Thursday, April 17, 2014

Resurrection from The Heap

Rummaging in the stash closet for something else, I rediscovered a bagful from the Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble. It has been composting in the heap for so long, I have no idea when it was actually started, but once brought to light, it seized my fancy for some reason.

It's the Brocade Leaves Sweater by Solveig Hisdal, purchased as a kit with original yarn. The design is the cover feature of Hisdal's very popular book, Poetry in Stitches. (Yikes! I just had a look at what the book is selling for these days--$100 bucks for a knitting book!)

So why had I abandoned it to the Heap? For starters, I had converted the pullover sweater to a cardigan. No problem, really. After knitting most of the body, I discovered a big blooper: two of the yarn shades are very close, off-white and light peach. The big flower motifs were supposed to be done in light peach, and by the time I got to the sleeves I had used up a significant portion of the white in the body. The two yarns are very very close (hence my mistake), and it doesn't seem all that noticeable if the sleeve flowers are peach and the body ones are left white. You can see how close the colors are below. There's hardly any white left; the big ball is peach. So far, so acceptable.

But the boo boos keep coming. The body is 2 inches longer than it's supposed to be at the front/back divide. Now we're looking at running out of blue yarn. Gulp. No way to know for sure, but it might happen. Especially when a cropped cardigan version of the pattern shows edges finished in a light blue knitted band. (see Poetry cover) but the final thing that sent it tumbling into the Heap was the size. The pattern is provided in only one size, a rather oversized medium. At the time of abandonment, I was a very oversized XL. It wasn't going to fit, and there was no use putting a lot of time and effort in rescuing my other mistakes if the bloomin' thing wasn't going to fit anyway. Well, dear reader, I am myself now an oversized medium, and there's a very good chance that after blocking it will fit! Game on!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Yet another Hat for Huts topper ready to go:

The Brain Hat, in lovely soft merino. Well, brains are supposed to be soft, aren't they?  And washable? You don't want your brain to shrink or felt in the brainwash, of course!

Thus we have the perfect accessory for the Zombie Apocalypse--when being chased, you whip off your knitted brains, fling them at the pursuing zombies, and make your escape. And a zombie can keep its head warm:


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mountain Topper

Another hat done for the Hats for Huts auction!

It's Deborah Tomasello's Snow-Capped Mountains, done in the prescribed yarn (Knit Picks Palette) but in shades I had on hand, not the exact prescribed ones. Still, turned out pretty well, don't you think? Braided tail on the top is my own added whimsey.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Not Mad, Just a Slightly Eccectric Hatter

Lately it's been all hats all the time around here. I've got a friend who needs some hats, and the Hats for Huts deadline is coming up. Lessee what we've got so far:


A beret made of yak yarn, a kit from Details here. This is a real beauty; the pattern was easy to understand and follow; the amount of yarn was just enough. And oh my goodness--when you wash and block the hat the yarn does indeed bloom to a fuzzy softness that would make little baby kittens feel like sandpaper! Yak is one of those fibers that is really extra warm for its weight. (Well, it would have to be, wouldn't it, to keep yaks warm on the Tibetan plateau.) Perfect for a sophisticated Alaskan head.

Next, we have the 100% Alaskan hat:

Details here. Made entirely of Alaska-sourced wool, dyed with entirely Alaskan snow, and topped with "8 stars of gold". Not visible is the fact that it's double around the sides, giving extra warmth and wind protection for Alaska ears. This one is destined for the Hats for Huts auction.

What else do we have in the Slightly Eccentric But Not Mad Hatter's shop? A couple more in process. The Brain Hat is ready for the application of the cortex to the cap. Actually, it looks at this stage more like a pile of innards. Has the brain spilled its guts? Or maybe it's a confused and extremely clumsy octopus?

All that i-cord has to be pinned on and then attached in some kind of a brain-like fashion. A bit daunting, to be honest. (After all this knitting, will I really be able to make it look like a brain?) Fun words gleaned from perusing lots of brain diagrams--the ridges are called gyri; the valleys between are suculi. I'm donating my brain not to Science, but to Hats for Huts.

And here we have most of a Mountain Hat. No prize for guessing it's also a Hat for Huts.

Pattern is one of Deborah Tomasello's multi-color masterpieces, Snow-Capped Mountains. It's a somewhat loose interpretation, as I had the prescribed yarn, but not in the exact shades. And no grey until I found some late in the game and duplicate-stitched it in. Washing and blocking will tell the final tale.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Snow Dyeing Again

What could be more appropriate for an all-Alaskan yarn than to dye it with 100% Alaskan snow? And so I did.

Base yarn is the Alaska Yarn Co. 100% Alaskan Grown Wool, DK/light worsted weight from CommuKnitty Stash in Homer, AK. Remember when I bought it last fall? Here's the nest I plucked it from, all pale and bare down in the corner:

After the vinegar soak, the skeins went into the tub laid out on racks, then covered with snow. Sky blue dye powder sprinkled on top of the snow:

and the whole thing left in the heated garage overnight to let the snow melt and the dye seep down into the yarn. Next morning, this is what I had:

Pretty pleasing that for once,  I got something like what I was expecting from a crazy dye technique, a cloudy blue Alaska sky. Last layer was a sparse sprinkle of yellow powder, for sunshine and to meld with some of the blue to form greenery.

 Then a half hour's steam, a rinse, and what have we got?

The yarn for a very Alaskan hat.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

For Good Causes

I've been touched, awed, and amazed recently by a number of knitting designers who have created e-books that support various great causes. I guess my awakening to this was Juniper Moon Farms' The Shepherd and the Shearer, which raised money for the training of artisan sheep shearers. (and no, I haven't finished my Shepherd sweater yet. I took a break from it, but I'll get going again soon, I promise.)

The Yarn Harlot proved to the world the power that a multitude of knitters can wield and the good that it can do when she rounded us up to form Knitters Without Borders, which to date has contributed well over $1,000,000 to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres. Really, with a statement like this, how can you resist?
By any North American standard, I am not a wealthy woman. Still, there has never been a day that I went hungry or wondered where I would put my kids to bed. I choose between my clothing in the morning and at least once a week I throw away food that went bad before we could eat it, buying fresh without even feeling a pang of decadence. I have never wanted for anything more than "more" of what I already have. I most of the people that the tsunami effected, obscenely wealthy...
As are you.
You could go right now and make a donation. Report it to the Harlot so she can roll it into the KWB total. We'll wait right here till you're done.


So here, for your consideration, are some recent e-publications that will raise funds for some much more obscure, yet wonderful causes:

Kate Davies is just one of many designers who have contributed to a pattern collection to support the Gawthorpe Collection, a British charity dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth's textile collection and sharing the skills and techniques represented there. The pattern collection is available on Ravelry here, and, I'm sure, from the designers and other online sources.

Next is Deb Robson, whom you may be acquainted with from her magnum opus The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook as well as The Field Guide to Fleece and other works. To fund a year's study for her in Shetland learning all she can about Shetland sheep, Donna Druchanas has headed up a group of designers to produce a pattern collection e-book, Dreaming of Shetland.

 Besides the patterns, there are little essays by some of the designers giving background on their patterns and/or their relationship with Deb Robson. The most touching, to me, came from Priscilla Gibson-Roberts, who, despite problems with vision and dexterity, wanted to contribute a pattern for a mini decorative sock. When she threw her 000 needles and lace-weight yarn across the room in frustration, a friend came up with a sample she had knitted many years ago. Dreaming of Shetland is available from the book's web site linked above, from Ravelry, and elsewhere.

My third offering is from Cat Bordhi, one of the most amazing and creative minds in knitting today. If I get started on what she's done with shapes and techniques, we'll never get down to her e-book, which is both a new expression of her genius and a stunning cause to support. Here--I'll let Cat explain it all to you:
A gentler way to treat cancer AND warm ingenious slippers for the whole family? What are you waiting for? Get the book from Cat or Ravelry

And finally, one of the many advantages of these e-books is that you can, upon purchase, have them included in your Ravelry library, to be downloaded to any device, anywhere you are. Ain't the Interwebs grand?!?!?!?!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Little Things

The Shepherd sweater grinds on, but I'm afraid I've been afflicted with Second Sleeve Syndrome even before I'm quite down to the cuff of the first one. My excuse is that it's no longer mindless banging along, easily done while watching movies or tv. It's pay-attention knitting: pay attention to the cabling pattern and how it works into the decreases; pay attention to the stitch count and the decreases; pay attention to making the decreasing and cabling come to an end at just the right place to end the sleeve at the right length and have a couple of inches of k4 p2 rib to finish. Sheesh! I guess these are the dues for going my own way with the basic design. Some days I'm incredibly pleased with myself for cooking up an adaptation that works so well for me and eager for the finished product; other days I just want to catch up on Downton Abbey and zone out a bit.

So let's see what's happened lately in the zone-out zone:

 Not two hats, but one reversible hat, as modeled by my favorite Library Head, Willa Cather. It's the Esprit Reversible Cap (free, by the way) made with Cascade Fixation Solid and Spray Dyed. I love the way the hat feels on the head. The yarn is cotton and elastic, so it's very huggy and likely to stay put. I needed a hat to go with my red coat and this fits the bill (and the noggin) nicely.

What to do with the leftover yarn? Booties, of course!

The Fixation booties are a big 6-12 month-old size. And the dark ones are from the remainder of the dark Fassett stripe sweater. (Yes, I'm still working on sewing it up. It's got an awful lot of long seams that really have to be worked on in daylight.)

And in celebration of booties, I bring you this song about the other kind of boo-tay. A ditty I was first introduced to as the sound track of a YouTube paean to the rear view of Mr Benedict Cumberbatch:

Oh, okay. Here you go, fangirls. The Cumberbooty.