Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall 2012

Ginny with Silver Thistles and Ben.
Ginny and I, and a little Fall fog.
Since snow already has dusted the higher mountains, there is fog in the mornings and the shadows are growing longer... it is fall now! Ginny, my husband Ben and I have been hiking. We spent a lot of time off trail (which means no cows and lots of fences to climb) and saw lots of Silver Thistle flowers in the meadows. These will adorn the headdresses of the lead cows when  the cow herds come down from the higher Alpine meadows. Lead cows only wear headdresses when there were no injuries in a herd, and yesterday of four herds that came down near Oberstdorf, three were unadorned because of a poisoning, a broken leg and a calf that had fallen off the mountain. Each cow wears a bell when they are brought down, and there lederhosen and dirndls (not on the cows) and of course later a big tent with beer and traditional music at the "Cow Down Party" and so it is really called, I kid you not. Only the bells and flowers are for the cows, the rest is for everyone else.... and a good time is generally had by all (even the cows)!

Lead cow with headdress.
This tradition is one of reasons I love living here! I am proud to buy milk and cheese from my neighbors who treat their animals with respect. The farmers feel that a young cow who spends the first years of its life on the meadows has a the healthiest possible start in its dairy life. The dairy producing cows are sent out on the adjacent meadows to the farm (so the walk isn't too long to the barn) everyday and this is a great reason to buy local!

In honor of this way of life (and it is hard work!!) I designed a sweater and vest. The colors remind me of the Autumn mists and the design on the vest incorporates the silver thistle flowers on the headdresses of the cows.

 My lovely daughter is modeling both. This sweater is being test knit and eventually I will offer both patterns for sale.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What to do with old Sweaters?

Temperatures have plummeted and it is icy and windy out. We have ideal conditions for skiing and winter sports but it is COLD early mornings when Ginny and I on our walk.

The photo shows a neighboring village that doesn't get sun until after 10 am because of the way the mountains block the sun this time of year.

This week I worked on using hand knitted sweaters in other projects. Although some of the sweaters still fit, the style is wrong or the collar is a bit wonky like this one... which always rubbed uncomfortably against my neck. Since the yarn is Alafoss L├ętt Lopi (from Iceland and the yarn spun is from Icelandic sheep) which comes in every shade and felts nicely with a fuzzy halo, I felted it in my front loading washing machine at 6o C but it still had too much stitch definition so I ran it through the 90 C cycle and it came out looking like the photo below.
Then I trimmed off the thicker edges and sewed together the seams .... knitted an i cord out stash yarn and voila!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Snow and Stash Yarn

Winter has finally arrived after lots of false starts. Here is Ginny in the snow, in anticipation of a treat.....
For my New Year's resolution for 2012, I have decided to set myself the goal of only knitting with stash yarn and ONLY buying yarn to finish a mainly stash project. Here is an old picture of my stash (before I was a spinner and before my stash began to multiply exponentially).

I foresee lots of fair isle projects with yarns of similar but not EXACT weight. I expect fiber content will vary too. One of the most liberating things I ever found to be true was Kaffe Fasett's statement about how he "mixed and matched color and fiber content with complete disregard for uniformity". Hooray for individuality and the hand made!!!

On a house keeping note... I still have every single sweater I ever knitted. Instead of saving them for who knows what I have felted this one, cut it into pieces and sewn them together with the sewing machine to make... a lap top cover. This yarn is the Irish yarn "Kilcarra" Aran Tweed by Donegal Yarns and it felted beautifully.

I think I need to plan a trip to Ireland to get more....

I have further plans for other sweaters, which I will share in the next post.....

Monday, February 21, 2011


After weeks and weeks of knitting on this sweater (with lots of interruptions by other projects), I have finished!

As of the last post, I had to sleeves to finish and I decided on 3/4 length sleeves, Knit the lower sleeve part in the rib /intarsia pattern to match the lower part of the body. The last part of the cuff matches the neck line, then I knitted a purl row (for folding) and knitted a facing on the cuffs (and hem). I wove in all ends, sewed in the facing and ironed the sweater lightly- all done!!! I talked my daughter into taking some photos outside with my dog, so as to capture the true colors of the reds. We now have a foot of new snow so the spring like weather was only a short break in the winter.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

End in Sight!

Since I irritated my thumbs knitting on these quick metal needles, I had to take a week off from knitting. So I spent the evenings spinning on my new wheel because that didn't bother my thumbs at all! But now they have healed and I will be careful not to over do things

We have also had some wonderful winter weather so I spent lots of free time outside too, cross country skiing, skate skiing and ski touring (with skins). I'm lucky I live somewhere so beautiful. On the left I am walking up a mountain on a ski tour.

I have now finished the body of the sweater. I knit a second border at the bottom and then one purl row (so I could fold the fabric) and then a stockinette facing, so the sweater won't curl up unevenly on the columns with intarsia or curl in on the purl columns. It will smooth out more after washing and blocking but I pretty darned pleased already!

Next up the sleeves and then I will be done!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This week is the week of knitting the sleeves and then ripping them out- kind of like last week. I have now decided to leave the sleeves alone until I finish the body because then I will have a better idea of what works.
The large diamond pattern is knitted in fairisle with three colors in the round. The yarns I stranded along the back were knitted in every few stitches and it is harder to keep the tension right with three colors instead of two, and although it looks rumpled things will smooth out after blocking.

Moving on to the body, I started knitting intarsia on the colorwork sections (over 5 stitches) and then purled the next four stitches, so as to get a ribbed look. On the first row I increased one stitch into every purl section to compensate for the slight draw in of the rib. I plan on doing about 3 more inches/ 8 more cm or so.
Hopefully I will be very close to finished next week!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Knit and Reknit

After a bit of a pause I have picked up this sweater again to work on and immediately ripped out half the body because it felt too busy. The patterns weren't working together at all, they were each screaming for attention. After contemplating the collar I frogged it and reknit it in a sparer pattern that complimented what I had but didn't compete with it.
Then I went to work on the sleeves, from the bottom of the arm (armpit!) picking up 2 stitches for every three rows. I used needles that were a whole mm size smaller for this and worked along to the top of the shoulder and about a 1/3 down the other side. THEN I started short rows (went up a needle size) because I want a fitted, set in sleeves. I worked back and forth until about 2/3 down the armhole from the top of the shoulder and then I started working in the round and decreasing every inch or so. I did start both sleeves at the same time so as to get the tension and decreases the same.
The picture above to the left shows when I was knitting back and forth in short rows. I started knitting in the round when I reached the orange marker on the right side. The green marker is where I started picking stitches. I didn't worry about matching up the pattern at all. The next photo shows where I am now although I am still trying out different patterns on the sleeve so one will have to be ripped back. I am going for a fitted look with a slight peplum, maybe pleats on the body starting under the diamond border, we will see what looks right......