Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Snapshots from December

A busy month. A cold month. A month that started out snowy, then melted into drizzle and fog and damp brown-and-greenery.

~ ~ ~

On the Sunday before Christmas I went to cut our Christmas tree. The weather helped set the mood by scattering the slightest layer of snow....

I love searching for a Christmas tree. It's really just an excuse to tramp through the woods and take photos....

This year's tree was decidedly less than perfect, but I fell in love with it and brought it home anyway...

...then fell in love with it all over again once it was decked and lit.

A few days later and the house was full. Small people made Christmas merry and noisy.

Good food and good company made it bright.

~ ~ ~

A post-Christmas gift from farming friends:

~ ~ ~

A few days after Christmas I took a walk to the prairie restoration project. The snow was long gone, and it looked more like autumn than winter....

Wild grass seeds - perennially fascinating:

The moon caught in a basket of budded branches:

Shadow of a blogger standing amidst the scattered leaves of a spent year:

Since that walk, the mercury has dropped. Temps are decidedly wintry again ... now all we need is some snow to complete the picture.

~ ~ ~

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, with pleasure outweighing stress. :)

Thank you for the past twelve months of friendship, supportive comments, and blogging joy. I wish you all the very best in 2015.

See you next year!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Limpet Mitts Roundup

Howdy, strangers!

I feel as though I haven't posted anything in a long, long time ... though really it's only been about a week. Work, Christmas preparations, a four-day headache, and the Aged P have taken up most of that time. The weather has been highly unpropitious for outdoor exercise, but excellent for sitting around crocheting while honey caramelcorn bakes in the kitchen. I can see a few extra pounds in my very near future.

In other news, the Limpet Mitts CAL has been a great success. I get such a kick out of the fact that someone, anyone, wants to make a pattern I've designed - it never loses its thrill. So you may imagine with what fond pride I present ... (drumroll please) ... the Limpet Mitts Roundup!

Limpets On Ravelry

1. A lovely pale-gold pair by Hanne-Lore, made from her own onion-skin-dyed yarn:

What a beautiful shade (and very on-trend). Hanne-Lore worked into the Forward Loop Chains of the thumb to create a matching border there.

2. A really striking mitt by aliothsan:

I love the colourwork in these mitts - that contrasting yarn really makes the limpets pop.

3. An elegant silvery-grey pair by cannej:

Cannej also added a pretty border to her thumbs. A lovely detail.

4. A lacy, shimmery mitt by thebeader:

I like the open look of these mitts, and the soft shade of grey.

Limpets in Blogland

5. A warm and cheery red mitt by Teresa:

Teresa and I had great fun emailing back and forth about the progress of her mitt. Though we very often went off-topic, she obviously conquered the pattern. Bravo Teresa!

6. THREE pairs of mitts by Gisela of Un Poquito de Todo (what a great blog name). Soft cream-colour for herself:

And two darling pairs for her daughter, in cream and toasty red:

Notice the creative cuffs - I especially like the lacy v-stitch  on the cream pair.

7. A dainty ivory pair by Anja in Slovenia:

These pretty little mitts make me think of sunny weather and garden parties, with ladies in fluttery dresses and flowery hats.

8. A cosy grey pair by Mere of Mereknits:

Mere tweaked her pattern a bit to get just the fit she wanted around the thumb, adding a bit of extra texture in the process. And just look at her beautiful limpets:

~ ~ ~

Many thanks to all who've participated in the CAL thus far, and to the ladies above for giving me permission to post their photos. I love it when people take one of my patterns and run with it, so I've really enjoyed seeing the individual touches these gals have added to their mitts.

If you're working on a pair of Limpet Mitts, and would like to share your photos with an admiring world, shoot me an email (address in profile at right) or a message in Ravelry (where I'm MrsMicawber). I'd love to see your version and add it to a future post.

~ ~ ~

So, who's ready for Christmas?

(not me!)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sunday, December 7, 2014

MMABO Mitt ~ A Super Simple Free Knit Pattern with Easy Crocheted Bind Off

(So simple you could probably make one in the time it took to read that title....)

It's been pretty darn chilly in Wisconsin lately, and for me cold weather means cold hands - especially when I'm working on the computer. My right hand (or "mouse hand") gets extra chilly, so I like to keep a few fingerless mitts on my desk, ready to stave off mouse-induced frostbite.

Up till now my mitts have all been crocheted, but since MMABO (Mrs. M's Accidental Bind Off) entered my life a few weeks back, I've become rather addicted to it. I've spent way too much time binding off stockinette swatches just to see if the bind off really works (it does), and is really as stretchy as it seems (it is - see photo near end of post).

Then it struck me - if I made one of those swatches slightly wider and longer, and ran a seam up the side, I'd have a dandy little knitted mitt, and a really simple pattern to share.

It worked out pretty well:

Here's the super simple pattern:


~ Any yarn you like with the appropriate size needles
~ Crochet hook the same size as your needles or slightly smaller
~ Darning needle

Leaving an extra 10" tail, using long-tail cast on or your preferred stretchy cast-on, cast on enough stitches to fit loosely, but not floppily, around your wrist.
K 4 rows.
P 1 row.
Continue in stockinette (K 1 row, P 1 row) until piece measures 5½" (or to desired length), ending after K row.
K next row (WS facing).
Using a crochet hook the same size as, or smaller than, your needle size, bind off with MMABO (click here for tutorial). Bind off will be done RS facing.
Cut yarn and join top edge stitches with Invisible Join or preferred join.
Bring side edges together. Using starting tail, working RS facing, sew edges together to form a tube, leaving an opening for the thumb. (Use invisible garter stitch seam on first 4 rows, and mattress stitch seam on stockinette rows. Click here for an excellent tutorial on both techniques.)
Weave in ends and block as desired.

P.S. Disciplined knitters will block the mitt before seaming.

Some tips, ideas, and pattern notes:
  • You can of course use any stitch pattern you like for the body of the mitt.
  • A row of reverse stockinette worked just before binding off helps tame the curl of stockinette.
  • If you're handy with the dpns or circulars, work the mitt in the round to bottom of thumbhole, then back and forth to desired height of thumbhole, then in the round to the end.
  • A seaming option: leave a 6" tail at the top, and seam down to the top of the thumbhole, then use starting tail to seam from the bottom edge to bottom of thumbhole.
  • For a super simple MMABO coffee cup cozy, make a shorter swatch - say 17 or 18 rows - and seam it all the way up.
  • Lavender mitt was made with Plymouth Encore yarn, size 6 needles, and a US F/5 3.75mm hook to bind off. Mitt is 30 stitches wide x 35 rows of knitting tall (with bind off, 36 rows). Finished measurements after blocking: 6" tall by 6" around.
  • Green hand-dyed mitt was made with Superwash Merino DK by Ogle Design, size 7 needles, and a US F/5 3.75mm hook to bind off. Mitt is 27 stitches wide x 35 rows of knitting tall (with bind off, 36 rows). Finished measurements before blocking: 5½" tall by 5½" around. (I haven't blocked this mitt yet, as the yarn is so delightfully squishy it looks fine to me without blocking.
If you love to embellish, that smooth field of stockinette would make a lovely backdrop for some buttons, appliqué, or embroidery.

And did I mention that MMABO truly is stretchy? Here's an illustration:

MMABO Mitts are fun to make and fun to wear. They're perfect for a quick and custom gift - so get out that special bit of hand-dyed from your stash and whip up a pair today!

(Or, like me, you can make a single one for your mouse hand.)

You may do whatever you like with the items you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern or reproduce its text without permission. Links are always welcome.

Thanks for viewing, and happy knitting (with crocheted bind offs)!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Two Cold Walks

Yep, it's still cold here.

I fear that my outdoor posts will soon take on a January-like sameness. We've had so much more of this than we're used to at this time of year:

And it hasn't gotten any warmer. I believe there was one balmy near-40° (F) day last week - enough to melt off the top layers of ice - but the thermometer quickly dropped again, sending us back into a Siberian chill.

~ ~ ~

Walk #1: Thanksgiving Morning

Ten of the clock and food prep done, I snuck out for a quick breather. The marshy lake-around-the-corner was festooned with icy grasses:

Cattails shivered despite their velvet-and-fur coats:

A tiny remnant of the brief thaw:

The start of the trail, snow-dimpled and leaf-spattered:

Icing lay on brown oak branches:

Queen Anne's Lace raised tiny hands in surrender:

A short walk, and a cold one. On the way to Dad's I snapped this photo out the car window:

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The day ended with dinner and laughter and 3° outside. It was good to get home and under the warm covers.

~ ~ ~

Walk #2: Monday Morning around the Park

Monday was a day of bitter cold and iron wind. Having spent the weekend sitting around knitting and eating cookies, I really needed some exercise. I set out to do my usual two miles, but nearly turned back before I'd gone even a block. Dang, it was COLD. Finger-numbing, nose-hair freezing, photography-discouraging cold. So, although I completed the walk, there aren't too many photos!

Feathery grasses at the park entrance:

Christmas lights on the public convenience:

Pine-shadows on the ice:

Goldenrod in frozen elegance:

So wintry, and it's not even winter yet.

On the bright side, my sister recently remarked that in three weeks the days will start getting longer again.

C'mon, Earth, tilt! You can do it!

~ ~ ~

Someone is bound to ask what I've been knitting, so I'll spill: mitts. Mitts for Mr. M (rather fiddly as I am custom-fitting them to his hands, which has involved lots of frogging and re-working and deep-delving googling of myriad knitting techniques). As a break from the fiddly mitts, and an excuse to practice my new bind off, I've designed a ludicrously simple but cute-as-the-dickens easy mitt for myself. (Because I don't have enough mitts already.) Pattern coming in a few days!

What are you making?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~