Longma’s Cowl in Coal & Scuttles

Close up of the whale tail lace pattern of Longma's Cowl.

I’ve spent the last few months on a bit of a gradient binge, making up for years of not knowing how to work with the slow transitions. Other than being easier for the dyer, two of the rhetorical questions that have always been floating across my mind are: Why are gradients sold as mini skeins? What power does this hold for the knitter/crocheter?

The “easy” answers that comes to mind has to do with projects such as the So Faded sweater, where having the colors separate makes it easier to divide for the sleeves while setting colors aside to mirror the gradient later. It wasn’t until I was winding yarn for Longma’s Cowl that I realized the other benefit: you don’t have to work the colors in order.

Part of this realization came to me specifically because of the colorway I was working with, Coal & Scuttles by Wonderland Yarns is one of their choppier gradients and isn’t packaged in color order (it’s like they were trying to help me along to this realization). Since the gradient was going to cause some striping anyway, I found myself knitting the gradient out of order just to see what would happen.

I’m a huge fan of the final result and am absolutely going to attempt to push myself out of my comfort zone the next time I work with one of their gradient packs.

The cowl itself was a fun knit, I found working the lace pattern required a little bit of focus but not enough that I needed to pour over the pattern at the start of every row. In fact, I think I had the repeat memorized after working through the entire chart once. Definitely need to figure out a way to create a simple shawl version of this one!

Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs) :]

A young woman wearing Longma's Cowl, the oversized cowl drapes down past her chest and the grey gradient stacks on top of itself.

Geneva’s Cowl

A light and dark green textured cowl laying on a table. Slipped stitches are used to make forward and back slashes and seed stitches rows are worked with alternating colors to create subtle stripping.

One of the hardest things to do as an adult is to make friends, something that’s made even hard by living rurally. I think it has something to do with learning what you want out of life, it’s not that certain people no longer fit it’s that you need to have a certain level of things in common with them. Gone are the days where the connection of both liking blue crayons is enough, which if I’m honest is a little sad.

The flip side of this difficulty is how much you come to appreciate the friends that you do have in your life and all the little things they do for you. The “how are you text messages” take on a new meaning from the days of AIM because you know the person on the other side is ok with your honest reply.

Geneva is one of our most thoughtful friends — she’s witty, and strong and provides overly detailed instructions for reheating burritos. Rugged to withstand hours of working on the farm with her animals, with textured stitches to represent the embroidery she crafts in her spare time, this cowl was designed with her in mind.

Use two skeins of Blue Sky Fibers Woolstok Tweed (one in each color) to create the single wrap shown, or grab two extra skeins to work up a double wrap. Geneva’s cowl can be found on Ravelry.

October 2022 Book Club: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Cover art for the Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh.

If I had to describe this book to someone, the first way that comes to mind is that it’s very similar to Spirited Away. Within the first few pages, you’re whisked (on with the aid of a dragon) into the spirit world where friends and danger lie around every corner.

One theater technique that is relied upon heavily in this book is the use of masks to convey that someone is keeping a secret. Mina’s three closest companions in the story all wear masks to hide their identity, something that actually comes across very subtly because you sort of assume that all spirits wear a mask for a while (or was that just me?). It brought tears to my eyes to learn that they were wearing masks to hide the fact that they were Mina’s ancestors and weren’t allowed to interfere.

I also enjoyed the twist that the Sea God wasn’t really the Sea God, this prevented the story from being completely predictable (which wouldn’t have been a bad thing either because the story was enjoyable). My only real question, having finished the book, was why did people remember Mina but not remember who the Sea god and the Prince were?

It was also interesting to participate in the characters’ debate on the duties and responsibilities of Gods and Humans. Do the gods deserve payment for their services? Why isn’t prayer enough? This debate was excellently punctuated by the goddess of moon and memory becoming the goddess of women.

I wish the book’s pacing was a little different, parts seemed rushed and it would have been nice to spend a little bit more time in the world that Oh created.

Next month, we’re stealing a book from Reese’s recommendations: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. While I feel a little bit as though this book can go either way, Reese’s recs tend to be books I enjoy.

Cover art for Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store’s security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone family, and the complicated reality of being a grown-up. It is a searing debut for our times.

Mistborn Fingerless Mitts

Two mistborn mitts laid on top of one another next to a copy of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. On top of the paper back book lies a skein of Metalico in Grey.

Admittedly, I’m always on a fantasy book kick. In my mind, there is nothing better than getting lost in an unrecognizable world and observing unknowing (and sometimes unwilling) heroes begin their quest. Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson, is one of my favorite worlds to think about. Imagine a world where there were people who had superpowers as long as they had access to metal. More specifically, access to metal that could be ingested. Suddenly gold takes on a new value, especially for those who don’t have a lot of it.

In Mistborn, one of the main characters is a young woman named Vin who is raised on the streets and taken in by Kelsiver, the leader of an elite criminal team, to help take down the government. Vin must act as though she is a Nobel woman by day and use her allomancy (her superpowers) by night to learn about what’s happening in the city and eventually kill the “Lord Ruler”.

A hand wearing a blue mistborn fingerless mitt resting on top of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Below the hand is a skein of metalico yarn in grey and above the hand is pothos leaves.

As I felt Blue Sky’s Metalico and tried to envision what to make, Vin came to mind. As the series progresses, she moves from disliking the formal clothing to enjoying it, making me wonder what it would look like if she had a pair of mitts to wear by day and by night. Something textured and elegant, while being warm and cozy. I love the idea of Vin slipping on a set of these mitts just before dawning her mist cloak and fading into the night.

The pattern, which can be purchased on Ravelry, offers two different styles in the form of a short cuff and a long one. The short cuff can be made using one skein of Metalico and the long can be made using two. Metalico is soft and warm, making these mitts perfect for chilly offices or winter nights.

A Mistborn fingerless mitt knit up in blue rests on a grey table cloth surrounded by a grey skein of metalico (left), a paperback copy of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (above) and pothos (right).

Green Emery Dress

Sewing is not a mindless activity for me by any means, in fact, every step of the process requires careful focus. Even tracing the pattern. I say this because that very fact makes it incredibly difficult to find the time to sit down and sew, it’s so rare that I have a moment of zero distraction let alone several (which is probably the reason I’ve been cranking out knits that are on the simpler side of life, they’re so easy to pick up and put down again!). So when I tell you I took on the Emery Dress again, I’m really telling you that I recognized that the pattern was hard the first time I worked it and was determined not to be beaten by it again.

The first time I worked the Emery Dress, I had help from Mary Margaret of Notion Fabrics. Between thoughtful tutorials and Mary Margaret’s weekly zoom meetings, everything was aligned to set me up for success. It’s not that the pattern instructions were poor or that the dress itself was particularly difficult, it was that my skills set did not include modifing the pattern to fit my body and the process of classic dress making seemed cumbersome. When I trimmed my final thred, I swore that I would never again make another.

Fast forward a year later and I found myself staring at fabric that screamed to be turned into an Emery dress. Though I had purchased the fabric for a different intention, I found myself grateful that I hadn’t given away my Emery pattern and ready to take on the challenge of modifying the fit.

Since I knew going into this dress that the back bodice pieces created a large pocket, I spent a lot of time trying out different depth adjustments to the existing darts and rewatching dart construction videos. In the end, I needed to take in about an inch of fabric across both pieces.

All in all, I’m happy with the way my dress came out. There are a few things that are wonky (the left side of the dress looks a tad more handmade than the right, but does that really matter?), but it fits! I also discovered that my invisible zipper skills have dramatically improved, which was a pleasent surpise. I have loose plans to make another with some blue egg fabric that I aquired, but I’m also flirting with merging the Emery skirt with the bodice from the Rosie Dress because I can’t stop thinking about the collar detail.

A young woman standing in front for a floor mirror wearing a green short sleeve dress with white outlined potted plants.