Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rainy Day Drive

It's been a gray, drizzly weekend here in Phoenix. Mountain Man and I thought we'd go hiking in the Superstitions today, but the rain and the mist picked up when we got to the trailhead.

Since we didn't want to risk getting caught in flash floods, we turned it into a several hour, epic Sunday drive on dirt roads. It's a damn good thing I had my knitting, because otherwise I would've been a grumpy passenger!

I finished the Manzanita Cowl in Eco Wool during the first hour or so of the trip. Modeled here, impishly in the rain, when we stopped to stretch our legs and gaze in amazement at the waterfalls ....

But this iteration of the cowl -- with only two vertical repeats of the lace -- was a little too short. Sigh. I painfully unraveled the bottom bobbled section and re-knit it to the original pattern. It's a good thing I had the long drive, because otherwise I would have been a grumpy knitter, ha ha!

I'm happy with how it turned out in the end, though.

Here's the details: it's another Manzanita Cowl, this time knit in a dark brown Eco Wool. Since this yarn is heavier than the light worsted called for in the pattern, I went up a needle size to US 8 and only cast on 5 horizontal repeats (65 stitches) rather than 6 (78 stitches).

I like experimenting with my patterns in different yarns, and this variation is really a different creature from the original. It's sturdier, snugger, and more rustic than the original. More of a stand-up, hug-your-neck cowl that will really keep you warm.

Monday, February 15, 2010

playing around

Although I did get in some knitting on my white wool cardigan over the weekend, I need a project in dark yarn for when we go out climbing. My hands just get too dirty from the rope handling. And of course, we did go out climbing. Here I was, sitting on a boulder after lunch ... knitting!

What I'd grabbed as I sleepily trotted out the door in the morning was a skein of earthy, dark brown Eco Wool. I had it in mind to play around with a Manzanita Cowl in a heavier yarn than the light worsted and DK yarns I'd knit it up in before. By the end of lunch, I'd finished nearly half the cowl.

To me it looked like a crown, with its sturdy height and pointed tips. I cajoled Isis into trying it on. She went along with it, but she made it eminently clear that this was beneath her dignity.

Ha ha.

Anyways, I did finish the cowl that evening. But I think I'm going to frog it and try again on the next weekend outing. Although the Eco Wool can work in that gauge, I think the pattern would show more in a bigger needle. Next time, I'm going to go up a needle size and down a repeat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

happy hour

Friday, 5 pm. End of a frustrating week. So nice to just step out into the backyard and let myself relax. It's beautiful out here. The sun is dropping low in the sky, lighting up the grapefruits on the tree.

In the middle of the lawn, Isis is crunching on pecans. She's very cute -- she roots around in the bushes to find the nuts that have fallen from the pecan trees, and then she brings them to the center of the yard to eat.

As for me, I'm looking forward to a very peaceful, very happy hour of sipping tea, soaking up the sunset, and working on my sweater. It's going to be a Katarina cardigan, with miles of meditative stockinette stitch.

p.s. I sent off emails to the winners of the Manzanita Cowl patterns. Thanks again to everyone who entered!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

color shift

I know I'd said I was all about the green projects these days. But things intervened. I got a parcel in the mail with my share of a rustic, farm-y mohair and wool yarn from Juniper Moon Farm ...

which perfectly matched this single, stunning, clay button that I'd found in Taos this past summer ...

which perfectly matched the bouquet of lilies that were blooming with fragrant abandon on our kitchen counter ...

and the paperwhites blooming on the windowsill, and the cool, white light of this overcast day.

So, it was determined for me. I had to cast on for a sweater ...

But you know me. I'll be back with the green before long. And in the meantime, don't forget - there's still a few days to enter my pattern giveaway!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Manzanita Cowl

Over the weekend, I finished up the pattern for the Manzanita Cowl. It's simple but lovely, knit in the round with a subtle lace pattern and a bobbled border.

The rounded, undulating branches of the lace might remind you of seaweed or sanddunes. For a desert girl like me, they remind me of manzanita: smooth, flowing branches, rounded leaves, and delicate berries.

It's knit on a Size 7 (4.5mm) circular needle in about 140 yards of worsted-weight yarn. For the pattern, I used one skein of a beautifully soft, naturally-dyed, organic merino yarn (Fleece Artist Lanica in "Blueberry"). I think it would knit up beautifully in Malabrigo, which is also a soft, single-spun yarn.

To test the pattern, I whipped up a version in Noro Silk Garden, a silk/mohair/wool blend. It was so fast to knit -- only about 4 hours total -- that I just about finished it during a day out rock climbing.

The Silk Garden is a little shorter on yardage (110 yards), so I shortened it by half a repeat of the lace pattern. It's an easily adjustable pattern this way; the original is 19" around and 9" deep, but you can easily make it shorter/longer/narrower/wider by adjusting the number of lace repeats.

The pattern is written up with both line-by-line and charted directions. If you'd like a copy, it's available for purchase for $5 on Ravelry and my Etsy shop, or you can drop me a line (evergreenknits[at]gmail[dot]com) to buy it from me directly.

You can also win a copy by leaving me a comment on this post! I am ever so grateful for my readers (old and new) and I'd like to thank you by giving away free patterns. Just leave me a comment here to enter, and I'll draw six names for Manzanita Cowl pattern at the end of the week (Friday, February 12, 2010).

Sunday, February 07, 2010

rocks, plants, yarn

On Saturday morning, Mountain Man and I had another spectacular day of rock climbing at Lower Devil's East. It was a day of stunning vistas and textures ...

Rock towers (dacite)

Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindopuntia acanthocarpa)

Arizona Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni)

Manzanita Cowl (Noro Silk Garden)

Goldenflower Century Plant (Agave chrysantha)

I grabbed the single skein of Silk Garden on my way out the door, cast on during the drive there, knit a bit during lunch and dinner, knit in the dark on the drive home, and nearly finished it in one day.

Whenever I have a new pattern (especially because I usually design with indie or organic yarns, which can feel inaccessible for some people) I try to also show it knit up in a more readily-available commercial yarn. I had one skein of Silk Garden sitting on my desk, and it was perfect.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

three green projects

My mind is full of three green projects at the moment. Green in both senses of the word: three different organic merino wools that happen to be green in hue.

The first is my Manzanita cowl, in Fleece Artist Lanica in "Blueberry," which is naturally dyed with blueberry leaves. I love how crisp the stitch pattern is now that it's freshly blocked. I just need to finish the charts and get Mountain Man to take some photographs of me wearing it, and the pattern will be all set!

The second project is a swatch for a beret pattern that I have in mind. The color of this yarn -- which is Lorna's Laces Green Line DK in "Growth" - made me think of an herb garden, so I was playing around with herb-inspired stitch patterns.

I started with variations (regular, upside-down, twisted) on the tree of life pattern, which I thought might evoke rosemary sprigs. Then I played around with a version of the banana tree pattern, but with the leaves arranged in pairs instead of alternating so that it looks more like a twig of sage leaves. I love the swell of these leaves, but I'm not sure it pops enough. So, there's more swatching in store for me.

The third project is the start of another Rivendell hat, using O-Wool Legacy DK in "Grove." It's only an inch of seed stitch so far, but I expect it to grow quickly over the weekend. We're going camping, which means many happy hours of campfire knitting.

It's been interesting for me to compare these three yarns. The Lanica is by far the most interesting in both texture (soft, beautifully blooming single) and color (glowing naturally dyed yellow-green). But the Lorna's Laces and the O-Wool yarns are lovely yarns, too, and I'm very pleased to have them on my needles.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Magma Gardens Cowl

On Sunday, Mountain Man and I drove out to Magma Gardens, which is another of the awesome, other-wordly climbing areas in Queen Creek.

The day was definitely on the cool side, with gusty winds whipping around the rocks, so I was pleased as punch that I'd finished knitting a cowl on the drive there. The photograph doesn't really show it off well -- it's unblocked, and I had to settle for the first snapshot we took since the camera ran out of batteries -- but I'm super smiley happy with how it came out in real life.

It's in 'Lanica,' which is the beautiful, naturally-dyed, organic merino yarn from Fleece Artist. I love this yarn. If I could pick one yarn to knit with constantly, this might be it. It's a loosely spun single, softer than Manos but stronger than Malabrigo, and I wanted to design a cowl for a single skein of it. I adapted grapevine lace (essentially print o' the wave lace without the lines between the vines) to work in the round, and then I added a bobbled border.

The curving, rounded lines of the lace reminded me of the manzanita shrubs that grow with abandon all through this area.

I'm blocking the cowl tonight, so expect fresh photos and maybe even a pattern soon enough!