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Winter reaches us on the Bristol Downs

Hi! Happy be-lated New Year!

Yes, it has  been a long time since I posted. I’ll skip the excuses and get on to the goods.

So remember I’d been knitting several gifts for friends/family for Christmas? Well, here are the pictures I have of those. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of all of them before I wrapped them up. But as the French say, tant pis!

I’m sorry the lighting isn’t so good for some of these. I do the best with what I got.

Mittens and a matching tam (not pictured) for Momma in Choclate, by Deborah Norville. They match the scarf I made for her last winter — my first ever knitting project. Isn’t that sweet? I’m a married woman but I still like to make things for my Mom in the hopes that she’ll put them on the fridge.

Why yes, that is a Melanie Fallick pattern from her delicious book Weekend Knitting. The pattern was straight forward (my kind of project) and the final product looked pretty darn good for my first pair of mittens — another box to tick. I made another pair for my bro-in-law’s gf out of Wensleydale wool in Oatmeal. Unfortuantely I don’t have a picture of those, but i can tell you they were lovely and neutral and super warm because I lined them with fleece. I used a little bit of the leftover yarn for the strip in my hubby’s hat, pictured  below.

Next here’s the hat I knitted for my fella. I used the wool I bought when we were on our honeymoon in Maine. (I subsequently accidentally deleted all of our pictures from that trip, so little momentos like this are pretty special, if you know what I mean).  It’s spun by the last living Shakers in the world  from their community at Sabbathday Lake. And yes, we did go to a Shaker community on our honeymoon.

It’s warm and wooly with 2×2 ribbing. It’s a basic man hat. No frills. They like it that way.

Isn’t he cute? And the scenery’s not bad either. This was on our sledding day. England in the snow at Christmas is so ridiculously picturesque and nostalgic. We’re talking Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Last but not least, another man hat for my new bro-in-law. J’s got the crazy personality to pull of a slightly slouchy hat (though in this pic it looks like it fits him pretty snuggly). The yarn is ” Linus” by Knit One Crochet Too. They do a whole range of colors specifically designed for men. Isn’t that cool? I love the orange gradations splashed into the manly pine color.

Here he is rocking it.

And yes, that is a pet rat in his lap. Isn’t he adorable? His name is Mango and it makes me sad that he’s way over in NC while we’re in England.

How did y’all’s knitted gifts turn out? Did your peeps like them?

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Here it is — my brand new, first ever plarn creation! The design is based on Vickie Howell’s eco lunch bag from her book AwareKnits.  It’s just one of many great ideas from her book for the eco-conscious (and, I might add, time conscious) knitter and crocheter.

All in all, it took about a day of working off and on to complete it.  I added the last row of orange to the handles yesterday before breakfast.  It was a good one day project, but for someone who’s more comfortable working with yarn made from plastic bags, it could easily be done in a couple of hours.

There’s a sense of fun and novelty involved in crocheting with plarn that reminds me of those crafts we used to do as kids. (You know when we used to sit in those miniature chairs at those tiny, shellacked tables, sticky from the Elmers glue of past crafts, and decorate our paper plate masks, or some such project, with glitter and pipe cleaners? The messier the better.)

Making plarn is easy enough: you just flatten a plastic bag, fold it into a long strip about an inch or two wide, snip off the end and handles, then cut the strip into one inch pieces.

Cutting off handles.

Cutting the bag into 1" strips

Now unfold the pieces (which are now big plastic circles) and link them together so that they form a long chain. Wind them up into a ball.

More instructions about making plarn here.

Stitching up  definitely takes a little getting used to. I recommend only using plastic bags of similar thicknesses. You can see where I included plarn from a large, white, heavy-duty plastic bag. Not only was it thicker than the rest of the plarn (you can see how it bulges out), but it got to be rather painful to work with.  I cut it off after just two rounds because I couldn’t take the rubbing anymore.  In the end, I think it makes a niceish band to match the orange one, but I don’t think I’d crochet with it again.

In any case, I hope you enjoy!

With temperatures climbing into the 80s here in Bristol, I can’t believe I’ve chosen such a hot day in May to post these pics of the winter hat and cowl combo I began back in January. It’s just like me to talk about a winter knitting project in this kind of heat.

Even so, this variation on the simple knitted hat with rim (kind of like this one by Deborah Anne, only I knitted mine in the round) is stylish and cozy enough to make even the most vitamin D-starved sun-worshipper long for those winter months when they can pull this cap down over their ears.  Knitted with Araucania’s lush Azapa wool, hand-dyed by fairly-compensated local women in the mountains of Chile, this earthy moss color can dress up a drap outfit or blend in with other neutral colors.  And did I mention this wool is super soft? It’s the perfect Christmas gift or late fall birthday present, and now’s the time to start knitting up a whole slew of them.

First, let me just say, I adore this yarn.  It’s soft, multi-toned and complex, and it’s the perfec choice for a chunky wool that doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a sheep on your head. However, this yarn likes its static electricity. So as a novice knitter it was a bit tricky trying to tame the hairy, clingy bits, especially when I had to tink a few times (first time using circular needles).  I probably wouldn’t use this yarn for a more complicated pattern with several repeats, because I had to be careful when frogging not to let it get knotted up. Of course, having said that I have a friend who’s knitting a shell lace stitch scarf with this yarn and hasn’t had any problems. So it must just be me. I like easy knitting jobs that use nice, tractable yarns.

Still, I will definitely be using this yarn again for simple patterns. The beauty of Araucania is that a simple pattern compliments the lovely tone and textures of the wool, while a complicated pattern could detract from it.

I made the cowl neck out of the leftover yarn from the hat (150grams for both) and sewed on a couple giant buttons for detail.  I didn’t follow a pattern, just knitted a simple rectangular piece on #13s.  Since these pictures were taken, I’ve added a second button, lending more versatility to the piece. I wear the pair together or each on its own.  Actually, I rarely get to wear the hat at all, since the boy keeps nabbing it!

Ignore the red eyes! 😛

And here it is on the boy on Hadrian’s wall.

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"The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate -- it is life, intensified, brilliant life." ~ Alain Arias-Misson

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