Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heart-in-Hand Fingerless Gloves

A new pattern! Well, new to my blog, anyway... I designed the Heart in Hand fingerless gloves (that's a Ravelry link) exclusively for Shalimar Yarns, using their superwash Merino "Honey Worsted," last autumn. They were featured at the company's booth at Stitches East in November, and are now available directly from Shalimar or from Eleganza Yarns.

The first time I saw the Corazón colorway was in a superwash sock yarn at Eleganza Yarns. I knew right then that I wanted to design a pattern to showcase its delicious, buttery, berries-and-cream hues. These gloves are feminine, without being too girly...sweet, but not saccharine, with a ruffle that's definitely not frilly.

My inspiration for this pattern was a little, hand-shaped, pewter pin I bought for myself on a long-ago trip to Lancaster County, Pa. A tiny, cut-out heart was nestled in the center of the palm. I wore it often, though it's now gone missing -- probably sometime during one of our many recent moves.

The origins of the "Heart in Hand," I learned, is debatable. Some say it began with the Shakers, a religious sect, for whom it represented love, charity, and piety. Others say that, in the 1800s, women would sometimes trace their hands on paper, adding a heart in the middle, to represent their love for the recipient.

The longer you look, the more stories you'll find about this unique symbol. But in the end, what's important are the emotions and traits it represents: love and affection, kindness and hospitality, faith and loyalty.

The gloves are knit in the round, from the fingers to the wrist, and use only one skein of soft, squeezable Honey Worsted. The heart-shaped cables (charted out in the pattern) appear on top of the hand and wrist, while the palm is worked in stockinette stitch and the underside of the wrist in ribbing for a snug, comfortable fit.

I'm quite happy with the final result, and hope you'll enjoy making them for yourself or for a truly heart-warming gift.

Happy knitting!


Monday, January 19, 2009

A Bright New Day...

...is dawning for the United States.
President Barack Obama's election sparked hope and optimism across the nation.

Now, as he takes office, a better future seems possible.
It makes me feel so good I could chase my tail in a dutch oven.

But I'll leave the pot-dancing festivities to Charley, and focus on finishing the hats I've been knitting to donate to kids in my area who can't afford warm winter clothes.

Happy knitting/crocheting/spinning or whatever you love to do!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Ice Cold

It's just been that kind of week. Cold and hard. I sure could use a little spring right about now. How about you?

Things will get warmer. And easier.

After all, summer is as inevitable as winter, isn't it?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quiche me once, then quiche me twice...

This may well be the most delicious Quiche Lorraine I've ever baked -- or eaten, actually. There was no skimping with this baby. Real Swiss cheese, real bacon, and real (heavy) cream. My eight-inch pie pan made for a deep-dish experience. I folded the crust upward, forming a wall that held the custard in place.

My oven is funny. It runs at least 100-degrees high. At least. Things that should bake in 20 minutes frequently take 10, even when I adjust the dial for the heat difference. But my quiche would not be hurried, so I was forced to turn the oven down, down, down...250, 225, finally 200 degrees, plate-warming temperature. All the while chatting with my mom via Skype.

Toward the end, I removed the aluminum foil protecting the crust's edges, turned the oven off, and just let it sit in there for a while. When I pulled the quiche out, I was rewarded with a clean fork when inserted an inch from the center. And when Chris came home and we sliced into it -- well, it was pure heaven.

The custard was absolutely tender and light. The balance of bacon and cheese was perfect. Even the crust seemed happy . This was no average love-you-and-leave you quiche, oh no! After a slice of this baby, you might feel a lingering desire for more of its savory goodness. But the richness was deceptive, threatening to turn a blissful experience into a slightly-headachey one after just one bite too many.

No average quiche, this.

In the interest of full disclosure: I used a Pillsbury rolled-up, refrigerated pie crust. So, what did I do with the other crust? Apple turnovers...

I finished Froot Loop Sock #1 today, and immediately cast on the second one. These are for ME :-) Happily, I love, love, love this Araucania Ranco Multy sock yarn!!! Wooly and lofty, plump and delightful to work with, the colors are mesmerizing. They actually seem to change with the light. Working on this sock in direct sunlight (last fall) left me besotted.

And when I put this sock on, it hugged my foot with comforting warmth. Great pattern, perfect yarn = relaxing knitting. (FYI: I'm using a US#1.5 KnitPicks Options nickel-plated circular needle)

Talking of colors, take a look at this gorgeous roving! Meghan (host of Stitch It! Podcast), sent it to me as a prize for a contest I won last autumn (here's her Etsy shop). Just look at the saturated hues, the way the peacock blue and plum colors seem as iridescent as the feathers on a Mallard duck's neck.

I also received a lovely basket of gifts from BethanyG (that's her "Ravetar"), who came up with the contest idea and coordinated it. Tasty goodies, spicy cinnamon-scented soap and candle, pumpkin-pie scented lotion and lip balm, and a catnip toy for Katja and Charley...it was literally a cornucopia of autumn goodness for all of us :-)

And, finally, speaking of Katja and Charley, here's the ultimate cuteness: a kitty version of Yin and Yang (in more ways than one!)...

Take advice from the experts: Stay warm and cozy, snuggle with a friend, and enjoy a little time for napping, spinning, knitting, or whatever floats your boat!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Patterns and Projects

Curious about what I may have in my project bags? (I always love seeing what others have on and off their needles/hooks!) Here are a few little items for you...

Nadia Fingerless Mitts

Knitted up for a friend who lives nearby, who needs her hands free when running errands or playing with her little son.

They're simple 2x2 ribbing with a little cable twist on the back of each hand. Quick (and thus satisfying) to knit for yourself or a friend.

Secret Project #1
I've been working on this little project over the course of several months (with delays from celebrating holidays, catching a virus, visiting family, etc.). What is it? Well, that's a secret for now, but I do have to say that knitting with Three Irish Girls' Wexford Merino & Silk (shown in "Roan," above and below) is absolute bliss.

A plump, worsted-weight yarn, it behaves well on a variety of needle sizes. Stitch definition, when knitting with singles yarns, is always a treat. And the color? Simply luminous. Sharon (AKA: The Yarnista) really knows how to make colors and fibers work together.

Secret Project #2
Noro Silver Thaw...it's wonderful stuff.

Secret Project #3
A taste of spring in the middle of winter: Shalimar Yarns' Superwash Sock in Sweet Pea. It's gloomy as can be outside today, but looking at these colors makes me happy.

Too many of us, on the Atlantic Coast, anyway, resort to drab colors in winter. So I thought I'd create a little garden-hued something to:
- Combat any Seasonal Affective Disorder lurking in the cold, damp, grayness
- Support my own (and maybe other sun-lovers') conviction that spring is just around the corner ;-)

Secret Project #4
Hmmm...I wonder what these little goodies will become?

Socks, anyone?
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock (medium weight) is just scrumptious. It's so bouncy, soft, and round that I find myself squeezing it all the time. This gorgeous colorway is Philosopher's Stone.

Bea's Hat
I liked Sleepy Eyes Knits' Amanda Hat so much I thought I'd knit one up for my mother in law. She has the most beautiful black-coffee colored eyes -- really striking -- so I decided on this plummy Manos del Uruguay yarn with a few pale lavender highlights. (For those wondering what I'm talking about: Purple-ish colors bring out brown eyes.)

And, last but not least:

The Kitty Donut!
Shaped like a jelly donut and filled with garden-grown catnip, this little toy practically demands that Charley play with it. Honestly, he was sleeping soundly when I finished crocheting it last night, and when we placed it near him, he woke up and sleepily knocked it off the sofa. It was all downhill from there...

The end result of a morning "on the 'nip."

I'll write up some patterns this week, and will keep you posted on the others. Happy knitting!