to bring economic and social opportunities to rural women" in, of course, Uruguay. These women are brought together into cooperatives scattered across the countryside.

The label on the yarn ball tells you the artisan's name and her location. This gives me the feeling of a real connection. Can you imagine this difference this opportunity brings to these women's lives? I love to support an effort like this, and the yarn is just fabulous. This is truly a win-win situation.

The handwarmers were knit from a pattern by one of my favorite designers, Susan B. Anderson, of Itty Bitty Knits. You can see it here on Ravelry:  This is another great pattern by Susan, simple with lots of helpful advice, especially for new-to-mitten-knitting people like me. I made the cuff a little longer than the pattern specified, to suit my long arms (it's so hard to find a coat with sleeves long enough, and I hate the gap between sleeve and glove) and I love how they turned out.

 After finishing the fingerless mitts, I decided to give the mittens a go -- I don't LOVE them as much as the fingerless version, but they are okay...a bit long in the palm, I think. If I make another pair, I will do the next size down. But still wearable, and the sensational Noro Kureyon yarn makes these special. I'm toying with the idea of felting these -- would then probably fit a granddaughter. Stay tuned for further updates.

The pattern's name has been the story of our winter here in the Ozarks: Waiting for Winter. Well, it looks like our wait might be over -- the weatherman tells us to expect ice, sleet and snow tonight. So I may get to give my mittens and mitts a wear, after all!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Now that the most recent prayer shawl is winging its way south, toward the shoulders of my friend who's taking radiation treatments, it's back to the most exciting part of knitting (or creating anything, in my opinion)...getting to choose and start something new!

Last night I cast on with some Berroco Flicker (mostly baby alpaca, with a touch of acrylic for stretch and a touch of something else for sparkle) to make my second -- no, wait, I think this is my third -- Piper's Journey.

Can you see the touch of sparkle? Just enough...

Piper's Journey is another wonderful pattern I found on Ravelry. You can find it right here:

This pattern is not one of the free ones, but since I've used it multiple times I believe it was worth the small cost of $5.00 for the download.

I've been wearing my own Piper's Journey all winter -- stitched up in a Quince & Co. yarn called Osprey in the bird's egg colorway. I never fail to receive comments when I wear my Piper's Journey.

Making crescent shawls is such fun -- almost magic how they take shape, and quickly, too!

And I do love this Flicker yarn. It's a sort of braided concoction, very cushy with soft stretch and so sweet to handle. This is my third project made of Flicker, and I doubt it will be my last. I'm not a flash-glam person, but the tiny touch of glitter in this yarn is just right to brighten any day.

As I knit, I wonder who will be the recipient of this soft gray shawlette? Right at the moment, I have no idea who she is, but it never fails that there is someone out there, just waiting and needing something. I'll know when I'm supposed to know. So for now, I knit -- and pray. For after all, this is a prayer shawl.

I do love knitting. Have I said that already?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

For some people, it's the winter blues that are the plague this time of year. For me, it's the tax season blues. I'm not an accountant, but I do as much of the work as I can for our farm business, including all the bookkeeping, the payroll accounts and tax reports and other miscellany such as unemployment. So January and February are the months when I really have my nose to the grindstone, finishing up everything for the year that just ended.

It really gets to me. It isn't hard work, but it is taxing (pun intended) and must be perfect. So after a few hours of figures and forms, I MUST have a break.

My salvation from this swamp of seriously serious stuff is fiber. Fabulous fiber in any form or fashion! No, really, just two forms -- fabric and yarn.

Here's my footstool in front of my chair -- oops, that red doesn't show off the yarn, does it?

Much better! This yarn is absolutely a delight to knit with -- it is Marlowe by Juniper Moon Farm,  half merino and half silk. Luscious! I bought two balls when we were on vacation last October at the cutest yarn shop called The Sow's Ear, in Verona, Wisconsin, just outside Madison. It's a combination coffee/yarn shop -- absolutely darling. It was recommended to me by Susan B. Anderson of Itty Bitty Knits, and she couldn't have sent me to a neater place.
Now this Marlowe is being knitted into a prayer shawl for a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer. She is taking radiation for the next six weeks. My needles need to fly so that I can put this shawl, knitted with purls and prayers, in the mail RIGHT AWAY. The pattern is called Weaver's Wool Mini Shawl and is free here:
How can I tell you how much I love ravelry? The best website in the whole wide web for knitters -- such a great source of inspiration and help.
Back to fiber: I just finished this sweet little cowl, the pattern for which also came from ravelry and can be found here:
Yes, this is a darling neck thingie. It will be a valentine next week for someone very sweet. Imagine it scrunched down and keeping the cold winter wind away from that someone's neck -- if it ever gets cold again.
I only knit at night, when the television is putting us to sleep. But sometimes I need a daytime break, and that's where my other fiber love comes into play. See this new stack of freshly washed and ironed fabric that yearns to become a quilt? I'm thinking of using a pattern from a quilt designer of inestimable talents, Jo Morton:
Can you turn your head sideways (shoot -- I forgot to rotate before upload) and see that the name of this book is called Remembrances? Perfect for this stack of love that reminds me of olden times.
Should I use this pattern....
or this one?
No matter - they are both simple and would show off the fabrics equally, I think.
Now, to just finish these reports and spend a day in heaven (aka, my sewing room.)
Okay, I'm heading back to work -- just touching and handling these yarns and fabrics has given me the break I needed.
Where do you find refreshment?