Monday, May 24, 2021

Meet the Torch Lily Shawl

I'm happy to announce that I've published a new pattern this month: the Torch Lily Shawl.

Torch Lily is a quick and lacy crescent-shaped shawl that combines chain loops and v-stitches for an openwork effect. The striking beaded edging was inspired by the flower for which the pattern is named. (Beads can be replaced with picots if desired; instructions for this are included in the pattern.) 

Torch Lily was designed for gradients, but will also look lovely in a solid or tonal yarn. It's easily customized for size, and adaptable to any yarn weight. 400 yards of sport, sock, or light dk weight yarn will make a pretty shoulder wrap (as in the teal/orange sample above); for a larger shawl with a deeper neck curve, try 600 - 800 yards (the green sample below used about 830 yards).

The Torch Lily Shawl pattern is available here in my Ravelry Store. Enjoy 25% off the pattern price until May 31st by using the coupon code MAYLILY at checkout.

(Note: Some Ravelry users have reported visual stress, eyestrain, ocular migraines, and other neurological reactions since the site's redesign last year. If you are prone to any of these symptoms, please be careful.)

~

Here's a little information on the yarns I used for my Torch Lily shawls:

Teal/Orange Sample: Highlands Stitchery 17 Micron Merino Fingering (100% merino wool, 426 yds per 115 gm), Teal and Orange Gradient.

This beautifully soft and vibrant yarn was hand-dyed by Robbin of Highlands Stitchery in British Columbia, Canada. Check out Robbin's Etsy shop for more yarny goodness. I was really pleased with her quality, pricing, communication, and service. (Is this a Shameless Product Review? Why yes, yes it is.)

Green sample: Cotton Kings Twirls (100% cotton, 875 yds per 200 gm), Emerald 07.

Cotton Kings Twirls is an unplied gradient yarn that takes a bit of getting used to (it's like crocheting with four lengths of thread), but the price and color selection can't be beat. It comes from Hobbii in Denmark.

~

It's hard to believe that May is nearly over. 2021 seems to be passing much more quickly than did 2020 (thank God).

My next post will have plenty of flowery photos from May bike rides. It's a beautiful time of year in Wisconsin;  I hope your May has been lovely as well.

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

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Flowers for a Friend

This post is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Teresa Kasner: artist, illustrator, designer, craftswoman, generous contributor and volunteer, avid collector, loving and beloved wife, mother, grandmother, blogger, and friend.

Teresa's blog was a lovely place, full of warmth and life. She enjoyed chronicling the doings of her family and pets, her meetings with friends, the scenic beauty of Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge, her ongoing craft projects, and her amazing collections of antique glass and furniture. The flowers and trees that grew on her farm, and her beloved red barn, were frequent and familiar sights to all her blogging friends.

I'll miss reading Teresa's blog posts, and seeing her cheery comments on mine, often adorned with flourishes of type that reflected the season or holiday or simply her happy love of decoration.

Thank you, Teresa, for adding so much beauty to the world. These flowers are for you.











Lapel pin designed by Teresa. She
brought it as a gift for me when we
met in 2018.

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

April Sights and Sounds (and Crochet)

April in Wisconsin is a changeable time, when spring plays tug-of-war with a winter reluctant to yield. From brown fields still patchy with snow, and bare-branched trees standing sentinel over the dried stalks of last year's plants, the month progresses to a glory of vivid emerald grass under mists of soft-tinted baby leaves, with the first wildflowers advancing on meadow and wood.

The air of April is full of sound: the whistle and creak of frogs in the marsh, the eerie cry of loons on the lake, the strange ululation of returning sandhill cranes, and, over all, the sweet piercing song of red-winged blackbirds.


Birds are everywhere, in fact; flying, darting, swooping, stalking, and perching:



April skies can be sunny and blue, scarfed with cloud and edged with budding trees:


Or lowering with the threat of rain (and sometimes snow):


All sorts of things are sprouting and growing, like fungi: 



Scilla:



And soft flowery catkins:


Leaves that are but a tiny thought at the beginning of the month...


... thicken to a carpet in a matter of days:


Larches begin to think green thoughts:


In the marsh at their feet bloom the first kingcups:


Lambs appear in the fields (though they're a bit hard to spot in this photo):


And violets peep from the grass:


The winds of April can be cold and northerly, or soft and southerly. Either way, it's a wonderful time for walks and rides:


For pausing on bridges to admire greening banks and smooth mirror-like water:



And spying with delight the first blossoming trees peeping out from the edge of the woods, like serviceberry:


And wild plum:


Best of all is scanning the verge with the eyes of memory and hope, and seeing old wildflower friends appear in their accustomed spots. Here is one of my very favorites, Greek valerian (or Jacob's ladder):


~ ~ ~

This April has seemed colder than ever. We had a taste of summerlike warmth on Easter weekend, but since then there have been more clouds than sun, with plenty of freezing nights and days of chilling wind. The violets in the yard are a bit pinched this year, but I still found enough for a mini bouquet to adorn the dining table:


(The tiny doily under the flowers was a gift from Kay many years ago. Thanks again, Kay!)

~

April has been a busy design month for me, both at work and at home. I've been developing a Milflores Shawl variation with a deeper neck curve, and testing the pattern changes with this gorgeous 875-yard gradient cake:

I call this project A Plethora of Peonies

All that remains is to write the expanded instructions. If you already own the Milflores pattern, you'll get an automatic update that includes directions for the optional new shape. If you'd like to purchase the pattern now, and receive the update as soon as it comes out, visit my Ravelry store here. (Note: Some Ravelry users have reported visual stress, eyestrain, ocular migraines, and other neurological reactions since the site's redesign last year. If you are prone to any of these, please be careful.)

~

There's also a new shawl design in the works. One sample is done, and the second should be finished this weekend. Here's a sneak peek:


Watch for a new pattern release in the coming week!

~

In other news, we've had our first vaccine shots (yay!) and are scheduled to receive the second round next week. I had a definite (but brief) reaction to the first one, while Mr. M noticed very few symptoms. We're hoping round two goes well.

How has your April been?

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

Monday, March 15, 2021

A Foretaste of Spring and a Blogiversary

March can be very changeable. Today is cold and grey; snow is falling thickly, and the newly-budding trees are shivering in an icy wind.

Last week, however, we enjoyed a glorious foretaste of spring, with blue skies, sunshine, and a few days of temps in the 50s. You know what that means for this blogger....


The first ride of the year was, as always, a compound of sheer delight at the freedom of the road, and an uncanny sense of collapsed time, as though the four months out of the saddle had never been.

What a treat to wheel past trees and fields I hadn't seen since November:


Spot pigeons in a row on a barn roof:


Pause for photos at a favorite bridge:


And watch Tallulah get creosote on her feet as she walked across a sticky piling:


Magically new and comfortingly familiar (the ride, that is, not the creosote).

~

The next day I rode my bike to work.

Blackbirds fluttered at the edge of the river trail:


Much of the river was still frozen, but some stretches were open to the sun:


Hello, cycling shadow! Nice to see you again:


~

In other March news, I completed a pair of socks! With sock yarn!! On size 1 knitting needles!!! (Please pardon the excess of exclamation points; this is big for a serial crocheter like me.)


I wore them to work one day last week, and felt ridiculously proud every time I caught a glimpse of my ankles.



~

Ten years ago this month, I published my first blog post.

At the time, I had no idea where blogging might take me. My original plan was to write about frugal living, with plenty of recipes and green cleaning tips, but along the way the focus shifted to crochet design, cycling, and chronicling the changing Wisconsin seasons. Who would have guessed that between then and now, I'd sell numerous crochet patterns and articles to magazines, travel across the country multiple times to take part in benefit bike rides with fellow bloggers, and write and publish a book?

Better still, who would have guessed that through this blog I would make friends with wonderful people all over the world? Meeting you online, and in real life, has been a joy and a privilege.


Thank you for reading all these years, and for enriching my life with your comments, emails, and friendship. I am so grateful for you all.

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