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Happiness and sadness

15 Apr

bonnet

I write for a living. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that on this blog before, but I feel like it’s important to mention right now, because it partially explains my absence from posting recently. I’ve been sitting here in the snowy mountains, continuing to knit up a storm while winter sort of petered out prematurely around me.

I’m a public relations writer at a university, the same one where I graduated four years ago after receiving what I believe is the best journalism education in the country. I write a lot of different things, including articles, magazine features, simple newsletters for campus, etc. I love my work and I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to get paid to write, but lately it’s left me with little interest in writing in my spare time, even on this blog, which I also love.

But I knew I’d come back to it eventually, when I had something to say. Sadly, today I do have something to say.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for the past couple years, you’ll know that I knit a lot of baby stuff “just in case.” I finally have a real little person to knit for now, because my husband an I are welcoming a nephew into the world this summer. I’m extremely excited and I’ve been planning very special little knits for the new man in my life, even though he’ll live in Southern California, where knitters dare not tread.

Over the weekend I knit this Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap, a pattern I’ve been in love with for years. I used a dark blue cotton/acrylic and some self-striping sock yarn to make what I think is the cutest little bonnet ever. It’s incredibly soft and light, but feels cool and luxurious in your hand. I took this little bonnet to work with me today, partly because I wanted to take some photos in nice light at my office, and partly because I just hadn’t finished fawning over it yet.

As a former journalist and someone who still works with the media, I keep a news tab open on my computer pretty much all day. This afternoon one word took over my news and Twitter feeds: Boston. I’m a big fan of running, so I was paying attention to the marathon, but my world kind of stopped today when I realized the gravity and horror of the bombings that took place at America’s oldest, most prestigious race.

I have been saddened lately that every time I read the news or turn on the television someone is talking about another mass shooting, stabbing, bombing or other attack. But, I’m sorry to say, I’ve become desensitized to it over the years. I was 14 when 9/11 happened, even younger during Columbine. I’ve grown up in an America of mass violence on a horrifying scale, and although it is sad, it’s become the America I know.

But today something snapped. I’m always saddened by tragedies like this, even if I’m not shocked. But when I read the news about Boston, saw the photos, watched the videos and heard people crying in terror, I instinctively reached over to my desk and grabbed this little bonnet.

I suddenly became scared that my nephew and the my future children will be born into this America.

Many people have said today that the good people always outnumber the bad, and that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that I found myself crying at my desk today as I thought of the happiness of the runners, their families and the bystanders who were enjoying the Boston Marathon, and then the sadness and fear that overtook the event and always will mar our memory of this day and the race.

I now live in a country were you can’t safely go to a movie theater, watch a race on a street, go shopping in a mall or even attend school, not only as a teenager or adult, but as a small child.

I can pour all the love in the world into these tiny stitches and hope that my new nephew will feel it, but I am helpless to protect the people most important to me from the extreme violence that has overtaken us.

My brother-in-law, the little nephew’s father, is a sheriff’s deputy in a dangerous county in California. He goes to work every day to protect people and make his community a safer place. I vote for politicians I believe will work to help us stem violence in our country. I listen to my stepdaughter and try to help her work through her inevitable emotions of angst, isolation and disappointment. We keep no weapons in the home, so if talking doesn’t work, no options of mass violence are readily available to express those emotions.

I feel my family does all that it can to prevent these tragedies from happening, but nothing changes the fact that this morning that little bonnet made me happy, and tonight it makes me sad.

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5 projects from this knitter’s queue

27 Apr

Like many knitters, my eyes are often bigger than my stash. I have a huge collection of patterns – downloaded online and purchased in magazines and books – that I desperately want to knit for myself, but I just don’t have the time/yarn/money. Here are five of my favorite queued items just waiting for me to get my stuff together. I’ll start with the head and work my way down:

#1 Year of the Rabbit Hat, Betsy Farquhar


As the proud adopted mother of a house rabbit, I love all things bunny-related. This hat pattern came out in 2011 (the Chinese year of the rabbit) and has been in my queue ever since. It would only cost $16 for the yarn, but the problem here is that I need two sets of needles I don’t have, which would cost an additional $16. That makes this a $32 hat, which is just a bit steep for one small project. As I gradually acquire the right needles, this will move from my queue to my current projects. Link to pattern.

#2 Stripe Study Shawl, Veera Välimäki


Here’s another project that wouldn’t cost too much to make. I already have the needles and the yarn would only run me about $12. The problem here is time and commitment. Shawls are beautiful and cushy, and I love nothing more than having something to snuggle with, but they require A LOT of knitting. It’s a big undertaking to start a shawl, especially one that is entirely garter stitch. This beauty is 63″ across at it’s longest point, and with fingering-weight yarn those rows are a bit longer than I can bring myself to think about right now. I will definitely make this shawl, but I need to work up to it and come to terms with the idea that it may be a long-term project. Link to pattern.

#3 Larch Cardigan, Amy Christoffers


Isn’t it beautiful? I adore cardigans, and the simple design and structure of this pattern gets me daydreaming about crisp fall afternoons with crunchy leaves under my feet and a warm chai in my hand. Perfection. The only problem is I have a 40″ chest circumference, and that lovely drapey design of the cardigan doesn’t transfer so well onto my busty frame. Years of experience have taught me to be wary of anything with a roomy look, because I’ll fill that extra space out and be miserable. Since I’ve started running again I hope I can slim down a little and maybe lose a couple of inches around my bust line, which would make this cardigan a more realistic design for my frame. Here’s to hoping. Link to pattern.

#4 Dimorphous Mittens, Miriam L. Felton


These neat little mittens actually have two parts: The inner mitten, knit in fingering-weight yarn, and the outer, button-on mitten, knit in sport or DK-weight yarn. This means I could knit a single inner mitten and several outer mittens to change the color combinations and overall look. I don’t have a good reason to explain why I haven’t knit these yet. They’ve been in my queue forever, I don’t really want any mittens more than I want these, and they wouldn’t be expensive to make. This project just keeps taking the back burner to my other knitting whimsies. Poor mittens. I’ll make them someday. Maybe. Link to pattern.

#5 Ellington Socks, Cookie A


The Ellington Socks is one of the first sock patterns I bought after I knit my very first pair of socks last year. I quickly realized I had bit off more than I could chew. Cookie A is a sock genius, and just like you need to know more than basic addition to understand what Einstein was talking about, I needed to log several more hours learning how to knit socks before I could understand Cookie A’s charts. The thing about Cookie A is that there are several things going on all at once with her patterns, so you really need to be vigilant and have a firm grasp of basic sock construction to identify if you’ve taken a wrong step somewhere. Now that I have developed those skills and even knit another of her patterns (Cusp), I’m just waiting for the perfect yarn for these Ellington Socks. I want something with that hand-dyed look in a brilliant raspberry (like pictured), peacock blue, or grass-green color. The selection of vegan sock yarns is pretty dismal, so I’ll continue to keep my eyes peeled. I know I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than spectacular yarn for this spectacular pattern. I’ve definitely held it on a pedestal for that past year, and I’m not ready to pull it down just yet. Link to pattern.

What patterns are in your queue? I’m always looking to get distracted from my plans.

River Ripple Hat Pattern

20 Mar

I’m happy to announce that I’ve added a new free pattern to my site! The River Ripple Hat pattern (available by clicking on the image to the left or visiting the Patterns page) is finally complete!

The idea for this hat has been brewing for a long time. I knew I wanted something featuring garter stitch and cables with a brim worked flat then picked up along the edge.

This yarn was originally meant for a TARDIS hat, but after staring at it for months and using my successful Rose Red hat (knit in the same yarn) as an inspiration, I decided to knit a water-inspired hat for Spring.

This pattern is simple to work if you can knit cables, in-the-round, and take the initiative to find the length and fit that works best for your head. Because the pattern only includes instructions for a standard adult women’s size, a knitter looking to make a smaller or larger version will need to use their own judgement to adjust the gauge. That being said, any intermediate knitter should have not problem following the instructions and chart.

One of my favorite details of this hat, other than the way the simple four-stitch cable *pops* out of the garter-stitch background of the brim, is the fancy rhinestone buckle.

This buckle comes from a vintage sample card my mom bought me at an estate sale years ago. I’ve been looking for reasons to use it forever, and although my husband favored a simple button for the tab, I couldn’t resist adding some sparkle. Besides, this is a classy buckle. In 1951, this buckle cost $8. Calculate inflation into that and I put a shiny, $70 buckle on my hat, which is a testament to just how much I love this hat.

The pattern specifies that you can use any large buckle or button, but I’m so pleased that my hat features a classic detail that has some history. If I weren’t already married I could wear this as my something old and something blue!

I recommend using Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted Cotton in the Mediterranean colorway for this pattern, but any soft worsted-weight yarn with good stitch definition will work.

I hope you enjoy the pattern, and please visit the Ravelry pattern page to post any comments or questions.

I’m still here

19 Mar

I know I’ve been missing for awhile, but that’s because I’ve been knitting some socks and a shawl, and also designing this delightful blue hat. More posts and a pattern coming soon!

Cold-Ear Remedies

12 Feb

I made my own Holiday Lights Tam after my mom's was such a success.

I’ve had a sock project on my needles for awhile, but something strange happened in the past month that really threw a wrench in the works: It snowed. A lot.

I’ve lived in Montana for a long time. Long enough that snow in January shouldn’t take me by surprise, but that’s exactly what happened this year. So, while I desperately wanted to work on my bamboo lace socks in preparation of spring, my sad little ears kept asking for hats. And really, who am I to say no to cold ears?

Over the past month four hats have come off my needles, and one didn’t even stay with me.  (My mom loves her Garden Party Lights Tam, by the way).

Just in the past two weeks I supplemented by beautiful Rose Red cabled slouchy hat with my very own Holiday Lights Tam (which I call my Scarlet Beaded Tam) and a simple blue-green beret using yarn leftover from my dad’s Christmas Cobblestone sweater.

My Farmer's Market Beret features a charming vintage button detail.

My Farmer’s Market Beret is made using Hannah Fettig’s Early Morning Beret pattern and features a vintage button from a collection my mom gave me more than a year ago. As a full-sized beret this hat is much slouchier than my tam or my Rose Red hat, but by this summer my hair will have grown out even more and I think this hat will look great and keep my ears warm when I hit the early morning farmer’s market by the river.

Since I finished my Scarlet Beaded Tam yesterday I haven’t looked at a single hat pattern on Ravelry, but I have completed a lace repeat on my socks. I think it’s safe to say that my ears are satisfied, which is good because it started to warm up a bit this week I feel confident that spring will in fact arrive soon. I’d better have some charming lace socks ready to go when it gets here.

My Scent of Lavender Socks.

I am working down the leg of the second sock at the moment, so hopefully I’ll have a completed pair by the end of next weekend. I love the pattern and I love this yarn (courtesy of my brother-in-law). Can’t wait to wear these with some cute shoes!

Project details

Scarlet Beaded Tam

Pattern: Holiday Lights Tam, Catherine Shields, Interweave Knits Winter 2011

Yarn: Cascade Ultra Pima, 220 yards, 100% pima cotton, colorway: 3713, purchased at Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula, Mont.

Needles: US 3 40″ circular (magic-loop for brim), US 5 16″ circular, US 5 40″ circular (magic-loop for crown)

Other: 360 size 6/0 Czech glass seed beads, color: black diamond, purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics

Farmer’s Market Beret

Pattern: Early Morning Beret, Hannah Fettig, knitbot

Yarn: Berroco Comfort, 210 yards, 50% acrylic / 50% nylon, colorway: Honeyberry Heather

Needles: US 7 40″ circular needles (magic loop method)

Other: 1″ vintage button, mother-of-pearl color

Scent of Lavender Socks

Pattern: The Scent of Lavender, Stephanie van der Linden, Around the World in Knitted Socks

Yarn: Quo Vadis Handspun San Bamboo, 328 yards, 75% bamboo / 25% nylon, colorway: The Lost City

Needles: US 1 32″ circular (magic loop method)

Sorry for the short post, but as you can see, I’ve been busy knitting.

New Look, New Hat

30 Jan

This tam was the first project I've ever completed using beading.

This week I used a new knitting technique and gave my blog a makeover. I’m slow to accept change most of the time, but this is just refreshing.

The new knitting technique was part of my Garden Party Lights Tam, made from the Holiday Lights Tam pattern published in Interweave Knits Winter 2011.

Though “Holiday Lights” was a very fitting name for the golden hat featured in the magazine, I felt that my green-and-blue version, knit on the cusp of spring, better represents a sort of garden-party, crocus-bud kind of feeling.

Using the beading technique for the first time was interesting, but very easy to get the hang of. This technique involved stringing beads onto your yarn before knitting, then placing the beads on certain stitches for the pattern. This particular hat highlights the beads using a slipped-stitch bow pattern, which to me makes the beads look like little droplets of water sliding down a green bulb.

The yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima (DK / 220 yards) in the Olive colorway, and has been hanging around my stash for nearly a year now. I purchased it at Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula, but haven’t been pleased with any particular pattern I tried for it. I knew I wanted to use it for a beret or tam, an after several non-starts, this pattern seemed like the perfect fit. The yardage was also perfect for this project, and I have a little chunk left over that will go into my hexipuff stash.

The beads were purchased at my local Jo-Ann Fabrics and are Blue Moon 6/0 seed beads in a blue/turquoise color. For less than $3 I was able to buy enough beads for two hats, with each hat requiring 360 beads.

This hat will not be staying with me, although I hope to knit one for myself in colors more to my taste. This particular hat will be arriving in the mailbox of some lucky lady within the next week, and I hope she loves it.

As far as the new look for my blog, I wanted to spice things up a bit and draw more attention to some of the extra links I provide. I hope to add more original designs to my Patterns page, and the links under More Blogs are my favorite source of humor and inspiration.

I hope you all like the new look! Coming up: The Scent of Lavender.

Rose Red

22 Jan

This hat is a bit slouchy, and the cable decreases to the center.

I’ve had garter stitch on my mind lately. Garter stitch is the most basic pattern in knitting, and is usually the first thing any fledgling knitter learns. The simplicity of knitting every row, front and back, to create a fabric with little horizontal bumpy ridges, is the equivalent of crawling when it comes to knitting techniques. I believe that because of this, many knitters are happy to leave garter stitch behind as their skills develop, and will go years choosing patterns with little or no garter stitch. Garter stitch is just for beginners, right?

Wrong.

After spending a few years leaving garter stitch in the dust, I can’t get it out of my mind. Because it’s so simple, it gives patterns a classic, almost retro feel. The texture is soft and stretchy, and the little ridges can feel delightful against your skin. Just about every pattern I’ve been interested in lately has at least a little garter stitch.

In this garter-stitch craze, I stumbled across the Rosebud hat pattern by Brooklyn Tweed designer Jared Flood, and is part of the Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2011 design line. I knit Jared Flood’s Cobblestone sweater pattern for my dad for Christmas (another pattern using garter stitch!), and was very impressed with the quality of the pattern’s publication. I was pleased again with the simple but detailed instructions included for the Rosebud hat.

From start to finish, my Rose Red hat (named for my favorite fairytale character from my childhood) took only two days and about 140 yds of the Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton my mom gave me for Christmas. The colorway is True Red, and I think it suits this pattern perfectly.

Rose Red is slouchy enough to be a stylish accessory, but fits perfectly to keep my ears warm.

I originally planned on knitting the longer, slouchy version of the hat, but my yarn ran out too early. However, I have a small head, and the smaller size fits me perfectly with a little bit of slouch in the back.

Next to my TARDIS socks, this is probably my favorite knitted item. I think the pattern, yarn and color are perfect, and I’m so excited to wear my new hat everywhere.

I would recommend any Brooklyn Tweed pattern. The quality of design is fantastic, and every item looks like a modern, stylish take on a classic theme – like a long, meandering cable braid in a sea of garter stitch.