Thursday, December 29, 2011

Feather and Fan cowl -- pattern under development

I was so inspired by the yarn I used to make Leah's hat, I had to keep knitting with it.  I usually knit socks and mitts on size 3mm needles, so using 5mm and larger was a real treat.  Things grow fast when you use thick yarn and large needles.  Duh.

I am in love with the Feather and Fan lace pattern. In fact, I've been dabbling with it for a while. The knitting magazine I received in my stocking this year contained an article about the Feather and Fan patterns and all the delightful variations on the theme.  There are dozens. If you haven't yet explored it, consider doing so.  It is simple and elegant-- of the four rows of the pattern, only one row requires you to pay any attention at all -- with a series of rhythmic k2togs (knit two together) and yos (yarn overs).  The article ended with instructions/ideas for making items with this pattern.  One of them was a cowl.

Hence, I grabbed the rest of the placid waters yarn and another similar bundle -- coal harbour, all from Sweet Georgia Yarns, and cast on. The nice thing about making a hat or a cowl, is not only that it goes by quickly, but it is that you only have to make ONE.  You can make changes and additions and variations, and unless you are trying to design a pattern, you don't have to worry about repeating it.  Just create as you go.  It's like free form drawing. 

So here it is, the photo shoot:

Here it is right near the end when I started thinking about taking photos.

Here's what it looks like after it is washed and blocked.  Quite a simple item don't you think? It is essentially an 8" (20 cm) tube with a bit of a skirt.

In this last view you can see the effect of the skirt.  I have cast on again, planning another Feather and Fan lace cowl, but this time making it much more snug.  The Feather and Fan lace has quite a bit of stretch, so it will fit over the head even if it more snug around the neck.

Stay tuned.  I am on holidays and have all the time in the world for knitting and playing around with fibre.

Last minute gift. . . .

I wanted to make a special gift for my son's girlfriend.  So I looked through my stash and found some yarn that I made from Sweet Georgia Yarn fibre club (in fact I wrote about it in a blog post a while back). The colours were perfect for her -- Placid Waters is the name of the colour way. Last year I made her mitts, so this year it had to be a hat.  The yarn is a worsted/chunky weight, so it was just right for the pattern I had in mind. 

The pattern is called Foliage by Emilee Mooney and you can get it on or here.  Knit on size 5mm needles, the hat knits up quickly -- 1 1/2 days.  Seriously, I could have knit it in a single day if I had to.  (As far as my aspirations about 100 mile wear go, this one is not Triple A.  It's a B+.  I spun the yarn and knit the hat.  The fibre is from Sweet Georgia Yarns, a local fibre artist -- who does all the dyeing in her studio downtown).

Here's a close-up of the hat.  The yarn 50% merino, 25% bamboo and 25% silk is wonderful stuff.  The colours are rich and the sheen from the bamboo and silk give an elegance you wouldn't expect in a chunky yarn.

It's a beautiful pattern and easy to knit. It may look tricky becasue of the lace work, but it is a straightforward pattern. You can read this lace easily, so if you happen to lose your place in the pattern -- jumping up to answer the phone, to take some tourtiere out of the oven, to help with an arrival of groceries that are coming in the door, you can clearly see what you need to do next. 

And here it is, modeled first by Georgia Rose and then by Leah.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stand-by mittens

Here is a pair of my favourite mittens, not my all-time favourite, but pretty darned close.  I made these in 2002 from locally sourced Romney that I washed, carded, dyed and spun.  The pattern is from Marcia Lewandowski's Folk Mittens book.

I love these mittens -- they are strong, warm and beautiful.  They are nearly 9 years old but are still holding up.  In fact I am featuring them today out of respect for the hard work they helped me do yesterday, with no complaints.

Yesterday morning we had a window of no-rain, so we decided to tidy up the leaves that are taking over the landscape around our farmhouse.  There were 10 huge piles of leaves that needed moving to the leaf-dump-zone. As much as I hate this part of the job, we were aided by the fact that the leaves were slightly damp and a little frozen.  That meant that when we put them into the wheelbarrow, they stayed there. 

It was a cold, crisp morning so I foraged around the house looking for a sturdy pair of mittens to wear.  And these won.  They may look fancy, but the yarn is strong and the double stranded knitting gives thickness so they act as work gloves, of a sort.  Not only are they strong and warm, but after they got quite filthy from picking up the leaves, especially the walnut leaves, they washed up just fine.

These are not fancy-pant leave-me-in-the-drawer-and-only-take-me-out-for-special-occasion mittens.  They are everything you'd want in a mitten.  They are strong, warm.  And of course, beautiful. 

After all these years.

PS - You can spin enough yarn for these mittens in an evening.  I just weighed them and they are 105 grams.  However, the yarn I used was from my early spinning so it is over twisted and dense -- which probably accounts for their durability -- so you may not need 105 grams.  In the pattern, they are only two colours, but I added the pink, as I didn't have enough of the yellow -- and needed to finish them.