Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Tree

I got busy yesterday and forgot all about blogging, so there goes my month of blogging everyday.  Oh, well.

Today was the day to put up my Christmas tree.  I bought a tree from a local tree farm, Donovan's, in the silent auction at the Benton County Democrats holiday party last week.  I've gotten my tree from Donovan's the last couple years, so when I saw it in the auction, I pounced.  This afternoon I drove out there to pick out my tree.  It's a 6 foot noble fir.

I had a moment of thinking it was too pretty a tree to spoil with decorations, maybe I'd just admire it au naturel for the next couple weeks.  

After giving it a couple hours inside to dry off,  I decorated it.  Isn't it pretty?

I think it came out really nice, and it's even prettier with the lights off, though that's hard to photograph.

And no, I haven't finished that tree skirt yet.  It needs a few more rows, hopefully I'll finish it tomorrow.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hawaiian Petroglyph Sweater

In yesterday's post I talked about how I love petroglyphs and was inspired to knit designs based on Hawaiian Petroglyphs. The coasters I put up weren't my first version of petroglyphs - this was:

I designed and knit a fairly traditional Fair Isle sweater, except the patterns are all petroglyphs. I used Alice Starmore's Scottish Campion yarn. This was back in the mid-to-late-90's and I used her Book of Fair Isle Knitting to guide my design.  

At the time I was a graduate student in Physical Oceanography at Oregon State University. A lot of the sweater was knit onboard the R/V Wecoma, during the 13 GLOBEC LTOP cruises I worked on. As a graduate student, I usually got the really desirable shifts, like midnight to 8am. I'd have to deploy the CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth sensor), which would have to be lowered slowly through the water column, to near the bottom or 1000m if the ocean was deeper than 1000m. The 1000m CTD casts would take an hour or more of staring at slowly changing conductivity, temperature, and depth lines on the computer monitor (at 3am no less). I referred to these as "knittin' casts" and would work on this sweater while watching the lines.

I have 20+ pages of graph paper with the petroglyphs drawn out on them, cuz heaven forbid I repeat patterns. Some of the petroglyphs recur in multiple places on the sweater, but not in the same order. The only repetitive parts are my version of peeries - the small pattern bands in Fair Isle sweaters. I have two types of peeries. One line is petroglyph men, the other is sea turtles. There was serious counting of stitches involved in this sweater.

I may someday release a design that's a simpler version with repeating patterns. I figure no one but OCD me would have knit this one. I am still quite proud of it though, and wish it still fit. I really need to go on a diet, so I can wear this sweater again if for no other reason. One year I did some hats for Xmas presents using the left over yarn and charted petroglyphs - maybe I'll write up and release a version of that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hawaiian Petroglyph Coasters

I’ve always been fascinated by petroglyphs. Friends who’ve traveled with me could tell you tales of being dragged hundreds of miles off the direct route, just so I could see some petroglyphs. Of spending hours following vague directions along dirt roads and hiking trails in search of rock art. Once on a vacation to Hawaii I fell in love with the Hawaiian petroglyphs. I had just learned stranded color knitting and pictured these simple line figures knit up.

These quick and easy coasters are one of the results. They’re a wonderful way to use up worsted weight leftovers. They’re also a great project to learn stranded knitting. Almost any inconsistency in the beginner’s tension will literally come out in the wash when the coaster is felted.

The set includes four designs:


Each of the designs can also be purchased individually.

Pandanus Leaf Fan This design is based on a petroglyph believed to be a fan plaited from pandanus leaves.


Dancing Man This man may be running, but I prefer to think of him as dancing.


Spiky Headed Man This figure of a man with spikes coming out of his head was too fun not to interpret in wool. Is he wearing a helmet? There’s no knowing, but I like him.


Sea Turtle Sea turtles are one of my favorite creatures. They’re so graceful in the water, yet so clumsy on land. And like me, they love to bask in the tropical sun. It’s no wonder the sea turtle was the first petroglyph I interpreted in wool.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Felted Snowflake Coaster Pattern

I just posted a new pattern to Ravelry, a felted snowflake coaster.

Need a last minute handknit gift?  This is a quick and easy knit, taking less than an hour per coaster.  It's a great way to use up any leftover worsted yarn you have in your stash, requiring only 30 yds of the background color and 20 yds of the foreground color per coaster.

It's also a great project to learn Fairisle style stranded knitting.  Any inconsistencies in your tension will literally come out in the wash when you felt the coaster.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Knitting blogs

I follow a ton of knitting blogs.  Here's my list:


Where do you get inspiration for your designs?  Mine comes from all sorts of sources.  Ideas often bounce around in my head for ages before they turn into a knitted object.

I usually visit my public library at least once a week.  Each time I stop by the new book section and see if there are any new knitting books on the shelf.  Usually, like today, the popular new knitting books are checked all out and there's nothing of interest on the shelf.  Well, actually, today there weren't any knitting books in the new section - all checked out!  Knitting's popular in Corvallis :^)

A couple weeks ago I checked out the knitting shelf and stumbled on an amazing book, although it's not about knitting.  British Textiles is 500 pages of amazing photos of textiles from the Victoria and Albert museum.  It's $50, but I might still need my own copy. These are all woven fabrics, not knits, but there is so much inspiration in there.

A lace panel, maybe?

Lace, or cables?

I can see a square lace shawl based on these motifs

Colorwork?  Cables?  Both?

Some combination of colorwork and texture.

Lace? or colorwork?  or a combo of the two?

Definitely cables

Definitely colorwork

I can see this in textured colorwork

These might get interpreted as mosaic patterns
Colorwork  - stranded or mosaic?
Cables in two or more colors?

This book could give me endless ideas.  I've only shown you a small sample.  Never mind the inspiration, it's fun to just turn the pages and admire all the beautiful fabrics.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Latch Hook Santa

I made this guy when I was in high school from a latch hook kit.  I haven't hung him in a few years, but decided he needed to come out this year.  He's about 2.5 feet in diameter.  Here you can see him above my couch to get some scale.

Though I think his bright green kind of clashes with my sofa's seagreen.  Oh well.

I used to be really into latch hook.  I also have a Christmas stocking, about 1.5 feet tall.

Unfortunately, I don't have a mantle to hang it on where I live now, but I think I'll hang it on my wall.

In the same picture box as Santa was this lighthouse latch hook wall hanging that I'd forgotten I had.

It's 3 feet high by 2 feet wide.  I may need to look for a spot in my apartment to hang it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I did some felting today since I had room with a load of towels.

That thumb is still too big.  I''m not sure how I'm going to fix it.

Some snowflake coasters

Some petroglyph coasters

A vase with a mosaic pattern at the top

While it could be used as a wine cozy, the wine bottle is really there to shape the bottom of the vase.  I often find that vases and bowls come out of the washer with really rounded bottoms.  I search through my kitchen for the appropriate sized jar/bottle/tupperware/etc.  to mold the bottom to a nice flat shape.

And lastly, my favorite of the day, another vase

I think this one is going to be really cool after it gets a shave.  It has a tupperware molding it's bottom and a mesh laundry bag full of bean bag pellets pressed inside it to force the sides to round out nice and evenly.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Knitting Lace

Knitting Lace: A Workshop with Patterns and Projects (Threads Books)
One of my favorite knitting books is Knitting Lace by Susanna E. Lewis. 

I first got this book from my library years ago when it was out of print. It was love at first sight, but you couldn't buy the book. I lost the bidding war on Ebay several times. I'd have the highest bid and be continuously hitting refresh. Then someone would outbid me a nanosecond before the auction closed. I finally found a copy on and paid $55 or so for it. Of course, now you can buy it new for $29.95 at Amazon. And if you don't already own it, I recommend you do just that. It's one of the best knitting books I've ever seen.

Susanna Lewis reverse-engineered the lace patterns from a sampler in the Brooklyn Museum. Each of the  92 lace patterns has both a chart and written instructions and a clear notation of the stitch and row counts  for repeats. The book also includes sections on creating your own lace charts, using lace in designs, and the techniques needed for lace knitting.

I taught myself to knit lace from this book by knitting samplers of a lot of the patterns, though not in one 15 foot long piece like the sampler in the book. I did four samplers around 5 or 6 feet long.

I didn't knit every one of the 92 patterns, but I did a lot of them. At the time I was designing a set of lace placemats as a wedding present for a friend, so my choice was somewhat driven by patterns I thought might work well in placemats.  Other patterns got knit just because I liked them.