Vibrant

Brigantia Shawl 5I had to close most of the windows last night, and brought out a pair of wool socks to keep my feet warm. This is my favorite weather — in between seasons. The sun is still strong, but the light is changing, and the temperature is perfect.

Now that summer is over I’ve been knitting again, and happily designing a new shawl. It’s almost finished, and it will be ready in time for Rhinebeck. When Jen asked me to help her debut a new color for Spirit Trail Fiberworks, my work-addled brain came to life.Brigantia Shawl 4

Here it is, in glorious color. It’s called Purple Peacock —and it’s the most beautiful, intense blue/purple that I’ve ever seen. It changes with the light, and I had a hard time photographing it. Jen was inspired by a trip to the zoo that she took with her family this summer.

It will be available in all her yarn bases, but my shawl is in Brigantia, a DK-weight blend of 85% Polwarth and 15% silk. It’s one of my favorite Spirit Trail yarns — sturdy, but with a lovely drape, and that little glow that the silk brings to the surface of the fabric.

I’d had something in mind for Brigantia a while back, and I reworked it a bit, changed some things here and there, and fine-tuned some techniques and stitches to create a generous shawl that will be comfortable and not too bulky, but still substantial. I like substantial shawls, as you might have noticed!Brigantia Shawl 3

I don’t want to show you everything, but this lump of knitting (all shawls have a lump-of-knitting stage) hints at a little lace, some stockinette, and a simple border. It’s a shawl, so it will take some time to knit — but in beautiful Brigantia on #7 needles the time will pass quickly!

You’ll need just one skein of Brigantia to make the shawl, and here’s something exciting: when you purchase a skein of Brigantia to make it at the Spirit Trail booth at Rhinebeck, you’ll receive a coupon for a free Ravelry download of the pattern!

(Stuck in my head right now: Ina Garten saying “How easy is that?”)

I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Jen, and to be working with her beautiful yarn in this exciting, vibrant color to bring you a pattern that I hope will be lovely to knit, lovely to wear, and that will make you smile throughout the process.

Evenings

Evening at Stony HillI’ve never had a job like this, one that is so tied to the outdoors. It was a while before I understood that one of the reasons I love to come to work is that I am in and outside all day long, in the fresh (or damp) air, needing a sweater on breezy days, and making sure my rain jacket is always in the car.

I might complain that papers keep blowing off the desk (there are stones to hold everything down), or that the floor is always either sandy or damp, and that the layers of sandy dust can never be completely wiped away, but they are small complaints.

Because when I close the door in the evening and walk to my car, this is what I see when I turn around and look back. I work long hours, and I’m bone-tired, but I leave knowing I’ve done good work, and with my soul intact.

Evening at Stony Hill 2

And on some evenings, after a long day at work, I’m the only person left there. I walk down to lock my files in the barn office. The barn is quiet except for the birds, so many birds, mostly sparrows. Dahli and Tiamo are there, nosey and interested—especially Dahli (on the left), who may as well be saying, “Hi! Hi! Hey, what’s new?” All the other horses are quiet, tucked in for the night.

Day Off 08.06.14Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my days off for now, so I treat them like a weekend. I do all my errands on one day, and rest on the other. I’ve been working on a shawl, the ingeniously-shaped Lory by Bristol Ivy. I’m using some Sundara Sport from Kris Jensen’s stash. It’s comfort knitting on my days off or on those rare evenings when I get home before 8:00.

And there’s something else in the works. The notebooks and pen are out again, and ideas and stitches and shapes are finding their way to the pages. I think while I knit Lory, and make the notations and scribbles that will lead to swatches and spreadsheets and a knitted thing.

Before long, summer will be over. I’ll be able to spend fewer hours at work, and less time getting there and back. I’ll get to spend more time concentrating on knitting and thinking up knitting. And I’ll be able to leave work in the evening with a less tired but still satisfied smile.

Landmark Update

I’m so grateful to all who have downloaded Landmark and Boxwood! There’s an updated version of the shawl (V1.1) that is available to everyone who purchased the original version. All downloads after July 23rd are the updated pattern.

Two patterns

Landmark

Landmark 1
Landmark 20
Landmark 8

Clara Yarn’s CVM/Romedale 1.0 was in my hands for about five minutes when I decided it needed to be a shawl. Clara tells the story of CVM, and of the creation of this very special yarn on the Clara Yarn website. As I began to think about the design, my sister Ellen suggested a capital-S Shawl — not fancy, but one that wraps you up in a warm, cozy, at-home-in-winter feeling. It had to be big enough to wrap around your shoulders, but not so big that it got in the way.

I swatched for days that stretched into weeks, playing with textures and shapes, color combinations, and drape. The shawl that I created is a top-down crescent shape, where seed stitch becomes diamonds, and diamonds become a wavy border of flags. The stitches are simple combinations of knit and purl, separated into bands and ending in a border that wants to wave a little.

It’s called Landmark for my sister, after our family farm near Middleburg, Virginia. Of the five of us children, it was Ellen who spent her whole childhood there – surrounded by green fields and our mother’s gardens, nestled among the rolling hills, and enfolded in the world created by our parents, grandparents, and the families that came before them.

Ellen at Landmark
Landmark is available to download from Not Plain Jane’s Ravelry Store.

Boxwood

Boxwood 4a
Boxwood 2a
Behind the house there were big, overgrown boxwoods, which at one time must have bordered a path. Their shelter was our playhouse, and so the hat is called Boxwood. Like Landmark, the fabric is simply textured, moving from ribbing to seed stitch to simple diamonds, and then to stockinette stitch for the shaping at the top.

Boxwood is available to download from Not Plain Jane’s Ravelry Store.

Landmark 18Landmark 15Landmark 17

As I’m writing this, several days late (a tale for another post), Clara Yarn CVM/Romedale 1.0 is all gone. Another woolen-spun DK yarn will work almost as well. Just make sure it’s a yarn that has something to contribute to the experience!

I’m extremely grateful to the wonderful Purlewe, who took a spreadsheet and page after page of notes and made sure that everything added up;  to Michael Friedrich, Destiny Montague, and Rebecca Speckenbach for letting me borrow their heads; and to Rachel Speckenbach, who knows how to rock a wool shawl on a hot afternoon.