accidental cowl.

While I was looking for yarn to give to my 8-year-old knitting friend, I came across a ball of Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton — originally intended to be turned into something for my mom a few years ago. Whatever it was — mittens, maybe?– I ripped it out, rewound the stuff into a ball, and tucked it away somewhere.

Anyway, on Sunday I’d come across yet another cute cowl made from this simple pattern by sketchbook, the person behind orange flower yarns, on ravelry. On a whim (and needing an easy knit to take with me to the birthday party), I cast on this cowl for my mom. (She has a wool sensitivity, so everything I make for her is cotton, silk, or bamboo.) Once I started, I really couldn’t stop. You know how it goes sometimes — you can see the progress you’re making, you wonder how much you’ll be able to knit before the ball runs out — and you just keep going.

My mom actually requested an infinity scarf a few weeks ago. It won’t be done for Christmas, but I’ll wrap up the yarn, which she picked out (and which just arrived) — a gorgeous skein of worsted 100% silk from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the Blackbird colorway (thanks to Mick for sharing info about this stuff on her blog several months back). Now she’ll have something small to open that she can actually wear!

It’s funny how once I said out loud that I’m really not knitting any gifts this year, a hat and then a cowl practically flew off my needles. Must be something about not feeling the pressure to knit for other people. I’m going to have to remember this!

I’ll leave you with a sweet shot of Boh:

We woke up yesterday to falling snow. He seemed reluctant to get up for the day, and I don’t blame him. Today I might have turned off the alarm and cuddled with him for an extra half hour.

Today I’m running lots of last minute errands before heading to my parents’ house tomorrow. Not sure what my blogging frequency will be like once I’m there, so just in case: Merry Christmas! Boh and I hope your holidays are filled with (woolly) warmth.

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FO: felicity.

I accidentally finished this hat instead of finishing a book yesterday. Oops! I used Araucania Nature Wool (about 2/3 of a skein), size 6 and 8 needles, and I cast on 90 instead of 70 stitches. And then I followed the pattern. Now, I’m going to show you a picture of me wearing this hat. I don’t think this is the kind of style that works well on short, big hair. Good thing the intended recipient has smooth, shiny hair. So it should work, right? (The other concern I have is that it looks really awkward not on a human head, you know? Too big, and sort of weird. Oh, well. Maybe this will be a test of how well my brother’s girlfriend receives handknits?!)

This hat is poofier than it looks in this picture. Trust me.

Boh was passed out in the background when I was getting ready to take this picture. And then I said, “Are you hungry?” Which was sort of cruel, as it was not yet dinnertime.

There is nothing cuter.

Also, remember how I won amazing peach rum preserves over at Libby’s blog? Well, I dug into one of the jars today, and this stuff is INCREDIBLE. Note to self: make A LOT of boozy peach preserves next summer.

Tomorrow I am going to a dance party. For my favorite (almost) eight-year-old’s birthday. And you know what I’m giving him? Yarn.

I’m told I’ll get to do the Macarena.

(almost) FO: ripe bananas lap blanket.

I say almost because I haven’t blocked this or woven in any of the ends. But I bound off yesterday while taking a break from this paper, and I am in love. I decided to go with a slightly browner shade of grey for the border because the center color seemed a bit too bright next to the red, yellow and brown handspun.  Boh is shedding right now, and the kitchen table was covered with stuff yesterday, so I couldn’t find a good spot to photograph the blanket in full-on square form. I’ll do that soon, so you can see what it looks like unfolded. Thanks to Cosy for a great pattern (coming soon!) and for her knitting advice and support. This rooster can now read a chart written for a round project (yay!) and experienced the bliss of really getting into a lace pattern.

Oh, right. The details: Ripe bananas lap blanket, by Cosy, pattern forthcoming. (I used the pattern as written, save a few purl rows, which I omitted at a few of the yarn transitions.) I used US 7 needles, and a mixture of yarns,  including Brown Sheep Top of the Lamb worsted, handspun targhee (fiber from AVFKW), handspun CVM (fiber from Cosy), handspun shetland singles (fiber from AVFKW), Cascade 220 heathers in a rusty red, handspun corriedale (fiber from Spunky Eclectic), and Cascade Ecowool. The finished size, which I know you can’t see, is a substantial lap blanket — perfect for curling up under while reading for my comprehensive exams.

Happy weekend, folks. Back to writing!

FO: fireside chat.

150 yards of soft, squishy 2-ply BFL from AVFKW. I am so happy with the way this poofed up with washing. Tough to photograph the subtle depth of this colorway — lots of different shades of pinks, some pale purple-y grays, even some taupe. (Not as orange as it looks above.) Even Boh approves.  This is destined to be birthday yarn for my friend H – she’ll get it soon. (I forgot to bring it with me to campus today.)

Gorgeous day today — clear sky, lots of sun. I owe Boh a long walk, so that’s where we’re headed.

FO: windschief #2.

Apparently I shouldn’t  even decrease the crown of a hat before fully completing the day’s first cup of coffee. Part of the way through both the hat and my first mug, I realized that my stitch counts between markers were slightly off. And being mostly pre-coffee, I decided to fake it, and left out a decrease in one section and decreased in a non-decrease row right before the decreases switch from every other row to every row. And on a human head (mine, above), I think any slight wonkiness is hidden by the variegation in the yarn and the general awesomeness of this pattern. So I’m calling it good. We’ll see if I can get some boy-modeled shots to share.

And now, the details. This is the windschief hat by Stephen West, size M, knit in Malabrigo Worsted in the verdeazul colorway, as directed, on size 6 and size 7 needles. I used what looks like half (or slightly more than half) the skein. And at this moment, I’m too lazy to go into the kitchen and weigh it. So you’ll have to trust me on that. Also, this pattern? I still love it.

Alright, time to finish this mug of coffee and get ready for the day. Is it Friday yet?

FO: the second half.

Here’s the rest of the grey alpaca. The top skein (you know, the one closer to the book I should be reading right now), was the softest, highest quality fiber in the bag, and I think you can see the difference when looking at these skeins side-by-side. There’s 70 yards of the softer alpaca, and then another 116 yards of the coarser stuff, bringing the whole lot to 339 yards of light-worsted singles. Can’t wait to see what N. decides to knit out of this stuff!

Last night, after a long day and a dinner of leftovers, we took a break from the kind of work that requires full mental concentration and picked up projects that would allow us to listen to an episode of This American Life. I worked on B’s windschief hat, and I am now ready to start the decreases. He should have a hat to keep him warm by the end of the week. In fact, maybe I’ll knit a few rounds before I tackle the writing I need to do today…

FO: half the grey alpaca.

So this is the first half of the grey alpaca I’m spinning for my friend N., after setting the twist and hanging it to dry. While neither of these mini-skeins is next-to-skin soft, I’m really happy with the halo and the sheen of this yarn. What you’re looking at is about 160 yards. I delivered the first half of the alpaca to N. yesterday afternoon, and decided to work on the second half after dinner last night. One of the remaining bumps of fiber felt softer, so I spun that first. Here’s the bobbin:

I think you can see the difference in the quality. N. told me that she paid five bucks for almost eight ounces of this stuff, which makes sense to me. I think some of this fiber is the “good stuff” from the animal, but I think a lot of it might be the hair from the less prize parts of an alpaca’s coat — like the underbelly, maybe? That would explain the amount of veggie matter in the first two bumps. Here’s the final (larger) bump after separating the fibers a bit with my hands:

I love the depth of color in this picture — such a complex grey. This was coarser, more like the first two skeins. I think singles were the right choice for this yarn — and hey, I’m no longer afraid of alpaca! Maybe I’ll dig out what I’ve got from my very first fiber purchase and try again.

I’m pretty sure that this expression has something to do with the fact that Boh finally understands that there is not an alpaca in the kitchen. Just some yarn hanging to dry.

A few glimpses of the weekend:

Deb’s scalloped tomatoes, made with the last of the season’s farm tomatoes.

After dinner hot chocolate made with dutch cocoa, organic sugar, and milk.

And this morning, I pulled on my down booties when I climbed out of bed in the darkness to make my coffee. I’m ready for daylight savings — I’d rather get up with the sun than rise before her.