Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Unbroken bough

April 16, 2014

I’ve wanted for a long time to actually knit with Shelter from BrooklynTweed.  It’s my kind of yarn for a certain kind of knitting.  It’s ~ sheepy.  Some call it a little “crunchy.”  I don’t judge wool by its softness.  I find that an utterly subjective yardstick that’s rarely relevant in my world: I’m able to wear any kind of wool next to skin.

BrooklynTweed Shelter ~ Tent

BrooklynTweed Shelter ~ Tent

That said, I’m also stuck in the realm of accessory knitting for the present.  Too much happening around this Owl’s nest to dream of executing a garment.  And with a lot of my time spent at a construction site, I needed a second really warm hat since I kept misplacing my favorite Rosebud.

It was high time to pull out some Shelter in the colorway Tent (somewhere between the 1st and 2nd photos) and get it on the needles.  But which needles?  Frankly, I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time swatching for a hat.  I did the next best thing: I asked Jane about her experience with Shelter.  She indicated that it did relax with a bath, so she suggested that a US 7 needle and I’d be off and running.

I knew the pattern I wanted to make was Leila Raabe’s Bough.  Cables and texture for a nice woolly yarn, sure to keep my ears warm.  I did

Bough hat blocking

Bough hat blocking

spend some significant time searching the “Helpful notes” on the projects in Ravelry.  Several people indicated the hat was very large.  I do have a large noggin and a lot of hair.  But if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a hat that won’t. stay. on.  Hmmmm.   Time for some fiddling.

Some knitters indicated trouble with Shelter and breakage.  I had experienced that with Shelter’s skinny sister, Loft, but I knew how to work around that, cables or no cables.  (And no, I do not use a cable needle, just some nice slick Addi Turbo Rockets.)

Frankly, it worked up like a dream.  I used the Magic Loop technique and experienced neither breakage nor laddering.  The yarn performed perfectly.

Pattern:  Bough Cabled Hat & Cowl Set by Leila Raabe

Yarn:  1 sk BrooklynTweed Shelter in Tent ~ about 4 yards left without making pompom

Modifications:  C/O 91 stitches, then increased to 105.  Also added one row to the end of the pattern, using k2tog or p2tog as needed to close the hat more, as I did not intend to add a pompom.

See the tree?  Bough?  Get it?

See the tree? Bough? Get it?

Unblocked: Ribbing unstretched measured 15 inches

Blocked:  After soaking in lukewarm water and drying over an inverted vase (as you see here), ribbing relaxed to 19 inches unstretched.

Project marriage: 10  These were indeed made for each other.

On the Road: A Verb for Keeping Warm

July 6, 2013

My apologies for my absence.  These days, Owl Manor owns me from sunrise past sunset.  Yes, I knit.  At times, rather frantically, trying to find my “center” again.  The needles are always beside me, and I often fall asleep with them in mid-stitch.

A recent trip to the Left Coast gave me the opportunity to visit multiple LYS in that part of the world.

First, a stop at the much-talked-about A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, Calif.

A Verb ... and a cafe

A Verb … and a cafe

I am fortunate to have a spouse who builds LYS visits into vacations.  He is a foodie ~ and since food is a requirement, we always “manage” to visit places he wants to go.  He makes mine a priority, too.  The presence of a terrific cafe on one side and a cupcake shop on the other on San Pablo Avenue didn’t hurt, either.

I should not have been surprised to find owner Kristine in the light-filled front window at the big work table.  Somehow, after reading so much about her, it seemed a little too-good-to-be-true.    But in a day and age where so much trash seems to get more than its requisite 15 minutes, this shop was exactly as advertised.

Pioneer from AVFKW

Pioneer from AVFKW

If you have wanted to test-knit Quince & Co. yarns, this is the place to find them.  So, too, for some Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarns (very hard to find in a brick and mortar shop) and Kristine’s own ever-changing lines.  This stop could have easily been a bank-breaker.  Only the limited quantities of yarn in each dyelot and the knowledge of limited suitcase space provoked restraint.  If you are looking for a West Coast version of Webs, that’s not what you find here:  This is a carefully curated shop catering to knitters who care about what they use ~ and where it came from.

The kit in its souvenir bag

The kit in its souvenir bag

Which brings me to Pioneer, Kristine’s foray into limited-batch organic merino raised in California and dyed naturally.  I relished the opportunity to pick my own colorway for the San Pablo Cowl Kit, which will be some good late night knitting chez Owl.  I don’t expect one of you to be the least bit surprised by my choices (in order): Grizzly Peak, Bonfire and Harvest.

The shop also left me

Hootiful fabric

Hootiful fabric

wishing I knew the first thing about sewing ~ or that I had made enough decisions about Owl Manor to know where in the world I could use bright, bold, graphic prints like this one from Cloud 9.  (Again, organic cotton.)  It was too pricey to pick up without knowing how much I would need or for what sort of project, but I have it bookmarked for when I have figured it out.

If I lived in the area, I would spend a great deal of time at this studio and shop.  As it was, I am glad it was on our itinerary, and I look forward to putting Pioneer and its siblings on the needles … eventually.

In the meantime, one more skein of Kristine’s dyeing has arrived at my house: a skein from The Great White Bale dyed with madder.  Find out more about our adventure here.

One behind, another ahead

May 2, 2013

The 2013 festival season is officially open with the 104th Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival last weekend kicking things off.

And what adorable faces KnittingKittens, Patshere and I found as we

Nellie was a little lamb ...

Nellie was a little lamb …

wandered through!  This was, it seemed, the year of the nursery.  Kids (the kind with hooves), bunnies, and of course, lambs like little Nellie, here.  She is a Romney; by unscientific observation Romney was one of the most visible breeds of this show.

We were pleased to see one of the

Olympia Farm Romney yarns

Olympia Farm Romney yarns

newer farms in Connecticut bringing lovely Romney fiber and yarn to market.  Anne McIntyre-Lahner and Mark Lahner’s Olympia Farm of Guilford first appeared on my radar a couple of years ago.  This year, their booth was well-stocked with natural-colored Romney in cream and grays at various weights and extremely reasonable prices.   The lighter shade you see here comes from Maggie, Bonnie, Coco and Cookie.

Sadly, in spite of victories like that, overall there appeared to be fewer vendors than in previous years.  Some of our favorites were not to be found in the barns and tents, perhaps reflecting just how hard it is to keep a small

Slinky Mink ... an understatement

Slinky Mink … an understatement

independent business afloat.  However, others, like Still River Mill, continue to work at distinguishing themselves with their own unique yarns.  Take, for example, Slinky Mink, pointed out by Clara at Rhinebeck last fall.  It was heavenly to touch.  Find it.  Knit it.  Love it.  Repeat.

As a non-lamb-eater, I did appreciate that the lamb stew and other lamb entrees were not on the menu ~ or infusing an entire indoor area.  I always found it a little jarring (if not downright creepy) to have lamb served up a mere twenty yards from barns with live sheep.

Making knots with a purpose: tatting

Making knots with a purpose: tatting

Every year festival organizers bring great demonstrations to this show.  It is easy to be mesmerized by the bobbin lace makers. I found the tatting equally hypnotic.  It’s kind of like macrame using cobwebs that ultimately produces its own special lace. All those teensy knots and they were just flying by.  It was something to behold.

Since I have been

Fripperies so beautifully displayed ...

Fripperies so beautifully displayed …

somewhat preoccupied planning my new knitting space, I confess to being completely taken by everything about this display from Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods.  It had more trims than I would ever begin to know what to do with … and everything in the booth was just pretty.  (I am ignoring the fact that everything here requires use of a sewing needle and thread, where I

How many owls can YOU spot?

How many owls can YOU spot?

possess no talent whatsoever and generally provoke sympathy from those who see my infantile attempts … )  Then again, maybe if I amassed enough antique spools with enough different ribbons like these, I might be motivated to change that.

Nahhhh.  They’re better just to look at and enjoy.

Now that “the season” is underway, if you are heading out to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend, I hope to see you there.  I will be reprising my role as a Booth Babe at Spirit Trail Fiberworks ~ that’s at A30 of the Main Exhibition Hall.  Do come by to see what Jennifer has been cooking up in her dyepots and give me a hoot!

Rhinebeck YarnoraMama!

October 24, 2012

It has been far too long since Luann and I have celebrated a YarnoraMama.  Life, work, kids, you name it:  It all gets in the way.  So when the opportunity arose to take her to her first Rhinebeck, it seemed like the right time to see if the cosmic forces would align to allow YarnoraMama IV to happen.

They did.

Dutchess County Fairgrounds – aka “Rhinebeck”

So I could allow her to experience this.  This captures what’s in my mind when I think of Rhinebeck.  I’ve been there in pouring rain, wicked wind and bright sun ~ sometimes several of those in one day.  But this is the quintessential fall-in-New-England event and it should look just like this.

A Teeswater poses prettily

One cannot justify driving 100 miles to a sheep and wool festival without properly admiring the sheep, of course.  The young people, most involved in 4-H, work very hard to raise and show these animals when their friends are off doing teen

Everything you need to know … well, not quite

and ‘tween things.  They know more about these sheep than I ever will.  We owe it to them to start with a visit to the Breed barn to see their ribbons and displays.  After all, without them, there is no knitting.  And fact of the matter, if you were to break down my yarn purchases of the past three years, an astounding percentage come from small farms raising special breeds as I have joined others exploring what makes each special on the needles in the Knitters Book of Wool woolalong inspired by our fearless leader, Clara Parkes.

A Soay sheep from Ashford, CT

I suppose in some respects it’s not fair to take a first-timer on a guided tour of this mother-of-all-sheep-festivals (a superlative shared with Maryland Sheep and Wool, of course.  I’ll let the experts fight over the true winner there.).  There is something to be said for arriving and being immediately lost in a sea of jostling knitters with pointy elbows, all searching for that perfect skein.  Maybe it’s not fair to have removed the “overwhelm” from the equation.

Eight warm legs and eight socks displayed. Where’s Miss Muffet?

However, there is certainly much to be said for attending Rhinebeck on Sunday.  The crowds are significantly smaller, and it is a far more pleasant experience.  Fewer people dragging rolling suitcases indiscriminately over toes and strollers jamming up the aisles.  (I, for one, would never have brought Darling Bebe.  Nope.)  To be sure, there was still

Of course there were owls!

enough to look at to go into sensory overload.  From potters and button-makers to the incomparable Shepherd’s Flock slippers to LYS bringing their wares on the road and independent dyers like Spirit Trail Fiberworks, where we found our peeps with Jennifer’s

Gratuitous (lousy) shot of Mountain Ash shawl knitted for the booth last spring

gorgeous wares.

This was akin to having dessert before dinner, for we will all be together at the Knitter’s Review Retreat in a mere three weeks.  The friends who have showered me with virtual hugs over the past few months were generous with the real thing in person.  I have missed them so.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you about one “find” from one of

Cashmere Crepe by Still River Mill

my favorite luxury yarn sources.  I have written before about Still River Mill, which spins for many area farms and also produces small batches of its own fibers.  Meet Cashmere Crepe:  Fair-trade cashmere.  Cashmere Crepe is the result of a program by USAID to help develop the economy of Afghanistan.  As such, this NGO trained more than 200,000 goat herders on the value of cashmere from their flocks,

Cashmere Crepe – 120 yards, fingering wt, 100% cashmere

and how to properly harvest the fiber.  The result is this fingering-weight 100% cashmere in 25g skeins, with 120 yards.  It sells retail for $18.  That’s a little more expensive than the other cashmere SRM offers, but considering the goal of the project and the distance it traveled to get to here, it’s not an inordinately large price tag to make a pair of fingerless mitts or a sweet cowl from a single skein.   Cashmere Crepe is not on the SRM website yet ~ look for it at their booth at the Fiber Festival of New England (a terrific indoor event!) or drop them a line at sales@stillrivermill.com and tell them I sent you.

At Rhinebeck, I reach a point of fiber saturation.  There is a moment where I can’t look at or appreciate another thing.  It’s the place Luann and I reach at the same time.

In all, Luann and I spent four glorious hours in the car together (how often do you say that about four hours in the car going anywhere?).  I took her to Owl Manor so she could see the world’s largest blue tarp ~ and bear witness that I am not having a bad dream that won’t let me wake up.  We saw gorgeous rolling countryside, glorious autumn foliage and bucolic Connecticut villages.  We caught up with the things that a couple of busy moms with “balance issues” need to do.

The only downside: facing work on Monday.

Countdown to the Knitter’s Review Retreat has begun!

* Apologies for lousy photography.  Leaving the plastic over the new iPhone camera lens and flash didn’t really help.

Prepared

July 18, 2012

At last post, some of you wondered, “One short trip, why two projects?”

Because there’s nothing worse than Project Fail at 15,000 feet.

Go on, ask.

How do I know?

Loft in Barn Owl in lace section of Pei

It started out swimmingly.  I began knitting the pretty cowl Pei using BrooklynTweed LoftOh. What. Yummy. Wool!   It made my fingers sing!  Because that’s what Loft is ~ minimally processed, close-to-the-sheep wool in fingering weight.  It is also woolen-spun, so it does not have the tight twist and many plies found in most commercial fingering-weight yarns.

That fact brings with it a certain fragility that makes the appropriate choice of tools essential to knitting success.

And that is where Nutmeg Owl failed in the sky somewhere over Nebraska.

Regular readers know I like my needles slicker-than-snot.  As such, I will often eschew a sharper tip on an Addi Lace needle to avoid its silly, icky “drag finish” and go instead with a plain ol’ Addi Turbo (the difference is in the name ~ turbo!).  Had I packed this project around the time normal people go to bed, I might have paid attention to the fact that the lace chart has nupps.  (Pronounced like “stoops,” if you’re wondering.)  Nupps are the bane of many a knitter.  I’m not usually one of them.

Until knitting with a minimally processed fingering-weight wool on

Dull tips + nupps + Loft = disintegration

dull-tipped original Addis, and finding myself consistently unable to grab the 3rd of the 5 loops to close the nupp.  And you can see what happened as a result.  Poor little Loft pretty much disintegrated.

Total tool fail on my part ~ my preferred Signature stiletto-tipped circs in that size were all tied up on other WIPs (ahem!) back home.

Time to back away from the yarn and move to the other project.

Remnants of Spirit Trail Nona for Plain Jhaynes

One round-trip and seven hours of Downton Abbey later, and my lace remnant-busting Plain Jhaynes mitts are well on their way.  These won’t be plain, either.  Just you wait.

And that is why no sane knitter leaves on a trip without two projects.  Ever.

Essentials

June 28, 2012

I generally avoid those, “If you were on a desert island …” sort of exercises.  Being asked to make choices in a vacuum seems a pointless use of time.

Then I started clearing out chez Owl to make the little box presentable for market.  In so doing, I reduced an entire bookcase of knitting texts and pattern leaflets down to bare necessities.  I didn’t like packing away old friends.  Maybe they’ll really like new digs if they don’t have to share space with anything as pedestrian as ~ fiction.

The former library

How did these end up staying shelved?  They are either go-to texts and reference manuals, or books I’m reasonably likely to need to put my hands on over the next three months.  Or they wouldn’t fit in the two three four boxes (and counting) that went to storage.

I am less than nervous about this one short shelf.  That’s probably because my vast electronic pattern collection is stored on The Cloud.  If there’s something I need, I can get it anywhere, anytime.

That said, the bare essentials are a trio:

  • I don’t go far without access to Nancie Wiseman’s Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques ~ still the most useful book of knitting choices I know.  Why use SSK vs SKP?  Find out here.  And do yourself a favor – do buy the hardcover with the spiral spine.  You’ll be glad you did.
  • EZ’s Knitting Without Tears always has a little nugget when I am in need.  (Funny, I have three copies of it and they all look different.  That’s staying power.)
  • Cool Knitters Finish in Style from Lucy Neatby has nice little details that make all the difference in a perfect finish – great gift from Luann.

I have a project going now (which seems to be going on indefinitely) from Melissa Morgan Oakes’ Two-at-a-Time Socks book, because if you really have to make socks (or anything else paired), you might as well make both simultaneously.  Others here hold current or likely little projects I could pick up.  You cannot live without at least one Barbara Walker.  Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Knitting Patterns will get you through anything in any size and any weight.  Kim Hargreaves’ Pipsqueaks (now out of print) is the single best children’s book I’ve ever seen.

And it never hurts to have a couple of skeins of a favorite yarn (Spirit Train Fiberworks Birte) ready to go for the next project.  As Luann puts it: “Break-glass-in-case-of-emergency knitting.”

Too many emergencies these days ~ not enough knitting, IYKWIM.

ETA:  Oh, and an update on our not-so-little Ravellenic kerfuffle.  Because it’s just bad form to denigrate people.  The USOC “apologized” to us.  Not really.  Hence the quotation marks.  They sent an intern to do a grown-up’s work.  Adding proverbial insult, etc.  Oh, you mean you invite us to spend our precious time and talent making things you clearly don’t want because you’ve already belittled the bejeebus out of them?

But did you really expect any more?  C’mon.

Brigantia

May 16, 2012

I felt it coming on.

A full-blown case of yarntoxication, brought about by Brigantia.  Brigantia is the newest Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarn, a blend of 85% Polwarth and 15% silk.  Polwarth is a breed of sheep, but there’s not much of it that gets spun up for knitters.  Those spinners tend to hoard it all for themselves.  Now I know why.

Mountain Ash – almost as big as the bed

My test project was Kate Gagnon Osborn’s Mountain Ash shawl.  It starts with hundreds of yards of garter stitch, which allowed me to really get a feel for Brigantia.  This DK blend does not split and you can knit for hours without looking at your hands.  For its apparent lightness, the silk also gives it warmth ~ something to keep in mind if your personal thermostat runs hot.  (Mine does not.)  I appreciated the lap blanket it became during the damp wet weeks before MDSW.  The hefty 600-yard put-up seemed like the skein-that-would-not-end.  But it did, about six rows before the knitted-on lace border for the large shawl.

I assure you, this lace border eats yardage and you won’t have as much left as you think you will.  I used Addi Turbo US 6 needles for the entire project to see how Brigantia would perform lace tricks without extra-sharp tips.  Beautifully.  Nary a split anywhere.

Brigantia likes lace lots

The Persian Nights colorway, a ringer for Crayola blue-violet, did not bleed at all in a nice sudsy bath.  For blocking, I wanted to maintain the squishy integrity of the garter stitch and still be able to open up the lace edge, so I ran a lifeline through the stitches where the border joined the shawl and pinned that in place before pinning out the lace points.

Colorway: Persian Nights

Brigantia was happy to oblige: it took the blocking wonderfully and held it well, likely because of its silk content.  Unfortunately, my overtaxed brain failed to remind me to photograph the full shawl on display in the STF booth or anywhere else off the pins.  Sigh.  I hate it when that happens.  Suffice it to say that the finished piece has wonderful drape and leaves me thinking that a whole shawl in Brigantia ~ like Juneberry Triangle or Terra or any one of about a zillion others ~ would be just ducky.

The official 411:

Pattern:  Mountain Ash

Yarn:  1.75 skeins Spirit Trail Fiberworks Brigantia

Needle: Addi Turbo US 6

Pattern mods:  None

Project marriage score:  9

It’s a good thing Brigantia is the STF Knitting Club selection this month.  That means there’s more en route to my house.  Because

Stowaways in Spice

there’s already a skein chez Owl earmarked for an Isla Wrap I know will chase off the fall chill nicely.  And there are these other skeins that vaulted into my carry-on before I left for the airport.

Keep an eye out for Brigantia on this page, where it should appear in late May/early June.  You won’t be disappointed.

Geada

April 9, 2012

As I took my skeins of the new Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande out to wind, I could hear Carly Simon warbling in my head, “Anticipation … anticipa-a-ation, it’s makin’ me wait.”  I had waited a good long while to put this new yarn through its paces.

 

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande

Verdande did not disappoint.  The worsted-weight big sister of Birte, Sunna and Nona, Verdande is pleasantly plump.  The twist makes the yarn well-rounded and Verdande doesn’t think about splitting ~ not even for a nanosecond.  For my test, I used plain old slick-finish original Addi Turbo needles.   The pattern is Susanna IC’s Geada from Twist Collective.  I liked it for a test knit because it

Colorway - Tuareg Blue

incorporated cables into the lace, allowing me to do different things within the same project.  As is my habit, I do not use a cable needle, increasing the occasion for splits in the yarn, if a yarn is so inclined.

Verdande knitted up like the wind,

Geada blocked

wicked fast.  The entire project used two skeins plus 40 grams of a third skein, leaving plenty of yarn for a set of mitts or a hat or whatever other accessory you might like.  Like all of Susanna’s patterns, it was written without so much as a comma out of place.  The I-cord bind-off will prevent any rolling of the neckline in the finished piece, and it provides a tidy edge that makes my obsessive heart go pitty-pat.

Even in harsh noontime sun, it's BLUE

I confess that I do have a tendency to block lace a little ~ ahem ~ aggressively.  This is why I appreciated Susanna’s schematic of the finished dimensions, which allowed me to block this shawl to the precise desired measurements without over-blocking it into some enormous flapping pterodactyl thing.

Yarn:  520 yards Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande, colorway Tuareg Blue

Pattern:  Geada

Modifications:  Zilch

Blocked measurements:  11 in at side edges, 17 in at center point

Project marriage score:  9.5

Utterly gratuitous backlit shot

I loved knitting with Verdande.  I would next want to use it in a less lacy shawl – something like Terra, Ashby or Barbara W, perhaps, to take advantage of its lovely drape and warmth that come from its cashmere and silk.  On the other hands – plural – some nice mitts would be cozy, too.  Or a cowl.  Or … you get the idea.  Good thing I have my own skeins in the stash to play with soon.

Gauge play

March 23, 2012

One of the things I enjoy about sample knitting is the opportunity to get to know new yarns and how they like to be treated without a personal investment in the yarn or in the project.  I don’t have to love it when I’m done, or feel at all guilty about not loving it.  What makes knitting for Spirit Trail Fiberworks unique is that Jennifer rarely uses the same bases as other independent dyers.  She has her own yarns spun ~ and that means F-U-N.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Holda, Fortune's Red

Holda is unique.  It pairs lambswool with cashmere and dehaired angora.  You wouldn’t really know that on the skein ~ it’s somewhat limp and there’s little to indicate the presence of bunny.

“Project marriage” matters tremendously

Dripstones Cowl

when you’re producing finished samples to show knitters how a new yarn performs.  I enjoy working with Jen to pick out the right patterns to show off a yarn’s qualities.

That’s what attracted me to Dripstones Cowl.  I’ve previously written about my preference for cowls to have some shape ~ to be wider at the bottom and narrower at the top ~ and how I achieve this using different needles sizes.  Here is a designer who produced a pattern incorporating this concept.  But Justyna Lorkowska took it one

Each section knitted with a smaller needle

step farther for my sample purposes: this project is knitted on four progressively smaller needle sizes, so it allows a knitter to see a yarn at four distinct densities.  It also allowed me to see how Holda liked cable gymnastics and whether it would split.

But first, there was some math involved.

Holda is labeled worsted, but my swatching tells me it is lighter ~ I would definitely call it DK.

The pattern is written for a stockinette gauge of 3.75 st/inch with an aran or worsted yarn. For the Small cowl, the cast-on is 108 stitches.  Divide 108 by 3.75 and you get a bottom cowl circumference of 28.8 inches.

Holda had a nice density at 5 st/inch.  Divide the same 108 stitch cast-on by 5 and the bottom circumference would be 21.6 inches.  Each pattern repeat at this gauge is 3.6 inches wide.  So in order to have a finished cowl at the same size as the Small, I used the Medium cast-on ~ 144 stitches.

Needle sizes:  With lighter yarn, I adjusted the needle size accordingly and used US 8, 7, 6 and 5.  I used a mix of Signature stiletto tips and Addi Lace.

Stalactites and stalagmites

Yarn performance:  Judging Holda on the skein, I was afraid it was going to split a lot, especially doing a lot of cable work without a cable needle.  I was delighted to find that it did not.  Instances of a ply not joining with its mates were few and far between, making this a most pleasant knitting experience.   Holda did soften somewhat while knitting, but not tremendously.  The more significant transformation came after its bath.

Unblocked dimensions (flat):  top – 7.75 inches; bottom – 10″; height – 11 inches

Blocking:  A soak in Eucalan relaxed the fibers slightly but really turned the plies into a cohesive fabric with a slight halo from the angora.  Even with color saturation this deep (Colorway: Fortune’s Red, a very orange-red), the water was the color of weak tea after soaking.

As is my habit, I blocked this around an inverted vase to avoid creasing.

Blocked dimensions (flat):  top – 9 inches; bottom – 12.5 inches; height – 11 inches (unchanged)

Size Small using Medium instructions

Modifications:  I knitted the entire cowl as written for the Medium instructions.  If I were making this for myself, I would have followed the directions for the Small and omitted eight rows at the bottom and top of the chart to achieve a shorter cowl for my (and my model’s) less-than-swanlike neck.

Project marriage score:  9   Even with the extra math, this pattern worked nicely for this yarn.  I will make one for myself, or something like it.

Holda’s been a bit tricky to get aHolda’ since Anne Hanson of Knitspot featured it in two recent patterns, Tabata and Fartlek.  It has generous 295-yard hanks, allowing for a full one-skein project from a single skein.  For those who appreciate angora but find fluff up the nose and in the eyes too much to bear, this yarn’s for you.

If anything, Holda looks deceptively ordinary on the skein.  If you have been able to obtain one, do yourself a favor and put it on the needles.  Once you see what Holda can do, you will likely be charmed.  A Holda cowl is a lightweight portable hug.   A pair of fingerless mitts would be a toasty treat.   Maybe that’s what’s next for me ~ after all the sample knitting’s done, of course.

Heart

February 14, 2012

heart ~ v. to like deeply and enjoy.  syn: love.

Don’t look for me to get all Hallmark on you.  Nope.  I’ve owlways dreaded Feb. 14.  Even now, with wonderful Mr. Owl and Darling Bebe, I can’t shake the thought that as many people are left feeling excluded as feel, well, loved.

So let’s go depart from the land of wilted roses and overpriced prix fixe meals and talk about two things I heart.

First, for the knitter who thinks she has everything, there is my Yarn Pop.  This arrived in a surprise package from Sandy and Mary

Yarn Pop

after Vogue Knitting Live.  The idea is to put your working yarncake inside, run the live yarn through the grommet and work away while your yarn remains clean and organized.  I’ll admit that once I got past the too-cute print, I thought, “Would I use this?”

Uh, yeah.

I have used my Yarn Pop in a plane, in the car and a lot of places in between.  It’s convenient.  The yarn draws through it well.  The big plastic zipper won’t harm yarn.  It prevents my needles from messing with the yarncake inside the project bag.

That’s really my only quibble with it ~ the contention that by using it, you can “easily transport projects in your purse or computer bag.”  (Obviously, they haven’t seen the state of my purse lately.)  The size Small easily fits a 300-yard skein of worsted-weight yarn.  But there’s no way that my needles and the cowl I am making on them are going to fit back into the bag ~ even as I use up yarn.  That’s fine with me.  I like the Yarn Pop for doing what it does, and the print is fresh and happy.  (ETA: For those of us who use a lot of hand-dyed yarns and alternate skeins, or sock knitters, there is a practical Large size with two grommets, too.)

And I heart saying, “Yarn Pop!

I’ve often posited that pocketbooks, as they are called ’round these parts, are as personal as underwear.  I tend to buy two a year for most-of-the-time use, one for warm weather, one for not.

h i l b r a n d t, julia

I first saw Julia Hilbrandt bags at Rhinebeck.  Even from a distance, they spoke of serious materials and clean lines with whimsical touches.  When I had the chance to really spend time with Julia and her wares at the Knitter’s Review Retreat, I found the bag that worked for me ~ almost.  The industrial-grade felt was perfect for my needs, but the straps weren’t quite right.  No matter,  because a Hilbrandt bag is a bag made by Julia.  If you want something different, you ask and Julia makes.

You should know that Julia goes extra miles.  Plural.  Of course it hadto happen that the brown felt I wanted became difficult to

Simplicity

source for awhile.  Julia updated me regularly before I could ever ask her about the status ~ so much so that I wondered if I wasn’t annoying her with the bag order that just would not go away.   Finally, the brown felt came back, and my bag, with the longer straps, arrived chez Owl.

I do heart it.  And I suppose it is chocolate.  The kind you wear, even.  But in a place you enjoy wearing it for a long time.


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