Monday, December 21, 2009

What Was I Saying?

There it went, another week I’ll never get back. To tell the truth, I’m not entirely sure what happened to me…

Wait, that’s not precisely true. But a full explanation of what happened to me would inevitably degrade into a long moan about my workload, traffic, over-heated commercialization and a fond dream of running away to Belize with the Yarn Harlot.

I’ll just say that I’ve been busy and leave it at that.

It’s amazing what can happen while I’m too busy to notice, though.

The world will continue spinning around the sun, wine will still make a good evening even better, and narcissus bulbs will sprout in a darkened room.

Week02-01
Week Two

Here in the Northern Hemisphere today is Winter Solstice. The very shortest day, followed by the very longest night of the year. When I get home tonight, I’ll light a candle and leave it in a sheltered corner of the patio overnight.

I do this every year, hoping that the sun will be intrigued by the flickering light and come to see what it is. Perhaps it will find things interesting enough in my part of the world that it decides to come visit for just a little longer every day.

I’ve been doing this for years now, and the results have been consistently good.

While I wait to see if my ploy works again this year, I shall water my narcissi.

Week03-01
Week Three

I wish you all a Happy (belated) Hanukkah, a Blessed Solstice, a Bountiful Yule, a Merry Christmas. Whichever calendar you use to mark this season, may it be filled with joy, with happiness, with laughter, with peace and with love.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Red Thing and Green Thing

Nope, not Christmas knitting, or Christmas decorations. No holly or evergreen wreaths with red ribbons.

There are two things you can be certain of as a reader of this blog.
  1. There will be lace projects, because I can’t seem to keep away from the lovely stuff.
  2. There will be baby knitting, because the women in my life keep reproducing.

And sometimes I will combine the two.

First, for the Red Thing:

The timeless Baby Sweater on Two Needles, also known as the February Baby Sweater, by Elizabeth Zimmerman.

FBS-02

I’ve deviated from the pattern in a few places, but I don’t think that EZ would mind. After all, she was forever discouraging people from being blind followers, wasn't she? I made eyelets for the second set of increases, just to start the lace idea a little sooner and to keep the garter-stitch tedium at bay. I also cast on extra stitches under the arms when I was putting the sleeves on waste yarn. I’ll be picking up into those stitches when I start the arms and knitting them in the round rather than back and forth.

I’m quite pleased with the way this is turning out, and I’m completely in love with the Crystal Palace Merino 5 I’m working with. It’s a super-wash merino, and just about the bounciest stuff you’ve ever seen in your life. Great stitch definition and a lovely hand to the fabric.

And now for the Green Thing:

Helena by Alison Green Will.

Helena-02

Kind of a cardigan, kind of a dress… it may have a bit of an identity crisis, but it sure is pretty!

Helena-03

Even on the inside, with all those long ends to be taken care of.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Prima and oh goodness is it ever lovely. It’s got this lovely shimmer to it, which simply refuses to photograph properly, and the drape is everything you’d expect from an 80/20 Bamboo/Merino blend.

I’m thinking that if I settle in on the couch for a few evenings I can get both of these done soon… always assuming I can tear myself away from The Big Red Blob.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Self-Absorbed

My husband and I were wandering around in the local home improvement store a couple of weeks ago when I came upon a HUGE display of narcissus-forcing kits. (narcissus… self-absorbed… I crack myself up)

Generally my resistance to store displays is pretty strong (unless we’re talking about piles of yarn), but the clever people at the store obviously had experience with people like me. So, in addition to the artful stacks of boxes were several examples of forcing in various stages. There they were, all laid out before me, a living time-lapse.

I was doing all right until I got to the pot with the fully opened blooms. Now really, how could I be expected to just walk past such beautiful blossoms and such a heady scent on a rainy November afternoon?

At least I only bought one…

Week01-01
Just Add Water

Plunk that brown disk into the pot, add some warm water and come back in 15 minutes.

Week01-02

Then I fluffed up the soil and nestled the bulbs into their new homes.

Week01-03

I stood and stared at the pot for a few minutes… then my husband told me that they weren’t going to actually grow and bloom right before my eyes. That the box said they’d bloom in 30-40 days.

All right then… slow magic is still magic. Let’s watch them together!

Work on The Big Red Blob continues, along with some baby knitting I have been remiss about photographing. I’ll remedy that soon and we’ll have a little show-and-tell.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Obsessed

The Big Red Blob…

I’m afraid it’s getting out of hand. It’s certainly taken over my life.

I started the final chart.

Centrino-10

I need to wind off the second skein of yarn.

Centrino-09

My husband is getting concerned, I barely stir from the couch.

Can’t type, gotta knit.

Back later.

PS: Artificially Mythic asked how big this is going to be. The pattern says 55 inches across… 173 inches around.

Please send a rescue squad with restorative whiskey.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Big Red Blob

This is what I’m calling Centrino for now. With apologies to Laura Nelkin, the designer of this pattern. It may not be the kindest working title, but it is surprisingly descriptive.

As I showed you yesterday, this is what it looks like peeking out of the top of my project bag:

SeeingRed-01

There are currently 432 stitches per round and it’s not getting any smaller. Oh no, I’m spiraling my way steadily towards a final count of 576.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Sorry, had to put my head between my knees and practice breathing slowly for a second.

This is what it looks like plonked down on the table and showing off the center motif:

Centrino-04

And here are a couple of closer looks at the chevron-y pattern currently emerging.

Centrino-06

Centrino-07

That cut on my knuckle came during the Great Rose Pruning Debacle of 2009… through a pair of leather gloves, mind you. Not to worry, I won in the end.

This pattern is quite intuitive and logical, with the yarn-overs and decreases lining up just so. The knitting is easy to read, and I’m even getting quite good at tinking back through a centered double decrease… but I’ll try not to let it make me late for work again.

I wonder how much furniture I’m going to have to move when it’s time to block this…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Seeing Red

Something strange has happened in my knitting bag.

Every single project in there is red. Not just a little red, or red-ish, but really-very-extra-red.

It’s not that I loathe or despise red, it’s just not a color I have very much of. I tend more towards to cool side of the color wheel. My stash is mostly made up of blues, greens and purples, and those are also the prevailing colors in my house.

But by some strange twist of fate, all of my current knitting is red.

SeeingRed-01

This is Centrino, aka The Big Red Blob. It’s a Year of Lace project, and one of the few certainties in the universe is that if you subscribe to a club there will be at least one shipment which is a color you never reckoned on sharing house space with. This yarn made me blink hard when I opened the package, but it’s certainly grown on me.

Then there’s this:

SeeingRed-02

This is the nearly completed yoke of a February Baby Sweater, in Geranium. When an expectant mother requests a color, one does not quibble. One goes to the LYS and finds it. This baby is going to be visible for a good long distance, that much is for sure!

Oh look, there’s another red down there. But I can’t show you the project. It’s a Super Secret Sock Test for a friend who wants to submit the pattern for publication. All very hush-hush, dontcha know! But I can show you the yarn.

SeeingRed-03

That’s some Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway In Vino Veritas. I bought this during the summer, praising myself all the while for stepping out of my blue-green-purple world. (Isn’t it funny the things we tell ourselves to justify buying more yarn?)

I’m enjoying all of my red these days, the yarns, the patterns, the way there are so many different reds in there. I’m beginning to think that I haven’t been giving red the attention and interest that it deserves, and I may have to remedy that on my next few trips to the LYS.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tell The Truth

How many of you have been late for work because you were so involved in your knitting the time got away from you?

Oh come on now, you can tell me.

OK fine, I’ll go first.

I was working away on Centrino (aka the Big Red Blob) this morning when I realized that my count was off on the section I was working on. I tinked, I counted, I muttered, I counted, I cursed.

I finally realized that a dropped yarn-over had run down into another yarn-over several rounds below. More muttering and cursing ensued. I located my crochet hook, managed to isolate the relevant loop and very carefully hooked it up and back onto the needle.

Which is when I noticed that in the process of picking up one dropped stitch I had managed to drop another, which had promptly done a runner.

When I finally had the second errant stitch back on the needles, I looked at the clock and realized that I was supposed to leave the house in five minutes.

I managed to get dressed, brush my hair and teeth, pack my lunch, locate my iPod, kiss my husband and dash out the door in twenty minutes.

I was late for work… and to make it worse I was in such a hurry that I forgot to bring my pattern notes with me. Somewhere I can hear the knitting gods snickering into their tea.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Match This

I know a few knitters who will go to great lengths to get their socks to match up as perfectly as possible. They’ll measure color repeats down to the millimeter, weigh their yarn to the quarter-gram when dividing their skeins, cast on with infinite care, and knit with a ferocious attention to gauge which is, quite honestly, a little bit intimidating.

I am not that kind of sock knitter. I tend to take a bit more knit-and-let-live approach to them. I like mismatched socks. And clogs . They appeal to my inner six-year-old, and as long as they fit (somebody’s) feet I’m good with it.

A couple of years ago, I bought three skeins of Knit Picks Memories, a 4-ply 100% merino fingering yarn, which has since been discontinued. I had fallen in love with the felted bowls in one of their catalogs and decided to make some for my mother, my husband and myself. I made one of them, it was fun and the bowl is sitting on my husband’s bedside table. But second-bowl syndrome bit me, and the other two skeins got tossed in with the rest of the stash.

Enter the Random List Generator, which has become my most-favorite way to pick my socks. I give the generator my list of sock yarns and it tells me which one to knit with. Saves a lot of agonizing and dithering, let me tell you. When it put one of the skeins of Memories at the top of the list I did a little happy dance.

I looked at the ridiculous list of sock patterns I want to knit, and settled on Mockery by Katie Grady. Oh, look, she dyes yarn too!

I made a few alterations to the pattern due to gauge issues (there was no way I was going to get 10 stitches per inch with this yarn), and subbed in my favorite eye-of-partridge heel. This pattern’s a lot of fun, interesting enough to keep my attention and yet simple enough to memorize after a few repeats.

So here they are, socks that emphatically don’t match. Check out the way they pooled around the gussett and then went right back to orderly stripes!

Mockery-01

They fit well, and the yarn is cushy and warm. What’s not to love?

Mockery-02

Project Details:
Pattern: Mockery Socks by Katie Grady
Size: Women’s US 7.5
Yarn: Knit Picks Memories in Yukon (blue) and Fly Fishing (green)
Needles: US 1 ½ (2.5 mm)
Dates: 2-24 October

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just Post It Already

It’s ironic how much time it took me to edit these photos, considering that I only shot about 30 of the silly things in three days. Note to self: lighten up a little bit!

The retreat was everything I could have asked for. The company was great, the food was (over)abundant and the weather even cooperated. There were 16 (17?) of us sharing the house, and I can’t remember the last time I got so much knitting done!

Sunset

I shot this off of the back porch on Thursday night. There it was, the perfect evening. Tall pines, whispering winds, a beautiful sunset… and a kitchen counter covered in bottles of wine.

This is what the living room looked like when meals were announced:
SunnySpinning

A piece of advice for the uninitiated: do not stand between the spinners and the kitchen when there’s food in there!

Friday a few of us went for a walk. We went slowly at first, harvesting lichen for dyeing with.

Lichen

As we were circling around the golf course, we came upon a small herd of deer.

PlayThrough
Mind If We Play Through?

I baked a Tres Leches Cake on Saturday afternoon, and you would not believe the amount of grief I took while it was sitting on the serving platter absorbing its milk bath.

NakedCake
Naked Cake!

Then I covered it in whipped cream and toasted coconut… they quieted down after that.
ClothedCake

I got so much knitting done it makes me regret that I have to go to work most days.

I cast on for a Braid & Bobble Hat, although mine will be sans bobbles, because I think they’re an abomination. This pattern comes without charts, so I took an evening a couple weeks ago and drew my own.

BBBrim-01

The brim is knit flat and seamed. Then I’ll pick up stitches and knit the top in the round. I’ll have to wait and see if there’s enough yarn for the braid, but it’ll work just fine either way. I’m using Malabrigo Worsted in the Vetiver colorway, and I’m completely in love with it.

I also started the third installment of Year of Lace. May I present Centrino. Designed by Laura Nelkin, knit with with Schaefer Yarn Company Anne, a 3-ply light fingering, on size 5’s.

Centrino-01

Oh, did starting this ever give me fits! I ripped back five or six times before it finally occurred to me to rest the knitting on a pillow in my lap. That way I didn’t have to worry about the needles falling out or spinning around as I worked those first few fiddly rounds.

I was so glad when this got big enough to move onto a circular needle… Alwen, how do you do it?

Centrino-02
Yarn bag by Celestial Fiber Arts

On Sunday I finally gathered up my courage and decided to go from being a reasonably accomplished knitter to a laughably inept spinner. Rovings, one of the vendors at the SOAR marketplace, was selling Polwarth fleece… and of course she was giving out samples too, just like any self-respecting vendor of highly addictive substances.

A friend was kind enough to surrender her spinning wheel to me, and patient enough to coach me through my first spinning. After much laughter, a certain amount of muttered cursing and quite a few admonishments from the entire room to slow down, I produced these:

FirstHandspun

On the left is 100% Polwarth, and on the right is a Polwarth/Silk blend.

I have this terrible feeling I may be rearranging my living room sometime in the next little while, trying to find room for a wheel and fiber. Because I obviously need another hobby, right?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pictures Coming

I've got some things to show you from the retreat I went on last weekend, but I'm having the devil's own time editing the photos.

We had a fabulous time. I went for a long walk. I knitted until my wrists were sore. I laughed until my sides ached and I was gasping for breath. I ate far too much food and drank a fair amount of wine.

It was a wonderful weekend, and I have so much to tell you about... if I can just get these damned pictures to look good!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where Have I Been?

I’ve been here. Well, not “here” as in “writing in my blog,” more like “here in my head, where it's noisy and difficult to write.”

Since last I posted, I’ve given away a baby vest:

Photobucket

I took two of my favorite shots, the traditional “It Fits!”… but my hands must have been shaking and they’re both blurry.

I’ve also enhanced my stash.

Merino5Red

Four balls of Crystal Palace Merino 5 in Geranium to make a February Baby Sweater.

Photobucket

DyeForMe-02

One skein of Plymouth Yarn Dye For Me Baby Alpaca Lace. This is 1094 yards of undyed 2-ply, which I didn’t even try to resist. I was done for the instant I touched it. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to stay in its pristine state, because the ivory tone is so lovely.

I took a couple of days off of work to celebrate my birthday and took a trip to the coast with my husband. The weather decided that it should gift me with two perfect days, and it was fabulous.

This is the bridge over the Siuslaw River in Florence.

SiuslawBridge

My husband finally found his anchor…

Anchor

And we got to my favorite spot just at high tide!

HighTide

The rest of my time has been spent much as it usually is. Work, baking, gardening, knitting, eating and laughing. It is well and truly fall here, so I spent quite a bit of time doing tidy-up work in the yards this weekend. My arms are a wee bit sore, but it’s a good feeling.

Next up: a trip to SOAR this weekend, where I am sure to be turned into a spinner. Oh good, just when I was running out of things to do!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

To Their Homes

The time comes with each and every baby project I knit when it’s time to give them away. All those sweaters and hats are meant to adorn babies, not my knitting basket.

I have a confession for you: I get nervous every time, without fail. What if they don’t like the color? What if the pattern doesn’t suit their tastes? What if all the woven-in ends work their way to the front? What if the buttons fall off?

That last panicked thought is always the one which brings me back to reality and calms me down. It would be a legitimate fear if I had sewn on the buttons… which is why my mom does it for me. When she sews on buttons, they generally stay put. When I sew on buttons, they generally fall right off as soon as I pick the garment up.

Yesterday I had the rare privilege of sending two projects to their new homes on the same day.

This navy blue sweater was actually completed on time, but the baby shower happened while I was on vacation. Then the baby himself arrived in all his glory, and still he was sweater-less! For shame, I know. I hang my head.

Well, we solved that yesterday, when baby James brought his mom to the baby shower for another expectant mother in the office.

Mom

I’m pretty sure that if young sir gets regular feeding he’ll grow into this sweater. Just now it serves quite well as a blanket.

BabyJames

It was strictly coincidental that the guest of honor at yesterday’s baby shower was getting a sweater from the same design. Different color, cable and button, same amount of love.

PurpleSweater-01

Look, it fits!

PurpleSweater-02

So, that’s two items sent to their new homes. There’s still another item to give away soon… and did I mention the two recent happy announcements in the office?

Time to find more cute things to knit!