Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter White

Lately there has been a lot of white around, both outside...

And inside...

I finished knitting these mittens a couple of weeks ago.  The yarn is Knit Picks Telemark 100% wool.  Needles:  US3 dpns.  For some time I had been looking for something to do with this yarn that has been in my stash for too long.  The natural white yarn kept saying "Aran" to me, so I decided to make a pair of mittens using motifs from The Harmony Guide to Aran and Fair Isle Knitting.  This was my first attempt at designing my own mitten pattern.  The process was both fun and challenging for me.  I know I definitely learned as I went along.  On a second pair, I would do a few things differently, but overall I'm satisfied with them.  I like to call them the Makem and Clancy Mittens in honor of Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers, traditional Irish folk singers, who always performed in lovely creamy Aran sweaters.  I've donated the mittens to Access Arts as part of their fundraising efforts.

And one last bit of winter white - some creamy white handspun yarn which I finished up on New Year's Eve.  This yarn started out as a pound of Blue Faced Leicester combed top from Yarn Barn.  This roving was so easy and fun to spin, I was sorry to use it up.  I spun a soft single, then made a two ply yarn.  After washing, I ended up with 645 yards of soft bouncy yarn which could be worn next to the skin without irritation.  Now I'm trying to decide if I want to dye half of it, perhaps a medium blue, and do some color pattern knitting.  There are some appealing hat patterns in a new book I've borrowed from the library - Quick Nordic Knits by Ann-Mari Nilsson.  

Of course, dyeing the yarn would be straying from the "white" theme, but what's the harm in that?  In a couple of months nature too will stray from her white theme when she opens up her spring paintbox.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rise and Shine!

It's the start of a brand new year.  What are your goals and wishes?  I hope 2011 is filled with good things for all of us.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Two Spins and A Knit

Two spins and a knit - what does that mean?  Well, those are the three fiber projects that I've completed in December so far.  

For the past few weeks I've been concentrating on finishing up a few works-in-progress before the end of the year.  The yarn below is a 2 ply blend of merino wool and tencel.  It had  been in my spinning project basket for over a year.  Mostly I carried the fiber and a spindle around with me and spun it on the go.  It's been lovely to spin but I decided "Enough is enough."  It was time to wrap up this project.  So it's plied, tied, and washed.  Very soft with some sheen from the tencel.  I think I'll probably weave with it.

Next came 8 oz. of lustrous tussah silk.  Tussah silk is derived from wild silkworms and is usually a soft honey or tan color.  (White silk comes from the bombyx silkworms who are raised in captivity.)  Again this was a delightful fiber to spin but I only worked on it now and then.  Happy to say, it also is all spun up!  Two skeins of soft, luxurious goodness.  I can see it as warp for an elegant woven scarf, using a bombyx silk yarn as weft.

Finally, one knitting project came off the needles over the weekend.  These mittens are worked in Knit Picks Telemark yarn on US 3 double point needles.  I've had the yarn for several years and wanted to move it out of the stash bin.  The color and feel said "Aran" to me, so I selected a few cable patterns from The Harmony Guide to Aran and Fair Isle Knitting, and tried my hand at designing a mitten.  It was definitely a learning experience.   With several balls of Telemark still in my stash and a few ideas for fine-tuning my pattern, I know there is another pair in my future.  These mittens will be donated to Access Arts for fundraising.

So there are my two spins and a knit, all finished up before December 31st.  I have one other spinning project in progress that I'd like to complete before then - one pound of some creamy Blue Faced Leicester combed top.  It spins so effortlessly - a fine soft single. I'm over halfway through it.  In fact, I think it's time for me to head on over to the wheel and get busy.

Anyone else trying to finish a few things before 2011 rolls in?  Have fun with your fiber projects and enjoy the holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Frost Flowers

Winter has arrived all at once - blustery gusting wind, swirling billows of snow, and icy temperatures that made me run right back inside for a thicker coat and woolly gloves.  It could have been oh-so easy to complain and moan about the miserable weather.  But look at the gift winter has left on the window of our front door!  Peering at the world through those frost flowers changed my view of the day and of the season.  What other surprises are in store?  Will I have my eyes and heart open to see and receive them?

Here are several haiku by the poet Basho to celebrate winter's arrival as we approach the longest nights of the year.  

Awakened at midnight
by the sound of the water jar
cracking from the ice.

Borrowing sleep
from the scarecrow's sleeves
midnight frost.

Hello!  Light the fire!
I'll bring inside
a lovely bright ball of snow.

Winter solitude -
in a world of one color 
the sound of wind.

Winter has the upper hand now, so brew yourself a cup of tea.  Get snug under an afghan and enjoy a good book or a bit of knitting.  Make the most of the season! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Endings and Beginnings

Getting back into my car yesterday at the library, I noticed the trees at the edge of the parking lot.  I had to jump out again with my camera to get a few shots.  Aren't these leaves wonderful?  I love how the bright green along the veins feathers into the yellow - very artful, could be the inspiration for a textile project, perhaps some kitchen towels or a pair of mittens.  I don't know what kind of trees they are but they are definitely one of the few that still are displaying colorful leaves before their winter's rest.

These chubby boys are two of the garlic bulbs that we broke apart and planted on Saturday.  The variety is Bogatyr.  I've never grown it before but it gets great reviews for both flavor and long storage from many of the gardening folks.

We also planted German Extra Hardy and Pink Music, both saved from our own 2010 crop.  Garlic needs to be planted in the autumn.  So while most of the garden real estate is quiet, the cloves of garlic are tucked in the ground, given a light feeding, and covered with mulch to keep them cozy.  Hopefully the cloves will settle in and begin to send out their roots even in the cold months ahead while I'm inside weaving, spinning and browsing seed catalogues.

So that's how it goes.  Some things are shutting down, finishing up, getting ready to rest for a few months, while others are just beginning, taking those first few steps toward a new season of life.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's a Woman's Prerogative to Change Her Mind

I had intended to take a break from blogging for a while to concentrate on some things I'd really like to finish up.  Well, you know how the unexpected has a way of popping up.  Early the other morning I was hanging laundry in the backyard before the sun was up over the trees.  When I bent over to pick up the basket, I noticed how the patch of clover under the clothesline was dusted with frost.  Not enough frost to wither the tender leaves but just enough to give a magical effect.  See how the edges of the leaves are outlined with white?  It made me catch my breath for a moment, that completely random artistry of nature.

The Frost Is All Over

As long as I had my camera, I headed down to the pond.  Not much frost effect there but I did see that the clouds were perfectly reflected in the still water.

Pond Clouds

Now I know neither of these things are especially remarkable, but in less than a half an hour, the sun had melted that dainty frost off of the clover and the clouds had moved on to wherever they were heading.  And that is what I thought was so special - little fleeting bits of beauty that I wouldn't have witnessed if I hadn't been out hanging laundry.  Keep your eyes open.  You never know what you'll see.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I'm going to take a break from my blog for a while.  I have a few projects that I'd like to focus my attention on, so I'll leave you for now with a poem and warm wishes for the season of celebrating which is just around the corner.  Take care!

Bird Medicine

Let me lean on you, goldfinch.
Your flashing wings the crutches
To steady my halting footsteps
Along uncertain paths.

Trusty white-throated sparrow 
Welcome back from your summer sojourn.
Your lilting "Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody"
An aspirin of melody
To ease the aches
Of a bruised human heart.

Come chickadee, nuthatch,
Titmouse, cardinal -
Cool my stinging eyes
With visions of your migrations,
Your courtships and fledging offspring,
Your survival through winter's cold fist.

And you, barred owl, you
Will brew for me an evening elixir,
A honeyed nightcap of hoots, coos and chuckles,
So soothing, so seductive
My frantic brain must surrender
To the beckoning downy nest of sleep.

Only a moment now
Before the cares of a long day
Yield to night.
Just enough time
To sigh a drowsy thanks
To the creatures of feather and song,
Physicians of the wing.