Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cactus Wren

On my last night in Phoenix, Mountain Man and I took a sunset walk in the desert. And out came the alpaca shawl, finished at last. It was beautiful in that dry desert wind!

The yarn - a soft, light-as-air, 3-ply alpaca -- has had a long journey to this place. I bought a full bag of this yarn from a small, cramped shop in Cusco, Peru some 7 years ago. It traveled with me to Massachusetts, Vermont, Arizona, waiting for the moment to be plucked out of my stash and knit up into something momentous.

I'd had an idea brewing for a shawl with an unusual deep-crescent, almost winglike shape ... started in the center with just a few stitches, increased initially in six sections (8 make a full circle) that are split on either side of a center line, and with a couple more sections added towards the end to make a very dramatic swoop.

The first test that I did with this increase pattern was the ill-fated blue shawlette from last April. I couldn't figure out the edging for that one, but I kept on with the idea. And as I was playing around with motifs and natural representations, I kept coming back to the winged shaping.

I thought of the humble cactus wren, sometimes called the "voice of the desert," and the beautiful nests that it builds within tangles of cholla cacti. That image led me to an adaptation of the intricate Mexican lace edging.

I couldn't be happier with how it came out in the end. And I do feel like I have a bit of the desert wrapped around me when I wear it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

llama beauty

What knitter could fail to appreciate the beauty of a llama at sunset?

Llama at sunset, Lake Titicaca

This magnificent photo was taken by a friend of mine, Rebecca Meyer, who is an immensely talented San Francisco photographer. It was taken on a South American sojourn. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it.

If you like it too, would you take a second and vote for it here, in the National Geographic Traveler photo competition? We knitters should do all we can to encourage the appreciation of fiber animals :)

Monday, August 23, 2010


We made it back to Phoenix about a week ago, and as soon as it got to the weekend we were outta there again! Mountain Man and I headed north to Isolation Canyon to escape the heat. It was a splendid weekend of climbing and carousing, with a bit of knitting thrown in.

On the drive northwards I started another Sagebrush shrug, this time in deep, saturated blues.

You may recognize this yarn as the Cash Iroha that I'd knit up into a cursed shawlette last spring. I'm unraveling it now and re-knitting it into a shrug, and I'm happy to get this yarn off my back (figuratively) and onto my back (literally).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

knitting and the iphone

The other afternoon, I spent a lovely half hour sitting under a tree with my cat, my knitting, and my new iphone. I turned my attention to the phone at one point, and when I turned back around, this is what I saw ...

Apparently kitty wanted to make a statement about my knitting, or perhaps about the attention I was paying to my knitting but not to her. I snapped a photo with my iphone and gingerly removed my knitting from her talons.

And just what was it that I was knitting? A case for my iphone, of course!

Knit up with the leftover silk/wool yarn from my Sagebrush Shrug. Very simple patternless pouch. I see many more of these in my future ...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wheeler Peak sheep adventure

Wheeler Peak (13,161 ft/4011 m) is the highest mountain in New Mexico. Mountain Man and I picked a gloriously beautiful and blustery day yesterday to hike it. I don't have a good photo of the peak itself, but I do have a photo of myself knitting there!

The most exciting part of our 16-mile hike was my encounter with a bighorn sheep. Last year, we saw nearly a dozen sheep and even found tufts of their fiber in a high mountain meadow. This year, I just saw this one sweet young sheep ...

But it let me get incredibly close. Here's Mountain Man's view of me walking up to the sheep. It was one of those animal encounters that leaves you breathless and in love with the natural world.

As for Isis, it was the fat, furry, squeaking marmots that made her day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sagebrush Shrug

The Sagebrush pattern is up!

Pattern is available as a free downloadable pdf on its Ravelry page.

I'll post more about it in the next couple days ... but I'm running out the door and just wanted to let you know that the pattern is ready!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Taos magic

Back to Taos ... magical land of rainbows

and alpacas

and knitting and rock climbing

and heavenliness all around.

I was working intensively on another secret shawl project for a while (revealed soon!) so I still haven't finished the sagebrush shrug. But I picked it up again on yesterday's climbing trip to Tres Piedras, and I expect to finish it up this very evening!