Posts Tagged ‘glorydays’

A glance

January 6, 2011

When the calendar page turns, we are all conditioned to take stock.  A glance back, a look ahead.

A year ago, I promised to “make progress on the following”:

Tackle some of the baker’s dozen of unfinished objects ~ Hm.  Ten still undone.  Oops.  Too many shiny distractions and not enough brain space to wrestle with some of these.

Knit like crazy for the darlingest knitwear model ~ Still the cutest model, but woeful progress here, too.   One done, one missing a collar.  Still.  Idjit.

The secret test-knit

Knit one sweater for myself ~ I did knit one sweater, albeit for a soon-to-be-published book.  In 36 days.  On size 2 needles, with intarsia and fair-isle.  I think that qualifies.

Attend an extra day of the Knitter’s Review Retreat ~ Done.  Best decision ever.

Ready my own design for publication ~ Oh, that.  I forgot all about it.


Deep breath which can also be read as a sigh.

Peachy - the pattern and the model

Time to look at the year’s knitting from a different angle:

  • Projects completed:  21 plus 3 test-knits
  • Yarn used:  3.2 miles plus 1.2 miles = 4.3 miles of yarn
  • 8 shawls, 7 cowls, 2 hats, 3 fingerless mitts, 2 scarves, 1 adult and 1 child’s sweater, 1 pair of socks  No, the math doesn’t work, but I’m not going back to figure it out.
  • Number of “one-skein” projects completed:  16
  • WIP/UFOs today:  15
  • Fibers first used in 2010:  Bluefaced Leicester (BFL), California Variegated Mutant (CVM), Cormo, Targhee
  • Favorite yarns used in 2010:  Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days, Spirit Trail Fiberworks Sunna and Lyra, Sundara Sock, Foxfire Fiber Cormo/Silk/Alpaca, Quince and Co. Chickadee, AslanTrends Invernal
  • Designers I knitted from most:  Ysolda Teague, Gudrun Johnston

SHELTER - Button Jar for Woodruff mittens

On tap for 2011 (besides attacking those UFOs that are still UFOs – I mean, really):

E-nough with the navel-gazing already!

The past week has brought seismic shifts in several critical parts of my life, and these shifts are mostly good extraordinary.  They mean I am no longer carrying a Steinway in terms of the responsibilities and pressures of everyday life.  Will it mean more knitting time?  I sure hope so.


Unwound – Pt. II

November 19, 2010

For the previous days’ previous events at the 2010 KR Retreat, see this post.

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear.  It wouldn’t have mattered if a hurricane raged outside, for we were all absorbed in fibery pursuits.  It finally felt like we were really “there” at the Knitter’s Review Retreat, not on a day-trip that would end too soon.  Hearing Darling Bebe sobbing for me on the phone and being unable to complete a song for her (because I choked up) the night before sort of made that real.

Ann Budd crunches the designer numbers

We were so delighted to crunch the numbers that result in perfect sweater-fitting with the legendary Ann Budd.  Her Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns lives on my coffee table and I refer to it often when working through a pattern issue or putting something basic on the needles.  Clara always manages to bring the knitterati who are both geniuses AND approachable people.  Ann is no exception.  However, she is exceptional.

Throughout the class, the BlackBerry blinked.

Quince and Co. Tern - Boothbay Blue

Of course, in addition to all of those finds in the Stash Lounge ~ the room devoted to yarns seeking loving new homes ~ the KR Retreat features its very own marketplace from some of our favorite fiber companies.  Pam Allen brought her Quince and Co. brand-new wool-silk blend Tern.  The camera does not do it justice.  I’m hoping I can execute the soon-to-be-released Ann Budd scarf pattern with it.

Where are all the pictures?  There were too many eager knitters and not enough air ~ or room ~ to mess with a camera.  After all, how

Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days - Colorway - Nutmeg?

would I then hold onto this: Briar Rose Glory Days dyed in a colorway just for me. Really.  Or at least that’s the illusion I’m working under.   Chris was soooooo kind.  And I have a swoony kind of weakness for this particular BFL.

Foxfire Cormo/Silk/Alpaca in Great Blue Heron

Foxfire Fiber also joined the other wonderful vendors in the marketplace.  I currently have this yarn, Cormo/Silk/Alpaca on the needles making a LaNovia scarf.  It is soft and drapey at the same time.  There are only two times I year I see Barb Parry, (and she  missed Mass. Sheep and Wool) so I picked these up for the day when inspiration strikes again.

There were a few other yarn purchases we’ll talk about another day from Spirit Trail Fiberworks and String Theory.  And another of Lanea’s sock bags (in a different colorway) not for knitting socks ~ or for knitting at all ~ but for mommy-running-into-store-with-free-hands-necessities-and-toddler.   I committed far less wallet damage than many of my dear friends in that guilt-free zone.  OTOH, there were some skeins of lovely things that Minh “helped” jump into my bag in the Stash Lounge, so I was in no way yarn-deprived.

Instead, we took over the tavern for an afternoon of knitting and conversation about yarn shops, direction of the industry, designers and life in general.  No photos required, though I regrettably failed to document the dozens scores scads of gorgeous creations adorning everyone in the room. I’ll let another friend show you.

Confession:  By this point, the ignored BlackBerry was apoplectic.  So much so, that I felt obligated to send an email up the food chain to inquire whether I was supposed to engage in the discourse that would. not. end.  Response: No.  But the red eye resumed blinking as soon as I locked the keyboard.

BFL headband frpm Wool-along

Evening brought the long-awaited Knitter’s Book of Yarn / Knitter’s Book of Wool / Wool-along Hoe-down to KRR.  Oh, the lovelies we saw.  From headbands to shawls … and oh, the shawls.  There was this show-stoppingly gorgeous Tibetan Clouds designed

Tibetan Clouds in Sundara FSM

by Sivia Harding for KBOY, knitted by Hipparchia in Sundara Fingering Silky Merino with beads.  (Sadly, the camera hated trying to capture the bright, shiny colorway.)

Here, Sweet Jane poses with her peeps who made her design, the Falling Waters Shawl.  (Which,

Falling Waters with its creator, Jane

as was demonstrated, is long enough to cover lap and legs in a cold office.)  Between her Hedgerow Socks, the inspiration for Hedgerow Mitts, and Falling Waters, Jane is the de facto preferred KR designer.

Oh, and we had doorprizes galore!  From “it” yarns of the moment to needles, bags and beads, it seemed like Clara’s doorprize list would not end.

Spirit Trail Saule BFL and a new owlie bag

This is the part where I admit to embarrassing myself.  (It’s a state of affairs that happens too often for comfort, being a complete geek.  Not a geek in a cool way, just a geek.)  Clara rigged the drawing.  She had to have.  Because it’s just a little too coincidental that the BFL from Spirit Trail Fiberworks (called Saule, sportweight) came to me.  Poor KnittingKittens was afraid she’d have to sleep in the lobby while I … nevermind.  Shown here with a lavender/green owl bag from NanciKnits, the fraternal twin of another one I have.

All through this, I did something I’ve not done before at a KRR.

I knitted.

And knitted.

Into the owl hours of the morning.

While my voice disappeared.

And the BlackBerry blinked.

Leading the Yarn Church service ...

Sunday brought “Yarn Church.”  This is a chance to select a project for oneself and start it by having your friends help cast on a few stitches each.  It is a lovely tradition.

Though we were still together, I could feel the weight of home and job pressing from the outside.

Perhaps that is why I discovered nearly an hour down the road, that I had forgotten key items in the room, forcing us to turn back to retrieve them.

I wasn’t ready to leave.

Sleep socks for Darling Bebe

But I did get some actual knitting done.


Unwound – Pt. I

November 19, 2010

A mere five days after re-entry to the real world, and the 2010 Knitter’s Review Retreat already seems like months ago.  It elicits a wistful Casablanca, “We’ll always have Williamstown …”  So now I commit it to writing to try to recapture some of its magic.


And it is magic.  How many events do alleged adults plan four months in advance, then count down the days, weeding through stash, preparing presents and endlessly packing for?  On departure, the Owl and the Pussycat (KnittingKittens) did a fair job at filling a small SUV.  For 2010, we had given ourselves a special gift: the Thursday extension ~ four days and three nights unplugged and unwound.

My talisman

Then, the pleasant drive over rivers and hills, through the Berkshires.  KnittingKittens and I take periodic day-trips hither and yarn, so it didn’t yet feel as if we were going away.  Until we reached my personal milestone, the signal that we are quite near.  There’s something endlessly cosmic about it.

The 2010 KRR SwagBag

On arrival at the Williams Inn, well, it all started to sink in.  The hugs.  The smiles.  The how-do-we-get-all-this-to-the-room?  The goodie bags.  Yes, there is swag that for knitters, rivals the old Oscar presenter presents.  Inside:  A Schulana pattern book; Clara’s beautiful KR notecards; a stitch marker; a skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock (which I have never knitted with before); Filatura DiCrosa Zara and Berroco Blackstone Tweed.  Indie dyer Dirty Water Dye Works Julia, too.

The official swag

And dear to me, as you’ll

Limited edition

hear later, a special commemorative button from Briar Rose Fibers.  We had checked in early, then scooted to a nearby grill for a bite of lunch, not surprised at all to encounter longtime KRR friends already seated.

The BlackBerry, set to “vibrate,” began to dance.  Took work call, returned to lunch.

An early Christmas

As cars filled the lot, the presents — less important than the presence — began to appear.  Notepads and sachets, stitchmarkers and project bags.  Each will remind me of the giver in the months ahead.

We gathered, and under the watchful eye of Lanea, whipped the Stash Lounge into submission for all to enjoy.

2AAT tutoring

Friday, the day began with an intensive, speed-dating version of Melissa Morgan-Oakes‘ Two-at-a-Time From the Toe Up class.  Melissa is a very talented instructor, one who is able to communicate a concept in as many ways as it takes to help a student understand, and uses subtle tools to allow those who are behind a chance to catch up without pressure.  I use her 2AAT technique all the time, and prefer socks from the toe up (in those very rare instances that I knit contemplate knitting

Metaphor Yarns hit the sweet spot

socks).  Even with the whole day before us, Melissa condensed a seven-hour class into five, taking us through gussets and heel turns until everyone had something to show.  Of course, we were aided by these pretty little packages from Metaphor Yarns – fresh chocolate!

Jackie, fitted to perfection

By the time class ended, the number of retreaters had begun to swell.

And the BlackBerry danced.  And danced.

The gorgeous knits began to come out, like this perfectly fitted and executed Jackie in Briar Rose Fibers Fourth of July.  I think this version is much prettier than the original.

Fearless Leader Clara Parkes

There was Bullwinkle and Rosi and our dear Sweet Jane (whose name cannot be disentangled from that utterly apt adjective); Marfa, Purlewe, HappyStasher, Ripko and NanciKnits to name a few aside from my own cyber-sister, Luann.  Called together from the proverbial four corners by the woman known as The Yarn Whisperer, Clara Parkes, we assembled together for an evening of introductions.  (Note: Will some designer deconstruct that store-bought cardigan, please?)

And what a crowd we were!  From

Here a knitter, there a knitter ...

Arizona to Oregon to Maine and Florida … college students to retirees … new moms and grandmas … each with enthusiasm and the desire to create something from sticks and string.

The BlackBerry was reset to “Silent.”  Its red eye blinked.

Rather than the usual “who/where” introductions, we were asked to talk about our favorite fibers.  I shall refrain from repeating the racy terminology that followed so as to keep the spammers at bay. Suffice it to say, it was, ummmm, tactile.  There was little professed monogamy 😉  If you are wondering, I extolled the virtues of BFL – my yarn BFF ~ specifically Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days, which I’ve babbled raved displayed here before.  It was ~ yarnographic. ‘Nuff said.

Read on for Pt. II

Bath magic

October 26, 2010

One of Owl’s simpler rules of life applies equally to knitting: A warm sudsy bath never hurt anything.

For several too many months, my Ritzy mitts, knitted in Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days ~ the-skein-that-would-not-end ~ have been sitting in time out.  BFL was the March wool-of-the-month.  These got thumbs months ago.  Four teensy little ends to be weaved in was all that was left.  Except for the ladders.  I mean honkin’ big ladders.

I knit everything on circular needles, and for things in the round, use either the magic loop technique, or Melissa Morgan-Oakes‘ two-at-a-time method.  And for the life of me, I cannot explain how it is that both mitts had ladders on both sides that were big enough for me to step through.  I tugged and fiddled with a crochet hook to no avail.

Ritzy in Glory Days BFL

Finally, more months later, I gave up and decided to let warm water and Eucalan do the work.

I was right – the bath relaxed the fibers significantly.  Enough so that:

a) they actually fit an adult hand and

b) the ladders are evident only to me.

Blocked Glory Days Snapdragon Tam

Cross one more FO off the list.  These mitts  will become a teacher holiday gift.  Two sets of mitts to go to keep toddler teachers’ hands warm and fingers free for all those little zippers.

Oops ~ in adding links here, it appears that I neglected to post

Snapdragon Tam

a finished photo of the Glory Days Snapdragon Tam.  (The color is true in the blocked shot.  For some reason, the daylight in this modeled photo refused to be color-corrected.)  Another perfectly written Ysolda Teague pattern.  A delightful experience with beautiful Bluefaced Leicester as part of the Knitter’s Book of Wool wool-along.

So from that one 500-yard skein, there was also an Ivy Vines cowl ~ and there’s still enough yarn left for another set of mitts.  Talk about knitting-bang-for-the-buck!


May 8, 2010

That pretty much describes everything in my life at the moment.  Certainly my knitting.

At what point does the perfect become the enemy of the good?

When you are actually considering re-knitting a project for a third time.


Yes, I lost my good sense.  And  brought it all on myself.

See, I know that my Briar Rose Glory Days BFL – the Skein That Will Not End – will bloom a little when it’s had a sudsy bath.  With an Ivy Vines cowl and Snapdragon Tam already completed, all that was missing was a set of mitts.  Nutmeg Owl LOVES mitts, which allow her to buckle car-seats and fill out daycare paperwork without taking off her handwear.  Conversely, I really hate mitts that don’t hug your hand.  My Hedgerow Mitts relaxed tremendously after their bath and I’ve regretted not knitting them on smaller needles.  So when I chose the very simple Ritzy pattern to show off the lovely semi-solid BFL, I decided to make extra-sure that they would not grow too much.

Suffice it to say that someone saw me working on them on US 3s and asked whether I was making them for Darling Bebe.  Ahem.  Uh, no.  And they were pretty tight (and nearly finished) when I tried them on (the only down-side of working 2-at-a-time).

Rip it, rip it, rip it.

Ritzy, take 2

Okay, I went up to US 5.  Much better.  And I should say that one of the things I liked about this pattern was knitting the mitts inside-out in reverse stockinette.  I really like the built-in long cuffs – for in wintertime, that “gap” at the wrists between coat and handwear is most uncomfortable.

When it was time to pick up the thumbs, I needed a sanity check on something my brain wasn’t processing in the pattern, so I asked a friend who already made them.

“What are you talking about?” she asked.  “Let me pull up my pattern.”

Ummm.  Turns out, the most recent iteration of this pattern is knitted right-side out, and includes a lovely little thumb gusset.  Oh.  Withdrawal from karma bank because someone gave me the paid-for pattern and I didn’t know there was an update.  The Yarn Goddess snarls, “Take that!”

I confess here that I put the mitts in time-out for several days.  To re-knit or not?

No. There is more knitting waiting for you.  These are done.  You are an absolute control-freak dork.  You are finished.  Stop trying to compensate for all the things you cannot control in your goofy little life and give those mitts a bath.

Funny, though – there’s still enough yarn left for another project.


April 16, 2010

My name is NutmegOwl and I used to be a knitter. Until vitas interruptus and its virulent cousin, workus interruptus struck with a vengeance.  It’s too painful to try to count the number of days I went without so much as touching my needles.

The tsunami now over, there was one thing I was  pining for the other night after Darling Bebe’s bedtime: to sit in my chair and knit.

Somehow, that turned out to be a lot harder than it sounds.

I first picked up the almost-finished Ritzy Mitts made with the Glory Days Skein That Will Not End (so dubbed for having produced a cowl, a cable-intensive tam and now mitts with no sign of being near finished).  Now that it’s the ides of April, I should finish the March BFL-along.  Two problems with that plan:  1)  I was not in the mood to make thumbs; and 2) With almost all the knitting complete and ends woven in — it struck me that I have to frog them entirely and knit them all over again.  The gauge is just too tight.  I over-thought and over-compensated and did the worst knitting of my knitting life, with ladders a firefighter could climb.  O-kay.

Tudor Grace

Let’s pick up the Tudor Grace scarf in jewel-toned SeaSilk.  Oh, that’s right, from measuring it with petite Mom, we determined that once blocked, it’s long enough.  No knitting to do there.*

There’s Darling Bebe’s little Action sweater from Kim Hargreaves’ Pipsqueaks (my favorite kid book).  All that’s left there is finishing work.

I do not have enough brain cells for finishing work.

Could it be even remotely possible that with all of the WIPs in my house, I don’t have anything to actually KNIT on demand?

Ummmm.  Almost.

Sundara Sock - Hot Chilies

Apparently, in one of my last somewhat sane hours, my subconscious must have known what was coming.  Because right there in a tidy ziplock bag, was the remainder of my gorgeous Sundara Sock skein in Hot Chilies and the printed pattern for Abstract Leaves Cowl (free ravelry download) to go with the Ishbel Beret.  Instant gratification: Cowls to the rescue!  Lace on board!

Whew. That was scary.

* In case you are wondering, for any mostly-silk yarn, I use a ball-winder, then place the yarncake on a CD spindle and pull from the outside.  Your cake stays tidy; you recycle; everyone wins.  I accept NO credit for this idea – it’s from brilliant Melissa Morgan-Oakes, and I use the same technique when working 2-at-a-time from a single cake of yarn.

Etsy k’etsy

April 1, 2010

That’s phonetic Greek – for “this and that.”  Which is what I can offer you at the moment.

First, a required response to my dear Luann on YarnoraMama (wish we were there right now):  If I knit what you think is an extraordinary number of projects, you have conveniently forgotten failed to mention that mine are small, portable, mostly one-skein pieces that require little or no thought, no measuring, no shaping … you get what I’m saying?  And you haven’t seen the state of my house and how it suffers for it, either.

I’ve been quiet of late owing to a battery of medical tests and doctor appointments and new medications that turn me into mush.  We are working on resolving some issues.  I will be okay.  ‘Nuff said.

BFF KnittingKittens and I passed a most pleasant sunrise last Saturday on our annual quest for hand-carved butter lambs.  We were not the first in line (at 6:30 a.m.).  More on that coming.

With my parents visiting over the holiday weekend, the guest room has been excavated (again).  That means there are three — did you hear that?  THREE! — FOs blocking as I type.  So I’ll have something to post very soon.

In the meantime, in those few minutes when I am actually knitting, I am continuing my passionate love affair with Briar Rose Fiber’s Glory Days, a DK BFL with so much yardage, I’m on my third project and there will still be leftovers!  Oh my!

Since there has been no eye candy today, it’s time to show off a certain Darling Bebe – your Friday eye candy a little early.  And, yes, you have seen the sweater in the first photo before:

Birthday hats are the BEST hats of all!

This hat is even better!

The charm

March 22, 2010

The countdown clock says less than two days until YarnoraMama.  I. Cannot. Wait.  Life is complicated right now.  I. Need. This.  Nothing – not rain, nor snow, nor doctor’s attempts to schedule things, will get between me and YarnoraMama.

In the meantime, I really have been knitting.  And frogging.  And knitting. And frogging.

I believe in swatching.  I do.  But swatching only gets you so far.  Especially with hats.

Case in point:  Snapdragon Tam by brilliant genius Ysolda Teague.

Having finished my Ivy Vines cowl in Briar Rose Glory Days – an indescribably delicious dk-weight Blue Face Leicester (see previous post) – I was ready to cast-on for this companion piece as part of our BFL-along on Knitter’s Review.  Or so I thought.

There is much anecdotal evidence that this pattern runs HUGE.  SO:

Pattern gauge:  20 st/4 in (on a US 6, but that’s irrelevant)

My gauge:  22 st/4 in on US 4.  Thus, casting on the medium size would result in ribbing that would be 2 inches smaller than the finish in the pattern.  Fine.  I will use a US 3, the same needle I knitted with on most of the Glorious Vines.  It’s a nice density, so I should be golden.  Near the end of a three-hour board meeting, I cast on and start ribbing.

Five rows in, it is clear that this is too loose.  The ribbing is not dense enough and surely won’t hold onto my head.  In the privacy of the loo, I try it on — still on the needles — to find it is, indeed, waaaaaaay too big.  (Make your own mental picture of me doing this with project still live.)

Sadly, I do not have smaller needles.  I keep knitting – must have busy hands during meeting.

Mercifully, meeting ends.

I subsequently cast on the small size using US 2 needles.  Yarn likes smaller needles.  Head is not so sure about smaller size.  It does stretch to fit my head and unruly mop, and I imagine some bit of stretching after blocking.  Bumped up to US 4 for the cabled part of the hat.

While I like the density, I’m now afraid that the hat is, on the whole, going to be too small.

I’m beginning to feel trapped in Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

This hat will not win.  It must be knitted into submission.


  • Fudge some more.  It’s not like I don’t have most of a 500-yard skein to work with.

The latter wins.  I cast on for the Medium size using a US 1 needle.  It’s a winner!  Ribbing on US 1, body of hat on US 4.  Onward in BFL delight.

Glorious Tam aka Snapdragon

Hope and glory

March 17, 2010

Hope sprouts eternal!

Following the weekend’s torrential rains, Darling Bebe and I found these yesterday!  New word of the day:  Crocus.  I remember stealing an October naptime to drop 100 bulbs from White Flower Farm in the ground, knowing how just-plain HAPPY crocus make me.  It was a most worthwhile investment of mommy time.

And another cause for hope, joy and celebration:  I am one week away from YarnoraMama! This holiday is neither state nor federal, but better than either one because daycare is open.  More on that forthcoming, but you’re welcome to take your guesses.

And here’s the glory part:

Glorious Vines

Glorious Vines, properly named Knitspot’s Ivy Vines cowl made from Briar Rose Fiber’s Glory Days, as my first completed object for this month’s BFL-along.  (Blue Faced Leicester, for muggles.)  This one’s just for me.  (I gifted away all but one cowl.)

Lest I fail to mention the particulars:  US 3 and US 4 Addi Turbo needles, using magic loop technique.

Modification: Knitted the bottom section in the Large size, then decreased to the Small for the neck to keep it close and prevent flopping.

This yarn is a simple pleasure to knit with.  While Clara has a range of lovely terms for evaluating wool, mine are a little less descriptive – but certainly rapturous to compensate.  It’s wonderful workhorse wool. Not too sticky, plied well so it does now split, softens and blocks beautifully.

Upper "vine" detail

I’m one of the lucky people who can wear pretty much any wool next-to-skin (I love the feel of Shetland on skin …), and while I know there can be significant variation in the softness of any yarns of the same breed owing to the spinning and dyeing process, this qualifies as softer than many commercially available comparable yarns, like Jaeger Merino DK or Louet Gems – both of which are staples in my “workhorse wool” category.

Glorious Vines - bottom detail

I’d have to call the unnamed colorway, “Ocean.”  It is the same ever-changing deep blue-green.  Also, IRL, as opposed to the photo, the color is more cohesive and significantly less stripey.  As I’ve discovered with its companion piece (more to come), it also withstands a horrific amount of frogging and reknitting without showing evidence.  And with each 500-yard skein running about $30, it is affordable hand-dyed luxury – without a single knot.  I probably embarrassed myself squeezing and sniffing the skein when I bought it and summarily enabled convinced Luann that she needed to have some, too.  No apologies for that now!

Friends don’t let friends miss out on special yarn.

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