Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ode on a Peruvian Glove

A little more than a year ago, when we still lived in downtown DC, I found myself out and about on a frigid day, without gloves--on foot, of course--with grocery shopping to do. It was one of those days when the thermometer drops about 20 degrees in an hour. After battling a razor-sharp wind all the way from 18th and L streets to 15th and P (NW), I dove through the doors of our local Whole Foods store, my hands both numb and raw.

I grabbed a basket and set about my shopping. But these gloriously colorful gloves drew me in, irresistible despite my budget-conscious state of mind. Mittens, hats, and full-fingered gloves shared the end-cap display with the fingerless variety, which I happen to adore.

Hand knitted of 100% alpaca by members of a Peruvian women's cooperative, the colors hearkened back to a vibrant culture I must have experienced in another life, so often do I long for its richness and boisterousness.

Let me add to the drama: Unbelievable as it seems, I, a hand-knitter, have no family members who knit (yet), and so knitted presents (or presents to do with knitting, actually) are virtually unheard of... So, every now and then, when I hear someone say, "Oh, my mom made this scarf for me..." or "I made this sweater out of yarn my grandmother sent to me," I feel a little twinge of envy.

But, for some reason, these gloves have satisfied my need for hand-knits. When I slide my fingers into their thick, cozy fabric, I mysteriously feel that they were knit just for me. It's a gift, I believe, and one I've been grateful for on many a cold morning.

Whoever and wherever she is, the woman who made my mitts obviously knit lots of love into every stitch. I wish I could meet her, and tell her how much joy her knitting brings me.

And now for a moment of undeniable cuteness:

Katja in repose...

Happy knitting!!!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Beret of Purls

P1133346.JPG, originally uploaded by knitsixdesigns.

This little hat never made it to my blog, which is a shame, because I think it's kind of cute...

The pattern is Last Minute Purled Beret, from Wendy Bernard (of Knit & Tonic fame...and, by the way, her book "Custom Knits" is great!). The yarn featured here is one-of-a-kind, a rogue skein I picked up at Stitches East. It's 100% Merino, and knitted up beautifully.

Just one mod I'd make if I made this hat again... I'd knit the ribbing on smaller needles OR carry along a stretchy elastic thread to help keep the brim snug. Other than that, I consider it a success! Thanks, Wendy :-)


Saturday, February 21, 2009


Eastern Bluebird, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

I looked up from my knitting this morning, and saw a flash of brilliant blue. It could have been a toy or piece of plastic bag caught in one of our trees (it's been devastatingly windy here). But something made me jump up and join Charley at the window.

That's when I saw them: Eastern Bluebirds, in full color. I was thrilled...I've never actually seen one before, and here was a little group, hanging out in the Back 40 and the corn field beyond. Thank goodness the neighbor-cat, Lucy, wasn't outdoors. She's a real huntress!

The first time I ever saw a Cardinal, I was awestruck. I mean, honestly, a bright red bird? Not where I come from (San Francisco). That feeling remains. Cardinals seem magical to me, and their little metallic chirps always make me smile, just knowing they're there...

So when I saw a brilliant, cobalt-blue bird with a red chest, perched in one of the apple trees out back...Well, let's just say that my excitement rivaled Charley's, though my mouth wasn't watering the way his was...

Charley, peeking. Jan. 2009

On NPR last night, a local gardening expert was talking about all the flowers to expect in early, mid-, and late spring. Our warm spell a week ago really got things started. Flowering plums are beginning to bud, as are the forsythias along the driveway. One of these days I'll have to get out the rake and clean up the sycamore leaves, so the little crocus babies can get some sun.

I love summer, feel melancholy in autumn, and try to find positive things about winter. But this time of year, when the air is softening, the sun is intensifying, and nature is beginning to stir--this is my favorite time of all.

The excitement of being right on the crest, about to tumble into the hot and humid days of summer, watching the days lengthen...

The expectation of spring is, perhaps, sweeter than the season itself.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Little Treasures...

This past Christmas, I received a little package from my mother, with some holiday goodies enclosed for each of us. Imagine my delight when I found these gem-like beads nestled in one of the boxes. Each one is different, some opaque, others translucent, but they all share a magical quality infused by the Sacramento-based glass artist who sells them.

Mom also enclosed a breathtaking Christmas tree ornament -- a glass sphere with swirls of purple and gold on the surface, and a teeny-tiny origami crane suspended inside. Amazing.

When I lock Charley away long enough to get a good photo, I'll be sure to post it. (Sadly, because of the little beast, we had no tree to hang it on this year...but we'll come up with a plan for cat-proof trimmings by next year!)

Just for fun, here's an FO I haven't showed you...

It's the Formula One Tyre Scarf (Ravelry link) I made for my father in law, as kind of a birthday/Christmas combination gift. It's pretty much "to spec," to the extent that a scarf can resemble a Bridgestone racing tyre. Knitted up in the fabulously plump, velvety Shepherd's Wool, it feels like cashmere around your neck.

Just one thing: Before you F1 fans send any e-mails, let me clarify that I know F1 won't be using grooved tyres this year. But I think the scarf looks better with the grooves (they show up as ribs on this side). The little red stripe is for the father in law's favorite team (I'll let you guess which one...)

For my mother in law, I made the Amanda Hat (Ravelry link), in plummy Manos del Uruguay, to complement her lovely coffee-colored eyes.)

We sent the package containing this scarf--and the hat I knitted for my mother in law--last week, and both gifts were apparently a big hit.

Doesn't it feel nice to know your knitted gifts have gone to a good home, where they're appreciated? I think so.

On a totally unrelated note: A few weeks ago...or longer, actually...when I was making Nadia's gloves, I began playing around with the Noro Silver Thaw yarn I bought at Fiber Arts Studio in Cape May two years ago.

The yarn was always slated for a pair of fingerless gloves. But when I began knitting with it I was surprised at how it seemed to melt effortlessly into various cozy designs.

So when Nadia's gloves were done I kept swatching, and came up with a domino-ish creation that really highlights the yarn's rich colors and lofty, fuzzy texture. The Multidirectional Mitts--light, soft, and warm--will be finished and the pattern posted soon. Really!

(OMG, I have so many "finished" patterns to write up--and I'm knitting as fast as I can...Help!)


Monday, February 16, 2009

Kittens and Yarn: A fuzzy, furry hodge-podge

Who, me?

reader: Today feels like an unstructured day, which means this will very likely be a hodge-podge of a post... Yours truly, K6

I've been working on several designs, during the past month or so, but (sigh) I can't share them yet. Two are for sock clubs, and one (shown above in Adorn Sock, in the Brennan colorway) is forthcoming...more are in the works.

As you can see, I've had a little "help" from Charley, who excels at looking cute, even at his most devilish...

For example, I was taking some photos of this worsted-weight Merino. This one-of-a-kind skein's gorgeous color puts me in mind of the Indian Ocean around the Seychelles...Not that I've been there, but one can dream, right? (sigh, again...).

So I'm getting the yarn and windows arranged for photo taking, when what to my wondering eyes did appear, but -- THIS!

Just lookin'... Honest!

Oh, Charley. (Actually, at the time, I uttered something just a little stronger.)

By the way, do you like that color? What would you make with it?

And, last but not least, here's a design-in-the-works that I can show you.

I've been playing around with a scarf idea, using this fruit-punch colored yarn and some great silver beads. After knitting and ripping a few times, I decided I like the beads best on a braided fringe, rather than knitted into the fabric. What do you think?

While you ponder that, feast your eyes on some fibery eye-candy:

Zoe Sock in "Lychee"

See? I told you today would be a hodge-podge...But it's a hodge-podge featuring yarn and a kitten, which makes it totally acceptable, right?

Happy knitting!


Friday, February 06, 2009

Freesia Socks: Update about a favorite pattern

Remember the Freesia Socks?

Last year, explaining the inspiration for these socks, I wrote about a little cloister-like courtyard in my high school (in Marin Co., Calif.), where planters were filled with freesias. When the sun shone down mid-day, the entire courtyard would be thick as honey with their intoxicating fragrance. This colorway, Iris, reminds me of those flowers…

Simple as it is, this is one of my favorite designs. The colors in the yarn, the texture of the fiber, and the stitch pattern all came together to create something wonderful. They're scrunchy and squeezable (for those of us who do such things to our socks/yarns).
And they look pretty "on the foot."

I wrote the actual pattern for these socks last fall, for Shalimar Yarns. It takes only one skein of fingering-weight yarn and some US# 1.5/2.5 mm needles to knit up a pair. You can include the ribbon of your choice or opt to leave the picot hem otherwise unadorned.

I say: Enough already with the cold, snow, and ice -- It's time for spring!
So grab your favorite yarn and needles, and let's knit up a little flower power.
Happy stitching!

For more information about this pattern, you can contact Shalimar Yarns or Eleganza Yarns. Currently -- and perhaps for a limited time only -- the pattern is free when you purchase a skein of Shalimar's Zoe Sock or Superwash Sock. You can also check out the Freesia Socks pattern on Ravelry.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Groundhog Day Scarf

It's no secret that I love, love, love spring, sunshine, and warm weather. So this time of year can be a little hard to take.

After a few months, the cold and snow and ice lose any novelty appeal they may once have held. But the bright and balmy days I long for are still distant. This is when I always reach for sunny, saturated colors.

Shalimar Yarns’ bright and sunny Sweet Pea colorway–seen in Superwash Sock in the photo above–fits the bill perfectly. Shades of melon, cherry, and berries are oh-so-pleasing to winter-weary eyes.

, worked up in this easy, lightweight lace pattern, it reminds me (like Punxsutawney Phil did yesterday) that there are only six weeks left until springtime!

Not only is it a quick, easy knit...Once finished, this will be a perfect scarf for the last few chilly weeks.