Category Archives: Knitting

Athos, a shawl

I have been away so long, poor blog.  But I have not not been knitting, if you know what I mean.  I continue to knit — a lot.  And work — too much.  And ferry around teenagers (who both have had orthopedic problems since I was last here, thus even more ferrying).  But I am alive and kicking and knitting!

I wanted to show my latest project, as it’s been the result of a lot of plotting and paper and pencil and eraser and knitting (and tinking, occasionally).  After re-reading “The Three Musketeers” recently, a couple knitting friends and I decided that each main character needed a shawl to honor them.  One of my reader-friends made a gorgeous dark silk shawl to evoke Aramis.  My other friend has yet to make her shawl, being busy moving right now.  But I chose Athos, who in some ways is the main character as much as d’Artagnan, and whose story directs the larger story.  As those who have read the book (or seen one of the movies) may remember, a fleur-de-lis plays a significant role in the plot, so I felt that needed to be a presence. Additionally, Athos wore his Musketeers uniform like a shield, or a cloak, hiding his identity. Thus I designed the shawl to evoke images of a musketeer’s tabard.  I used a very old diamond lace stitch pattern, modified to make it work in a shawl, and then used an equally old French pattern of true knitted lace for the edging, one that evoked the mountain that the name Athos came from.

The result?

Athos on display

Gothlet, newly home from camp, graciously modeled it for me.

Athos shawl modeled 1

Athos shawl wingspan

I love it. It turned out almost exactly as I pictured, other than wider and bigger. That’s not a problem, though! I may reknit it in a slightly smaller size, however, to check the yardage and the look. I expect to be working on the pattern thereafter, by popular request….

Winning Team! And a new pattern to celebrate fall.

No, I’m not talking about the Brewers.  Or the Packers.  (Not that they’re not winning teams right now….)

First, though I have not been blogging, I have indeed been knitting.  Knitting a lot, actually.

One of the things I have been knitting, for a brief but intense time, was a dishrag, for DishRag Tag V!  Emily from YarnMiracle once again was kind enough to put this fun and amazing friendly knitting relay on.  On September 21st, the box came:

filled with treats and dishcloth cotton, and a finished dishrag!

These were from my teammate Kirsten in Michigan.  (Our team, number 9 on the list, was called the A-Nine-ilators!)

I picked up the cotton and my needles and began to knit, punctuated with a trip to the first meeting of the year (and my first meeting ever) of the local knitting guild, Three Rivers Knitting Guild.

Though I got it finished and the packaged mailed off via the Automated Postal Center that night, the USPS hijacked our package, holding it in Peoria two days past the promised delivery date.  Oh, no!

But despite this unforeseen delay: thanks to awesome teammates and speedy knitting all along the way,

Our team WON the DishRag Tag!

Woo-hoo!  We mostly won glory, but also very cool knitting bags. (The purple ones are coming to the A-Nine-ilators.)  Thank you, Emily!

Whew!   As the race just ended, to our glory, there is glory in the leaves around us also.  It’s probably peak color here right now, thanks to an early cold snap a couple weeks ago, though right now it’s incredibly warm for October in the midwest.  I haven’t had time for a proper photo shoot, but here are a few photos of trees within a half block of my house:

Maple putting on colors

See the leaves blowing off the trees, below?

(you may have to embiggen)

That was yesterday’s Saturday Sky, by the way.

Lastly, inspired by a ‘homework’ assignment for a Harry Potter-themed competitive knitting group (you would think I’m competitive or something), I just designed a fractal-inspired hat for fall. It’s not truly fractal, but Sierpinski triangles were hard to interpret in hat form. Instead, I modified a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker’s second treasury, frogged a few attempts at semi-clever decreases, and came up with this:

Pythagorean Triangles Hat.

It fits my lovely knit-model, the RockStar, it fits me

it even fits my husband.

Geometry is my daughter’s favorite area in math: maybe that’s why the hat seemed to make her so happy?

Pattern, Pythagorean Triangles Hat: download now

It’s Devonderful…

OK, OK, terrible pun.  (Terrible.)  But Devon was wonderful!  Let me take you there….

I left you at Knit Nation Bingo. (Which, by the way, raised money for Refuge, a UK domestic violence charity.)  The next day was still Knit Nation, but I was less busy, having been wait-listed for a morning class that did not open up.  This was my day to visit the marketplace in a more leisurely fashion and carefully select a few fibery souvenirs, to sit and knit a bit, to have tea:

try on knitted things at Ysolda’s “Little Red in the City” booth

(the RockStar models Vivian, (Ravelry link) published in Twist Collective Winter ’08)

watched Carole winding laceweight (winding that was a bargain for the buyer at 1£, I’d say)

and ran through the marketplace another time.

I did NOT get these earrings at The Bothered Owl’s stall, though I was very tempted, but I did get a superb bag, which was one of the bags I showed you earlier this week, with a map of London on it (perfect size for socks, and so well made!).

After some more London frolics in the rain, which I will catch you up on later, we packed our suitcases that night, and left early in the morning, dragging suitcases and all on the Tube to Paddington station, and thence on a train  through the English countryside.

A pleasant  two plus hours later, watching the rain and wet sheep go by, we were in Exeter St. David’s, in Devon.

Very close now to our destination!

A change of train to a lovely and well-known train, the Riviera line, and so farewell to Exeter

(Yep, still raining) and hello to the SEA!

We were right on top of the water.

So lovely, even in the rain.

These meres, or what have you, reminded me very much of scenes from ‘Clouds of Witness’ (Lord Peter Wimsey), though that is set in Yorkshire, or perhaps “Hound of the Baskervilles”… I could easily imagine being deceived by the greenery.

Very soon, we were in Teignmouth, and my friends Esther and Sally were there to meet us, and help with luggage! (Hooray!)

Off to eat at the ‘posh’ fish and chips shop on The Street With No Name

and the BEST fish ever.

(The RockStar and Sally.  Very happy!)

After a little walking around before and after (it had stopped raining),

we proceeded to our afternoon destination, Seashore Ceramics Pottery Painting Studio, the shop of my friend Esther and her husband.  SO COOL!

Oh, my, we had so much fun!  There was a huge selection of things to paint (rather hard to decide).

But the RockStar painted a colorful dinosaur and a bowl; Sally an adorable little Welsh dragon; and I painted a banal yet satisfying cupcake (it opens up to be able to store trinkets) and an artsy vaguely Oriental vase.


(Totally stealing Esther’s photo of the fresh-out-of-the-kiln pieces.)

Again:  SO MUCH FUN!

After Sally headed back to her home a ways away (she had driven down just to meet us, so awesome), we went home with Esther & her husband (who is especially awesome, as she invited us into her house to stay the night.  The generosity of knitters astounds me).  After a delicious mac & cheese & nom dinner, their dogs hopped into the car

as, despite the recurrent rain, Esther knew I wanted to see THE MOOR.

(By the way, this was arrived at by rocketing down one-lane roads surrounded by high hedgerows.  Eep!)

A bit of a climb, and:

oh, my.

(Spot the dog.)

RockStar, Queen of the Tor.

(Spot the dog.)

(Dogs for scale.  Yep. Right.)

It was amazing.

And there were moor ponies, and moor sheep, and everything. Including slightly deluded scramblers leaping about on the wet tor.

After a last good-bye to the tors

and a last stick thrown for the dogs

we headed home, via the same narrow hedgy roads (a little unnerving from the perspective of the back seat, but all was well)

to our guest bedroom with the lovely view

where the RockStar actually was tired and wanted to go to bed when I did (rare, at her age).  (I have a sleeping teen picture from this night, but she would kill me if I posted it, so you will just have to imagine.)

Then, in the morning, up the hills and to downtown Bovey to start our trek back to London (and the next day, back home to the United States).

Whew! Still with me?

My daughter (and I) totally want to go back to Devon.  It was gorgeous, and we had such a good time, especially thanks to my friends, to whom I am eternally grateful.

Besides, I never had Devon clotted cream.

I definitely have to go back!

My Trip In Bags

Once before, I showed you My Trip In T-Shirts.

While I’m preparing my Devon post (hint: lots of photos), here’s a quick synopsis of my trip to England (except I have no bags from Devon!  Silly me.)

(Click to embiggen for detail if desired.) You’ve already heard about Knit Nation and Bingo (center front and center back).  More info to come!

Edited to add:

Oops, forgot a couple!  I love the Tate bag…

OK, the second one is plastic, but it’s very cool!

Two sides of the Atlantic, the same Saturday Sky over all


Sunny, hot, humid.

Last Saturday:

I realize you can’t tell from that picture, but sunset of an even hotter, more humid July day.

(Albeit with interesting clouds.)

In between, thunderstorms which only served to put even more humidity in the air, I swear.

The Saturday before, a little different.  While friends and family back home were sweltering and sweating, this is what I and my elder daughter the RockStar were experiencing:

Rain most of the day, with a high temperature about 21 C (70 F for us Americans), with lows in the low teens (50s F):

(These grey skies are over Holy Trinity Church, next to the Imperial College Union on Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, England.)

But I didn’t mind the rainy out-of-doors, as Saturday was a Knit Nation day!  Knit Nation was held at the site above, Imperial College, a great venue to stay, learn, knit, bond, and shop.

That day, while my teenager who was with me in London (or, more accurately, I should say that I was with her) was off with her English friend, I took a class from Merike Saarniit called “Spinning to Knit”, in which I officially learned how to use my drop spindle (essentially self-taught spinner here), and most especially learned how to ply, which I’d never done, ever.  Very appropriate for the Tour de Fleece (spin-a-long) which was going on concurrent with the Tour de France!


First plied spindle-spun handspun, and it’s knittable!  It’s a sampler of different types of fiber, so I wouldn’t really knit it, but still….YARN!  And I made it!

Speaking of yarn, I subsequently ran through the marketplace (and didn’t even buy anything — well, not then) — it was amazing, but I was there to scope it out given limited suitcase space, and to see the lovely Emmms!  Some of you knitters have loved her socks, but she is herself just as lovely.

She was there with her partner in crime craftiness and creativity, Lou, with their super bags, Made by Loumms, and in the shop of an amazing dyer, Pippa of Sweet Clement.

I disrupted business for a bit as we chatted, and I gave her a mustache mug that I thought she would like (I was right), but then I did have to let her get back to work (after taking advantage, granted, of the opportunity to buy some lovely yarn and bags, but I don’t have pictures of those all yet, so perhaps I will show you at some future date).  We didn’t have the chance to get together outside Knit Nation, as we kept missing each other.  Guess I’ll have to come back….

The day before, I had taken a Knit Nation class with Franklin Habit about introduction to lace knitting techniques and history.  Though I am not a lace beginner, I am fascinating by the history of knitting, and don’t pretend to know everything about techniques, so I thought it would be interesting.  Which it was, naturally.  Franklin is a wonderful speaker.  Plus, as a bonus, we were able to fondle some of his lace.

The Anna Shawl, hot off the needles. It’s lovely, delicate but sturdy-feeling.  So cool to see it, and other Franklin lace, in person!

Back to Saturday: the RockStar being off for the day meant that I could hang out in the Knit Tea salon, where I ran into my old friend Carole whom I had met at  Sock Camp (she had a short break from her duties as Knit Nation crew), and she introduced me to her friends Alison & Claire who lived in England, who were awesome.

The rain had stopped by dinnertime

The Queen's Tower, Imperial College, London

and we walked to the student pub, where we ordered a variety of starters (appetizers) for a light meal, and I was introduced to the joys of Pimm’s.

There are cucumbers and strawberries in there. It’s awesome.  I loved it. No, it’s not beer; it’s a gin-based liquor, which in this incarnation is mixed with fizzy lemonade.  And strawberries and cucumbers, and orange, and mint, if I recall correctly.  I might have been getting a trifle fizzy myself after a couple. Plus, when our food was greatly delayed, the bar gave us a round of drinks: more Pimm’s!

Then we went and played bingo with knitters for charity.

BTW, British bingo is different from American bingo. And we missed the announcement of the rules since we were late because our food was so late.  Thus, picture me trying to figure out what constitutes bingo (hint: it’s not five in a row), under the influence of several Pimm’s, with the additional factor of delightful but confusing traditional British bingo slang.

Funny, I didn’t win anything.

Still, it was serious business for some of us.


(ignore the wine bottle.  Srs.)









Well, maybe not so much.

The amazingly talented (and also charming and adorable, not entirely fair) Ysolda with Carole, listening to a story which I shall not repeat.

Alice/Socktopus, fearless leader of Knit Nation hearing the same story from Claire, I think.

At the end o’ bingo, Cameron, the intrepid young bingo caller (15! and quite self-assured), Cookie A on the left, Alice, and – I think – Cameron’s mother, on the Knit Nation crew, whose name I never caught (I can almost make it out when I enlarge the photo, but not quite).  She and all the crew were awesome, and seemed to be having a good time even as they worked hard to keep things running smoothly, as they did.

Thus, at the end of a lovely evening, replete with Pimm’s and giggles, I toddled back to my home away from home (the Imperial College dorms, a great place to stay in pricey London, and such a great location) to meet up with my daughter and her friend who had had their own wonderful day in Covent Garden and Camden.

Next blog post: The moors which followed the above…(and the sea!).

WWKIPD – live action!

Here’s the scarf rolling in progress, as the most efficient method of unrolling/measuring/rolling back up was being figured out on the fly!  We were indeed a small parade.  In answer to questions on yesterday’s post, a knitter involved in the scarf project told me that the plan is to deconstruct the assembled scarf pieces and remake them into small blankets, to be donated to charity, such as Project Linus.

More live action here:  (watch for me: I am walking a bike and wearing a helmet while taking pictures on the scarf journey).  Also on the linked video: a clip of the gigantor needles in action.  The ‘yarn’ was a braided cover rope, like thick climbing or stage rope. I don’t know what that will be become, if anything; I never had a chance to speak with the intrepid mega-knitter, though she smiled nicely for the photo!

The Longest Scarf Ever

Well, the longest scarf I’ve ever seen, anyway.


This was rolled out (literally) today, as part of our area World Wide Knit in Public Day. The goal of community knitters was to knit a mile-long scarf. It didn’t quite make it, but it measured over half a mile, it seemed.

From the La Crosse Public Library, where last minute sections were added,

and then the unrolling (and simultaneous rolling up) started

down Main Street, past the Cathedral, a yarn shop (fittingly), a tattoo shop (also fittingly)

with help from many including smaller people,

past local downtown businesses

(attracting the interest of many in addition to the local business owners and patrons, including the police at one point)

crossing the street quickly in a daring, smoothly coordinated mission, and thence arriving across 4th Street before the yarn ran out.

This exciting feat of knitterly achievement and derring-do was the culmination of the Knit In Public celebration, “Yarnstorming”, put on by the La Crosse Public Library, with help from lots of volunteers including the relatively new “Three Rivers Knitting Guild”. I missed the first part of the day due to work, but arrived for prize drawings

(I won nothing, but knew a couple people who did), some great knitting time with friends, some snacks, and the Great Scarf Roll.

Oh, and yarnbombing yarnstorming viewing!

And viewed the yarnbombings outside, though it was a bit brisk to sit and knit outside, as the Saturday Sky kept promising sun and only delivering momentarily.

However, yes, of course I Knit In Public. (Not that that makes it any different from other days for me…)

My current projects are a Crazy Lace Citron Shawl, which I think I showed you the beginning of before, and a chemo cap, the second of two for The Loopy Ewe‘s Second Quarter Charity Challenge.

The Crazy Lace Citron Shawl is an idea from Ravelry, and I’m knitting it in my favorite Twisted Fiber Art hand-dyed yarn (I think I showed you this before, even being a Bad Blogger). It’s the Citron Shawl from Knitty, linked above, but the stockinette bands are replaced with small lace patterns of the knitter’s choice. I’ve knit one more repeat than the pattern calls for (I’m knitting it in a finer yarn, with lots of yarn available), but am now working on a big ol’ ruffle, which is taking me a while.

Here it is at last picture, last weekend:

Citron with remaining yarn and stitch patterns

And here is my chemo cap-in-progress, the Esprit Chemo Turban.

Chemo turban

Not too impressive yet! It will look odd right up until the time it’s on someone’s head, quite a number of inches from now.

So that’s what was on my needles on WWKIP Day 2011.

(Here’s what’s on someone else’s needles.)

How about your needles?

Snowflakes that stick…

to your nose and eyelashes, and your daffodils and your hair, and your car….


Yes, another weather post. My next post was going to be about Sock Camp and its prelude, but instead Mother Nature got a wild hair and dumped this on us yesterday.

April 19th. Give me a break. Please!

And….sadly, last night I and my two daughters had tickets to go see Elton John, right here in our home town. But the concert was cancelled due to the weather (as were many other events around town; in the afternoon, when his plane would have been landing and some would have been traveling, the snow was coming down thick and fast).

Boo! As some of my friends said, better a concert cancellation than that La Crosse become Elton John’s Clear Lake….

If there is a bright side to all this (besides the fact, which I am somewhat unwilling to admit, that it was pretty and will go away fairly quickly), it is that the snow allowed the RockStar to wear her new mittens again!

(Not actually taken yesterday but during a previous spring snow!)

Yes, I finally finished the Winter of Peace and Love mittens. Technically after the first day of spring. Though you can see how well THAT worked out.

The RockStar approves.


Of Hail, Snow, Flood, and Lethal Creatures

Doomy doom doom….

Or perhaps not as bad as it sounds.  Wisconsin weather, with a bit of knitting and travel thrown in!

I’ve been mentally working on Sock Camp posts, but at the same time physically fighting off a nasty respiratory virus, which has caused all my energy to go to trying to turn my lungs inside out.  Lots of medicine and time later, I am definitely on the mend, so take up laptop to try to begin to chronicle.  But first, since my last post, lots has happened here!

I had mentioned that storms were predicted soon in my last post, and indeed, the girls got to hear tornado sirens and head into the basement, for just about the first time that they remember doing so (the RockStar does have vague memories of her toddler tornado warning trip to the basement).  One advantage of a laptop and smartphone: one can keep track of the National Weather Service’s updates on what’s going on, as the winds whip up and the lightning crashes and the hail rattles down.

Ah, the hail.

The hailstone going in the freezer

Have a hailstone (or two, or five)

Our garage is a storage area, and my (new) car was thus parked outside, so I winced in the basement as I heard that hail crashing and bouncing and pictured my car in its sights. Amazingly, it’s almost impossible to see the couple areas where the body is ever so slightly rippled. Everything else except my daffodils was fine. I certainly know people who didn’t fare as well, with broken house windows and damaged siding. But no tornado activity was noted in the area (though one had been apparently spotted to our southeast). Thus the area lives up to its reputation and the legendary Native American saying, that no tornado will hit where three rivers meet….

The weather continued bad, but not that bad, through the rest of the week, and I certainly felt bad. Then yesterday, as I started to feel as though I was going to make it, I woke up to this Saturday Sky:

which had already dumped this:

The robins were not amused, let me tell you.

unhappy robin

After I got over my own disgruntlement and worked yesterday, I stopped down by the Mississippi River, which is cresting well into flood stage right about now. Though the snow melted later yesterday, the weather continued blustery, with a cold north wind hurrying the flood waters along.

No viewing the river from THAT viewing platform today.

These rubberneckers were also checking the flood out.

(To give you an idea of the river’s rise, here they also are in happier times two years ago. The brick walkway goes perhaps four or five feet below the river watchers, and the river is some feet below the edge of the walkway.)

waving at sunset

In this picture, you can see the ramp down to the walkway….or part of it, anyway.

Another comparison:

a view downriver a month ago, when the river was already rather high.

and the same view yesterday, with the same trees.

(Fortunately, our cold spring has caused the water level to not be nearly as high as it could have been, thus flooding has been manageable. Also, because my city has preserved the flood plains (they are primarily parks) and some wetlands to soak up the floodwaters, it tends to do better during floods than other communities on the river. Thankfully.)

All of this snow and hail and flood made me remember my time in the Pacific Northwest with fondness….even if it was typical spring weather there (cloudy, cool, on and off rain), or perhaps even more rain than typical. At least there was no snow, or hail, or flooding….

There were lethal creatures, granted. But that was kind of my own fault.


You see, this year’s Sock Camp was called “Camp Jabberwonky”, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. There is always homework; and this year’s was to knit a Jabberwonky. Not a Jabberwocky, mind you, but a Jabberwonky. Details here.

After seeing an old photo of my half-stuffed mermaid (homework from two years ago): I had an idea. I would knit a headless Jabberwonky, after the victorious knitter has beheaded it! Complete with gore….

This required dyeing wool top for the gore (I had some that had proved not so good for spinning, due to still having suint — sheep sweat — in it). It seemed to turn out well!

Simultaneously, I cast on with some Socks that Rock and knit a somewhat fearsome creature (with a picot-edge neck). And was, of course, still working on it when I arrived in Seattle the day before Sock Camp started, to visit my friend Astrid and her husband Greg. In between Astrid’s taking me to see the Nick Cave exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, and an excellent lunch and equally excellent dinner, I knit away. And talked. Astrid being a knitter (and dyer) totally understood and kept me company by knitting herself as we talked; her husband is rather used to it, and accepted Jabberwonk-knitting unflappably! Also, Astrid had some awesome ideas for finishing strategies, and invaluably, had SUPPLIES! (Florists’ wire works better than pipe cleaners. Just FYI.)

On our ferry trip over to Bainbridge island the next day, the last bit of stuffing was stuffed, and my Jabberwonky was complete.

I can’t really say that Jabberwonky enjoyed the sights as we crossed Puget Sound to Bainbridge, since he’s headless and presumably can’t see; but I have to think he enjoyed the fresh air! Or something.

Saturday Skies from Three Coasts

Three Saturdays, three coasts.


Two weeks ago, deep in the Southeast, not terribly far inland, anyway (close enough for this midwestern girl):

I was in Atlanta.

It was a stormy Saturday night

but during the entire meeting that I was attending preceding that weekend, the weather had been gorgeous: 60s and sunny. The southerners thought it was rather cool.  Those of us attending the meeting from northern climes spent every break and every lunch out in the hotel courtyard, enjoying the sun and the flowers.

I didn’t have much extra time, as the meeting that I was at took up essentially all daylight hours, but the short walk from my hotel to the meeting hotel took me past these sky-glass towers

which made it clear that hurricanes generally did not get this far inland, and also spectacularly reflected the lightning above when the thunderstorms happened on the last two days of my Atlanta stay.

Because the bad weather rolled in just as the meeting ended, I didn’t get to take advantage of my six hours or so of free time at the end of the meeting; I had thought about visiting the Atlanta History Center or the Aquarium.  Next time!

Just seeing spring was oh, so therapeutic.

Plus knitting outside.

(This is my Citron…. ‘crazy lace’ variation.  I haven’t really told you about that, have I, being blog-neglectful?  So, it’s a Citron from Knitty, but for the ‘crazy lace’, you throw in small lace patterns of your choice in the stockinette bands between the ruching.  I’m also further modifying by increasing with a yarnover at the outer edges on every right side row to make it more than a half-circle shape, and to echo the laciness of the lace portions.  Last, I have a lot of yardage of the lovely yarn: Arial, by Twisted Fiber Art, in the “Haunting” colorway.  Thus, this will be a lot bigger shawl than the original shawlette size!  I’m knitting on it on and off….)

I then came home for two busy, tiring, and chilly days, then packed up to go to the Pacific Northwest, for a day pre-camp with the lovely Astrid, and thence to Sock Camp.  I have a lot more to tell you about that, but here’s my Saturday Sky from Camp (Port Ludlow, Washington).  (Hence the second coast: East Coast to West Coast in 72 hours!)  The only sun we saw all week was for about an hour, that Saturday morning.

Then it clouded up.  This photo is from the day before, but believe me, it looked pretty much the same for the entire week of Sock Camp.

Of course there was lots of knitting (and other hijinks) at Sock Camp, but again, definitely for another post!

The third coast?

Why, the West Coast of Wisconsin, where I live, of course!  (Seriously, some marketing person dubbed us this at some point.  I do live on the Mississippi River, which is the western border of much of the state….).

Yesterday on said coast:

Grey sky.  But crocuses!!!

(Then thunderstorms overnight.  Then a brief glorious bout of sun this morning with unnatural warmth.  Which of course means even more severe weather predicted for this afternoon….hail, damaging winds, possible tornadoes.  Which will further increase the Mississippi flooding (not severe to date, fortunately).  Springtime in the Midwest!)

Ah, well, at least the snow is gone.