Posts Tagged ‘verdande’


December 3, 2013

Oh, the blogger guilt hangs heavy around my neck.  So many FOs to tell you about, and so little time to actually write about them.

I’m going to dust off the old soapbox and talk about one of my favorite techniques.  It gives maximum effect for minimum effort, and if you haven’t tried it ~ well, shame on you.  Let’s talk about colorwork.  I’ll do you one better, though: let’s talk colorwork without stranding.  Let’s talk mosaic knitting.

Sofya Cowl

Sofya Cowl

Simply explained, mosaic knitting, also called “slip-stitch knitting,” allows you to work one color at a time in each row you knit with results that look like you positively slaved. Often, depending on the colorways involved, mosaic knitting has a distinctive look that mimics stained glass.

Here you see it in the Sofya Cowl, knit in Spirit

Corrugated rib up close

Corrugated rib up close

Trail Fiberworks Verdande.*  The background color (green) is Crete; the brown is one of my perennial favorites, Kestrel. This was a really quick knit other than the 40-odd rows of corrugated ribbing (Knit the knits in one color; purl stitches are worked in the other color, see?)  Even with the ribbing, I was able to knit the larger size  in less than a week.

Here is the 411:

Mosaic up close in Sofya Cowl

Mosaic up close in Sofya Cowl

Pattern:  Sofya Cowl by Jennifer Dassau, size Large

Yarn:  Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande,* one skein each in Crete and Kestrel

Needles:  US 7 Signature Needle Arts circs because I know Verdande will grow when it meets water and I tend to knit colorwork (of every kind) a little loosely.

Mods:  None.  I had enough of both colors left to have made a 2nd one reversing the colors.  (Putting the brown in the background and the green on top.)  Maybe even enough to repeat the whole thing if I felt adventurous.

Project Marriage Score:  9  ~ I just wanted to squoosh this around my stubby neck.


Bubble Wrap Cowl on display

Bubble Wrap Cowl on display

Similarly, I used Verdande’s thinner DK sister, Birte, to make the Bubble Wrap Cowl, with Winter Solstice in the background and Sorbet in the “bubbles.”  This is another mosaic pattern where you’re working one color per row.  Period.  That’s all she wrote.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me about executing Row 5 – which is what creates the “bubbles.”  If I get a lot of requests, I’ll haul out the camera for some new snaps, but I would explain it thus:

  • Insert the tip of your right needle in the 5th loop down ~ the last one you knitted in the background color you are now working (the blue, in this case)
  • Using your fingers, unpick the four “bubble” loops, leaving them laying across your right needle, behind the loop you are holding.
  • Now insert your right needle the rest of the way through the stitch and knit with the background color, catching the loose strands behind the new stitch you made.
Bubbles of sorbet

Bubbles of sorbet

Sanity check: these dropped stitches always occur over the middle stitch of the bubble in the sequence below.  If you’re not aligned there, something’s gone awry.

Pattern:  Bubble Wrap Cowl by madelinetosh

Yarn: Spirit Trail Fiberworks Birte,* 2 skeins Sorbet (bubble color), 1 sk Winter Solstice

Needles:  US 6 Signature circs for this booth sample.  I am making one for myself now, and I’ve gone down one needle to a US 5 very comfortably.  It is making the bubbles “pop” more.

Pattern marriage score:  9.5. This is both drapey and smooshy in Birte.  In my own iteration, I’ve removed a few pattern repeats to make it a single loop about 37 inches around that I will work a full 12 or more inches deep.  The original finished size (44 inches) sort of fell between the easy-around twice /or not size for my liking.

There’s more blocking to do, more cowls, more shawls ~ oh, and the holidays and Owl Manor and … you get the general idea.  But do yourself a favor and pick up a mosaic knitting pattern and give it a test-drive.  You’ll be pleased that you did; I won’t tell a soul it isn’t stranded.

* If you’re reading this before Dec. 18, check the home page for a 25% discount on these yarns at Spirit Trail Fiberworks, and tell Jennifer that Nutmeg Owl sent you!


Booth’s-eye view

May 8, 2012

Suffice it to say that an unanticipated (but unavoidable) work all-nighter is not the best preparation for an early flight or a weekend stint as Booth Babe at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  I don’t recommend it to anyone.   But getting out of Dodge on an early-morning flight before your employer can request demand that you change your plans is highly recommended, no matter the toll on shut-eye.  So it was that I landed at BWI Friday, a bit bleary-eyed, but delighted to be reunited with some of my favorite  fiber friends far away from my real-life responsibilities.

This time, I had an entirely different view of a mega-festival.  The

Our domain for 2 days

work days begin early.  There is only so much set-up you can do ahead of time owing to the unfortunate reality of security and theft.  Which means that each day you must hang samples and displays all over again.  They matter tremendously in selling yarn and as one who knits them, I can attest that they cost more to replace than stolen skeins.  (See that red cardigan in the middle?  That’s the new Skipperdee Cardi designed for STF Verdande.  The pattern was released Friday and sold out fast.)  The show opens, and the traffic does not stop for nine

See the 3rd shopper being devoured by yarn?

hours in a building where temperatures reach well over 80 degrees and shoppers are crammed inside your tiny booth like so many anchovies in a can.

The upside of all this was the opportunity to meet many members of the Spirit Trail Fiberworks group on ravelry in person, as well as some of you.  I so enjoy talking about how each of the yarns performs and answering questions for other knitters.  Plus we had a brand-new yarn to debut: Brigantia, made of 85% Polwarth and 15% silk.  And I was able to visit, however

Daniella of Signature Needle Arts

briefly, with some fabulous folks, like Daniella from Signature Needle Arts, whose company provides some of the most responsive customer service on the planet.  (Not to mention the Lamborghini of needles that help me do what I do at the speed I like to do it!)

It IS all about the sheep

The downside: having to do it all two days in a row.  Even with rubber padding on the floor, feet and back were not especially amused.  And unlike my pleasure-only forays to Rhinebeck, I never really got a sense of the

WHAT do you make with these and how do you hold ’em?

whole festival.  A break here and a break there allowed me to see some usual suspects and other unusual sights.  But I lacked perspective as to the size and scope of MDSW.

Yes, there were giggles galore and belly-laughs, too – that’s to be expected when you put seven or eight unique women who all genuinely like each other into a group with a mission to accomplish.  That’s what made it all worthwhile: the chance to spend time together in May ~ the halfway point before the next Knitter’s Review Retreat.

And did I mention that I brought home some yarn?

* Prize winners coming soon.  Stay tuned.


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.


March 9, 2012

Yes, yes, mes copains, it has been far too long.  Life and work get in the way.

There has been plenty of knitting though, in odd moments, many of them during the owl-hours I’ve been seeing far too oft of late.

None of it is quite ready for prime time yet.  Which is to say, it ain’t blocked.  Quelle surprise!?


So today, you get a little tease with some of the newest Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarns.  Those in the 2012 Knitting Club will this month

Holda in Fortune's Red

receive a skein of Holda.  I agree with Jennifer – in the skein, it’s not much to write home about.  It has about as much life as wet tissue.  That’s the really fun part of sample knitting: getting to put a new yarn through its paces to see what it can do.  I’m happy to report that while my knitters’ antennae were twitching, “Splitty!” a pair of stiletto-tipped Signature circs allowed me to cable and cable and cable some more ~ all without a cable needle ~ and without losing strands.  Holda performed beautifully.  And it has bunny in it.  I am a sucker for lambswool ~ let alone the bunny.  I’ll tell you all about the pattern when we have some real FO photos.

Lyra in colorway Bacchus

Then there is a dear friend, Lyra.  My smooshy pal, in colorway Bacchus.  This sweet little hat knitted up in a matter of a few days, limited only by my available time.  Flawless pattern that should look a little familiar to Lyra devotees.  It will be blocked for a bit of le slouch.  And an accompanying accessory to follow.

Verdande in Tuareg Blue

But the piece-de-resistance is Verdande.  V. is the plump and well-rounded big sister to Birte, Sunna and Nona.  And is she ever a joy to knit with!  This incredibly deep colorway is one of Jennifer’s new ones: Tuareg Blue.  This Susanna IC shawl, with all of its cables and

Scrumptious - and worsted weight

lace, was knitted on dull-tipped original Addi Turbos.  (The color is more accurate in the upper photo.) Verdande never split – or even thought about splitting.  I can tell, even unblocked, this is going to have fabulous drape.  It flew off the needles with little interference from me.  There will have to be more ~ miles more ~ of Verdande in my future.

That’s your sneak peek for now.  More coming soon as the blocking is done.

Ciao 2011!

December 31, 2011

Putting up a new calendar will be something I truly relish.  2011 brought one significant and wonderful change to my household, but also some major life difficulties.  We made it through.  I mostly made it because of the friends who held me up when I didn’t think I could tread water anymore.  I am endlessly grateful.

With all of that unwanted drama, my knitting output declined significantly.  (So did my yarn purchasing.  I know you don’ t believe that, but it’s true.)  Still, I’m really proud of some of the things I did this year.  A complex

"Craft Activism"

There's my sweater! I knitted that!

sweater executed on tight deadline in 2010 is featured in Craft Activism.   I’ve never had my knitting published before.  Even better: Some very kind designers have seen my interpretations of their patterns online and took the time to say some terribly nice things.  That amazes me.  Good fodder for bad days.  Or for when I look at the numbers and feel like I may have underachieved compared to last year.  But each year is different from its predecessors.

Yarn used in 2011: 7619 yards = 1.4 miles

Finished objects:  17  ~ 2 hats, 2 sweaters, 2 cowls, 2 pair of mittens, 1 Christmas stocking and 8 shawls

One-skein projects: 10

Fibers first used this year: Romney and Finn   The former is pretty common in this neck of the woods, and I enjoyed getting to know it on the needles.  The Finn I used was actually a Finn/angora blend.  While I liked it, for purposes of the monthly Knitter’s Book of Wool wool-along, I learned that I prefer to use the straight stuff so as to have a real feel for the actual wool without the additional fiber that changes its characteristics.

WIPs /UFOs remaining: 14  shudder  Okay, to be fair: two of these are waiting to be blocked, a third needs some pictures taken, and a pair of mittens needs thumbs and a good simmer in vinegar to set the dye.   I have two (ancient) sweaters with identical yarn shortage issue that arose on the sleeves.  These need to have sleeves knitted in from the top down so they are of equal length.  I can do this – it will just take a little time.  And I will pick up another skill.  That will cut into the number.  I did frog a project, too.  That felt REALLY good.  I highly recommend it.

Designers I enjoyed:  Sivia Harding, SusannaIC, Gudrun Johnston, Ysolda Teague, Jared Flood

Favorite yarns I worked with this year:  Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona, Sunna, Holda, Birte, Verdande.   Berocco Blackstone Tweed.  BrooklynTweed Loft ~ which I haven’t gotten on the needles yet, but know I will enjoy.  Interestingly, without a LYS to call my own, my yarn acquisition was almost exclusively a yarn club, travel/souvenir purchases and yarn/fiber festivals.

Priorities I had for the year:

  • Geodesic Cardigan – stalled temporarily
  • Grove mittens – check!
  • Holland cowl – check!
  • Woodruff mittens – More Jared Flood mittens coming soon in Shelter when I can decide on a colorway.  Yeah, I’m ummm, deciding on a colorway.  Because somehow there are more colorways at my house than there used to be.  (See favorite yarns above.)
  • Bristol’s Cowl – I’ll get there.  Really.  If nothing else, because more people have read my posts about Quince & Co. Chickadee than anything I’ve ever written here.  I can only imagine what happens when I write about Puffin.

Priority from 2010, finally achieved: I knitted a sweater for myself.  And I love it.  Still need some pictures and I’ll show you here soon, but it is done.  All it took was a major power outage and hours of knitting by candlelight.

Other things I’d like to do in 2012:

  • Play with beads:  I’ve started to mess with them in my lace.  They are fun.  Doubtless, they slow me down some, but a little can go a long way in making a piece into a show-stopper.
  • To frog or to finish:  Attack some of those very old WIPs.  We’ll see how that goes.  I have turned from owl to magpie when it comes to shiny new objects (read patterns/yarns) and my attention span may be devastated.

If I seem uninterested in goal-setting, it’s because I sometimes have to remind myself this really is my Zen thing.  My knitting is my own journey and I find it far more interesting to let it lead me wherever it wants to go, than to stick to a prescribed path on the map.  Because at the end of the year, I think it’s kind of fun to look at what I wrote and where I went instead.  It’s all about the trip.

Salut 2012!

Home and away

November 23, 2011

If home is where the heart is, then I suppose it does follow that driving six hours to a place you’ve never seen can be a homecoming.

They grow them blue here, apparently

The location:  Canandaigua, New York.  The Inn on the Lake to be precise, for my sixth Knitter’s Review Retreat.  Four days sans lunches to pack, calls to field or Sesame Street songs to hear.  (The part about disconnecting from work didn’t quite happen at the beginning, as early-morning server failure forced a few minutes of work on arrival, but then, complete and total severance from the World of Work.)

Ten years of KRR

It doesn’t matter whether we are at Jeronimo Resort, the Seven Hills Inn, the Williams Inn or the Inn on the Lake, what matters is that we are together.  Me, world’s-best-roommate KnittingKittens, Luann, Bullwinkle, Lanea, Jane, Marfa, Jennifer, Rosi, Nancy, Nanci, Tree and more, led, of course, by Clara, who makes all things possible.  This being the tenth anniversary year, the Oscar-worthy swag bags got awfully swanky ~ an official logo and even zippers on top!?!

Oscar-worthy swag

As for the contents, they could make a knitter’s knees go weak.  Knitter’s Pride needles, books, journals, patterns, buttons, coupons, a commemorative coffee mug, and yarn.  So much yarn: Classic Elite Kumara, Berocco Comfort Sock, Rowan Sweet Harmony, DirtyWater Dyeworks Julia.  At dinner, our plates were graced with even MORE yarn – laceweight Filatura DiCrosa Nirvana, too.

But all that stuff is just ~ stuff.  I go to see the people who sustain me the other 361 days of the year.  To scooch over on the couch and knit side-by-side instead of conversing in front of a monitor.  To touch fiber and compare pattern notes and wonder whether you have enough yardage to make one.  To eat a meal in each other’s company.  To laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

Knitters, knitters everywhere

In a room so full of knitters, some absences weighed heavily.  How I missed SandyT and her good sense and laughter.  And HappyStasher’s boundless enthusiasm.  It’s not the numbers in the room, but the people who make up those numbers that make this gathering what it is.  People who care about each other, brought together by a craft.  True, we can be rather goofy.  At least one new attendee was a little thrown to be asked, “What yarn would you marry if you could?” but it was all in the spirit of good fun.

Certainly a legend, never a diva

One of my delights in attending each year is the opportunity to spend time with the knitteratiwho have been so important to this craft.  This year, I was tickled to spend my weekend class time with the incomparable Ann Budd.  She has forgotten

Now you see argyle ...

more about knitting than I will ever know.  She also has a better sense of dry humor than most people inhabiting the Earth.

We started on Friday learning the fundamentals of shadow knitting.  It’s not the easiest thing to photograph, but in essence, it allows for all sorts of interesting colorwork to appear (and disappear) based on alternation of colors in two-row sequences of garter and stockinette stitch.  Those of faint heart with charts, you might want to skip this technique.  Or be sure to bring those

... now you don't!

cheaters and highlighter tape with you.  It was illuminating to see how different color combinations were easier and harder to see – stark contrast versus tonal versus complementary.

All I could think about was how hard it must have been to photograph all the samples for Vivian Hoxbro’s book, much less knit them all!

As always, it seemed like we were fed endlessly, moving from one buffet to the next.  I love how the tables all fill in at mealtime, allowing for new friendships to take root even as old ones are reaffirmed.  There is always room for one more.  And always time for one more row between courses.

Ann conquers kitchener

On Saturday, Ann took on the challenge of 30 students and the oft-dreaded Kitchener Stitch.  Having taught it before, it’s amazing how intimidating some knitters find it.  While I have my own way of teaching it, Ann had some utterly common-sense suggestions that had even the most experienced knitters in the room saying, “How did I not know that?”  That, my friends, is the mark of a great teacher.

Spirit Trail Holda in Spice and Chipotle

Later, I got to help plan out some upcoming sample knitting, setting up the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth and setting aside what I will be working on in some of the months ahead.  Let me tell you know that Holda is not to be missed.  This is yummy and cozy:  80% Lambswool / 10% Cashmere / 10% dehaired Angora.  It knits up and fills in deliciously at 18-20 st/4 in.  There is a largish cowl in the works.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande - Tuareg Blue

In addition, Jennifer brought out some new colorways in one of her other new yarns, Verdande.  V is the most substantial of the now-four sisters with the same fiber makeup – 75% Merino / 15% Cashmere / 10% Silk.  (In order, they are Nona, Sunna, Birte and Verdande.  If left on a desert island with any of them, I could hardly be disappointed.)  Verdande is 4 plies versus the 3 in  Birte, and she feels more substantial and “rounder” on the skein. This new colorway is called Tuareg Blue and it is utterly dark and rich.   There are other new colorways this season that are equally lovely – Chipotle (seen in Holda photo above), Kismet (green), Winter Solstice (midnight blue), Fig (purples).  Catch them while you can.  Provided I left any.  Cough.

Fit for a Queen Bee

This being the Big 10 event, a mere sparkly tiara simply would not do.  So the powers that be made sure that Queen Bee Clara had appropriate headgear for a night walking down memory lane.   It was a quick and fun journey, particularly seeing the four earlier years I did not attend, before the retreat moved far enough north for me to not be afraid to go.

Work and play are one and the same

Through it all, everywhere you looked, there were busy hands, working quickly, some picking, some throwing, some Continental, some English, some something in-between.  There were even some secret projects, but more on those when it is allowed.

And then it was time to leave.  All events come to a natural stopping point, and KnittingKittens and I knew instinctively when ours was.  A picture texted to me of  Darling Bebe on a playground waiting for me was tugging.

Time to return to my other life, and make this one “virtual” again. Until next year’s homecoming, wherever it may be.

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