Friday, November 30, 2012

Lacunae Mitts

These mitts came off the needles this week and just in time.  Colder weather is settling in, and I fear I have to return the pair of mitts I borrowed from my daughter.

Lacunae Mitts.  This is my second Knitspot pattern in a week.  Anne Hanson strikes again.

Lacunae - from the Latin, air spaces.  The name takes me back to high school Latin - a dead language that is still so alive.

Try on these mitts, and, as if by magic, the air spaces appear.  This wonderful little trick is achieved by a clever combination of cables and ribbing.  As always Anne's pattern is well-written and includes both charts and written instructions.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Edna, colorway Moon Shadow. This DK weight blend of Polwarth wool and silk is currently one of my favorites - durable wool with a bit of shimmer.  As luck would have it this pattern includes a matching hat.  I may have enough leftover yarn to knit the hat.  If not, there's more yarn where this came from.

It's that time of year.  If you're out and about first thing in the morning, you'll see a world transformed by frost.  Colors glisten and take on a new hue.  I captured this week's color inspiration on one such chilly morning.

From black to blue-gray.  Magical.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Since I'm not traveling any more this year, I've somehow convinced myself that I'll have endless hours of knitting time.  For one reason or another my endless hours have evaporated.  

Or I haven't made the most of my knitting time.  Normally I'm well prepared when I head out the door, but yesterday I took leave of my senses when I left with only one knitting project.  I was on my way to an appointment that was going to be short - in and out without much time for knitting.  

Instead the appointment went long - very long.  At first I wasn't dismayed.  I was a bit irritated when I thought of all the other things that weren't getting done, but I had my knitting.  All would be well.  I would knit my way through the appointment, and that's just what I did. I knit so much I finished the project. And then I had to sit and wait . . . wondering what other people do when they have to wait for appointments and kicking myself for not grabbing that second project. I'm blaming my temporary lapse on the full moon.

I did find time for this project over the long weekend.

Woodstacking by Anne Hanson.

This design has plenty of action without being too complicated - just enough to keep things interesting.

Short and sweet.

And the finished product is full of texture . . . tiny cables coupled with moss stitch.

I'm in the process of sampling this yarn base - a DK weight organic merino.  So far I'm loving it.  It's soft and squishy . . . it might be a keeper.

To complete the test run I'm going to be wearing this cowl, but I might have to make a couple more.  Just in time for wintery weather, just in time for holiday gifting.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Work Day

The Monday after a long holiday weekend can be rough.  I divided my time between relaxing and working, so I hope the new work week doesn't bite me too hard.  

I also did much more driving than I had originally intended.  Road trips to central Massachusetts and New Hampshire - hours and hours of driving.  If only I had been a passenger.  Instead I listened to the same episode of Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! so many times that on the final replay I actually got all the answers right.

To ease into the week I have a few random bits to share for . . . 


~ These days I keep an electronic calendar, but that doesn't mean I've gotten rid of paper all together.  I still keep a paper calendar by my desk so that with just a glance I can see what the date is.  Or on really bad days I can figure out what day of the week it is.  Knitwear designer Becky Herrick has put together this lovely calendar with seasonal pictures from Vermont.  It's on my holiday list.

~  Sweaters.  500 Sweaters.  Loes Veenstra has been knitting sweaters since 1955 - over 500 to be exact.  The sweaters are documented in a book, and to celebrate her achievement there was a sweater parade.  Be sure to watch the parade - so many colors and designs.  How many sweaters have you knit in your life?  I haven't kept track, but I know it's not 500.

~ I'm all for recycling, so I was intrigued to discover this pedal-powered mechanism for recycling discarded knits.  There's a bit of exercise involved, and it even includes a feature for taking the kinks out of the once knit yarn.  Extremely clever.

That's enough distraction for one day.  It's Monday, and there's work to be done.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Feast Day

The day after a holiday can be challenging, but I've given myself permission to ease back into the routine.  After many, many hours of cooking I think it's well-deserved.

From the ingredients.

To the cooking.

To the eating.

It was an enjoyable day with family and friends - a good reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

We topped off the day with our own parade.

The pie parade.

The day wasn't without its slight imperfections.  I realized after we ate that I'd forgotten to light the candles.  And we experienced a significant shortage of serving spoons.  I have a hunch they're lurking in the dust under a bed.  Teenage boys have been known to shovel food, and serving spoons are the most efficient way to do it.  

After a day filled with plenty, my only hope is that the leftovers last the weekend.

To help me recover from the holiday.

A fun new project in progress.  I think this calls for more coffee and pie.

Unless we get snow, November is a gray month.  The trees are bare; the sky is overcast.  There's not much color.  These flowers brighten things up and remind me of the colors of the season.  My color inspiration for the week.

Cheery red mixed with a healthy dose of yellow and orange.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Tomorrow is a holiday here in the States.  People have been preparing for days.  Lines are long, traffic is tangled, tempers are short. 

I think I spend more time gathering all the ingredients for the feast than I do actually cooking it.  I've made my last grocery store run.  If we don't have it by now, we don't need it.  At this point I'm a bit weary of the celebration, and it hasn't even started yet.  I knew I would be feeling this way, so I devised a plan for a little pick-me-up.

A new yarn base to go with a new pattern.  A little holiday treat.

But I promised myself it would have to wait until I finish my work for today.  It's pie baking day, and the list is long.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Magical Mitts

As we enter the season of traditions, it's only fitting that I keep one of my personal traditions for this time of year.  Lost fingerless mitts.  I've been known to lose them in the mountains of Vermont.  Or on a fairgrounds in Maine.  It's a tradition I've inadvertently managed to keep for several years running. 

I actually thought I was going to escape the tradition this year.  This fall I had a pair of Maine Morning Mitts that would wander for a day or two and then reappear as if they had never been on leave.  As long as they returned to their proper home, I was OK with that.  We had a working arrangement.

Last week the inevitable happened.  I took the mitts with me on a long day of errands.  Too many stops to count - in and out, again and again.  I had a feeling that something was going to happen to the mitts.  When I finally got home, it was late and dark.  And I couldn't find the mitts.  I told myself that maybe they would surface in the light of day, but deep down I knew they were gone.  Instead of finding a new home in the scenic New England countryside, this pair had probably landed in a parking lot.

The next day I made the decision that the time spent trying to track down the mitts would be better spent knitting a new pair.  And while I was at it, I decided to use a different pattern.  While I love the tried-and-true Maine Morning Mitts, they have a habit of wandering.  I've lost more than one pair.  So I went in search of a new pattern and settled on this.

Lacunae Mitts by Anne Hanson.

This pattern moves right along.  In no time at all I had knit what appeared to be a skinny tube.  The tube was transformed with a quick try-on.

Magic.  If this pair doesn't wander, they will truly be magical.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shifting Focus

This is the first week since mid-September that I'm not traveling or prepping for an event.  The shift in focus has been a nice change of pace.  The sifting and sorting in my office is well underway - insert picture of large trash bags here.  Major tidy projects are always full of surprises, some more pleasant than others.

I don't know which thrilled me more - finding a long-lost handknit sock or unearthing this project in progress.

Secret of Change . . . a fun combination of short rows and garter.  This project had dropped off my radar, but I'm happy I found it buried in my office mess.  I'm in the final section and the rows are long, but there's nothing like the soothing rhythm of garter.  Knit, knit, knit.  Back and forth.  Knit, knit, knit.  It's a good project to pick up when I take breaks from reorganizing my office space.  And since it doesn't require much thought, I can contemplate my holiday knitting at the same time.

The gnarly base of this old tree reminds me of the twists and turns of cables - in, out and around.  My color inspiration for the week.

Blue-black with hints of green.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Warm And Woolly

Over the weekend I gave a demo on thrumming.  It reminded me how much I love thrums, so I thought I'd post a step-by-step here.

Thrumming originated in the Maritime Provinces.  Bits of wool fiber, thrums, are knit into a garment - usually mittens.  The thrums create an extra layer on the inside of the garment for added warmth and insulation.

To make thrums you need wool roving.

Split the fiber into narrow strips.  Tear the fiber - don't cut it.

Next tear off smaller, 4-inch strips.

Fold the ends of the fiber strip to meet in the middle.

Give the thrum a twist in the middle to form a figure 8.  Moisten fingers when twisting to keep the fibers in place.


Make a pile of thrums before you start knitting.

To knit a thrum insert right needle into first stitch on left needle as if to knit.

Wrap middle of thrum around right needle.  No, those aren't my fingers with the jazzy nails.

Next, wrap the working yarn around the right needle, next to the thrum.

Work the stitch as normal pulling both thrum and working yarn through the stitch.  Tug ends of thrum to secure.

When working thrummed stitch on next round, knit thrum and stitch as one through the back loop.  This twists the stitch and locks the thrum in place.

The inside view.

This fiber pillow will become matted with wear and will create a fiber liner on the inside of the mitten. 

The outside view. 

Thrums as decorative stitches.

You can add thrums to your favorite standard mitten pattern.  Just remember that the thrums will take up room on the inside, so you may want to make the next size up.  If thrums are placed too close together, the fabric will be stiff and dense.  Thrums should be spaced out on a round - every 4 stitches or so.  The rounds with thrums should also be spaced out - every 4 rounds or so.  Thrummed stitches can be worked in a variety of patterns.  The thrums can be lined up in columns or staggered.  There are many design options.

Vary the thickness of the thrums for different effects.  Thrums the same thickness as the working yarn are more subtle, while thicker thrums create fabric with more texture.  You can also splash colorful thrums across your mitten by using dyed roving.  Thrums are a fun way to spice up your mittens, but they're also a practical way to add warm, woolly insulation.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Managing Monday

After another non-stop weekend I woke up this morning to discover it's a holiday.  I must have missed the memo on this one.  It doesn't impact my life - the kids' schedules stay the same, my husband is off to work, I teach later.  But I know that some people have the day off, and I must confess I'm a bit jealous.  

Since I can't take the day off, I have a plan.

I'm going to treat myself to some uninterrupted knitting time.  I'm not sure how much time it will be, but it will definitely be more than the 10 minutes I've knit over the last several days.  As a bonus I'm going to pull out my audio book.  When I knit, I often listen to a book, but I think it's about time I reacquaint myself with the current book in progress.  Not only do I not remember where I left off, I don't remember the title of the book.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sturdy Woollens

The weather has turned decidedly colder and blustery.  It's only November, but I'm already feeling that my handknit woollens are in short supply.  One pair of mitts has gone missing, and much to my daughter's dismay I've had to "borrow" a pair of hers.  A favorite pair of handknit socks is showing signs of wear and tear.  Is that a wee hole I see?  I knit all the time.  How can I be faced with a shortage of handknits so early in the winter season?

When I look back over the last few months of knitting, I realize that I didn't knit a lot of sturdy woollens.  Poor planning on my part.  Lace shawls are beautiful and entertaining to knit, but they don't necessarily keep you warm in the face of a nor'easter.  No, I need sturdy, practical woollens that will help me brave the elements - mittens and socks and hats.

I'm going to concentrate my knitting efforts on sturdy woollens . . . after the weekend.  If you're in the Boston area, check out the Fiber Trunk Show at Gather Here this Sunday.  Virginia, owner of Gather Here, has brought together a diverse group of vendors, including Dirty Water DyeWorks.  The day includes demonstrations in the new Annex space and promises to be loads of fun.

Speaking of Gather Here, Virginia is hosting a Red Cross Fundraiser for Sandy relief efforts.  For every $10 you donate to the Red Cross, you get a virtual raffle ticket to win one of the cool prizes.  For those who've wanted to help but don't know how, this is a great way to pitch in.

After a week with several gray days, I set out to find some color.  This hydrant may be dirty and weathered, but it's still eye-catching . . . my color inspiration for the week.

A splash of red.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hat Season

With the busy fall travel behind me it's time to catch my breath and assess the damage.  My office is a mess from top to bottom, and the paperwork that awaits me is daunting.  If I left the windows open and let the next storm blow through, it would probably be an improvement. According to my calculations if I lock myself in the office for a week, I might make a dent in the mess.

Instead of jumping right in and tackling the unorganized office I've been contemplating new knitting projects.  Of course I want to knit all the things, but I'm trying to be reasonable in my approach.  There are a couple of sweaters that have been beckoning me, but I'm holding them at bay.

It's hat season, and I need to add at least a couple new ones to my collection.  In addition to keeping my head warm they hide my less-than-cooperative hair, and they fall into the instant gratification category.

I've pulled out a few books and am perusing patterns - I have a feeling I'll be casting on before too long.  I've convinced myself that once I get this out of my system, I'll be able to focus and make order out of my chaotic office.  And just to make sure . . . I've promised myself that I won't start a new sweater until the office is spic-and-span.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Market Tour

I'm back from a lovely weekend at Fiber Festival of New England.  It's the final festival of the fall season, and I feel like a runner crossing the marathon finish line.  This festival brings together some of my favorite fiber friends all under one roof.  The weekend is a good opportunity to renew connections, hatch new plans and enjoy the company of some very talented fiber artists.

One of the challenges of being a vendor is that I don't get to see much of the marketplace.  I hear people talk about new and interesting things they've seen.  Or I see people walk by with  fun purchases - a new yarn blend, an eye-catching colorway.  But I experience much of the market second-hand.  On Sunday morning I usually take a quick tour before the doors open, but I get to see only a slice of the whole market pie. 

This morning I'll share a few photos from my weekend market tour, but first I want to mention the plight of a fiber artist in need.  Judith MacKenzie, a well-known fiber artist and instructor, lost her studio in a fire last week.  The studio burned to the ground, and she lost everything - teaching materials, equipment, books, yarn, fiber.  All gone.  A website has been set up to share information and accept donations.  Spread the word.  The efforts of many knitters can help Judith re-build.

And now the pictures . . . 


An old skein winder, in case you were wondering.


An intricate hanging from The Hartford Artisans Weaving Center.


The beautiful work of New England Felting Supply.


All shapes and sizes from Wendy G. Jensen.

Whimsical dolls from Rag Hill Farm.

Colors on display.

From Consolati Farms.

After such an inspiring fiber weekend, I'm ready to tackle a new week.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Have Sock, Will Travel

Today I'm heading to Fiber Festival of New England.  The final fall road trip.  The truck is packed and waiting.  All I have to do is grab my personal things, and I'll be out the door.  The clothes won't take long to assemble, but I've left the travel knitting - the most important part - to the last minute.

Usually I give some thought to my travel knitting a few days in advance, but this week had a healthy dose of crazy, so travel knitting wasn't even on my mind.  Small and portable are the requirements for this trip.  The truck is packed to capacity - or beyond - and there isn't room for one extra skein of yarn.

I was doing a quick tidy (it makes life on the other side of travel easier to manage) and contemplating my travel project, when I stumbled across this.

The wee beginning of a sock.  This is just the ticket.  I was thrilled that I'd had the foresight to set aside an unfinished project that would be ready and waiting when I needed it the most.  Actually I had originally had the notion that these would be Rhinebeck socks - I knew better than to start a Rhinebeck sweater.  Since that never happened, maybe these are destined to be my Thanksgiving socks instead.

With that item taken care of, I'm one step closer to hitting the road.  If you're headed to Fiber Festival of New England this weekend, stop by Booth 432/433 East and say hi.  I'll be the one knitting an orange sock.

It's that time of year when we often have a pot of soup on the stove. Not too long ago I was ready to throw these split peas into a pot, when I was struck by the cheery color . . . my color inspiration for the week.

Bright green with yellow flecks.