Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season's Greetings!

Warmest wishes to everyone for good cheer, joy, peace and love.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Loose Ends

Today a short report on a knitting project I completed over the weekend - a new pair of fingerless gloves for myself, using some jumperweight Jamieson & Smith 2 ply wool that I had in my stash. They only took a couple of weeks, knitting mainly in the evenings for an hour or so. See all those loose ends on the inside-out glove? They are the result of changing colors many times to make the pretty little Fair Isle motifs on the right side. I spent several evenings weaving in all those yarn ends - not my favorite thing to do.

But I tackled those ends as soon as the knitting was done. I was eager to wear my mitts!

The pattern, Knab Fingerless Gloves, is from Ann Feitelson's book The Art of Fair Isle Knitting, using seven colors of the jumperweight wool and US size 1 1/2 double point needles. I made a few minor modifications to fit my hands and suit my own tastes. Today is the winter solstice, shortest day of the year. I'm celebrating by wearing my comfy, colorful mitts - and no loose ends inside or out!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Swimming Today

The temperature was a nippy 14 degrees this morning when I stepped out on the back porch to watch the sun rising behind the trees on the far side of our pond. The light sifting through the trees and casting gleaming streaks across the ice made me catch my breath. It's true - I'm an easy target for being captured by nature's beauty, but the view from the back porch this morning just seemed like the perfect expression of a winter's day, even though there is no snow on the ground. The delicate early morning sunlight showed every little object to its best advantage, right down to the frostiness of the air.

Our river birches were certainly looking their best. Now that all leaves have departed, you can easily see the papery bark on their trunks. That texture really speaks to fiber-oriented people. You just have to step up close and touch those curling shreds, examine the lines and traces on the inside surface, a secret code to decipher.

And how about autumn leaves frozen in the icy water, their colors still dusky for a little while, one last memory of the year's growing season, before they darken and decompose. Some of the leaves this morning were dusted with a sugary frosting.

I'm a four-season person. I love to watch the seasons shift and enjoy the treasures offered by each one. One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, seems to spend much time watching these things too. In her poem Messenger from her collection of poems, Thirst, she puts it perfectly -

"Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be

Best wishes for a beautiful day for all.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Never Too Late...

... to be thankful for the riches in your life.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend I had time to finish knitting something for myself - this warm, cuddly cowl.

As I was working the last few stitches, I kept thinking about the special people and critters who contributed in one way or another to the final product. I'd like to give them some recognition and thanks.

First off, the beautiful cowl pattern Buttermilk Sky is an original design by my sister Bonnie. I think it's the first cowl I've ever made. I wasn't sure how the furry yarn would work with the stitch pattern, so it was a pleasant surprise to see how the yarn and texture complemented each other. I think Buttermilk Sky would pair beautifully with many yarns. The stitch pattern is easy to learn and the knitting goes quickly, so there's plenty of time to make a couple for holiday gifts if you're in need of gift ideas.

The yarn is some that I spun earlier this year. It's a 50/50 blend of my angora rabbits' wool with some fine fawn-colored alpaca fleece. My friends, Bonnie and Carl of ABC Ranch, blended the fibers and processed them into a lovely spinner's roving that required absolutely no preparation on my part. All I had to do was sit at my spinning wheel and let the fibers glide through my fingers. The resulting 2 ply yarn was lofty and soft and measured 13 wraps per inch. I used a US5 circular needle which yielded a plush fabric with lots of halo.

Of course, there would be no yarn and no cowl whatsoever without the beautiful wool of my three angora rabbits. Each one is a different color and has his own personality. All three are friendly and easy to work with. Let me introduce them.


Tai Pae

And Tobin

Thanks, woolly boys!

So, in this one simple knitting project, I have lots to be thankful for. As if that isn't enough, the weather forecasters are predicting some cold temperatures in the next few days. I won't have to wait too long to try out my cowl. Life is good!