Monday, October 31, 2011

Bacteria Mitts!

Found the perfect yarn for Haloarchaea . Its Melody Superwash - Variegated Fingering Wool, colorway: Cinnabar Flare.

Here is a picture of what the bacteria looks like:
The orange and pink long color changes of the yarn will make a great ombre effect. I would like to replicate the column of water shown in the video I linked to (see image below), with color changes from orange to pink and maybe some kind of frill at the top to look like the wee waves of the lake.

So, I think I will make mitts with some kind of frills. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011


In 2002 I visited the Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake. It had just emerged from being underwater for years. I had seen the Jetty many times in art history books and had even seen it a few times submerged under water but this was the first time to see it above water. What struck me first was how very white the Jetty was. All the rocks were covered in salt crystals. But most eye-catchingly beautiful was the pink water that surrounded the white salty rocks. It was like a candy ocean in a strange Wonka Chocolate Factory room.

The pink water comes from a bacteria called Haloarchaea. This bacteria was not present before the causeway was created in 1959. The causeway caused the north arm of the lake to become supersalinated allowing Haloarchaea to proliferate. You can even see the difference in the lake color from a satellite picture. Notice the hard line that indicates the causeway:

Its colors range from orange to pink and are quite beautiful. Here is a video from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts talking to Bonnie Baxter from Westminster College about the bacteria in the lake. You can see a column of the water in the video.

There is some funky knitting that can be done with these colors!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Salt Flats Scarf Finished!

I am done with the Salt Flat Scarf and I am very pleased with the results. The rocky edging looks like I was picturing it and the white alpaca is perfect. Here is a picture of it being blocked.

Here are pictures of the finished scarf:

The next task is to write the pattern down so I can get it uploaded to Ravelry.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Longest Scarf Ever

This is the longest scarf I have ever knit but I think it needs to be long if it is inspired by the Salt Flats. It looks good curled up along the stockinette edge but I think I will block it—as soon as I get it done, it might take me a while.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

After Many Fits and Starts

So the first graph I did was complete rubbish. I did another couple graphs and then some swatches. After much frogging, I think I have what I was looking for. 

It needs to be blocked but it gives me the salt covered rocky feel I was looking for with the randomly wavy edge. I created it using several short rows similar to the small sock heels I talked about the other day. I think I will keep knitting the scarf body and end it with just some garter stitch rows. The end seems a little too frilly to have two of them on a scarf. Plus the straight edge on the other end is reminiscent of the Salt Flats that seem to just go on and on. They say the Salt Flats are so flat you can see the curvature of the earth.

Now the problem is to remember what I did so I can write a pattern.

By the way, the yarn I am using is Classic Elite Alpaca. You can view my progress on the scarf on my Ravelry page.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First Graph of Salt Flats Scarf

I did a quick graph of a possible end on the Salt Flats Scarf. I am unsure how it will turn out. The little sock heels are starting to look like sagging breasts to me but I guess I will start and see how it turns out. I can always frog it, although the alpaca yarn seems a bit delicate for that.

If I can get just a little caught up at work, I plan to take a day off and go to the Salt Flats again and do some sketching. My memories of the edges of the flats are beginning to blur with the bobbles I am making for the scarf. Maybe the edges of the Flats did look like sagging breasts. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Salt Flats Scarf Swatches

I did a couple of swatches  to figure out the edging of the scarf. I tried both random bobbles and the little sock heels I talked about yesterday. In the picture the bobbles are on the bottom and the sock heels are on top.

The bobbles are not quite what I was thinking of but neither are the sock heels. But I do like the look of the sock heels. They would make an interesting bottom to a scarf and they do make the uneven edge I was looking for.

If I use sock heels on the edge of my scarf I will have to cast on many more stitches than will end up as the body of the scarf. I think I have many swatches ahead of me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Impressions and Inspiration

The flats almost look like snow on the ground, which is a little disturbing when it is 90 degrees outside. The large flat areas are edged with the dark mountains and above them, the blue sky. At the edges are rocks covered in salt creating a white bumpy edge among the weeds. Here is a picture of the salt flats taken by one of most favorite photographers, Richard Misrach.

Salt Flat Knit Ideas
Long stretches of salt can only mean long stretches of knitting. A scarf is called for. I was thinking of using a pure white yarn because although the flats are many colors of dirt and salt, from a distance it all looks white. The fuzzy nature of the salt reminds me of mohair or alpaca. Luckily, I have some white alpaca in my stash that a friend gave me. I am going to try using that. 

At first, I was thinking of doing something cube-like to imitate the structure of salt but now I have an idea of different size bobbles at the end of the scarf to approximate the salt covered rocks at the edge of the flats. But I don’t quite know how to make close-knit different size bobbles. I have made many small bobbles but not the type I am picturing in my head. I need to do some research on this. 

Here is a preliminary sketch of an idea.

Maybe I need to do short rows for the bobbles. Like little sock heels along the edge. A test of concept needs to be next.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Salt Flat Facts

This is information I am gleaning through while I am thinking about a design inspired by the Salt Flats. The Salt Flats were created when Lake Bonneville receded and left large concentrations of dissolved minerals. The minerals include potash and halite (table salt) but the Bonneville Salt Flats are about 90% salt.

Now ground water flows in from the surrounding mountains and it picks up salt and minerals along the way. The water then percolates up to the surface and then evaporates leaving the minerals to form a salt crust. The layers of salt are almost 5 feet thick near the center and just a few inches along the edges.

Salt crystals on a dry lake bed

Halite is formed in isometric crystals that give it a distinctive cube structure. I spent a lot of time learning about the different types of isometric crystals (fascinating) but probably boring so I won’t go into detail here. 

Halite crystal

Some information from the BLM Website

Friday, October 14, 2011

Salt Flats

I was out at the salt flats the other day. Beautiful, stark, monotonous, flat…all these words and so many more. My work takes me around the state visiting museums and although I have seen the salt flats many, many times, on this occasion I was actually inspired. We were forced to stop at the rest stop 10 miles east of Wendover because we ran out of gas. While waiting for help to arrive, my companions and I spent some time looking, smelling, feeling Salt Lake’s west desert. I realized then that I really don’t know anything about the Great Salt Lake even though I have lived here most of my life. I was inspired to know more. I was also so inspired by the colors, textures, and overall feeling of the salt flats that I wanted to capture it somehow. The only somehow I know is by knitting.

But, I don’t know how to design knitware.

This then is a journey to learn more about place and to become more proficient in designing my inspiration of that place.

I  hope to have fun, learn, and get cool knits at the end of it all.