Hat and Horses

I lost my favorite hat while in Lincoln. I think I left it in the Chapter House of the Cathedral, so maybe it will be there as a relic, years from now.  I set out to make a warm, stranded-color-work-in-worsted-weight-yarn replacement.  I used some Swans Island worsted in natural gray, and some Malabrigo Rios that I had from an unhappy hat that had been ripped out and rolled back into a ball.

Pine point preview collage

As long as I was doing that, I figured I may as well make a pattern that would be a nice intro to stranded colorwork for some students who want to dip a toe in the watery wastes between Fair Isle and Norway. I named the hat Pine Point, after the park where I ride.

In keeping with the hat’s Norwegian roots, I found the perfect setting for the money shot:

Pine point with ZannahIt really isn’t easy to get such a sweet, calm look, especially on a very cold and windy day.

Pine point CollageThis version of Pine Point was made in two colors of Liberty Wool, a solid and a self-striping color.  It is really fun to watch the color changes.  The students in question are on their second versions of the hat, so I think it is easy enough.  The biggest compliment was from a more experienced color knitter, who liked it because “I can actually talk to someone while I’m knitting it!”

Details on Ravelry or Patternfish (which handles the EU/VAT problem for the knitter.)

My sister went to Australia…

And all I got was this gorgeous yarn:

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I had never heard of Biggan Design, yet now I’ve seen it, and Biggan Ryd-Dups in several places.    Look at these colors – I couldn’t figure out a way to put them on the page here.  The yarn is merino crossed with Border Leicester.  According to the website it offers the “softness of merino and the durability of the Border Leicester’s longer, stronger fibres. The result is a yarn with a wonderful buoyancy and spring that makes it fun and easy to knit with.”  It certainly feels like it will be.

There was also a post card in the package from the shop where she bought it,   The Button Bar, in Adelaide Arcade.  Oh my, I would love to be able to shop there, wouldn’t you?

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I can’t wait to start swatching.  A  hat, a cowl?  Do I have enough for one of Kirsten Kapur’s fabulous designs?  Or maybe I’ll just pet it for a while.

Twelfth Night I Think

Could be last night or the night before, depending on who you ask.  Whichever, the Lord of Misrule must be setting up the weather.  Minus 7 F and bitter windchills.  This was most welcome to sit and knit and read by:


The Holiday Recap: Present-making was limited this year, as those adult children have such busy lives.  We did one big gift.  This was the inspiration, a fake advertisement:

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IMG_2210I did socks, some of which didn’t quite fit and now have to be adjusted.  It adds to the legend when you say you can do that, of course.  My goddaughter said the ones I made her from leftovers  are her favorites of all the ones I have ever made her.  (She is a big charity shop devotee.)  I meant to get  an Esther Williams type photo of all the feet but the mayhem was too much.


My basic sock over 48 sts with a K3, P1 rib.  The yarn is leftover sport weight sock yarn Supersocke 6-Ply Wohlfühl Color, now discontinued. I wish I had bought more. Here’s a pair made from one skein.

basic socks sport

I did some hats, too. Action shots from our mid-day walk, with a bit of freshly falling snow for atmoshphere.–  a Big Flap Hat in Rasta, from Malabrigo.  (Such lovely yarn!)  And a Hugs and Kisses Hat in Cascade 128 superwash.


A slightly better shot of the little hat, with the back of my husband’s Nansen I knitted a zillion years ago:


Now to my favorite time of winter, no fuss, no muss, no gardening, just reading and knitting and trying to stay warm.  Best wishes to all of you for 2015.




Stick a fork in it – the pompom, that is.

Yesterday was another Pompom Popup at the Yarnery.  It was a sell-out.  What could be more fun in the midst of crazy holiday frenzy than a room full of people who want to learn how to improve their pompom skills?  One non-knitter wanted to make her granddaughters some last minute stocking stuffers – pompoms for their ice skates.  I suggested she needed to track down some jingle bells for them as well.  All the cool girls had them.  (I didn’t.)  Everyone applauded and ooohed and ahhhed at each finished item.  And now the non-knitter decided she is ready for her first lesson, since knitters are such fun people.

pompom popup

Pompom pride!

Hard to imagine we could improve on last year, where I learned how to steam a pom pom.  This year, I managed to get to the mini pompoms made on a fork.

fork pompomsYou need either a four-tined fork, or one of those old two prong meat forks.  I didn’t bring that one to class.  It seemed a bit dangerous to put in my bag.

The photos above illustrate the process – it’s pretty simple.

  1. Wrap a bunch of yarn around the tines of a fork.
  2. Cut a piece of yarn to tie around the bundle.
  3. Cut the ends on either side of the fork.  Be careful not to cut the yarn tying it together.  (I demonstrated how not to do that in front of the class.  On purpose, of course.)
  4. Fluff and trim.  Steam if you so desire.  Warning – these are addictive.

Another student tip – if you are afraid your yarn is acrylic or blend you don’t want to steam, spritz it with some water and let it dry.

Here’s an idea for bigger pompom presents – a basket of indoor snowballs! (photo spoonful.com)

indoor snowballs

Next year, I’m going to bring little jingle bells.

Knitting, Walking, and Memory

I’m sure most knitters/crafters have had this experience – you pick up your work and start knitting, and as you knit, you remember last night’s movie, or meeting, or conversation with friends. A bit of online searching turned up many scholarly research papers on topics such as “multisensory associative learning.” I don’t have the stamina to follow these up at the moment (or probably ever) but since what we learn enters our brain through sensory channels, such as sight or smell or touch, the ability to remember when that sense is stimulated makes, well, sense.

Last Sunday morning I picked up a sock, the second of a pair, and found that my careful grafting and weaving in of ends was time wasted. I had to pick it apart because it was shorter than its mate. I’m not all that fussy, but really, a pair of socks that will be a gift should be at least close to the same size. As I was putting the sock back on the needle, I had the familiar sensation of remembering the movie I was watching the night before. Now, of course, I can’t tell you what movie it was.  (The socks in question are the purple stripe.  This is the pile of Christmas socks finished to date.)

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Later that same day, I had a more surprising memory experience. I went for a walk into a wooded park area, not far from home. The winter my horse died I walked in there frequently. I needed more time in the woods, something riding had provided me. My foster horse now gets me into the woods, so I hadn’t been there much since then.  It was a grey, miserable afternoon, but I needed a walk break. As I stepped onto the lightly snow-covered path, Dickens came flooding back to me. (That winter when I walked that path often, I had been listening to an audiobook of Our Mutual Friend.)  All of a sudden, bobbing to the surface of my brain was the Golden Dustman, the River Thames, and especially a very funny scene where a semi-literate market stall owner is hired to read The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire to the illiterate Golden Dustman.  Is walking also a pathway to memory?

winter walkrosehips

I think 19th Century giant novels like Dickens make satisfying audiobooks. Since they were often published in serial form, they work well as chapters picked up here and there, say when going for a walk on a cold, grey day. There is very little effort required to keep track of the goings on –

“But in the nineteenth century, breaking down the novel’s bulkiness into twenty snippets of entertainment allowed readers to “inhabit” a world, like a television soap opera, in manageable segments. Deprived of the luxury of installment reading, readers today find features of Dickens’s prose overbearing that would be much more appealing if read, especially read aloud, over a year and a half.”  Robert L. Patten

I don’t typically listen to modern novels as audiobooks. Somehow they don’t work for me. I just finished Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which really enjoyed, but can’t imagine it as an audiobook.

What do you listen to when knitting, or driving, or walking?

Craft Friday: The Magic of Making

Beverly at Pomogolightly is having another CraftFriday, instead of Black Friday. I avoid even grocery stores on Black Friday if I can help it. (For those fortunate enough not to know what that is – it is a push for sales the day after American Thanksgiving to get your books in the black.  It has gotten waaay out of hand.) I plan to shop in my stash. Although one must be careful shopping in stash.  I was working on a pair of mittens for the mitten drive at work using a ball of  lovely lovely turquoise yarn.  More than a few rounds into the second one, I realized it was not the same turquoise yarn as I had used for the first.  Some idiot had wound two different yarns into the ball of leftovers.  Some idiot too lazy to turn a light on in her workroom?  Fortunately, this same idiot had another ball of the right yarn.   Can you tell I worked on this second one at the office, while on a webinar?

emergency stitch holder

A paper clip makes quite a satisfactory temporary stitch holder.

I am also cranking out gift socks, resting up for more complicated labors yet to come.

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I am feeling a bit sad that I am too far away from my great niece to start the gift making traditions. There is such magic in making things.

I was pondering the magic part this morning when I serendipitously read two posts – one by Franklin Habit, and one by Donna Druchunas, both on the magical aspect of craft.  Donna quotes Neil Shubin, Your Inner Fish 

“The hand actually defines us in many ways. When you think about what makes our species unique and special, it’s having thoughts and being able to make those thoughts real. And the way our thoughts become real is through use of our hands to build things, to make things.”

And that is magic, of a sort.  Are you planning any magic?  If you need inspiration, pop on over to Pinterest and see Beverly’s Craft Friday board.

I plan to shop in my stash, but with the light on.

There and Back Again Part 2

On to Lincoln for the Tell Them of Us premiere. While wandering in York for a few morning hours before my train, I saw this, which seemed appropriate.

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While chatting with a Poppy volunteer in the York train station I mentioned the purpose of my excursion to Lincoln.  (She asked. Really.) She showed me her vintage Lincolnshire regiment badge, and told me of her long family history in Lincolnshire, then gave me a special centenary poppy pin, of which there are few, to give to a Crowder family member, which I did. That type of personal connection seems so much more evident in a small country, and I was touched, as was Mr. Crowder.

I am a bit late to the party on this one, photos and blog posts have been done by many. See Catherine, Liz Lovick http://northernlace.wordpress.com/ and Juniper for some other stories and photos.

Friday night was a concert in the Chapter House of Lincoln Cathedral. Organized by the indefatigable Jane Lawrence, it featured two groups from local schools singing songs of WW1.  I understand there will be some of it available on the DVD.

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The singers wore hats and ganseys knitted for the film, quickly removed when it was time for cake.

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The Cathedral is stunning.

I have always held and proposed against all comers to maintain that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles’  -John Ruskin

Who am I to argue? (Taken right after the concert.)


The film premiere was held in a University auditorium and it was full, and buzzing. The film was moving, the costuming exceptional, and there was a roar of applause for the names of the knitters in the credits. There is still a bit of post-production work to do, so the film isn’t available yet, but will be.  I’ll keep you posted.

Tell them of US gang

Pauline Loven, the founder of the feast, took Jane, Liz and I for a drive out to Thimbleby Church and to see some of the filming sites. It was so kind of her, as I’m sure she was exhausted. Lincolnshire has its own style of thatched cottages, seen in the film and in these photos.  They even have a connection to Jamestown, where the first houses were built by a Lincolnshire builder.

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The costumes are now part of an exhibition at The Collection, the museum in Lincoln. There are items for children to try on, dolls to dress, and even a free book let of vintage children’s patterns. The exhibition is designed (by Pauline) to have a level of exploration and touching.  Even a vintage letter in Grace’s Cardigan pocket.

letter in pocket playing with doll

Jane and I attended Evensong at Lincoln Cathedral.  Jane not only has a wicked sense of humor, but is quite knowledgeable about cathedrals and music, which added to the fun. I must say, watching the little choristers was a treat. They behaved like such little boys, then when the moment was right, out came the voices of angels. The arrow is pointing to a man who was so happy to chastise me for taking a photo during the service, which was not, in fact, due to start for about 10 minutes. I’m sure it made his day.

bad girl

It was quite wonderful to be a part of this. Visiting another place with a purpose beyond seeing the sights, and with people to finally meet in person is the way to travel.  Speaking of which, after many years of virtual friendship, I had lunch with Jean.  It was delightful, we discussed everything but knitting it seemed.  Jean even shared a bottle of her precious cider with me!  Here she is, looking as though I might be about to tell her something awful, but wearing Relax.  It is a perfect name for such a lovely, cozy sweater.