Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Small Incident in a Small Place in a Small World

Every once in a while I get amazed beyond measure by how the internet can connect us, and we can learn about happenings in faraway places. I'm not talking about silly memes that make cats or someone's mistake unforgettable for 15 minutes.  I'm talking about noticing something, picking up a lose thread, and following it around the web to make a full enhanced story.

Perusing the British newspaper, The Independent, I came upon a story about a small but meaningful crime on the tiny Scottish island of Canna. It's here. Go ahead, click on it. The loose thread that caught my eye was the mention of 6 knitted hats. Knitted hats? Canna knitted hats? What's a Canna knitted hat? I had to know more.

The Independent article led me to the Guardian article, which had more beautiful pictures of Canna and more links. The first was the the Aberdeen Press and Journal, which delighted me no end, because I used to be a citizen of Aberdeen and remember the paper fondly. One thing I loved about the more local story was the choice of a photo that showed a large number of Canna-ans posed in front of the shop in presumably happier times. The volunteers that run it? Nearly half the island's population. But nobody was wearing a hat. I still was looking for the hats.

Surely there was a picture somewhere of the hats. Publishing one would be a great way to find the jerk(s) that stole them. And anyway, I still wanted to know if this was a special kind of hat. Googling Canna hat only got me to cannabis-themed hats. But the Facebook link in the Guardian article got me this and this. Canna hats! Turns out they are ribbed bobble hats that just happen to be made by a Canna knitter.

But what a knitter! By searching for the name visible on one of the tags, I found the web site of Canna Creations, where some of Julie Scot's work is there for all to see. So Canna hats are made on Canna by a Canna knitter with local wool she's dyed herself! Wow! And you can find out all this at your desk in about half an hour with your browser.

If I were a Facebooker, I would "like" the Canna shop page and spread the word to all my knitter friends in the hope that the pictures of the Canna hats would become a meme that eventually led to the capture and punishment of the thieves who wrecked such a charming and useful facility in a beautiful remote place.

And now, if we're ever on our way to visit Canna, we know to contact Julie Scot and ask to inspect her wares firsthand.  Here's a half-hour charming '70s-'80s documentary on the island:



And if you've less time, here's a 10-minute slideshow some hikers made of the island:


Monday, June 1, 2015

It's Been a Long Time

I'm sorry to have deserted you faithful readers, both of you, for so long. I have been dwelling in a deep cellar of Family Obligations and am finally coming up for air.

When last we met it was--brrrrrr--February and I was getting frostbitten trying to put up yarnbombs. I did go back later and shot a couple of my tree sweaters that hardier souls had installed.

 These are the ones I got before my battery pooped out, but you get the idea.

I have been doing plenty of knitting down there in the cellar, and here are some of the Finished Objects:

 The Brocade Leaves cardigan is all done and complete with nordic clasp. It was from a Poetry in Stitches pullover kit that I converted to a cardigan.


I made a Hippie Scarf out of that crazy Himalayan Recycled Silk yarn. It's really fuzzy and fun and warm with all sorts of draping possibilities.

.....And then there are the mittens I made for a temporary winter resident of Fairbanks.  Scroll down that Fairbanks link to "climate" in order to see why a person needs a pair, nay, many pairs of double-layer mittens just to make it from the front door to the frozen car on an average January day.

Currently on the needles is Siv by Elsebeth Lavold. I'm making it in Lavold's Silky Wool, a yarn I've drooled over for a long time because of its season-spanning capabilities and its deep, deep saturated colors.

I've changed the pattern a little to make the links the same length as the knot sections, increasing the chances that I will be able to be consistent over the whole garment. Looking at some of the other Sivs on Ravelry, I know I'm not the only one to have thought of this.


Monday, February 9, 2015

First Friday, Frozen Fingers

It was the installation of the tree sweater yarnstorm at the Anchorage Museum. I have knitted about 10 of the sweaters, and I had every intention to help attach them to the trees. I dressed up warm; I brought my own tapestry needle and yarn cutter. I was rarin' to go!

Only trouble was the weather. Now, normally I am a pretty hardy soul. I know how to dress for winter; I have the gear; for goodness' sake, I knit and own a ton of wool garments! But none of this could overcome the windchill around the museum for me. Part of the problem is that I had to be in fingerless gloves in order to feel and hold the needle for sewing up. And in 21 degrees F with a north wind of 18 mph and gusts even higher, my fingers went numb in minutes and were completely useless! I even had chemical handwarmers in the gloves, but they had no effect. I had to wimp out after a single sweater.




I don't know how the other sewers did it, but I'm glad they did. The trees look wonderful, and the whole thing adds much-needed color to the monochrome winter palette.

When this wind dies down, maybe I can go out and find my sweaters "in the wild"!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wotzis?

The initial stock for the Ptarmigans Pscarf Boutique? Nope. A few elements of a Work of Art.

Hint: Trees.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter Is Too Long to Drink Cold Coffee

Winter is too long to be drinking cold coffee. And tasty as it is when you make it with a press pot, you pour one cup, drink it, and the next one is only lukewarm. The British don't put up with this situation for their tea (even though their houses are sometimes very chilly). They knit up tea cosies to insulate the pot, ones like this, and this, and the one I am totally going to make someday.

And now those clever Brits have designed coffee cozies and put out a book of patterns for them:

 
Americans only think of wrapping their to-go cup. If you don't believe me, search Ravelry's patterns for "coffee cosy" or "coffee cozy" (British spelling) and see what you get.

Reader, I got the book, turned to Pattern #4, and made me a Waffle Weave coffee cosy:


Used leftovers from my Juniper Moon Shepherd and Shearer and Colored Flock yarns. Nice, thick aran wool, 2 colors making a double insulating layer. And, Reader, it really does keep the coffee warm longer!

I had intended to make one for my coffee gourmet son who will only drink single-source freshly roasted and ground coffee and only from a press pot.  He used my cosy some of the time, admitted it held in warmth, but found the buttons a little fiddly to bother with. I agreed about the fiddliness, and there is something a little sloppy-looking about the button fastening.

Then the light bulb went on. Magnets! Off to the craft store to procure some cute little rare earth magnets, the really sticky ones. (Take care with these guys, though. If swallowed by people or pets they can cause terrible harm. Enclose them securely so they'll never never escape!)

Cosy 2.0 is double layers of aran wool--2-color ribbing--with 6 little magnets sewn into felt strips at each end of the piece. Wrap it around the pot and clunk! they grab each other instantly and hang on. Absolutely no fiddling!


 Am I pleased with myself? Utterly! It only remains to be seen if the coffee gourmet is pleased as well.


And what's this on the needles? Another cosy for another of my offspring who has suddenly found herself compelled to use a press pot far from home. Happy New Year, kids! As the Scots say, "Lang may yer lum reek." (look it up) And lang may yer coffee stay hot!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Alpaca Love

Here's another cool thing I did on my recent travels--a visit to an alpaca ranch! It was the Albuquerque Alpaca Ranch located in, not surprisingly, Albuquerque NM. And I mean in the city, not on the outskirts, but right there in town.

It's run by a friendly couple who fell in love with the friendly animals, Skip and Stacie Chavez. Call them up, and you can arrange to go visit and meet their fuzzy herd. And many of them are just a curious to meet you as you are to meet them--

Skip took us around and told us lots about his particular alpacas and alpacas in general. He's really crazy about his animals, crazy enough to teach one to do this:
She's taking an alfalfa pellet from his lips, an alpaca-style kiss.

We got up close and personal with one of the crias (a cria is a baby alpaca). Really up close:
If there's anything sweeter and fuzzier than a little cria, I can't think of it right now because my mind is all fuzzy with the memory. Little Romeo there had a hard luck story turned happy.  He was his mama's firstborn, and she was pretty clueless about motherhood. She rejected him, refused to let him feed. He was fed from a bottle for a while, but then he rejected the bottle. He wanted his own fuzzy warm mama, and who could blame him? So he was rubbed with the scent of another new cria and introduced to a mama that accepted him. Supermama doesn't mind providing dinner for two, and he's now a happy cria. Put him down, and he wants to get through that gate and back to his family.

One more Alpaca to meet, the herdsire. Isn't he a handsome stud?
There's something about the Egyptian eyeliner and the two-tone mop top that has got to make the ladies swoon. And the fine hairs of his fleece that makes the knitters swoon.

There's more to the ranch than the animals. There's a shop where you can buy all manner of Alpaca items, including yarn and fiber (check for moths, though). And a lovely space where they hold classes in felting Alpaca fiber. I'd love to spend a day there...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Repterned

I've been away, been off the grid, been preoccupied, but the Ptarmigan has now repterned! One of the places I've been was here:
Rafting the Grand Canyon, knitting in hand. Not knitting on the raft, obviously. You need both hands to hang on because stuff like this happens:
The video is not from our trip, but it's a good sample of the experience.

Before and after the trip there's been a whole lotta knittin' goin' on. Some Finished Objects for your viewing pleasure:


Corps of Discovery Fatigue Hat for a Canadian friend that was on the river trip. I used up the remainder of the snow dyed Alaska yarn and had to supplement it with a little Knit Picks Swish worsted in a tonal bright green that I think worked well, considering.


And lately I've been having big fun with a big wad of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour that I got on sale. I used it with KnitPicks Capretta  to make a Cabernet Ribs sweater for dressup this winter. It's a fun knit that puts the two yarns together for the main part of the body in a tank shape, and uses the KSHG solo for sleeves and neckline. I made a much more modest sheer V, as I have much more to be modest about. Love, love the subtle gleam of the tiny sequins. (Just discovered KSHG has been discontinued by Rowan. No wonder it was on sale, but also--rats!--I love this stuff.)

Still on the needles and cranking along is another KSHG item, the Ripple Cardigan. It looks simple and straightforward in the illustration, but in fact the back is knitted up-and-down; the fronts are knitted sideways, and the collar is formed by two triangles that overlap in the back. It's gonna be a challenge to put together. I wish I had checked it on Ravelry before I started the front, because I think I would have followed one smart knitter and picked up the fronts from the back sides rather than trying to seam it afterwards. Oh well, it's going to be a good challenge...