Knitting a Spring Cardigan (or two)

My great-nephew recently celebrated his first birthday and I wanted to knit him something bright and colorful. I chose this boxy, cropped cardigan pattern called Haiku that I found on knitty.com, a great resource for knitters and chock full of free patterns.

When I knitted the pumpkin hat for my granddaughter last year, I fell in love with Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton. With a rainbow of wonderful colors to choose from, it’s so soft and yummy.

I chose Pickle for Liam.

And Lemongrass for my granddaughter, Ella, because I just had to make one for her, too!

I found some brightly colored buttons in the shape of building blocks, rocking horses, and teddy bears at Joann Fabric’s – perfect for Liam’s sweater. But I didn’t really like any of the flower buttons I found there so I made some purply-pink blooms with yellow centers out of polymer clay. It was soooo easy with a flexible Sculpey push mold I found in my toolbox.

Now that the little ones’ cardigans are finished and in the mail, it’s time for a new project for my pointy sticks. Perhaps a summer sweater for myself. This pattern looks promising!

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A Colorful Knitted Cowl

One of my favorite times of day during the workweek is when I am able to settle down onto my cozy sofa in the evenings and pick up my knitting. Just picking up my pointy sticks immediately brings me to a place of meditative calm, a place where I hear the whispers of my deepest creative dreams. I love getting lost in the yarn-y world of color and texture.

One of my latest projects, a linen stitch neck cowl in oranges and browns, was inspired by Jane Thornley’s Winter Forest Evocative Guide.

A couple of summers ago, I shared some yummy batiked fabric here. To add extra texture to my cowl, I found myself ripping off thin strips of the “seed pod” fabric to add to my knitting. What a great idea, Jane!

This is a fabulous little piece that knits up easily and is perfect for jazzing up a solid colored shirt or sweater.

Next up: a feather and fan wrap whose colors speak of sea and sky.

What are you creating today?

Winter Woods Vest

In January, I treated myself to a yummy gift, a year’s subscription to Jane Thornley’s Inspired Knitter’s Club. Ever since I discovered Jane’s website last year and then attended one of her retreats in Taos, NM, Jane has inspired me to unfurl my free range knitting wings and soar into a world of color and texture. Jane describes her vision for the Club:

“Inspiration is air to the lungs, light to the spirit…..Here is a book in monthly format that captures the essence of the creative muse for knitters, beaders, weavers, spinners and dreamers alike. Packed with photos, concepts, ideas, inspirational journeys both internal and global, tips, techniques, stitch spells and color delves this is like a feast for the creative spirit.”

In this “vestal creation”, Jane teaches how to move from darks to lights with a textured stitch calling to mind the forest floor during a woodsy walk. As I’ve been enjoying that very activity every Sunday, I’ve drawn much inspiration for my vest color palette.

I’ve created the button from polymer clay, using black, white, translucent, and silver foil. I discovered a love for making buttons and am now looking at the cardigans hanging in my closet with that in mind. Hmmm….

Now that my vest is finished, I am turning my creative thoughts to another project – a feather and fan stitch wrap in vibrant blues and greens. With spring fast approaching (yay!), I need some colorful yarn on my needles!

“I see knitting as art, as viable as any other, and no matter what the tool or preferred palette, in human hands, magic happens.” ~Jane Thornley


My Taos Wrap

Inspired by the rich colors and textural landscape of Taos, NM, I started this wrap at the Jane Thornley knitting retreat I attended there last September. If you’d like to read about my journey there, I wrote about it here, here and here.

Fully intending to complete my creation once I returned home to New England, I found that life kept pulling me away from this particular set of circular needles. It was only after I moved into my new home permanently and life settled around me that I could wrap myself into this project once again.

Worked from wrist to wrist with a series of increases and then decreases, I felt like I was climbing a mountain – up, up, up, resting for a bit on the peak and enjoying the view, and then down the other side. In my case, I made the descent side of the “mountain” symmetrical yarn-wise to the ascent. Where I started out intuitively reaching for the next ball of yarn, I retraced those color choices for the second half of the wrap, a balance of right brain and then left brain thinking. After completing my descent and binding off, I sewed small sleeves starting at each wrist.

As you can see, my wrap can be worn quite long. Alternately, I can always bunch it up for a shorter, bulkier wrap. I prefer wearing it in its full length glory. And with a flower sprouting from my head!

In wearing it a couple of times already, I have discovered that a shawl pin would help it stay on my shoulders more securely. I’m still considering whether I’d like to make one of polymer clay or bead embroidery. What do you think?

I’ve already started another free-range knitting project – a Winter Woods vest, inspired by Jane Thornley’s Winter Forest Evocative Guide and my Sunday hikes in a nearby wood. Here’s a peek at what’s on my needles.

There’s something so magical about blending colors with yarn. Mmmm…

What project are you working on?

Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you. All the other tangible rewards will come as a result.

~Maya Angelou

Color Inspiration

In my continuous quest to find and connect with other artists who drench their lives in color and beads, I have discovered a beady kindred spirit, Beverly Ash Gilbert.

Wandering around the web, I stumbled upon a blurb about the release of Beverly’s new book, Beaded Colorways: Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes.

A rich title full of words I love: color, freeform, beads, palettes.

After excitedly purchasing her book, I went on an internet journey to find out all I could about this artist who loves color and freeform beadwork as much as I.

Inspired by the colors of nature in her northwest home, Beverly creates what she calls “bead soups”, mixes of seed beads, gemstones and pearls in variations of a hue. Mmmmmm, just the combination of those 2 words evokes yummy and juicy to me so I know that I’m on the right path, the path of rich becoming. Beverly goes on to create art jewelry pieces using these “bead soups”, transitioning from one “soup” to another in a beautiful flow of color. Take a look at the gorgeous pieces in her gallery.

In my own freeform approach, I choose a color palette inspired by nature.

a sunrise

an autumn walk in the woods

and then create patches of color (from that palette) that weave over and around each other.

Beverly has inspired me to expand how I look at my color choices and enhance my work with my own “bead soups”. Even though her clear writing and instruction speaks to all levels of beading experience, I find that it is ideal for someone like me who already has a fairly large bead stash for mixing and blending.

A New England winter palette threads its way through the fiber of my being these days, evidenced by my latest knitting creations.

and the beads I chose on my birthday bead store excursion.

Hmmmm, yes, winter….but look….peeks of spring here and there.

I think it’s time for another freeform bracelet.

What inspires you at this cold, muted color time of year?

The color of springtime is in the flowers, the color of winter is in the imagination. ~Ward Elliot Hour

Taos Journey – Last Day

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The last day. So final.

This is the day that you find yourself trying to fit in everything that you wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to on all of the other days. So, it turned into a “bits” day – a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

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A little bit of knitting.

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A little bit of walking around the grounds, poking in and out of all of the wonderful nooks and crannies of Mabel’s house.

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Here’s the door to that fabulous doorway.

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A little bit more shopping. There’s Dad relaxing while we buy more yarn at Weaving Southwest.

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A nice scenic drive for a little bit of picture taking.

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Relaxing in the living room.

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And the sitting room.

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I sure will miss this wild, beautiful land.

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted any photos of my shrug yet. Weeeelllll…it is almost done with just the sleeve seams to be sewn and the little yarn ends to be woven.

Stay tuned for the “ta-da” moment of my Taos Shrug!

It is not a country of light on things.

It is a country of things in light.

~Georgia O’Keeffe (on New Mexico)


Taos Journey – Day 2

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Every morning we carefully stepped our way across the cobblestones to the workroom where we  settled down in our own individual cozy spot, picked up our pointy sticks and let the yarn flow from them in colors that spoke to us of the gorgeous Taos landscape.

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Jane showed us various stitches that would aid us in manifesting our impressions and made suggestions on what would work well with the different yarns that each of us had chosen for our project.

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Many of the participants chose to create a Feather and Fan wrap which starts at the bottom and blossoms open across circular needles to the top. I chose to create a shrug which is worked side to side, from one wrist to the other, increasing to the center and then decreasing down the other side.

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Perhaps you might have noticed the smiling man in the upper left hand corner of the workroom? A few of the ladies smuggled him in one evening. He is a cardboard man. They named him “Ford”, perhaps because it rhymes with “board”? Anyway, he looked pretty good modeling Jane’s shrug.

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After lunch on our second day, we were invited to go see a recently constructed straw bale home. I know, I know. I was scratching my head at first, too. Wha?? The concept is really neat though. The Taos climate is arid enough to allow for straw bales to be used inside the walls of the constructed home. It’s a superior insulation material. The walls are plastered over the bales in an adobe style and a window is placed along an inner wall showing the straw inside. You can read more about this kind of home construction here. Fascinating.

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One of the houses was located on a windswept plain, literally in the middle of nowhere and completely “off the grid”. This is their front yard. How amazing is that?!! I was simply mesmerized in learning about this way of living, so much the opposite of  my own suburban environment back home.

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A secret garden.

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On the way out to the house, we passed the Earthship community of sustainable and unique biotecture housing and drove across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, spanning the 650 feet deep gorge. Sweaty palms on that bridge, I’ll tell you.

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We finished the day with a sumptuous feast at a fabulous restaurant called Lamberts. If you only had one eating place to choose in Taos, it has to be this one. The food was beyond delicious and the service was impeccable. I had the potato leek soup with crème fraiche and chives, served hot, and the marinated roasted beet salad on greens with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. The meat eaters of our group enjoyed the grilled Filet Mignon with horseradish crème, steak fries and grilled asparagus. I had to try their dessert, too, oh twist my arm – a warm apple & almond crisp with white chocolate ice cream. I wish that I had taken pictures of the feast but I was just so enthralled by my food that I completely forgot.

If you’re ever in Taos, it’s simple – treat yourself and go to Lamberts.

Stay tuned for more Taos adventures…