A quick something

Published on Sunday September 12th, 2010

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Do you suffer from that pathological crafter’s condition where you realize you haven’t organized a present for someone whose birthday is in three days and you figure you’ll just make something from scratch? I do. This wouldn’t be a big problem if my craft were baking or cartoons, but knitting is time consuming. Unfortunately, common sense and practical experience of the space-time continuum as we know it are no remedy for this condition. And that’s how I found myself turning to Stephen West (how long could a jaunty neckerchief take, really?), rummaging in the stash for a skein of Malabrigo Sock and some Socks That Rock leftovers and casting on for Akimbo on August 24th.

No, I didn’t finish in time, especially given the need for blocking and shipping to New York. But Fortune handed me a cookie. Essentially the same hour I cast on this quick something for my brother, his wife went into labor. This meant that he would not exactly be watching the mail slot for his birthday present. And all that garter stitch was ideal — I needed something meditative to focus my nervous energy while I was waiting for news. Alas for my sweet sister-in-law, I was nearly done with the neckerchief by the time my wee niece made her appearance, and I am not holding any records for knitting speed.

I did try to get Akimbo out the door as fast as possible, though, and that’s my excuse for not having staged better pictures. I “borrowed” this little scarf for a cool morning’s walk to the coffee shop and liked it so well I’m going to have to knit another for myself. I’d basically like to have the entire Stephen West design collection in my closet for fall…

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Akimbo, by Stephen West

Malabrigo Sock in I’m not sure what color… maybe Indiecita?

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight in Pond Scum

NB: STR Lightweight is significantly heavier than Malabrigo Sock. I’ll be wary of combining these yarns in the future.

A Blue Hill hat

Published on Sunday February 7th, 2010

Every year Mr. G’s family does a Christmas exchange. I find these things pretty hit or miss, depending on how much care the participants put into considering each other’s character, tastes, and needs. Not that I have anything against gift certificates  or money, but I like it best when the gifts are really personal. This year we drew Uncle Bill’s name (we floated some more creative ideas, but it turned out all he wanted was a gift certificate to Cabela’s) and when our package arrived, it was from Cousin Brian. And let me tell you, he hit it out of the park. His thoughtfulness revived my faith in the value of this kind of exchange. In our box were items Brian had gathered in traveling the country: apple butter from his friends’ farm in North Carolina, coffee roasted in Olympia where he lives now, soap made by a friend of his, and three skeins of yarn from a pueblo where he stayed in New Mexico. It was beautiful sheepy wool spun at a little place called Tattersall Mills (and it must be really small, as they have no web presence whatsoever): a chunky dark single-spun Debouillet still rich with lanolin, a soft Aran-weight gray Jacob 2-ply, and a bulky marled light and gray Jacob.

This struck me as the kind of gift that needs to be shared, so I’m sending some of it traveling farther on — to Deer Isle, Maine, where my friend Betsy is spending the winter and where it’s cold enough to merit chunky woolen hats.  Betsy is a rare friend who writes beautiful letters (yes, with pen and paper) and sends tiny accordion books bearing poems she’s chosen just for you, or sketches of things she’s seen in her adventures. She also leaves you little jars of cherry liqueur she’s put up from the trees at school, bakes delicious muffins and breads with surprising ingredients like green tomatoes, and can help a goat give birth and intubate the runt to feed it when it’s too weak to survive on its own. I admire her greatly and she’s just the kind of person it’s worthwhile to knit for, and I thought she was most deserving of this special wool. I grabbed a pattern from The Knitter’s Book of Wool, which seemed the thing to do with an unusual farm yarn, and the Blue Hill Country hat was quickly born.


I doubled the length of the ribbing for extra warmth over the ears. But I couldn’t send it out immediately. By the time I’d finished photographing the hat, this was my view of the box I intended to pack it in:


This hat took only a few hours to knit, but I love the thick, warm, stretchy, rustic result. The Jacob wool is soft enough that I hope the ribbing won’t be itchy against Betsy’s forehead. But the Debouillet has clearly had minimal processing and should be good for repelling the snow and damp.

Here’s what else is a warming thought: my husband comes home tomorrow after ten days in New York and Boston. I quite like a bit of solitude now and then, but I miss my partner and best friend when he’s away. As my neighbor Sarah, who’s finally moving to DC so her young family can be together all the time instead of just for a few weeks a year, told me last night, it’s easy to find a routine on your own and to forget how to be together. I’m fortunate that we aren’t apart all that often, but two busy people living parallel in the same space can suffer the same thing, and it’s a good reminder to make the most of it every day. Hurry home, honey.


Published on Monday January 18th, 2010

Remember how I added an extra inch and a half to the ribbing of Windschief’s brim in case it wasn’t deep enough? Yeah. It took me about an hour to cut that off, recover the live stitches, and bind off again. Should have trusted the pattern. Stephen West won’t lead you astray, y’all hear?



Queen of Shadows

Published on Tuesday December 30th, 2008

To close out 2008, here’s another free pattern for you. I made these fingerless gloves and cowl for Mr. G’s mom for Christmas, and now that I have a few relaxing days up home I’ve polished up the instructions. I knit the set using some scrummy Rio de la Plata 3-Ply Thread that’s been marinating in the stash: the plump, soft plies give beautiful stitch definition and the kettle-dyed “Rabbit” gray shifts ever so slightly in hue. (Rio de la Plata has inexplicably discontinued this gorgeous yarn; their Lana del Artista seems quite similar, but I haven’t seen it in person to tell. The yardage is a little less, but 3 skeins would still suffice. Any soft, heavy Aran weight will serve.) I chose the Shadow Cable from Barbara Walker’s first treasury, cast on a picot edge for a touch of dramatic flair, and designed on the fly.

Here’s the PDF: Queen of Shadows Fingerless Gloves and Cowl

How about some more pictures?

Happy knitting for 2009!