Summer Sightings

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It’s only the first week of June yet it’s summer – full on summer – in Oklahoma. As I write this post it’s just not quite 2 pm and already over 90 degrees F/ 32.2 degrees C and the temperature is still climbing. Any lengthy time outside results in my feeling like a slug or a puddle or a sloth. I become slow moving and just a little melty.

Despite heat-induced sloth-like behavior I experience, the beauty of the season is hard to ignore. For instance – lilies. How can anyone ignore lilies?

How about this Blackberry Snack ornamental lily?

Or my newest ornamental Elodie.

 Or the abundance of Great Spangled Fritallaries?

I’ve sighted a few Monarch butterflies (of the lepidoptera variety not the fibery kind) and even several wild silk moths here at the farm although I’ve yet to get photographs of any. 

On the fibery goodness front there have been a few new arrivals as well. A big order of local wool just returned from the mill. So far I’ve only dug into the bags of sport weight wool blended with 30% tussah silk to dye. The first colorways are turning out lovely! A few early skeins have been snapped up at our farmers market but I’ll get the skeins photographed and up for sale on the blog this week.

Wool/Tussah Silk Sport Weight 220yds

Wool/Tussah Silk Sport Weight 220yds

This new yarn will be perfect for the Monarch Shawl in it’s original size. One skein, one shawl. I love that. I think you’ll like these colorways too.

In celebration of summer (or maybe as a coping strategy) I’ve declared open season on popsicles!

Let the brain freezes begin!
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A Gray Hairstreak, A Blackberry Snack, and the Flaming Lips

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I’ve been restless of late.

I know it’s ridiculous to be restless in Spring, there is so much to do. But no – I’m not going to get the stylist to color my graying hair or buy a motorcycle or start wearing nothing but five inch heels.

Even if you aren’t a crazy farmer/gardener/dyer you can get restless with your knitting and that’s where I’ve been for a week. After knitting several Monarch Shawls in sport weight I felt the desire to return to the skinny stuff – you know – the lace weight yarn.

Micro Midara lace yarn on size 3US needle

First I pulled out a skein of Micro Midara, a Lithuanian-produced very fine weight wool which is the primary yarn used in Estonian lace. Think 1531yds/1400 meters per 100 grams. Skinny yarn. Very skinny yarn. I perused my copy of Haapsalu Saal, the Estonian lace book which is more than a stitch dictionary, but since my copy is written in Estonian (although there is now an English translation) it is still basically a collection of lace stitch patterns and the variations on them.

I’ve always had a hankering to knit one particular stitch pattern in this book, it’s called Liblikakiri 1 – a simple translation is Butterfly 1. It is unique in that it combines nupps and cables. Yeah  – how cool is that?

While I liked the white Midara Micro on the first few rows of Butterfly 1 I decided it wasn’t exactly what I was needing. I glanced at the shelves beside my desk and spied a big skein of Oak Barn Merino in a pale gray colorway I call Hearth (1000 yards/914 meters per 90 grams).

On the drive into Tulsa on Friday night I cast on again for the Butterfly 1 using the Hearth colorway and a size 6US needle, then switched to a size 5US needle on row one. This little extra looseness will allow me to pick up stitches for an added border after I finish the center/body panel. I was working five repeats of the butterfly across the body and nine stitch nupps.

You know how I love butterflies right? I’ve dubbed this project the Gray Hairstreak. If you’re not familiar with the gray hairstreak butterfly I suggest you check out this website – Butterflies and Moths North America.  Lovely isn’t it!!!

Not only does this pattern have cables and nupps – the nupps are executed on the WS (wrong side) of the knitting. Usually nupps are created on the  RS (right side) and purled together on the WS. After several trials I decided (since I don’t speak Estonian and couldn’t translate the exact directions) that what worked for me was a p, yo, p, yo, p, yo, p, yo, p nupp (that’s nine stitches knit into one stitch while it’s still on the left needle). On the following RS row I knit those stitches together through the back of the loop thereby twisting them so they would lie correctly. (I’m absolutely certain I’ve lost my non-knitting friends now!)

Working five repeats across yielded a very wide stole sized width. I wasn’t sure I wanted that wide of a stole especially before I’ve even added the attached border so I frogged and started again knitting three repeats across. It’s not terribly wide but I like the width for a scarf and now can begin to troll through stitch dictionaries for a nice wide border to attach when the center panel is completed.

The Gray Hairstreak Scarf

As I said, I’m doing nine-stitch nupps. Now I’m a BIG fan of the nupps – which I was told is the Estonian term for button – but I’m wondering if nine is too thick. Should I maybe switch to a seven-stitch nupp? Hmmm

While my Gray Hairstreak was blocking so I could get a better look at it I decided to plant a few flowers that I bought at the farmers market yesterday.

Here’s my new ornamental lily called Blackberry Snack.  I’m quite excited about it!

And I bought a great little salvia called Flaming Lips.

I know – not great photos, especially of the little hanging bloom that does indeed look like a very red and pouty lower lip. 
Feel free to google the Flaming Lips –  I can assure you that you will get something interesting – primarily you’ll get hits for Oklahoma’s official rock band The Flaming Lips!
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Monarch Shawl – Released for Migration!

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The Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is perhaps the most famous butterfly in North America or even the world. These amazing creatures migrate northward up to 3000 miles each spring after spending their winters in Mexico or California.

Great clusters of them can be seen during the migration period, entire trees can be covered with their cinnamon, orange, and gold wings providing a most amazing sight. There are many unknowns about the Monarch’s migration process because the individuals never make the full round trip. It is their children’s grandchildren that return.

This shawl’s pattern was influenced by the Monarch’s wings. Should the completed shawl be worn by you for awhile and then passed on to a child or grandchild, well, that would seem appropriate, too.

Original Design was knit in Lost City Knits Llama Bamboo Sport, natural colorway. A second has been knit (but not yet photographed) in Lost City Knits Llama Bamboo Red Dirt Roads, and Extra Virgin colorway.

Materials Needed: 220 yards/201 meters of sport weight yarn. Size 7 US/ 4.5 mm circular needle. Four Stitch markers.

The Monarch Shawl pattern is now available in the LCK Pattern Shop as a FREE download!

Happy Knitting and Happy Butterfly Watching!
ps if you knit a Monarch Shawl – we appreciate your linking it in Ravelry! 

Dear Knitters – please accept my apologies but there were several errors on the Written Directions. No changes have been made to the charts. A new version with Written Direction corrections has been uploaded. Please be sure you have downloaded Monarch Shawl, v1.1 if you are using the Written Directions.


Lost City Denise
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May Morning Shawl Pattern Now Available!

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The ancient Celts believed that washing one’s face on the first day of May with the morning dew would enhance a woman’s beauty and health. This simple leaf pattern incorporates silver-lined size 8 seed beads which, if the sun hits them right, glisten like dew drops on fresh spring leaves. 
People have asked me several times when the May Morning Shawl would be released and my original goal was to release it on May 1st. Our busy spring festival schedule and even rain caused a slight delay. But Thursday morning, while the dew was still on the tall grass, we took the shawl to the east pasture for a photo shoot. While I’m a week late I’m pleased to say it’s now a FREE download on the Patterns and More page!
This design is knit from the bottom up without a center column. Four beads per leaf are used on the first seven repeats, two per leaf on the next five repeats, and one bead per leaf thereafter. Why? Beading on long rows quickly wears out knitters new to beading lace so I’ve designed this shawl as an introduction to beading. However, if you’re experienced with adding beads to your knitted lace, by all means add as many as you like!

The May Morning Shawl 
Wear it and celebrate your own health and beauty all through the year!

Happy Knitting Everyone!
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Norman May Fair

The weather in Oklahoma can be unpredictable and an outdoor festival in May can hold some surprises. This past weekend’s three day May Fair was both a challenge and a joy. Friday was incredibly windy with gusts around 70mph. Sunday was a complete wash out due to heavy thunderstorms. Saturday though the weather was beautiful and we had a good crowd show up at the park in downtown Norman, OK. It’s always fun to meet and talk to the knitters at festivals.

One of the knitters even took some photos of the yarn in our booth for her 365 in 2011 photos project. How cool is that? If you’re not familiar with the project the website is here – and there is a group on Ravelry as well.

Repurposed Book/Journal from Hillarey

In addition to the festival, I enjoy the Norman event because the Norman Public Library holds their Used Book Sale this weekend each year. Usually I peruse and just purchase what strikes my fancy, but this year I was looking for some interesting books to repurpose as journals. So far I’ve only done a bit of bookbinding in this manner, but I’m pleased with the finished journal although I see some room for improvement. The process is described in detail here and it’s easy enough once you have the tools on hand. I found three small books that I’ll turn into journals in the coming months.

The first time I’d seen repurposing of old books into journals was when our daughter Hillarey gave Christopher and me each one for Christmas a year ago. I instantly loved the size, the cover and the idea of recycling an old book with possibly torn and tattered pages into something useful. What I hadn’t realized until I began using the journal was how warm it felt, the blank pages weren’t blazing white but a little aged and inviting. Some journalers are inhibited by the blank pages of a new journal, that wasn’t a factor at all in this journal.

Here’s a look at the first journal I’ve built. I used white stationary that we’d mistakenly bought at the office supply store. The inside cover is from wrapping paper that covered a gift that Hillarey had given me, and the ribbon page marker was the bow on a gift. I’ve tied a little Venus of Willendorf stitch marker on the bottom of the ribbon. I’ve added a couple of little pockets for jotting notes as well. Sometimes they’re handy for writing book titles down or prompts for later journal entries. I like an elastic band to hold the book together especially once I start stuffing things in it or stuffing it in my purse or daypack. The buttons on the elastic cord are from a tin of old buttons that belonged to Christopher’s grandmother. I’ve added the little frog bead for whimsy and inspiration. The book was a collection of poetry used in Canadian schools and I’ve kept a few pages and bound one of the poems, Poe’s The Raven, about midway in the journal. It was always one of my favorite poems. The cover was a solid salmon color with the publishing company’s logo in the center. It just happens that I have a gold paint pen in my desk drawer, doodling has begun in the corner.

My first bookbinding journal attempt
Inside cover of journal

After closing up our booth on Saturday we walked over a few blocks to where the Norman Music Festival was going on. The music was loud and the people seemed to be having a good time. We managed to find our friend Chef Teri Fermo and her mobile catering vehicle, Jezabel.

Chef Teri!
Jezebel


 

I had other goals on the trip as well. I wanted to finish a test knit of a new pattern which will be released later this month (photos coming soon), and a second little Maaema Scarf. I used one skein of the Merino Angora in colorway Autumnal. The small skein of 220 yards yielded a sweet little scarf that is just the right size if you’re wanting something to wrap around your neck and wear with a brooch. I have a great silver brooch that Hillarey made me several years ago that will work well I think. The finished scarf measures 36 inches long. When it’s dry I’ll post a photo of the scarf with the brooch. I can say that it feels fabulous against the neck!!

Maaema in yellow

Interesting…. It wasn’t until I was adding this photo that I saw that I have an error in the finished scarf! See it midway where the blue and green foam pads meet? Hmm go figure. I think I can live with it. :;grin::
The weather in Oklahoma can be unpredictable and an outdoor festival in May can hold some surprises. This past weekend’s three day May Fair was both a challenge and a joy. Friday was incredibly windy with gusts around 70mph. Sunday was a complete wash out due to heavy thunderstorms. Saturday though the weather was beautiful and we had a good crowd show up at the park in downtown Norman, OK. It’s always fun to meet and talk to the knitters at festivals. One of the knitters even took some photos of the yarn in our booth for her 365 in 2011 photos project. How cool is that? If you’re not familiar with the project the website is here – and there is a group on Ravelry as well. In addition to the festival, I enjoy the Norman event because the Norman Public Library holds their Used Book Sale this weekend each year. Usually I peruse and just purchase what strikes my fancy, but this year I was looking for some interesting books to repurpose as journals. So far I’ve only done a bit of bookbinding in this manner, but I’m pleased with the finished journal although I see some room for improvement. The process is described in detail here and it’s easy enough once you have the tools on hand. I found three small books that I’ll turn into journals in the coming months.The first time I’d seen repurposing of old books into journals was when our daughter Hillarey gave Christopher and I each one for Christmas a year ago. I instantly loved the size, the cover and the idea of recycling an old book with possibly torn and tattered pages into something useful. What I hadn’t realized until I began using the journal was how warm it felt, the blank pages weren’t blazing white but a little aged and inviting. Some journalers are inhibited by the blank pages of a new journal, that wasn’t a factor at all in this journal. Here’s a look at the first journal I’ve built. I used white stationary that we’d mistakenly bought at the office supply store. The inside cover is from wrapping paper that covered a gift that Hillarey had given me, and the ribbon page marker was the bow on a gift. I’ve tied a little Venus of Willendorf stitch marker on the bottom of the ribbon. I’ve added a couple of little pockets for jotting notes as well. Sometimes they’re handy for writing book titles down or prompts for later journal entries. I like an elastic band to hold the book together especially once I start stuffing things in it or stuffing it in my purse or daypack. The buttons on the elastic cord are from a tin of old buttons that belonged to Christopher’s grandmother. I’ve added the little frog bead for whimsy and inspiration. The book was a collection of poetry used in Canadian schools and I’ve kept a few pages and bound one of the poems, Poe’s The Raven, about midway in the journal. It was always one of my favorite poems.
I had other goals on the trip as well. I wanted to finish a test knit of a new pattern which will be released later this month, and a second little Maaema Scarf. I used one skein of the Merino Angora in colorway Autumnal. The small skein of 220 yards yielded a sweet little scarf that is just the right size if you’re wanting something to wrap around your neck and wear with a brooch. I have a great silver brooch that Hillarey made me several years ago that will work well I think. When it’s dry I’ll post a photo of the scarf with the brooch. I can say that it feels fabulous against the neck!!var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”)); var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-xxxxxx-x”);pageTracker._trackPageview();

Wearing Crazy Pants

When I finished the Maaema Scarf I made this deal with myself to finish one other WIP before casting on a new project. Usually I’m pretty good at this little game. Not this time though, before long I found myself pulling on a pair of crazy pants.

First I worked diligently on my Nonpariel Sweater. The goal was to finish it up before the one year mark, which is in May. But when I finished the second front and pinned it to the back section I knew I was in trouble. The armholes were too short to reach my shoulders so I created a little saddle shoulder section and seamed the body together. It looks decent. But I lost steam and haven’t started the sleeves yet.

Nonpariel Sweater
Nonpariel Sweater

To divert myself from the notion that the sleeves on Nonpariel would probably need tinkering to make them fit I cast on the Moonlight Sonata by Kay Meadors using a new black dyed llama yarn in lace.

Midnight Sonata

(I know I know – it’ll be up in the online shop this week) I’m cheekily calling the colorway Amy Winehouse because it reminds me of her lines of mascara. (It’s available in Oak Barn too – well when I get it up on the website anyway.) This is a sweet little crescent shaped shawl, mostly stocking stitch with beads until you get to the border. It’s going nice but beads aren’t always good in the car. I felt a little guilt and the crazy pants were snug when I tried fastening them after starting the new shawl.

Overdyed cashmere & a treat!

Then because I was a few days in deciding whether to use size 6 or  8 beads I cast on a second Maaema. The new one is done in a dark red cashmere cobweb, which I bought and overdyed because I wasn’t happy with the original terra cotta colorway. I love how the cashmere looks in the red and the pattern. The only hitch is I’m getting just a bit of catch on the joins of my interchangeable KP needles. Considering how smooth these joins are and that I’ve never had that happen before I think it owes to the lightness of the cobweb cashmere.

Maaema #2

The crazy pants were starting to get a little looser with two new lace projects on the needles. I was dyeing last week and came up with a new colorway, Extra Virgin, that has me over the moon. I’m particularly taken with the Extra Virgin in sport weight llama. In fact, I decided it needed a new pattern. Monday night I finished the hen scratches on graph paper and am ready to cast on. I’ll have something to show soon.

Extra Virgin in Llama Sport

 I’ve managed to reach the halfway point in my Cloisters Stole and the bright orangey/red of the Salsa Dancing colorway in Oak Barn never fails to cheer me. Maybe this colorway should be encouraged for people suffering from chronic sadness, bouts of miasma or saved for dreary day knitting when its positive effect is most needed.

Cloisters

Saturday at the Herbal Affair in Sand Springs was wonderful. It was a bit nippy in the morning but we wore layers and began peeling them off shortly after setting up. The whole day was sunny and a steady stream of business. I never had a chance to leave the booth other than to grab a quick sandwich. There were old friends, family, and new friends to talk to, and customers to enjoy. One customer spotted the Maaema and said – “That’s Estonian! My husband is Estonian. His mother grew up there and he speaks it fluently.” I was jazzed to chat with them. He roughly translated the word nupps (the nupps that I love) as buttons. I like the way that sounds, buttons, way better than telling people they are like bobbles which have the negative connotations of bulky 1980’s sweaters.

As I was helping another customer who was looking at the Maaema and buying yarn, and a second customer who was asking about the merino/angora for another project I got to wondering about how the Maaema would look knit in the merino/angora in Autumnal – the soft yellow. It’s been on my mind for two days now. If the original knit in 400 yards of lace was 60 inches long, how long would a scarf knit in 220 yards of light fingering be?  I may have to wind a skein and find out. Ahhh the crazy pants are getting soft and easy to button now.

Merino-angora autumnal
Merino Angora in Autumnal – will it become a Maaema? Only the Crazy Pants know…

Tuesday morning I woke up from a dream about knitting a large shawl from Haapsalu Sall by Siiri Reimann and Aime Edasi using the white Estonian yarn I bought last year. The fact that I’m writing this all down at 4:00am is another testament to the crazy. But really – I think I can wear the crazy pants comfortably now. They’re like favorite old Levis. Soft and warm and a little bit holey – kind of lacy in fact. Can’t you see a beautiful white lace shawl that takes forever to knit worn with a pair of faded Levis and maybe a leather cowboy hat?

Haapsalu Sall – inspiration
What do you knit when wearing Crazy Pants?
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Wearing Crazy Pants

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Color Everywhere!

Someone recently told us how they like to keep busy, and that they weren’t content to sit and watch the world go by. Chris and I both piped up that we like to sit and watch the world! 
I’m not lazy but I love to slow down and watch what is happening here on the farm – or in nature anyway – and for that matter people watching is mighty entertaining as well. Being aware of our surroundings can give great joy. The past few days I’ve been dazzled by these little yellow birds on the feeders. I think we’ve got both warblers and finches munching away on black oil sunflower seeds. It’s hard to catch them in the act with my little Coolpix camera though. As soon as I get close enough to really zoom in they fly off to the trees. I snapped this photo (the best I could get) while walking back from the studio yesterday. This morning there were several dozen in the trees and on the ground surrounding this feeder. Aren’t they dazzling? Especially that one just left of the feeder!
Color is abundant in the new yarns I just added to the Alpaca and Llama online shop as well. Most of the week has been spent dyeing the Alpaca Tussah Silk in lace weight, and the Llama Bamboo in sport weight. The base yarns for both of these weights are a sweet faun color and they take the dye beautifully. When I dye commercial yarns like our Oak Barn Merino or the Lost City Silk, I’m starting with a fairly blank slate of white or ivory, but with the local fibers it’s rarely pure white or ivory. A dye bath used on ivory yarn can have quite a different result when you toss in a faun or gray yarn. It’s always interesting. The faun color is wonderful in it’s own right and so I decided on several of the colorways I’d let a little faun show through. Take for instance the Winter Hike in both Llama Sport and Alpaca Lace, you’ll see little glimpses of the natural color of the fiber in the yarn. Makes sense to me that on a yarn called Winter Hike there should be some tan or brown involved, how about you? The same thing with the new Extra Virgin and Indigo Bunting. I played with the amount of dye used in the pots and the yarn placements so the skeins show just a hint of faun. I hope you’ll like them as well as I do.
Last Saturday was the Opening Day at Cherry Street Farmers Market and it was a busy one! This Saturday we’ll be at the Sand Springs Herbal Affair. The Herbal Affair is the big mama of herb festivals in Oklahoma. Held in the historic downtown district, numerous streets are blocked with barricades for vendors to set up offering plants, soaps and sundries, flowers, art and crafts – oh the Amish ladies will be there with dumplings and pies for sale. The town square in front of the old Carnegie library is transformed to a stage where folk, bluegrass and Celtic music will be played for attendees who’ve taken a break from shopping to sit on straw bales.
If you’re in Oklahoma this Saturday – come out to the Herbal Affair. You don’t want to miss it! In the 21 years that this festival has been going on I’ve missed one, and I’m not about to let that happen again!

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