Monthly Archives: January 2012

more than just a new hat pattern

Today I’m really excited about the release of my new hat pattern, the Sheep Herder’s hat. Like my other indie patterns I hope you’ll favorite and queue it on Ravelry.

sheep herder main

But this is more than just another pattern release. It’s the start of an exciting new thing. I’m working with Kim over at Grand View Farm to design patterns specifically for her yarns. This pattern uses Charlotte, a bulky 2ply that combines romney and mohair:

hat yarn3

Kim raises the goats and sheep (and bunnies!), has the yarn spun at a US mill, and then dyes it up with natural* dyes herself. This yarn is GORGEOUS. Charlotte is light and airy, it has sheen from the romney and a bit of halo from the mohair at the same time. Kim’s yarns are all really lovely, I have some natural romney at home which may be the next thing I cast on. But only if the her Leisel yarn (romney ANGORA blend) doesn’t decide what it wants to be first. You can buy her yarns on Etsy, she even has kits made up so you can get a printed copy of the pattern and enough yarn for the size and color you want all at once!

sheep herder slouchy

This hat has been my absolute favorite, go-to hat since I finished it back in December. Once the pattern was ready we just had to wait for the yarn to come back from the mill. Which took weeks longer than they had estimated. This reminded me how glad I am not to have to deal with manufacturing very often! But it’s finally here (or actually there – since Grand View farm is in a different county than me) and totally worth the wait.

sh toastyears

The hat can be worn two different ways: slouchy as styled at the top of the post, or pulled down over your ears to keep them warm as directly above. One reason I love this hat is because that slouchy look is quite in style right now. So I can come in from the cold, adjust my hat, and continue showing off the knitterly goodness.

sheep herder gazing

*except the blue, that’s from Greener Shades

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Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt

Incarnate Theater Treasure Hunt banner

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.
Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?
Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies–human and creature alike–let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

peanut and incarnate

I reviewed Incarnate back in December when I gave away an ARC of the book. I’m excited to let EVERYONE know that Jodi’s book is released this week! (don’t ask how impatient I am for the rest of the series) To celebrate Jodi has organized a massive INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt!

Incarnate dragon

That’s right, she’s knit the entire cast of her book. And she’s putting on a show for us all…

This week, 45 bloggers are celebrating the release of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts. I’m happy to be a CLUE blog, which means somewhere on this page is a clue to finding the hidden page and grand prize entry form on Jodi’s website. Follow 26 clues to get there!

And seriously- she’s giving away an awesome pair of fingerless mitts. You all know how much I love fingerless mitts…

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi’s post.

My clue for the password is:
Fourth word: g

I know that doesn’t make much sense on it’s own. You’ll have to check out the other clues to piece the puzzle together! Here are the next three:
Mermaid Vision Books
Book Chelle
Uniquely Moi Books

done and done

I’ve been on a finishing kick! Simple K3, p1 socks to help my neglected sock drawer?

simple socks2

Done! Knit in colinette jitterbug’s Monet colorway, US 1.5 needles, 60 stitches, ribbed cuff, slipped stitch heel and plain foot. In spite of knitting an entire pair of socks in January I’m NOT considering joining the 12 pairs in 2012 craze. Nope, not at all.

Neil’s mittens, that he requested because wool is awesome?

tree mittens

Done! These were knit to Neil’s exact specifications. He picked the yarn (brown Bartlett worsted) the cuff (long) the mitten (fitted) the decreases (rounded, not pointy) even the pattern (put a tree on it) Wait, don’t see the tree? Try this:

tree mittens2

Still no?

tree mittens3

Ok, so a garter stitch tree on a dark wooly background is tricky to photograph. But I swear it’s there. I borrowed* these mittens just for today so I could take pictures… They’re so nice I might need to knit myself a pair. I’m thinking green, maybe with the tree worked in white so it stands out. The catch is that there’s no pattern. The design moved straight from my brain to the needles in an almost subconscious manner. Right now the pattern goes something like this:

Knit a cuff-length ribbed cuff. Work standard thumb gussets when it is gusset time. AT THE SAME TIME work garter stitch tree as pictured. Work mitten decreases once hand measures to length of Neil’s little finger. Pick up held stitches and knit thumb.

That probably needs some more specifics…

*stole

thanks chickens

These speckled, dirty eggs represent something exciting:

januarys eggs

Spring! Ok, it’s not going to be spring any time soon. But they do tell me that the days are getting longer, and that spring will come eventually. Back in september I forgot to put the timed light into the chicken coop. The hens won’t lay if they don’t get enough daylight. Sure enough in October egg production slowed down noticeably. I plugged in the light, but it was too late. Once the hens start to moult nothing but time will help them out of it. This winter it was really bad though, we collected about 2 eggs a week in November and the ladies essentially took December and January off.

At first I was confused. We usually get a few eggs even through their moult. Then I realized, most of my layers are OLD. As in 4 years or more. Four year old chickens, apparently, like to take the winter off. And the 5 new hens we added to the flock this summer didn’t hatch until the last week of August so they’re just now 5 months old. Right on schedule they’ve all started to lay. After collected one egg for the ENTIRETY of january we got 3 yesterday – and another 3 today! Good thing too, because we’re getting tired of buying eggs AND chicken food.

In slightly related spring-type news the USDA has an interactive growing zone map on their website. Instead of staring at the map of your state and guessing what zone you’re town falls into now you can zoom right in on your address and figure out exactly what growing zone you’re in.

USDA growing zones

Unless you’re like me. In which case all this map really says is that I’m right on the edge of the growing zone. And I knew that already…

just giving it a little nudge

I’m up to the front halves of the Boyden cardi. Each half is worked on it’s own after the underarm divide and then the back is worked last. I knit the plain front first since it was easiest. Everything went smoothly although I did add one extra decrease to the armscye to make the front a bit more narrow by the time it got to the shoulder. One extra k2tog is nothing in a field of stockinette.

But on the cabled front it’s a wee bit trickier because the cable is snug up against the shoulder shaping by the top of the work. An extra decrease on the shoulder edge means I need to nudge my cable chart over by one stitch – preferably WITHOUT ripping the whole thing back again!

Good news is moving the cable panel over is really pretty simple. Let me show you my neat trick.* First I will point out that my goal here is to have the correct number of stitches when I get to the top of the shoulder. I’m fudging the decrease for the sample to create the same look that the final pattern will give in a much more straightforward way.

Yes in an ideal world all the decreases would happen in a neat line along the edge of the armscye. But this is not an ideal situation. Instead of working the last decrease at the armscye edge where it would start eating into the cable itself, I worked the decrease in the stockinette stitches immediately the right of the cable. And then I hid this decrease under the cable crossover that happens at that point so in the photos you won’t see a random decrease breaking up that field of stitches.

Where the chart calls for a 2×2 cable cross I slip THREE purl stitches behind the cable instead:

three stitches behind.jpg
(yes, I’m cabling without a cable needle, if you’re confused pretend those 3 stitches on the left needle are actually on a cable needle)

And then, I knit two of them together:

k2tog.jpg

Which leaves me with the correct number of stitches between my cables in the chart! And the correct number of stitches on the armscye edge. AND the correct number in the stockinette portion of the shoulder. Everything is correct. I just used a sneaky alternative method of getting there. If you were inspecting the garment in hopes of reverse engineering it you might notice that there are only 5 decreases along the armscye edge where there ought to be 6. But for everyone else’s eyes this fudge is completely invisible! And completely inconsequential if you’re going to be knitting from the pattern.

*please excuse the crappy cell phone photos. The lighting on the bus is not great. At least I was doing this in the morning not in the dark of the evening commute.

castle-y

I have this thing about photo shoots with castles in them. I think everyone loves castles when they’re a kid, I just never got over that.* In the past I’ve dressed up as the fairytale princess for Bewitching Hour

tall with chapel

This isn’t exactly a castle. It’s actually a little chapel out in the woods at the Trapp ski resort. But I think it qualifies.

And before that, way back for one of my first published designs (kingdom) there was this castle in Irasburg

blue castle virtical

That’s a private residence, believe it or not…

I’ve been working on this new design, and while I can’t tell you anything about the design itself. I can tell you that I got some really awesome pictures of it here:

Montpelier fire tower

It’s the old fire tower at the top of the hill in Montpelier. There’s a similar one in Burlington too. I don’t know what it is about the vermont landscape that makes people want to build castles. But whatever it is, I like it!

*ok, seriously, who doesn’t love castles. Anyone?

The power of wool…

Neil and I went for a lovely (if chilly) hike on Saturday. The high for the day was about 15F but once we got moving this really wasn’t much of a problem. When the wind is low I happily hike wearing just a heavy sweater and light gloves*. I tend to take my hat and mittens off within the first 10 minutes because I need the ventilation…

laraway lookout

The hike up to Laraway mountain lookout** is one that we do frequently. It’s a nice 5.6 mile trip perfect for a half day or a wintery day when the sun sets early. This time Neil decided we should have tea at the lookout. He loves to make tea at the break on a winter hike. There’s really nothing quite like sipping steaming hot tea when surrounded by snow and cold and gorgeous views.

laraway tea

Wait, what does this have to do with the powers of wool? Hang on, I’m getting there. Unfortunately in the process of making tea his hands got all wet. Do I need to point out that at 15F you REALLY don’t want to be wandering around with wet hands and bare skin all exposed? And all he had for his hand were gortex hiking gloves. After about 3 minutes his fingers HURT from the cold, so I offered him my wool mittens. At 5 minutes his hands were already much happier and by 15 minutes he was asking why he didn’t have a pair of wool mittens of his very own***. Halfway down the mountain he was so happy he requested that I swap out his sock request for a pair of mittens.

The moral of this story appears to be that woolen mittens are The Best. Better than the real hiking gloves that did squat for his hands. And so wonderful that he wants them even more than a new pair of socks (and boy oh boy does he need new socks)

Wool: Keeping hikers warm even when wet since, um, forever?

*this heavy sweater and those light gloves. Projects linked for easy reference.
**It’s not actually the summit. That’s half a mile further up. But the summit is tree covered and the lookout is gorgeous, so we (and many other people) just stop there…
***correct answer is: because the dogs ate your last pair and I didn’t make you another

behind the scenes

I’m plugging quietly away on the boyden cardi. I’m working on the plain front first, which is easy and pretty mindless. I did tweak the armscye shaping by adding one more decrease. This is a big reason why I’ve never used a sample knitter for my initial project. I’m 85-95% accurate in the first write up, but I need to knit everything to be certain of it. Also a sample knitter might have gotten all the way to the neck decreases before realizing the cable chart needed to be moved… (I may never let myself live that one down)

In the mean time there is SWATCHING going on behind the scenes. There are a bunch (um, 3? 4?) publication calls right about now that I’d like to submit ideas for. On top of that I have a few indie designs in the works which I’m pretty excited about. Swatching, sketching, and brushing up on some specialized skills allows me to foster the excitement for the next design while I’m in the fairly-simple-knitting stage of the current design.

just a sock

Yes there may be some gansey inspired goodness in my future. And to be properly inspired I should learn about the originals. Right? Right. Oh, and there’s also a sock.

Actually, it’s the second sock. And given that I cast on the first sock last friday I’m feeling pretty good about this pair. It’s a dead easy K3, p1 ribbing and standard heel flap. But the yarn is oh so pretty. It’s colinette jitterbug which is a fat squooshy sock yarn so I’m using 2.5mm (US 1 1/2) needles for it and the cuff is only 60 stitches around. Between all that and the fact that I’ve finally learned I prefer my sock cuffs about 5 inches long I’m sure I know why these are knitting up so quickly!

Inspired

Way, waaaaaay back I was inspired by two posts from Grumperina, one about earrings, and the other about necklaces. (waaay back before pinterest, hey did you know I’m on pinterest now?)

Anyway, the ideas percolated in my head for over a year. Then about 6 months ago I went out and bought half the supplies I needed* at a craft store.

supplies

But not the wood for the frame. I originally thought I was going to do something awesome and rustic using natural tree branches. Yeah, that never happened. So I finally broke down and got some balsam wood for the frame. While this is the same idea as in the links I have my own take on the project. My version uses less glue and more staples. We all have our preferred shortcuts!

frame

Using balsam wood was interesting, did you know you can push the nails in with your fingers? No hammer required!

attach cloth

I used counted cross stitch fabric for the canvas, I figured the little holes would make it easy to hang the earrings. I trimmed the corners so it wrapped around the frame just right and stapled it into place. I put tiny cup hooks along the bottom edge for my necklaces, bracelets, and hoop earrings.

organizer hooks

Tada! I love this display so much. I love wearing earrings but frequently forget to put them on in the morning. With this display hanging right next to my bathroom mirror I don’t forget anymore.

jewelry organizer

And it’s pretty! Bathroom decorations are something I struggle with (because there’s always the chance the cats will knock something into the toilet) but I think this qualifies as a decoration as well as a storage solution, right?

organizer2

right! Now the only question is: why did I wait so long to do this?

organizer1

*including lots of french hooks for earrings, because while those are my favorite only about half my earrings used them. After a little time with a package of empty hooks and a pair of needle nosed pliers ALL my earrings use french hooks. Anyone need some slightly used earring loops?

extra hooks

baked ziti

If, like me, you’re trying to eat as much home grown food as possible, and as little pre-prepared commercially processed food as you can, it’s important to have some quick meals on hand. These are for nights when you’re running late or just don’t feel like cooking. My home made pasta sauce is AMAZING and I don’t need an excuse to eat it, however it also fills this spot in my kitchen. After all pasta and red sauce is so quick to make.

baked ziti

But this may be an even better use. Baked ziti, made with a jar of pasta sauce and a jar of tomato chutney. The chutney is sweeter than red sauce. It’s chunkier, and has raisins and spices in it that you wouldn’t put in pasta sauce. It adds depth and intrigue* to the baked ziti. But it’s still a wicked quick dish. Boil pasta, heat sauce, mix in a half cup of marscapone** (or sour cream, or cream cheese, or whatever you have in your fridge). Combine the noodles and sauce. Top with sliced cheese (cheddar in this case) and bread crumbs. Bake until the cheese on top is melty.

So easy and so quick. Also a pretty good example of using canned foods which is another thing I try to keep on top of.***

*ok, this sounds pretentious. But seriously, wouldn’t you be INTRIGUED if you were eating a baked ziti dish and then suddenly: bang! a raisin!
**leftover from christmas baking season. I do not usually have marscapone just lying around in my fridge.
***anyone have a good use for all those extra jars of pickles? No?