Agujas

The Art of Knitting

A Good Year

Now at the cusp of a new year, I started reflecting on this past one and am glad to say that it was a good one. Our family is healthy and happy, a little older, maybe a little worse for wear, but still going strong. My husband realized a personal goal of making a pilgrimage walked by thousands before him. Our sons started their senior years in high school and are anxiously awaiting to hear from their chosen colleges. I received a surprise promotion earlier this year. My mom, who is usually full of vigor at 72, is starting to feel her age a bit and is fighting it the whole way. One of my brothers was elected to the school board of my hometown. We had our share of troubles, some minor, others not, but found our way through them and learned in the process. There are still some scars but they are healing. There are so many other reasons, large and small, for which to be thankful – hot summer days, shared meals with friends, a good book, down time, birthday celebrations, a rewarding job, a good hair day, and soft yarn.

Speaking of yarn, 2014 was also a good knitting year. My goal was to create from my stash, which has continued to grow. I accomplished this with one exception, the hat for my niece because she was very specific about wanting a neutral color. In total, I knit 10 items in 2014. They were all small projects for a couple of reasons: (1) I was trying to use up my stash especially where I had only one or two skeins of the same yarn/dye lot; and (2) With my work schedule, it takes me too long to complete larger projects and I wanted to show progress every month. So here are my 2014 FOs.

Another highlight in 2014 was discovering new yarn stores. One was discovered during a trip to Colombia – and what a glorious find that was! We came across two other shops during a trip to the Texas hill country. Click on any image to view on a larger screen.

(Stay tuned for another recent discovery in an upcoming post.)

In 2014, I also enjoyed the fabulous Kid ‘N Ewe Fiber Festival, had a fabulous Girl’s Weekend in the Texas hill country with my mom and aunt, and experienced Yarn Terrors when I found moths in my stash! And lastly, I enjoyed having my niece become a part of our family while attending college. All in all, 2014 was a great year.

Wishing everyone an amazing new year in 2015.

In the Family

Everyone tells me that my niece, Victoria, looks like me. It makes me feel very proud especially since I do not have a girl of my own. So it brought me immense pleasure when I discovered that my niece likes to knit! She knit a scarf sometime in her teens. My brother sent me pictures of her with her needles. This first semester in college, she decided to learn how to crochet. She asked me if I could take her to buy some yarn and a crochet hook so that she could try to crochet a stuffed animal for a charity auction at her college. Of course, there was no need to go to the store, we just dug into my stash! She found a pattern and crochet instructions on YouTube. Twenty-four hours later, she had made this:

Amigurumi Bear by Victoria

She then remembered that my mother said she wanted a headband with a flower on it for her hair. So off Victoria went to crochet a headband just like my mom had requested.

Crochet Headband by Victoria

She would sit with me in the evenings with a hook in her hand and yarn on her lap while she meticulously worked on the headband. It will be her Christmas gift to her grandmother.

Crochet Flower by Victoria

I am so pleased that the arts of knitting and crochet still appeal to young ladies like my niece. It’s wonderful to keep the tradition in the family.

December FO: Chimborazo Textured Hat

This year, my niece Victoria started college. She is an exceptional student who finished in the top 5% of her class. (It’s my blog so I am taking editorial license to be a proud aunt). She is a scholar-athlete who competed in both individual and team sports and even broke a track record. She received scholarships and grants but it was still a stretch to cover all those college costs. I honestly don’t know how regular middle-class Americans can afford to send their kids to college. So, she is living with us and commuting to school every day. We emptied the guest room, picked up a great daybed from IKEA that pulls out into a full-size bed for guests. We also got her a desk and a really cool chair and let her decorate the rest of her “dorm” room. She has black-and-white posters of Marilyn and Audrey and the New York skyline on her walls and small LED lights around the perimeter. It has been a delight to have her in our home. We have two boys so she is the daughter we never had.

As the weather started turning a bit cold, I decided to knit her a hat. I found this pattern which she promptly approved of with the request that it be in a white or cream color. I found this off-white bulky yarn at the fiber festival. It was half off and perfect for the hat. It’s Yearling by Juniper Moon Farm, a wonderful blend of 60% merino wool and 40% cotton, and it has been discontinued. I love this yarn! I already have several skeins of it in bright colors in my stash. It’s a great yarn for knitting in Texas because the wool brings warmth but the cotton tempers it a bit.

Juniper Moon Farm Yearling Color 01

Once I got past the brim, the basket weave texture started to show itself.

Chimborazo On the Needles

I love the look of it! My niece loved it too.

Chimborazo Back View

I topped it off with a big pompom.

Chimborazo Full View

Chimborazo Side View

Now she can keep her head warm as she goes from class to class.

November FO: Regular Guy Beanie

Finally, the Fall season begins with all of its colors and cooler weather. Between work and stressing over my son’s college applications (he’s a senior), it has been busy. After not getting any knitting done in October, a warm hat seemed just right for November.

Regular Guy Beanie 1

For the yarn, I took this lovely variegated skein in Autumn colors out of my stash. I picked this up during a business trip to Nashville, Tennessee (Brentwood, actually). I made it to Bliss Yarns on the one day they are open late. It was a lovely little yarn shop with a large choice of colors and brands and a very helpful staff.

Regular Guy Beanie 2

I wanted something local so they pointed out a bin of MissBabs Hand-dyed Yarns & Fibers out of Mountain City, Tennessee. I selected Yowza – Whatta Skein, approximately 560 yards of 100% Superwash Merino. This skein was “hand-painted” in luscious colors called Rumor Has It.

Regular Guy Beanie 3

I used the Regular Guy Beanie pattern, a free Ravelry download. The one departure I made from the pattern is that I doubled up on the yarn to give the hat a cozy thickness. This one is for my middle brother who was just elected to my hometown’s school board. I am so proud of him!

A Day at the Fiber Festival

My very first spinning lesson was at the Kid’N Ewe And Lamas Too fiber festival a couple of years ago. This past weekend, I revisited this annual festival which is spread out over three large barns at the Kendall County Fairgrounds. There was weaving, spinning, felting, knitting and crocheting everywhere!

I spent hours swooning over fibers from animal and plant sources including camel, yak, buffalo, sheep, goat and silkworm as well as hemp, bamboo, and cotton. Many were hand dyed in stunning colors like these wool batts …

Gorgeous merino, bamboo, and angelina batts from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)

Gorgeous merino, bamboo, and angelina batts from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)

Luscious browns and golds from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)

Luscious browns and golds from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)

Glistening waves in a deep blue sea from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)

Glistening waves in a deep blue sea from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)

… and this hemp fiber in deep tones.

Hand-dyed natural plant fibers from the Fiber Lady. (www.fiberlady.com)

Hand-dyed natural plant fibers from the Fiber Lady. (www.fiberlady.com)

There were countless hand crafted tools throughout including this lovely assortment of spindles and shuttles.

These wooden spindles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn't pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)

These wooden spindles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn’t pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)

Turkish and top whorl drop spindles from Heritage Arts. (www.heritageartstexas.com)

Turkish and top whorl drop spindles from Heritage Arts. (www.heritageartstexas.com)

Unique hand painted wooded spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)

Unique hand painted wooded spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)

Hand crafted glass and wood spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.orkieslave.etsy.com)

Hand crafted glass and wood spindles from Yorkieslave Artworks. (www.yorkieslave.etsy.com)

These wooden shuttles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn't pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)

These wooden shuttles are from Yarnorama (I think). I didn’t pick up a business card. (www.yarnorama.com)

Behind rows of vendor stalls in one of the barns, several teams were in full swing for the Fiber to Fashion demonstrations. Spinners using spindles and wheels were busily turning fiber into yarn. The yarn was fed to the weaver who meticulously wove it on a loom. The goal was to create a finished product – a 20″ x 72″ shawl – in one day.

One of the Fiber to Fashion teams working on their woven shawl.

One of the Fiber to Fashion teams working on their woven shawl.

The team pictured here held a raffle for their shawl. I bought one ticket for $1 but, alas, did not win. I watched them as they were making the fringe and putting the final touches on the shawl. It was absolutely gorgeous.

The air was cool, the sun was out, the animals were adorable, kindred spirits were plentiful, and there were three barns full of fibery goodness – perfect!