Heritage Freedom Cap

I haven’t done Fair Isle for a good bit and my recent creations have all been two-color projects. This six-color creation was a blast to knit. On size 4 and 5 needles it moved right along. The pattern and the kit are the brainchild of Heritage Spinning and Weaving in Lake Orion. I caught up with them at last weekend’s Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan–speaking of having a blast. I purchased this pattern at the festival, kitted up with Michigan’s own Stonehedge Fiber Mill‘s worsted weight Shepherd’s Wool.

The keen-eyed among you, and actually you don’t need that keen eye, will see that I goofed on the last color round of decreases at the crown. I saw it happening but couldn’t quite bring myself to try to remedy it. By then handling the double points was getting quite fiddly.  I convinced myself it wasn’t going to be all that noticeable. Obviously, it is though. But how often does the very top of someone’s head get inspected anyway? Oh. I should mention that when I make a goof in a pattern and don’t rip it out I often keep the item for myself rather than gift it away. Maybe that’s why I let the non-prideful Amish knitter in me take over.  (Mere mortals shouldn’t make perfect stuff.) Because I really do like this cheerful hat. And it is sized large enough to fit my pumpkin head.

The designer says it’s named the “Freedom” cap because the center panel motif resembles a butterfly. Butterflies are  no more  free than moths, black flies and garden slugs, but we get the reference. Sweet hat. Fun knit.

“Pure Michigan” Bear

“Pure Michigan” Bear is knitted of soft merino Shepherd’s Wool from Stonehedge Farm and Fiber Mill of  East Jordan,Michigan. His skin is knitted in their Milk Chocolate color and his sweater is knitted in Creamsicle. This guy, who I named Lansing to honor Michigan’s state capitol, is stuffed with unspun wool from the Frankenmuth (Michigan) Woolen Mill.

I’ve had Joan C. Haigh’s and Patricia Wulff ‘s “Best Friend Bear”  pattern in my stash since it was first published in Interweave Knits, Winter 99/00. The pattern was also included in Interweave Knits Holiday 2006 edition. The opportunity to knit for a local hospice silent auction seemed a good time to finally cast on. He’s knitted flat–in only three pieces. Lansing’s sweater is Beth Brown Reinsel’s Sampler Gansey from her book Knitted Ganseys. It’s a teeny-sized, full feature gansey, complete with underarm gussets. The neck needed modification to accommodate Lansing’s pumpkin head, though.

Nice snout. Cute round belly. You gotta love those cheeks.  And his butt is cute too. You’ve seen the “after” photo, with Lansing sitting in his garden, among the Creeping Jenny. Next is his “before” photo.  This photo would frighten Lansing, but he doesn’t read my blog so it’s OK.

Illusion Knitting

catIllusion knitting is the trickster technique of the knitting world.  It can’t be new.  Nothing can really be new in knitting, can it?  But my first experience of it was  knitting Elizabeth Fallone’s Shadow Spider Scarf in Shelridge Farm’s worsted weight yarn.   Knitters would say that yarn has a wonderful hand. I knitted most of the Spider Scarf while Steve and I stayed at Insel Haus on Michigan’s Bois Blanc Island during a weekend in January.  We were the only guests at Christa and Shelby Newhouse’s wonderful rambling B & B.  Christa is a master knitter and regularly teaches or hosts knitting retreats at Insel Haus.  We lucked out and were able to take a ferry over from Cheboygan.  The winter was mild.  The Straits of Mackinac hadn’t yet frozen.  Someone on the island needed a piece of heavy equipment so we hitched a ride with it.  Had to charter a small plane to get back though.  That was an interesting flight, flying unpleasantly low over the waves.

So, the way you knit an illusion is you trick the eye with alternating contrasting  colors knitted (and purled) in sets of four rows.  When you look straight at the scarf, you see what looks like somewhat messy garter stitch.  But look at it at with your eyes scanning its length and the motif appears.  In Fallone’s pattern, the illusion motif is big spiders creeping the length of the scarf.  Debbie Stoller’s  edgy first “Stitch ‘n Bitch” handbook contains Shetha Nolke’s cool Alien Illusion Scarf.  You knit, and pretty soon Roswell type alien heads appear, big dark eye sockets and all.  Here, in Donna Druchunas’s Hidden Cat Scarf, it’s cat faces that emerge.  Fun stuff, this knitting.  My version of the cat scarf is knit using Michigan’s own Stonehedge Farm Shepherd’s Wool, soft merino wool spun in East Jordan, Michigan.  That’s on the sunset side of the state, not the sunrise side closest to Long Lake.  Still good Michigan wool.  I’ll imagine some of the sheep grow their wool on the sunrise side.  Could be.  Could be.