Sunday, July 8, 2018

shetland in situ

Ahhh, bonny Scotland. It's been a busy month since we've been back, but boy did we have fun. The land of lochs, braes, moors, heather, and wool did not disappoint. For example, this is where we stayed on our second to last night. It is Loch Leven, near Glencoe, and it is gorgeous.

Lando and Punk Rocky Mountain paired nicely with my jumping deer dress

We started in Edinburgh and traveled a circuit that took us through Aberdeen, Speyside, and Inverness, then drove the Great Glen to Glenfinnian and Glencoe, and finally circled back around through Fort William and Glasgow to leave out of Edinburgh. As I mentioned a couple posts ago, my shetland shawl didn't make it as a finished object, but I did decide to take it with me for the flights, the occasional sleepless night (thanks jetlag), and for serendipitous moments like this one:

We didn't get to the Shetland Islands (next time!) but I am confident that the wildness of the highlands we saw is a great stand-in for the landscapes of the northern isles. It was super fun to sit by the loch and work a few rounds. Seeing the country, it's people and places, and absorbing the history has really made this particular project a special one. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

before we go...

I always like to take a knitting project with me on trips so I have something to do on the plane. This means that I'm often starting something new the night before so I have a portable and easy one (e.g. socks). This, however, really takes the cake - why not start and finish something the day before so you have the perfect accessory to wear on the trip??

That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. The knitted cowl was in fact already done - it was Lando, which I finished and wrote about in January 2015 - but the thought of lining it has been marinating in the back of my mind for a while. I've never actually gotten around to doing it until I decided that this HAD to be the cowl I took with me to Scotland. Temperatures in the highlands were forecasted to be a little bit chilly; apparently warm for them, but high 50s and low 60s is cold for a California girl. Also that seems like the perfect excuse to wear a warm yarny thing. The issue I had was that I wanted a cowl that was small and would go with everything I was taking with me. Solid navy Lando was perfect but I haven't really liked wearing it because the wool is a little bit itchy.

I've had the fleece for it in my stash and earmarked for the lining for just as long as the cowl has been around. This horse pattern seems appropriate given that I named it after a horse I was riding the winter I made it. With really no other excuse other than just "it seems hard to do" I sat myself down to figure it out. In the end I just attached it the same way I would a binding to a quilt, with a ladder-like approach to the whip stitch. I used a sturdier thread rather than just plain sewing machine thread and I think it worked out just fine.

All I had to do was cut the fleece a little larger than I wanted, sew one seam, and then whip stitch on while folding the edge under. The cowl is narrower than the horse pattern repeat, but I lined it up so I had at least a few faces peeking in when I cut the piece out. 

The funny thing is that after all was said and done, I actually got the fleece in upside down relative to the way I like to wear the cowl. Oops! Well, only I will know.

And the most important part, it was great to wear! With just a small amount of effort, it has become one of my favorites now. Thumbs up for sticking with it. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018


One of my friends from the barn had a birthday last month. Her boss, another good friend of mine, suggested I make her a knitted scarf she can use to ride in since she loves the one I made her so much (what great feedback to hear!). That was a fantastic suggestion, so I got started on it and it took me just a couple of evenings of knitting to finish.  

I tend to wear very bright colors at the barn - I have riding pants in red and purple - and Celeste laughs at me since she wears the more traditional colors - olive, beige, and navy. I found the better part of a dark gray ball of yarn in my stash and paired it up with a cowl pattern I had saved on Ravelry. Cowls are good for riding because they don't come unwound, and I thought she would appreciate my effort to give her something neutral to wear. 

The motif is a Shetland one called horseshoe lace, which I consider appropriate both as a sign of luck and as a gift for a horsewoman. I really like the way it turned out with the marled gray yarn - despite my love of brights I do like me a nice gray. It looks fine unblocked, but stretching it out to about 12" x 12" on the board opened up the pattern and it looks even nicer. I also wanted to make sure that it was going to be wide enough to get it on and off over a helmet in case she decided mid-ride that it was warming up. 

I did make one modification. Rather than mirroring the pattern so there were sets of horseshoes that faced one another, I just continued with them facing the same direction for all the repeats. I saw that some others had done that when I looked around on Ravelry and I liked the way it looked. I did get a note that she liked it, so I hope she ends up getting some use out of it if the mornings ever cool down again! 

Celeste Cowl
Pattern: Crofter's Cowl (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh DK in 'El Greco'
Needle: US 8

Friday, June 22, 2018

marking mother's day

Browsing Pinterest gives me more ideas than I could ever use, but it is really fun to save pretty pictures and craft ideas and revisit them later. Someone had saved a picture of what looked like miniature skeins of yarn that were made into stitch markers for knitting, and I thought it was a clever idea to try making my mom a set for Mother's Day. 

The hardest part was finding the rings to use as the actual marker, but a bit of time spent in the jewelry aisle at Joann's fixed that. I got myself some plain ones and these pretty twisty ones. The only other bits I needed to find in my stash were jump rings and my DMC floss. It took a bit to find a color combo (I like them all....) but I took a look at my Mom's Pinterest page on yarn and got an idea of the kinds of colors she'd been looking at. No surprise, lots of bright colors and rainbows! Then all it took was some wrapping and twisting (just like the "real thing") and a little bit of wrestling with the jump rings. It was super fun to put these together and really satisfying to see just how much they actually look like little hanks of yarn.

When I dug up my jump rings, I also found beads and other jewelry making things. Stitch markers are really just like earrings for knitting needles, so I made her a small set of sunflower markers too. The longer one will be handy for keeping track of the beginning of rows. 

I love the bumble bee markers I got gifted a few years ago and I use them all the time, so I hope Mom will get some use out of these. There are so many neat ideas I found when looking around for DIY markers, I'm sure I'll make some more this year. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

shetland shawl

It's been real quiet around here lately! That's not for lack of keeping my hands busy making, it's just that I've been primarily working on a large slow-knitting project. I started at the beginning of last August and am about halfway through -- not bad considering the hiatus for holiday knitting and a lot of life in between. What is it, you ask? A Shetland shawl!

On one of our trips to Powell's Books in Portland, I bought myself a book from Cheryl Oberle on Folk Shawls. It has patterns from many different countries, including Scotland. Of the Scottish shawls, the one that caught my eye (and why I bought the book) was the Fir Cone Shawl. It is a lovely Shetland style square shawl with different nature-based lace motifs used throughout. The pictures below are of the center fir cone lace section.

It's basically going to be a huge square when I'm finished. So huge that when I bought the 2100 yards of fingering weight yarn for it the woman at the store asked "what in the world are you making with all this thin yarn?" I swear she blanched when I said a Shetland shawl. It certainly is an undertaking, but I'm really enjoying it. It takes a bit of focus, so it's not great TV knitting like socks or something simpler, but we've been traveling enough that I've made some progress on planes, in lake houses, and in hotels. These photos are in fact from a plane. 

The yarn is a really deep navy that doesn't come through great on camera. It has threads of purple through it, too.  I've gotten to the border, which I'm proud to say after much consternation and swearing at picking up stitches around the center section. I was hoping to have this done in time for our trip to Scotland this year, but that's coming up soon so I may have to take it to keep working on it rather than to wear it. In any case, it will be fun to see the place that inspired the cone, shell, and wave motifs in this piece and I'm enjoying the making!

Friday, December 29, 2017

electric poof

This hat makes me so happy. I picked up this yarn this summer in the sale bin at Fengari in Half Moon Bay and bought the poof to go with it at the same time. It's a Malabrigo single ply yarn that is bright and squishy and perfect for this pattern. I originally planned to do just a simple knit hat to show off the yarn, but I found the Amanda Hat pattern and liked the way it played with variegated yarns. 

There's a couple garter stitch sections with broad bands of a pattern that includes some passed over slip stitches and a plain knit crown. The passed over stitches take the fluffy yarn and make a truly fluffy finished fabric. It's just slightly slouchy -- really what I've been finding in the cold weather this week is that it is plenty long enough to pull down over ears to keep them warm. Making it again for someone else I'd be sure go a little tighter on the gauge, but for me it's a good fit. 

The bright colors and the satisfying squish are pretty awesome, but what really makes this hat is the electric blue poof on the top. I sewed a button on the inside of the crown, and the elastic attached to the poof hooks around that making it removable. Not that I will. Because it's awesome. 

Electric Poof (my Ravelry page)
Pattern: The Amanda Hat, free on Ravelry
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Seleccion Privada in "Z"
Needle: US 9

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


When I told my mom I was making socks for my dad, I asked if she wanted anything off my needles for the holidays. She suggested gloves, or a hat, or 'something cute'. Then a few days later, I got a Pinterest message with a cute hat pattern in it with a "Can you make this? I used to love peace signs." Why certainly! It was quick work to whip up this beret and I used about half of a pretty purple-y pink skein of Tosh Merino DK in Alizarin from my stash.

I reduced the band ribbing to 7 rows instead of the recommended 14 because it seemed a bit wide to me. I ended up with just 20 yards left, so that was a good decision on my part. I took it right down to the wire and didn't remember to block the thing until the night before we left for Chicago. It was *mostly* dry by the time I packed it in my carry on in the morning, I do admit to giving it a quick once over with the hair dryer. She's been wearing it in the (frankly) frigid weather we've had this week, so chalk up another successful knitty gift for 2017. 

Pax hat (my Ravelry page)
Pattern: Peace Beret by Christin Kimsey, free on Ravelry
Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in 'Alizarin'
Needle: US 6