Monday, December 20, 2010

Fleas Navidad from The Beagle's Knitting Blog!

Snowbound beagle
Also,  Fleece Navidad ...

So. much. snow. last weekend and another 3-5" due this afternoon into this evening!  You do get a lot of knitting done.  In fact, file this under Exhibit A:

These are Tom's Christmas present from me.  I handed him the Selbuvotter book and said, "Which one?".  He chose Annemor #7.
 "The Eddas tell of Yggdrasil, the tree that supports the world and the four stags that feed on its shoots and bark.  The reindeer here is nibbling on a sprout, reminding us of the ancient story". - Terri Shea in Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition.
I had been hoping for one of the easier mittens.  No, I was assured, gloves would be better.  These gloves with reindeer and little trees and suns and triangles and flowers.

I drew in my lips, slid my glasses down my nose, and peered at the particulars of the knitting pattern. This would be the first pair of gloves I had ever knitted.  Still,  maaaaaybe I could pull this off.

We drove to Wisconsin Wool Exchange and I said, "Choose two colors."

There are many beautiful choices in this little shop.  Tom went right for the Wall o' Kimmet Croft - which is pretty much the epicenter of my knitting universe - and picked an off-white and a cobalt blue called Iris in sportweight.  The yarn is 25% angora and 75% merino so there is a bit of a halo.  It's the nicest yarn I have ever worked with.

And so, I sat down to try to knit these fancy Nordic gloves.  It was very fun, spurred on as I was by the fast-approaching Christmas deadline and an intense desire to succeed in wupping Viking glove tushie. I wanted to give Tom my best.

This is it:  my personal best in knitting, as of December 2010.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

One Small Shawl Promptly Knit

A small shawl of big lace in big wool on big needles

Itinerary for a day visit to Madison, Wisconsin:

  • lunch and Delta blues at Smokey Jon's.  I highly recommend the smoked beef brisket sandwich platter.
  • fabric shopping at Gayfeather Fabrics, home -as they say - to the funky and the fine..  
  • Lace on size 9 needles with worsted-weight yarn is great for semi-mindless travel knitting
  • yarn oggling at Lakeside Fibers. New management has made positive changes and now, once again, the store is a comfortable and inspiring place to browse while your non-knitting day-tripping SO lingers over a leisurely coffee and scone in the coffee room.
Haul from this day visit:

  • four horn-and-metal buttons for my winter coat.
  • a pattern for an apron and fabric for two aprons
  • Hawthorne is a small shawl - scarf hybrid.
  • 2 skeins Dream in Color Classy, colorway Happy Forest and inspiration to make Hawthorne from the Twist Collective.  It was the in-shop model of Hawthorne that hooked me. Some things you just have to see in person, evidently.

Progress on Madison acquisitions to the stash:

  • horn-and-metal replacement coat buttons promptly attached to winter coat
  • one apron promptly made and promptly given to Tom's stepmother on a recent visit.  One side of the apron was an olive-turquoise-silver-purple graphic of a peacock, strangely 12 Days of Christmas-y.  On the other side was purple faux ikat.  It's a reversible apron. 
  • one Hawthorne promptly knit on the trip to Iowa to see Tom's father in hospice.


    Thursday, December 02, 2010

    The Divine Miss E

    And here's Miss E looking sweet and chic in Kristen Rengren's #27 Vintage Baby Dress from Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2009.  The yarn is Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet DK (90% Merino, 10% Nylon) so her mom can pop it in the wash and low dryer.  The look is versatile - wear it as a dress as Miss E does here or a tunic over wee blue jeans.

    Thanks to Miss E's mom for the beautiful photo!

    Monday, November 22, 2010


    Drying after blocking.  

    On an impulse, I answered an art student's plea for test knitters.  You know what I got out of the experience?  A helluva pair of mittens.

    The yarn is KnitPicks Palette in a pale pink and an azalea pink called Ladyslipper.   

    The designer is Elin Brissman.  The pattern is Zelda's Not So Lonely Anymore.  You can find both designer and design at

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Mine! Mine! Mine!

    Annemor #5 from Selbuvotter:  Biography of a Knitting Tradition

    Each day the Norse god Odin sent his two ravens to fly all over the world.  Thought and Memory were their names and here they are on my mittens.  See their beating wings?

    The pattern is sized for a Child's Small but by using worsted-weight and #3 (cuffs) and #6 (hand) needles, I easily upsized them to fit my Woman's Small hands.  These are my mittens for this winter.

     I finished them last night.  Good thing, too, because the first snow of the season is falling as I type.  When I showed them to Tom, telling him they were ravens not crows, he asked, "What's the difference between a crow and a raven?"

    This is, apparently, a common enough question to warrant its own article at They are in the same family of birds but there are differences in size and color, with the raven both bigger and with more blue-black iridescence than the crow.  

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Christmas Knitting - A Hat So NIce I Might Make It Twice

    Made for a girl who will be 6 months old at Christmastime

    I am lucky to have two little girls to knit for.  I wanted to make something practical, pretty, and that could be worn long after Christmas is over and done.  This little retro cloche Poppy by Justine Turner, available as a free Ravelry download, fit the bill.

    The rose and leaves are a separate pattern. This is what the hat looks like undecorated.  Some put a decorative button, some a bow, others a flower.  The rose and leaves I used are also a free pattern.

      You can find the pattern on the Coats & Clark website, here.

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    A November Evening

    Dinner is done.  The dishes are in the dishwasher.

    Jack the beagle is on his beanbag.

    Nala the ninja kitty con fuego is on my fleece blanket.

    Tom is on the couch.  He's sporting a new pair of Cedar Creeks in Regia Bamboo Color (45% bamboo, 40% wool, 15% polyamide).

    Time to settle in for an hour of murder with Hercule Poirot on PBS.  

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Five Colors of Sport-Weight + Size 0 Needles = Colorwork

    Blocking with top pinned because it's a little wonky

    So, I found a bag of forgotten yarn in the basement the other day.  Among others, there are two handfuls of colors of Dalegarn Falk (sport weight, 100% wool, machine washable), perfect for a  colorful pair of Latvian-style fingerless mitts.  I used five colors:  medium orange, olive green, yellow-green, light yellow, and burgundy.  

    Should go well with my brown coat. 

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Happy Halloween!

    A little black acrylic yarn and you've got yourself a decorated house/giant cat toy.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Found Wool!

    A large plastic garbage bag full of wool!

    In my basement!

    Under my parents' old formica-topped dining room table! Next to a shoebox full of fieldwork notes!

    Serendipitous stash enhancement!

    That yarn has been there, oh, six years.  I know exactly when I bought it and for what, which happens to be a chullo hat for a baby.

    There are over ten colors, yay!
    And the yarn is mostly nice wool like Dalegarn Falk (sport weight, 100% wool, machine washable), perfect for stranded colorwork!  Yes, I did end up making that chullo and even in time to give it to the baby I intended it for.  At the time, it took me probably three weeks of concentrated effort.

    But that was then and this is now.  There's a lot of knitting between the two.  I am happy to report that, although I found the garbage bag of yarn only three days ago, I have a Finished Object.
    Soaking for blocking this morning

    The pattern is Annemor #2 from Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition by Terri Shea. If you don't already own this book and you love Scandinavian knitting, consider adding this book to your collection. There are 30 patterns, all taken from antique mittens and interesting background info, too.

    The Scandinavian mitten connoisseurs will notice immediately that the yarn is worsted-weight instead of the traditional fingering. I took a pattern for a child's mitten and sized it for an adult woman's medium-sized hand simply by using the heavier wool and larger needles (#3 dpns).

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    One - No, Two - Quick Knits

    You have seen 60 Quick Knits?  It's got patterns of varying difficulty for 20 hats, 20 scarves, and 20 mittens, all for worsted-weight yarn.  A book like this can come in handy at this time of the year *cough* holidayknitting *cough*

    Sixty patterns this book may have but I bought the book for only one.  The Birdcage Mittens by Elli Stubenrauch called to me.


    My version is made from Peaceable Acres worsted and Aussi Yarn, both from the stash.  I have a hate-hate relationship with that Aussi Yarn. That Aussi stuff  is splitty and it's knotted to make the yardage and it's a little rough.   If someone offered me my weight in Aussi Yarn, I'd turn them down.

    Okay, first I'd try bargaining before I turned down the gift.  I'd try for half my weight in Noro Kureyon.  One-quarter in Koigu KPPM?

    So, mittens made, I had just the person to give them to.  My younger daughter is making a flying visit home from college for Fall break.  And so I thumbed through the 60 Quick Knits and I made her a hat.

    Garter-Ridged Hat and Birdcage Mittens

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Why Knit Socks?

    Trail Mix Socks in Panda Cotton Solid (59% bamboo, 25% cotton, 16% nylon)

    When I started this blog, I was a confirmed non-sock knitter. What a lot of work for something no one ever looks at because who looks at socks, I figured. What a waste of money.

    A little time went by. I got better at knitting. I began to wonder why all the fuss about sock knitting. What the hey, I knit a pair. Then another. It was fun. Socks are a small, portable project, as mindless or mindful as you want them to be and quick to finish.

    Much more importantly, Tom was diagnosed with diabetes. It had become essential he have socks that would not bind. In other words, Tom needs socks that fit him perfectly.  Handknit socks fit.  Until you've tried a pair, you think machine-knit socks are fine.

    Project portability and custom fit are two great reasons to knit socks. There's a third: sock yarn.  Sock yarn can be really gorgeous. You don’t need a lot of it/a big investment to have enough for a pair of socks.  For around $20, you can make a really special pair of socks but you don't have to spend that much.  The socks in the photo above cost $12 to make.

    My favorite sock yarn?   It's Boo Fly Sock a mix of superwash merino and bamboo.  The colors are gorgeous and the yarn wears like iron. You can throw them in the washing machine. The merino makes it warm enough for when the snow falls, which can be October - April here.  The bamboo makes it comfortably warm, not sweaty. Bamboo socks tend not to smell as the fiber contains an antibacterial and bacteriostasis bioagent.

     Happy Socktober, all!

    Sunday, October 03, 2010

    A Stork's Nest Scarf

    I picked up a skein of llama yarn at a harvest festival the other week. The yarn is spun from the fur of a llama named Ghost Dancer.  As you would expect from a name like Ghost Dancer, the color is a pale, ethereal gray.  The wool is as soft to the touch as angora.

    It knit up quickly into an Estonian lace scarf in the Stork's Nest pattern written up by Nancy Bush in Knitting Traditions magzine (Winter 2010).  Click on  the photo and suddenly the little stork nests will appear.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Magazine Knitting

    I razzed Vogue Knitting's photo styling in my previous post.  Coincidentally, one of their designs has just come off my needles.  These are an Elli Steubenrauch design from  Winter 2009/10.  Check those thumbs! (You can click on any photo to make bigger.)  The ribbing effect at the cuffs is achieved by knitting with the main color and purling with the contrast color.  The palms have a  geometric mosaic design.  It's a good contrast to the trees and grass on the fronts and thumbs.


    Soft as beagle ears is the worsted-weight from Kimmet Croft!  That yarn is pure joy to work with and there was enough yarn left over to knit ...

    a hat!  The design is Quantoid Hat and you can find it in Knitscene, Fall 2010.

    In fact, there's still more yarn left, certainly more than enough for a pair of wristers, maybe even cabled ones and you know how that gobbles up the yardage.  The green skein began with 250 yards and the blue with 230.  It's starting to feel a little loaves-and-fishes, Bartholomew Cubbins and the 500 Hats by Dr. Seuss, if you follow.  The latter, you remember, is the story where the boy finds that each time he removes his hat to the king, another hat is on his head, ad infinitum.

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    What's the Backstory?

    Vogue Knitting  previewed this beautiful numbah from the upcoming
     Holiday edition of the magazine.  Sure, it's beautiful but I'm thinking the same thing as when I leaf through an anthropologie catalog:  What's the bloomin' backstory?!
    Why does the chandelier hang in mid-air, rather than from the ceiling?  Why is that swath of cloth draped around the wire?

    Because here's what I'm getting:  the woman pulled an Anna Nicole Smith, i.e., she married an almost-deceased plutocrat.  It is now after his death and our Lady in Red wants to unload the entire contents of all his  properties - this one is in France - before the plutocrats' adult children contest the will.  This is why the chandelier has come down from the ceiling, ready to be wrapped in the swath of pistachio-colored velvet drapery.  Yep, she's even selling off the drapes and antlers.  This is why the Lady in Red stands in front of a large pallet with her hand on an old trunk.

    Okay, I think we can fairly call that solved, don't you?

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Fresh Bread and Fresh Yarn

    Tom and I took a break from writing to make the 10-minute drive to Amherst, pop. 1052.  My first stop is always Wisconsin Wool Exchange.  It's a little store that proves size doesn't matter, it's what you do with it.  Today they were chockablock with all kinds of yarny goodness:  wheels of Icelandic unspun, handpainted sock yarn, handspun local alpaca, handmade glass buttons ...

    The wall o' Kimmet Croft always blows my mind with its beauty.  I'm becoming a Kimmet Croft collector without realizing it.  Here are my two beautiful colors for today.  Both are worsted weight.

    Kimmet Croft Luscious Lamb (100% merino lambswool, 230 yards) in Blue Sky
     and Comfort Plus (100% fine wool) in Shamrock Green

    And what was Tom doing while I fondled yarn?  He was down the street at the newly-reopened bakery buying some of the best bread you'll ever eat.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Burr Oak

     Everyone knows Laura Ingalls Wilder was born and lived for a while in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Her Pa had an "itchy foot" that led the family away from the Big Woods to live in a number of other places:  Minnesota, Kansas, South Dakota.  As an old woman, Laura collaborated with her daughter Rose on those famous books detailing her life and times. 

    I have visited the Laura sites at Pepin, Wisconsin and DeSmet, South Dakota.  Laura had a photographic memory.

    There is one place about which Laura and Rose never wrote:  Burr Oak, Iowa, 120 miles from the Little House in the Big Woods. The Wilders lived in Burr Oak one year, 1876-1877.  At that time, the town was a stopping off point for travelers, with as many as 200 wagons coming through a day.  Pa managed the Masters Hotel and his wife and children worked there.  Little Grace was born in Burr Oak.  The year was a painful one for the family and they eventually left in the dark of night without settling their debts.  If you're intrigued, read Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Iowa Story by the respected Ingalls authority William Anderson.  It's available at, among other places.

    The Masters Hotel, Burr Oak, Iowa
    Tom and I stopped at Burr Oak the other day, on our way to attend to family business farther into Iowa.  Because the town is very small and off the beaten track, it seems frozen in time.  It takes almost no imagination to picture Laura and Mary picking apples or wading in the creek behind the hotel.

    After Burr Oak, Tom and I drove on to attend to family matters.  Of course, you know I knit and knit and knit my way through those few days. 

    Saturday, September 04, 2010

    Rip It Rip It Rip It

    Summer Sox, design by Cookie A

    There are soul-sucking knitting projects.  For whatever reason, the project becomes one long slog through the swamp of knitting tedium or despair. 

    I used to perservere through those.  No longer.  Knitting for me is a hobby.  If it's not fun or esthetically pleasing, into the frog pond it goes so I can rip it rip it rip it to start over on something else.

    Ninety percent or more of knitting is fun stuff.  The socks in the photo above:  fun stuff.  The lace is unusual and an easily-memorized 10-row pattern.  I knit the socks in front of the tv, in the car, and at a political rally.  I liked that I knew the pattern by heart, that I didn't have to keep referring to the chart.

    I also like Scandinavian colorwork where the chart can never leave my side.  What will be a fun knit and what will be a slog is not that predictable.  I like colorwork.  I like cables.  I like lace.  What I don't like are long swaths of garter stitch, although I do like the look of long swaths of garter stitch, à la the beautiful work of  Brooklyn Tweed.

    I have two projects on the needles right now.  One is a Scandinavian colorwork mitten, the other a lace stole.  Colorwork and lace, two things I find fun, yet one of these requires me to put on figurative waders and slog through a swamp of Baudelarian ennui.  And that's just walking by the thing sitting on the table.  It's exactly the feeling Jean-Louis Murat sings about in Baudelaire's poem «La Cloche fêlée», set to music by Léo Ferré.

    Jean Louis Murat - la cloche fêlée
    Uploaded by Jean-Louis-Murat. - Discover more animation and arts videos.

    When lines from Baudelaire crowd your head, it's time to send that knitting project to the frog pond.  Au revoir, lace stole.  I will rip it rip it rip it and start over.

    Thursday, September 02, 2010

    I Am A Fan of Marta Stina Abramsdotter

    I haven't blogged in a couple of weeks.  We took our daughters to college, a drive that took us from Wisconsin to North Carolina and Ohio and back. 

    It's good to be back home.  Tom and I were at the Portage County Democratic Party Picnic last Sunday.  It's held in the old brick warehouse by the river and boy howdy, it was hot.  On each picnic table, a tin can holding a bouquet of these...  

    That fan came in right handy.  Pretty soon, though, as the politicians' speeches progressed,  the knitting in my purse called to me. At that point, I had a decision: fanning or knitting?  My preference was both! Would Tom fan me as I knit away?

    Yeah ... nope.  Drat.

    I put down the fan for a bit and split my time between the fanning and the knitting.  If you're guessing that I knit away on a sock, you're guessing right.  It's a Cookie A design called Summer Sox and it's free.  The yarn is Classic Elite Yarn's Summer Sox (40% cotton, 40% superwash merino, 20% nylon).  I'm almost finished with the second sock so good, clear photos probably tomorrow.

    That's my mindless tv/political picnic knitting.  For more of a challenge, I began a pair of Latvian mittens in Finnish yarn.  Just look at that fancy braided cuff and that tiny gauge.

    You know what?  I don't like them - too fussy.  Also, my color choices are off, off, off.  The colors need to be a lot livelier.

    Oh, yes, I frogged the thing.  It felt good!  With the same yarn, I knit something still from within the Baltic region, this time from Sweden.

    This is Ulrika Bos Kerttu's Swedish Mittens from Knitting Traditions, which had a limited run.  You can purchase the pattern as a kit here.  The design is based on the knitting of master knitter Marta Stina Abrahamsdotter (1825-1903), a woman so ahead of her time that we're only beginning to catch up to her aesthetic sense and technique.

    I love this design.  It's clean and it's simple and yet it's still Nordic folk art.  Look at how pretty the palm is and please click on this photo to enlarge it so you can see that almost trompe l'oeil "lace" border. 

    My mitten.  Fall is in the air.  

    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Ramona Lace Helmet

    To me, this hat looks like something Amélie would wear.  It's hits the same notes that Audrey Tatou's character does:  gamine and playful and retro and stylishly offbeat.  If only it were in a saturated red or blue or green  ...  

    I made it in a sport-weight alpaca handspun from Alpaca Bay Farm on Prince Edward Island.  The yarn is as soft as a kitten's tummy - how's that for an Amélie-ish image.