Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rivendell III

I finished my Rivendell hat last weekend, nestled in the comfort of home in Connecticut. It's just so satisfying to see the way it comes together at the end.

I used two skeins of Lorna's Laces Green Line DK in "Growth," which is a soft organic wool in a subtle semi-solid green. I've got one more I want to work up in Elsa's gray cormo wool, and then I can write up the pattern.

It's a really pretty hat in person, and I wish to heck I'd remembered to have my mom take a photo when I there. I've been toting my camera around the past week but always felt too shy to ask my friends to take photos of me in my hat.

I need to find a knitting friend here that I could ask without blushing. I don't know why I feel shy like this; all friends are well aware of how knitting is part of my identity. They see the yarn tumbling across my bookshelves, the shawls constantly wrapped around my shoulders, the small projects I pull out of my bag when I'm over for dinner. But somehow asking them to participate --especially the very intimate act of taking photos -- is a deeper step.

So, unmodeled photos it is for now.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Revisiting Rivendell

A few years ago, I designed a hat I called "Rivendell." It was a cloche of sorts, tightly knit in DK weight wool, with a flared seed-stitch brim and lush staghorn cables that cleverly came together at the top. It was my first design, and it came out in Magknits in May 2007.

the original Rivendell hat, 2007

When Magknits was abruptly taken down in 2008, I thought it was a good chance to revisit and re-release the pattern. Since it was my first pattern, there were definitely some improvements needed! I really hopped on that (ha!) and a year later, in late 2009, I finished a softer, larger gauge, ribbed-brim version in white alpaca.

Then I started re-working the wool, seed-stitch brim version. I got stuck. I knit a few versions of the brim -- trying to perfect the size and the shape of the flare -- until I got frustrated and just gave up. A year and a half later, I tried again, in yet another green wool. Stuck again.

And finally, I admitted that the ribbed brim made for a more wearable hat anyways. So I cast on and have been happily knitting onwards. With any luck, I'll actually finish the new pattern this winter!

This time around, I'll probably release it as a for-sale pattern on Ravelry, rather than having it be a free pattern, as it originally was on Magknits. I remember Marnie Maclean talking about this when she re-released her Crime of Fashion pattern post-Magknits. I'm only making modest changes in the end, but there's a lot of my time that goes into re-knitting, re-photographing, re-charting, re-writing, and re-formatting the pattern. Can't wait to have this hat out of my system!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vermont Shawl

The "Vermont Shawl" is a leafy half-circle shawl, inspired by the verdant, maple-forested hills of Vermont.

I've had a long journey with this shawl. It's been a labor of love for me, and I hope that you love it too.

It's knit from the center neck outwards in three leaf-inspired lace patterns. The construction is similar to a pi-shawl, except that the stitch doublings are spread over a few rows in lace patterning rather than in one row of yarnovers.

The shawl takes 625 yards of heavy laceweight or light-fingering yarn. The pink version uses one skein of madelinetosh Prairie in "Mulled Wine." This single-spun merino blooms into a light and lofty shawl with an incredible depth of color.

The green version uses two skeins of Miss Babs Yet in "Verdigris." The merino/tussah silk blend has a lovely, soft drape and a subtle luster. The color is a gorgeous, deep forest green.

The pattern includes both written and charted directions. The lace patterns are definitely challenging, but they capture a little bit of the forest to wrap around your shoulders.

If you'd like to knit your own Vermont Shawl, the pattern is available for $7 on Ravelry (click here for the Ravelry pattern page).

And thank you again to Nina for the beautiful winter photography ...

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Yesterday was the most glorious, snowstormy, winter day.

whiteout, overlooking the Charles River to Boston

The universities were shut down for the blizzard, and I spent the morning out in the cold beauty, blissfully walking for hours down the center of silent, snow-blanket streets, hurdling over snowbanks in my big Sorel boots.

And when I came home, I nestled into the wingbacked chair by the woodstove and worked solidly on finishing my Vermont Shawl pattern. It's done now, at long last. I feel such peace and stillness. One small change to make when I get home tonight, and then it'll be up on Ravelry ....

Now, I usually have a contest to randomly give away copies of a fresh pattern. But this time, I'm going to reward the readers who have been with me on this long journey. I'm going to send a copy of the pattern to everyone (that I can readily track down, at least) who left me a blog comment about these shawls over the past two years. If you know you've commented, and you don't get an email from me by tomorrow, drop me a line! (

Monday, January 10, 2011


Back east again. Light snow cover, and a windy chill. I headed back to Connecticut for the weekend to visit my family, though, and that warmed me right up.

On Saturday we went out for a peaceful stroll around the reservoir, all bundled up against the cold.

My sister wore her new Ashwyn beret in Fleece Artist Lanica, a soft, naturally-dyed merino. I love this green on her! And always feel so happy to give her soft things to keep her warm.

When I started the hat in October, I just went with the recommended needle size because that's what I had in my apartment, and I was too lazy to check gauge. It turned out quite a bit larger than intended. Shame on me for not checking gauge. The saving grace is that my sister is fabulous enough to pull off such a slouch. I never could.

Instead, I had my curious elfin hat, which made a brief appearance on the blog when I first finished it in November. It's in a windspun (literally) wool yarn from Hope Spinnery, a wind-powered spinnery in Maine. I love it. It was the one yarn that I bought at Rhinebeck this year.

I started with several stitches at the top, increased until it fit my head, then knit straight downwards. When I ran out of the gray yarn (most of the yarn was taken up by a pair of mittens that's been waiting since November for some thumbs), I added in some green yarn for the ribbing.

hee hee

I miss my life in Arizona tremendously, but I'm loving being back in winter again! And being close to family. Nothing like it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

New Year's in Sedona

Sedona. Fresh snow, sparkling blue skies, rich red rocks.

Mountain Man and I drove up there to celebrate New Years with wintry weather and good energy. And you know what cold weather means: wool-wearing!

On the first day up there, which was New Year's Eve, we took a long ramble around Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock. I wore my Eco-Wool Manzanita Cowl and my Manos Wild Rose Hat.

On New Year's Day, we took a longer, snowier hike up Bear Mountain for breathtaking vistas and high mountain air. It just so happened that both Mountain Man and I were wearing our Cambridge Watchcaps! He likes his shorter, I like mine longer.

(It was bittersweet to track down the old blog posts for those hats, by the way. I knit them four years ago, back when we were in Vermont, and the posts were full of memories for me.)

Anyways, as for Isis, she was in her element. This dog is built for snow! No wool needed.

It was stunningly beautiful to see all the shapes and textures of a desert snowfall. The soft snowdrifts ....

Against the spiky agaves ...

And spiny prickly-pear cacti ...

As for the trip's crafting, I mostly worked on my circular stockinette project, which isn't much to see at the moment. On the way up, though, I also whipped up a little case for my new camera:

It's improvised crochet, in a naturally-dyed churro yarn that I picked up at the Flagstaff farmer's market a while back. Rabbit brush and indigo, I think. And a mother-of-pearl button, glinting in the sun.