Vacation Knitting — A Wrap Up

Knitting on vacation is a joy.  And an agony, when you don't have the right tools.  Midway into our trek through Glacier National Park, with nary a yarn store in sight, I realized that the 6" DPNs I have brought along to knit Vitsippa, my fairisle hat, on, were going to be too short to accommodate all the stitches once I finished up the ribbing and added additional stitches called for in the pattern to begin the stranded portion of the hat.


So here I am, rather unattractively sweating and knitting away, trying to recover from the hike up the Highline Trail, whilst coming to the sad realization I'm going to have to put Vitsippa away until our return to civilization.  The view was compensation (and if you've read my earlier post, the knitting really liked the view too).

Next, I pulled out my Oak Park, renamed Glacier Park in honor of the trip.  Oak Park is a triangular shawl, knit in a devious pattern that is constantly shifting.  I had been looking for a pattern for my three skeins of The Plucky Knitter's Cachet (aran weight cashmere) in Slumber, my most prized yarn, for a really long time and was so happy when a friend suggested this pattern.  I was one repeat in when we emerged from hiking the Swift Current Trail in Many Glacier and made our way on up to the Prince of Wales Lodge on the Canadian side of the park, only to discover that they served a very nice tea.



I knit away on Oak Park/Glacier Park for the rest of our hiking time, and ended up just shy of three repeats in at the end.  It's an absolutely lovely pattern and precisely what this yarn wanted to become.  I'm going to be so happy with it as soon as it isn't 90` that feels like 100` degrees with the humidity in Alabama.  (Let me digress and say it was 40` when we flew out of Kalispell, Montana, and I really wish I was still there!)

Amazingly, there was a yarn store when we made it to Whitefish, Montana, our last stop.  And, a day of rain that was perfect for exploring town, eating some delicious crepes, watching the huge logging trucks roll in filled with freshly cut timber, and stoping by the local yarn store, Knit 'n Needle where the lovely proprietress encouraged me to pick out a circular rather than longer DPNs. I fell in love with the store yarn, Polka Dot Sheep, and engaged in a little stash addition.  And we discovered that the fabulous Huckleberries we had been picking and eating along the trails were used for all sort of pastries in town.  What a wonderful place to end our trip!



Armed with my new 16" circular needle, I returned to Vitsippa on the flight home.  After picking up a few stitches that had dropped off the overloaded DPNs, I was back in business. Sorry about the bad airplane lighting on the picture, but I'm so excited about the colorwork on this one that I can't wait to share it.  That's The Plucky Knitter's Oxford in Waxing Poetic (the gold) and Bedrock (the gray).  I love knitting fairisle and am really enjoying this one!


Truth be told, I love my day job and our life in Birmingham, but there is a little part of me that would love to remain under Montana's Big Sky, knitting and hiking.  It was a wonderful vacation and it reminded me of decades ago trips with my grandparents, which not too surprisingly, featured hiking and knitting, along with some fishing.  It's fun to come full circle like that.

I can't end this post without a few trip pictures.  First off, this lousy camera phone picture of a BEAR who was swimming casually across a LAKE about 40 feet away from us as we drove to the trailhead to hike Bertha Lake in Canada.  It was a moment — we could see him skimming through the water, magnificent and large.


Hiking in the alpine meadows was spectacularly beautiful.




And being able to see the waterfalls and lakes, as well as the animals and flowers, made it worth several of the more challenging, steep portions of the trails.  I would do it again in a heartbeat, knitting and all!



Adventures in Knitting

The arrogance of a sedentary desk-worker, hiking seven miles, a good bit of it straight up hill and at 7000 feet is sort of astonishing. The fact that I hurt all over and I'm exhausted? Not so astonishing. And it's only day 2 of summer vacation.

image from http://joycevance.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ce9cd53ef01bb0924a517970d-pi

But knitting at the top of Montana's Highline Trail was really worth it. Really, really worth it.

Not a lot of progress on Vitsippa, but I'm liking Waxing Poetic and Bedrock, both on fingering weight Oxford 2.0 from The Plucky Knitter, together.


Attached I-Cord Bind Off

1bind off

I am here to tell you that the precise amount of time it takes to pick up stitches along the rather expansive neckline of a Mithril sweater and then do an attached I-Cord edging is the same as the amount of time it takes to watch Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.  It was a complete match and a happy coincidence, because I did it all in one go.  Unfortunately, because I ended this adventure at 2 am, I'm a little bit brain dead.  I'll do a post later these week and leave behind breadcrumbs for anyone who wants some thoughts about using this technique.  I'm very pleased with it and found it to be surprisingly easy to do, including the join at the end.

I'll leave you with a photo of my happy hunters, Wingus and Dingus, enjoying a surprisingly pleasant (i.e. not blastingly humid) Saturday and some incredibly vibrant colors going on in my garden this morning.





Fairisle Knitting

I've been in love with fairisle knitting ever since I made the whimsical decision to leave California for college in Maine and discovered something I had never worn before:  Sweaters. My housemates had an abundance of gorgeous sweaters.  Brightly colored shetland fairisle yoke sweaters from Talbots, Icelandic wool Lopi's from L.L. Bean and pretty hand knits in Norwegian patterns.  The knitter in me fell instantly in love and even though I live in Alabama now, I still wear my Lopi on a fairly regular basis in Winter.

image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com

Personally, I'm not an accomplished fairisle knitter, but when I do knit fairisle, I give myself over to it unambiguously and I tend to snappishly hint about takeout when it gets to be dinner time.  I adored knitting the Peerie Floers hat, still one of my favorite projects, and have compiled the yarn for a Sjølingstadkofta sweater, which I plan on starting once I finish Mithril.

I've never used the yarn I dye in a fairisle project, so when I learned that a couple of the knitters who have been doing some test knitting with me were interested in fairisle knitting projects, I decided it was time to give it a go.  I'm too excited about the results to wait for official picture taking, and thought I would share a couple of in-progress photos with you this morning.


First up are these lovely Nikoline socks, knit by Raveler Dover.  They remind me of the patterning on those long ago Norwegian sweaters.  The Old Linen colorway is surprisingly perfect here, although a-non traditional choice for this kind of pattern which you usually see in navy blues or bright reds. And Leuntje is working on a Denim and Brocade hat, knit with Elliebelly Merino Sock in Cavern and Lady Mary.  I was a little bit worried about the contrast with these two colorways, but I'm delighted with the result.

Denim and Brocade

Leuntje has also completed a Winter Blumen hat, using Lagoon and Muslin as the colors.  You can see it first in progress.


And here it is finished.


It is a treat to get to work with such stunningly good knitters!

One note about managing fairisle knitting.  I typically knit both hats and socks on double pointed needles or DPNs, but am seriously thinking about upping my magic loop game and using it for fairisle.  It's not that I don't like magic looping, but I love knitting with DPNs.  There is something about having your knitting hanging off of five different needles and zipping around that makes me feel very accomplished.  But recently, I've been contemplating the folly of traveling with half knit sleeves on all those tiny, slippery,  little needles, and thinking that a I really need to give magic loop more of a try here.  So I'm going to work on that.

Thinking about trying fairisle for the first time?  Remember to keep your floats LOOSE.  Floats are the strands of yarn that run behind your knitting as you switch from color to color. The Philospher's Wool has a lovely video introduction to fairisle that is perfect for getting started.  Here is a video on weaving in your floats as you go (bonus: I use this technique to weave in ends when changing balls of yarn as well.)  It also helps to understand yarn dominance in fairisle knitting, which is discussed here.  Now you're all ready to start!  Although you may want to test the waters with a simple, limited bit of patterning like that is the Boy Meets Girl Hat, which I loved knitting, I suggest you jump into the deep end of the pool and knit a pattern you've fallen in love with.  I hope to hear about your fairisle experiences and favorite patterns.  I think I'm going to have a "Fall of Fairisle" knitting binge this year.




My Knitting Weekend


This weekend, I'm dyeing some yarn.  That's "Blossom," the palest pink that I dye.


I'm knitting away on Mithril whenever I get a few free moments.


My doggies are showing their support by sleeping a lot.  That's Trouble and Miss Fig, the Boxer.


I finally got a good picture of the beautiful Ivette Cardigan my wonderful friend Rita knit for me.  We've known each other since we were pregnant with our now 17 year old daughters, and she is one of my knitting heroes.  She knit Ivette in Elliebelly Angel Fingering.  It's a blend of Alpaca, Silk, and Cashmere, and I wanted to see how it would knit up for a sweater.  Other than having to use sharp point needles to avoid any issues with splitting, she seems to have had a great time knitting it, and it's stunningly gorgeous.  I have cleverly blocked it out a little bit so that it's really too large for anyone other than me to wear.

In other knitting news, I managed a quick hour at In The Making, my local yarn shop, to try and pick out buttons for Lake Effect.


While there, I got to visit with Jamie Thomas, who writes really beautiful, wearable patterns.  Her newest pattern, Vested Interest, is knit in Quince's aran weight Linen ribbon yarn, Kestrel.  It's the perfect, light weight summer piece.  I sat in the shop and knit for a few minutes while I pretended to deliberate, but I knew I had to buy the pattern and the yarn on the spot.  I'm looking forward to casting on when I finish Mithril.  Isn't the yarn gorgeous?

     image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com© Jamie Thomas



A Little Yarn Pørn In The Making

I was excited to get some time with Amy of Amy P. Photography recently. Amy is a local photographer with a fun, laid back, easy to talk to style.  Although she specializes in babies, weddings, and all sorts of sweet, timeless photos, she also does some product photography.  We decided to try a session with yarn and knits to see how it would work out.


I had no idea you could have so much fun watching someone take pictures!


We went through a large bin of yarn and two baskets of knits.  Plus some sweaters.


Amy seemed to intuitively grasp the vibe I wanted.


And, I really enjoyed watching how she put items together.  She has that knack for piling a few things together and having them look perfect.

By the end of our shoot, I was incredibly sorry my children are all too grown for baby pictures.  

Now it's all on me to learn some new skills and make the Elliebelly Dye Works website match the new look on the Blog.  And most importantly, I'm hoping to put to use the experience I've gained from my experimentation with dyeing and knitting with the yarn I've dyed over the last few years to share some insight into the selection of yarn and patterns that work well together.  It's a slow work in progress, but I'm so glad to have started down that path.  I think as knitters, we all want to share the knowledge we have to help others — it's one of the best parts of being a knitter.  I'm so happy I'll have Amy's wonderful photos to help illustrate what I've learned!