Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy News

Early in December, we got wonderful news:  our older daughter and her boyfriend have decided to get married this summer.  You should see the way our daughter lights up when she is around this terrific guy.

 If you're a knitter, you'll understand why this called for breaking the Good Stuff out of the stash - in this case, the fabulously soft and warm Shokay yak yarn.  It looks velvety soft in the photo cuz it is.

Ian in his Men's Ski Hat designed by Irina Dmitrieva, knit in Shambala Shokay Yak
This is a hat that can stand up to whatever a Wisconsin winter throws at Ian when he visits from Ohio.

Not the best phone picture evah but how cute are they together!
So now starts the fun and excitement of helping a wedding come together!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Kissmas and Fleas Navidad from The Beagle's Knitting Blog

Cleo in her Capucine knit in Lamb's Pride Bulky (85% wool, 15% mohair)  in Frosted Periwinkle

Friday, November 25, 2011

Home for Thanksgiving

... and rocking the cozy handknits.

Wood Hollow Hat and Mittens in Shelter (Thistle ) and  Inspira Cowl  in  Malabrigo Silky Merino (Teal Feather) and Pagewood Farm Alyeska (Misty) and Scallop Lace Hat in Malabrigo Silky Merino

Sunday, November 06, 2011


It's time to knit Jack the beagle a new coat.  Will you help me decide?  Click on the links below.  If you have a preference, leave a comment below.    Suggest one not on the list, if you like.

Barkberry (Burberry-inspired)

Puppies on Parade (fair isle)

Knitted Dog Coat with Traditional Norwegian Pattern (Scandihoovian-inspired)

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Season of Secret Knitting Has Begun

So, I'll show you what came in the mail today.  It was an extraordinarily great haul.

First package opened was an order from Knit Purl in Portland, Oregon

The color is Thistle.  With it, came three bags of tea from Steven Smith Teamaker,  hands down the most beautiful bags of tea I have ever encountered.  Thanks for the tea, Knit Purl!

Then I opened a package from Knitcircus.  It was my prize from the Knitcircus Dolcetta Shawl KAL.

I won a pattern from Bijou Basin for their Bandolier Cardi-Pullover ("Is it a cardigan or a pullover?") You can see it better here.  But that's not all ...

Knitcircus also sent along a 40-yd. sample of merino laceweight from Rocky Mountain Dyeworks.  Thanks, Knitcircus and Bijou Basin!

Oh, and this came, too ...

Icelandic knitting sure seems to be on the radar recently. I myself have plans for an Icelandic shawl once the Season of Secret Knitting is over.

All this and the WEBS Holiday catalog, too!  How adorable is their selection of Lantern Moon stitch markers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ullared Hat

Ullared Hat in Unspun Icelandic and Dolcetto Shawl  in Fleece Artist Merino 2/6

"Brought to Iceland by the Viking settlers some 1,100 years ago, the Icelandic sheep is one of the world's oldest and purest breeds... " - from The Knitter's Book of Wool

It is also one of the warmest yarns.  You buy unspun Icelandic by the 300-yard wheel.  A display of these wheels - natural greys and browns and beiges, amethyst purple, cayenne, and sumac red - greets you at the door.  They're intriguing so when he amethyst purple colorway matched a shawlette I had just finished, I bought a wheel plus another of grey for a hat.

 Unspun Icelandic is a yarn which inspires intense love or intense loathing, I’m guessing. I love the colors and the warmth. Count me as Not A Fan of the unspun aspect.  A very light hand is required to knit with this yarn.  Pull at all - and I mean at all - and it wisps apart.  
"Use a light hand when pulling the wool from the wheel until the center hole is large enough to permit the wool to flow freely. If the strand should break, simply overlap the ends, moisten your palm, and rub the two strands together for a ‘spit-splice’. " - Schoolhouse Press instructional sheet 

To combat the wispy aspect of the yarn, I threw the completed hat into a pillowcase, wound a rubber band around to secure, and threw the thing into the washing machine.  A wash in hot water later, the hat was perfectly felted.

A fun feature of the pattern is to add your initials in a little box.  Do you see mine above the sold line of purple?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Stashing Down: Dolcetta

Stashing down with Fleece Artist Merino 2/6, colorway Pixie

Does sock yarn count as stash?    I admit to four all-purpose bags full, although there might be five.

Whether or not stockpiling sock yarn is guilt-free, this skein of  Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 didn't hang out in my stash for more than a month.    Along came a KAL for the Dolcetto shawlette from Knitcircus.  It was a simple matter of opening my cedar chest, pulling out the plastic bags stuffed with sock yarn, and choosing what I liked best that day.

But now I might need a hat to go with this Dolcetto shawlette.  Winter is coming.  This is Wisconsin.  It gets cold.  I'm out of this yarn.  My source for this yarn is out of this colorway.  What to do, what to do ...

Go to the local yarn store!  See if they don't have something that coordinates.

 But of course.  The stash that goes down must come up again.  I'll show you what I found on Monday.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Barns, Yarns, and a Pair o' Mitts

Click on any photo to make larger.  

If it's the first weekend in October, it's Hidden Studios Tour.  It's an annual self-guided visit to eight studios,  each showcasing three artists.  The leaves are at their colorful peak,  there's coffee and cookies and time to talk with the artists.  We look forward to it every year.

So, this morning,  we hopped in the Jeep and bumped over the country roads, past red barns and fall foliage to our first stop this year:  Peaceable Acres Farm .  This is a fiber arts studio and producer of really beautiful, quality yarn.  I mean, when you park next to pasture with grazing sheep and alpacas, you know there's farm-fresh fiber ahead.

And there was and in lots of colors and bases.  I chose superfine Alpaca handspun in natural white and brown-with-gray.  Ohhhh, is it softer than soft!   There's enough to make a Lillia Hyrna Shawl or an Icelandic Modern Lace Shawl

Wanted for Attempted Yarn Harassment 
The weather was changeable, going from sunny to rainy to sunny to rainy again.  I was glad I had thought to tuck these into my coat pocket .


They're the pattern that comes with the Dream in Color 2011-2010 Dream Club yarn for September.  You don't sign up for a year or six months or even three months.  You don't commit in advance at all, unlike most yarn clubs.  Here are the details from a seller I have not yet used.  I bought mine at a bricks-and-mortar store.

To finish the week, how about a photo of Jack the beagle crunching around in the autumn leaves?

Sniff  sniff   sniff   sniff   snifff

Monday, September 26, 2011

By Request

So, we’re at Lakeside Fibers in Madison and Thomasina sees an Inspira Cowl in Koigu KPPM. “Can you make me one?” she asks.
It really was a beautiful object.  Of course, I was excited to get my hands on enough Koigu to make the cowl.  Instead, Thomasina chose Malabrigo Silky Merino in the Teal Feather colorway and Pagewood Farm Alyeska in Misty.
Hmmmm, I thought. About that lighter Alyeska colorway, should there maybe be more color action?  No, Thomasina assured me.  Those were the two yarns she wanted for her cowl.
I love the way it turned out. Very clean and nordic to my eyes.
There was even enough of the teal Malabrigo for a little something extra.  See it poking out of the coat pocket?
It's a slouchy Scallop Lace Hat.  Talk about a lightning-fast knit!  I started and finished it during a Friday-evening mini-marathon of American Restoration.  Great show for those of us who enjoy working with our hands.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Recent Acquisition Highlight

View yarn that has recently been added to The Beagle's Knitting Blog collection.

Dream in Color

September 2011
70% Superwash Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
210 yards
Sow's Ear, Verona, Wisconsin

Monday, September 19, 2011

On the Needles: Inspira Cowl

Nala pretending to ignore: a) yarn and b) dangling stitch marker in the shape of a sheep

Perfect travel knitting would be ...
  • portable 
  • simple enough to put down and pick-up at a moment's notice
  • interesting enough to not be boring.

My current nominee is Celery Stalked's Inspira Cowl.  I took it to Iowa and back to attend Tom's 50th high school reunion weekend.  It traveled beautifully.

Inspira cowl is a big circle of ribbing in two yarns.  In the case of mine, it's one solid yarn and one lightly variegated, one DK-weight and one fingering.  It hits every one of the three musts of travel knitting:  it's portable, simple, and interesting.

Bonus:  no two Inspira Cowls look the same.  This is the one I'm making now up close ...

The yarns are Mmmmmmalabrigo Silky Merino in  the Teal Feather colorway and Pagewood Farm Aleyska in Misty.  Imagine the potential of Kauni or Noro Kureyon.  The version at Lakeside Fibers in Madison is  in Koigu KPPM, if I remember right.  It's fabulous, as all things Koigu tend to be.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Color

Look what the mailman brought this morning!

It's from the Loopy Ewe.  Everyone who completed all three Camp Loopy projects on time receives a free pattern and  skein of ... ready? ...

This is my skein.  Yes, that's the rare, elusive, and highly-coveted Wollmeise  The colorway is subtly variegated cobalt blue. You can supersize any of the photos by clicking on them. I don't know if the Wollmeise will become a pair of Argylers, the pattern that arrived with this yarn.  I expect to have a lovely time deciding.

After all, how many pairs of mittens can one person really use?  I am in the middle of Hilja's Mittens from Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush.  

Good job on that thumb, eh?  
The yarn is Vuorelma Satakieli frogged from a Latvian mitten project I decided I didn't like enough relative to the amount of work going into it.  I'm finding this project a lot more fun.

Friday, September 09, 2011

"Sandals-and-Socks Guy, We're A Lot Like You: A Little Different"

A sandals-and-socks guy lives in my house.  It doesn't matter how many times I whine, "It's a European mathematician look!".  He just likes wearing socks with sandals.

So, I made him these in a comfy bamboo yarn that long ago lost its label.  Right after this photo, he put on his Ecco sandals and left the combo on all evening.

Retro Rib Socks  in some kind of bamboo yarn

He was comfy.  He was happy.  And I was doing my best not to think of the European mathematicians I worked for 30 years ago.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Camp Loopy

I used to believe that
Button from Gumperina Goes to Local Yarn Shops and Home Depot

I had never made a sweater that: a) fit and b) looked as good as the time and money I invested in making it.  Then I made

Indigo by Tonia Barry in Cascade 220, Colorway:  Beagle Brown  (okay, Pumpkin Spice)
It's my third and final project for this summer's Camp Loopy.  What's Camp Loopy?  It was a three-project challenge from the The Loopy Ewe, everyone's favorite online yarn store.  The month of June's challenge  was a two-color shawl, scarf, or poncho.
Furrows Shawl in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
July's Challenge 2  was socks or mittens with cables.  I knit 
Cozy Cable Socks in Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock
August's Challenge 3 was any kind of project using 800 or more yards. I decided to push myself and make a cardigan requiring a little less than twice the minimum.   

Front edge detail.  The i-cord bind-off was new to me on this project.

As you can guess, the Viking-inspired cables were incredibly fun.  They wind around the front edge and up the forearm of the sleeves.

The whole Camp Loopy experience was incredibly fun.  It was fun to see the way hundreds of other "campers" handled the three challenges.  It was fun to get help from Tom with color choices.  It was fun to get help from one of my fashion consultants, a.k.a. our daughter Thomasina, on the choice of cardigan pattern.

See you next summer, Camp Loopy!


Friday, August 05, 2011

If Your Socks Are Purple, Let Them Be PURPLE

These Cozy Cable Socks are for Tom, who is nothing if not open-minded when it comes to socks or, really, anything except British movies. He claims he can’t understand a #@$#%^% word. 
Fine, Colin Firth and I prefer to be alone anyway.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Survival Knitting

Cozy Cable Socks knit on #1 dpns for size 12 Tomfeet.  Not the speediest project ever.

Here's the situation:  the heat index is 110 and  humidity is at 80 or 90%.   The power is down because of the windstorm;  it's going to stay down for hours (it turned out to be a couple of days).   Three old and beautiful trees came down in the storm.  The tree guys you just hired get $500/hour. Everything in the fridge and freezer is spoiling.  You cannot flush the toilet and any water you drink is bottled.  No one died and your house is okay, if uncomfy.  What do you do?

You knit so you don't kill people.  

Every knitter in the universe knows this.  What you choose to knit when the going gets tense is less universal.  For myself, it's sock knitting.  The smaller the needles, the fussier the pattern, the better.

I am aided and abetted in this by Tom's willingness to be a wild-socks kind of guy.  He will gladly wear just about anything, likes just about anything.  So, I grabbed a skein of  Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock Yarn in Hyacinth Purple and cast on in a pattern loaded with cables.  Click on the photos to see detail.

A week later, there is one completed sock and 1/4 of its mate.  The power is long since back on, the fridge and freezer cleaned out, and the tree-removal bill is undoubtedly on its way to our mailbox.

One down, one to go.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Road Trip! Furrows Shawl

Travel knitting:  Furrows Shawl by Miriam Felton in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

We've got the Wisconsin-to-Wyoming drive down to a science:

Night 1:  Pipestone, Minnesota.  Pipestone National Monument is the old quarry for the red stone from which Indians carved peace pipes.  The walk around the sacred quarry includes fields of prairie flowers, a rushing river, and even a waterfall.

Night 2:  Wall, South Dakota.  Wall Drug is America's favorite roadside attraction.  Black Hills gold for sale, threadbare jackalopes and singing cowboy animatronics from the 1950's, original artwork from dime novels about cowboys and Indians, donuts, and free ice water - it's all the same year after year after year.

 Night 3:  Buffalo, Wyoming. You'll have time for a visit to Devil's Tower National Monument on the way.  Once you arrive in Buffalo,  a stroll through the lobby and saloon of the Occidental Hotel will have you wondering if maybe there is such a thing as time travel.

Do you knit in the car?  If you're looking for travel knitting, I recommend the Furrows Shawl pattern,  It's straightforward enough that you can easily find your place but not so mindless that it becomes a slog.

This thing is knit lengthwise, which means a cast-on of   514 stitches

It's knit with fingering-weight on #3 circs so it offers lots of knitting time for the buck and the space in your suitcase. Do you love how the stitches are on the bias, yet the top of the shawl is straight?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's in Your Knitting Bag?

My new zippered bag for notions like stitch markers and scissors

How many of these items do you have in your knitting bag?  (The list is from My Little Knitting Book:  A Quick Reference, a booklet by Joan Sheridan.)

  • Yarn darner 
  • Sharp small scissors and theadcutter pendant
  • Crochet hooks (D,J, Steel 10)
  • Stitch markers (more than one kind)
  • Cable needles and/or spare double points
  • Stitch holders (two of each size)
  • Smooth yarn for provisional cast ons, holding stitches and making emergency stitch markers
  • Plastic seaming pins and/or Knit Klips
  • Point protectors
  • Row counter and calculator
  • Blocking pins
  • Tape measure
  • Small ruler
  • Needle gauge
  • Pen, pencil, & highlighter
  • Sticky notes and removeable highlighter tape
  • Zippered bag for notions
  • Business cards for your favorite yarn stores
  • Nail file and hand cream

I can check off maybe 1/4 of that list.  I always put in:  small scissors, row counter, tape measure, needle gauge, tiny wooden crochet hook for dropped stitches, cable needle, big-eyed sewing needle for kitchenering sock toes.

As of two days ago, I no longer just toss that stuff loose into a tote bag.  I treated myself to a little zippered notions bag.  I can keep it pre-loaded and just toss the thing into my knitting bag.  Now I'm considering upgrading my tape measure to something from Lantern Moon.  That sheep and bumblebee crack me up.  Or should I keep with the egg theme I have going with the notions bag and go for the hen?

Zipper pull detail on my new notions bag.  Shiny!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ulmus Shawl

Hand Maiden's Casbah (81% merino, 9% cashmere, 10% nylon) in Nova Scotia casting an accusing and defiant eye
 Not going for twee here but yarn pretty much does tell a knitter what it wants to be and what it doesn't want to be.  This is not a case of Chitty Chitty Bang Bangitis or enchantment or lunacy.  It's simply that you may purchase yarn with the reasonable idea of making it into one thing but find that it doesn't look or behave as expected.

My skein of Casbah in Nova Scotia didn't want to be socks.  Now, I have used the same yarn  in a different colorway for a pair of mansocks.  It was wonderful, perfect.  Magnificent, even.  This encouraged me to insist a little more than normal.  I made two attempts to force the issue, first with a baby-cable pattern, then with a slip-stitch pattern.  The yarn won out.  My mistake:  there are other uses for sock yarn than socks, of course.  Baby clothing comes to mind.  Scarves, fingerless mitts, wraps.   It's simply a matter of taking full advantage of the yarn's relative lightness and colorways.

The pattern is Ulmus.  It's a slip-stitch pattern calling for two rows of Yarn A followed by two rows of Yarn B.  Some use contrasting yarns but I happened to have a complimentary yarn on hand.  This is the result:

Yarn B is Shibui Knits Sock (100% superwash merino) in Emerald.  I bought it online, thinking it was a solid. Yeah, it's a self-striper in shades of green.  See?

I didn't love it for socks.  I do love it as contrast and edging for this shawl.

Nice shawl, stash down by four skeins (one of the blues/greens and three of the emerald).  Happy ending, right?

And so I, too, believed.  Then the Loopy Ewe decided to put on Camp Loopy - details of what that is in the link.  The first project is a scarf or shawl or cape in two colors to be knit between mid-June and mid-July.

So, yeah, I'm in.  Let's see what an Ulmus Shawl from these two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock will look like.