Monday, 13 January 2014

brocken spectre or glory hat

Brocken spectre hat mark 1
This idea has been germinating since I encountered my first brocken spectre (also known as a Glory) a year ago.

Now although I may be guilty of a little superciliousness when it comes to the phenomenon of peak bagging, not so with bagging optical atmospheric phenomena - I would love to see them all. The photos below show my shadow on the clouds, surrounded by a rainbow.

For those of you who are spectre virgins, the "spectre" appears when the sun shines from behind the observer, who is looking down from a ridge or peak into mist or fog. The light projects their shadow through the mist, often in a triangular shape due to perspective. The apparent magnification of size of the shadow is an optical illusion that occurs when the observer judges his or her shadow on relatively nearby clouds to be at the same distance as faraway land objects seen through gaps in the clouds, or when there are no reference points by which to judge its size. The shadow also falls on water droplets of varying distances from the eye, confusing depth perception. The head of the figure is often surrounded by the glowing halo-like rings of a glory, rings of coloured light that appear directly opposite the sun when sunlight is reflected by a cloud of uniformly-sized water droplets. The effect is caused by the refraction of visible light*.

You can see why this made me think about hats.

I wanted to make a lightweight hat but couldn't find the right colours in 4 ply wool, so went for cotton instead. My first attempt, like the little alpaca hat, ended up really really small. This month's learning experience was that cotton has almost no stretch so when knitting with cotton in the round using a fair isle type approach, one should leave very loose floats to avoid puckering and making a very small hat into a very very small hat. This is a well recognised trap that the overenthusiastic novice may fall into if she doesn't read useful tutorials like this by bygumbygolly.

The first brockenspectre hat was in fact so small that it didn't fit my neice's dolly. That was until I cut all the floats and sewed in the ends. I have a sneaking suspicion this is a knitting sin but at least I now have a just about usable hat rather than a really nice dishcloth:
Brocken spectre hat Mark 1
I embarked upon Mark 2 Brocken spectre hat with the gusto and the confidence of knowing the potential pitfalls to avoid. Imagine my surprise when exactly the SAME thing happened with Mark 2. Even worse, because I thought I had factored in the non-stretchability of cotton, I had cast on a spare dozen stitches for good measure, so when I was forced to cut the floats again due to it being too small, the result was a flaccid disappointment. A double wash and tumble dry just about salvaged it, but I suspect I have made another wear-in-the-house hat.
Mark 2 brocken spectre hat


The brocken spectre hat may never become the fashion must have of 2014 but it would look very good with a crepuscular shawl.    


Monday, 6 January 2014

twelfth night

These festive folk deserve a mention before I pack them away for the year.

Last year Sheila made us the little snowman...
Snowman by Sheila
...this year we have Santa with the Jingle Bell hat...
Santa by Sheila
....and my absolute favourite the sleeping angel....
Angel and rabbit knitted by Sheila
who in fact looks so cosy there with bumbleford she can stay there for the rest of the year.

Thanks x

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

dear aunty

'dear aunty' letter quilt
Lego boy's cousin...let's call him dalek boy...writes the funniest letters and stories - definitely keepers.

"The flower and the dinosaur: Once upon a time there lived a flower one day a dinosaur was about to sqash a flower and the flower said "did you know you're acting like a bully" and then the dinosaur started to be nice. The end."  

Most of these letters were written when he was 5 or 6. I was originally going to make a quilt only of his stories but couldn't resist including letters such as,
 "Dear aunty XXXXX, Please tell me about deadly diseases and ugly spots and horrible lumps. Did you remember going to the place with the deadly plants?*" (*The Poison Garden, Alnwick

dear aunty...
I did write lengthy replies, detailing everything I know about these macabre things Possibly my letters were a little too detailed...

'Dear aunty XXXXX, You don't need to tell me everything on that letter, just it will be nice if you tell me the things that you know on that letter. Aunty XXXXX I am going to tell you about killer energy. Killer energy and killer cold. Horrible health warning. Ice freezes from the edges of a pond but walking on ice is horribly risky. You could find yourself in a hole lot of DANGER.'

  ...but everyone likes a good fact and I have learned a thing or two from dalek boy:

fact Tylosaurus was a nosasasaur a large predatory marine lizard closely related to modern lizards and to snakes
dinosaur fact

The material for the backing was from Just Sew, Penrith -I almost didn't buy it because there wasn't enough, but the lovely lady who runs the shop suggested a panel on the back to make the material go further. I then hit on the idea of making the 'label' into a letter to Dalek boy with his address on the envelope. I machine embroidered this free-hand, which is no more difficult than writing with a giant pencil. I love the result and actually think the back would look nice enough as a front.
backing and label
I should have taken more pictures of the details like the bias binding I made from 'timeless treasure' handwriting fabric or a close-up of the machine free-embroidered portrait of dalek boy (using up vintage cotton from the Maureen stash). However I chose to take photos in a gale storm which wasn't the brightest idea as the quilt just wouldn't stay still.
timeless treasure fabric
dalek boy machine embroidered
dalek boy with quilt
It sounds a slightly unusual idea, sewing someone's letters into a quilt and giving them back, but I knew dalek boy would understand. It is always a pleasure, re-reading a good letter- even when you wrote it yourself...