Monthly Archives: January 2008

Help! I Need Somebody!

As I prepare to write up the pattern for the Raven Feather Mitts


(shown here cropped to exclude the tumor watch lump),

I realized I needed a different name for the pattern.

The name was perfect for the mitts I knit, given their recipient, his music (one of his CDs is called Raven in the Snow), and the yarn. But the pattern can and should be knit with whatever yarn the knitter decides upon. Knitter’s Choice! It could be a Cardinal in the Snow, a Blue Jay, a Chickadee, an Owl, a Phoenix, a Roc, or a Pink and Purple spotted bird!

So — it’s been a Very Long Day at work today and it will be a long day tomorrow, I can tell already. I have one idea but it seems kind of lame. And Feather Mitts is just way too pedestrian. (No play on words intended.) My brain is not coming up with the Perfect Pattern Name.

Any ideas?

I do have an incentive!

If someone suggests a name for this pattern, and no one else has used the name before, and I love it and choose it:

I will send you the remaining yarn that I used to knit the above mitts (and the Preteen’s).

Dream in Color Smooshy: Colorway Black Parade. It’s gorgeous.

It should be enough to knit one more pair of women’s mitts (or socks for a very hip kid). I’d weigh it, but I can’t find my scale right now; the hand-wound ball is about the size of a large orange.

I’d like to publish this on Sunday (2/3/08), so please put your thinking caps on and help me out! Thank you so much!


A Change in the Feather

That should be a Change in the Weather, of course, and is there ever. All you in the upper Midwest are experiencing this right along with me, brrr! A special Brrrr for my parents who just got back from a month gallivanting around the Southwestern United States in perfect weather. Double Brrrr!

Yesterday morning was springishly mild, already above freezing when I left for work to this beautiful sunrise.


Here reflected in the implement that we all knew we’d need again soon:


(My preteen KNOWS I’m crazy now. Taking pictures of shovels.)

But the temperature has dropped 40 degrees since then — 30 degrees since this morning — and the wind is gusting 30 to 40 miles per hour, blowing the fine snow that fell this afternoon sideways and every which way.

The house vibrates with the wind. Tendrils of bitter cold exude from every window and door frame as you pass by. Cold seems to rise from the floor. (I think I’m starting to channel “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder — stop it, self!)

The wind is rising

Pounding, shaking, engulfing

The house is besieged.

So — what was that about a Change in the Feather? Besides a terrible pun?

Well, first, thank you for all your kind words about the Raven Feather Mitts!

Responding to multiple requests, I will write up the pattern, in sizes for men and women (in a version for street or indoor wear, though of course you can adapt them for your favorite guitar player by making them shorter). Very soon. Like this weekend, I believe. I may ask for consideration of a voluntary charitable donation, but it will be honor system and totally up to you.

Towards the end of writing the pattern, I re-feathered, to double check the chart I was working on, and also to test knitting the feather in the flat rather than in the round (not for the mitt, but because Dale-Harriet and others have pictured the feather motif on a scarf, and I needed to make sure of the mechanics of the decreases, etc.).

So here’s a horse of a different feather:


This speckled blue I thought reminded me of a bird, but now I think it’s a bird’s egg rather than its feather. Lisa?? (Bueller??)

So Fear not, Feather Fans! You won’t have to wait for the F of the ABC-Along to get a Feathered Fingerless Mitt Fix!

Raven Feather in the Snow

I promised to show you what I’d been working obsessively on this week, in between working, and caring for the smallish sick one (who is feeling MUCH better, thank you so much for all your good thoughts and words! To my surprise, she’s actually looking good to potentially go back to school tomorrow, though no gym or dance for a while, I think).

So, before I’d actually finished the second mitt, but while there was still light earlier today (SUNlight! Actual Visible Light from the Sun!), I took some photos of the first completed fingerless mitt on my too-small hands.


(Almost too much Light from the Sun, hope you’re not blinded. Don’t worry, it went away again.)


These are guitar-playing fingerless mitts like my husband’s, for our friend Bill*, an awesome Native American musician.

The feather motif echoes the eagle feather that hangs from Bill’s guitar. I designed the feather myself for this mitt, and am now rather fond of it. I first looked for a feather pattern in books and on the ‘Net. Those I found were lace patterns, but knit in black and on the hand, all you saw visually were the holes rather than the feathers (believe me, I tried a couple versions). And BTW, if you Google feather knitting pattern, you come up with a gajillion versions of feather and fan; very nice but not what I needed! So I modified an embossed leaf kind of idea to be more feathery, and on the third attempt, came up with this, which I am really liking. (Though blocking will improve it, some of the rippling, on the edges, is intentional, to evoke a feathery quality rather than leafy.)


Here’s a perhaps better depiction of the color (Dream in Color “Black Parade”):


The color is black overdyed with different colors, such as subtle greens and reds, and reminds me of the iridescence of a crow or raven feather. Like the Socks That Rock Raven Clan colorways which came out not long ago.

If it were the Knitting Olympics right now, I think I would deserve some sort of award** for: Knitting Black Yarn, in a Personally Unvented Pattern, with Coincident Shaping, in the Dark, at a Concert. With Aging Eyes. And not messing up (that I can tell). I still can’t believe it. I finished the second feather with the last chord of Bill’s last song, I kid you not. I had Bill try the first, finished mitt on, though, after the concert and before I finished the second mitt, so I could adjust or reknit if needed. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! No, really!) But he said they were perfect, so I’m just finishing #2 (if my hubris has not called down the knitting goddesses to strike my Addis with lightning) and he’ll get the finished pair tomorrow morning.

All this marathon knitting of black yarn Continental-style has left its mark.


It’s hard to see in the photo, but the ring around my forefinger isn’t just shadowed, it’s black from dye transfer, despite hand-washing. The mark of an obsessive knitter.

*Hmm, here’s a quandary. My husband emphatically doesn’t want to be outed on my blog. But Bill, a working musician, would have no such qualms. All publicity is good when you’re playing for a living! Well, if you’re curious and want to hear some amazing songwriting and performing of original music with Native American/rock/blues roots, go ahead and set that Googlefier to Native American, Grammy & Bill, and you’ll come up with some wonderful music. Or leave a comment if you’re interested in learning more, and I’ll send you the info. A certain musician whom I live with, might have happened to play on, record, engineer and co-produce that Grammy-winning CD, but no names will be named here.

**I should also have earned an official reproof, however, for once again forgetting to take my watch off when photographing my left hand modeling mitts, leaving the impression of a significant wrist deformity or fugly knitting.


This was the Saturday Sky today, looking east at dawn:


and here it was tonight, looking west at dusk:


Pretty exciting, eh? Another gray (or grey) Saturday Sky with bits of snow. But it’s still well above zero F, so it could be worse!

(Yes, I realize that second photo looks like I’ve recycled this picture from December snowy-tree-in-december-small.jpg, and I rather feel like this is recycled weather myself, but it’s truly a brand new all gray sky photo.)

I have temporarily abandoned the thrummed mittens, and all other prior knitting (other than finishing another preemie hat — I have five finished plus a sixth that wouldn’t be suitable for the hospital, since the yarn seems not to be colorfast) for a time-sensitive project. A friend of ours, a musician, is in town playing, and I have meant to make him a pair of guitar-playing fingerless mitts for some time. But I never get around to actually doing it before he gets here, and I tend not to have much notice when he’s coming. This time, he’s here through tomorrow at least, and it was his birthday during the time he was here! So I’m trying to get the pair of mitts done, hampered by the fact that a) I’m designing a motif on the mitts from scratch and wasn’t happy with the first two versions of it, b) his hand is much bigger than mine, yet the mitt should fit snugly for the purpose it’s designed for, c) my musician hand model (aka my husband) has been absent, recording with Bill and now performing with him, and d) the Gothlet has been sick, as you know, and with my husband absent in the evenings, solo parenting, let alone nursing, is demanding.

However, I’m coming up to the finish line on mitt #1, and think I have most of the kinks worked out, as long as the final product fits; so mitt #2 should (had better) go faster. The mitts are made of black fingering weight wool (the same Dream In Color Smooshy “Black Parade” that I used for the Preteen’s Christmas present fingerless mitts the-preteen-model.jpgpreteen-fingerless-mitts.jpg) and rather than showing you black mitts in poor light to add to today’s achromatic theme, I will wait until they’re (hopefully) done tomorrow to do any photography.

Last bit of news for today:

Poor Gothlet has a mild case of pneumonia. After seeing the truly disgusting stuff she was coughing up last night, we took her in to Urgent Care, so one X-ray later, now she’s starting wonder drugs. Her physician and I both think she had influenza, or at least what the Centers for Disease Control calls “Influenza-Like Illness”, despite getting the flu vaccine — this started with sudden fever, chills, headache, aches, sore throat, runny nose, malaise, lack of appetite. Sounds like influenza to me. Then this cough started a couple days later, and flu is notorious for predisposing to secondary bacterial infections like pneumonia. If it is the flu, hopefully the flu shots that the rest of the family have gotten will protect us if not her. She keeps saying pitifully, “I hope none of you get this.  This kind of . . . sucks.”  We’re all hanging in there so far.

She’s actually got a little smile on her face watching TV right this second, and she’s previously been a limp noodle most of the last 5 days. So hooray for wonder drugs!

Snowy Eye Candy Friday (with a side of cough drops)

I’ve been offline — sick Gothlet. Just the nasty viral crud. She slept in our bed last night because I wanted to monitor her breathing. Well, she slept — and breathed — fine. Me, on the other hand? Catnaps only. The alarm rang really early this morning.

On happier notes, the sky was almost light when I went to work today, and when I came home! The days really are getting longer. And it was twenty degrees warmer this afternoon than yesterday — double digits Fahrenheit! Woo-hoo! And I’m not sick (yet).

And it’s snowing again. I don’t mind. Especially when it looks like this the next day.


At Least I Finished A Mitten

I guess I should have specified which quarterback’s hands I was keeping warm yesterday, as I knit away on my thrummed mitten during the Packers – Giants football game. Truly, all the players did an awesome job in the weather conditions; I was expecting a drop-fest of fumbles, dropped passes, and missed snaps with frozen footballs and fingers, and it really wasn’t. It was a good and very exciting game. Despite the outcome.
Jeanne will be delighted to know that from here on out, this will be a football-free blog. (This year.) I may well watch the Superbowl, as I enjoy football, but in the absence of any emotional investment, I won’t feel the need to blog about it!

So, as I said, at the very least I have a thrummed mitten to show for yesterday, which is more than a lot of Packers fans probably have!

Here it is this morning, when the snow was just starting to fall:


And here it is tonight, about 8 inches of snow later, already being put to good use holding its sibling-in-progress:


Believe it or not (meaning how have I gotten to this age without doing this?), these are my first mittens. Mostly because my children don’t want to wear mittens, and I usually don’t. I think these are changing my mind (and my daughters’).  Oooh, soft, warm thrums. Mmmm. I put these on to see if I need to change anything for mitten #2, and I think I will reknit the top, as while knitting, I was beginning to worry that I’d run short on roving, so was putting skimpier thrums in at the top. Hello?! Where do your fingers get the coldest? I now think I have plenty of roving, and with the extra space the thrums take, the mittens should be a bit longer than I made them, to make room for fluffy goodness. So I’ll take that into account for #2, and go back and reknit the top of #1. Hands will be happy!

This is about the fluffiest snow I’ve ever seen. It fell like goose down today outside the window at work, soft, light fluffy clumps drifting slowly down. It’s almost weightless. Very sparkly and pretty!

snow-under-sodium-light.jpg snow-on-shrubbery.jpg

(And not too heavy when shoveling!)

When I came home from a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration tonight, my younger daughter the Gothlet showed me the world’s tiniest afghan squares which she had made:


She knit them with toothpicks from Twisted sock yarn. I think they’re blankets for homeless fleas.

Go Pack!

Today’s the day. Wish them luck (unless you’re a Giants fan, in which case I forgive you).


It was another frosty morning, – 20° F (-29° C) when I got up this morning, with a definite wind chill (I didn’t really want to know how low).


New frost picture, not recycled from yesterday; this was the view out my bedroom window this morning.

Yesterday, after my whining about having to shuttle kids around in the cold, I ended up lucking out — my husband’s 11 am meeting was postponed, so he took the younger daughter, Gothlet, to her birthday party, and The Preteen, my older daughter, definitively decided she was going to drop her Saturday noon modern dance class (she’s been considering it for a while, and since she’s going to be missing a number of upcoming classes due to conflicts, I think it’s a good call overall) — so I didn’t have to go anywhere! I stayed inside and cleaned and knit! And nagged daughter #1 to clean, which is more work, and certainly more aggravating, than doing it yourself.

Today, however, I couldn’t get away with staying home like this guy could;


I had obligations at church, which is only half a block away, so out I went (I think it was up to -15° F by then) — choir rehearsal then singing at the late service (a gospel piece today, fun, though relatively hard for Lutherans to do with the proper looseness and spontaneity). I really *should* go into work some time today to do some catch-up stuff, but I don’t want to. And then, there’s The Game, of course. Knitting and cheering.

Here’s what I’ve been working on:

My father’s overdue Oktoberfest socks, posing on sock blockers from The Loopy Ewe, a great place to internet shop.


Man, these Irish knots for the “Manly Barleycorn” version take me a long time, cumulatively. I guess it’s only logical, given that for each one, you knit into the same stitch five times, then pull four stitches over the last one made; so essentially nine stitches for each one, not to mention that knitting those last few tight stitches in the knot, and then the passing-stitches-over part, both take longer than just knitting and purling away. But I’m on the last row that I’m going to do Irish knots; after this, I will do one pattern repeat of the original Barleycorn Eyelet (evoking the bubbles rising to the top) and then the foamy, creamy head that is the ribbing (see here and scroll down for the Tsock Tsarina’s original), and then I’m done!

With one. Oops. Celebration would be premature. But I’d love to get them done before my father gets back from the sunny Southwest at the end of the month, so I’ll be carrying these around with me from here on out, for maximum stitching time. And the foot goes fast; it’s just that I can’t knit the knot part as easily in line, during choir rehearsal etc.

The thrummed mittens are coming along; I’ll probably knit on them during today’s game.


Hoping for sympathetic magic to keep the hands of a certain quarterback and his receivers warm. They’re certainly working for me, even without being done yet!


Notice the Green Bay Packer green sweatshirt sleeve.

Go Pack!

Last Day for “A”

I suddenly thought of an “A” picture I’d always wanted to post but never had a good reason to.

(I said I wasn’t going to promise not to post another A!)

And today’s the last day of A, in the ABC-Along 2008! (But it’s not too late to sign up if you follow this link today, not tomorrow, to Vicki Knitorious and let her know. Operators are standing by.)

A is for Anarchy!


The Anarchy of Nature, that is. Can you see it? This is a completely natural twig formation found outside our cabin at Y Family Camp in Northern Minnesota last summer. (At least no human put it there. I don’t know about the squirrels.)

I guess this is somewhat reminiscent of the Anticraft post.

What an — umm, interesting — picture of me is emerging! While Anarchically knitting Alpaca from an Anticraft pattern, I Admire my Amaryllis. Well, maybe the self-portrait is not too far off. . . .

On the opposite end of the weather spectrum from last summer’s A, here’s today’s Saturday Sky:


Frosty Blue Saturday Sky. It was -15 degrees F (-26 C) when this photo was taken. But just a light wind, and the weather types are saying it will get above zero now (a whopping +2 degrees is forecast). I still wish I could get away with not going out in it. Ah well, I’ll do everything in one fell frosty swoop as much as possible: drop off daughter #2 at birthday party/sleepover, take daughter #1 to dance class, groceries etc. during dance class, pick up #1 and return home. And stay there. (I did say that “Clear Equals Cold” this time of year. My fault again.)

Wishing I was further along on this project:


Fleece Artist thrummed mittens kit, my first thrumming. Just trying them on is a warm hug for my hand. These are for ME….

Now to get them done before spring.

Snow White, Blood Red, Eye Candy Friday


This photo, taken yesterday as the snow fell lightly, reminds me of the ‘real’ Snow White fairy tale:

Once upon a time in the middle of winter, when the flakes of snow were falling like feathers from the sky, a queen sat at a window sewing, and the frame of the window was made of black ebony. And whilst she was sewing and looking out of the window at the snow, she pricked her finger with the needle, and three drops of blood fell upon the snow. And the red looked pretty upon the white snow, and she thought to herself, would that I had a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window-frame.

Soon after that she had a little daughter, who was as white as snow, and as red as blood, and her hair was as black as ebony, and she was therefore called little Snow-white.

(Barberry, of course, original photo here.)

It’s All My Fault

Of course, it usually is according to my preteen daughter.

This time, it’s the weather that’s my fault.

I blithely said not long ago, in this very (cyber)space, that the usual weather pattern for this time of year was a snowstorm followed by clear and cold weather. I was commenting that we hadn’t had that this January; we’d had gray skies, fog and even rain.

Today we had the usual kind of January snowstorm, 5 inches of snow or so, respectable but nothing to write home about.


(No grilling tonight, though, I guess.)


Very pretty. And the forecast for Saturday? A high (High!) temperature of -2 degrees F (-18 degrees C for everyone in the rest of the world).

I don’t care for days when the high is subzero. Neither does my car, it whines. Literally. At least I don’t have to work this Saturday, so I don’t have to leave the house before 7 am; that’s better than it could be. If only the girls weren’t doing things — I need to get one to a birthday party and the other to dance and back mid-day, and my husband has to work so he can’t do it. Otherwise, it would be a wonderful day to stay inside and knit, with a cup of hot tea and a cat on my lap. Ah, well, there still should be plenty of knitting time.

Good exercise today; besides shoveling, I got out for a vigorous walk, as I walked to get the Gothlet from her school bus stop, and not everyone had gotten to shoveling yet.


(Usually on Thursdays she gets picked up by car at the bus stop, in order to make it to her piano class on time, but lessons were cancelled as the teacher lives far out in the country and the snow was a problem; but the Gothlet didn’t know that, so I went to meet her and walk home with her so she wasn’t waiting.) Here she is below, performing a public service by clearing the snow off the water fountain (bubbler to Wisconsinites — you, too, can talk like a Cheesehead!)


which was exhausting.


(PS: this girl does have hand-knit scarves; several, in fact. Why isn’t she wearing one? You may well ask! As I did. Though I did not receive a satisfactory answer.)

I got some quality mail today that wasn’t even yarn. In my search for hand-holding regarding designing a steeked EPS cardigan (when I’ve never made one to begin with), I talked to the nice people at Schoolhouse Press, and the result of that conversation came today.


Hooray! I think it will be very fun to watch this DVD with Meg, and be empowered to design and make my own cardigan!

For the rest of you, who can’t hang out with me in my living room, with your knitting and hot tea or wine (knitters’ choice!), here’s a knitting video just for you. Enjoy.