Monday, 2 December 2013

Christmas, DVDs and Jakey the Cat

Lynn here. All I can think of is that Christmas is 23 days away! ACK! I'm so behind on holiday knitting. I know you are too. Why do I do this to myself every year?? I have a feeling I'm not alone in the knitterly world. I'm happily knitting and crocheting away favorite activity in the Universe!  So glad to have you here for a bit before you head back to New Zealand.

Here's photos of you and the movie DVDs when they first arrived on our doorstep last week...and a sleeping King Jakey the Large in his felted bed knitted by me.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Portland and Angelika's Yarn Store!

Christine here. Been a while since I blogged, but it's been an amazing trip traveling around the western U.S., visiting film festivals and showing our film, 'Antarctica: A Year On Ice.'
It's also been a time of inspiration, with all of the amazing colors of fall here. The colors of the turning leaves have been intoxicating to me and I firmly believe that these colors cannot truly be replicated in yarn or in any other media...because the colors GLOW.
As we were heading north, I realized we would be stopping in Portland, Oregon. This happens to be the location of one of my favorite yarn stores, if not THEE favorite. I have been ordering yarn from Angelika's Yarn Store for years as she has the best selection of all of my favorites, including Cascade 220. Click HERE to visit her Cascade 220 page. She always has all the colors in stock and her service is second to none. I have her ship the yarn to me in New Zealand.
So I ended up there on a sunny Tuesday morning and was so pleased to be able to meet Angelika in person and poke around the store for a good long time. I found some wonderful yarns including some 'flavors' of Cascade 220 that I'm certain pretty sure I don't have.
Look at this color. I just love it.
I use the off-white Cascade 220 called 'Natural' a lot in my designs. I'm not a big fan of pure white or real black, so I use the colors 'Natural' (#8010) and 'Jet' (#4002) respectively: an off-white and a heathered dark charcoal grey. THIS yarn above is a slight variation of Natural called 'Antiqued Heather' (#9600) and I'm in love with it. I can see this may be a new favorite neutral. It's like Natural, but just slightly warmer and a bit more rustico, and not as yellow as this photo might suggest.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I LOVE Cascade 220. It's a yarn I use almost solely for the hat designs I make.  It's my work horse. Why do I love it so? Let me count the ways:

1. Over 300 colors. For a color fiend like me, it's heaven.
2. Economical. For the price, you get a good 220 feet of consistent, quality 100% wool yarn that knits up beautifully.
3. It felts. Yes, it felts like a pro.
4. It's soft.
5. Did I mention OVER 300 COLORS!

Okay, so I spent too much money at Angelika's, but I have never said I could control myself in yarn stores. The best I can do is not even walk through the door, and that's near impossible in itself.

I have heard so much about these needles, Knitter's Pride 'Karbonz', I splurged on the two sizes I use the most, US6/4mm and US7/4.5mm. These 6-inch DPN needles are made from Carbon Fiber...the stuff they use in jet planes and super secret government gadgets. They are light, warm to the touch, tough as metal and and have great tips on the ends. Absolute JOY to knit with and worth every penny. If you want to give a knitter the most excellent gift EVER, consider these needles.
I also bought some yarn with sequins, this beautiful 'Classic Shades, Sequins Lite' from Universal Yarn. I like their logo, "Knit, Relax, Smile, Repeat!" It's a mostly acrylic yarn, with a bit of wool mixed in...and sequins! Not a huge amount, not overly sequined...just the right amount for a bit of sparkle. Would make a lovely scarf or cowl. The colorway is called 'Volcano' and is subtly variegated in shades of red, dark red, brick and fiery red-orange. 
Okay, last minute impulse buy...more fluorescent yarn, Uptown Worsted, for my current color whim of adding fluorescent acrylic colors to my fair isle designs.
 Sneaky peak of a hat I have almost finished:

Friday, 30 August 2013

On the Road Again

Hi Lynn,
Well, today is packing day. I've got most of my to-do list checked off and just about ready to break out the suitcases and start packing.

For those of you who my not be in the loop, my husband Anthony and I are departing for the US tomorrow to commence our three month trip around the western states to follow our documentary, 'Antarctica: A Year On Ice' around the film festival circuit.

It's an exciting time! Three whole months on the road, living out of a suitcase, visiting friends and rellies from all over. And the scenery! I can wait for our drives through the mountains of Colorado, the deserts and the beautiful trees up north in California and Oregon.

And the best part? I get to visit you and Tom for five whole days! What a treat to get to knit with you again. Most of the time we are separated by thousands of miles and an ocean.

As I triage the things left to do, I realize that figuring out what knitting supplies I'm bringing with me must come next. I've got my priorities!

How do I choose what to bring?
Well, I'm off to organize my knitting. See you soon!

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Latest

Hi Lynn!
How's it all going? Has autumn started to creep into the air where you are? Spring has shown it's first tentative promise here in the southern hemisphere. As soon as you see the Daffies, you know it's just around the corner.
On the knitting front, I've finished a couple of hats. This one I particularly love, it's the Dancing Adelies hat (again!), but in a warm, autumn color scheme. The penguins almost look black here, but they aren't; they are dark, dark brown. This is my new favorite color of Cascade 220, color #9465, 'Vashon Island.' It's the perfect dark neutral that looks amazing with so many colors. The rest of the hat is a combination of C220 and Noro Kureyon.
I also completed a commission for my sister-in-law, Christine (her name is also Christine Powell...there are actually three in the!). She wanted dark blue, red, black, with perhaps silver or white. This hat is an interesting take on those colors, more in the subtle range rather than the straightforward range, and for a while, I wasn't sure I liked the end result. But, I think it's a nice looking hat, and knowing her coloring and personality, I think it could be perfect for her. The verdict is still (slightly) out on it and I may have to put some french knots on it in a more vibrant red. We'll see. Here it is soaking for blocking...
And the finished hat...
It fits well and looks so much better on (as all hats do!). She will be wearing it to keep her head warm while working on her dairy farm, so it has to fit right and be comfortable. My husband told me, having been raised on a farm, NOT to put a tassle on it..."it will get in the way if she's wearing a rain jacket with a hood." So no tassle. But I found this luscious fabric to line it with...
It's a stretch poly crushed velvet. Ah luxury!

So, if I know you, you will have something on the needles, about two to three projects lined up in your head, and be busy doing the multitude of cool stuff that you do on a daily spinning classes. Enjoy the end of your summer and talk to you soon!
Love, Christine

Friday, 9 August 2013


Hey Lynn! It's Frozen Frontier Flashback Friday!

As you know, right now, at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, there are over a hundred people who haven't seen the sun in four months. The polar sunrise is imminent. It is always a time of year filled with anticipation when the light starts to creep back into the sky and the promise of sunshine is just around the corner.

Here are some photos from my experience of that time of the year about 10-12 years ago.

First of all, the Nacreous Clouds. Aren't they spectacular? For those that don't know, Nacreous clouds (or 'Polar Stratospheric Clouds') are formed from gases way up in the stratosphere and when it gets cold enough, they freeze and crystallize. When the approaching sun hits them, they light up like a torch, and display pearlescent colors of the rainbow. It's the only place in the world they appear and so it is very special to see them.
Here's a photo of me, pale after a long winter, waiting and hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun.
There was a big group of us that traveled to the highest spot we could, in hopes we'd see a glimmer over the horizon.
And then there's the moment...the moment when once again, sunlight hits your eyes. It's magical! You know what I mean by that.
 I remember seeing shadows again and how enchanting that was.
This is a hat I knitted a while back, paying homage to Nacreous Clouds. This pattern will be in Antarctica Knitters upcoming book of hats (due to be completed in 2014). That colorway of Noro worked perfectly for the changing, pearlescent colors of the clouds.
Other than that, I've been traveling...and knitting. I finished this Dancing Adelie's hat in greens and gold that is a commission. It still needs a tassle.

And currently, I'm working on another Dancing Adelies hat in fall colors of orange, red, gold and deep brown. This hat looks good in so many colors.
I knitted most of it while driving to the southern New Zealand city of Dunedin. Ha! That makes it sound like I was knitting while driving...nope! Antz was driving...I would never knit and drive. Too dangerous! Same as texting. Anyway, Dunedin is an amazing city, full of old buildings, statues, gardens and seaside charm. View from our hotel.
Well, as usual, I feel as if my blog post is too long. Maybe I should slow down my knitting? Well, that's a crazy idea if I ever heard one.

What's happening on your needles?
Love and hugs, Christine

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Awesome Possum

Hi Lynn!
Possum yarn is on my mind. I know you know about it since you've been here, but I think there might be a lot of knitters that don't. In a word, it's amazing, but since one word isn't quite enough, I'll go into a little more detail in this post.
I picked up this lovely and gorgeously red yarn in Auckland when I was there last week. I am planning to knit your 'Antarktyda' hat pattern with this yarn for my mother-in-law, Ruth. She tried on the one I knitted for myself and absolutely loved it - and it looked cute as a button on her - so I told her one was going on the needles immediately.

First, just look at this yarn. Isn't it lovely? It is from a company called Supreme Possum Merino and it is 50% merino wool, 40% possum and 10% silk. It is an '8-ply' which is how New Zealand classifies it's wool weights, but to you and me, it's 'worsted.' This yarn is SO soft and the possum fur in it creates a fine halo similar to - but not quite as fuzzy - as angora.
The interesting thing about possum fur, is that it is hollow - like a polar bear - giving it exceptional insulative properties. Things made from it are warm and cozy and very soft and fluffy. It also resists pilling, which is one of my pet peeves about certain yarns such as angora.

I've had possum clothing and made things from possum yarn and used them in Antarctica when we were there, and it was the warmest, coziest stuff I've ever had. 

So what about the poor possums, you might say? I know, I don't like the idea of killing things any more than you do, but the possums I am talking about are actually a pest in New Zealand. You can read more about it on this website here. They are non-native and were introduced 150 years ago from Australia (so they are not possums you find in the States that look like giant rats), but quickly spread and became a problem. They destroy areas of native forests in New Zealand and so have to be controlled. Using their fur for garments and yarn is one way to utilize this resource. If they have to kill the little guys, I'm glad that they can be used for something useful.

More about possums and the effect on the NZ environment here.

I just LOVE those socks you are making for yourself. I love that self-patterning yarn. I think it's interesting that you made two different heels to see which one you like the best. Do you think they will feel different and drive you nuts? That was my first thought, ha ha. Silly huh?

And spinning! I must admit, I'm envious. I'd love to be there, taking the class with you. I am so happy for you to be learning this new skill. I will get to it...someday!

The movie premier in Auckland for our film, Antarctica: A Year on Ice, was amazing. It's hard to describe how we are feeling; perhaps 'on Cloud 9' gets close. It's been fun being on the road with Antz and I've been knitting in the car as we travel along in New Zealand's beauty. Here's my latest hat, just finished yesterday.
I used a celtic swirl design for the band and made up my own top design, which I may modify slightly.

It was raining really hard as we traveled down the west coast of the north island, but the sunset was spectacular. I love the silhouette of the flax plant.
Well, the knitting needles are calling, so I'll sign off for now. Sending hugs, Christine

Socks and Spinning Wool

Dear Christine,

How did your film opening turn out?  Hopefully, you are not feeling any earthquakes in Auckland, NZ to mess with your film festival.

I forgot to tell you: I am taking spinning classes!  I met an incredibly talented woman at our local fiber arts guild and she is letting me rent one of her spinning wheels. She knits beautiful lace shawls and scarves with her own hand spun yarn. I have been practicing. The first attempt was not great (gray wool) but my second attempt (blue wool) is better. My next class, the 2nd of 4 instruction classes, is on Friday. I can't wait to get better at this. I see why people love spinning wool into yarn. It's amazing once you get the hang of it.
I'm also getting ready to close the second sock. Since these socks are for me, I decided to test the heels I like the most. As you can see, I've got two different heels on these socks. I will see which one is more comfortable. As you know, there are several ways to turn a heel (and close a toe for that matter) and I've always wanted to test how they feel but hardly ever make socks for myself. This is my chance.  Here goes... 

Hugs, Lynn

Friday, 19 July 2013

Flashback Friday

Every Friday we post snapshots of our time in Antarctica.  Here's Lynn's photos for this week.
Now that's an Ice sculpture by the artist Mother Nature. It's hard to tell this is about 6 ft long, at least.
This is fondly referred to as "Roll Cage Mary".  You can see Ob Hill and McMurdo Station in the background.
This is McMurdo Station's Electric vehicle.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Hats and Socks

Dear Christine,

You HAVE been busy!  What an extraordinary idea to knit the Celtic design with color instead of texture.  When you said Celtic in your email, I imagined cables and knots bubbling up and twisting around the hat.  I am so impressed with your use of color work to create the beautiful Celtic designs you've done on the hats instead of the traditional method.  Way to think outside the box.  I am in love with the orange and navy beauty.  Gorgeous.  Will we see a pattern soon?  I hope so. I want to knit one for myself.

Your Frozen Frontier Flashback Friday (4F) photos are so fun.  I enjoyed your photos from McMurdo Station which brought back memories of seasons in the past. You have not aged a bit in 15 years.  Isn't it fun to look back on previous years and see how much the station has changed?

I have been busy too, and the hats just keep flying off the needles.  I'm still concentrating on using up the stash yarn.

I made this yesterday by adapting a chart from The Swedish Mitten Book, a sweet little book by Inger and Ingrid Gottfridsson. It's not in print anymore but I found a copy at my local thrift store and it's packed full of charts.
It's that time of year again for knitting socks.  I finished one, and am still working on the hexagon socks.
Second sock-itis has set in. I'm trying to make myself cast on the second sock. 
Remember the 'egg carton' scraps?  The hat is finished and blocked.  Now for a name for this little cap. 
I weaved in the ends and blocked this hat too which you've seen before.  I'm going to line this one and maybe the others too. 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Studies in Celtic Design

Dear Lynn,
I've been busy! I just finished two new hats based on some Celtic designs I got from the book "Celtic Charted Designs" by Co Spinhoven. I believe this book is intended for needlework, but there is page after page of celtic knot 'strips' that are perfect for accenting the brims of hats.

I had to re-draw the design onto graph paper as the design graphs in the book were so small. Also had to figure out where the repeat is.
I find Noro Silk Garden and Noro Kureyon yarns are perfect candidates for this type of hat - as you know from experience. The Noro changes color gradually, giving the hat an effect that it looks more complicated than it actually is. Paired with a contrasting solid in another worsted yarn, such as Cascade 200, the effect is gorgeous.

I managed to knit both these hats this week, which amazes me a little since it must mean I'm getting to be a fast-ish knitter (not a fast knitter, fast-ish will have to do for now -- I've seen fast knitting and I am NO WHERE NEAR that!), but it's another reason I love making hats. It doesn't take long to finish one and you can just go nuts with color, pattern and texture.

Here's the two hats...
Above: I used a 2x2 ribbing on the hat above and alternated Noro Kureyon and one of my favorite shades of Cascade 220, Mallard. So cool that this hat used exactly one skein of the Noro (plus the C220 of course).
Above: this hat uses Noro Silk Garden and a lovely yarn from Knit Picks, 'Swish Worsted' in Lava Heather. It looks brown from a distance, but up close has little red flecks in it. I'm just in lust love with Noro yarns colorways.

I love this Celtic knot pattern. There are many more in the book for me to explore.

This hat has a 1x1 brim (k1, p1) and I added a round of bobbles just above the brim. Fun! This hat may look difficult, but if one knows how to read a color chart and do a bit of fair isle, then it's not really a hard hat to make.

I used size US6/4mm 16" circular needles and essentially the same amount of stitches for both, but the Silk Garden hat came out bigger and the drape a bit looser. Noro Kureyon, although advertised as a worsted weight yarn, is more like a heavy worsted in my book, so the stitches were quite tight. This isn't a bag thing though, as the Kureyon hat, though smaller, has a tight knit that will be very warm and more windproof than the Silk Garden hat.

I'll be taking off in a couple of days to travel up to Auckland, New Zealand with Anthony for the film festival up there and I'll be gone the better part of 3 weeks. So that means I need to spend some time today figuring out what yarn, patterns and tools to bring with me to keep my hands busy while I'm gone. I'll also bring my laptop so I can be in touch.

Good thing I have a lot of our patterns on my Kindle. That makes things sooo much easier. Sometime I'll do a post on how to get knitting patterns on a Kindle. It's dead easy.

I hope you are enjoying the warm summer weather in Colorado. What's new in your world?...and on your needles?
Love and hugs, Christine

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Frozen Frontier Flashback Friday

Hello Knitterly friends,
Lynn and I have started this for every other Friday...the 'Frozen Frontier Flashback Friday' otherwise known as 'FFFF'. We want to share with you some photos of us and the place we have called home for so much of the last couple of decades, Ross Island, Antarctica.

These photos are from my second summer in 1998.

I love looking through old photos! Used to be you would do that with a big photo album in your lap, but nowadays it's as easy as sitting at your computer and looking through iPhoto.

I found these photos of a knitting session back in '98. This is about the time I picked up the needles and started knitting again. My grandma had taught me to knit when I was a teenager, but I hadn't done any knitting since then.
At McMurdo Station, there is a regular knitting group, Stitch n' Bitch every Tuesday night. This is the longest running group activity at the Station. There is a long history of knitting in Antarctica and we're just carrying on the tradition: sharing, teaching, learning (and did I mention wine?)
In Antarctica, we have to make do with what we have available. If there isn't a swift (or a husband) around to ball up your skeins, you get creative...
It's also an amazing place to get out and about. The scenery is probably the most spectacular on the planet. One of the popular things to do around town is to climb Observation Hill, or 'Ob Hill' as it is affectionately called. It's a steep climb on loose volcanic rock, but the view at the top is worth it.

You can see Ob Hill in this photo, just poking up behind Robert Scott's Discover Hut.
At the top is large wooden cross, erected on January 20, 1913, a memorial to Britain's Robert Scott and his exploration party who lost their lives upon returning from a long and treacherous journey -- their bid to be the first humans to reach the South Pole. Unfortunately for them, Norwegian Roald Amundsen beat them to it, and planted the Norwegian flag there.

Here is the cross.
It bears an excerpt from an Alfred Tennyson poem "Ulysses" which reads, "to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield." Potent words.
It is both exhilarating and moving to be at the top of Ob Hill. Hard to believe it's been 15 years since this photo was taken.

Now on to more knitting today. I have some exciting patterns I'm working up that I'll post about a bit later on. Happy knitting!