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


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


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...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What I Felt Like

Now it can be revealed--the object created from the felt I made with the Artfelt kit:

It's a phone bag for a friend who's always losing her phone in the bottom of her handbag. Nylon rope and a lobster clip attach it to a purse handle; a magnetic purse closure in the top keeps the phone from falling out by accident and slows down possible pilfering fingers.

One of the skills used dates from way back in Girl Scouts--that's where I learned to whip rope ends, and that's how I made the rope loops (with a little fabric glue in the background for extra stay-puttedness).

This whole project was such fun, I'm sure I'll do another one soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Complete Shearer!

My Shearer cardigan of the Shepherd and Shearer duo is complete!

All in all, I'm quite satisfied with it. Only a small regret that I couldn't find a darker brown zipper and had to settle for tan. Otherwise it's great! Splitting the front of the pullover pattern was easy and looks just fine. The ribs added to border the zipper make the front a little wider than the back, but I think that the difference is taken up with boobage and it's not a problem.

The fabric is wonderfully dense and warm, the remaining lanolin repels water, and the heathery brown color is great camouflage for dirt. Just the thing for working in the garden in the fall.