Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Maverick Cowl from Lucky Ewe Yarn - Day 4

An ode to stockinette...


It doesn’t get enough respect, does it? Stockinette is the foundation of most knitting, second only to garter—only if you ask non-knitters what knitting looks like, they’ll point to the stockinette of their sweater rather than any garter stitch item. If the word “knitting” had a visual definition, it’d be stockinette (even though most non-knitters have never heard the term).

Twelve rounds of stockinette may sound boring—it is over 2,600 repetitions of the very same stitch, after all—but it’s not. Given the right circumstances, it can be downright soothing. The long meeting I had this week is a new group to me, the one where I requested to bring my knitting if they wanted me to join. Three hours in one hotel conference chair is a challenge for this middle-aged gal, even with interesting presentations. 

I smiled when one of the other members of the group asked “Got your knitting?” as I walked into the room. “Absolutely,” I smiled back.  He wasn’t challenging, he was curious. And, as I sat in the group actively participating, offering comments and barely even looking down as I stitched, I think he got it.

I was indeed grateful for the occupation of simple stockinette during that session. I could focus. I could pay close attention, my mind not wandering the way it tends to. I could enjoy the long stretch of time that might have taxed me otherwise. And, when the meeting was over, I had accomplished the twelve rounds of soothing, simple stockinette that offer counterpoint to the bright and bold blue that comes next.

If only life’s soothing seasons and bold seasons alternated each other with such order and enjoyment.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Maverick Cowl from Lucky Ewe Yarn - Day 3

Color and shine...

Another reader mentioned the beautiful sheen on this yarn. Merino is a lovely fiber, but when you add the touch of silk this fiber has you get this marvelous shimmer that works beautifully on colors like blue and gray. It makes the blue look more like Caribbean waters and the grey look more like silver. And oh, the softness…

While it’s not apparent on this circular needle right now, this is going to be a cowl of a nice, generous length. Those are always my favorite. The ones that wrap once around never quite seem to fall right around my neck—they always look the wrong size (even though cowls are “one size fits all”).

Having the lacework double back on itself by swapping out the K2TOG to SSK creates a clever chevron pattern that draws attention nicely to the center of the piece. It also adds a nice “halfway” benchmark that lets me know I’m on track to finish in time. 

I think this could make a lovely school or team colors gift for someone. It’s not quite as obvious as straight block stripes, but still makes the bold color combo statement a collegiate or sports fan would appreciate. This one, however, I’m keeping for myself.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Maverick Cowl from Lucky Ewe Yarn - Day 2

Have I got the blues?

What a stunning blue this is.  I’ve been wracking my brain for what to call the color—Maverick’s label of “Wink” doesn’t really communicate the hue. It’s too deep for turquoise, too light for royal. Then I thought, “There’s got to be an app for that.”

Turns out, there sort of is. And what better place to turn for color identification than the good folks at Crayola?  Near as I can tell, this is "Pacific Blue." Which makes sense, because it strikes me as the color I think water is when viewed from a Caribbean beach. Not that I know from personal experience (a future DestiKNITion, maybe? Anyone have a tropical yarn shop to suggest I visit?)

This is the web, so maybe there’s help there. If you look it up on the internet HTML color chart, my guess is this is HEX#006699. Not as romantic as Pacific Blue, but perhaps more accurate.  Which could be useful, because like many blues and greens, the camera has a tough time accurately capturing the beauty of this hue.  

Whatever it is, it’s one of those yarns that catches people’s eye.  They stop and ask, what are you knitting? I love that. I’ll happily stop whatever I’m doing to tell them about the project and the fiber.  Knitters are like that. We love to share.

This pattern’s clever simplicity makes for great spectator knitting. I can go whole rows of knit stitch without ever once looking down (not quite as true on the YOK2TOG rows, but close). I took it to an outdoor concert yesterday and enjoyed myself immensely. I’ve got a book group and two long meetings coming up this week—needles at the ready!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Maverick Cowl from Lucky Ewe Yarn - Day 1

What's in a name...

If you’re of “a certain age”, it’s hard not to think of James Garner when you hear the name Maverick.  The dashing gambler brothers graced the television screens from the late 50s to early 60s and many more years in reruns. Me, I more associate the name with Mel Gibson’s 1994 movie resurrection of the moniker alongside Jodie Foster (in which James Garner also appeared).

The “real” Maverick—for those of us who don’t call Texas home—was Samuel Augustus Maverick. This legendary Texan lawyer, politician, land baron was also a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. His rebellious personality is where we derive the term “maverick.”

Conversely, this cowl is based on how two hues get along, rather than clash. Choose a pair of dramatically complimenting colors to make the most of this pattern. I’ve got two lovely solids in the rich colors that mark Maverick Fiber Company yarns, but you could also pair a heathered yarn or subtly variegated yarn with another solid for a different look. Personally, I favor a neutral paired with a bold hue for a project like this, but you can do just about anything that tickles your fancy.

It’s a generous loop that you’re casting on lengthwise, so this is going to be a nice, stretchy cowl. I used the long-tail cast on to keep that elasticity. Not wanting to run out of tail for all those 220 stitches, I used my favorite “inch per stitch” allowance and it was spot on. I chose to put my neutral color—gray in this case—on the outside so those texture stripes would be in the rich blue. This yarn feels so nice between my fingers, I can’t wait to add that gorgeous blue in the next section!

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Head for the Hills...

Midway between San Antonio and Austin lies “The Hill Country.” Sure, you can race up 35 (if there’s no traffic, that is…), but the backroads drive is one of the best in the country.  While speaking at a church retreat earlier this year, I had the chance to further explore the region and one of its most charming towns—New Braunfels.

Every DestiKNITions adventure begins with coffee! For a sugar and caffeine fix to launch your day, head to:

2 Tarts Bakery
139 N Castell
Ste 300
New Braunfels, TX 78130
It’s always a good sign when there are as many kids in a bakery as grown-ups.  They had me at the Longhorn cookies and the key lime pie, but the coffee was outstanding as well. The homey, clever atmosphere welcomes you, right down to sprinkles shaker on the table. Darling in every respect…and delicious.

Duly fortified, let’s get straight into today’s fiber fix!

Lucky Ewe Yarn
2327 Gruene Lake Dr - Ste C
New Braunfels, TX 78130

When lifetime sewing fan Linda Thomas wanted a new place to connect after her consulting career, she went out and created one.  Together with manager Julie Havard who oversees the shop, Linda has created Lucky Ewe as a place that exudes creative inspiration and community. 

I felt welcomed from the second I walked in the door, and while you can put some of that down to good ol’ Texan hospitality, I think much of the credit goes to the women behind Lucky Ewe. 

“I hire people people,” says Linda. Both women think of the store as an extension of their welcoming personalities and love of social connection. “I want to make sure people feel no barriers to being here or getting help,” Linda assures.  The listing of “Get Your Help from Betty” sessions on Tuesdays bears that out, to be sure.

And not just women, mind you.  Designer Ben Matthews lends a host of exclusive designs to Lucky Ewe. “Our community is so rich with talent,” says Linda. “Half the shop is devoted to local fiber, artisans, and designers.” If you are a “souvenir yarn” buyer like myself—collecting fiber and patterns whenever I travel—this is just the kind of shop you crave. 

“We designed everything to be fun and accessible,” explains Linda.  “Our designs range from beginner to intermediate, so that nothing ever feels intimidating.  We want you to be successful in whatever you try.”

And there’s lots to try.  In addition to a fine selection of yarns, Lucky Ewe has birthed two of its own fiber lines as well.  Maverick Fiber Co. takes its name from the famous Texan family and presents soft, lush, acid dyed fibers in splendidly rich colors.  Organically died Wool Tree Yarn takes its name from the German history of the area and how Europeans viewed the strange new cotton fiber as coming from lambs somehow grown on trees! You’ll be amazed at the colors local dyer Casey Galloway can coax from a centuries-old technique using native plants, barks, bugs (yes, bugs!) and seeds.

Lucky Ewe celebrates all kinds of fiber arts, with classes and products for knitters, crocheters, spinners, and weavers.  In addition to yarns, you’ll find yarn bowls, bags, shawl pins drop spindles, and notions—all products of local artisans.  

One of these is Alexandra Davidoff, whose luxurious bags and clever stitch-marker bracelets make great gifts for either yourself or the knitter in your life. And kits—lots and lots of kits.

One special product is the Handspun Hope line, born from a mission in Rowanda.  This unique blend creates a life-saving industry for women genocide victims as well as education for their children.

Here are some projects to consider from this cozy shop:

Crosshatch Shawl Kit
Yearning to dip your needles into color-work skills? This kit gives you the perfect opportunity to try…with guaranteed fabulous results. Great texture, a bold interplay of hues, and two snazzy tassels give this wrap lots of style. The kit provides two balls of Juniper Moon Zooey to pair with one ball of Noro Mirai, but combos of any solid and self-striping yarn will do.

Chestnut Street Scarf
I can’t think of a better way to show off Wool Tree’s subtle hues than with this intricately cabled pattern by Alexandra Davidoff. Lion Brand featured the pattern as a free download—what more do you need?  Well, about 465 yards of great wool, that’s all—but stick to solids to show off those wonderful cables.

Proxima Shawl
One skein of Wool Tree fingerling stitches up with lacey loveliness in this top-down, scalloped-edge shawl designed by Susanna IC. A simple chevron eyelet pattern gets enhanced by a scattering of beads along the lower edge. If you love triangular shawls but the garter tab start gives you fits, this is a project for you.

Antrim Cowl
Another Susanna IC design combines a pair of Maverick’s contrasting colors and a whole bunch of texture in this boldly striped cowl. I like the slightly lighter weight of this—it gives it a broader range of seasonal wear.  This would look nice in your favorite color combo or the school colors of someone you want to keep cozy.

Ewe Can Weave Coaster Loom
Seriously, could anyone resist this hand-size table loom with Lucky Ewe’s adorable logo sheep on it? If you’re looking to lure a young person into the fiber arts, or just like to give gifts that go a bit farther than the ubiquitous gift card, this could be the ticket.

Knit A Long:  Maverick Cowl
Benjamin Matthews takes the stunning colors of Maverick yarn and lets them shine in this generous cowl. Pick your own pair or let the helpful staff guide you to a great combination (that’s what I did).  If you choose your own fiber, make sure you have at least 462 yards of DK yarn divided evenly between two colors.  Cozy and stylish! It may be July, but I can’t wait to cast this one on my needles.

Now that you’ve filled your project bags with great knitting, might you need some more caffeine (when don't I)? 

Kora Kora Coffee
2348 Gruene Lake Dr - Ste B
New Braunfels, TX 78130
You can never have access to enough coffee, so this charming little java joint is just steps away if you missed your morning joe. There’s something about the welcome and attention you receive in a place like this that no national chain can match. If you’re a fan of latte art, you’ll be especially pleased. Free wifi (of course) and yummy baked goods round out the offerings.

The Purple Chair
2302 Gruene Lake Village - Ste C
New Braunfels, TX 78130

Every DestiKNITter knows the rule: support your local indie bookstore! This cheery children’s bookshop has some good offerings for grown-ups as well.  Yes, there is indeed a purple chair.  And a knitting kit! Ask to hear the poignant tale of how the store was born. My favorite thing about the place? The store hours are described as “10ish to 3ish.” The world is a happier place because of establishments like this.

The Gruene Door
2360 Gruene Lake Dr
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Eat whatever entree you like—I had the salmon—but you must must MUST try the flash-fried spinach! I mean it!  The stuff is like candy. I’ve thought about it so many times since I ate here, and I’d drive an hour out of my way to eat it again.  And no, you can’t duplicate the recipe at home with a household frier (I asked).

Popbelly’s Popcorn
2327 Gruene Lake Dr - Ste B
New Braunfels, TX 78130
Need a snack—or in my case, munchies for the road? We’ve got you covered. Stop in, sample any flavor that interests you, and go home with something yummy. Gift tins can set you up for birthdays and college students, too.  I love the brightly colored kernels to go along with the inventive flavors.  Crawfish? Why not? Dreamsicle? It’s popular. Ask for the flavor of the month if you need a place to start—but I promise you won’t stop there.

McAdoo’s Seafood Company
196 N Castell Ave
New Braunfels, TX 78130
If you’d like a bit of an upscale place for dinner, head back to this establishment very near 2Tarts. Boasting a New Orleans theme, McAdoo’s is housed in a restored post office. Excellent seafood gumbo, bisque, oysters, or fondue were all recommendations.  If the weather is fine, ask to be seated on the very lovely outdoor patio.  Live music some nights and a daily happy hour mean this is a good stop for more than just dinner.

There’s a lot more to do in the Gruene/New Braunfels area. Find out the shopping and dining details here when you're ready to plan your trip.

We’ve certainly spent a pleasant day in the Texas Hill Country. Next up, we cast on the lush colors of the Maverick Cowl.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer's Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 7

Unfinished business...

This weekend I knit for five hours in a car and three hours in a meeting, and I still have over 100 rows to go.

I can’t do it. I can’t make you watch for any more episodes.

Were the fiber not so lovely—it is soft, lush, and vibrant—this would feel endless. There are times when I look at this border and think, “I could have knit a bedspread by now.” But for the most part, the lacework is engaging but not mystifying, the wrong-side rows are simple enough to feel like a breather, and progress happens.

…Just not fast enough to be anything I would consider entertaining.  So, dear DestiKNITters, know that this project will continue behind the scenes while we move on to other adventures.  When it’s done, I’ll make sure and show you.

Should you find yourself with a lot of time to fill—say, congressional hearings, the DMV, bedridden pregnant mothers, trans-pacific steamships—this is an ideal pattern. Even if it is your first foray into lacework, the pattern isn’t too taxing and you’ve got 700+ rows to nail it down, so you’ll be a master by the time you’re done. I should note that there are instructions for a smaller size (which I, of course, ignored), so your shawl need not be the massive undertaking that mine is.  

Will it be worth it in the end? Absolutely.  Will I make you watch? No dearies, I’m kinder than that.

Up next, another foray into Texas Hill Country!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer's Shadow Shawl from Hemstitched Heirlooms - Day 6


Still. Not. Done. 

And I’ve had one of those smack-my-forehead moments as to why.

Bella, asking "Why aren't you done?"
I was calculating a border row for each of the 342 garter section row stitches.  So I was figuring it would take me 342 rows of border stitches to work my way across the shawl, and set myself a corresponding daily row quota.

Only, I don’t “consume” (for lack of a better word) one garter section row per border row.  The slip-knit-pass-slipped-stitch-over that “attaches” the border row to the garter section only occurs on odd numbered rows.  Which means it takes two border row stitches to “consume” one garter row stitch.  Which means I have nearly 700 border rows to work my way through.

No wonder I feel like I have miles to go before I sleep—I really do!

I’m not going to make you slog through all of this.  I’m kinder than that.  I have one more knitting-filled weekend (long drive, car races, long meeting—all great knitting opportunities) ahead of me.  I’ll post a final installment wherever I land on Monday.  If I have to come back and show you how it all turned out at a later date, so be it.  I’ve got a new Texas installment waiting for you, and as everyone knows, you don’t mess with Texas.