Popping back in

For being one who loves to knit, I have been terribly negligent of my craft throughout this past winter and even now into the spring.  Additionally, you can see my negligence in my writing as well:  an observation of the time lapse between my last post in January to today's (which I had to talk myself into writing) is a fair judgement of this negligence.

To my faithful readers, I apologize!  Here I am--I've popped back in to say, "Hello!  Look, I made another sweater!"

Because, look!  I've made another sweater!

The pattern is the Plowman Cardigan by Alex Capshaw-Taylor, published in the Interweave Knits magazine.  By the pattern, it is to be constructed in its separate pieces (right-front, left-front, back, sleeves) and then sewn together.  Additionally, there are supposed to be color designs on both the front and the back of the sweater.

But I did not knit the pattern without modifications, of course!  Hating to sew in sleeves, I opted to pick up the sleeves from around the armholes and then knit down toward the wrist; I'm glad I did, because it turned out very well.  And since I was running out of blue yarn, I opted to knit the front pieces of the sweater in only one color, adding just enough texture to make it interesting.

Construction and mods aside, the main reason I wanted to tackle this sweater was for the intarsia, or the color design, on the back.  Not only is it fascinating and unique and cool-looking, I had never truly attempted intarsia prior to this project and had a great desire to learn it.

My conclusion:  to say the least, intarsia is crazy.  I can't imagine trying intarsia for anything other than blocks of color.  I can't even imagine trying intarsia with more than two colors!  I laughed myself silly at one point, when I discovered I had ELEVEN different strings of yarn for one row.  ELEVEN different strings which WOULD get entangled no matter how hard I tried to keep them in order.

ELEVEN different strings.  It is ridiculous--there are only two colors.

But I will admit, it does look pretty cool on the inside:

And so ends another sweater.  For a brief review of the pattern and a few other mods, you can check out my project on Ravelry under The Long Road.  I will leave you with a few more pictures of it, perhaps with the most accurate representation of the color.  I have to say, it is hard to tell even in person whether the color is more red or more orange..."adobe" is the best way I can describe it!


Impressions of a snowy day

Winter Meadow

New Year's Day was the day of the first "real" snowfall in Western New York.  The weather was incredibly mild during December, and at some points almost balmy.  However, the Old Man Winter prevailed, and January 1st was covered in a lovely blanket of white snow.

If you know me, you know I love snow.  If you know me and didn't know I love snow, now you do!

I love snow.

So on that wintry New Year's Day, I strapped on my (brand new!!!) snowshoes and went exploring.  And as I explored, I naturally found a zillion things beautiful and breathtaking.  And when I find things that are beautiful and breathtaking, I try to photograph them.

I do not own a very fancy phone.  It is a random and old LG smartphone, with a camera that is only a camera.  All the same, I am amazed what pictures I can force out of it, albeit a little grainy and dark and colorless.  Once I lighten them a little and add a touch of contrast...voila!  A half-decent picture!

(Sometimes.  I am unable to take "nice" indoor pictures, and the lighting has to be Just Right for any outdoor picture I attempt to take.  And surprisingly enough, closeups turn out the best; the pictures I take of landscapes are pretty mediocre.  Someday, I'll buy a better phone.)

In any case, the snowshoeing was magical.  But really, it was magical.  The snow was fresh and powdery, the wind was brisk, and most of the world remained cozy behind doors.

I had a long and lonely walk, making friends with the woods and taking up adventures over the fields.

Of course, I went too far, and I had a long, long trudge back to my car.  I ended up in woods that I did not know, and by that time, I wanted very badly to complete the loop and cozy-up by a fire.  I rounded around the woods a little longer, skirting a frozen pond, and then found myself staring over a wide, white field.

At that point, I finally knew where I was, and figured that the fastest thing I could do would be to cut diagonally across the field, veering from the path which remained along the perimeter.  The wind was creating little snow vortexes on the flat, open ground, and I noticed the drifts that the wind cut out of the fresh powder.

I threw up my hood, and instantly, I was in Mission Mode.

Of course, I never did find Luke.

The sad part is that I felted my Scottish souvenir mittens a wee bit.  Apparently, I was really gripping my poles while hiking along.  I'm not sure if you can tell, but the darker, blurry section near the top of the mitten is felted.  Oops.

And thus far, so has been my winter!  I hope you are also finding joy this winter.

A Happy New Year to you all :)


After a wonderful fall....

It's been a while since my last post.

My fall has been filled with many things, and I am afraid that blogging has not come first!  But I have three things I want to accomplish in this post today:  an update on the Ganger Games, an addition to the Ganger Games, and my own projects.

Get youself we go!!

To everyone playing in the Ganger Games:  THANK YOU.  This has been great so far!  Your test knits are beautiful, and I cannot say thank you enough for your kind comments and your constructive advice.  Here are just two of my favorites:

Karen's Bluebird Mitts
Cayenne's Confidence

A big shout out to Amy, too!  If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be at step two....

I am ready for the Copse shawl to be test-knitted!  The pattern has been put together and proofed, and now I just need you to let me know where improvement may be needed!  See my page on Test Knitting in order to know how to let me know you're interested.

Copse is knit in sport-weight yarn on size 6 circular needles.  It uses yarn overs to increase, but it is covered in texture, not lace.

Now to finish it up, here is what I have been up to.......

A cowl made with alpaca from Loveland, Colorado:

A sweater made with the yarn I bought from PEI last May:

And Fair Isle hats that everyone seems to want for Christmas:

That hat just blocked BEAUTIFULLY.  I cannot express my love for this hat enough.  Must be why the orders are filling in and I'm not complaining....

To everyone in the US, I hope you had a lovely, lovely, lovely Thanksgiving!  And to everyone in and out of the states who is as excited as I am for the upcoming season.....let the reading of A Christmas Carol begin!

So long for now!


For the love of mountains

Can you see the theme?  Mountains.

I finished my first Colorado souvenir:  a Continental Divide hat and mitten set.  When I went out to Colorado with my family this past August, we stayed around and in the Rocky Mountain National Park to hike and sight-see.  It therefore made sense to mimic the almost endless stretch of mountains, with a tribute to the oddly fascinating Continental Divide.

This set was knit with Mountain Meadow Wool Cody, a soft, woolly, textural merino wool yarn that is grown and spun in Buffalo, Wyoming.  I very much enjoyed knitting with the yarn, but it was in blocking I learned how lovely the wool really is.  We speak of wool blooming, but this yarn blossomed.

But really, I love it the most because of Buffalo.  Buffalo to yarn has traveled from Buffalo, Wyoming to Buffalo, New York!  Go Buffalo!!

In any case, knitting-wise, what is most interesting is that the mountain stitches (right and left twists) do not stand out stark and clear.  The way the Cody yarn was spun and plied causes softened textures, so that textures in the knitted fabric are subtle.

You may understand the difference I am trying to convey a little better by comparing this set to another hat I recently finished.  After enjoying the mountain stitches so much, I decided to make a similar hat for my sister:

Can't you just see the difference?!  The texture stands out sharp and clear with this orange cashmere yarn, with the mountain stitches obviously raised out above the fabric.

(This hat was knit with LB Collection Cashmere, which was in my stash from a yard sale find.  It was a beautiful yarn to work with, and even better since I got it for far, far, far less than $17 a ball!!)

It is amazing how changing fibers and plies will make an incredible difference to the same pattern.  This is a great illustration of why you always have to take the yarn into account when planning a knitted piece.  As we see in this example here, merino wool is not going to drape as well as cashmere, but cashmere is not going to keep its shape as well.

Always remember:  choose wisely.

So while the shape of merino wool was what I wanted for my red set, the drape of the cashmere was what I wanted for this orange hat.  My sister is the recipient of this second mountaineering hat, and I knew she would appreciate its easy, soft and draping style.

There is a break on the mountain stitches, however!  The next souvenir coming up is for Timberline Falls.

I hope you have a fabulous week ahead!  I am still open for test knitters for older patterns of mine.  If you want to join in, please read my last post:  The Ganger Games.

Happy knitting to you!


The Ganger Games

Welcome!  I have a wonderful plan up my sleeve, and I hope you enjoy....

I am looking for test-knitters for old patterns of mine, those which I currently have very little feedback for.  I have been hoping that they are okay for a long time now, but I would rather believe that they are great and enjoyable.  Therefore, I need you to knit for me and then let me know where improvement is needed!

And guess what?  You get to benefit, too!  All you have to do if let me know what pattern(s) you want to test as well as your address.  Why your address?  Because I want to let you know how much I appreciate your help!!

(Don't worry, I will keep your address strictly confidential, and I have no spam to send!  Haha.)

With confidentiality and Internet safety in mind, I just want to remind you NOT to leave me your email or your address in the comments.  Send me an email directly if you do not have Ravelry or message me as singbluebird on Ravelry.  

Let me know what you think, folks!  I will take anyone willing to participate.  I would like to have test-knits complete by March, so please take that into consideration as you decide which pattern you're going to knit for me.

Here are the four patterns I would like feedback for:

A pretty, simple hat knit in a tight gauge.
Worsted-weight yarn, size 5 straight needles.

A whimsical hat, with leaves that are sewn on.
Worsted-weight yarn, size 7 straight needles.

Stranded mittens, with a pattern that resembles a path through a garden.
Worsted-weight yarn, size 5 double-pointed needles.

Plain gloves knit in a tight gauge, form-fitting to your hand.
Sport-weight yarn, size 1 double-pointed needles.

Those are the four that I have lined up for the games.  Do you think one of them will work for you?!

Remember:  send me your address as well as the pattern(s) you want to knit.  I may not send you the moon, but I do want to send a thank you for volunteering to help!

I hope you participate!!  I am excited to revisit these old patterns of mine!


This season

Then is the time,
For those whom Wisdom, and whom Nature charm,
To steal themselves from the degenerate crowd,
And soar above this little scene of things;
To tread low-thoughted vice beneath their feet;
To sooth the throbbing passions into peace;
And woo lone Quiet in her silent walks.

Autumn, from The four seasons, and other poems by James Thomson

As much as I have been telling people that I am "slowing down" for the fall (which IS true considering how much weekend travel I did through the summer season) I certainly am keeping myself busy.  In between the craze, I have been reminding myself to enjoy the subtle, sweet, and even sad change of seasons--but it is not always the easiest!

And I love this season so much--not just for the fact that it is prime wool-wearing season!  I love the chill in the breeze, even while the sun is bright and warm; I love the clear and cold sky, still filled with bright stars just before the first hint of dawn.

I love it!

So what am I working on this fall?  I have many plans, but only two are being at this moment materialized.

If you read my last post, you will know that I am currently writing the pattern for my Copse shawl.  It is funny to me how much puzzling I have to go through in order to put what I did into words of what to do!!  But it is coming along nicely, and I am very excited for when I can share it!

My other current WIP is a pair of red mittens.  Number One is finished already!

The yarn for these (amazing and awesome) mittens is my souvenir from a vacation to Colorado, which I took with my family in August.

Let me digress real quick!  I will give you a taste of the Rocky Mountains, way up at 12,000 feet, looking out over the alpine meadow.  The world way up high, impossibly harsh and beautiful, is too wonderful to understand.  My favorite moments were from these barren slopes.

To continue with the yarn....

Whenever I travel to a new place a far distance from my home near Lake Erie, I do as a knitter ought to do and buy "local" wool!  Promptly, while in Estes, I sought out the yarn store (the Stitchin' Den) and queried the lady working there where I might find the "local" stuff.  One of the yarns she directed me to was the line of Mountain Meadow Wool, a wool mill from Wyoming, stacked very temptingly along a wall.

After great debate with myself, I bought 2 skeins of Cody, a sport-weight merino wool.

I very much recommend it!  The wool is wonderfully soft, and I am really enjoying the more unique (almost "fuzzy") texture.  You can somewhat see what I mean from this picture:

The yarn does not create a smooth or silky texture, so I would not recommend that you use it with any sort of "fancy" pattern.  There is a "fuzz" from the way that it was spun which renders it to be more of a cozy and lazy day yarn.  For those patterns, I give a thumbs-up!  My mittens fit into the cozy category, and it's great!

Eventually, I will have a scarf to match them as well.  But first, the second mitten!

And then...I also might make a cozy headband to match, too....

Have a lovely week, everyone :)


Coming soon....

*  Copse  *

I have finished another shawl, soon to become a shawl pattern!!!  Once I have a complete draft written, I will let you know.  So in the meantime, if you are interested in test knitting for me, scrounge around to see if you have any sport or baby weight yarn.

Officially, the pattern requires 4 balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

Have a lovely week <3