30 March 2010

yarn + needles

I can remember reading somewhere that when a serious knitter (and what knitter isn't?) is involved in a project the first thing he or she will do in the morning is pick up the needles. The rest of the day will of course unfold, ending with a few moments on the sofa before bed, perhaps with a cup of tea, also with yarn and needles. In this way knitting seems to bookend our lives.

Some people might not understand this. They might jump the gun and think we have no lives, just a handful of cats. But I couldn't go without my knitting.

Right now the project I'm working on is a familiar one. A simple pair of socks. I have the pattern memorized. I'm knitting the socks for someone else, so really it's a free-stitch-for-all. I knit and try to imagine the dimensions of her foot, given the elasticity of this hand spun yarn I should complete this project somewhere in the ball park.

The mind is elastic too. When I knit something simple, my fingers follow the pattern and my mind unravels, thinking about the day behind me or the day ahead. Or perhaps, even, nothing at all.

I just count stitches or give thanks for this moment of peace and beautiful wool.

FYI : this is Crosby Hill's tiger trout colorway spun single ply fingering weight.

21 March 2010

zen mind/knitter's mind

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."
Shunryo Suzuki-Roshi

The more I knit, the more I think I know about knitting.

An interesting occurrence happened on my last knitting project. Before I cast on for this baby sweater I merely glanced over the pattern, checking yarn weight and needle size. It looked simple enough, all garter stitch, knit in pieces and sewn together.

I just assumed the daintily rolled edges at the cuffs and hem would occur naturally as I knit the sweater up. I mean, rolled edges had happened before, when I didn't want them - so they would happen now, easy enough.

It's pretty common for me to start and stop at the beginning of a project. Tear out stitches and maybe switch needles for a better gauge.

With this pattern I knew there was something wonky with the hem from the get-go, but I kept on knitting.

This pattern calls for the use of two different needle sizes over the entire course of the pattern, smaller for the hem and cuffs, larger for the body. I assumed that since I was going through the motions that everything would turn out.

I assumed that I knew what I was doing, after all, the pieces were coming together nicely, but the hems and the cuffs were not forming dainty little rolls. And, after looking more closely at the picture that went along with this particular pattern, I decided that the dainty little rolls were vital to the final outcome.

So, dear reader, I sat down, got a little humble and reread the pattern like I did when I first began knitting, with a close eye and an open mind and a bit of a stomachache, actually.

And you know what I discovered: purl stitch. I was purling that darn stitch on the wrong side of the pattern. Purl it one way and you get a dumb, bland cuff like a board, purl it another way and you get a decadent little curl.

Don't worry, I didn't have to go back to the beginning and rip everything out. I merely knit the pattern the right way to finish the pieces and added a purled fringe to the hem at the very end when I had the entire sweater sewn together.

I think I'll keep the curiosity and the openness of a beginning knitter close to heart from now on.

I found these copper buttons in my grandmother's button jar. Some of them are starting to turn blue-green, a perfect complement for the hues in this sweater.

P.S. This colorway is called Underfoot, from Crosby Hill Farm's own hand dyed CVM romeldale top, and this pattern comes from Melanie Falick's Weekend Knitting : Baby's Pure and Simple Cardigan by Lana Hames. (Make sure to read the pattern carefully.)

20 March 2010


Our first lamb of the season, born in the early hours of the morning last week.

One of a trio of triplets, but I couldn't get the other two to pose in front of the backdrop I'd set up. In fact, one of them sucked on my wrist the entire time I snapped these shots. He's got the right intention, but the wrong species and location.

We're calling this little lamb Capri. I hope she's as steady and calm as her namesake suggests.

16 March 2010


The only snow to be found here is hidden in the shadows, tucked into the corners of the forest beyond the reach of the low winter sun.

I went for a walk in the woods yesterday with the dogs and discovered what has been hidden underfoot by the winter snow.

The color palette of the woods is subdued. The silvery brown of last years oak leaves blends with spongy black earth and the russet of acorn shells. The bright berries of October, the scarlets, magentas and oranges, are muted and faded.

In some places on the paths there are patches of fine silver mesh. At first glance this phenomenon looks like spider webs or frost, but on closer inspection one realizes this is all that is left of the leaves of the milkweed plant -- fine silver tendrils -- and soon even this will be absorbed into the soil or swept away by a brisk spring wind.

This colorway was inspired by the experience of the dormant spring forest. I carefully muted all of my dye colors with gray before I added them to my pot of CVM romeldale top. The top beneath the dye was already gray, so the resulting single-ply sport weight yarn is muted and subtle.

The color in these pictures is actually popping more than I expected. It must be the white background.

This pattern is from Melanie Falick's Weekend Knitting, titled Baby's Pure & Simple Pullover and Cardigan. I'm making the cardigan, but adjusting the pattern for an asymmetrical alignment of the buttons down the front. I'm leaning toward wooden or leather buttons at the moment.

This yarn is so soft and pliable -- a perfect spring sweater-coat for a baby.

P.S. Check out our fiber for sale under the link "cvm fiber for sale" on the right side bar.

05 March 2010


The winter sun sure does look good on this hand painted yarn, doesn't it?

I love the streaks of bright blue and rose. My mom and I painted this yarn yesterday morning. Shepherd's Harvest must be just around the corner, because my parents' household is a flurry of activity that revolves around fiber.

I haven't been much help this season.

My mom's the one who's cleaned all of her fleeces and packed them off to be washed and combed. Look for a new combination of wool and mohair from Crosby Hill Farm this year at the festival.

Here's another color combination that's all my mom. I don't know what she's calling it yet, but I've already pirated twelve ounces of it to make something for myself. I'm of spinning it double-ply, worsted weight and knitting it into a cute little cardigan with some flashy buttons.

Something to knit this summer and snuggle into this fall.
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