Aspen Winter Cowl



It's official! My first pattern, the Aspen Winter Cowl, is now available on Ravelry. While I am in no way a fan of cold weather, I've always loved the visual contrast of the last bright leaves of fall against the first snow fall of winter. This pattern mimics the texture of the aspen trees surrounded by a bed of fallen leaves and snow. The picture above, taken by Elisa (ARockandaTree on both etsy and Instagram), captures the exact inspiration for this design.

There are 2 versions of the cowl, town and country. Both are knit with approximately 200 yards of worsted weight wool on size 8 needles. The borders of "snow" are done in seed stitch, and the center section uses my "birch" stitch to recreate the knots and ridges of the aspen bark. The town version is knit in a custom colorway by Robin's Roost made specifically for this pattern:


I created the country version using one hank of Romney lamb wool from the Prado de Lana farm in Pennsylvania. I won this yarn as part of a giveaway on Instagram and fell in love with it. Squishy soft and natural gray, this yarn was a perfect match for the center birch stitch. I used some handspun alpaca from stash for the snow to create the perfect rustic version of the cowl:


The birch pattern really stands out in the Romney wool:
Both Amanda from Prado de Lana and I will be at Vogue Knitting Live in New York City in January. Amanda will be selling copies of this pattern along with the wool I used - if you're going to the event, stop by her booth! I'll be there Saturday, January 14th, wearing my version; if you see me, please say hi!

I was lucky enough to find some very gracious test knitters. Below is a version by Gill (knit.purl.relax on Instagram):

Angela (harknessangels on Instagram) knit a rustic version in Cascade 220 before Pantone announced that the 2017 color of the year is "Greenery":

Joy (joysharynsquiresjensen on Instagram and 1sexygramma on Ravelry - the best rav name ever!) knit this version that looks just lovely:
A big thank you to all of my test knitters including Juliann (juliannph on Instagram) and Amanda of Prado de Lana (she took the test knit to Florida - jealous!). I'll talk more about the background of this pattern as well as my start on my new cowl pattern for spring in the next podcast - stay tuned!

Moss Cake Knitting Pattern

Knitting - a Scarf Pattern!

A few weeks ago, I posted about a scarf I started using Caron Cake yarn. I admit, I was curious about this yarn after reading numerous posts either loving it or hating it; it's a yarn that inspires all the feels!


As someone who likes to make up her own mind, I bought the Fairie Cake colorway - teal is my favorite color - and started a scarf. I haven't knit a scarf in a long time, and I wanted to trying double moss stitch. Its a stitch that makes a squishy and intricate fabric that impresses non-knitters but is easy enough for knitters to do on the go (or during administrative duty if you are a teacher).


I'm a little over halfway through the cake. This acrylic isn't squeaky on the needles or rough on your hands.  The color changes are instant and not gradual, but gradients are not necessarily good (said the teacher whose students often think the gradient tool makes them a graphic designer). Also, check out my cute little progress keeper I received from White Whisker Studio (and that nifty moss stitch):


A note on how I knit the scarf: the cake started with a few yards of the lightest color before the full block of dark teal:


I originally started with that partial block, but not only did I not like the look of that sad little slice, I also didn't like the slipstitch edging I used, so I started over. I cut the lightest color from the cake and am saving it for when I get to that color. That block will be slightly larger than the others, but it will be at my neckline and should look appropriate. You could always just discard that little extra if you get a cake with the same issue, but I wanted to use my entire cake!

While the scarf isn't complete, here's the recipe for my Moss Cake Scarf. It's a quick knit and might be helpful for last minute gifts.

Moss Cake Scarf

Yarn: One Caron Cake

Needles: Size 8

Cast on 36 stitches. The first and last stitches of each row will always be a knit stitch.

Rows 1 and 2: K1, *K1, P1* to last stitch, K1
Rows 3 and 4: K1, *P1, K1* to last stitch, K1

Knit until you have just enough to bind off, then do the bind off. Since this is acrylic, blocking won't do much, but I always wash a hand knit before I gift or wear it.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll most likely see the finished scarf sometime this week. I'll also include it in my next blog post.

Reading

I was lucky enough to get the newest Jack Reacher novel, Night School, from the library over the weekend. This was a double win because (1) a whole bunch of roofers put a new roof on my house Saturday which prevented me from leaving for most of the day, and (2) it was cold here in New Jersey so I had no interest in leaving my house anyway!


You know what you're getting with a Jack Reacher book: lots of action, sparse prose, an unusual mystery, and woman who falls into bed with the main character for absolutely no reason (but generally just once or twice in less than 3 paragraphs total so easy to breeze through). In this book, that woman is a high powered government official who "combs her hair with her hands" which is just silly - are men really impressed by that?

It is 1997, so maybe.  Reacher is still an MP in this episode, and Y2K gets a lot more attention than fringe Islamic terrorist groups. That changes by the end of the book but not by much. Most of the action takes place in the reunified Germany which has it's own problems.

Great literature, it's not, but it is good fun. If you, like me, hate to leave your house when it's below freezing or in bad weather, this is a good weekend thriller that won't tax your brain but may tax your patience once or twice much like the action movies of the same era.

Today I'm joining The Really Crafty Link Party and Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!

Little Women and the Aspen Winter Cowl


Aspen Winter Update - Call for Test Knitters

In mid November, after the election, I felt inspired to create my first original knitting pattern. I thought it would be appropriate to release the pattern for my first "podversary" on January 11, 2017. To that end, I started translating the pattern I had in my head on to my needles. Inspired by the photos of aspen trees in the winter by Ansel Adams popular in the 80s, I created a cowl with a seed stitch border (the "snow") and a center section in the Trinity stitch (the "birch").

I knit the first, or "country" version of the Aspen Winter cowl using Romney Lamb worsted wool from Prado De Lana farm for the center, the birch section, and some handspun natural alpaca for the snow section. The small bobbles created by the Trinity stitch really mimic the knots in the birch tree in this yarn, and the contrasting cream alpaca frames the natural wool perfectly.




My friend Robin of Robin's Roost yarn agreed to create a custom colorway for my "town" version of the pattern. This 100% wool not only has the cream, gray, and black of the birch trees but the bright yellows and oranges of the fall leaves lying on the forest floor.


I'm halfway through the test knit for this version and anticipate finishing it by the end of the week. I've opened a thread in the ravelry group for anyone interested in test knitting this pattern (you must join the group to participate). I ask that you indicate what yarns you intend to use in that thread, complete the test knit done by December 30, 2016, and create a project page for your test knit on ravelry. I know it's the holidays with lots of gift knitting but then again, no reason you can't add this pattern to your gift knits!!

Reading

In book news, I love to read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott during the Christmas season. I mentioned the book to some of my seniors, and one of them knew the opening line by heart!
Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents, grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
While I don't read this book every Christmas, I do every few years. This past Saturday, I found a copy from 1976 at my local library's book sale for 25 cents - best deal of the season! I started reading that afternoon, and on Sunday, when I woke up a bit sniffly, I made a pot of tea (complete with my grandmother's knitted tea cozy) and settled in with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.


Anyone else love reading Little Women this time of year? Definitely a great way to get into the spirit of the season!

Today I'm joining The Really Crafty Link Party.  On Tuesday's, I join Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party.  On Wednesdays, I participate in the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog. Please join us either by contributing a link to your fibery work in progress and current read and / or by checking out the posts to the link parties.  You may find your next book or project waiting for you!