This was a LOT of fun. I started out to knit a mandrake root, as mentioned in Harry Potter (book 2). As I was looking up reference material, I learned to distinguish between the two varieties of plant commonly called mandrake. Mandrake is also fascinating as a medicinal plant on it's own. My project was knit to resemble a European Mandrake, which has purple flowers and an orange fruit. The North American variety, looks like an umbrella, with a white, waxy blossom. The root/body was knit of a worsted taupe yarn from my stash. All knitting was done on size 6 DPN. I knit a5-inch long cylinder of 40 stitches around. I cast on with waste yarn so that I had live stitches at each end of the cylinder. For the legs, I divided the stitches evenly and knit two tapered tubes, ending with about three stitches. I purposely made the tubes different lengths. For the arms, I picked up stitches on either side of the body and knit irregular, tapered tubes. The arms and legs were threaded with pipe cleaners and stuffed with a bit of fiberfill if it fit. For the head, I decreased a few stitches to suggest a neck and shoulders, then knit straight up on about 30 stitches to form a head. The leaves were knit from groups of 3-5 stitches, all around the head. The flower and fruit were knit separately and sewn on. I added extra strands of yarn to suggest smaller roots on the ends of the appendages. There is at least on published pattern for a mandrake available on Ravelry. I developed my own so I could avoid sewing up. I also wanted to focus on botany rather than the cartoon aspects of the project. I specifically did not want to "anthropomorphise" the root by adding a face.
Brandywine Shawl is done. Finished about two weeks ago. I did not photograph it until a few days ago. This one needed some time to grow on me. It was knit in a double strand of alpaca laceweight yarn. I've decided that (for now) I don't like laceweight yarns. I put a lot of effort into this project and it came out the size of a kerchief. To be fair, perhaps I should knit this pattern in a sport yarn and see if I like it better. The color is nice and I've worn it once. Since the weather has suddenly turned cold, neckwear has decided benefits. I have recently discovered that a wrap around the neck/shoulders can feel wonderful, particularly if one is prone to getting a stiff neck. I also happen to work in a drafty office. Finally, it gives me something to fidget with when needed. I'll be playing with shawls/stoles for a while longer. I'm excited about the work of Stephen West and will link to him in future posts.
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