Saturday, December 01, 2012

autumn in nature and knitting

This fall moved so fast that I've hardly had a chance to catch my breath.  I still don't have time for the full catch-up, but here's a whirlwind tour of colors and textures ...

Late September.  Damp chill. Raindrops on juniper.  Wet ivy leaves around a weathered wooden fence.  Cabled baby vest in blue-green wool.

October.  Crisp air. Fall colors. Maple leaves. Baby sweater being worked in bright red wool.

November.  Bleak sky. Bare branches.  Lace shawl in heathered gray alpaca.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

moonbeams in the park

I was back in Hartford, my hometown, this weekend.   It really feels like fall in Connecticut now.  Brisk temperatures. A dampness to the air. An aroma of fallen leaves and earthiness.  The last of the flowers shine so brightly at this time of year, don't they?

What I'm saying is that it was perfect shawl weather!  And I happened to have two shawls that got their first outing during a walk in the park with my mom.

They're two versions of the Moonbeams Shawl (You see, I've been keeping my hands busy even though I haven't had time to blog about it)

The one on the right is the shawl I started in Taos over the summer.  It's in "Silky Alpaca Lace" -- the same as the silver moonbeams shawl I knit in the spring.  I'd run out of yarn with the first one, but since I suspected I'd had less than a full skein to begin with, I wanted to knit a second one (with a few minor improvements) and see if I could get it comfortably within one skein. Success!

The one on the left is knit in DK-weight mulberry silk.  I wanted to experiment with a heavier yarn, and also using yo's for the increases instead of m1's.

To be honest, as I was knitting it I thought the lines of eyelets looked hokey.  I also feared that they detracted from the moon-quality of the original shawl.  But blocking worked miracles!  I love how it turned out in the end.

That silk yarn has been sitting sadly in my stash for the last four years, ever since I bought it with the idea of knitting a last minute wedding shawl for my sister-in-law. It's such a pleasure to see it used up.

Now I have one last version of the shawl to work up -- this time in a gorgeous gray alpaca -- before I'll be ready to polish and release the pattern.  I loved the silver laceweight version so much that I wanted to do a silver DK weight one, too.  (As beautiful as the ivory shawls are, they are a wee bit wedding-ish for daily wear.)

I'll leave you with a last blast of color.  Anyone know what kind of tree this is?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Lotus Shawl Pattern

Tra-la, the pattern for the Lotus Shawl is now available on Ravelry!

The Lotus Shawl is a triangular shawl with a lush and dramatic lotus flower lace edging.

The pattern has two versions with different stitches for the shawl body.  "Pods"  has openwork inspired by the texture of lotus pods. "Waves" has ripples of eyelets, evoking the waves on a lotus pond.

The pattern has line-by-line AND charted instructions for both versions.   I'm very pleased with the clean layout and clear directions ....

The shawl knits up in 450 yards of a heavy laceweight or fingering weight yarn.  For the pink version ("Waves") I used Henry's Attic Carrera, which is a silk/wool blend with a gorgeous drape and sheen. It comes in an undyed ivory color; I naturally dyed it a light lavender-pink.

For the white version ("Pods") I used a laceweight woolen spun cormo wool from Elsa Wool Co.  It's lofty, sproingy, and delicious.

The pdf pattern is now available for purchase on Ravelry!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

purple roses

Sitting in the United lounge now in Chicago. Gives me a chance to reflect on the weekend. I was happily home in Phoenix, home for my dose of sunshine and rock climbing and Mountain Man.

Yesterday I freshly blocked out my Lotus shawl to try to take pattern photos -- again.

You might remember that I took photos when I finished the shawl in Sedona in summer '11. But the desert vibe wasn't right. Then my sister and I took photos a second time when we were in Durham for Thanksgiving last year.  For some reason I felt like I needed another try.  I'll be finishing the pattern this week and now have a lot of photos to play with.

You can probably gather from my outfit that it's still warm and summery in Phoenix at the end of September.  Spectacularly pleasant mornings and evenings, just getting up to the mid-90s in the heat of the day. Our rosebush was blooming gloriously. I love these small purple roses. Love to tuck them behind my ears and trail their perfume.

And guess what else is in season there? Prickly pears.  We picked a bowl of little wild ones when we were out climbing in the desert.


Saturday, September 08, 2012

end of the summer

September now.  Swept in with such speed.

Last you heard I was still in Taos, but by now that was weeks ago.   We had just one final day there, including a splendid visit to Frana's alpaca farm ...

And then we were off, driving 600 miles from the high desert of New Mexico to the low desert of the Phoenix valley. We settled back into the intense heat, back into intense work.   Had ourselves one final adventure -- deep water soloing in a flooded canyon up near Winslow...

And then we were off, again, flying 2600 miles to the green, green hills of Vermont.  Had a few days of peace and family at the lake ...

And then we were off, again. But this time I didn't journey so many miles -- just down to Boston for a final semester of graduate school. A victory lap, as I've taken to calling it.

I do have knitting to show, but it'll have to wait for another day when I have time for another breather. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Taos Gorge & Dead Cholla Wall

When you drive north from Taos, north across the flat sagebrush-covered plateau that seems to stretch to the horizon, you suddenly come across an incredible gash in the earth.  It's the Taos Gorge, cut some 650 feet down by Rio Grande River, and spanned by the fifth-highest bridge in the country.

Now follow the gorge to the west a few miles, and it softens.  There are climbs on the top layer of basalt -- in a spot known as Dead Cholla Wall -- and hiking trails in the valley below.

We, of course, were climbing, and I was getting in a few stitches when I could. It was such a blissfully cool and overcast day. So lovely to sit and knit and watch the clouds swirl through the sky.

As for the knitting ... you might be wondering what happened to that red sweater that I was so enthusiastically knitting when we were in Sedona.  Let's just say: there was an incident.  An incident with the sleeve caps.  It's now stuffed angrily into the bottom of a knitting bag and I don't know when it will see the light of day again.

So I started another shawl, which is really the great love of my knitting life.  This is another Moonbeams -- the final version, in a laceweight alpaca/silk, before I release the pattern.  You can see how the m1s radiate out from the center to create the half-circle of stockinette.

Actually, it might not be the last version.  I'm probably going to see how it works up in a drapey DK or Worsted weight, too, because I love the idea of having a lush, heavy alpaca shawl to wrap around my neck come November.

And, yes, I'm going to need it this year.  I don't talk a great deal about my graduate work on this blog, but you'll all see soon enough anyways -- I'm moving back to Cambridge this fall for one last semester. So in a few weeks it'll be goodbye Southwest, hello New England again.  See what Isis thinks about that ..

As for me, I'm in the midst of a tremendous mountain of work, but I'm also trying to soak up the stark beauty here before heading off again.

Mountain Man setting up his rap from "Lava Flows," 5.11, last climb of the day