Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mardi Gras Yarn II: 2009

A year has passed and my blood pressure has subsided and I'm ready to write another blog entry about Mardi Gras yarns. As you know, I lived in New Orleans for 15 years and moved to New England post-Katrina. When I was searching for "Mardi Gras" yarns I was dismayed by my search results....nothing but pathetic multicolor schmutz lame excuses for "carnival" themed yarn. In America, we expect tradition...traditional colors of PURPLE, GREEN, and meaningful to us as the colors of our national flag's RED, WHITE, and BLUE. Over the past year I have had many writers keeping the faith telling me that I should not lose hope, and some have even sent me photos to prove I will share those yarns with you to help both of us keep hope alive that there will eventually be a movement to make Mardi Gras a national holiday and make purple/green/and gold the official national colors of that holiday. F0rce your yarn companies to recognize the legitimacy of purple/green/and gold...these colors DO NOT CLASH! As evidence, my list has grown from 1 in 2008 to THREE in 2009...

My 2009 recommendations are the following THREE yarns:

1) Panda cotton by Crystal Palace Yarns in "mardigras 9667"

2) art.Mosaica, by Paolo Scettri

3) Diva, "Mardi Gras" by Swedish Yarn Imports

Throw me somethin' mista!

ADDENDUM (2/9/2009): I can no longer endorse #3 Diva Mardi Gras...the purple is really just too pink...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Midwinter Knitting Therapy: A "Glimmer" of Hope

It is 10 degrees outside (not taking into account the wind chill)...the sort of cold that causes a massive adrenaline release in a person's body the minute one steps outside...the sort of cold that can make the sides of one's nostrils stick together after inhaling and bring tears to one's eyes. Were this early December, I would curl up by the fire with a cup of cocoa and knit a nice woolly stocking. Instead, this spine-stiffening cold snap is occurring in January...heading into February...the most bleak and joyless portion of the New England year. Gone are the sugar-plums and festivities of the holidays, and ( in the absence of Carnival/Mardi Gras) there is little to brighten the dark days. I've always felt that Lent, in New England, is redundant...after all, we've suffered enough... why give up another pleasure?!? In the midst of this test of my psychic metal, I wandered in to my LYS (local yarn store) and found the ultimate cure for a passionate knitter's midwinter blues:

Rowan Glimmer Print in a shade of tangerine most evocative of beaches and tans. With a stash bursting at the seams, I surely do not need yet another yarn...and yet I wanted how this one made me feel. Suddenly I knew that if I had to knit ONE MORE woolen item I was going to SCREAM! What I needed, in a therapeutic kind of way, was to feel the cool of cotton running through my winter-cracked fingers and to envision myself wearing some loosely-woven swim cover-up...something that looks more like macrame than knitting. Along side the yarn I found, in the stack of pattern books, the Rowan pattern book for use of the yarn, entitled, The Midas Touch. This marvelous booklet was filled with images of exotic women embellished with gold jewelry, draped over Greek ruins - sweating in the Mediterranean sun. With this book in hand, my fantasy was complete.

I strode to the check-out counter enlivened by my selections. The sales lady was a pasty middle-aged matronly woman with a kind demeaner. I confided in her my plans for the summery yarn and that if I had to work another piece of wool yarn I would lose my mind. She pondered my comment wordlessly at first, and then ... leaning in, in a surreptitious tone of voice confessed, "You know... I keep a little bathing suit in the trunk of my car. I don't think I've ever really had the occasion to use it."

So, my message today is the following...Buy your summer yarn NOW. Here are three good reasons:

1. The yarn is post-season and the stores are offering great post-holiday sales...there are some great deals to be had.
2. If you knit it now, you can wear it this summer!
3. It may provide the "glimmer" of hope you need to get through the midwinter blues... like the bathing suit in the car trunk...just IN CASE you happen to come across a beach :-)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fleur-de-lis Endpaper Mitts for a Paper Artist

This is Jenn. Jenn has cold fingers. Even when making her art indoors in her fabulous studio, her hands are cold. Jenn is also a good friend of mine who is very adept at dropping hints.

All these factoids together made deciding what to make for Jenn this Christmas very easy. I knew I needed to make her artsy-looking fingerless gloves...something she could wear even in a suit while at conferences. A quick pattern perusal on Ravelry let me to this: "Endpaper Mitts." This surprisingly easy pattern was created by Eunny Jang and is available FOR FREE on her fabulous website, See Eunny Knit! If this name sounds familiar, think Interweave Knits...editor.

Endpapers/Endsheets are those beautiful hand marbled or hand printed papers which used to cover the attachment of the pages of a book to the leather cover. So, as Jenn is a professional scrapbook artist/paper artist, what could be more appropriate than a pattern design based on a paper design?!?

I used Cherry Tree Hill Possum Paints in amethyst...a super-soft gentian-blue yarn which is so intensely dyed that it nearly glows, and doubled Rowan 4ply soft (shade 298) for contrast. Loved the tubular cast on AND the tubular (k1p1) cast off as they gave a very professional finish.

Check out Jenn Mason working with her (warm) hands on glorious pieces of art on her Website, her Blog...OR, pick up any of her many books available on