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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.



January 30, 2014

Newsflash:  The shoemaker’s child is no longer barefoot.  But I’m not quite ready to tell you about that, because it involves actually committing knitting to a form another human could decipher and reproduce.  No sense telling you about it if I can’t tell you how to make it.

Daisy Hat turned ruby

Daisy Hat turned ruby

In the meantime, I have made good on my promise and followed up the Daisy Hat with another for L., this time in the most scrumptious cashmere it could only be called Elysium.  The colorway is Ruby, from the Spirit Trail Fiberworks 2012 Knitting Club. It is the warmest, most beautiful glowing red; it could easily be a bouquet of roses, given where we are on the calendar.

The specs are virtually identical to its predecessor, with only the yarn changing.

Detail - faux cable and lace

Detail – faux cable and lace

Pattern:  Daisy Hat by Irina Dmitrieva

Size: Large, but knitted with DK weight instead of worsted

Needles:  Addi Turbo US 2 and US 1

Yarn: Spirit Trail Fiberworks Elysium, a special yarn for its 2012 Knitting Club, 100% cashmere, 1 skein

The finished hat weighed 39 g with 15 g remaining.

Project marriage score: 9, based on delight of the recipient

My campaign to establish something approximating order in our shoebox house is spreading to my knitting.  However, everything in my world cannot, in fact, be cured with a basket.

There will be frogging.  Widespread frogging.  A few are projects that I do intend to make at some point, but not right now.  At least one has been in time out for awhile because I lack the brain power to focus properly.  Time to rip that out, too.  It’s not the yarn’s fault or the designer’s.  Just knitterly distraction.  Little things, those I can handle right now. I feel a hat obsession coming on, largely owing to spending too much time outdoors with only one properly warm hand-knitted chapeau.

And in spite of having created something special just for her, Darling Girl is already clamoring for Maman to make something else.  Immediately.  She is relentless.  (Wonder where she gets that from?)

Time to reclaim some needles.

Season’s change

September 6, 2013

I never intended for this to become a quarterly blog.  Really, I didn’t.

The thing is, the one thing that has been a constant in this still developing new life of mine is my knitting.  I just have been hard-pressed to find time to photograph and write about it amid all the other chronicling, organizing, decision-making and traveling that over-fill my days, not to mention the owl-hours.

I think about this owl box with guilt even as I post over on Owl Manor.

I won’t claim that I have made one iota of progress clearing the blocking runway.  That will have to change soon, as my Rhinebeck projects will need to jump the queue to be shipped off to Spirit Trail Fiberworks for display.  Maybe then I will take advantage of a cleared guest room to address the rest.  Maybe not.  You’ll want to bet the “under” on that one, to be sure.

But I will offer some proof of knitting, and my own fallibility.  Here is a half-completed Arbutus in Spirit Trail Birte, having just come off

Arbutus - let 'er riiiiipppp

Arbutus – let ‘er riiiiipppp

the needles in the car, about to be frogged.  The colorway is Autumn Aurora, lovely deep blue violets.  Arbutus is a terrific pattern for a single skein of Birte, and it has a really nifty design for those of us who lack swanlike necks.  Through the magic of short rows, the cowl is divided into three joined rings of graduated size.  This allows for the back to not get too bulky on the neck, and the front to drape nicely.

So why the frogging?  It was just too dense for my liking.  Generally speaking, gauge doesn’t matter a lot with cowls ~ as long as you can get them over your head, that is.  Birte is a little lighter than the original yarn the pattern was written for, and I was playing around with needle size.  In doing so, it was clear that while the US 6 produced a nice springy fabric, it wasn’t the one I was trying to achieve.

When in doubt, rip it out.  No harm, no foul.  We’ll try again on my Signature circs in US 7, which I tend to knit a little looser with than the Addi lace-tips I had handy the first time around.

Because it has been so very long, I owe you all a look at my greatest, and lifelong WIP, too.  Here is Darling Girl last week, on

The Baker in all her frosting glory

The Baker in all her frosting glory

the eve of her last day in preschool, decorating every single one of the cupcakes she baked.  She grew almost three inches and two shoe sizes over the summer.  (This resulted in much unscheduled shopping since she outgrew fall clothing without ever wearing it!  Another reason for my blogging fail.)  She does love to bake, and to watch Jacques Pepin.  Go figure.  Must be Owl’s genes.  I can’t wait until we have a real kitchen to work in.

DG started kindergarten this week ~ and what a grown-up she became overnight.  I am not sure I can handle this.

All the more reason to keep the needles ~ and the camera ~ at hand.


February 4, 2013

How did that happen?  A month without a post?  It wasn’t intentional.  January whizzed by in a swirl of meetings, work insanity, un-decorating, volunteer commitments and more.  Happily, there was a fair amount of knitting, in part because of an injury that has kept me somewhat immobile.  (Yeah, I know you find that hard to believe.  It’s all relative.  But closing in on 7 weeks now … I have had enough!)  No FOs to show off.  But you’ve been waiting to hear from me so long, I may as well show you what I’ve been up to.

Birte - Lamb's Ear

Birte – Lamb’s Ear

I’m just short of the finish line on this absolutely wonderful, textural (and reversible) cowl in Spirit Trail Fiberworks Birte.  Only a slightly complex bit of gymnastics ~ hands and brain must perform together ~ is preventing me from calling the Winding River Cowl done.  As written, the pattern has a thoroughly clumsy three-needle bind-off.  That’s just silly on an otherwise reversible piece of knitting.  I have set it up to kitchener it, but in K2P2 rib, there is the need to idiot-proof before I actually sit down to do it or mayhem will ensue.  The weather is right for it, now to find the RAM.

I absolutely love my Hawthorne from STF Lyra.  I wanted to do something fun with the skein I have from the club in the colorway I got to name (Santorini).  Lyra just cries out to be cuddled, so Rose Beck’s Cocoon Me called.  The texture is nice and

Cocoon Me in Lyra - please!

Cocoon Me in Lyra – please!

scrunchy and I know it is going to be toasty.  I put this on smaller needles than I would have liked, because in my experience, Lyra tends to relax quite a bit when it meets water, and I do not want to lose the “bubbles” entirely.  The pattern gives you a crescent shawl, infinity loop or standard cowl.  This is the former, just a couple of rows shy of bind-off (and a little over-exposed).  I worked some extra repeats to use every yard possible ~ details to follow.

Gemma shawl, the first mile

Gemma shawl, the first mile

Then there is this hubba-hubba number.  My office-mate commissioned it, so I couldn’t exactly say no.  The pattern is Gemma from Quince & Co.  The pattern pictures made it look awfully stiff and perhaps too tightly knit.  I went a different direction with Cascade Heritage Silk to give it a bit of drape, and a larger needle for a slightly looser gauge than written.  It will be made bigger than written, too.  Right now, it suits the need for totally mindless knitting ~ no pattern necessary.

With all of these near completion and a trip on the near horizon, I have the most wicked, itchy start-itis EVER.  I am showing great discipline in taking two small projects with me.  I know what they are.  I know I will not finish them.  I know I will get very little knitted on them at all.  But I still find  myself endlessly surfing around Ravelry looking for more patterns to go with the yarn shop upstairs!  Sheesh.

Queue ’em up!

*Yes, there is something wrong with my header. It should be nutmeg.  Some days it is.  WordPress has been asked for help.  Sigh.


January 4, 2013

Man proposes, God disposes.

So fitting an epigram for 2012.  I thought 2011 was a roller-coaster ~ I had no idea what 2012 had in store.  I always love the ritual of hanging a new calendar; never more so than to start 2013.  But part of that ritual is taking stock of the months before.  I always learn something about myself, usually unexpected.

For example, I just couldn’t relate to my fellow knitters when they talked about “losing their knitting mojo” until it happened to me after Owl Manor went up in flames.  For weeks, I just could not take up needles without wrecking what I touched.  Every bit of inner stillness and rhythm had evaporated.  It took good advice and some special yarn to get me kick-started, and I hope to never, ever experience it again.

The last months of the year were full of overwhelming sadness, too, as a good friend unexpectedly faced life-altering illness; a co-worker died suddenly after being hit by a car (doubling my workload on top of the emotional toll); then the events at Sandy Hook that still hold us in their grip.  These, too, are balanced against the onrush of joyful moments that come spending the holidays with a small child.

It all serves to make me more grateful every day for those I love, and the minutes I have to be with them and to do things for them.

Yarn used in 2012:  4511 yards, or .85 miles …  significantly less than most years.

Finished Objects: 15 ~ 4 shawls, 4 hats, 2 pairs of mitts, 1.5 pairs of mittens, 1 cowl, 1 scarf, 1 pair of socks

One-skein projects: 11

Fibers used for the first time this year:  Polwarth (wool) blended

Spirit Trail Brigantia in a special over-dyed colorway

Spirit Trail Brigantia in a special over-dyed colorway

with silk in Spirit Trail Fiberworks Brigantia.  It is lovely.  It has a hand very much like my beloved BFL and I could knit with it for days without tiring of it.  No wonder spinners hoard all the fiber.

WIPs/UFOs remaining:  shudder  The same ones as last year, plus a couple more.  Oops.

Projects waiting to be blocked: at least 5

Projects never cataloged on ravelry but worked on: at least 3

Interesting people met in 2012:  Sivia Harding, Amy Herzog, Mary Scott Huff

Things I wanted to do in 2012 – Progress:

  • Play with beads:  Check!  2 beaded shawls and one set of beaded mitts completed.  Another shawl on the needles.  Too many beads purchased and ready to use.  (Oops.)
  • Attack old WIPs:  Nope.  Not even close.  And now they are locked up in storage.
  • Woodruff Mittens and Bristol’s Cowl:  Both would be good quick projects to put OTN sooner rather than later.

Ideas for 2013:

  • Colorwork mittens:  Yes, you read that right.  I want to make some colorwork mittens for myself,  I have the yarn and pattern ready to go.  I thought I would do them during the
    Enough "pop" for colorwork?

    Enough “pop” for colorwork?

    Summer-Games-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named but things went all sideways right about then.  I had fun working up one for STF and want to do it again.  Really.  You just wait.

But I am going to leave the goals list off right there.  There are a good many changes in the works this year, starting with the demolition of our behemoth pile of charred timber and the reconstruction of Owl Manor.  That will beget other changes.  It promises to be an interesting journey, and I will not weigh myself down with the baggage of expectations before I set foot out the door.

Not when what we have right now is a shiny new year, still unspoiled.


December 15, 2012


To the many of you who have asked and wondered of our welfare in the wake of the Newtown massacre, we are fine. In a state so small, there are far fewer than six degrees of separation between us and too many victims.

Suffice it to say I hugged Darling Bebe fiercely tonight and did not want to let go. Ever.

We weep. We will live with Sandy Hook, forever changed because of it. I cannot imagine the raw pain of being one of twenty mothers who packed a lunch, zipped a coat and tousled a head before school, not knowing it would be the last time.

I pray for every one of those moms and dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles. May they find strength somehow, somewhere.

Updated:  It was only a matter of time.  One of the murdered teachers is the daughter of a friend.  Every few hours, new details emerge that make the horror worse.  When the chief medical examiner, a man I’ve known and respected for years, uncharacteristically steps in front of a bank of microphones and says it’s the worst he’s ever seen, that’s all I need to know.


November 30, 2012

Happy Friday from your long-absent Owl.  Unhappy circumstances have conspired to keep me away.

On this otherwise dreary day, time to issue yet another “Merci!” to Goldybear, who delighted Darling Bebe with mittens in the perfect color and size.  Heaven knows her online aunties have been pining for a glimpse of her …

Little Miss Mittens

Little Miss Mittens

May your weekend be merry and bright!


November 14, 2012

In the afterglow of the Knitter’s Review Retreat, I sometimes find it difficult to write; never more so than this year.  I’ve said that this four-day respite is my Christmas.  To stretch the metaphor farther, this time I felt mostly like George Bailey, simply overwhelmed by the tidal wave of kindness that swept me through the weekend.  It seemed every time I was alone for a moment, another friend sat down beside me with a thoughtful memento or hug to say that Nutmeg Owl would never really be flying alone.

The shawl-clad snowy owl – he hoots, for real!

From stitch markers to fancy soaps; handmade bags to mittens for Darling Bebe, you showered me until I was nearly speechless and certainly misty-eyed.  It’s no wonder that wherever this group convenes, when it is together, I am home.

Whoooo needs hexi-puffs?

And, for the record, the trendy “hexi-puffs” have NOTHING on these little guys ~ who are part of a complete ju-ju kit for Owl Manor.  (It would have taken me longer to sew on the eyes than to knit them ALL.)

But on to the weekend …

Ann Budd and a magic formula

The teaching draw featured the best battery of instructors we have every had in tandem at KRR:  Ann Budd, who always has a trick to share; Sivia Harding, patroness of lace and beading; Amy Herzog, who helped every person there see the value of the right cut for the right body, and Mary Scott Huff, who left us

Sivia Harding demystifies lace design

laughing so hard we gasped for air and wiped away tears (and I was incapable of taking a single picture without shaking violently).  Whichever teachers you had, you wished you’d had them all.  And every one was generous with her time in and out of the classroom.  This is not a gathering where teachers hide out at special tables away from the plebes.  We are all knitters; we mix and mingle throughout the weekend.

It seemed that the 361 days since we were last together have brought sad times for so many ~ the loss of mothers, spouses and

How many knitters does it take … ?

other close family members.  Perhaps that is what made for the most cohesive gathering anyone can remember.  Time crept rather than sped as we reconnected, updated and helped each other through entanglement.

And helped each other treat ourselves to a bit (or more) of fiber luxury at our

All the pretties …

on-site marketplace with Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Briar Rose, String Theory and newcomers Three Bags Full and longtime Retreat-goer turned vendor PeaceLoveYarn.  The line in the hallway outside looked a lot like Black Friday at midnight ~ or whatever they are now going to call it since the holiday season must now start the day after Halloween, but I digress.

2012 swag bag

I have not even mentioned the swag bag for 2012, including one of the sweetest of children’s books, Extra Yarn, the very useful color grid (that I will use at Owl Manor more than for knitting) and yarn, stitch markers and more.  I do use my KRR coffee mugs judiciously, when I want a special reminder of being with people I love who share something special.

Somehow, in the midst of her constant personal reinvention and multiple projects, Clara Parkes manages to put the right people together, sprinkle yarn-fairy dust and make magic.  Never more so than in 2012.  I am endlessly grateful that she and the others who help behind the scenes do so, and allow me to be a guest at the party.

I am strengthened and humbled and ready to face the next chapter, whatever it might bring.


October 30, 2012

Unlike our friends on the shoreline, or in New York and New Jersey, chez Owl was spared any drama from Hurricane Sandy.

Sandy’s touch in our part of the world

That’s not to say that winds that howled like freight trains speeding by did not do damage to our part of the world.  Our neighborhood had a blown power transformer and some trees down.  But last year’s Snowpacalypse combined with very aggressive tree-cutting in the interim meant periodic power cycling off, then (mercifully) on again was all that we experienced.

As for Owl Manor, there is more water, but it is a drop in the pun-intended bucket.

We continue to wait for word from many friends who have not checked in, and offer our prayers for their safety.  We know too well the toll that disruption, dismay and damage take as the days pass.


October 29, 2012

We are waiting here for the storm on the anniversary of the Snowpacalypse.  We are well-prepared chez Owl, but Owl Manor is another story.

Be prepared and be safe, my friends.


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