Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Knitting the Seasons--December--Looking for Colour in Snow

The first skiff of snow was on December 7th--a nice dusting of snow in our front yard.
An Alberta spruce on the left and a blue spruce on the right.

It was nice to be working in blues for a change!
A stocking stitch swatch with alternating rows of blues and gradually changing to greens with  random single stitches of white.  Some of the white stitches were purled from the wrong side so as to appear as flecks of snow.

Extracting a repeating motif from the tip of the blue spruce branches.

Embroidered branch of blue spruce.
By the 14th of December we'd had a few dumps of snow.

The blue spruce with clumps of snow.
As the month progressed, I was depending more and more on the white yarns in my stash, and discovered that I have very few bright whites.  Most of my collection is either wool, wool blends or alpaca and so is more yellow-white than bleached white.

Tramping around the yard in mid-December I spotted our ornamental crab apple tree.

Here is a photo of one of the crabapple swatches in-situ:
I had fun with 3 and 4 stitch bobbles in this one.

And the rest of the Crabapple swatches:

The crabapple swatches photographed on the branches of the tree.

The December collection.
One of the reasons I was keen to get my "Knitting the Seasons" work posted on this blog is that I'm just about to distribute the brochure for the 15th annual Okanagan Knitting Retreat.  Yes, it will be #15 on May 23-27, 2013.  Never in our wildest dreams did we (me, Wendy and Gloria) think that this retreat would become such an institution.  

At this retreat I will be leading a workshop that I'm calling "Inspirations from Nature" which has emerged from my current explorations.  It's amazing to discover the multitude of colours that can be extracted from an object such as a rock or an apple.  And then to work with those colours in a variety of stitch patterns to create something unique yet still reminiscent of the original object. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Knitting the Seasons--November--Apples

We live in a city surrounded by apple orchards.  At the beginning of November we were given a big bag of Ambrosia apples.  I was taken with the suble pattern of stripes in yellows, oranges and reds.
Ambrosia apples

Ambrosias in process--the garter stitch swatch on the right was knit with  short lengths pulled at random from the basket, wheras for the other swatch I spliced together random lengths of reds and yellows, and then knit with the reds to the left and the yellows to the right in stocking stitch.
Ambrosias with their swatches

We had bought a box of Gala apples at the Farmer's Market and by November there was one left.
It's quite a bit redder and with spots instead of stripes compared to the Ambrosias.
I had fun knitting a circular swatch while looking down at the apple stem.
The Gala swatches--the lower swatches are my impressions of their spots.
Next up--Fuji apples purchased at the indoor Farmer's Market in mid November.  These apples are a cool red and yellow-green.  They're also quite spotted and subtly striped.
Fuji apples
My sketch book showing the colours chosen, and the three swatches created.  The upper right swatch was  knit as though pivoting around its lower right corner using a combination of short rows, increases and decreases.  Fortunately it was knit with wool and easily blocked into a rectangle!
So ends the November exploration of apples.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Knitting the Seasons--October

I'm on a roll now...
The theme for October was the beautiful oak tree in the south-west corner of our back yard.  This tree is at least 60 years old, perhaps more.
At the beginning of October it was just starting to change colour.
By Thanksgiving, those brown leaves had dropped off, and the rest of the leaves had taken on  a yellow hue.

Swatches from the yellow period.
By October 17, the leaves were turning red.

My knitting workspace--swatches are now in the red phase.  This image shows a view of my sketch book as well as the collection of yarns I was working with.  It was also useful to have some leaves on the table!
The tree on October 31st.
The collection of swatches showing the progress from green  to yellow to red.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Knitting the Seasons--September

As promised, here is the second installment of my current project Knitting the Seasons.
In September, Lloyd and I joined a guided hike into the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies.  Lloyd has long wanted to visit this fossil quarry and entrance is only possible on a guided hike.  I was curious to see if I was fit enough for a 10 1/2 hour hike with an 800 metre elevation change--YES!  We both enjoyed the experience so much that we're bound and determined to do more hiking next year.

We met the rest of the group in the parking lot at Takakaw Falls near Field, BC.  It was so cold (just above freezing) that we were all wearing toques and mitts.  Within an hour, after some vigorous walking up switchbacks, the first layers of clothing were peeled off.  By 1 PM we were in single layers--there was hardly a cloud in the sky and it was a balmy 25 degrees Celsius.

I was entranced with the red and green foliage of the fireweed.

In the Burgess Pass above Emerald Lake

And so my knitting inspiration for September was the red and green foliage of the Canadian Rockies...

Some images from the Wolcott Quarry (the restricted area).  We were encouraged to pick up the fossils and make rubbings but of course were not allowed to take any away with us.
A trilobite--probably the most common fossil in the quarry.

The same fossil as in the image above but reversed.

In the Wolcott Quarry high above the Burgess Pass

"Knitting the Seasons"--an annual exploration of the colours, textures and patterns

In the summer of 2012 as I was settling in back home, I decided to inject a little discipline into my work.  I've called this project "Knitting the Seasons".  Each month, starting in August 2012 and continuing for at least a year, I have picked (or will pick) a theme and then explore the colours and texture of that theme in a variety of yarns and stitch patterns.  I've diligently kept track of these explorations in a sketch book complete with photos.  One thing I haven't been diligent about is writing about it here, so here goes...

August 2012:  The theme was blackberries because we have a beautiful patch in our backyard.

  This past year we had a bumper crop--I was picking every two or three days--eating them raw and freezing them; making vinegar, blackberry puree (for winter time sorbet) and cordial; and of course giving them away to friends and neighbours.

It was while picking them that I decided to try and knit them...

The left hand swatch is a double moss stitch with yarn-overs.  Those free form leaves were fun to do--start with one stitch and increase at the beginning of every row until wide enough and then decrease similarly.  Play around with increasing/decreasing more or less rapidly to get different shapes.

The lower swatch is two stranded garter stitch (like Fair Isle but no purling).  The central swatches are experiments with different sized bobbles.  The upper right swatch is a stripe pattern with a tuck stitch. 
I have a wonderful library of stitch pattern books that I've been trolling through, from old "Harmony" guides and Barbara Walker Treasuries to some fairly new Japanese books with 200 and 300 patterns respectively.  I love the charts and diagrams in the Japanese books--no need to be able to read Japanese!

The next post will be September.  Stay tuned!