Posts Tagged ‘knittersreview’


January 1, 2014
Shiny and new

Shiny and new

I knew one thing heading into 2013: this would be a different year from any other.  That there would be nothing routine about it would prove to be an understatement.  To focus on rebuilding Owl Manor, I left my full-time job.  Just as I was getting into a routine, my freelance client needed a growing number of hours.  Simultaneously, as befits the cosmic sitcom that is my life, disaster befell us with the rebuild, requiring us to halt the project and start anew.

Somewhat surprisingly (to me at least), this time knitting did not fail me ~ if blogging about it did.  Looking back at my “output,” it’s clear that while my head was wrestling with knots, my hands stayed busy.

Projects completed in 2013:  13

What were they?  5 cowls, 4 shawls, 3 hats and a pair of fancy gloves

Yards of yarn used:  4,115, almost .8 miles

One-skein projects: 5

Projects never posted on ravelry but worked on: 3 (yes, I will get them up there)

Projects waiting to be blocked:  4 or more.  Sigh.

So many WIPs, so little time

So many WIPs, so little time

WIPs OTN:  Oooh, shudder.  Off the top of my head, 12.  I’m sure there are more.  Yikes.  But I pick up and put down what feels good to me.  That’s okay.

Goals I wanted to achieve in 2013:  Wisely, I didn’t really set a bar, per se.  There is a pair of colorwork mittens I would have loved to make, but I just didn’t get to them.  I did achieve something on my knitting “bucket list” though I failed to tell you about it yet.  (I’ll get to it, I promise.)  Because looking at the baker’s dozen projects I did complete, I note that only 3 stayed at my house.  The rest were either gifts, charity projects or samples.  The shoemaker’s barefoot children come to mind.  Which is why all four of the projects you see here are staying chez Owl, especially the ball of beautiful bulky Morehouse Merino, which will become a cowl for Darling Girl as soon as I unearth my graph paper.  Or just buy more …

The recent posts on Amy Herzog’s design blog put a word in my head that’s been ricocheting about for the past couple of days as I considered next year.  It talked about knitting intention.

My fingers are itching to knit more.  And there is one gaping hole in my knitting over the past yew years.  I haven’t knit a sweater for myself in quite awhile.  I had one I really liked on the needles but it got

Destined for frogging and a new project

Destined for frogging and a new project

so darned complicated to rejigger it for the gauge I got with the yarn I was using that I just got stuck.  It is going to the frog pond immediately so the sweater’s worth of Spirit Trail Fiberworks Sunna can be repurposed.

Now armed with my CustomFit measurements from taking Amy’s class at the Knitter’s Review Retreat, I will be swatching some Sunna and purchasing my CustomFit version of Afterlight.  No need to think.  Just knitting a pattern that is written for me.

That’s my knitting intention for 2014.  That and getting some woolies done for Darling Girl, because there are constantly growing fingers and ears to warm and there is no excuse for allowing Jack Frost to nip at those.

Thanks for hanging with me this long.  I will try to connect more in the months ahead.  My absences here are largely due to activity over at the other blog.  In the meantime, happy 2014!


Purple power

February 19, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named L who loved the color purple.

L was a spirited and clever girl.  So much so, that when doctors found something very scary, everyone knew that such a strong and brave girl would fight hard to be well again.

Rosebud for L

But those who loved L knew that the road would be long, and they reached out to their friends for help.  They said, “Our L loves the color purple.  This family is full of talented knitters.  Can you please use your gifts to make her purple hats?  The hats will keep her head warm, and and remind her of all the people who love her.”

And so, as a member of the Knitter’s Review family, NutmegOwl went to the airport and cast on a purple hat for L, a scaled-down version of her favorite-of-late Rosebud, executed on US 4 and US 6 needles

madelinetosh Vintage - Blackcurrant

and madelinetosh Vintage in Blackcurrant.  The purple is there, blended with hints of blue jeans, the right thing for a young girl in cool weather or warm.  NutmegOwl knitted it in airports and on airplanes and late at night on vacation, watching the moon shine on the Gulf.

May it bring L currents of purple power as she journeys along the road and reaches a triumphant destination.


November 9, 2011

I refuse to look at the calendar.  To do so would be to acknowledge that in one week, I must finish knitting a sweater, knock out some hats, make swatches for a class, pack things to destash, and get the other occupants of my household ready before I disappear for four delicious days of knitting with no other responsibilities.

LOFT - Barn Owl

In the meantime, I will plug my ears and shout, “LA LA LA LA LA!”  And let you feast your eyes on the contents of a package that arrived at my house long before the power crews.

This, my friends, is BrooklynTweed LOFT.  Colorway:  Barn Owl.

LOFT: Blanket Fort - how evocative

It is the long-anticipated skinny sister to SHELTER, 275 yards of woolen-spun American wool to each hank.   Picture a hank of Jamieson’s Shetland in fingering weight.  Then imagine it “foofed up.”  A skein of LOFT is about twice a poofy.  You DO want to squeeze the Charmin.

In the skein, LOFT reminds me very much of the Sweet Grass Targhee I used to make Grove mittens(also designed by BrooklynTweed/Jared Flood).  No wonder, since LOFT is made from

LOFT: Old World

Targhee and Columbia wool.  It has the same sort of natural stickiness, too, that lends itself to colorwork.  If you liked colorwork.  Or wanted to actually knit colorwork.

I purchased some accessory patterns so I can give LOFT a proper test-drive for myself.  In the meantime, I will point you to the Yarn Whisperer’s rapturous review.

Excuse me while I go back to compulsive list-making so I can actually get out of town …

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.



September 1, 2010

A decade.

Ten years.

Just ten years.

Ten years ago.

Once upon a time, all those years ago, give or take a day, NutmegOwl walked into a LYS for the first time.  You see, at the place I worked, a co-worker had invited a group of people to learn to knit on their lunch hours.  She didn’t invite me.  But I would stop by their lessons and watch what they did.  “I can do that,” I thought.  As the summer weeks passed, it was clear I would not be invited.  So I asked where they had purchased their supplies, and on Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, marched in the door and made my declaration.

“I’m going to knit a sweater.”

I left armed with a Susan Bates instructional paperback, a set of US 11 straight plastic needles, a bagful of Paton’s Decor yarn, and a copy of Family Circle Easy Knitting.  Holding a forest green solid and an autumnal variegated together, within two weeks, I had finished the V-neck with the mock cable up the front.

By Christmas, I had completed that sweater for my sister (which I have never seen again), the fluted rib wrap for mom mom and a sport-weight ribbed V-neck vest for my dad.  I remember how surprised they were on Christmas morning when I told them that I had made the gifts myself.

I look back on the months that followed and marvel at my fearless ignorance.  There wasn’t much that I wasn’t willing to throw myself into.  Fine gauge?  Cider House Rules vest from Interweave Knits in Jamieson’s shetland.  Intarsia?  Goddaughter’s layette, think lots of Debbie Bliss and MinnowKnits.  Stripes?  Goddaughter’s layette.  Texture?  You name it.  Except, at the time, for lace, which was something only those on Mount Olympus made from cobwebs.  Little did I know what I was missing!

The knitting world was so different then.  I’ve just been reminded that Knitter’s Review went up right about the same time.  (Check out the new design to commence its 11th year!)  A community of knitters online.  Who’d have thought?  I had no idea some of my deepest friendships would be cultivated that way.

Back then, patterns were only available through books, magazines and pamphlets in LYS.  Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting and Family Circle were the only quarterly games in town.  Online yarn sales?  They followed soon after, opening up a world of yarns that might not be carried locally.

Pack up your bags and go spend a weekend with strangers in another state at a knitting retreat?  Sure!  How did I choose to introduce myself to a roomful of strangers?  By publicly frogging a nearly-finished complicated cabled Manos pullover that wasn’t meant to be.  (Today, that retreat is my personal Christmas.  Plenty to say about that here.)

Being considered skilled and articulate enough to actually teach other people?  For money?  That one kind of stopped me in my tracks.  Momentarily.  And I found my second knitting love ~ unlocking the mysteries of this craft to bring other knitters on the journey with me.

To paraphrase the YarnHarlot: I am simply never not knitting ~ at least in my head.  A rare day passes that does not involve even two rows of something.

Life has changed greatly in the interim, but knitting has been the constant.

I went trolling about this morning, looking for the appropriate “anniversary” that goes with 10:  Tin, aluminum.

My first thought:  Uhhhhhhhh.  Not too festive.

Then the lightbulb:  aluminum.  The original Inox circulars that first populated my needle collection.  They’ve mostly been replaced by Addi Turbo and Addi Lace today, but I still reach for them from time to time, like old slippers, and run the black cords under hot water to unkink them.

I do still have those original straight plastic needles, too.  It’s been a long and lovely journey.  And if I wanted to, I could pick up those same needles and make something lovely.

Ten years.  That’s a shiny knit-a-versary.


July 20, 2010

In the wake of my last (hopefully) thought-provoking, but not really cheery post, time to take a happier track.  Make that, joyous.

Generally speaking, knitters are some of the nicest people in the world.  In my experience, we operate on a “pay it forward” sort of system, reaching out to assist one another or treat one another at any random turn.  Early deposits in the karma bank, so to speak.

Even so, I have had two recent occasions to be flat-out bowled over and virtually speechless at the generosity of my fellow knitters.

As mentioned last week, Minh-of-the-legendary-stash somehow pulled my name to win her blog contest.  This is what showed up chez Owl:

Christmas in July

Two skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery New Mexico Organic.  The label of  this DK-weight wool says it is soft enough for baby or next-to-skin wear.  They are not kidding.  This is quite likely the softest wool I have ever touched.  And Minh well knows my fondness for GMS yarn (since I’ve relieved her stash of some before).  Speaking of that – and of generosity, this is also the place to mention that the last time I bought yarn from Minh for a Knitter’s Review contribution, I purchased five skeins and she sent six.  But I digress …

In the center, that is indeed Wollmeise.  The stuff that has knitters and yarn collectors in quite a tizzy.  And it’s in my favorite colors. 

(I. Am. Dumbfounded.)

And, finally, SweetGeorgiaYarns Silk Lamb Lace in Honey Fig.  A double skein, no less.

“Thank you!” seems oddly inadequate.

So, too, with my swap partner TulipLynn in the Sundara Yarn Love Spring Swap on ravelry.  This is the part where I am rather embarrassed at my own performance.  I had never participated in a swap like this before, and I really didn’t know whether (or how far) people went over-the-top.  So my well-intentioned but straight-along-the lines package seems terribly miserly by comparison to this:

TulipLynn's Sundara Swap

A pretty brown Julip bag, a tin of clever knitting notions from SlippedStitchStudios, the most cunning little mini crochet hook, and a skein of Sundara Sock in Hyacinth.

In retrospect, I think I have it figured out now: it’s like The Law of Sock Yarn.  Sock yarn doesn’t count in stash.  Or at least that’s what I’ve always been told.  That must also be the case with various little gifties one squirrels away for another knitter’s rainy day.  Thus, it doesn’t “count” per se.

Now I know better.

I’m still rather speechless, though.

C is for …

June 2, 2010

Soujourner Sheep Coopworth

… California Red, Coopworth, Cotswold and more.  All found at the Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Festival.

Just look at all of this Coopworth fleece and yarn, produced by Woolies of Shirkshire Farm in Conway, Mass.  And all of those colors?  Entirely plant-dyed by Diane Roeder of Sojourner Sheep.  The Coopworth skein that came home with me was dyed with cosmos and cochineal, and is the same tomato-bisque shade as the wound skein in the foreground.

Cotswold at rest

The brief distance between sheep and yarn was on display for all.  As a knitter, there’s a certain connection I get from seeing the material I use here on the sheep, then just a few yards away …

River Valley Farm Cotswold

… its processed and (sometimes) dyed final state, ready to become whatever it is the Yarn Goddess inspires me to make of it.  This is not the stuff of the big yarn houses, but an all-too-brief connection to the knitters who came before us, who raised the sheep, spun the yarn and clothed themselves.

River Valley Farm California Red

The Cotswold and this undyed California Red were both produced by River Valley Farm in Lenox, Mass., which specializes in unique sheep breeds.  The California Red will become a set of Sweet Fern Mitts from the Knitter’s Book of Wool, as my purchases are all intended to dovetail with the ongoing KBOW wool-along on Knitter’s Review and Ravelry.

Pamudom and her icelandic laceweight

Speaking of which, we did try to have a meet-up.  On the upside, a few of us managed to find each other, in spite of our designated vendor having canceled.   Fellow KBOW fans, you would not believe the incredibly even spinning that pamudom did in this skein of Icelandic laceweight – the May wool-along fiber.  Wow. It was especially nice to meet Malone in person, and to again visit with KRR mainstay Noallatin.

4-H breed primers

Of course, the local 4-H helped out, too, with these primers about each sheep breed – sort of a KBOW tutorial for those who left their copies at home.  Along these lines, some wonderful Icelandic and Jacob also made their way into my shopping bag, as well as perennial partner-in-crime KnittingKittens’. Just planning ahead for another month, Clara.

Darling Bebe's swag

Of course, Darling Bebe is never far from mind, so this swag came home, too.  Her first pair of Shepherd’s Flock shearling slippers, just like Owl’s.  No reason to have chilly piggies in our house.  As an aside, if you suffer from cold toes, these are quite simply the best thing on earth.

Obama waits for his haircut

All in all, it was a wonderful, decided-at-the-last-minute getaway day.  Who can help smiling surrounded by animals like this angora goat named Obama?

Thankful Thursday – Retreat edition

November 19, 2009

Tomorrow morning, I’m leaving for my one mommy’s-weekend-off that is sacrosanct*:  the Knitter’s Review Retreat.  So Thankful Thursday is as good a time as any to tell you why I babble write about it so much.

Preamble: Once upon a time, after several years of reading Knitter’s Review, Owl saw that the arrangements for KRR had changed: instead of being held in Virginia, it was moving to New England – just an easy drive away.  Everything I read about the event suggested it was something special, but previously inaccessible.  So intrepid Karen agreed to go with me to spend 3 days with a group of strangers with whom we shared one thing in common.  That “thing” gave me a really special bond with those I met.

I am thankful for …

… Clara Parkes. If you have never met Clara, you have missed the opportunity to meet a wickedly clever, intrinsically kind person who is a treasure trove of knowledge wrapped up with an unerring sense of “what’s coming next” tied with a delicious ribbon of humor.  She may be Knitting Royalty, but she’s also someone you just want to be around.  And she’s been able to bring together a hundred knitters in person who have otherwise only labored in far-flung places, and turn them into a community.  No, I do not have a crush on her.  I’m proud – and grateful – to call her my friend, though.

… my KRR peeps. Without the Retreat, I would never have been able to have friendships with the people who try to keep me sane.  Nanci, SandyT, Luann, RosiR, Marfa and more – you know who you are.  Without their friendship, the past difficult year would have been much harder.  They buoy me when I need it, check in when I’m too quiet, and share so much wisdom and humor about life beyond the needles.

… fabulous classes. When I was a new knitter, I took a variety of classes.  Not so much, now that I am the one doing the teaching.  But KRR brings the best teachers in the business – the people who have helped me get to the next level, like Melissa Morgan-Oakes.  This year, I’ll be taking a sweater design class with Anne Hanson of Knitspot, and hopefully interacting with Melanie Falick and Ann Budd(At this rate, my knitting-book collection will contain nothing but signed editions.) These are people who don’t talk, they teach.  And I am the better knitter for it.

… guilt-free destashing. The Stash Lounge is somewhat legendary, and for good reason.  You may find cashmere lace or machine-washable baby yarn.  You bring whatever is weighing you down – an old UFO, yarn that was a product of your one-time taste, yarn you know you’ll just never knit.  And you give it away.  Bring something, take something if you want, and acquire some freedom from stuff.

… show and tell. On Friday night, all 100 of us will introduce ourselves with a project that says something about us.  I can’t begin to relate the inspiration that wells up.  Every piece has a story, from Nanci’s now-felted throw to a knitted wedding dress to a pair of socks.  Thinking about it is what led me to knit Elm Row using gorgeous Sundara Silk Lace, knowing Anne would be there to see it.  I needed to prove to myself what I am still capable of.   (Pix and story of now-FO coming after I get home.)

… two nights of unbroken sleep. The guard will be down, and Owl will not have one ear open listening for Darling Bebe’s cries.  Owl will sleep as late as she wants (i.e., past 7 perhaps) with KnittingKittens as the human alarm clock.

… KnittingKittens. While on the subject, the best roomie ev-ah.  What better than someone who doesn’t hear snoring, gets up before you and thus, finishes with ablutions before you even wake up, brings coffee to the room for you – and is your best pal?

More next week.  In the meantime, you know where to find me!

* As of this writing, NutmegOwl is baring the talons.  Work has scheduled Sunday meetings – first for 6 pm, moved to 4 pm, now 3 pm.  My weekend is being encroached upon – and I can’t do a d*** thing about it.  Sigh.  At least I have a job, right?  But still …

Some Friday fun

November 13, 2009

Suffice it to say that if you love your craft, and you want to know where the things you make come from – and the subtle differences between the fibers you use, then the Knitter’s Book of Wool is for you. 

Full disclaimer:  I’m proud to call Clara Parkes my friend, and the things she has “given” me are intangibles.  No remuneration whatsoever was given to me for my comments.

Today, a little sheepy quiz courtesy of the publishers:  Which ewe are you?


NutmegOwl is a Shropshire

Why do I think Clara will have a thing or two to say about that?

Am I clever enough to have figured out how to properly load/download a button?  Nope. Feel free to email me direx anyone …

Happy weekend.

Head down

September 30, 2009

What’s an eight-letter word for “that which stops Owl dead in her tracks?”

M-i-g-r-a-i-n-e.  I did not miss them during pregnancy and its aftermath.  The neurologist and I are still trying to find the right mix of meds to make me functional.  In the meantime, I just lost three days – encompassing my precious weekend, of course.

Work pressure continues unabated.

Knitting remains my refuge in those moments when I have to turn off the computer and decompress, all household and other responsibilities be damned.  Elm Row is starting to look like something, about 7 repeats in.  I am enthralled with the oh-so-fine Sundara Silk Lace.  Will try and pin it out for pix in the near future.

The brightest spot – other than Darling Bebe – is teaching another super group of knitters!  With the gracious permission of Clara Parkes and Amy Ripton, they are learning Hedgerow Mitts two-at-a-time-on-one-circ.  I love this technique – which encompasses “magic loop” and completion of paired objects like mitts, mittens and socks.  It’s the most useful class I’ve ever taken ( from Melissa Morgan-Oakes at the Knitters Review Retreat last year).  If you are looking for a book that features clear diagrams and good directions as well as some lovely sock patterns, Melissa’s book is IT.

I’m thrilled to see so many familiar faces in the class.  In fact, all but one have taken one of my classes before.  They are adventurous, determined and just darn fun to be around.  What more could an instructor want?

(Other than a day that does not start with a raging headache.)

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