Knittinginatree's Blog

Around town: A view of Sleeping Lady from the coastal trail. Anchorage, Alaska

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Because sometimes you never know when a crisp fall walk to visit the Sleeping Lady will turn into a dark winter walk.

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The stripe effect

How do you feel about self striping yarn? On one level it can be a wondrous thing and put any knitter at ease. Socks, for example can come out quite nicely on self striping yarn. Unfortunately, self-striping just makes me too nervous. If the yarn doesn’t visually show it, I want some other kind of indicator on the label when I purchase a skein or two, or in this case five.

I’m looking at you Cascade Eco Duo. You were so unassuming and delightful when I first found you but it’s since been a rocky road. The Duo in the name is to reference the blend of 70% baby Alpaca and 30% Merino. (YUM!) The softness and the way the fiber glides off and on my US #8 birch needles is simply scrumptious. However, on closer swatch inspection you will begin to see the striping creeping in.


I could even get behind Cascade’s eco practices and the fact that the self striping is actually the result of blending natural colors straight from these two lovely creatures. Nevertheless, large chunks of stripe across my bust was the last thing I intended this yarn to churn out. For a while I thought we could work together and I started designing a sweater knit on the bias. Try as I might, it just wasn’t working. Then, when I thought all else had failed…


I remembered this age old trick. Working with more than one skein at a time and sometimes five different skeins (using a different skein per row) can rely turn a sad case of chunky stripes into a fine fabric. I think my relationship with cascade Eco Duo may now be restored. I lightened up the photo a bit so you could see the difference in color texture between these swatches, it’s more muted in person. And, if you’re curious, I’m knitting this fine fiber up into Doric

Yarn of the week

If you haven’t noticed, I have a bit of a thing going on with the extraordinary fiber known as qiviut. And, it being my birthday week and all, I couldn’t help but splurge a little. I have a winter shawl in mind but we’ll see where the season takes me.

The fiber was purchased from the Anchorage Museum gift shop and is locally hand spun. They sell it in several colors but lately I’ve been drawn to the deep sea blue. And, the feel well, as the label reads…

Musk ox fleece consists of two types of hair that protect the animals from the intense cold of the winter in the high arctic. There is the outer layer of coarse hair and a layer of shorter extremely fine under hair called qiviut. Qiviut is prized for its incredible warmth and luxuriously soft feel. It is eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, by weight and is finer than cashmere. Few are lucky to ever get a chance to see this fiber, as worldwide annual production is estimated at only a few thousand pounds. 

Trust me, I’m feeling lucky! And, for those who are like me, a bit driven by guilt when it comes to luxury, there is a lovely cafe next door to the museum gift shop. I suggest visiting the cafe first and ordering a basiltini. It will help to take the edge off before entering the gift shop. Cheers!

 

Around Town: Minneapolis Midtown Greenway

Musk Ox graffiti! It’s almost better than yarn bombing. Almost.

Passing a major milestone

Tomorrow is my birthday. And, because this time of year makes me pause and consider if I’ve done anything worthwhile over the past twelve months, yesterday I took it upon myself to take up a new skill. One I’ve dreamt of accomplishing since I was about seven years old.

I’m rhythmically challenged. And, I don’t mean that I ain’t got rhythm, I know I’ve got it stored up in there somewheres because I can play a few instruments just fine and keep a beat. But, when it comes to moving my body, well. You see, I’m from a family whose tradition and religion was fearful of dancing. Who knows where shaking your hips might lead you… So, with the help S, I’m the proud owner of a new hula hoop. And, as of yesterday, I was finally able to keep it up for several minutes. This is a major milestone for me!

But, there is always more to challenge yourself with, like my friend Varpu who just helped make and share a hoopygroove moment.

Aren’t they knock outs? Here’s hoping I can challenge myself to keep this hulaing up throughout the year. And, maybe one day, dare I say it, dance! 

The muskox farm

My heart is still on vacation and my mind has returned to school. I’ve got one foot outside in the summer sun of Northern Minnesota and the other in the crisp feel of Fall I’ve found in Anchorage, Alaska. So, you see, I’m not quite ready to return to my blog.

In the meantime, I’ll stick with the muskox theme and share a few photos from a visit earlier this month to the muskox farm in Palmer, Alaska. I think I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again, they’re such wonderful creatures. Enjoy.




A test and a trip to the musk ox co op

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I’m trying out the wordpress iPhone app. Just wanted to see what it’s like to blog from my phone. So hang in here with me.

It never fails, somehow the end of July rushes past me every year. It’s the way of summer I suppose. We’re headed out of state for a bit of vacation in the next few days. So this space will likely remain a bit quiet. (Not sure I can manage too many iPhone blogposts as my thumbs are already tired.) I hope you all are savoring that last bit of summer.

One quick knitting related item. We have family in town now and made our way to Oomingmak the musk ox producers’ cooperative; a must if you are ever in Anchorage. It’s an Alaskan Native owned cooperative that sells hand knit qiviut garments. All of the garments are knit by co op members through out the state. Most of the garments are lace but some are colorwork. And each design is specific to a village or region of Alaska and tells a story or has a theme. It’s such a great model and way to promote and support knitters throughout Alaska.

Qiviut is my all time favorite fiber. Softer than cashmere and so warm. And, the musk ox are such extraordinary pre historic creatures. I’m fascinated by this extreme northern climate mammal.

Here are a few more photos to share.

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FO: Rock Island

I’m just going to come right out and say the obvious– Jared Flood is a genius. Why it has taken me so long to knit any of his designs is beyond me. Today I share with you the latest Flood blockbuster, Rock Island.

I took Jared’s suggestion and decided to try fingering weight yarn,  Cascade Heritage Solid in purple. Ehem, you may remember this yarn from the failed Union Market Pullover or the disasterous Lace Stockings… Well, it may just be that this yarn was waiting for the right pattern and I think I have found it in this Shetland lace inspired design.


Because I used fingering weight, I found the right gauge on size 8 needles and, let’s just say that after blocking, the shawl really bloomed. 

The length is good for me, though, as it wraps up nicely around my neck. However, I think it will be more of a fall accessory than one for summer. My first Flood + my first lace shawl = a happy gal. (Now raveled : here. )

Special thanks to S for taking the photos. The tide was coming in while we were photoing and I had visions of getting sucked into the mud flats. Of course we survived and all is well. We feel very fortunate to have close access to such a great trail system and backdrop for photos. I should also note that the photos were taken after 8:30pm. Oh, Alaska summer light how I love you.

Happy weekend!

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test: Part #1

I don’t know about you, but I have a respectable amount of animal and plant fibers in the colorway natural. You know the color, it borders around yellowy-creamy-ivory and sometimes snow white. I do love a healthy dose of the natural colorway but I’ve decided when almost everything in your stash is this color, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. So, I’ve entered into a new phase of fiber curiosities and will be experimenting with the wonderful world of dyeing.

Sometime ago S gave me The Craft of the Dyer: Colour From Plants and Lichens by Karen Leigh Casselman. I haven’t read it completely but it’s a great reference base for the beginning dyer with an interest in using dye from plants and lichens. (An eventual goal of mine.) But, in the meantime, I’ve been playing around with the dying process using none other than, that’s right, kool-aid.

Here are a few photos of my first adventure with dyeing.


One skein of hand spun wool.


I had visions of a nice merlot color when I mixed two packets of mixed berry with one packet of grape.

We call it Stan the stainless steel stock pot.

Submerging the fiber goods.

I’ve heard several stories about kool-aid dyeing woes-no matter what the combination-everything turns out as hot pink. And, my experience was no exception.

Okay, it’s not quite hot pink, but it’s also not the merlot I was hoping to see. I think my kool-aid to yarn ratio was a bit off. (Something to keep in mind for the future).

So, what is it? Just some shades of light and dark pink, or, as one person described it, bubble gum pink. Since it’s not a color I currently have in my stash, I’m happy. And, I’m sure it will make up as a pretty scarf or cowl.

I haven’t given up entirely on kool-aid just yet. I still have a few packets of green and some other reds I want to try out. So, stay tuned for more adventures in kool-aid dyeing with knittinginatree.

My new garden socks

My socks for the summer are off the needles and happily on my feet. Pattern: Butterfly Garden Socks by Paige Darling
Yarn: Araucania Itata Solid

As you can see the pattern contains enough details to keep a knitter happy like picot edges, a fun butterfly stitch, and bead work. I did end up making a few minor changes with this pattern. I chose to use smaller beads than the recommended size and omitted a couple of rows on the cuff. Instead of sewing in the picot edge at the end, I just worked it in while knitting.

The yarn is beautiful, great to work with, and my new favorite color. However, I’m not yet convinced that it’s a sturdy workhorse yarn appropriate for the kind of walking that I do. I prefer to really wear my hand knit socks, if you know what I mean.  But, I would certainly recommend it for other projects.

This was the first time I’ve ever incorporated beads into my knitting and I’m happy with the result. Now raveled here.

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