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December 2011
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February 2012

Sky Shine


The sky captured my imagination this past week, with its ever changing color and texture. The changing nature has, however, made it difficult to replicate in an orderly way. How on earth am I going to make this scarf look like anything other than a schmatta when I weave in the ends? Blue one day, white, gray, dark gray, med gray, back to shades of blue the next…the beauty of the sky is a little hard to knit. I am not complaining, just commenting. 


Gayle asked to see frequent shots of the scarf as it grows and I will do my best to post the scarf a couple of times a month, both here and on Ravlery.  Some weeks life turns a bit crazy and finding time for pictures of sky or scarf can be diffifcult, but I will try, as long as the sky continues to inspire.


If Kym, Mary, and Amanda can take a moment, so can I.


My head has been elsewhere, my mind not on the blog, or rather, it is on the blog, but lack of picture (due to bad weather and busyness) have conspired to keep me away.

The house has been a jumbled mess, as Smith has been painting the walls.

The crappy picture above is of my favorite piece of furniture (a Japanese table) and a hopeful bunch of forsythia.  I'm excited for the bit of bright yellow to appear.

Kym brought A Month of Letters to my attention and I'm giving it serious consideration.

This month I have given time to reading and have read 5 books (check the sidebar).  In full disclosure, one book I've not quite finished and another I started before years end, but all have been noteworthy. 

Knitting, oh my, knitting. I am knitting and have started more projects than is normal (I do not like WIPs or UFOs), but I'm okay it, even though I'm slow.

I am very, very happy it's Friday.



There was no hesitation on my part when it came to knitting Susan's Infinity Scarf. She's a peep, it was a great pattern, the desire and need came together and the right yarn was there, so with all things in the groove, it had to be.


Admittedly, I had no clue as to why the scarf was called the "Two Ribs Infinity Scarf", other than the obvious two styles of rib. What wasn't apparent, at least to this old brain, was the infinity part! Well, the light bulb went on yesterday morning, which set me to wondering...why did it click at that moment and not when I worked the twisty, seemingly infinite cast on.  Why didn't it click during the infinite hours of entertaining, yet meditative, knitting or, even, the FIRST time I twisted the loop  and put it over my head?

That's it, THAT twist Symbolinfinite, or at least I think it's why. As it turns out, everyone is going to be infinitely envious of my beautiful, soft and cozy scarf because it's truly quite handsome, and totally wearable, warm and lovely.


Susan designed a winner, as I love the way the scarf wraps, its coziness around my neck and the very cool style of the ribs.  The enjoyable hours of knitting were a great way to start 2012!



My Woolen Rabbit Mara Toque (sorry no link) has been slowly growing, but the gauge must be off, as I had to knit the largest size in order for it to fit my pin-sized head.


Maybe it will grow when blocked and, no, I did not check the gauge when I started. It's lace, it's a hat, it will fit someone (that someone is me!). If my knitting mojo continues to hang around there should be a finished hat some time next week and, since it's been a long time between FOs, it will feel good to have this beauty off the needles.


This is the Sky Scarf at the end of last week. Even though we had hopes for a good amount of snow, there has been pathetically little. This week I will try harder to snap memories of the sky and, maybe, we'll have snow!

In truth, I'm not sure why this post posted, as I thought it was sitting in draft form.  I finished Mara over the weekend and intended an FO post, no this.  Anywoo....TTL!

Congrats to Nancy H, as she was the winner of the Jean Moss book, Sweet Shawlettes.

Bluest Day

I'm posting this sky photo today so Cheryl can seewhat she missed yesterday while stuck in her office.  Yesterday was the only day I not only remembered my camera, but it was the only day the sky wasn't a flat, no drama gray.


The wind was having its way with the clouds, swirling and feathering them in every direction on the bright, clear blue canvas.  This is my favorite color of sky, with just a touch of white, gray and lavendar clouds.  The wind has been harsh, wild and strong, blowing the storms right past us, resulting in no snow. 

The sky scarf will have a row of blue after a weeks worth of gray.  I have a feeling the next week will also be shades of gray.

Gray Matter

Thank you for your comments on yesterday's post. Many of you mentioned Jean's answer of my color question and I thought I'd let you know about her post on color earlier in the week. You have until tomorrow night to comment on Wednesday's post in order to win a copy of Sweet Shawlettes.


The skies are as gray as my knitting, however, they're as welcome as my knitting. We've not had much of a winter and the mountains have been sorely bereft of snow. From the sounds of it, they'll be getting pounded over the next few days, which means I'll have a chance to wear my beautiful Two-Ribs Infinity Scarf.  It should be finished this weekend and, hopefully, there will be FO shots, too!


Jean Moss has been kind enough to stop by and answers a few of my questions about her life and her new book, Sweet Shawlettes.

Margene: Choosing the right hues for a colorwork pattern is often more intimidating than working with multiple strands. What is the most common mistake knitters make with their choices and do you have a suggestion to guide them?

MissGarricksHRJean: The perception of colour is a very personal thing and I wouldn't wish to criticise anyone's choices unless they were unhappy with them. On the catwalks there are k some colourways that I perceive as hideous, but they're always widely copied and sell many pieces on the high street. I sometimes forget that many knitters fear and dread using colour, as I firmly believe that everyone has a unique sense of colour and it’s so important to be able to express this confidently.

A couple of years ago I discovered I'm a synesthete. Until then I'd never realised that everyone doesn't see letters, numbers and words in different colours. Synesthesia is a sort of cross-wiring of the senses, where one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualisation of a colour. The Yorkshire artist, David Hockney is a good example of this. While constructing stage sets for ballets and operas, he bases the background colours and lighting upon the colours he sees while listening to the music of the theatre piece. Norman Mailer described the condition beautifully in his biography of Marilyn Monroe – She has that displacement of the senses which others take drugs to find. So she is like a lover of rock who sees vibrations when (s)he hears sounds.

Knowing about this has helped me understand my own colour choices. For others, all I can say is to choose whatever colours work for you, but make sure there is a balance and a unity to the whole. This is often achieved by adding one rogue colour that you would never expect to fit in, which immediately makes the whole thing pop.

For knitters who are totally new to putting colours together, I would suggest either making or buying a colour wheel. To make one you need to take all the colours of the rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet - and join them end to end. To create a no-brainer colour way, you can't go far wrong if you take several colours that sit next to each other on the wheel and then throw in one from diametrically opposite to add zing. Test out your choices before you commit to knitting them by doing colour wraps on a piece of card 8in x 2in. Wrap small pieces of each colour around the card, trying out different orders until you have a combination you're happy with.

Margene: Some think a creative space needs to be organized to stimulate the creative process, yet others say it should be full of colors, pictures, yarns and anything else needed to stimulate the mind. Do you have a favorite creative space? Is it organized and clean or is it full of ideas, colors, yarn and other stimulations?

FizzHRJean: I do all my design work in my studio/office, which is at the top of the house where I can shut myself away and get on with things. It also has the advantage of having the wool room on the same floor, making it easy for me to select yarns for swatching. The two spaces are very different and reflect two different people. My partner, Philip, has been in charge of knit kits and sending out yarns to knitters, so he spends more time than I do in the wool room. He does a very good job of this, but his way of working is not mine. There is a system and he knows where everything is, but in fact for me the whole room is complete chaos! Philip is totally at home with this, whilst it's something that drives me crazy.

Before I can start work I have to have a clear desk. This makes me sound like a control freak and there may be some truth in that, but I just can't concentrate if I have too many distractions. That's not to say that I don't have a pinboard with ideas for new designs, swatches for inspiration, photographs, mannequins, music, a wall full of books as well as my archive of hundreds of patterns I've done over the past thirty years.

They're all there but before I start a new project I have to have them organised so that I can easily access the things I might need for reference. In the process of making a new book, the space becomes more and more cluttered, but the clutter is generated by what I'm working on and not the distracting debris from previous projects.

Margene: My husband and I started a garden a couple of years ago and I’ve found that knitting and gardening have much in common, as they both need to be nurtured to grow. Some projects work out better than others. Do you find this to be true with your knitting, and gardening and, as an avid gardener, what is your favorite vegetable to grow?

Green_at_heartHRJean: Yes I do find many similarities. Organic gardening is a longtime passion and I love it that for us gardeners the larder is just outside the back door. Unfortunately we have only a small garden in York, but that doesn't stop us from growing tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, onions, capers, herbs and others amongst the purely ornamental plants. We have a large garden in Wales - it's very rural and a great bolt hole from a hectic city life. If I'm bothered about a design, it's a perfect displacement activity, creating a calm space in my head so that the solution seems to fall into place.

At the start of each book I have to have a couple of weeks of cooking time, when I do nothing but displacement activities like gardening, cooking, playing guitar or going on long walks. This gives me a chance to mull over and crystallise design ideas and it's amazing how a blank sheet quickly gets filled. The seeds of designs are often planted years before and given the right conditions they spring forth – much like growing plants.

I love plants period. In fact both our gardens are stuffed with so many plants that I can lose track of some, then it's a lovely surprise when they suddenly take centre stage. I'm an avid collector but have learnt over the years that habitat and soil are everything and you can't put a square peg in a round hole. So I now limit my plant choices to ones which will be happy bunnies in our local conditions. To answer your question about a favourite vegetable to grow, oh this is SO difficult. The answer would be asparagus on sandy soil as although the season is short, there's nothing like having it straight from the garden. However, as we garden on clay soil I think I would choose sweet corn, which is just divine cooked within minutes of being picked.

Margene: Your designs have a very organic feel and often evoke a season, plus you have created projects a knitter can wear in every season. Did you strive to design a book for all seasons and how did each season speak to you during the design process?

MadameAlfredHRJean: It's funny you should ask this question, Margene, as I already have a book called Knits for all Seasons, published way back in 1993. I wasn't thinking specifically about this when I was designing for Sweet Shawlettes but I can now see that although unintentional, the book could fit into a seasonal sort of order:

Country is fresh and dewy, like the start of a new year, inspired by the rebirth of our garden in Wales every spring. Couture is sophisticated and overblown like a hot summer's day. Folk bears fruit in the seeds of techniques that can be developed in future larger projects. Vintage is informed by fashion from past eras, glamorous and glorious styles, reawakened to inspire contemporary pieces, starting the cycle again.

Thank you, Jean!  I enjoyed reading your answers and hearing more about your design process, and your life.


Dear readers, if you would like a copy of Jean's Sweet Shawlettes, please leave a comment by Friday night, January 20th, and Saturday I'll randomly pick a winner.  There are more places for you visit on this blog tour, both past and future, and I'm very honored to pass the wand to the incomperable, Anne Hansen of Knitspot, who will post her visit with Jean tomorrow.

The Blog Tour Itinarary:

Jan 2- More Yarn Will Do The Trick– Jean Moss
Jan 3- Wendy Knits - Wendy Johnson
Jan 4- Jan Knitgrrl - Shannon Okey
Jan 5- Yarnagogo – Rachael Herron
Jan 6- The Knitter – Rosee Woodland
Jan 7- Rhythm of the Needles – Joanne Conklin
Jan 8- Knit Purl Gurl – Karrie Steinmetz
Jan 9- CraftSanity – Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Jan 10- Planet Purl – Beth Moriarty
Jan 11- Sunset Cat – Stephannie Tallent
Jan 12- A Really Good Yarn – Julie Schilthuis
Jan 13- knit 1 chicago – Lynn Coe
Jan 14- Go Knit In Your Hat – Carol Sulcoski
Jan 15- Redshirt Knitting – Erika Barcott
Jan 16- In The Loop – Cheryl & Ellen
Jan 17- WEBS – Kathy Elkins
Jan 18- Zeneedle – Margene Smith (ME!)
Jan 19- Knitspot – Anne Hanson
Jan 20- Urban Yarns – Alexa Ludeman
Jan 21- A Friend to knit with – Leslie Friend
Jan 23- Tentenknits – Margaux Hufnagel
Jan 24- Fancy Tiger Crafts – Amber Corcoran
Jan 25- Chic Knits- Bonne Marie Burns
Jan 26- The Panopticon – Franklin Habit

When I Love


My MLK Day was spent creating art with people in a detox facility.  I was not sure how my presence would help, how making my own piece of art would be helpful. But, sitting with them, talking with them, watching them create, plus looking them in the eye, was just what was needed. I came away full of love and inspiration, and hopfully, I left a little of that behind.

"I have found that when I love life, it loves me back." -unknown

Sky Watcher Update


Yesterday the three of us went for a long walk along a river parkway.  Into the sun the air was warm, the walk delightful, but coming back, into a slight breeze, the air was cold and chilled us to the bone. Thank goodness for shawls and mitts.

This week the camera has been at the ready and I was able to snap a sky picture here and there.  Everyday the sunrises were beautiful, full of salmon pink, which is a reminder to find the right color for my Sky Scarf Project.  There isn't must to see of the scarf, just a tiny little triangle of blue, but next week it will be bigger, more interesting, and worth sharing.

Wednesday, I'll be hosting a blog tour (methinks it's my first!) and I'm honored Jean Moss will be here to answer a few questions about her life and her new book, Sweet Shawlettes. (Her answers are so interesting!) The post will include a giveaway of the book, so make sure you come on by for a visit! 

Fish-eyed and Googly-eyed

The camera may be kicking my butt. This is not what I'd call a "point and shoot", as the settings are very fiddly and I haven't quite worked them out. I did find a fish-eye setting which I promptly used, as it brought to mind Vicki's fabulous fish-eye photos from last year (or was it the year before).


After all the time and effort I've put into figuring out this camera I wonder if an SLR would have been easier.

The amaryllis have not fared well. The "Big White", which is pictured, fell over during the night, as it was very top heavy.  Have you ever seen an amaryllis with 5 blossoms?! She has 5 (that's stacked!), so it's no wonder she toppled. The other amaryllis, was knocked right over and hit the floor. Both plants have been saved and will brighten my room for another week or so.

The week has been too busy, but next week I'll have a very special post and give away a new book.  More on that over the weekend.  I plan on catching up with a knitting update and maybe a few more sky pictures, too!  whew