Sunday, January 18, 2009

texture collecting

Mountain Man and I went for a ramble in the Western Mcdowells this weekend. I had a good time collecting textures in nature.

Dog nose

Dried grasses

Wizened, silvered wood


I worked on my Shalom cardigan for the drive; I could knit for the first hour heading northeast out of Phoenix, although I couldn't concentrate for the long drive in on the rutted dirt road. I did manage to finish the yoke on the drive up there, and I think it's looking good.

I know the photo's not that exciting, though. A dog nose is a hard act to follow

Friday, January 16, 2009


Friday afternoon. I sit at my desk in the heavy afternoon sunshine, making slow but steady progress on my Shalom cardigan, savoring every stitch of this gorgeous alpaca and tussah silk.

Also on my desk is my first little foray into stranded knitting, which was one of my fiber-arts resolutions this year. Even in its unblocked, unfinished state, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to see what I've made.

That's what I'm doing at my desk this Friday afternoon, on one level. On a deeper level, what I'm really doing is procrastinating on my dissertation proposal. deep, sad sigh.

This is interesting to me: In knitting, I happily take on new challenges (fair isle) and progress through the tedious parts of larger projects (yoke of a sweater) with nary a flicker of self-doubt or anxiety. In 'real' life, even just thinking about working on my proposal sends me through hours of paralyzing, painful self-criticism and angst. How can a person be so functional and competent in knitting and so dysfunctional in the rest of life? Something to meditate on.

And, yes, in case you're wondering, this post falls under the category of procrastination ...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2008 Knitting Review

I relish the process of sifting through my last year's accomplishments. Time for introspection and a pat on the back :)

I've been thinking of a theme that captures this year's knitting. In 2006, I challenged myself to learn new skills like lace, socks, and seamless sweaters. In 2007, I focused on volume -- a dozen hats and a dozen baby gifts, along with a sweater and a handful of scarves -- and began experimenting with my own designs. The past year, 2008, was largely about developing my own patterns and then trying them again and again. That, and playing around with all kinds of small-scale projects.

My readers will know all about my obsession with my Storm Cloud Shawlettes. I knit six: (1) gray handspun mohair, (2) olive wool/mohair, (3) chocolate alpaca, (4) blue wool, (5)silver kidsilk, and (6) purple mohair/wool. Of all of these, I am most in love with the alpaca, with its super soft hand, and my mother's lustrous purple mohair/wool one.

I knit four Woodland Collars in (1) camel, (2) blue Seacolors wool, (3) hollyhock Malabrigo, and (4) Noro Kureyon, along with an earlier prototype in Colinette Shimmer

Just for fun, I knit up two Quacks...

I whipped up three basic tops in Purelife organic cotton, rosemary-dyed Avril silk, and green Shine cotton

And labored my way through three pair of socks, all toe-up with short row heels: Vinnlands, garter-rib Jitterbug, and slip stitch SeaWool

I knit only three hats: one in Noro Kureyon to match the collar and a pair in Green Mountain Spinnery wool/mohair. Hats used to be my great love, but they have limited utility now that I live in Arizona.

To round out this repitition, I tried all kinds of smaller one-offs: (1) cochineal-dyed baby bonnet & booties, (2) lavender heart, (3) camera case, (4) felted, naturally-dyed bangles, (5) February baby sweater, (6) felted dumpling bag, (7) lace shrug, (8) legwarmers, (9) gloves, (10) kerchief, (11) cell phone pouch, (12) another kerchief, (13) crocheted Christmas stars, and (14) an organic cotton ipod cozy

Now for the confession. I actually knit numerous other projects that couldn't make an appearance on this blog. There were a few hats, several scarves and shawls, a baby blanket, another pair of socks, another kooky stuffed toy. All of these were nature-inspired projects in eco-friendly yarns. I do hope it won't be too long before I figure out what to do with them -- hopefully, publish them in some way -- so that I can share them with you.

And to close, I offer my 2009 Knitting aspirations ...

I want to finish lingering projects, which means publishing my backlog of green patterns and completing unfinished projects (some of which date as far back as 1994!!)

I want to try my hand at fair isle and steeking

I want to finish something more substantial than what I made in the last year, perhaps an afghan or at least a sweater or two.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christmas knitting!

For the winter holidays this year, I knitted for three special women in my family. I felt especially proud that all three garments were my own designs.

For my mother, I knit a Storm Cloud Shawlette in rich, wintry purples. Doesn't she wear it magnificently?

The yarn is Mountain Colors Mountain Goat, colorway 'mountain twilight.' It's a mohair and wool blend with a gorgeous luster. I think the deep purples lend a glamorous touch to the gloominess of midwinter.

For my sister, I knit a Woodland Collar in Malabrigo Worsted, color 'hollyhock.' This may well be my favorite yarn for this pattern. It's lusciously soft and shows cables beautifully. The collar is a bit smaller in Malabrigo than in some of the sturdier yarns that I've used, but I think it nestles so sweetly around the neck.

I was particularly pleased with the button, which is an amazing mother-of-pearl with pink and purple understones. I made a special trip to Windsor Button for it when I was in Cambridge before Christmas. It's really the icing on the cake! And I was so happy to make my sister so happy.

And for my mother-in-law, I knit a pair of delicate gloves in Hand Maiden Casbah, color 'peacock.' This was the first pair of gloves I'd ever knit. And though they came out very well indeed, I think it will be the last pair I'll ever knit!!

Gloves turn out to be quite fiddly things to make if you're trying to get an exact fit. For example, I spent five hours knitting and re-knitting the couple of inches from the thumb to the base of the fingers to get the proportions right.

It's a good thing that the yarn, which came to me via One Planet Yarn and Fiber, was such a delight to knit. It's a super lux wool and cashmere blend, with a touch of nylon for durability. The colors are a work of art.

And in the end, I was very proud to give these to Mountain Man's mother! It was worth all the difficulty to make a pair of gloves that could bring her such a smile.