Back in the days when our daughters were wee girls and we had a long car trip ahead of us, I searched the library for family friendly audio books that would also entertain the adults. One author we all loved was the outdoor writer Pat McManus. He was more a humorist than a hardcore hunting writer. The story that still sticks with me 20 odd years later had to do with his version of sequencing. It goes something like this… In the spring his wife asked him to cut the grass, but he had lent his lawn mower to his neighbor the previous fall, when his neighbor lent him his snow blower. Now before he could return the snow blower and ask for his lawn mower back he had to replace a part that had broken while in Pat’s care. When he went to get in his truck to run to town for the part he noticed that his front tire was flat. When he looked for the jack to lift up his truck he remembered he had used it last fall to prop us his boat trailer. In the end he decided it was just easier to go fishing.
As I lay in bed on Saturday morning I thought of Pat McManus as I often do when I am planning out the chores around the farm… All farm work is just a sequence. I wanted to clean out the old chicken coop to move my new baby chicks into a warmer, larger and brighter home. They were rapidly growing out of their 40 gallon water trough space. But before I could clean out the coop I really needed to push the compost back and turn it to make it nice and fluffy before I added a new layer of manure. My compost is a huge affair requiring the tractor to efficiently turn it over. While I had the tractor to myself (because a tractor of my own is the first thing I am buying when I win the lottery…) I should run over to the stone ruin where I now store the gorgeous cow manure my fabulous son-in-law brings me for every major holiday and turn it, fluffing it for the veggie garden. Huh, I should probably just pull a few weeds around my beech tree and pick up the mail. So, you see where this is going. The coop did finally get a thorough cleaning. Rich repaired the floor that had fallen in. He also reinforced our perimeter fence to keep out the bad guys. I spread new shavings, filled the feed and water troughs, turned on the heat lamp and moved the girls. They were dazed when they saw their new digs but within a few moments they were clucking contentedly. Farm work and chores are never a straight line so I feel I have accomplished even more when I actually finish what I planned. But sometimes, occasionally, I do throw in the towel and just go fishing, or in my case pick up my knitting. It’s just easier.
Madaket Mittens by Heidi Todd Kozar. Blue Moon Fiber Arts Yaksi DK
Recently I had the pleasure to work with Blue Moon Fiber Arts Yaksi DK. You HAVE to get your hands on this yarn. It is soft and warm and so scrumptious. I designed these mittens to take advantage of all that goodness. Really they are crazy warm. I took them for a test drive on one of our extremely cold days last week and they kept my hands toasty warm. I realized I spent most of my walk rubbing the inside of my mitten because the yarn felt so lovely.
The second daughter is jonesing for these so they may have a new home soon.
A friend asked me recently about the names of my patterns. Madaket is the village on the western end of Nantucket Island where I grew up. My dad built us a cottage near the beach there when I was about 5 years old. Twenty eight years ago Rich and I took the original cottage off it’s foundation with a crane (well, the contractor did the heavy lifting), built a new first floor with three bedrooms, two baths and a foyer, then we (they) lifted the original cottage back up on top of the first floor and it became our living room, dining room, kitchen and powder room. It is a tiny cottage still but much more in tune with our needs as a family. It was the center of our summers and still looms large in all our vacation plans. As a child I spent all my summer days wandering around Madaket on foot and on my bike and fortunately my girls had much the same experience. Afternoons were always spent at the beach. It was a glorious childhood and I wanted to celebrate my island with this design. Madaket can also be a brutal place in the winter, taking the brunt of terrible storms. So a warm pair of mittens are mandatory for any winter beach walks.
I hope you enjoy making these as much as you I know you will love wearing them.
(I did notice that BMFA is out of the Yaksi DK, but Tina promises it will be back soon.)
I had a marvelous time on Saturday morning teaching a lovely group of knitters the joy of stranded color work. As I told them, I have an ulterior motive in teaching as many knitters as I can the thrill of knitting with two colors. I am a knitwear designer who designs almost exclusively in stranded color work, so the more knitters I can bring into the fold…well, you do the math.
I always learn so much when I am teaching. Isn’t that true of any type of teaching? I have taught this class about 7 times and they were able to still make me see things in a new light. Fascinating.
We worked on the Monomoy Cowl. It is a new design and I also included a pattern for a pair of matching mittens. The yarn is Kenzie by Hikoo. A worsted weight blend of Merino, Angora, Alpaca, Nylon and Silk, it is a scrumptious yarn. I have made two Monomoy Cowls, one for the shop/class and one for me to test while running in this frigid weather. It worked like a charm. Kept me so warm on my single digit runs that my glasses fogged up. My hands were too warm in the mittens and I ended up removing them a few minutes into my run. Can’t recommend this yarn enough. But you must give it a warm soapy bath and let it bloom.
The ladies caught on in no time and suddenly they were interested in sweaters and accessories they never would have considered. (See what I mean about ulterior motives.) I always bring a huge selection of color work sweaters, hats, mittens, baby sweaters and books. I love it when there is lots of inspiration in a class, so I hope they felt inspired. We laughed and kibitzed and mostly enjoyed each others’ company. The best part of a knitting retreat, right?
Busily working on a few other new designs behind the scenes. I’ll keep you posted.
I’ll be teaching the Monomoy Cowl in my Introduction to Stranded Color Work Class at Bo Peep in Ligonier on February 21st at 10 am.
Hope you can join us…
Stranded Color Work looks so difficult and complex, but once you learn a few simple tips and tricks you will be playing with color and yarn in a whole new way. In this class you will learn a Provisional Cast On, knitting while holding the yarn in each hand, weaving in the carried yarn, yarn dominance, how to tension your yarn for even stitches, speed swatching and blocking. There will also be a discussion of various color work techniques. Once you have mastered the techniques in this cowl you can move on to more difficult color work projects, perhaps even a sweater!!!
Class Length:3 Hours
Experience Needed: Comfortable with knitting and purling, casting on, binding off, able to crochet a chain. Some experience knitting in the round helpful but not necessary.
Yarn: 1 Skein each of two contrasting colors of Kenzie; 50% New Zealand Merino, 25% nylon, 10% angora, 10% Alpaca, 5% Silk Noils, 150 yds per 50g skein. Colors used 1015 and 1010 (Or any worsted weight yarn) A smooth waste yarn, cotton preferably, in worsted weight, about 48”.
Needles: US # 4 (3.5mm), 16” circular needles. OR SIZE NEEDED TO OBTAIN GAUGE. (Bring a selection of needles to try.)
Near the end of our whirlwind trip to Rhinebeck last October, my girl Donna and I stumbled up the stairs into Buffaloo Wools traveling RV of yarn. I felt I have tumbled down the rabbit hole of yummy yarn. I snatched two bundles of Sexy Minis and raced to the check out before anyone else could grab them.
When I hand wound them at home I was struck by the saturation of the colors. Silk really does take the dye so well. But when I started playing with color work patterns they all ran into each other. Finally I went for the easy and classic. A chevron always works and it did here as well.
I wish there was feel-a-vision. You really must feel these mitts to appreciate them. Don’t take my word for it go to Buffalo Wool Company’s website and order some for yourself. The pattern is a free download on Ravelry. Hope you like it.
Mitchell turned two last week. I realized when I dusted off the old blog it has been almost that long since I last posted. It is time to make amends. It’s been a busy two years with a few tears but many laughs and giggles. Not too many snuggles (our boy doesn’t sit still for snuggling), but adorable smiles and kisses. I did wrap him in wool as much as one grandma can.