Wishmakers

Earlier this month, I shared a special skein of handspun that my friend Jennifer sent me. It happened to be her birthday a couple weeks ago and while I was late in shipping her gifts, the idea began in the beginning of August when I first saw Erica Heusser’s Wishmaker Mitts pattern. I knew so instantly that I had to make these for Jennifer that I immediately bought the pattern and ordered the recommended yarn, Magpie Fibers Domestic Fingering from Tolt Yarn & Wool. Normally I try to find substitutes locally, but my mind was made up at first glance with this pattern.

I then embarked on my 3 project program to achieve my best possible colorwork. Come to think of it, I haven’t shared project two yet — whoops! Soon I promise! In any case, with the Wishmaker Mitts in (or should I say “on”) the hands of their intended recipient, I can now share them with you.

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Jennifer loves greens and browns and is an avid gardener, so I had to go that route, of course.

 

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The Harpoon colorway — the brown — is definitely very subdued and understated and I dare say it doesn’t stand out to show off the detail all that well, but the colors are correct for Jennifer, I think, and I wouldn’t change them.

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The green and grey are called Norwegian Wood and Alloy, respectively. I do really love the fluid artistry of Heusser’s designs. You may not remember, but the Passerine Hat I made a couple of years ago was hers as well. It’s the organic, free-flowing design that I so love. It feels like such a welcome departure from the more traditional applications of Nordic design. But at the same time, when paired with…

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The simple & traditional styling on the palms of these mitts — well, I just find them divine all around.

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Even the thumb, the details are just lovely.

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It’s definitely fair to say I had as much fun knitting them as I did giving them away. The pattern is very well-written and easy to follow. There are some longer floats requiring trapping in the colorwork, but nothing out of character from what you’d expect in such a project. The yarn was a perfect match for the project, too, and because it’s available in mini-skeins, there is not a lot of leftover yarn which is often the case with colorwork projects.

Normally I don’t knit for other knitters, knowing that for fellow crafters the act of making is more than half the fun. These, though, as I said earlier, just seemed like something I needed to make for my friend from the moment I saw them. And as I knitted, I was reminded that with gift knits, we knit our thoughts and memories and hopes and — wishes — for the recipient into the items we create. When we knit or spin or create for others, I think that’s a detail only fellow crafters really grasp entirely and thus it’s a special thing when crafters exchange their handiwork — like these mitts or the skein of yarn I received earlier this month or specially hand-dyed yarns. There is a depth there in the giving not just of a talent, but it is truly a part of your heart & mind that you are giving.

I packaged up the Wishmaker Mitts last week, as I almost always do, in simple white tissue paper. And I grabbed a special braid of fiber to go along with them. And off they went with a note reminding my good friend that they are “wishmaker” mitts, therefore when she puts them on, a wish should definitely be made just as wishes and good tidings are infused in every stitch. It seems only right and appropriate, don’t you think?

 

A Soft Spot for Birds

We always had bird feeders growing up, but it was a general interest for me and not something I really explored in great depth. I knew what a cardinal was and a goldfinch, but that was pretty much it. My husband, however, grew up in a family of birdwatchers — his parents talk about going to spots to watch birds on their first dates and my husband always had and used binoculars growing up. They even named him ‘Martin’ for the Purple Martin.

When I met my husband he was actually working for an optics company that specialized in outfitting birdwatchers. On one of our first dates, we went for a hike in a local arboretum and he called out a Barred Owl — the first I’d ever seen. I didn’t know if I should be more impressed by the bird or the fact that this guy I was standing with in the woods just imitated an owl call with some serious skill. I asked him where he learned to do that and he responded, “When you spend enough time alone in the woods you learn to make a lot of weird sounds” or something like that. I was pretty sure in this moment that my life was going to be interesting.

Fast forward a couple years and we’d gotten married and I was a full-fledged bird nerd. We’d taken our honeymoon to southern Texas where I accumulated an obscene amount of ‘life birds’ and just learned a ton about them. At some point in the following years, my husband got his parents a martin house for their yard as they love their bird houses and feeders. A common topic of conversation in spring is always when certain birds return for the summer and at some point we learned that it was no longer ‘the Martins are back’, but ‘the Martins and Sarahs are back’ — of course, referring to the male & female Martins. I realize I’m biased, but I think that’s the cutest, sweetest thing.

You can bet that when Erica Heusser released her Passerine Hat last November this hat simply had to be on my needles. When I saw the purple-y blue Ink colorway in Madelinetosh’s Unicorn Tails, I knew that this hat was destined to be ‘Martins and Sarahs’. There just was no question. I immediately picked up enough Ink & Silver Fox Unicorn Tails to make the hat.

And as things go, it sat for a couple months while I tended to other projects.

Thankfully at the beginning of February I had a little time and I was able to cast on. As if often the case with colorwork I plowed ahead with wild enthusiasm.img_2294I did the brim one night and started crown shaping by the next. But… my colorwork was just a little tight…

img_2295And the next morning I frogged back to the brim. This hat is what I would classify as an intermediate colorwork project as you are required to control some longer floats. It’s not what I’d call hard, but it’s definitely a skill builder for anyone new to colorwork. For those — like me — who are pretty well-versed in colorwork, it doesn’t hurt to take your time either. Obviously!

img_2297By the following day, I’d finished (again) and this time for good.

detIt was worth it as my Martins and Sarahs are now perfect in every way.

hat onAnd now I have the cutest, sweetest hat just in time for Spring migration, just in time for the Martins and Sarahs’ return.

hat flatI’m pretty sure this brings me to a new level of nerdom awesomeness. I guess when you spend a lot of time in the woods with the person you love, you learn to make some weird sounds and adorable hats.