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The Peonies Have Started!

June 24

For the past few weeks I’ve felt like a little kid happily anticipating Christmas. All spring I look for my peonies to start blooming. I’m crazy for them!

This is the first plant to bloom. I should have some other colors come along before too long.

Peonies_3

I like the paper-y petals. There are so many subtle color contained in them!

Peonies_1

I didn’t realize how complicated the structure within is.

Peonies_2

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Rios Linen – Carrying the Yarn

June 7

Even after making it a bunch of times, I’m still obsessed with the linen stitch scarf pattern I included in my book Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues. I turn to it over and over when I travel because it’s a super-portable project and is easily memorized.

Rios_Linen_Alt_Yarn_4

I love using it to experiment with my favorite variegated yarns. On airplanes, I am happy to knit the simple pattern, admire new colors as the appear on my needles, and listen to my favorite podcasts. For this scarf, I used Malabrigo Rios in the “Diana” colorway.

Rios_Linen_Alt_Yarn_2

Both the front and back textures are lovely, and really show off the beautiful colors.

Rios_Linen_1

Some hand-dyed yarns are wildly different in color from one skein to the other, even when dyed at the same time. Take these two balls of Rios in the Diana colorway, for instance:

Rios_Linen_Alt_Yarn_3-2

If I were to work the scarf until one skein ran out and then start the second skein, my scarf would end up with two distinctly different colors. For the scarf above I carried two very different skeins of “Diana” up the length of the scarf. I worked one skein for 2 or 4 rows, then alternated the other skein for 2 or 4 rows, resulting in a nice blending of the two.

I think I’ll do the next scarf with 2 skeins of Diana and change skeins every 3 inches or so and see if it makes a striped effect that I like.
Experiment on!

posted under Book, Patterns, Yarn | 2 Comments »

Early Spring Wildflowers – Daisies

June 3

These sweet daisies are everywhere. They’re the best reason ever for not manicuring my lawn. I love them!

Wildflowers_Daisies_May 2016_1

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Free Spirit Knits Winner

May 31

Celeste from California is the winner of the Free Spirit Knits giveaway. I hope she enjoys the beautiful patterns in this wonderful Southwest-inspired book!

Free Spitit Knits Cover

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Early Spring Wildflowers – Jack In the Pulpit

May 28

These are one of those plants that make me marvel at nature’s strange adaptations. The flowers are contained under the hood. I can’t imagine how or why the plant evolved as it did!

JackInThePulpit_Bridge_May_2016_1

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Early Spring Wildflowers – Purple Pretties

May 26

I’ve been busy designing new patterns, but they’re not yet ready for prime time. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy some wildflower photos. I’ll post one or two every few days.

Here’s a field of purple pretties. I don’t know what they’re called. If you know these, please leave a comment!

Purple Pretties_May_2016

Wilflowers_1_May_2016

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Giveaway: Free Spirit Knits

May 14

A couple of weeks ago I reviewed the beautiful book, Free Spirit Knits: 20 Knitted Garments and Accessories Inspired by the Southwest. I’m thrilled to be able to give away a copy of this book. There are many lovely patterns to make, including some great sweaters for guys.

Free Spitit Knits Cover

Let’s celebrate Memorial Day by leaving this drawing open until midnight Eastern Time on Monday, May 30th. To enter the random drawing, simply leave a comment here on this post. Please include your contact information in your comment so I can let you know if you’re the winner. (One comment per person, please, with only one comment and email address per person.)

I can mail this book anywhere in the world as long as there are no postal or delivery restrictions.

Many thanks to Interweave Knits for making this giveaway possible.

Publisher Info:

Free Spirit Knits: 20 Knitted Garments and Accessories Inspired by the Southwest

By Anne Podlesak

Interweave/F+W; $25.99

http://bit.ly/1M5c5IM

144 pages

Free Spirit Book Review

April 19

Free Spitit Knits Cover

I love the Southwest. The colors and landscapes have a unique beauty and spirit about them. No wonder I was immediately enamored with the book Free Spirit Knits: 20 Knitted Garments and Accessories Inspired by the Southwest.  The author and designer, Anne Podlesak, lives in northern New Mexico. I can easily see the influence of her surroundings in her Santa Fe Wrap:

Santa Fe Wrap

This photo for the Grand Canyon Coat shows off the scenery’s subtle colors and its influence on the pattern. Motifs evoking the waters of the Colorado River set off the golden colors of the rocks. I love Anne’s choice of a tone-on-tone main color for this coat. The subtle striping reminds me of the striations of rock in the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon Coat

My time in Arizona taught me some history about sheep ranching in the West. Knitters tend to love all things sheep-y, so the Churro Sheep Cowl is appealing. (A knitter’s note here…if I make this cowl, I think I’ll try a different top and bottom edging to discourage the fabric from curling.)

Churro Sheep Cowl

Free Spirit sets itself apart by offering a number of nice patterns for men. The Salt River Sweater’s traditional cabling, combined with a motif that echoes Native American art,  would appeal to a lot of guys:

Salt River Sweater

Anne’s book includes several techniques, from lace to stranded knitting to cables. There are small projects as well as the stunning sweaters, coats and wraps.

As you may remember from my previous post, I made the book’s Petroglyph Socks.

petroglyph socks

I enjoyed making them so much, I looked up Ann Podlesak’s patterns on Ravelry. I love discovering designers whose work I like so well!

I’ll be giving away a copy of this gorgeous book in May. Stay tuned!

Publisher Info:

Free Spirit Knits: 20 Knitted Garments and Accessories Inspired by the Southwest

By Anne Podlesak

Interweave/F+W; $25.99

http://bit.ly/1M5c5IM

144 pages

Gimme Shelter Cat Blankets

April 11

Twiddle_3_med

Minnie_3_med

The pattern below includes some very simple ideas for making blankets for cats in animal shelters. I’ve put together yarn suggestions and stitch pattern recommendations to match the weight of the yarn (either bulky or super bulky). The blankets are dense to offer the cats plenty of cushioning for warmth and softness against hard cage floors.

The pattern makes for great social knitting, projects for beginners, and Guild group service projects.

These are kitty tested and approved!

You can download the pattern for free here:

Gimme Shelter_Cover

 

Gimme Shelter Cat Blankets

posted under Free, Patterns | No Comments »

Petroglyph Socks

March 30

Falling in love with a new-to-me yarn is one of my favorite parts of knitting. This happened to me when I tried Dragonfly Fiber’s gorgeous Djinni Sock yarn recently. A blend of merino, cashmere and nylon gives it a wonderful hand, and the just-right ply makes for delightful knitting.

When I was a young, I spent a lot of time in Arizona. I loved nothing more than to ride through the hills, exploring beautiful canyons and desert vistas. It was on one of these rides that I discovered a whole hillside of petroglyphs. Ancient carved rock pictures of snakes and stick figures captured my imagination.

No wonder I felt compelled to make the Petroglyph Socks from Anne Podlesak’s Western-inspired book, Free Spirit Knits.

Petroglyph Socks

I modified the Petroglyph pattern by making a rounded toe. If I had it to do over again, I think I’d choose a yarn that is a true solid so the socks’ stitch pattern would show up better. That said, I know I’ll get a lot of use out of these socks. I like the pattern, and the yarn makes the socks heavenly to wear.

I will be reviewing Free Spirit Knits and offering a brand new copy as a giveaway in the coming weeks.

Resources:

Dragonfly Fibers offers many weights of yarn, in a staggering array of gorgeous colors.

I encourage readers to purchase books through their local yarn shops. Please ask for Free Spirit Knits there. You can check out the patterns in the book on the book’s Ravelry page.

Anne Podlesak offers many great patterns on Ravelry.

Cupcake Mittens

March 14

You might remember I was working on some very special mittens for my best friend’s birthday. Here are the Cupcake Mittens, all finished.

Cupcake Mittens Back

The stripes on the thumbs add a jaunty flair, I think.

Cupcake Mittens 2

I like how the personalization worked out, with my friend’s initials and milestone birthday year.

Cupcake Mittens Detail

I made some modifications. The original pattern included some little stitches along the edges. I left them out. I changed the top of the mittens to make a more rounded shape.

Resources:

Cupcake Mittens pattern is available as a Ravelry download. If you enjoy this pattern, you might like to check out more SpillyJane Knits patterns on Ravelry. She has a knack for creating fun and whimsical designs.

The yarn I used is Knit Picks Palette. It is available in a zillion great colors. I used the nine colors recommended in the pattern.

Tiny Cupcakes

March 1

So what’s on my needles now, you may wonder? It’s more like what’s on my 10 needles…

A good friend of mine celebrated a landmark birthday recently. Knitting together is one of the pastimes we enjoy most. Eating cupcakes is another. (When we attend Stitches West together, we always make time to go to our favorite cupcake store(s) in Palo Alto. That’s right, we love cupcakes so much we leave the mecca of yarn for an afternoon. We’re that serious about our cupcakes.)

As this is a big occasion birthday, I wanted to make my friend something special that would commemorate our shared hobbies. What better than Cupcake Mittens?!

Why do I say my project is on 10 needles? Well, I have a bad habit of not finishing pairs of things. Single socks and gloves tend to lay around my house, forlornly waiting for the their mates to be knitted. I’m making both mittens at once this time, using 2 sets of 5 dpn’s, size #1. Somehow (when I have enough sets of needles to pull it off), making two at the same time fakes me out into thinking the knitting is going faster. This works for sleeves, mittens, socks…whatever comes in pairs.

One thing about this pattern is that there are a LOT of ends to weave in. All those adorable little cakes use a bunch of different colors. Theoretically I know to wait until a project is blocked before weaving in ends. However, I figured that it was worth saving my sanity to weave all the ends in every time I finish a round of cupcakes.

 cupcake mittens ends

To personalize the mittens I’m working my friend’s initials into the palm side of one mitten, and her birthday year into the other. I used graph paper to figure out the proportions.

cupcake mittens

If you love cupcakes and stranded work, you might like these mittens too!

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