Saturday, November 6, 2010

European Mandrake, knit

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

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.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Well, foo. I've been knitting, but grumpy. For weeks. Taken no photographs. Foo.