April 30, 2018

Sky Scarf

I promise this is the very, very last Semester in the West post. (It was almost two full years ago at this point, I'd hope so!!) But I really got my knit on during those 3+ glorious months on the road, which helped me grow a lot as a knitter. So, talking about growth, I want to share a FO that is 100% garter stitch, my sky scarf! I may rarely knit solely in garter stitch these days, but for this project, it was all about color and symbolism.

Photo taken at Horseshoe Prairie in northeast Oregon, Feb 2018.
The semester before I departed for Semester in the West, Lea Redmond, a Whitman alumna, paid a visit to talk about the knitting book she had recently published called Knit the Sky. Knit the Sky argues for intentional, process-based knitting. The finest knitting need not be the most technically sophisticated but meaningful. While filled with other creative knitting project ideas, the Sky Scarf is Redmond's flagship project in her book. Her instructions for this scarf are less a pattern and more a recipe or scavenger hunt clue: buy a few different colors of yarn that reflect the sky and its variations, intentionally look out at the sky every day for an entire year, and knit two rows each day with the one or two colors that best depict the sky from that day. At the end of the year you will not only be a knitterly climatologist for your area; you'll also have a scarf! 

December on the left, August on the right. Can't you tell?!
I had never been exposed to this kind of artistic knitting and thought that Semester in the West would be a great opportunity to try something like that out. As you have already seen with my hat project, I wanted to take advantage of being outside and my soul marinating in the rawness of the elements for three months to knit something unique and special. And a sky scarf would be perfect! Something about sunsets grab me as if they aren't cliché, and I witnessed more sunrises during this semester than the rest of my life combined. Our ventures throughout the West--sometimes called "big sky country"-- made this project suitable. 

Moab, UT: B2, W
Instead of knitting a scarf over the course of an entire year, I decided to knit a scarf for just the three months of the semester. I also think this scarf is particularly interesting because it doesn't reflect the seasonal fluctuations of a particular place, but rather a snapshot of the greater American West. Thus, in order to knit a full-length scarf, I knitted five rows per day instead of the prescribed two.  I bought five skeins of Knit Picks Palette to cover the blues, grays, and whites that the sky can behold and then divided each skein into two balls for each color. Although it was fingering weight yarn, I knitted two strands together as one and used US 6 needles. In my daily journal that I was both forced and glad to keep, I not only recorded the date, time, and location, but also which colors the sky best matched that day--Pool (blue 1), Sky (blue 2), Cream (white), Finnley Heather (gray 1), or Marble Heather (gray 2). When I changed locations, I worked a bobble at the beginning of the new row. This way I could start at the beginning of the scarf and trace my way through the entire journey!

Gallatin Gateway, MT: W, G1
Summarizing an entire 24 hours of sky into one or two colors is a delicate impossible act. What time of day do you record? How do you summarize so many hues of blue and varieties of clouds? What to do when a squadron of ominous, gray clouds appear, dump a small tsunami of rain, and then yield a spotless blue sky the rest of the day? 

Farmington, NM: B1, W
Here's what I came up with. I focused on the daytime appearance of the sky (i.e. not sunrise or sunset) to keep the color possibilities constant. I recorded the colors that I thought most accurately described the sky for that day and what made it memorable. Was I drenched by that one passing cloud on a run? Might as well go with it. With only two grays and two blues, I asked myself, "is this a bright blue or a light blue?" and "is the sky a light gray or a dark gray" to determine my classifications.

Southwest Texas: G1, G2

Since I was recording the colors of the sky in a journal, I rarely (if ever) ended up knitting each day's sky color on the same day. Typically, when I was tired of knitting the hat I was working on, or was waiting on a Westie to pick a design, I would devote a day to catching up on the sky scarf, and knit a couple weeks' worth at a time. Thanks to the scant amount of rain and abundant clear skies we had on the trip, I ran out of bright blue (B1, or Pool) before the end. Since I was out of mailing range and had plenty of other things to work on at that point, I just recorded the last sky colors and finished the scarf after the semester ended. There has been an extended timeline to finish up this beast--while the majority was worked from August to December 2016, it was finally finished in February 2017 (see below picture for a photo from the day it was finished), and wasn't formally photographed until February 2018, and here I am, in frickin' April, finally writing up this project that has been finished in my closet for over a year! My tardiness says nothing about my fondness for this truly unique garment. 

So that's my sky scarf! It was the first scarf I knitted myself since the beginning of high school, when my knitting skills were, ahem, nowhere near where they are now. I wear this scarf proudly and often during the winter months!

Lea Redmond's visit to Whitman to talk about her creative approach to knitting has been hugely influential on my knitting perspective. I wonder what my next nontraditional project might be. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

And in the meantime,
Happy Crafting!!

March 7, 2018

DIY February Challenge | Part 2

ICYMI: During the month of February, I challenged myself to wear something I've made (or significantly altered/modified) every day. I'm calling it the #DIYfebruary Challenge. 

See how the first two weeks went: #DIYfebruary Part 1

Hey hey! February is done, so it is time to share the second half of my #DIYfeburary challenge, which was a smashing success! I am impressed that I didn't miss a single day-- of both wearing a handmade item (the easy part) and photographing the evidence (however terrible the selfies may be). 

I did not quite manage to wear everything I have up in Walla Walla that I made or significantly modified. I spent a full day of my winter break last January taking up the hem of a pencil skirt I purchased (including the liner), and I didn't wear it because there wasn't a business casual event to wear it to this month. There were other odds and ends that also I didn't manage to fit in, like a scarf I made in 2007 that should stay in 2007, and my first pair of socks that were always way too big for me.

And so, here are weeks 3 & 4!
Feb 15: Halifax Beanie // Feb 16: Green Shirt & Halifax Beanie

Feb 17: Au Naturel Handspun Scarf // Feb 18: Blustery Thermal Headband

Feb 19: Aidez Cardigan // Feb 20: Au Naturel Handspun Scarf

Feb 21: Beaded Beanie & Aidez Cardigan // Feb 22: Gridiron Bordeaux Hat, Afmaeli Sweater & Princess Bride Socks

Feb 23: Elizabeth's Hat & Hela Sweater // Feb 24: Beaded Beanie & Shirred Yolk Sweater

Feb 25: Sky Scarf // Feb 26: Aidez Thermal Headband & Shirred Yolk Sweater

Feb 27: Cotton Candy Earrings, Second Scarf & Greenfield Cardigan // Feb 28: Gridiron Bordeaux Hat & Cotton Candy Earrings
And again, there are a few pieces that have yet to be featured on the blog. They'll be coming up during the next posts.

As a final recap, here is a collage of the full month of #DIYfebruary.

So that is how I completed the #DIYfebruary challenge. Maybe in 2019 I'll do it again! (Who knows where I'll be at that point...)

Until next time,
Happy Crafting!!

February 19, 2018

DIY February Challenge | Part 1

For this month of February, I am challenging myself to wear something that I've made (or significantly altered/modified) every day. I'm calling it the #DIYfebruary Challenge. 

Beyond just wearing something handmade every day, there aren't any other rules. Repeats are okay. I don't necessarily have to wear every piece I've ever made--I don't have everything I've ever made in Walla Walla, and I would be pretty embarrassed if had to wear the scarves I made in elementary school. 

I've had the idea to try this out for quite some time now. I did a test run last November, and held out until Thanksgiving, when I came home to much warmer weather. Given that I have a lot more knitted garments than sewn garments, winter weather is definitely an important factor for me to able to complete this challenge. The first week of this February was a warm false spring, which made me get creative when it was too hot to wear knitted sweaters, hats, or scarves. But now, it is currently 20 degrees (F) outside and now it would be hard to not wear things I've made.

The hardest part of this is documenting it. I don't consider myself a talented selfie taker, nor do I love the abundance of my face on this post. But here is the documentation for the first half of this challenge! Power to the handmade.

Feb 1: Greenfield Cardigan // Feb 2: Hela Sweater

Feb 3: Sunset Earrings // Feb 4: Elizabeth's Hat

Feb 5: Princess Bride Socks // Feb 6: Choral Maxi Skirt & Aidez Cardigan

Feb 7: Aidez Cardigan & Swish Pants (altered) // Feb 8: Galactic Frenzy Skirt

Feb 9: Shirred Yolk Sweater // Feb 10: Sky Scarf

Feb 11: Cozy Cabled Cowl // Feb 12: Gridiron Thermal Headband
Feb 13: Afmaeli Sweater // Feb 14: Hela Sweater
I haven't featured every one of these pieces on the blog yet. So you're getting a sneak peak of what's to come!

I'll be back with the second half of the challenge in a couple weeks. Until then, happy crafting!!


January 10, 2018

Piano Riffs Embroidered Pillow

Find other posts about embroidered pillows below:
Wildflower Bouquet | Quilted Paintbrush | Robin | Perched Owl

There are good ships, there are wood ships, but the best type of ships are friendships...

Okay, it's cheesy. But when a very special friendship emerges, it's fun to document in a special way, especially when you know they will appreciate it. That is what led to me to spend 50 hours during the last three weeks of the fall semester making this pillow for Thomas. I'm calling it "piano riffs."

Thomas and I were more or less forced ("strongly encouraged") to become friends on Semester in the West, but since then we have managed to become even closer. In the west, we were two of the nerdier nerds, and often worked late into the night in the trailer (thus, we were part of the not-very-originally named "late-night trailer crew"). We also explored Arches National Park together on one of our only days off (thus, "Arches crew"). (Signe and Griff were also part of the crew.) We are both frequently found in the music building, and we were in Aural Skills together last semester, which was challenging for us in opposite ways--Thomas is a pianist and composer, and I'm a singer. And we were able to meet up in Scandinavia last summer and travel around western Sweden and Copenhagen. And that's not even all of it...

While Thomas is not the only one who have I had abundant memorable adventures with, his innate appreciation for... well, everything (after all, he's an Environmental Humanities major with a music and biology double minor--that's not nothing) makes any gift-giver as happy to give something as he is to receive it. Nothing is better for a crafter than a recipient who appreciates the amount of effort that went into the piece. I have read several books and blogs advising knitters not to give anything more substantial than a hat to someone, unless you know they will appreciate it and understand that a hand-knit sweater represents a heck of a lot more time than a factory-made sweater. Well, I followed that rule: first I made Thomas a SITW hat, and he was wildly enthusiastic about it. He leveled up.

Thomas is going to study abroad in Costa Rica this spring and summer through my graduation and departure from Whitman, so this was disguised as a birthday present, but mostly acted as an until-we-meet-again gift. One Saturday night in November after coming back from... somewhere, I sketched out a design for the pillow, calculating that, with exactly one month including a week of Thanksgiving break, I could just barely pull it off while still passing my classes.

This is what the memory book includes: Binoculars (for birds and butterflies), a piano keyboard, a globe (for trotting), fall leaves, a Western kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis), and three books we both read--Bill duBuys's  A Great Aridness, our SITW summer reading; Sightsinging, one of our textbooks for Aural Skills; and Scandinavia, a guidebook reminiscent of our summer travels. 

A "generic" wilderness scene representing SITW, complete with the night sky, mountains, foothills, and forest.

Delicate Arch, the icon of Arches National Park, and the namesake of "Arches crew." Also, my sign-off with my nickname of select few people, "Lizbird." 

In the interest of not posting every single closeup photo I took, the memory book also includes: a butterfly (species is native to the Western US but I've forgotten the exact one), the flags of Denmark and Sweden, and music notes illustrating a peculiar rhythm that is there for aesthetics only.

I worked with my embroidery thread stash, most of which belonged to my grandmother, some of which came from her mother or grandmother. The white fabric is just a classic white muslin, and the green background fabric is leftover from my green shirt from earlier this fall! I bought a 14" square pillow form from Jo-Ann Fabrics and made the pillowcase exactly how I learned in my high school Fiber Arts class, where I made my first embroidered pillow. In case anyone is curious (i.e. my future self), the stitches I used include: back stitch, satin stitch, French knots, whip stitch, leaf stitch, chain stitch, free-hand (for lettering), weaving stitch (white piano keys), and running stitch.

As I predicted, Thomas was quite appreciative of the gift. I really enjoyed the process of making it during concerts, airplane rides, holidays, and in the library, while procrastinating on other things; honestly, I can't recall ever being quite this excited to give a handmade surprise.

Thomas is going places... for now, to Costa Rica. Thanks for the memories. Until we meet again, aloha nui loa, hasta luego, mange tak for alt. 

Happy Crafting!!

December 5, 2017

Ruth's SITW Hat

Yes, this is another post-SITW binge hat. My esteemed sister Ruth wanted in on the custom-order hat fun and chose the same hat pattern as Griffin, "The Easy Ombre Slouch Hat," except with purple and grey instead of teal and grey. It's a fun and easy pattern, so I was happy to make a hat with it again only a few months later. And of course she also wanted the pom-pom, too.

While this hat was certainly intended to be a birthday gift (in January), the only thing I did before her birthday was buy the purple yarn. I knitted the hat on the bus from Bellingham to Walla Walla (via Vancouver, WA due to a snowy Snoqualmie Pass...) during the chamber singers road trip last early February. And while the hat was completed in early February, it just sat around my room until I came home for spring break. Better late than never, I guess. :) I was hoping I'd waited long enough that she had completely forgotten about this tardy promise, but she greeted me expectantly when I came home. Fortunately she liked the finished piece!

Amid the ridiculous poses during our front-yard photo shoot, I guess she likes the hat! Yarn is Knit Picks Swish DK in Eggplant and Drops Karisma Superwash in Light Gray. I modified the pattern a bit to fit the SITW style (see modifications detailed on my post about Griffin's hat) and used US 2 and US 6. 

View this project on Ravelry.

Happy Crafting!!

November 24, 2017

Cozy Snowflake Hat

With Thanksgiving behind us and the holiday frenzy just starting up, what better time than to share a holiday gift from last year?! Please excuse how late I'm finally sharing this pattern--senior year is a busy time. Also, I knitted up a storm last fall and worked up quite the backlog. 

Anyway, after knitting up a dozen SITW hats, I had perfected the process. While everything was fresh in my brain, it only seemed fair to offer the custom-made hat service to my mother for her Christmas gift. (My sister had the same offer, stay tuned. My father has already received a custom hat.) Mom's not the most eager hat designer, often preferring that I surprise her. But remember that the reason why I liked the SITW hat project is because someone else's creativity was at work to come up with the design! She eventually made a vague request for a snowflake motif, but left me to come up with the specifics. Well, though not the most helpful, it worked. 

Mom's favorite colors to wear are red, white, and blue. I capitalized on these preferences with the snowflake design. When drawing up this design, I also tried to keep it subtle and to not grab everyone's attention, per her general style.

I was late to order the yarn color my mother requested (same color as the main color in my Afmæli sweater), so I ended up wrapping the recently-arrived yarn to be opened on Christmas, to function as a coupon with a quick turnaround. I knitted the hat from December 27, 2016 - January 2, 2017. Yarn is Drops Lima in Dark Blue, Pearl Grey, and Red. Needle sizes used are US 2 and US 6. Photos are from the backyard, featuring the same bit of fence that frequently shows up on this blog (e.g. 1/2/3/4/5). 

Cozy Snowflake Hat Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate. Recommended for knitters who have done fair isle techniques before.
Yarn: Drops Lima. 1 skein Dark Blue 4305 (A), 0.2 skeins Pearl Grey 9020 (B), 0.05 skein Red 3609 (C)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 (4 mm) in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult head, 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) 9 in (23 cm) circular and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

With A and US 2 dp needles, CO 120 sts. Connect in the round and pm. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (3 cm).

Switch to US 6 circulars and decrease 20 sts evenly around round (repeat *k4, k2tog* across round) = 100 sts.

K two more rounds with A, then work Color Chart 1. Repeat each chart row ten (10) times per round.

Color Chart 1
Blue = Color A; Grey = Color B; Red = Color C
After completing color chart, work St st with A until piece measures 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) or desired length. 

Next, work decreases. Switch to dp needles as needed.
Round 1: *K3, k2tog* repeat * to * across round = 80 sts.
Round 2 and all even rounds: K across round.
Round 3: *K2, k2tog* repeat * to * across round = 60 sts.
Round 5: *K1, k2tog* repeat * to * across round = 40 sts.
Round 7: K2tog across round = 20 sts.
Round 9: K2tog across round = 10 sts.

Cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!
dp – double-pointed needles
CO – cast on
pm – place marker
k – knit
p – purl
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
St st – stockinette stitch
st(s) – stich(es)
You can download this pattern as a free PDF or find it on Ravelry.

Happy Crafting!!

October 28, 2017

Sarah's Hat | SITW Hat Series

This post is the final installation of the Semester in the West Hat Series. Catch up on the other hats and free patterns below.

I am currently over halfway through my senior fall, but I still have one more Semester in the West hat to share. With a whole year to reflect on my experience on SITW, I am increasingly sure that it was an experience I'll cherish for the rest of my life--from the sunsets and stars to the friends I made and people I met. Exactly one year ago, October 28, 2016, we awoke at sunrise ("sparrow's fart") outside of Deming, New Mexico (center photo), and drove much of the day to reach Carlsbad, featuring a wonderful swimming hole (right). 

When I started this hat project, I told the other Westies that I couldn't promise that everyone would get a hat, as I didn't know how much time or motivation I would have to knit on the trip. As it turned out, I managed to knit twelve hats, the last being for Sarah. I started the hat while back at Johnston Wilderness Campus and finished it over winter break. 

Sarah requested a hat with trees and moose, and a little diamond motif just above the brim. With this hat pattern, I ended up doing three-stranded color work for almost the entirety of the hat, which is so much harder than two-color fair isle color work. Three-color stranding can limit the hat's elasticity for fitting, so it was a careful endeavor, and I was very glad to see that the hat fit on the first try!

The yarn is Drops Karisma in Petrol and Brown, and Drops Lima in Green. I used US 2 and US 6 to knit the hat; see pattern below and attached PDF! These photos are taken on top of a frozen Bennington Lake from January.

Sarah's hat was a high note to end on. Since SITW, we've become quite close friends. We prance around the outdoors together, study on Saturday nights, motivate each other to go running, and get ourselves engrossed in any and all shenanigans. While some friendships form from directed intentions, Sarah and I became friends through repeated exposure. We found ourselves in a bunch of environmental studies classes together, and we both signed up for the same Spring Break Service Trip our first year and the spring break backpacking trip in Utah our sophomore year, and then finally Semester in the West. By this point, Sarah is one my most precious friends, as you can see from this photo collage from the last six months.

So much has happened since in the last year, some good, some not. But my life today would not be the same without Sarah, and while this reality does not relate to the hat I knitted her, may this just be a good excuse to highlight such a special person.

Sarah’s Hat Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate. Recommended experience with three-color stranding color work. 
Yarn: 1 skein Drops Karisma Petrol 73 (A), 0.3 skein Drops Lima Green 705 (B), 0.3 skein Drops Karisma Brown 1054 (C)
Gauge: 21 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm) with US 6 (4 mm) in stockinette stitch
Finished Size: Fits adult head, 7.5 in (19 cm) long
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dp needles, US 6 (4 mm) 9 in (23 cm) circular and dp needles
Other Materials Needed: stitch marker, ruler, yarn needle

With A and US 2, CO 120 sts. Connect in the round and pm. Work *k2, p2* ribbing for 1.5 in (3 cm).

Switch to US 6 and decrease 16 sts evenly around round (*K5, k2tog, k6, k2tog*) = 104 sts.

With colors A and B, work Color Chart 1, repeating chart pattern 13 times per round.

After completing chart, k 2 rounds with color A.

With colors A, B, and C, work Color Chart 2, repeating chart pattern 4 times per round.

After completing chart, k with color A until piece measures 7-7.5 in (18-19 cm) or desired length.

Then work decreases, all with color A, as illustrated in Color Chart 3 and as written below:

Row 1: *K6, k2tog* across round = 98 sts.
Row 2 and all even rows: K across round.
Row 3: *K5, k2tog* across round = 84 sts.
Row 5: *K4, k2tog* across round = 70 sts.
Row 7: *K3, k2tog* across round = 56 sts.
Row 9: *K2, k2tog* across round = 42 sts.
Row 11: *K1, k2tog* across round = 28 sts.
Row 13: K2tog across round = 14 sts.
Row 15: K2tog across round = 7 sts.
Color Chart 1

Color Chart 2

Color Chart 3

Cut yarn end, leaving an 8 in (20 cm) tail. Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining sts and pull tight. Weave in yarn ends. Block if desired and enjoy!

CO – cast on
pm – place marker
k – knit
p – purl
k2tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
st(s) – stich(es)

You can download this pattern as a free PDF here. Find this pattern on Ravelry here.

Happy Crafting!!