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.....