Adjectives, verbs, nouns: A curated collection ūüéĀ

After the semi-blizzards of the past few days, yesterday morning was a glorious surprise: one of those crisp-cold sunny blue days of winter, where the snow sparkles and all things white are almost too white to look at head-on.

I know that I could write “snow that sparkled like candy sugar”, or “snow sparkling with the fire of a thousand/million/gadzillion/universe-full of diamonds” like all the other kids do, but c’mon, people. Have we no new ideas, no original thoughts, no individual quirks of tongue? Part of being a writer is to capture (and perhaps even keep) the attention of those reading, methinks.

If I wanted to capture the attention of folks likely to be my readers, I might say something more along the lines of “sparkling in all the star-shine hues of swarovski crystals scattered by an unseen hand upon the landscape”.

Or something along those lines. Perhaps something with fewer words, and maybe less schmaltz, even.

If I just use the same imagery everyone else is using, isn’t my writing sort of a strung-together plagarism of quotes off the internet, rather than a reflection of my own personal style and ingenuity?

Yeah, deep thoughts today. So deep that I set my mighty brain to use this morning browsing Christmas-themed apps for my iPhone. ::waggles eyebrows::   Impressive, yes?


Speaking of the Day of the Fat Man: Like any other self-respecting knitter/crocheter/sewist*/weaver, I am working on holiday projects, in addition to my daily struggles with red yarn and stockinette stitch. This year, my mantra has been If You Really Loved It, You Would Finish It.

Thus, I have been creeping along on my Mallard Duck mini-quilt:

It’s too bad you can’t see most of the hand quilting…bad camera person, no donut.

Click to embiggen!

As well as making good progress on my Advent Tree quilt:

And, of course, working in the dark of the guest bathroom on the usual Secret Things.


Zo√ę: I don’t see any presents in here…What about you, Dusty Bro? Find any stocking stuffers yet? Some organic catnip, maybe, or perhaps a set of those most excellent felted mouse toys like we got last year?

No, I do not have a photo of the Secret Things In Progress. My family, my close friends, my wife, and, as you can see, even my cats all read this blog. They are probably doing so with extra diligence near Christmas, in the hopes of me having a Stupid Moment and writing a post‚ÄĒcomplete with detailed photos and source linkages‚ÄĒabout that One Special Thing intended for THEM. (Sorry, Mom. I am currently out of stock of Stupid Moments. However, I am expecting a delivery of New Improved Stupid Moments any day now.)

I like how the two quilt projects pictured above, in particular, are biting my arse. No, really. They are arse-biters in that they are just a bit beyond my current level of expertise, forcing me to look up good tutorials on the web for what I don’t know, thus ensuring that I learn new things.

Some of this stuff, like the blanket stitch I am using to secure the edges of my appliquéd Advent Tree, some of it I already sort-of knew, but only in a brute force sort of way. This time, I actually searched out examples, step-by-step tutorials, and instruction on the finer points (turning inner vs outer corners, amongst other topics). This time, I wanted to finish the project actually KNOWING how I did things, instead of just cruising along, guessing and improvising along the general correct direction.

Click to embiggen!

Blanket Stitch, I have conquered Thee.

The best Blanket Stitch tutorial I have found¬†covers everything, including how to turn corners, how to turn an inside or an outside point, and more. However, what works for me may be noodle soup to you. The most effective way to find any sort of tutorial (in my ¬†experience) is to do a search on Google Images for whatever it is (“blanket stitch how to go around a point”, or “blanket stitch step by step”, or the thing I seem to forget most often, “blanket stitch how to start”). I find it easier to look for an image that makes sense to me, or looks as though it addresses my question, than to read through two-line text descriptions and click on five or six until I find one I understand.

Peace and hugs on this cold winter evening.


Granted: Chez Wiseheart is not quite at the point of singing O Tannenbaum yet, but we’ll get there.

P.S. I apologise for the wacky formatting, and the weird sizing of the photos. WordPress “upgraded” their editing interface, and you should have heard the cursing this past hour…

* I am told by my sister that “sewist” is now the favoured term for one who sews. Apparently, some people did not like being called the back-end of a plumbing system, as in “sewer”. Who knew?

Posted in Appliqué, Knitting, Quilting, Writing | 5 Comments

Red sweater

One paragraph, I am saying to myself.

Just write one paragraph. (Technically, this is paragraph two, I believe. Whatever.)

I will say a couple of things.

First: If you don’t know this from personal experience, then allow me to enlighten you: Depression is a horrible way to spend a weekend, let alone an entire, rather gorgeous, season, particularly every knitter’s favourite season: Autumn. The season of mitten knitting, sweater knitting, and holiday gift knitting. It’s our peak season, we knitters, and like knitters everywhere, I watched Ravelry fill up with every sort of Knitted Thing imaginable as the leaves “put on their party clothes” (as the Yarn Harlot would say) and gradually danced their way to the ground.

Second: Being too depressed to blog, when one has been a blogger almost as long as anyone has been a blogger, is just plain super-sucky. Days upon days of waking up (in the middle of the night, in the morning, after a nap) thinking, Today I can do it. I can write a post. Put up a photo, even. Doesn’t have to be eloquent; just has to be words typed into my laptop. I know that if I write a word or two or twenty, then perhaps that will punch a hole in the walls that depression erects around one, walls that start out as soft, sheer curtains, and end up made by that third piglet, the one who loves the smell of well-mixed mortar and properly aged bricks.

Before I know it, another day of excuses, interruptions, and procrastinations goes by. Without a blog post.

Be gentle on yourself, friends say. Hard to be gentle on one’s self when the demons of depression left me feeling as if I do not know myself any longer. But for love of friends, for love of you, Gentle Faithful Readers, gentle shall I be. Anything to ensure that this isn’t the last post for another three months.

(Shhhh. Yes, I know I have officially passed the one paragraph mark. Don’t tell.)

There, for example, is The One Photo, accompanied by two of its friends, as promised. That is my Mirabel Cardigan, the one I started just over a year ago. (I got lost in eight inches of five-point-five stitches per inch, 287 stitches (or something like that). I am happy to report that the eight inches have been completed, as have two short sleeves (as shown above: they even match!). Over the Labour Day weekend, I joined the fronts to the sleeves to the back, all in proper order, all facing the proper way, albeit by the third try. Since then, and since this photo was taken, I have worked another couple of inches upwards, encountering both neckline and bust shaping in due time.

I wanted to finish this in time to wear over a white blouse on Christmas Eve, but I am not going to hold my breath over it (and neither should you!).

I am going to stop now, before I really want to stop, on the theory that I might feel better about blogging if I could resign myself to shorter, less tome-like posts. I am going to break blogging courtesy rules this once and not do the work of linking every possible thing I could link. I am also not going to allow myself to second-guess everything I have written and edit the life out of my words, as I often do when I am not feeling my best. I hope you understand. 

Thank you for still being there. Post a comment; let me know how you are doing in the pre-Christmas chaos!
I almost never listen to music these days, for a variety of reasons. However, I got double-sized Big Girl Panties and, before I began writing this, I searched for holiday music on YouTube. Dulcimer Christmas Music, a playlist by Jane Fountain. Gorgeous. Not too saccrine-sweet, not too happy-happy, just lovely, complex-but-simple tunes played on one of the most glorious instruments on earth.

“Things are looking up,” says one-year-old Ben. “Because when you look up, you might ccatch the food that falls off the counter before it hits the ground!”

Peace. I hope to see you soon. 

Posted in Animals, Goblins of Winter, Knitting, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Summer Vacation, with Chickens & Ben’s Ring of Mordor: Part 1

Overheard in a Syracuse kitchen earlier this week:

J: Thanks for doing that, I really appreciate it.

S:  What are friends for?

J:  Running out to the feed store for chicken poo medicine, apparently.

You need to have the sound on for the true chicken experience. That makes chickens NSFW, I suppose. And that’s¬†¬†J talking, btw, not yours truly.

Hi there. Me again. I intended to have a late July post for you, and then my summer vacation happened. Here’s the first installment of my adventures.

In which my 7-month-old kitten has a near-death experience…

By now, you folks know that I tend to write about everything and anything sooner or later, so if this story bores you, c’mon back for the next post, because overall, I do not exactly lead a boring life, now do I?

Back to the kitten with a near-death experience. Right. Yes, Mr. Ben gave us quite the scare there for a week or so in late July.


dreaming dreams of scurrying bugs

See the shaved belleh? See nasty incision scar? Out of nowhere one day, Ben started having breathing trouble, trouble as in his chest was making wet, crackling sounds at the same time as his breathing sounded like he needed a set of gills. I grew up with a sister who has severe asthma, severe as in regular stupid-thirty a.m. trips to the ER severe. So when I heard the same sort of sounds coming from my five-pound kitten, nanoseconds later we were in the car, cat carrier with unusually quiet mini-cat in tow, on the road to the 24/7 animal ER.

The triage tech took one look and hustled Ben off to the back, where she plopped a tiny oxygen mask on him, and pulled the only vet out of a room (where she was treating another patient) so she could examine Ben. We found out later that the vet listened to his breathing, and without even reaching for her stethoscope, immediately gave instructions to clear the decks‚Äďdivert all incoming clients to another ER nearby until further notice, send anyone in the waiting room with a non-critical animal to that same ER, and prep Ben for surgery NOW.

I am eternally grateful I didn’t know that was happening.

X-rays showed an “abnormality” in his GI tract, an abnormality that looked suspiciously like a linear foreign object around his intestines.

A linear foreign object, for those of you playing along at home, is the medical term for long, thin, flexible stuff. Like yarn, for example.

Every cat-loving knitter’s worst nightmare, in other words. I was flooded with horror, guilt, and other terrible feelings I have no name for.

I deliberately put Ben’s post-hospital picture at the beginning of this story, to reassure you that the story has a happy ending.

Surgery showed a thankfully linear-foreign-object-free intestinal tract, squeaky-clean, in fact.This was confirmed by not one, but two very thorough exams, inch-by-inch examinations by two¬†sets of fingers and three sets of magnifier-enhanced eyeballs. (I love these people.) No chest fluid, no lung problems, airways and GI tract completely clear…

Oh. Wait. What is THAT?

I really do not like hearing, “I have no idea what that is, I have never seen anything like it before”. Not when it’s me, and even less so when it is one of my furballs.

Near the intersection of the stomach outflow valve, and the duodenum (tube leading to the small intestine and lower GI tract), the vet found a fleshy bit not shown in the anatomy books. This fleshy bit was actually forming a solid ring around the duodenum, a ring that seemed a bit too constricting to be doing anything particularly helpful. Puzzled, the doc took pics, and while Ben was on the table, had one of the senior techs do a quick survey of the internet literature to see if there was anything helpful online. (Which, if you think about it, is a pretty awesome use of technology.)

The internet didn’t have any obvious answers. The ring wasn’t supposed to be there, and as it was clearly up to no good, snip, snip, snip, went the surgical tools, and no more ring around the tubing.

The next day, Ben was breathing better, and we felt very relieved. As time went on, however, Ben wouldn’t eat. He was in the hospital for four days, and on the third day, we were told to “prepare ourselves,” as Ben was declining. We were numb with anticipated grief. M and I took turns visiting him every day for hours, cuddling, talking, singing, petting, and offering food. He would perk up when we were there, and get very depressed when we weren’t there. Finally, not knowing what else to do, the doc let us take him home, “to get better, or not, Ben’s choice now” as she put it.

Within hours of coming home, Ben made his choice clearly known: Ben was gonna choose to chase himself some big, juicy bugs, yessirree by golly. Took him a few days to recover enough to eat the bugs, but our Ben bravely submitted to round-the-clock meds of various sorts until one day he sat in front of his food bowl and chowed down like the little champ he is.

I love kitten stories with happy endings.

O.K. ‚Äďrubs hands together‚Äď

Next up: In which my corset was not struck by lightning.

Posted in Knitting | 4 Comments

The Welsh Gardener

I got up early this morning, determined to Be A Responsible Home Owner and do some much-needed weeding and shrub-trimming in the front yard before it got too hot. Quick but satisfying breakfast (Melody’s Maple Granola, yum), soul-empowering Morning Coffee, gardening clothes, and, because I like to sleep without my toes being bitten off, (somewhat abbreviated) cat worship x 5.

During the mainlining enjoyment of Morning Coffee, I wandered over to the window to peek at the outdoor thermometer:

IMG_3963 (1)

I do believe that thermometer reads about 110 degrees F. YIKES.

Oh, come ON, Mother Nature. Give a girl a break. It’s 8:30 in the morning, for dog’s sake.

Le Magnifique Gardinier Français across the street is probably peeking out her front window, shaking her head, muttering polite malédictions at the imagined scourge that is American laziness. Her Welsh husband, the embodiment of I Will Stop Doing All The Things When I Am Dead, will no doubt come knocking on our door, asking in his charming Dr. Who accent if he might help me out by trimming the Monster Sentient Shrubs by our front door.


Shamelessly cowering inside, I silently creep¬†up to take a photo of the Monster Sentient Shrub from behind…

Yes, he is in his late seventies, if he is a day. Yes, I am sure he has arthritis/bad hips/bad back from the way he walks.

Yes, this is the same delightful Welshman who did not let any of that nonsense stop him about a month ago when I came home to find him mowing my lawn.

Oh, the shame of it. Here I am, at least twenty years his junior, married to a gal thirty years his junior, both of us more than able to mow a smallish lawn, and I pull into my driveway to find this gent halfway through mowing our lawn in the 80 degree F heat. To my chagrin, he wouldn’t let me finish the job; he shooed me inside, and proceeded to not only finish up the front lawn, but to mow the side lawns and the back lawn as well.

Oh, and he weed-whacked the edges so they were tidy as the TARDIS’s front doorstep.

I tried offering him cold water, tea (hot/cold), or juice to drink, and a fresh loaf of M’s trademark sourdough bread as a thank you. He politely refused all of it, and blushed at my stammered, repeated Thank You’s.

So you see, I really do not want a repeat of The Welsh Gardener Saves the Day. It is just too humiliating to think that we didn’t do the work ourselves simply because it was “too hot”.¬†(Our Welshman is not stupid. He has lived a long life of farming and construction work, and looks spry enough to chase Tessa around the block. Methinks Not To Worry, as Our Welshman can clearly take care of his own lovely, generous self.)

I will let you know if I go out to fetch the mail and find my front yard suddenly looks like a cover photo for English Garden magazine. (OH FOR DOG’S SAKE, look at the headline smack in the center of this cover:)


The cover copy reads: “Hearts of Gold: Generous Gardeners who conserve, care, and share.” Good Grief.

Full disclosure: The thermometer in the first photo above is mounted on the wall outside the back patio doors. For part of the morning, it sits in the baking heat of the full sun. Thus, the temperature it gives is always several degrees higher than the actual outside air. Still: It’s somewhere over 90 degrees F. At eight-thirty in the morning. IT’S HOT.

Yarn, Anyways

I know that there are many spinners and knitters who prefer not to handle wool over the summer months (something about “sweaty palms”), but I am not one of them. I have been rediscovering the magic of wheel and roving, spindle and top, after not spinning much of anything for over a year (baaaad year, apparently). I am spinning for at least a half-hour a day lately, sometimes more than that. I’m also trying to knit a little each day as well.

I have a goal, you see: I want to Finish Something. I want to Own a Finished Object: Something that started out as a wad of fluff, perhaps, or maybe as glorified string. I want something to post on my Ravelry project page so that it doesn’t look as though I have abandoned the whole idea of making things and run away to Barbados. (Tempting, I admit, but knowing myself, I wouldn’t be able to bear the plane ride without knitting in my hands, sticky wool and all.)

My current project is a test of my skills in spinning-to-spec: I have a hank of yarn that I bought in some fascinating locale, delicately scented (no doubt) with the aroma of Sheep, and it is gorgeous:


3-ply California Variegated Mutant yarn, by Mt. Airy Farm (and yes, there is a bit of blue sparkly spun into the plies!)

Naturally, I have no idea where I got this yarn. I do have the label, however, informing me that this luscious skein is from Mt. Airy Farm in Marshall, VA. A closer glance at the label, and I’m thinking, no wonder this is so lovely, it is 313 yards of smooshy 3-ply¬†California Variegated Mutant yarn, ¬†“from our flock located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains”.¬† Is it, now? (smush, smoosh, smooose)

In the same bag as the yarn I stored a bump of wool that looks to be a close relative of the CVM yarn: the same soothing light mushroom color, the same softness and smoosh. Unfortunately, it has no label, and as I have no idea where I bought it, I don’t have Clue #1 if the bump belongs with the yarn, or just got shoved into the same bag.


Mystery Bump of Woolly Virtue

That is a really magical bit of woolly, right there. And the yarn is really nice yarn. There is only 313 yards of it, however. But…I am a spinner. I bet I can make a yarn out of that bump of puffy fibre, a yarn that will be fairly close to the other in feel and grist. I snipped off a little sample of the yarn, so I could see what I might be getting myself into:

IMG_3970 (1)

At the top of the photo is a snippet of what the finished yarn looks like: plump, bouncy, smooth, with just a slight inconsistency in grist to keep things interesting. The three individual plies are immediately below the finished yarn on top, and above the loop of finished yarn at the very bottom of the photo. The first thing I noticed was that the three plies are different from one another: the bottom one is tightly spun and a bit thinner than the others; the middle one is super-lofty, and looks as though it has barely been spun at all. The third ply (second from top in the photo) is somewhere in between the other two in loft, grist and twist.

So. All I have to do, it seems, is spin three plies, each about the same in terms of number of fibers drafted, but different in terms of how loose or tight the actual spinning twist is.

(“All I have to do”. Sure thing.)

I started with what for me would be the hardest part: Spinning that middle ply, the lofty, airy, barely-spun ply. I can spin a fine yarn with a tight twist any day; but one with hardly any twist at all? That requires a level of skill in setting up the wheel and maintaining consistent control over drafting that I feared I did not have.

Aside from the bit of yarn at far right that needs to be put through the spin cycle again, well, it looks as though I am more or less in the right neighbourhood.


The actual yarn sample is draped over the bobbin at left‚Äďsee the loop with the knot above the bobbin’s core?

Apparently, as long as I am present to what I am doing, and listen to what the fluff is trying to tell me, I will be (more or less) all right.


~ A River Is A Person, too…at least in New Zealand, it is.

~ This, from Ursula K. LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea… Haunting and wise and beautiful.

Only in silence the word,
Only in dark the light,
Only in dying, life:
Bright the hawk’s flight
On the empty sky.

Posted in Knitting, Recipes, Spinning | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Pattern #2 Posted: Baby Hat!

Hang on, folks!
Technical difficulties with posting the pattern…..
I will fix it asap.
The blog software sent this out a day early.
Life is soooo fun sometimes!



AAANNNNDDDDD…it should all be fixed now! Please let me know if you have any troubles downloading the Vine Lace Baby Hat II. (link repeated just in case!)
Thanks for your patience! 



Once upon a time there was an adorable tiny preemie who needed a baby hat, as do all new babies. I designed a pink lace confection for her, and  called it the Vine Lace Baby Hat.

Pink_Vine_Lace_Hat (1)


I put photos on my blog on Knitting Daily, and folks loved the wee hat! I wrote a pattern for it, but it was very basic, and Interweave asked me to write a “real” pattern for the ¬†magazine.





photo by Joe Coca, I believe


I knit this one in a heavy yarn, and it was modelled by the new baby son of an assistant editor (at left).

Soon, I began seeing these little hats all over the place, which made me happy.

A few years later, and I started getting emails that the pattern was no longer available, could we please have more sizes, that sort of thing.


Again, I completely re-did the pattern, find one major error in the middle of the lace pattern (apologies!). So, the new version had corrections, new photos, and new everything.

That new version is now up on Ravelry, Vine Lace Baby Hat II. Free, of course.

You can also download it here for free, clicking on the caption or the photo itself:


Thank you, Elwood, for being such a great model for my Vine Lace Baby Hat II.

As usual, should you feel inspired to leave a token of your apprection, the Tip Jar is open 24/7.

Enjoy. Send me pictures if you make something really cute for someone really cute!

Posted in Knitting | Leave a comment

Newly Edited Versions: Comfort Shawl and Summer Shawlette

Way  back in 2007, when I worked for Interweave Knits, I designed a shawl for the Staff Projects section of the magazine. The challenge behind that particular Staff Project was to created something based on a particular lace pattern, Little Arrowhead Lace.

little arrowhead lace one rpt

I went overboard, as usual.

I had been fascinated by Faroese Shawls, the ones created by working women of the Northern Isles east of the British Isles. These shawls had shoulder shaping worked into them, and were knit with long fronts that could be tied in place. These two features allowed the shawls to stay in place on one’s shoulders as one moved through the many chores of daily life.

Remember that this was nearly ten years ago. Ravelry was still rather brand new. The knitting world was poised on tiptoe, ready to explode into the vibrant, world-wide community that we enjoy today. And what’s more: Not everyone had heard of Faroese Shawls. In fact, at the time, the one source I could find with authentic, researched information and patterns was Myrna Stahman’s Shawls and Scarves: Lace Faroese-Shaped Shawls from the Neck Down & Seamen’s Scarves.


Stahman’s Shawls & Scarves, by Myrna Stahman

This is a fabulous, well-researched book. It is also a rather confusing book, unless you are someone with lots of experience reading lace charts for fun. (Ahem.) But it contains so many wonderful photos and instructions that I bought two copies. (I have no idea why. There are just two copies in my house.)

Once I read through it for the first time, I was on FIRE. I wanted to knit a Faroese-style shawl of my own design.

Yup. Doomed.

There was¬†no lace-charting software at the time, not unless you wanted to get extremely friendly with Excel. So I did what so many other lace designers of the time did: I taped together endless pages of graph paper, laid them out on a big table, and drew out charts in pencil, pencil decorated with many smeary erased bits. It took me freakin’ forever.

Somehow, I managed to finish charting, writing instructions,  and knitting the actual shawl before the issue in question went to press. I called that first shawl the Summer Shawlette; it became a free downloadable pattern on Knitting Daily.

That same year, my neighbour across the street was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. I wanted to make something for her, and I decided to make a slightly larger versoin of the Summer Shawlette for her, only longer, and no lace across the back.

That shawl became the Comfort Shawl.


Both shawls have been available on Knitting Daily for quite a long time as free patterns. I am making them available here in a combination PDF, one PDF for both shawls.

I updated this version with all the errata, re-did the charts, re-wrote the confusing bits, and in general, this is almost a new pattern. (You are welcome.)

I had a discussion over cost with my wife. She watched me put hours into this new PDF, and she thinks I ought to honour my work by selling the dual pattern PDF. I feel that the original versions of both shawls were free for a long time, so this ought to be free for a while, at least.

Here’s what I came up with:

The pattern is free for those who cannot afford it, at least until midnight December 31, 2016. If you have a bit of money now, and wish to help support my work on further patterns, as well as on this website, please use the Tip Jar (in menu at a top) to drop in whatever you feel the pattern is worth to you, or to express your appreciation, or what ever other reasons you may have. I hope that seems fair.

I will also have the pattern up on Ravelry as soon as I can work that out.

I hope the patterns bring you happiness, and comfort to those who need it. And don’t hesitate¬†to let me know of any errors!


(Click on caption link or photo itself below to download.)

P.S. These photos, as well as the ones in the PDF, were taken last year, BEFORE I had made extensive corrections and update to the patterns. The new shawls have differently shaped panels, due to the new, improved shoulder shaping. New photos coming soon to a PDF near you.


Posted in Knitting | 5 Comments

Wandering but not Lost

You folks are the best! So many great suggestions in the comments on my last post ¬†for¬†That Which “Shawl” Be Next On My Needles. (Heh)¬†Your suggestions gave me a great excuse to go wandering around the Ravelry pattern database. (It is so easy to blame those who are not in the room, isn’t it?)

rav pattern DB sshot_

Thus, one day, I innocently opened the Rav pattern library¬†to search out some of your suggestions…and that was my first and stupidest mistake. That database is one of the most dangerous places on earth. It grabs you with its amigurimi-shaped claws, and forces you to spend hours and hours wandering its maze of Entrancing Things To Knit (or Crochet, if that is your particular drug-of-choice).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Slideshow! I’ve never used a slideshow before! Coooool-i-o!

Cream/grey mittens on black background:¬†villiputti’s prototype for Jatuli-Lapaset
Rust labyrinth panel: Walls of Troy / Chartres Cathedral Maze by Woolly Thoughts
Cream/burgundy mittens on white background: villiputti’s updated Jatuli, with pattern

Many a knitter has emerged from the clutches of the Library‘s labyrinthine claws stumbling and gaunt, hair in a tangle, sheep slippers on backwards/on the wrong feet, their cold, sticky, empty coffee cup in one hand‚ÄĒa hand that is piteously reaching forward as a trembling voice croaks out a plea for More Coffee, Please.


I have learned to set a timer.

That, or I know that it is only a matter of a few hours before I am encircled by Five Very Hungry Felines, felines who are not above knocking every single object off every flat surface in the house in order to get my attention and my acknowledgement that The Gushy Food Must Appear Now.


Does Zoé look hungry to you? How about impatient? How about angry, shall we go with angry?


Also, my bladder continues to insist that I tend to its needs and desires. What an uppity organ indeed.

I truly do blame the pattern library for the fact that this post is ten eleven days late. I wrote the first part on May 31, then stopped to find “just a few pattern photos in Rav”…and then I wasn’t heard from for days. With a nod to said uppity organ named above, I feel it is only right that I pass on a bit of important advice.

Hints for a successful journey through the Library

Before entering any keywords into that wee, innocent-looking Ravelry pattern search box:

Pee first.

And get comfortable. Maybe even make sure you have food and water nearby, and that the kids, the cats, and the hamsters are being looked after by someone who is not you.

Even Better: Don’t Get Lost in the Library.
Just in case, however: Be Prepared.

Many of the patterns¬†you suggested were those with all sorts of amusing shapes, shapes created by short rows, and sometimes, augmented with gradient yarns. The keywords “Short Rows” plus “Gradient Yarns”, just so you know, equal one very wide, very deep, completely endless Black Hole of Wonderful Things to Make.

I realized that I was going to be a bit busy for the next few days. That is when I remembered that it is always a good idea to Pee First before embarking on any adventure.

Anyway. I voluntarily (and happily) stepped into the Minotaur’s lair, wandering the far corners of Rav, discovering oodles (“oodles”! Where does this girl get her vocabulary, you ask…) of neckpieces, shawlettes, wraps, and even skirts and tops featuring gradients and short-rows.

Tiny knitted monsters wander a wooden maze

Minitaurs by Anna Hrachovec

From what I saw, the best of them, or at least the most intriguing patterns for me, were those which combined short-row knitting with the use of yarn dyed in gradients (or other sorts of colour progressions, such as ombres).

Fun Colour Factoid: A gradient is a series of colours arranged according to their position on the colour wheel, where the series begins with one colour, and then¬†gradually blends¬†through steps on the wheel until it ends¬†with¬†a ¬†different colour entirely. An ombre is a series of tints/shades of the same colour,¬†going from dark to light hues, or light to dark. Examples: Crescent Bay, by Anniken Allis, is an¬†interesting¬†rainbow shawl‚Äďa rainbow is one example of a gradient.¬†Twin Leaf Crescent, by Michele Berstein,¬†demonstrates an ombre effect.

The longer I looked and clicked, the deeper into that particular rabbit hole I descended.


Rigoles, by maylin Tri’Coterie Designs


It is true, in fact, that the further you¬†wander into the pages and pages of search results, the more complex and off-the-beaten-path patterns you will find, mixed in with the dozens of this-looks-familiar patterns. Try searching for “gradient shawl” and, once the results pop up, hop onto page 12-13 or thereabouts. That’s where the fun stuff really starts showing up. I found Rigoles (photo above) on page 19, near the bottom.¬†

My own adventures in colourful short rows

I have completed one short-row, gradient-yarn project, Spectra by Stephen West.


Sandi’s Spectra

I really enjoyed making it, even if it did take forever. On the positive side, my naturopath was so enamoured of it that he offered to buy it right off my shoulders. When I declined, he offered to pay me to make him another one. He even agreed to my (rather high) price. Unfortunately, lack of time on my part meant Dr. Fashionable never got his scarf. (He had GREAT socks, not handmade, of course, but still, GREAT SOCKS.)

I have another short-row¬†project that has been on the needles for quite some time now: Leftie, by Martina Behm, whose designs many of you recommended. Leftie’s been in the meditation pond for more than a year; I can’t quite figure out why. I love the colors I chose, I love the yarn. Perhaps my brain is just in a different space now then when I wound all those cute wee colorful balls.¬†Hm. It is pretty, and not very hard, and I am more than halfway done with it…

leftie colours

Yarn gradient for Leftie

Despite my failure-to-complete my poor Leftie, I was intrigued again by the short-row technique.

I am not one to fool myself: with respect to knitting, I am a Pefectionist. If I tried to get a gradient effect juuuuusst riiiigghhtt at this point in my life, it would consume far too many brain cells for gorgeous summer days.

I decided to begin at the beginning (shock and awe!), and try a project where there was no elaborate colour shift going on; where the short-rows were mostly there to create interesting shapes. I chose Wingspan, also by the clever Martina Behm.


Tease, tease, tease: yarn for my Wingspan

I like Wingspan’s¬†simplicity and its quirky shape; I also like that I could, if I chose to, make several, using different styles of yarn (gradient, ombre, pooling, etc) and experiment with the different effects caused by different¬†styles.



I am going to stop right there for today, mostly because I made a discovery during my lovely time strolling through the labyrinth that is the Ravelry pattern library:

I discovered that knitters on the other side of the pond (and north a bit) were playing with short-rows in ways that truly ought not to be allowed.

I will share some of those discoveries next time.

I can say this with some surety, as I have already written half the post, and have collected the photos to go in it. 

A bit of edit-and-polish, and then it shall be all yours to enjoy.

Namasté, kind readers.

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