Published on Saturday November 3rd, 2007

In which we have two agendas: firstly, to kick off November with a little contest. As always, I waited until the evening of the 30th to carve my Hallowe’en pumpkin. The challenge? Identify the source of the inspiration for this year’s carving:


Hint: It’s a movie. I’ll take the title or the director’s name to be a correct answer. You have until Wednesday the 7th to enter your guesses, at which time I’ll put the names of all those who got it right into a hat and select a winner. What’s on the line? Something tasty from the Blue Garter stash, of course! Since I can’t seem to stop adding to it, I figure I’d better spread the love around to my loyal readers now and then.

And secondly, the epic project reveal. The winter before last, we lost Cousin Saucy, as my branch of the family always called my mother’s cousin Sandra. She went in for a knee-replacement surgery, and during her recovery a blood clot went to her brain and left her in a coma from which there was no chance of recovery. We had to let her go. Last year’s trip up into the San Juan Mountains in Colorado was our memorial to her, and we left her ashes at the mouth of her father’s silver mine. Saucy and I had a kinship of the mind and soul, not just of genes, and she was a big influence on my young life. She was a horsewoman, a farmwife, an archaeologist, an advocate for the rights of Native Americans, a bookworm, a historian, and, as it turns out, a knitter. According to her sister, she didn’t do much knitting after her sons were born, which was back around 1970. But she kept a stash of yarn, and I inherited a load of it.


(Thanks to Mr. Garter for the artsy photo shoot, since I’m never home during the daylight hours!)


Vintage Norwegian Raumagarn 3-Ply (at least that’s what I think “3 tr.” means – correct me if I’m wrong, Norwegian readers!) from, if I’m interpreting the shade card correctly, 1966. Forty-year-old virgin wool! And it didn’t take me long to figure out that I have basically all the colors for this:


A quintessential 1920’s Fair Isle sweater! This picture is from Ann Feitelson’s tour de force The Art of Fair Isle Knitting. I’ve got my shades of sheep colors, my blues, my red/oranges, and a dash of mustard yellow, and the picture is clear enough to serve as a template. The colors are best here:


I’ll never know what Saucy intended to knit with this wool, but I think she’d be deeply tickled by this project. We never did get to go pony trekking in the Scottish highlands together (although she did go with her son), but she loved the country and would certainly have approved of an historical Fair Isle recreation. It’s hard to imagine she wouldn’t have had something like this up her sleeve, since the colors are so exactly appropriate. And Scotland may well have been on her mind in the latter half of the ’60s, as our mutual favorite historical novels by Dorothy Dunnett were being published. It’s all I can do not to cast on a swatch cap right now, but I must be disciplined and finish my Shibui sweater first. And since the Quintessential Fair Isle may top out the list of my most Meaningful Handknits, being sort of sacred to the memory of someone I loved, one really mustn’t rush it anyway.

Why we stash

Published on Friday September 7th, 2007

In all honesty, I tend to add to my fiber stash because I have a low threshold when it comes to resisting beauty, and yarn senses this weakness in me and preys upon it. As a result, I have drawers full of lovely moth bait currently serving no purpose except as fodder for dreams and receiving no attention besides the occasional petting. But because they exist in my house, I can, upon a whim, decide to make a Star Wars hat for my little cousin Sam’s seventh birthday. Look here! Black alpaca from a Spiders swap two summers ago. And here? A ball of pewter grey RYC silk/wool I bought to swatch for a corset top (I ended up using Cathay instead.). How about some white for the six little R2D2s? Yep; the hat I’ve planned out of Cascade 220 will never miss a few yards. I thought I was stymied when I got to R2D2’s blue bits, but sure enough, in the very back of the worsted/DK wool drawer, was a lone ball of Mission Falls in the perfect shade. Now, light saber colors: here’s a bright heathered red skein of Cascade 220 from the swag bag I got on the yarn cruise around Manhattan. And lo! A whole sack of ancient Thorobred scheepjeswol Brushed Wool in powder blue, inherited from Mr. Garter’s mamma. Someday it will be a nifty ’40s-inspired cardigan, but right now a few yards will give the blue light sabers that potent fuzzy glow. And in a galaxy not so very far, far away, a hat is born:


[Note to self: Dude, next time take a picture of the front of the hat that doesn’t show the join, eh genius?] And it just happens that my little cousin’s name lends itself to Star Wars font, so of course I had to take advantage of that:


It’ll blow his mind, if it fits his wee blond head. Cross your fingers for me that his noggin isn’t bigger than 19″ in circumference, okay? I have to say, this was fun. There may be another of these in my future, because Mr. Garter has been drooling over it. Time for more stash diving!

Note: The charts are free here; there’s really no other pattern for the hat. I worked it on US#3 needles, figured six repetitions of the chart would make a boy-sized hat, and threw in some double decreases at the top between motifs. I worked the letters under the brim upside-down, used a row of purl sts as a turning round, and sewed down the cast-on edge to the inside of the hat at the very end.