Thursday, August 27, 2009

peanut gallery

the vendor gallery for crafty bastards 2009 is up! check out the talented group of guys and gals who'll be there with this chickadee and dandelion blu on october 3rd. here's the chickadee contribution:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

i'm like a bird

as promised, here is the second in the set of lovely lace shawl/scarves that were made with one single skein of yarn. it is the swallowtail by lace knitting master evelyn clark and it is delightful (note: the pdf pattern is free! and you can get it here). three different sections of lace combine to make a shoulderette that is challenging to knit but well worth it. the photos barely begin to do the design justice.

this is actually a second attempt at the pattern. the first one was made at the beginning of the summer and the start of this lace/triangle/shawl/scarf craze. at the time it was so daunting that there was no other choice than to rip it out and put it away for a while. but practice makes (close enough to) perfect and when half of this beautiful blue-green ball of yarn was left-over from the lavalette, know the rest...

below is a detail of the most challenging section, know to knitters as the dreaded nupps. they are basically like little knots or puffs of yarn. the construction is a bit difficult to explain. but it is one of those things that is simple in theory and tricky in execution. some people abandon the project all together because of them. there was definitely a moment where i wondered if they were really worth the effort. they made the knitting very slow going when all i wanted to do was sprint to the finish. but in the end, they made the finished product even more interesting with the added texture they provided.

so there you have it! one skein of yarn, two very different and very lovely little lacy pieces.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

deja two

880 yards of lace-weight merino doesn't look like a lot in the skein...but it sure starts to feel like a lot after five minutes of winding. as the swift goes round and round, so does the mind and you start to wonder just what you will do with all of that fiber. all of that gorgeous, twinkling, teal fiber. well of course it wants to be a triangular shawl. in this case, it turned out to be two.

exhibit a:

the lavalette by kristen kapur

worked with size 6 needles (not the recommended 7's), the chickadee version of the lavalette is more of a kerchief than a shawl or scarf. it is little, light and lofty. the perfect accessory to have on hand as summer winds down and relief starts to fill the evening air.

yarn introductions are in order as well. the 880 lb. yarn gorilla is totally teal merino lace yarn from beyond basic knits. you can also find her on etsy where she's known as knittindiva. she's a local dyer based in good old arlington, va. two super enthusiastic thumbs up for this yarn that two projects were made out of. it was so lovely to work with that the second project was cast-on immediately after binding off this one. the color is a gorgeous blend of blues and greens that subtly change to add highlight and interest to the finished fabric.

tomorrow you'll meet the fraternal twin.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

this just in...

new knitting project bags have arrived at fibre space in alexandria! along with a boatload of fabulous fiber from makers like malabrigo and blue sky alpacas. fibre space is now stocked with a brand spanking new shipment of yummy yarns, but they probably won't stick around the shelves for long so get in there before they get away.

here are the new bags:

these were a sweet little treat to make. vintage cottons are the favorite fabric here a chickadee central. so you should expect to see more where these came from sometime soon. and if you want to slip your knits into something more comfortable than your average project bag, fibre space is the place to visit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

coal miner's granddaughter

my mom was born a coal miner's daughter. in a company house, on a hill in yatesboro, pa. her father, my grandpa, was more than a miner. he was an excellent carpenter, shoemaker, storyteller, fly fisherman and a gardener among many other things. he played the guitar and sang with my gramma on the side porch swing of the house that he built. hard-working, honest, fair and wise beyond the few years of classroom education that he memories of him have taken on mythical qualities. i'll never forget his strength. when he hugged you he could squeeze the air right out of your lungs. after a series of heart attacks, that strength began to wain but the twinkle in his eye never faded.

i was thinking of him as i worked on this project, the onerva by särmä, a finnish designer (ravelry link here). it was a tricky pattern to learn, the fact that it was written in finnish being but one difficulty. for some reason, it never seemed to sink in. and there was much ripping and restarting and a point where it came very close to being put down and put away. but then i thought about my grandfather, and how he would never give up. he'd tinker and toy with things until he found a way to make them work. and that's just what happened. finally it came together and made sense and started to grow into something beautiful. no coincidence that as it grew, the color became more palpable. the slate gray resembling shale, like the walls of my grandpa's underground office. the color that he found himself surrounded by on a daily basis, for hours upon hours.

this is my favorite of them all. because it gave me hours to sit and think about a man who was such an important part of my life and who continues to be an inspiration. he passed away several years ago, so no more bone crushing hugs...just the soft drape of a carbon colored scarf around the neck to remind me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

scarf stories

speaking of travel, this chickadee recently wrapped up a cute little custom order that was sparked by some sightseeing souvenirs. caitlin c. contacted chickadee central about making some pillows from scarves that she'd collected during some recent adventures. what a great idea! and what a fun project too. here's what we came up with:

the two gray pillows in the background are 20" square. she had four of these scarves so the pillows are the same front and back, fully lined with a zipper closure at the bottom. the other three scarves were one of a kind. they are 18" squares backed with natural denim and have an envelope style closure. there was enough material on two of them to add a little bit of flair to the overlapping sections.

thanks caitlin for entrusting me to make something out of the beautiful things that you collected! hope that they brighten your space and remind you of the wonderful places you've well as provide comfort and cushion when you need a rest from wandering.

Monday, August 17, 2009

airport insecurity

this chickadee is back from bavaria with tales to tell of bier and all of its curious cola combinations. but first a tale of woe from the final day of travel...the day that the security personel at the munich airport said "nein" to the knitting needles packed in my carry-on. the needles that had already passed happily through u.s. airport security and accompanied me in cramped conditions on the way east. the ones that were full of stitches from two different projects. the stitches that had been lovingly slipped, knit and purled over serval days. the same stitches that were ripped off and left to fend for themselves when their companions were confiscated.

knitters out there know that there is no better way to while away the airborne hours than to pack a ball of yarn and some sticks no sharper than your average ball point pen. travel with this calming cocktail of fiber and implement is certainly tricky. cleared in one airport, contraband in another. what's a poor purler to do, but to try to pick up the dropped stitches and pick up where you left off. or in some cases, bid "auf wiedersehen" to hours upon hours of lace knitting and start anew.

here's the one that was salvaged. finished up post-flight with some spare needles and a cargo load luck. it is another version of the lovely ishbel scarf from ysolda teague. knit with yarn from local crafter woolarina, a super lucious blend of merino and cashmere. there wasn't quite enough in one skein to finish off the scarf, so i stopped short and used just a bit of malabrigo worsted to bind-off.

as for its freund, it may be many moons before we see her again...

Monday, August 3, 2009

this bird has flown

bis später meine freunde!