Thursday, July 29, 2010

steamed and seamed

I blocked out the sagebrush lace and seamed it for an inch or two on either side, and this is the state of things now:

Looks a lot different, doesn't it? Blocking is truly magic for lace.

I could stop now if I wanted to keep the scalloped edging, but I think a couple inches of ribbing around the edges will make it more wearable for me (longer and less granny-like). I'm going back to Taos next week, so it'll be the perfect place to celebrate its finishing.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I'm almost done knitting the main part of my sagebrush shrug. It's in a stitch pattern that I half made up, combining the increase/decrease patterns of Crest of the Wave with the staggered, half-drop repeats of Fir Cone.

It looks so strange and misshapen now that it's hard to imagine what it will become. But the lace pattern will bloom once it's blocked. Then the rectangle will be folded into a cylinder and seamed for an inch or so at either end to make armholes. The last step will be to add ribbing the openings.

I should have just enough yarn (I hope!) to get it where I want it. It's always kind of an adventure that way.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

muslin & lace

I'm back in Phoenix now, back in the land of staggering heat and sun.

All I want is to retreat to the interior of the house, pull the shades, and wear something so light and loose that it barely touches my skin. So, I pulled out my sewing machine and made a mid-thigh muslin muumuu.

It's totally unflattering but just the thing to wear when it's 114 degrees out there in the desert.

If I'd had a finer fabric, I might have used it. But I had yards and yards of this muslin and didn't feel like venturing out. Anyways, I like it. It's crisp, clean, old-fashioned.

The construction was simple, although it did take some time to figure out the sizing. The body is just two trapezoids - a slimmer one for my back and a wider one to be gathered for the front - with a wide band and crocheted cotton trim for the straps. I do especially like the straps.

In other cool white cotton crafting news .... I finished a project that I'd been secretly working on for some months. It's an organic cotton blanket, circular, with a dramatic lace edging.

I'm writing up the pattern and will release it, oh, I don't know, in the next couple of months. It's definitely a summery pattern, although it could be a wintry pattern in a fine white wool.

Friday, July 16, 2010

swatching for sagebrush

When I talk about being inspired by sagebrush, this is exactly the blue-gray-green palette and undulating texture that I want to capture:

I've been thinking a lot about how to turn this into a knit fabric. Remember, this is the yarn I'm starting with: a tussah silk and wool blend from La Lana in subtle hues of sky blue and celadon green. (The colors change dramatically with the light, so it's rather hard to photograph.)

You might be surprised that for a "sagebrush" inspired project, I haven't picked something more intensely green. Truth is, there's rather little green in the Taos sagebrush, at least to my eye. It's often more of a soft, milky blue-gray, depending on the light and the particular plant. Put a few sprigs of sagebrush next to the true greens of cedar and yarrow, and you can really see that ...

(And admittedly, I would've picked something with a little less blue and a little more gray, but this was the best yarn color in the shop that I found at the time.)

So now I've been swatching, swatching, swatching. Crest O' The Wave, Ostrich Plumes, Fir Cone, and several variations. Trying to find something that speaks of coarse, woody shrubs that at a distance blend into a soft, rippling sea.

After two feet of swatching, I think I've finally figured it out ...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Taos fibers

I can't stand having my hands idle. After prematurely running out of yarn, I skipped off to the yarn shop, thrilled to have an excuse to treat myself to La Lana's luscious naturally-dyed Taos yarns. I bought a tussah silk and wool blend yarn (Tussah Phat Silk Fine) to make a sagebrush-inspired shrug:

And a few skeins of their wool-mohair DK yarn (Dos Mujeres), along with a skein of Lupine-dyed silk-wool, to make an artistic colorwork hat and mittens set for the winter. (Have I mentioned that I'm moving back to Boston for a year, starting in September? I'm not excited about it, but it does give a reason to knit mittens.)

I haven't cast on for anything yet -- still in the dreaming, sketching, and planning stages -- but I had one more fiber-related activity to fit in last night. My friend and I sat out in the evening, watching the thunder clouds over Taos Mountain, drinking wine and carding alpaca fiber.

It's no wonder that whenever I come to Taos, I never want to leave!

Monday, July 05, 2010

the end of the yarn

This is the unfortunate reality that I came up against this evening.

I have run out of yarn, at least for the time being. I am tantalizingly close to being finished with this shawl -- only four "cactus" motifs left in the edging! -- but I'm afraid that it will have to wait a while yet until I get home to the spare yarn.

I typically waaay overpack yarn when I'm traveling, because running out of yarn is one of my least favorite things in the world. But this time I dashed out the door with a very conservative estimate of how much yarn I'd need to finish the project. I hate it when I miscalculate!

Anyways, I suppose I should look on the bright side. The shawl is turning out just as I'd imagined. And now I have something to look forward to in Phoenix (not usually the case during the summer)!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Colorado bits and pieces

Summer is already flying by at a whirlwind speed. I've been in Colorado for nearly a week now, first for a wedding, then to do dissertation research in the CU archives in Boulder. Along the way, here and there, I've been pulling out my shawl and making progress on the lace border, now 2/3 finished ...

This is the shawl that I cast on during the Grand Canyon roadtrip. It's in fawn alpaca, with a deep crescent shape and a filagree border that is knitted on at the end. It's hard to see now in its unfinished, unblocked state, but it's meant to be my homage to the cactus wren. (I'll tell you the whole story when it's finished.)

Here in Colorado, though, what it really evokes is teasel, which grows with weedy abandon in roadsides and meadows.

By the way, did you know that teasel has a history in fiber processing? Apparently the dried flower heads were used as primitive carders.

One last comical story before I sign off and start my drive back to Taos. Mountain Man and I went for a hike in the mountains above Boulder the other evening, and look what curiosity greeted us on the trail:

Yes, that is a man hiking with his pet goat, who, by the way, is outfitted with custom leather saddlebags. We chatted with him about it for a few minutes, took photos of the goat, and smiled all the rest of the hike.