Aspens in Winter & Tigers in Summer


I finished the Francie Nolan Tam last week and blocked it right away. This yarn really loosened up; I think if I make another hat with it (Berroco Abode), I'll just lightly spray the project rather than giving it a soak. The pattern knits up quickly especially since I went up significantly in needle size for the ribbing (from size 4 to size 7).

Once again, I have yet to cast on the project selected for the current KnitReadPray KAL (the Yellow Roses shawl). As much as I tell my students not to wait until the last minute, I find that I do my best work under pressure! Since this KAL goes through January 15, 2017, I've got lots of time, right?

So instead of casting on the shawl, I decided that, after the turmoil of election season, I needed to really stretch my creativity. Making is great therapy! Cowl patterns are my favorite, and I've always wanted to create my own, so I spent a significant amount of time last Thursday transferring what was in my head to swatches on the needles.

I read somewhere that the first step to creating a pattern is to knit your concept with cotton yarn. There's lots of cotton in my stash (because dish clothes). However, I did want to test the drape, so I started with a skein of I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby in light gray. This cotton isn't as stiff as other cotton yarn, so Friday afternoon I cast on my concept:

I also contacted Robin of Robin's Roost Yarn, a local to me indie dyer I interviewed in this episode of the podcast, and asked her to do a custom color way for the "town" version of the pattern. Winter is my least favorite season (even though my birthday is January 3rd), but I've always loved the photos of aspen trees at the start of winter surrounded by fallen leaves. Last year, my daughter hosted one of those painting parties for my birthday, and we, of course, did a variation of Ansel Adam's famous photo:

(Don't judge, I'm a coder.)

I shared a few photos with Robin and discussed my "vision" (I feel so official having a vision), and she graciously agreed to dye the yarn for the "town" version of Aspen Winter.

Of course, I can't leave well enough alone, so after I finished the test knit, I decided to do a "country" version of the pattern using alpaca from Sweitzer's Fiber Mill in Pennsylvania and the gorgeous hank of Romney lamb's wool from Prado del Lana Sheep Farm I won as part of an Instagram giveaway. The Romney wool really shows off the pattern!

My original plan was to publish the pattern on January 15, 2017, roughly the first year anniversary of the podcast, but at this rate, I should get it done before Christmas. I will be looking for test knitters; if you're interested, I suggest joining the Ravelry group if you have not yet done so and then watch for a thread calling for testers of the Aspen Winter pattern.


Last weekend started on Thursday due to the NJEA Convention in Atlantic City. I never go - I'd rather do professional development at a technology conference ... and why doesn't Rhinebeck count for PD? - so in between bouts of pattern design, I read the newest Virgil Flowers mystery by John Sanford.

I'm not a big fan of his Lucas Davenport series also by this author, but I love Virgil. His stories are very Elmore Leonard, and this episode doesn't disappoint. Inept thieves steal 2 tigers from the Minneapolis Zoo, and it's up to Virgil to track them down and save the tigers. Turns out, Amur tiger parts are used as medicine in China, and an evil Chinese immigrant now in LA pays to have the tigers stolen. (Guess we need a wall around California too.) Throw in six brothers of indeterminate Slavic heritage, a disgraced MD who eats Xanax like Skittles, and a Minnesota summer, and you have a winner!

I participate in  The Really Crafty Link Party on Mondays, Nicole at the Keep Calm Craft On link party on Tuesdays, and the Yarn Along on Ginny Sheller's blog on Wednesday.  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!


  1. The tam looks great with your hair! I think your painting turned out really nice. That solitary pop of color among the birch trees provides a really pretty point of interest.

  2. Love the tam! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a favorite of mine! Thanks for sharing.