23 September 2009

Phat Fiber Fluff: Legends, Folklore and Fairytales

I wanted to share some pictures from the Phat Fiber Box I got in the mail today. So many different types of fiber to try...I can't wait.

The colorways are Unicorn, Bride of Frankenstein, Sleeping Beauty, Korrigan, Minotaur, Tales of Wensleydale, The King's Robe, Poison Apple, Dark Crystal, The Wicked Witch, Snow White, Gandalf the Grey, Rapunzel and a few that seem to be nameless including my very favorite from Counting Sheep Farm on Etsy (rose cormo and alpaca with rainbow firestar).

I also got some awesome little extras. I love the egg patterned needle case. My favorite DPNs are already in there. There are some amazing rustic mother of pearl buttons waiting for a project, a Knitcircus magazine and three stitch markers.

I'm going to have to hope for fast fingers again next month when the theme is Masquerade.

22 September 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 6

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 6

With about 10 yards to go I felt my Bubble Head Charm dissipate. I grabbed one last gulp of oxygen and sped for the surface. I was able to out pace the swarm of angry squids and make the surface before my air ran out. I hauled myself and my bag of ocean treasures on to the sandy shore shivering from the cold of the deep despite the warmth of the day.

The first order of business when I arrived home was brewing a batch of Pepper-Up Potion to ward off the chill. After about 10 minutes in the cauldron I notice it was about ready to boil over.

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I lowered the heat and stirred in a clockwise direction until the foaming subsided.

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As I continued brewing and adding my ingredients it begin to rise again in a more controlled fashion.

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Then the final touch…finishing up with 9 counter-clockwise stirs with a crystal rod and a quick blast of heat and ta da….

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16 September 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 5

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 5

As I’m looking for my quarry I think back to my father and stepmother’s visit earlier in the Summer. Why oh why did my Muggle stepmother have to see my camera case made from a transfigured squid? Of course she loved it and wanted me to make her one for Christmas this year.

It had to be a squid of all creatures. My relationship with the children of the Great Squid is on a level with Ron and Harry’s with Aragog’s children. There had been my fierce battle with the squid that refused to have eyes. Then last term I had gone and made that darn camera case for Muggle Studies. The spell I found in a book in the Hogwarts’ Library worked in essence but it required quite a bit of improvisation on my part to get good results. I had hoped never to attempt it again.

By choosing a body of water far from the Hogwarts Lake I though perhaps they wouldn’t be ready for me. I was wrong. All of a sudden a teaming cloud of the slimy little buggers rushed me. I began to Stupify them as quickly as possible. When the sand around my feet was littered with rubbery little bodies the rest began to flee. I chose a lovely Ravenclaw blue one and with a flash transfigured him into the requested case. Another little flick and its eyes were bronze buttons.

Into my bag it went and I kicked off the bottom and made for the surface as quickly as possible. I’d been under a long time and wasn’t sure how much longer my Bubble Head Charm would hold.

Behind me I could see the Stupified squids begin to stir…

14 September 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 4

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 4

I touched down on the sandy bottom. As I looked around cautiously for a glimpse of my quarry I noticed some thing the color of coffee and cream off to the the left. It was a large ridged seashell. I thought it might serve as inspiration for something so into my bag it went…

This cowl uses the Caterpillar Abstract Cowl pattern. The yarn was Sheepsdown in cream dyed twice with coffee, once with mortant and once with out, for a three toned yarn. I really like how the dyeing turned out and the whole thing smells a bit of hazelnut coffee.

11 September 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 3

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 3

As the darkness closed around me it occurred to me that I had better warm up my spell work for the battle to come. Transfiguration has always been my strongest spell work and luckily that was what I would need when I found my quarry.

Looking at the dark water that rippled with indigo and bronze shadows with brief flashes of silver light I was reminded of the Ravenclaw Common Room at night. I flicked my wand and reached out to grab a swath of sea water and fold it into my bag.

Just ahead I could see the sandy bottom…

It was rather rumpled by the time I returned to shore but with a little blocking I had a new shawlette made of sea water and darkness to remind me of my adventure.

04 September 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 2

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 2

When I found the sandy bottom what did I find but a fascinating plant that had a large bubble of air trapped at the base of each leaf. Remembering my lessons from last term I wondered if it was some sort of Gillyweed that had evolved from being a shore plant to a completely underwater habitat, perhaps cultivated by merfolk.

Into my bag a specimen went. Then I headed further out to sea towards a patch of dark water…

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 1

Now for something a little different. A Pottervese tale of adventure by me...

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part 1

After my many adventures in the Hogwarts Lake I decided to visit the Deep Ocean this summer. I cast a Bubble Head charm and headed down into the water. Just a few feet below the surface I encountered a rare sight…Ghost Jellies! These jellyfish take their name from the fact that their coloration so closely mimics the water they are nearly impossible to see until they sneak up on you.

I really wanted to capture one of these unique creatures so thinking about my past Charms lessons I cast Geminio on my air bubble. Bubble in hand I carefully inserted the tip of my wand and cast Aguamenti filling the bubble 3/4 with water. Into my makeshift aquarium my new friend went and into my mesh carrying bag.

Then I resumed my descent…

This project was submitted for a Charms class on the uses of Augamenti in the HPKCHC at Ravelry.

24 August 2009

House of Eagles

My other home on Ravelry is the the Harry Potter Knitting/Crochet House Cup. Very fun and all the Harry Potter inspiration you could ever want.

In honor of being named Ravenclaw's Head of House for the Fall Term I'd like to share my finished yarn. I named it House of Eagles because it combines the mountain colors of the view from our Common Room Windows with twists of blue and bronze like tiny house ties.

It turned out quite well for a first try. 213 yards of a thick and thin aran weight. I can't wait to find a project for it.

19 August 2009

Daughter of the Forest

I'm currently reading Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier after Smartcinderella listed it as one of her favorite books. I'm truly enchanted. It is a perfect mix of classic fairy tale and historical fiction. So perfect in fact that at times I think I have read it before...but I haven't. It is the story of The Six Swans (illus. by Elenore Abbott) set in 9th century Ireland and Britain. I think it is a combination of my familiarity with the original tale and the time period catches me up so completely and makes me feel certain I know this story even though I'm never quite sure what will happen next.

The part I just finished focuses on Sorcha learning to spin on a drop spindle and the pain spinning can cause even with soft wool. Poor Sorcha must spin starwort, a painful nettle plant, until her hands are ruined making shirts for her six brothers to save them from an enchantment.

I'm currently learning about the pain of spinning myself as I work on my first full skein of yarn. After the first 1 oz. my right shoulder burned like fire for a good 24 hours. Learned right there I cannot spin for 5 hours straight. The second oz. I paced myself better but still had cramps in my fingers. Number three was pain free but the skin is worn off the tips of the fingers I draft with. Number 4 just took forever (and involved the pain of a broken spindle shaft) since the first three wore me down but here are the singles all ready to go. Plying them is the next adventure.

16 August 2009

Shall I Do Thee Mischief...

The last of my Little Red Cap trio is a more manly version... a Sea Wolf hat for my hubby's birthday this fall.

The yarn is Rowan RYC Cashsoft Chunky. It was a little tricky getting the pattern re-sized for the thicker yarn but well worth it. This is some of the softest, nicest stuff I've knit.

To go with a manly hat I'm going to recommend a couple of short stories told from the wolf's point of view. "Little Red" by Wendy Wheeler takes place in 20th century Chicago with the wolf a very dapper man about town. "Shall I Do Thee Mischief in the Wood" by Kathe Koja is set in more traditional fairy tale times with Little Red Riding Hood a mad girl living wild in the woods and the wolf a man traveling on business. Both can be found in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's anthology Snow White, Blood Red. I believe their entire fairy tale series has had a recent reprinting so it shouldn't be hard to find.

11 August 2009


If you are looking for a good read I highly recommend "Wolfland" by Tannith Lee. "Wolfland" re-imagines the Little Red Cap story set in 19th century Scandinavia. The story is included in Lee's short story collection Red as Blood or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer. This was the book that first got me interested in the darker versions of fairy tales that came before the sanitized versions of the Victorian era. I believe the collection is out of print now but check your local library system.

One interesting facet of this story is that it is set in a winter landscape. Typically the Little Red Cap tale is told in a Spring/Summer wood where flowers and other woodland delights tempt the heroine from her path.

This story perfectly coincides with the Ice Queen KAL currently happening at HPKCHC (another group I love on Ravelry). I used a precious ball of Rowan Kidsilk Night in Port, the added shimmer is beautiful, and topaz Swarovski bicones. Although Lisel, the heroine, wears a long red cloak with a golden clasp and a hood lined with brocade similar to one worn by her grandmother in her youth I can easily picture Anna, the Matriarch, in a opulent hood of blood red glittering with amber beads like the eyes of a wolf.

I'm so glad I waited to make this. I would have had a heck of a time with it last year. Even now I have to admit I made a few errors including finding a big hole that resulted from a decrease having slipped apart. Luckily the mohair hides a multitude of sins. Lack of perfection or not I think it is incredibly beautiful...beautiful enough to deserve a new coat or at least a charcoal grey sweater.

05 August 2009

The Gates of Sleep

A new endeavor for me today...learning to spin with a drop spindle. After a two hour class I managed to produce about 10g of not too bad looking worsted weight yarn. It is pretty over spun though since there really isn't enough of it to bother plying.

Sadly the shop's spindle delivery was late so I came home with some gorgeous Mountain Colors roving and nothing to spin it on so I guess a trip back in a day or two is a must. I'm excited to try and spin enough of something to knit with.

The picture doesn't do the colors justice. It is an assortment of blues, from a shade just this side of teal that deepens almost to indigo, then for contrast there is rich bronze.

The class was late in the evening and on a sleepy walk back to the car with my family, who was kind enough to come along for the drive, we saw tiny little bats just coming out for the night. They were delightful to watch chasing back and forth across the street. A perfect twilight end to a great experience.

Spindles always remind me of Sleeping Beauty. So to continue exploring modern fairy tales I'd like to share a series I'm currently re-reading, The Elemental Masters by Mercedes Lackey. The second book in the series, The Gates of Sleep, is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story. It is a wonderful series that features heroines that are very modern yet believable women for their time (1900s). I'm hoping that another one will come out in the future.

The artwork pictured is a drawing of Mrs. William Morris from 1870 by Rossetti. I think she makes a wonderful Sleeping Beauty.

01 August 2009

Little Red Cap

Fantasia is running an open classroom for August. Our first challenge is one based on the tale of Little Red Cap by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. This is one version of the Little Red Riding Hood story that comes from the oral tradition of The Grandmother's Story.

Challenge: Little Red Cap’s head covering is iconic in this story. Knit or crochet a cover for something. Spinners and dyers, make a red yarn. Consider exploring the nature of red, possibly through variations of shades or fibers.

I'm going to be exploring this idea in a number of head coverings (We will see what happens in a month. Ideally I'd like to do three.). The first is Reverie from Knitty, Spring 2009. I chose a beret style based on this illustration by Gustave Doré. The color is forest green not red because honestly I had Knit Picks Essential in Ivy Kettle Dyed on hand and green matches a pair of fingerless gloves I want to wear the hat with.

I'm really quite enraptured with the hat pattern itself. It is a great intuitive knit for working on while watching a movie or a baseball game (Started it for Stitch n' Pitch at Miller Park).

The yarn itself isn't thrilling me. I would have liked a bit more tonal variation and it seems to be fuzzing as I work with it. I think it will be ok as a hat but I'd be worried about how socks would look after a few wearings. And boy does it ever bleed. It took quite a few soakings, the last with vinegar added to get it fully rinsed.

In honor of Little Red Cap I've added a red velvet ribbon through the eyelets above the ribbing. I'm quite pleased with how it came out and expect I'll wear it often this fall.


I've been thinking about starting a knitting blog for a while now but I couldn't really think of a theme that would unify it and make it of any real interest or easy to sustain. Then my friend, Ielith, started Fantasia, a group on Ravelry devoted to using books as inspiration. It seemed like such a natural fit for me. I've always been a devoted reader and the realms of Faerie have always been important to my imagination and my artwork (you can visit my other blog, Marie de Carabas, to see some of my work).

I hope you enjoy journeying along with me and I hope you find a few good books along the way.