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.