I had a response to my search for the identity of this lovely not-a-hat via email, and not from my husband's family but from a dear friend who lives in upstate New York but has family in India. Apparently it is a dish carrier, meant for toting casseroles, cakes, or other round things to potlucks and picnics. Not too far from any of our guesses!
Now I just need an occasion to use it. . . .
And the winner of the giveaway is #12, kelly s, who wrote
Hands down, Selway. I like the drape & sheerness of it plus the look could be changed dramatically by the color of the underpinning worn below.
I agree! Contact me to find out how to claim your prize.
Hot Tip: When using the pen tool in Inkscape, it can be difficult to end your line. Double-clicking should work, but I find my mouse (or maybe my hand) to be finicky in this respect. Simply pressing the return or enter key ends the line and enables you to start a new line anywhere you want!
The giveaway is now closed. Enjoy the review!
When Mari Chiba asked me to be a part of the blog tour for this collection, I said yes right away. This warm- and transitional-weather collection has 11 designs, all with delicate knitterly touches.
My favorite design in this collection is Ballson by Mari Chiba. The deep square neckline has just the right amount of cling and just the right amount of lace. The shaping is worked a little way in from the sides for an even more flattering look.
The short sleeves make this a sweater I could wear year-round down here in Louisiana, if it were small enough. The smallest size is 33" chest, and although there is no ease specification I think to fit me well I would need a 28 or 30. Not many of the pieces in this collection are that small (sizes for the entire collection are on Ravelry), but I'm not afraid of a little arithmetic and Ballson doesn't look too hard to size down.
As with many of the tops in this breezy collection, care should be taken when choosing foundation garments. In some photos, the model's camisole shows, which means bra straps could be visible sometimes.
Another great design is Anne Podlesak's Camulet. I'm a big fan of Anne's aesthetic, and this henly doesn't disappoint. Many of the pieces in this collection have the same name as cities, but I wasn't able to find Ballson or Camulet. Or Blaeberry, a sweet stole by lace goddess Susanna IC (in slightly different versions) for fingering or lace weight yarn.
The other shawl in this collection is Sheyenne, a deep crescent inspired by the ferns of Southern California. Designed by Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams, the pattern requires simple chart reading and sock-heel short-rows: a fun piece for timid knitters to expand their horizons while keeping it interesting for the more adventurous of us.
Another wonderful top is Karen Marlatt's Selway. This lace piece requires only minimal finishing. This collection also includes two tank tops and a cardigan, as well as the designs pictured below.
These patterns are presented in clear two-column format with great schematics. A feature I particularly like is the inclusion of the yarn label information on the pattern itself.
Caro Sheridan's photography represents this fun and relaxed collection well, and the flowers are an appropriate springtime touch.
And now, the giveaway: I'll send one ball of Louet Gems Sport---enough for the contrast trim of Ballson---to one commenter chosen at random on February 15. Simply say which design from this collection is your favorite, and why. Check back to see who the winner is---if nobody's claimed the prize by February 22, I'll choose an alternate. Good luck!
Last month my husband and I were in Europe for two weeks. While in Prague, we took a tram to Prague Castle.
The most impressive building at Prague Castle is the St. Vitus Cathedral. Its bristly Gothic steeples rise above the palace grounds, identifying it from afar. This is the first building you see, but the last sight on the tour.
The first sight is the Old Royal Palace. Ornately carved doors. Wonderful grand halls. Spiral staircases. An intimate chapel. More doors. Doors with intricate handles. Doors with gorgeous hinges. Dining areas with long tables. Shields with emblems.
And best of all, authentic heating (or not). We visited in mid-December and kept our coats and hats on the entire time.
Next comes the St. George Basilica. Although it was built in the first century, its Baroque facade was added in the 17th century. Inside were rich carpets, iron scrollwork, and painted ceilings. When I was little I played a violin sonata by Johann Nepomuk Hummel, so I was interested to see a chapel dedicated to St. John of Nepomuk on my way out of the building.
The basilica was hosting a concert featuring Jiri Tomasek that weekend---I wished I could have gone, but we were going to be in Paris already by then. He was guest faculty when I was at Michigan State, and taught me for a term.
Then we took a walk down Golden Lane. The street itself is very short, with many tiny old buildings that originally housed castle servants. These buildings were occupied until 1952---Kafka lived in one of them for a few years. Now they are a mix of shops and replicas of medieval rooms.
Entering in the middle of the street, it was not clear which way to turn, so we turned right. We bought a beautiful book of Czech fairy tales, and saw many reconstructions. It was beautiful and quaint, but it felt like a side trip, so when we saw the exit door at the end of the road it was tempting to go through without turning back and doing the other end of the street. My leg had been bothering me and my husband didn't want to overtax it.
But we turned back, and were glad we did! At the other end of Golden Lane was a tower with a dungeon and torture chambers, the alchemists' laboratory, and a museum of armor and weapons which we would have been sorry to miss.
The exit from Golden Lane was up some stairs, where we stopped for a trdelnik (only here they were called trdlo, which my mature husband insisted on pronouncing "turd-lo") and cocoa. Then we admired the magnificent panorama view.
Our last stop was St. Vitus Cathedral which showcased beautiful stained glass windows, stone-, metal-, and wood-work. There are doors here, too. I could do an entire knitting collection based on the portals of Prague Castle.
After this inspiring, wonder-filled excursion, we took the tram back down to Old Town and had a late lunch at Country Life cafeteria where we tried (among other dishes) potato dumplings stuffed with plums in poppy seed sauce.
You've heard of Spanish moss? It's everywhere down here in Louisiana, draping the trees in life-sucking decadence.
Well, yesterday was a snow day for our schools. Or more sort of a potentially icy roads day. We don't have salt trucks, so icy roads are a real hazard.
Today the downspout dripped all over our rosemary and refroze into a frozen variation of Spanish moss. It's beautiful---all the icicles refract the light into rainbow sparkles.
Speaking of rosemary, I found this little guy growing between our steps a few months ago. I didn't have the heart to uproot him. Look how he's thriving!
Universal Yarn just came out with this lovely collection of idiosyncratic wraps, Contrarian Shawls.
Amy Gunderson's cover shawl, Southwest Suns, is crocheted in a yarn I have yet to sample: Good Earth. Besides sharing a name with the Minnesota restaurant where I first had dinner with my now-husband, this yarn attracts me for another reason. I have liked everything else in the Fibra Natura line, and I admire their tendency toward natural, organic fibers (although I notice the organic yarns have been discontinued).
This shawl is contrarian because of its construction: the motifs are worked first, then the border around them, then the shawl body upward, decreasing to form a semicircle. Also the pale stripes are not equally spaced throughout the semicircle, but perfectly balance the motifs at the lower edge.
Holly Priestly's contribution to the booklet is the rollicking Sailor Stripe, with which she claims to have engaged in a few arm-wrestling matches (as if the skipper was proving its contrarianism).
The red triangle is worked first, with a rippling lace detail. Stitches are then picked up along one side of it and worked on the bias with red stripes for flair.
I love this piece. It has an interesting construction and a fun, effortless look.
The last shawl I'd like to showcase is the Forest Floor Stole. I don't normally feature my own designs in my reviews, but this one is special. It works up quickly in dreamy Llamalini and it's extremely enjoyable to watch the leaves pile up. The swinging shape of the heap of leaves is the perfect foil to the plain stockinette end, which you can make as short or as long as you like. I love the way it knits, the way it looks, and the way it wears.
There are eight other designs in this collection, each with its own little quirks. Much as I would like to spotlight them, I need the space to talk about the patterns themselves. Lovingly tech edited by Amy Gunderson, they are in an easily readable three-column format with both charts and written instructions provided for lace patterns.
Shane Baskin of Blackbox Studios contributes her usual proficient photography, with both wrapped and extended images of each shawl modeled by Emma Claris in attractive, natural poses.
This is a unique collection and I'm pleased to be a part of it. Buy the individual patterns or the entire eBook from the Universal Yarn website, Craftsy, or Ravelry.
Our first day in Prague was spent wandering through Old Town and (accidentally) New Town. The next day, after partaking of the renowned Maximilian Hotel breakfast, we set off toward Prague Castle.
The tram stop was in New Town, which we had discovered was actually walking distance from our hotel, though farther than Old Town. It was good that we had our Exploring Day before our Castle Day, because we learned that the street signs were not always clear, some street names were deceptively similar, and in short, it was easy to get lost.
So my husband identified two possible tram stops and we used the second one, the first having snuck around the corner while we weren't looking. (Well, it was actually Narodni street which turned the corner, as we found out later. Luckily, the Narodni Theater stop was straight ahead on the path we had chosen.)
Once we were on the tram, we had a bit of excitement concerning where to disembark. The name of the stop was given in lighted letters behind the driver. But there was also an announcement of each stop. Eventually, not only the name of the stop on the board was announced, but another name---the name of our stop! We looked at each other in alarm, rose to leave, and the doors closed.
I thought it was mightily unjust that the name of the stop for Prague Castle, of all places, was not the name on the lite-brite board, and that it would be announced when it was already too late to get off. Having unaccountably missed the first place to catch the tram, I was unsure of our ability to navigate our way back to the correct stop. I supposed we could catch a tram back to the place where we could walk up to the castle, but I wasn't thrilled with that option, either.
If I had had time to brush up on my nonexistent Czech language skills before we left, I might have understood the words "next stop" in the announcement. But it all became clear a few minutes later, when our stop appeared on the board and was announced for real, that there was no need for either more wandering or waiting.
Doomsday Knits: Projects for the Apocalypse and After edited by Alex Tinsley, photographs by Vivian Aubrey, pub. Cooperative Press, 2014.
The year is 3015… The polar ice caps have melted and the deserts expanded, leaving the Earth a seared, crusty Hell. Meanwhile, nuclear fallout has blocked out the sun, plunging the world into a new ice age (yes, at the same time.) The question on your mind?
“What should I knit?!”
Don't be alarmed! With chapters such as Global Warming, Nuclear Winter, Kill All Humans (You just HAD to have the newest iPhone.), Miscellaneous Mayhem, and Rising from the Ashes, this book provides knitting patterns for every scenario plus recovery.
Doomsday Knits begins with an "Identify Your Apocalypse" flow chart drawn by Lee DeVito. Starting with a question about the weather and ending (no pun intended) with such catastrophes as Famine, Bio-engineering Disaster, and Twilight Apocalypse (Grab all the quality literature you can carry and run.), it provides a foolproof method for labeling the particular calamity you have experienced (including the possibility that you're just out of Girl Scout cookies).
The designs, from Amy Manning's baby blanket to Alex Tinsley's dread falls, all contain clever little details to separate you from the zombies.
Sharon Fuller's Fennec (below) is a burnoose with a long tail that goes over the shoulder to help keep the garment on. Bulletproof (left), by Alexandra Virgiel, features zippers with unusual placement and a "don't-tread-on-me" vibe.
Grom-mitts are Brenda K. B. Anderson's apocalyptic answer to fancy jewelry. And Lunar Progression is the way Theressa Silver plans to keep track of time.
Garments are written in a generous number of sizes (most fit 28 - 62" busts) with measurements given in both inches and centimeters. Suggested ease is provided for most wearables.
Four of the mitt/mitten designs and all three hat designs (grr!) come in a single size, but most claim to be stretchy. And SpillyJane's Circuit Mittens would be pretty darn difficult to size, given their allover stranded color work of chakra symbols within and Egyptian-style cartouche surrounded by a circuit board.
Two of the mitt patterns and one sock pattern are written in two sizes, and there are four sizes each for Sarah Burghardt's Rattlebone Mitts and Katherine Vaughan's Long Road Ahead socks.
The patterns themselves are very readable, in three columns with adequate white space, and only headers in the character font (still legible).
And if that's not enough, the book is aerated with lists of recommended reading, viewing, listening, and gaming---and tips for fighting creatures known to populate the end times. The designer bios are worth a closer look, too.
I prescribe this book for anyone who thinks the world may have ended (the introductory flow chart alone will be worth the price of the book), for knitters or designers who may or may not need rejuvenation (some of the techniques in this book are pretty inspiring), and for people who just like pretty pictures of disaster-ridden lands, blank spaces, and brick shelters.
Disclosure: Cooperative Press sent Kangath a copy of Stitching in the Stacks free for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Cooperative Press or the designers.
This is my Forest Floor Stole, part of the Contrarion Shawls collection from Universal Yarns. Knit in luscious Fibranatura Llamalini, it begins with a length of stockinette fabric, then adds leaves one by one until there is a pile of leaves at the end of the scarf.
The cast-on end can roll as much or as little as you like. I personally like a lot of roll, but I blocked it with very little to show it can be done. Unwrapped short rows complete each leaf on the bind-off row.
This straightforward pattern has a great rhythm to it and works up so quickly you'll want to make another right away!