Saturday, July 9, 2016

Hot Time for Cool-Weather Knitting

It’s steamy here in the Carolinas.  Last Friday night, I returned from Arizona, where the weather wasn't any better. Monsoon season has taken hold, so heavy rain and sky-scraper-high streaks of lighting (particularly impressive when viewed with the jagged Santa Rita mountain range as a backdrop), filled the skies, when the sun wasn't searing the landscape.  But I spent most of my time there indoors with my mother, who doesn't care to venture too far from home, especially when temperatures are over 100 degrees.  I found lots of time for knitting.  It seems strange that I have been busy working on all sorts of warm-weather projects, when my thoughts should be turning to beaches and swimming pools, not cozy cowls and shawls.

This Day of the Dead fellow is keeping cool in a shop in Tubac, Arizona, a nearby town my mother and I visited when we braved the elements.   

But the last few months have been unusual anyway.  In mid-June, after a spring spent teaching high school English during the day and taking real estate pre-licensing classes at night, I took and passed my real estate exam.  So now I am in a holding pattern, eager to get started with a new career, but just emerging from months spent living at a frenetic pace.  So maybe it’s good I have had some relatively idle time away and that the weather is hot, it’s a slow holiday week, and I have time to knit and rest.  



The pattern for my Biltmore Gardens cowl may be purchased on Ravelry or at your local yarn shop.  


Since my last post I have worked on several cowls.  Two of them are my own designs.  I have published the pattern for my Biltmore Gardens cowl on Ravelry, but I need to find a test-knitter for my King Street cowl (or knit another cowl using this pattern myself) to make certain that the math is correct.  With months of calculating square footage, net operating income, changes in profit and equity, etc., I can, however, say with certainty that my math skills have been honed a bit with practice, so if I choose to be my own test knitter, I think I can check my calculations with accuracy.  I also have three new inexpensive calculators to assist me!  (Didn’t want to be unprepared during my licensing exam!) 
The yarn used for my King Street cowl is hand-dyed by Debbie Davis, a local shop-owner.  The yarn
is "Fifty Shades of Gradient" in the Desert Sunset colorway.  This picture was taken a few weeks ago,
before the hot weather set in.  




I also completed the Delilah cowl designed by Louisa Harding, using her Noema yarn. I’ve made two sweaters with this yarn, so I had enough leftover in my stash to make the small two-skein version.  I began this project on my flight to Tucson and sewed in the ends a few days after I’d arrived.  I really shouldn’t have cast on anything new in June, as the works in progress situation at my house has reached a bit of a crisis point—in terms of space these items occupy and their ability to pull my already multi-tasked-to-the-max brain in different directions, but I couldn’t bring myself to haul my bigger unfinished items on the plane.  A worsted-weight merino sweater or oversized Shetland shawl requiring 18 skeins of different-colored yarn just seemed too hot and bulky to take with me to the desert.  So I left them home and once I’d finished the Delilah cowl, I cast on a shawl from Kate Davies’ new The Book of Haps, an accessory which only requires two modest, carry-on friendly balls of Fiberspates Vivacious yarn.  Davies’ book comes with a code for a digital download, so I could view the pattern on my iPad and didn’t have to lug the volume with me.  The beginning of the book with its historical information about haps and the role of the knitting industry in Shetland made for interesting reading while I was in the air en route home.  The historical photos, as well as the engaging images of haps designed by a variety of individuals, included in the book also provided an appealing distraction from dwelling on the monsoon-induced turbulence. 


The Delilah Cowl by Louisa Harding is perfect to wear in springtime, but the weather in North Carolina is to hot for wearing it in the summer.  

I particularly found the author’s discussion of the term hap informative.  I first heard the word last spring, in the context of a conversation about a trip to the Shetland Islands I am planning for next summer.  A well-traveled woman, who is part of our Shetland group, mentioned Gudrun Johnson’s design for a “hap shawl.”  Ironically, providing ample proof for the Baeder-Meinhof Phenomenon, since I’ve first heard the term hap that day, it now seems to be turning up everywhere, most notably in Davies' recently published book, which provides an explanation of the etymology and meaning of the word.  The author notes how hap is often used to describe a fairly humble and serviceable garment, while shawl is reserved for lighter, lacier, more formal items—think wedding shawl or Christening wrap.  Hap, too, has its origin in a verb meaning “to enfold, to cover, to wrap,” so it’s appropriate that the word is used to refer to a practical garment, not merely a decorative one (Davies 7). 




Hap or shawl, I have two on my needles.  The Renaissance Crescent using 18 different colors of Jamieson’s and Smith’s Shetland Yarn which waited patiently at home for me to return from the Southwest and the Uncia hap, cast-on while I was away.  Once I finish the final sleeve of a sweater, I’ll get back to these. As I sit in the air conditioning, looking out the window at my fading flowers and patchy brown grass, I envision winter days wrapped in the warmth of these creations.  
This is the start of the Uncia Hap, an asymmetrical accessory.  


This is a detail from the Renaissance Crescent shawl.  
The pattern for this shawl instructs the knitter to knit back and forth in rows, but I am working in the round and
using a steek.  "Sticky" Shetland yarn is perfect for steeking, and I don't enjoy purling while doing colorwork.


  
I finished this project in June and had to share.  This is the Fala sweater made using Berroco Indigo
yarn made from recycled fiber.

This is one more project I completed in June, the felted Scholar's Cap, something Thomas Cromwell might have worn.  I made this for good friend Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse.  Check out her gorgeous and inspiring blog HERE.