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This Neckline 2

Do you know about Mati Ventrillon? She’s the French-Venezuelan architect turned knitwear designer who made the news a couple of years ago when Chanel featured some of her designs without attributing them to her. She lives on Fair Isle (along with only 54 other people) and spends the year caring for a flock of sheep whose wool becomes the basis for her beautifully conceived Fair Isle garments.

There’s an informative video about her life and work in this article. And this article gives a pretty detailed description of her path to Fair Isle and her life there (be warned–the format is a little wonky).

The persnickety part of me wishes every stitch of her garments were hand knit, but at the same time, it’s hard to see how she’d stay afloat as a business without the aid of the knitting machine she uses for sweater bodies and sleeves.

That said, I absolutely love what she does with the collars, cuffs, and hems of her sweaters. These she does knit by hand. Some are a basic rib, but many are far more interesting. There are variations on what looks like i-cord edging, interesting hood constructions, and lots of unusual shaping for the necklines and hems.

That is actually the whole point of this post. I’m in love with this neckline.

 

If you follow the link to the Facebook page or go to Madi Ventrillon’s website where this is the cover photo, you can get a better look at it.

How did she do this? Is it just stockinette that’s rolled and been given an interesting shape by blocking? Or is there some sort of actual knitted shaping involved? I’m not even sure why I love it so much, but I seriously need to understand how to do this.

 

What I’ve Got For Today 8

So you know I’ve been knitting, but I don’t have much to share in the way of photos. The best I can come up with is today’s car knitting. The weather was rainy and surprisingly cold for May.

But the stripey blanket did me right. It kept me entertained AND cozy!

To distract you from the lack of exciting knitting photos, how about some baby goats? We got to see these precious angels last weekend at our friend Marcia’s. It was heaven.

These are angora goats. Their fiber will make to-die-for roving and yarn when it’s blended with a bit of wool.

Blackberry here is the mother of the little black baby and his brother. Twins!!

In the spirit of further distraction from the lack of knitting excitement, I’ve been meaning to share some interesting fiber related links with you. Here’s some good stuff I’ve stumbled across online recently.

  • No Wool, No Vikings  This is a fascinating article about a high school program in Norway where the students spend nine months learning what it might have been like to be a Viking. The fun part for us fiber people is that it involved LOTS of wool. In particular, the Viking ships used woolen sails. To outfit one boat required a thousand sheep or more! And the amount of fiber work involved was insane: “Building a boat might take two skilled boatbuilders a couple of weeks . . . but creating its sail would take two skilled women a year.” Crazy! (Thanks to Dorothea, dear friend and captain of my awesome Tour de Fleece team, for turning me on to this article!)
  • The mystery of knitting . . . remains a mystery  Just hilarious.
  • Yoga for Knitters and Crocheters  Did you know Lion Brand Yarn has a whole playlist on YouTube focused on yoga for knitters and crocheters?
  • Why Farmers and Knitters are Fixated on Icelandic Sheep  Are you sensing a theme? I think this might be another of Dorothea’s recommendations. Love me some lopi.
  • Stitch by stitch, a brief history of knitting and activism  Pretty much like it sounds with some cool pics.

That’s what I’ve got for today . . . except for this sweet picture of Frankie sleeping.

What kind of knitting goodness is going on in your neck of the woods?

The Rain Outside 10

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed knitting something as much as I enjoyed knitting The Rain Outside. What a great pattern! I will be forever indebted to Dana over at Yards of Happiness for posting gorgeous version after gorgeous version after gorgeous version of this design until I could no longer resist casting on for one myself.

The lace short row panels provide the perfect amount of interest to keep the garter stitch from becoming monotonous.

And the shape of the shawl–slightly drawn in at the cast-on edge and stretchy and open on the outer edge–make it ideal for wrapping around your neck or shoulders and staying put.

The yarn I used for my version is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Crackpaca. It’s a blend of 45% Merino wool, 45% Alpaca, and 10% silk. It was lovely to handle while knitting, but I’ll have to wait for a report from my friend Cari to hear how it is to wear. I knit this shawl for her because sometimes life is hard, and I needed a way to remind her that I love her and am here for her even when we can’t be geographically close.

I’m going to make another one of these for myself. In fact, I went ahead and ordered the yarn–Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend in “Wildflowers” and “Dove.” This seems like an ideal travel project, so my plan is to go ahead and wind the balls and put them in a project bag along with the pattern and needles. Then, the next time I need to grab something on the way out the door, I’ll be all set.

In the meantime I’ve cast on for my first epic lace project, Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from her book Victorian Lace Today. I needed something worthy of the incredibly special yarn I’m using. More about that later . . .

I hope you are enjoying the Spring weather and getting to do lots of knitting. I’ve been behind on commenting lately, but please know I’m reading and enjoying everyone’s wonderful blog posts!

Shearing Day and a Sneak Peek 10

Far and away, one of the best parts of living where we live now in Northeastern Tennessee is the huge fiber community. Yesterday, we got to help our friends Brad and Ruth Ann with shearing day. Their farm is called Two Roots Alpacas.

It was a beautiful day.

Here’s Ruth Ann providing a little moral support before shearing.

And here is Paul doing a little friendly herding afterwards.

These are some of the bags of fleece, set aside for processing later.

I spent the day drawing up injections but had plenty of breaks for knitting in between.

I’ll just note in passing that the “two roots” part of the name has to do with the vineyard that Brad and Ruth Ann run and that we were richly rewarded with amazing wine after all the work was done. You can see part of the vineyard here in the background.

And did I mention there was a baby?! Alpaca babies are called crias, and this one’s name is Storm. He was born last week during one of the recent bouts of crazy weather we’ve been having, and ooooh, my heavens! The CUTE!!!

It’s a busy week. Between work and the normal life things, there hasn’t been a ton of time for knitting, but I’ve always got something with me. This afternoon we’re going to be running errands, and I plan to work on a very special surprise project for my BFF. I don’t want to say too much, but here’s a sneak peek.

What are you up to this week? I’m loving all the shawls I’ve been seeing lately and am thinking there’s got to be a Find Your Fade in my future. I was resisting at first because there are so many other things I want to knit, but I’m pretty sure Marilyn’s slew of gorgeous Fades over at Yarn, Books & Roses has effectively decimated my resolve!

Still Yarning Along . . . 8

Despite the sad demise of the Yarn Along, knitting and reading continue as always here at Casa Knit Potion.

It was cause for celebration when Anne Lamott’s new book arrived on my doorstep the day before yesterday.

Here’s the quote from the back cover:

I’m not sure I even recognize the ever-presence of mercy anymore, the divine and the human; the messy, crippled, transforming, heartbreaking, lovely, devastating presence of mercy. But I have come to believe that I am starving to death for it, and my world is too.

This.

My knitting is the English Mesh Lace Scarf I started at least a year ago. I think it’s going to be a favorite when I finish it in about 2050. I do a pattern repeat once a month or so. It’s the Kidsilk Haze. I don’t love knitting with it.

What I am loving knitting is this Dog Sweater. I started it last night and should finish up this evening while I’m catching up on The Americans. I’m making it for my cousin’s precious, little, one-eyed dog, Bandit. My track record with dog sweaters isn’t the best, but I’m ever hopeful.

I took this picture while we were waiting for dinner at our local Thai restaurant. Paul and I went there after an evening walk. We both needed some fresh air, so we drove over to a very pretty, hilly trail that winds around above town. The National Cemetery sits down below.

And the redbuds are in bloom.

It was nice.

In other news the #yarnlovechallengeapril is underway on Instagram, and the prompts are inspired. Today’s was “hands.” These were a couple of my favorite photos.

 

Spindle Love 9

I haven’t talked about spinning here in awhile, but the scent of spring–which in my brain leads directly to summer and the Tour de Fleece–is in the air, and I’m getting the itch. Plus, I was lucky enough to get several new Jenkins Turkish spindles recently, so that’s probably another reason I’ve got spinning on my mind. These are my absolute favorite spindles, and they can be ridiculously hard to come by.

One of the new spindles is a tiny purpleheart Kuchulu. My idea is that this one is going to make an especially nice travel spindle, so since yesterday was errand day, I decided to take it for a test drive.

By the time we made our usual stop for coffee at Jemima’s on the Laurel River, I’d managed to start the leader and wind on a tiny little cop.

I kept spinning as we drove to Asheville.

As I’d hoped, the Kuchulu is perfect for spinning in a confined space. There was no awkwardness at all as I spun in the car.

It turns out it’s also super convenient for dropping in a bag or purse and pulling out when there’s a bit of down time. I spun for a few minutes after lunch while we figured out the game plan for the rest of the afternoon.

On the way home, I was needing to knit, so I put this little guy away and pulled out my Inlet cardigan. I love it, though, and I can see taking it with me everywhere so I’ve got it when I find myself in the mood to spin.

If you like the idea of traveling spindles and want to see some great pictures, check out this thread in the Jenkins Ravelry group for instant happiness.

Does anyone else have spinning on the brain these days?

Tea with Jam and Bread 12

We finally had a sunny day last week, and I was able to take some pictures of Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater!

This is a terrific basic pullover pattern. The only thing that’s a little unusual in the design is that Heidi Kirrmaier adds some short-row shaping at the back of the neck to get a more pleasing fit. In the photo below, you can see the nice effect it has. I like this so much that I’ll probably start adding it to other sweater patterns in the future.

At Paul’s request I didn’t didn’t do the color blocking or add the pockets that the pattern calls for. The only other modification I made was to the sleeves. To get a slightly more tailored fit, I started the decreases early and worked them so that the cuffs fit close around the wrist. I also shortened the length of the sleeves a bit to fit Paul’s arms.

The yarn I used for this was Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted in the “Cafe Au Lait” colorway. I got it on sale at Alpaca Direct. It’s something I’d been wanting to try for quite awhile because Brown Sheep seems like such a great company. They’re a family-owned business, located in Mitchell, Nebraska, and they’ve done all kinds of things to make their process environmentally friendly–things like coming up with a way to reuse 70-90% of their daily waste water!

I also really love a wool/mohair blend for warm, hard wearing sweaters. I’ve got a sweater’s worth of this in “Antique Mauve” I’m going to use to make something for myself.

Bottom line, I highly recommend both this sweater pattern and the yarn if you’re looking for a comfy, sturdy, well designed pullover!

 

Yarn Along 1

I’m racing a storm to get this posted before the power goes out, so I’ll just leave this with no additional commentary other than that I highly recommend both the pattern, Inlet, and the book, Michael Pollan’s Second Nature!

 

 

P.S. Doh! I’m a day early!!!! I’ll update tomorrow with a link to the Small Things blog where everyone else will be posting about what they are reading and knitting.

P.P.S. Wow . . . The Yarn Along has come to an end. I’m so sad. Take a look at this post for Ginny Sheller’s perfectly reasonable explanation of why she’s no longer going to be hosting it. I really do understand. But I’m still sad.

Help A Knitter Out 10

A couple of weeks ago I went to a class on small fruit trees hosted by our local Master Gardener group. I brought my knitting, of course, and this attracted the attention of a fellow class member. Turns out, this gentleman (my new friend David) had been looking for a knitter. Go figure!

David’s dad was in the service during WW II and spent a good bit of that time wearing the army issue sweater pictured above. Dad eventually passed the sweater along to David who still wears it. ALL THE TIME. (He also wants to learn to knit. We’re both happily married, or you know I would have been a goner.)

Anyhoo, the sweater is clearly a little worse for wear, and David would like to have it repaired. My question for you, friends and knitters of the blogosphere, is what’s the best way to go about such a thing?

This has clearly been machine knit at a very fine gauge, so while I could mend it well enough to stop the unravelling, I’m doubtful that the results would be cosmetically pleasing. I’ve googled hand darning machine knits and all kinds of WW II sweater things, but so far I haven’t come up with a good solution. I feel sure this wheel must have already been invented. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

On the homefront the rain has been unrelenting.

So I’ve decided to sit by the fire and knit until the sun comes out.

Or until I have to wake up and get back to real life. Ha!

Be well, my knitters. And please let me know if you have any advice about how to help David with his sweater.

Yarn Along: Inlet and The Yellow Birds 10

Reading and knitting are both turning out to be deeply rewarding this week. A good friend told me about The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. My godson was reading it for school, and my friend decided to read along with him. I should mention that she is one of the very few people whose reading recommendations I accept without question. She said the book was a must read and shared the following comment from the author.

“The impulse to write The Yellow Birds came from a desire to look for some truth that I hoped could be found at the core of that most extreme of human experiences [war]. I also thought that by placing the emphasis on the language, using it to demonstrate the main character’s perpetual, unbearable sense of awe and wonder, I’d have at least a chance of connecting to another human being on an emotional level. I wanted to engage with the imagination above all else, because I believe that empathy is an imaginative act.”

I ordered the book right away, and I started reading it today. As always, my friend was right. The first sentence blew me away, and it’s been like that every page since. The writing is absolutely incredible.

My knitting has been on Inlet. Peace Fleece is one of my favorite yarns, and this “Mourning Dove” colorway is gorgeous. It changes depending on the light, so every time I look at it, it’s like I’m seeing something new. I’ve just started the waist shaping on the back. Generally, I don’t do a lot of shaping, but it turns out I’m kind of enjoying it with this.

Be well, my friends! And stop by the Small Things blog to see what other people are knitting and reading this week.