Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer bummer

Well, after a semi-lovely Memorial Day, my DH and I both woke up sick with summer colds. Blech! Got the sneezes-sore throat-slightly feverish blues today.

We did enjoy our Memorial Day trip to visit the DH's hometown and my MIL's grave site. Every year, I bring blossoms from my own garden to decorate MIL's grave. This year, each child placed one of the red bomb peonies at her grave and DH and I placed irises. The little ceremony is so meaningful because my MIL was an avid gardener and a florist and we know she would love the flowers from our garden.

Now, for the part that made the day "semi" lovely for me. After brunch, my DH took the kids fishing at his favorite hometown fishing spot. Now, you have to understand something about me. I HATE fish. I can't eat fish of any sort without getting violently ill. The smell alone is enough to send me scurrying to the nearest bathroom. I can't go to seafood restaurants and if I eat where fish is served and I can smell it, my meal is ruined. But it was part of DH's childhood and a memory he wanted to share. So guess what I did while everyone else was fishing. Yup, I knitted.

I'm happy to report that I'm nearly done with Stealth Project #1 (half done with the last item) and am getting close to the gusset shaping on Stealth Pas de Deux (which is lightweight STR, Guinifer). It's a good thing, too, because the deadline for both projects is Father's Day weekend. So, the day was still lovely and productive. And the best news is that no one caught any fish, so I was spared the whole "Can we cook it for dinner?" ordeal. Euwwww!

I can hardly wait until these projects are done and gifted, so I can start posting knitting photos again. Instead, I'll have to be satisfied with a goofy cat picture, a la Wendy Knits.

Here is Koda, attacking who knows what under the edge of my portable ironing board. She also likes to bite this little, table-top ironing board - don't ask me why!

Koda says, "Gimme, gimme!"

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Triumphant but tired!

Eureka, the vegetables are in. God blessed us by keeping the rain away yesterday and sending a brisk wind to dry out the mucky mess so I could get into the garden and place the raised planters. Then today after church, I was able to get all my vegetables in. Hooray!

After the vegetables were in, we installed a fire pit. The children have been wanting one for years. As soon as we finished sweeping the sand into the brick border, Hockeyboy decided to try and light the fire ala Tom Hanks in Castaway. Soon, Dad was in on the action as Peeps (DD#3) looked on in fascination. Although they did manage to get some smoke, they ran out of energy before actually getting a flame and resorted to a lighter to get the real fire going.

I know this is a fiber arts blog, so I apologize for no fiber related photos. Unfortunately, I can't post any progress photos on the stealth projects on which I'm working. However, I can give you an update on Stealth Pas De Deux - I managed to get the second pair of socks finished to the same stage as the first mis-matched pair and have made the transfers so that I have matching socks on the magic loop. I've managed to sneak in another inch of progress on the socks in my non-gardening moments. I'll be working on the other stealth project tomorrow while traveling to visit family, so I'm hoping to get close to finishing Stealth One tomorrow.

Well, time to rejoin the family at the bonfire - before they snarf all the s'mores. Yum!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Stealth pas de deux woes

No gardening progress to report. The heavy rainfall we received this week turned my newly tilled garden into a morass of mud. I'm marking time until it drys out enough to get back in there and finish it. The bad news is that rain is fore casted for today, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Yikes! Vegetables may not get planted at all this year, if the weather doesn't cooperate.

Here is another flower photo by Hockeyboy. These irises are courtesy of my Mom. A few years ago, she needed to clean out her perennial beds because her physical health wouldn't allow her to do extensive weeding and maintenance the beds required. So I went down to visit her in Iowa and pulled out all the flowers in her garden and moved them back up to Minnesota. I replaced the flowers in her beds with some low maintenance shrubs. I have blessed my Mom every spring since then because her flowers have really beautified my garden beds.

The plant in the background is coreopsis and it blooms with a lovely star-like yellow blossom later in the season. When I planted them together, I had hoped that they would bloom at the same time but, alas, they are on different schedules entirely. Fortunately, I like the contrast of the foliage between them, so they still look great as companion plants.

Now for my Stealth woes . . . I purchased two skeins of Socks that Rock yarn for this project. Because I was in a hurry, I just wound each skein into one ball, instead of weighing and dividing each skein into two balls, as is my normal practice. I assumed I could knit two socks from two different skeins without any problems, since I ordered the same color at the same time - hence, they would be the same dye lot.

Well, 3 inches into the toe up pattern, it was obvious that the two skeins were not the same dye lot. While I would probably wear the socks that were slightly different shades, my DH is a perfectionist and would not wear socks that didn't match. So, after much debating and thought, I put the two socks onto dpns, weighed and wound each ball into two equal balls and have cast on for two more socks, one from each skein. When the two new socks are the same size as the original two socks, I will put them on dpns and transfer matching socks back onto my Knit Picks Option needle and finish them. Then I'll do the same with the other pair. Thus DH is going to get two pairs of socks, instead of one pair. I'm knitting like a fiend to finish them, since the project has now doubled in size. On the plus side, I'm loving the hand of this yarn so much, it is a joy to extend the pleasure of knitting with it.

STR rocks!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Recycling at its best!

Here is a little spring color, compliments of Hockeyboy. He's found a sudden passion for photographing the flowers in our garden, so you'll probably be treated to more floral photography over the next few weeks. This is the red bomb peony in my front yard. It is the first of the peonies in my garden to bloom and my favorite.

Now, for my favorite recycling project of 2007 . . . The completed Maude Tote.

This tote started out as a sweater that originally was made in an attempt to use up leftover Mission Falls Cotton yarn. Although I loved the sweater on paper, it looked horrible on me. Thus the recycling project began. I've already explained in a previous post how the bag was formed from the sweater. But the incredibly soft, floppy nature of the fabric had me stymied as to how to make it into a usable tote.

Then, I saw this episode of Knitty Gritty and the ideas started flowing. At first, I considered using ultrasuede but when I played around with it, the fabric was too flexible to reinforce the structure of the tote. Then, out of nowhere came the idea to try naugahyde. Not only is it stiffer but it is water resistant and it can be wiped down with a damp cloth, making it easy to clean. Had this not been a recycling project, I would have matched the yarn to the naugahyde, to make the seams less obtrusive. But the goal was to use up the leftover scraps of yarn from the original sweater, so my crocheted edging and seams become a decorative element instead (in a retro, beer-can-hat kind of way).

The naugahyde liner was fully constructed first, then I stitched it to the bag at all the seam lines, to hold everything together. Then I hand-sewed the cotton web handles to the bag and added a loop closure and an antique Mother-of-Pearl button. It took me about 8 hours to make the lining and do the finishing work, so this is not a quickie project but the results were exactly what I was looking for.

When all was said and done, this is how much yarn I had leftover from the unraveled top of the sweater. Now that's what I call recycling.

Next challenge - what can I do with those leftovers?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Gardening Mojo

Once upon a time, a family of 5 moved to a brand new house. They had built the house to suit them on a rather ordinary suburban lot. What made the lot exciting was the fact that it backed up against city parkland with trees for climbing, a ravine for exploring and a path for biking and walking. No one would ever build behind the house because the land was not suitable for housing, so all the wonderful trees and natural beauty would always brighten the view from their windows and deck.

Now the Mother was an avid gardener and had all kinds of marvelous plans for the landscaping. For a full year prior to the move, she had poured over gardening magazines, checked out stacks of garden design books from the library and made copious notes and numerous drawings of her plans.

Unfortunately, the family moved into their beautiful new house in January. Not a very promising time to garden in Minnesota, but Mother was not daunted by the cold winds and deep snow. She promptly purchased a grow light and little peat pots and started seedlings in her basement.

Lo and behold, in March, Mother unexpectedly found out that the family of 5 was going to become a family of 6 in October. It was a bit disappointing, because Mother did not have easy pregnancies and spent a lot of time on bed rest in previous pregnancies. So the garden plans had to be amended, with many of the more elaborate plans put on hold. Mother, in her excitement over having a new baby, in addition to the dampening effect of having to wait to finish her garden, lost her gardening mojo. With much help from Father, a small garden was put in, just to grow her seedlings. Then the grow light was put away, the garden plans were filed away and Mother became a mother for the 4th time. She replaced her gardening mojo with a fiber arts mojo and lived happily ever after . . . for awhile.

(The small square in the middle is the original vegetable garden)

Fast forward 7 years - Mother finally found her gardening mojo and started to remake her garden into the one of her dreams. With the help of her much older children, she began to strip out the sod that was placed (against her water conserving, anti-lawn desires) as a "temporary" weed prevention barrier. This enlarged the original vegetable bed significantly.

(The vegetable bed enlarged and the edging of the flowerbeds finalized)

At the same time, she planned out the more flowing flower beds that will surround the garden bed. Eventually, Son#1 will build an arbor, fence and garden gate around the vegetable bed, as part of his homeschool wood shop training. In Mother's imagination, the arbor will be covered with climbing vines and lovely roses and other flowering perennials will envelope the picket fence, making this the garden of her dreams.

(Where we are today)

The vegetable garden's inside edging was placed, the rest of the sod was stripped from the flower beds and the garden was tilled. With a little more (okay, a lot more) hard work, the raised beds will be replaced and filled, the seeds will be planted and the edging will be placed and phase one of Mother's grand and glorious garden will be done.

THEN Mother will live happily ever after . . . until phase 2 of her grand and glorious garden plans begins . . .

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dance (recital) Fever

A quick post from the land of dancing Fairy Godmothers, Evil Step-sisters and Cinderellas (and the odd hip hop, jazz and tap routine).

I haven't dropped completely off the face of the earth, just have been hanging out in the unreal world of recital weekend.

I've spent anywhere from 5 to 10 hours a day at the theater since Thursday afternoon, most of it on my feet, volunteering. Today is our last day, with at least 8 hours to be logged at the theater - oi!

On the knitting front, I did get to start Stealth Project Pas De Deux (little ballet lingo there) in the odd down time minutes at the theater. I've cast on the usual "two-at-a-time-toe-up set-up" and have two rows of toe increases before I move on to the instep stitch pattern. Not much progress for 30 hours of theater time but you take what you can get when you're a dancer's Mom. I have an entire hour today where I'm NOT working, only supervising DD#2 in the waiting room, so hopefully I'll have more progress to report tomorrow.

In the meantime, here is a picture of my latest garden additions. For Mother's Day, my husband bought me two hydrangea plants for my perennial garden. I'm hoping they do okay where I've planted them. They are considered a tender perennial in this area, so they'll require some extra TLC to survive the winter. I planted them on the south side of my house, so they're in full sun, not optimal for this partial shade plant, but it will protect them in the winter. If they don't thrive there, I'll move them this fall, I guess.

I have more gardening project photos but no more time to post. Time to doll up some dancers. Exit stage left.

Friday, May 18, 2007

FO Friday

Finally, the photo of my FO. Details:

Pattern: Widdershins Remix. In other words, the basic Widdershins toe up formula with my own variation: in this case, a 1x1 rib on the cuff.

Yarn: One skein of Sockotta by Plymouth Yarn (414 yards). This is a cotton/superwash wool/nylon blend that is space dyed to form the pseudo Fair Isle pattern. I ended up with a small quantity of leftover yarn, only because I wanted these socks to cuff and I'd reached the desired length with yarn to spare.

I have to agree with Livenletlrn and Leah about this yarn. There is a harshness to this yarn that makes it somewhat uncomfortable to knit. However, I am going to reserve final judgement until I've seen how they wear. That very quality that makes it less fun to knit with may be exactly what makes these socks ultra-durable.

I don't include needle size because I invariably use at least 2 sizes down from what most patterns call for. I'd hate for anyone to attempt to match MY gauge because it is so out of whack. The gauge ended up being 6.5 sts and 13 rows to the inch. The socks are a tad looser than I like. I prefer to knit this pattern at 8 sts to the inch but this is the gauge I got with my usual needles, so, like, whatever . . .

What is that bias swatch in the photo? One of three bias squares made from the leftover Sockotta yarn. I decided to use up all the dribs and drabs of leftover sock yarn to make bias squares. I don't know what I'll do with them yet but I've got numerous tiny little balls of leftovers to play with. Perhaps I'll make one of these or a variation of this. Or maybe a bag of some sort. Or maybe I'll just collect them to play with, like a puzzle. For now, I'm just having fun busting the leftovers' stash.

Now for the progress report: Ribbon Cardigan is progressing, slowly but surely. I've cast on for both fronts and have about eight inches done, so far. I've made this my knit-at-home project. The twisty nature of the ribbon and the mental concentration it takes to manage armhole/v-neck decreases on two pieces at once makes it too hard to manage elsewhere. My Pomatomas socks are on hold as I have two stealth projects in the works that have deadlines in June/July. So much knitting is going on but little I can actually photograph - yet.

Garden photos will probably dominate the next few posts, since my perennials are just now beginning to blossom. I've also been working hard on a new garden project, which has taken many, many hours (and pain tablets) and promises to keep me busy for many months (and years) to come. Stay tuned . . .

P.S. Thanks for all the positive comments on the Kumihimo post. I never know if my written instructions are clear enough to be understood.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Kumihimo braiding

Rani requested that I show the Kumihimo bracelet that DD#2 gave me for Mothers Day. Since the photos of the bracelet didn't look that great, I decided to do a mini demo, instead. This is not a comprehensive tutorial but a quick introduction to the general process. The kit we're using was purchased from Weavers Guild of Minnesota at Shepherd's Harvest.

This is a seven cord braid. There are many other styles and patterns for Kumihimo braids that range from 4 to 100 strands. An internet seach will yield plenty of information if you are interested in more details.

Photo 1 shows the underside of the loom, with the developing cord coming through the center hole, so you can see what the finished cord looks like.

Note: This is actually the beginning of a loop. By starting in the middle of the length, using one strand per slit, we make a thin section that will loop back on itself, then the extra length incorporated into the main body of the cord. Our next step on this loom is to draw the other end of the bundle of strands back up through the center hole. Then, matching up the colors in the slits, the rest of the cord will be worked with double strands, making a finished loop (or buttonhole) on one end. This step is only necessary if you need a fastening loop at one end, as for a bracelet or necklace.

Photo 2 is shows the set up of the strands in the loom. Notice that there are 8 slits but 7 strands. The pattern for this particular braid is to select the third strand to the left of the slit and move it to the open slit.

Photo 3 shows this move. Now you have a new open slit. Continuing in the same direction (counterclockwise), select the third strand and move it to the open spot, as shown in photos 4 and 5. You continue working around the loom until you have the length of cord you want. We finished by tying an overhand knot at the end of the cord and using the knot as a "button" to fasten our bracelet.

If you are making a long cord, it is recommended that you use bobbins to hold the thread. The shorter lengths we've been working with haven't required bobbins but we do have to stop and untangle our working strands frequently.

I still owe ya'll a FO photo. Next post, promise.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Believe it or not, the pictured items were bought at 9:02 am on Saturday morning. That's right, just as the Shepherd's Harvest festival opened, I was making my first purchase.

Just as I walked into the first building at 8:55, it was obvious that some of the vendors weren't quite ready for customers. However, right at the entrance, there was the Wool Gatherers booth, up and ready for customers. And to make it even more tempting, they had a large "SALE" sign up. So, in I popped and the first thing that caught my eye was the Lorna's Lace yarn display. Now, Lorna's Lace has been on my "wanna buy" list for a long time. The fact that it was on sale closed the deal for me. Of course, there was a bin of fiber on sale, too, so the bag of Louet Merino/Silk roving in the Koala colorway came home with me, too.

There were so many great vendors at Shepherd's Harvest that once I started exploring, I was a little overwhelmed. So I wandered around for a long time, looking at lots of different things. But the only other purchases were a couple of bars of Shadow Lake Soap from Wool'n Weave and 4 kumihimo braiding kits from The Weavers Guild of Minnesota as gifts for my kids.

After all, I am on a fiber diet (not a fast, like Guinifer). I am proud of my forbearance. However, I did see some fabulous undyed yarn at Wool'n Weave that I may break down and order in the future. Large hanks of white Merino wool that appeared to be between baby and sport weight. The color was lovely by itself but if I decided to dabble in more experimentation with dyes, it would be handy to have the yarn on hand . . . just in case . . . you know.

To top off the day, I met fellow blogger, Ellen at the Minnesota Knitter's Guild booth. She is working on the Flower Basket shawl while manning the booth. I must say I am impressed that she would work on a complicated lace pattern with all the distractions and interruptions that were bound to happen. It was so nice to actually meet someone I've been exchanging comments with online.

(BTW, Ellen, I would love to join the guild but my kids' crazy schedule just doesn't allow me to get away on Tuesday nights. But the sock yarn exchange sorely tested my will power. Had my DH been in town, I might have attempted a visit to the meeting tonight and left the chauffeuring duties to him. Drat!)

Oh, and the kids loved the kumihimo braiding kits and two of my girls have already used up most of the floss that was included in the kit and are ready for more. I even received a bracelet made from kumihimo braid from DD#2 for Mother's Day. Considering the fact that I gave the kits to the kids Saturday evening and I was presented with a completed bracelet on Sunday morning speaks to the fun and fast nature of this craft. I will definitely have to look into more styles of braids that can be made by kumihimo.

Well, that's about all about Shepherd's Harvest. I'll definitely be back again next year. I'm already dreaming about the classes I might take. Come March '08, I'll be haunting the website until they post the classes.

Next post, pictures of a FO (finally) and the major landscaping project that has been robbing me of extra knitting time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

What a great day at Shepherd's Harvest

The weather was perfect, the classes were fun and the vendors were . . . well, let's just say my self-control was tested to the limits.

I took two classes from Tracy Schuh of Wool 'n Weave Fiber Arts Studio. Each class made two skeins of yarn and since I had a few dollars to spend, I bought two more skeins to dye.

Please note that the skeins pictured were not my own. This process was so messy that it was easier to concentrate on finishing my yarn, then photograph other students' work in progress. Although I love my own yarn, I would not want to take credit for the fun color ways that others created.

To start with, the skeins were placed on plastic wrap. We then learned how to mix the Aljo dyes. These dyes are professional grade and very concentrated, so they result in brilliant hues.

Then we began to sponge the dye onto the yarn, being careful to turn the skeins over to make sure we were saturating the entire area.

Our next chore (I call it a chore because it was the most difficult part of the process for me!) was to enclose the skein in the plastic wrap. Now we were ready to heat set the dye by either microwaving or steaming. Microwaving was much faster but since we only had one microwave on site, the queue waiting their turn was a little daunting. So I opted to steam the first four skeins. Since I was attending both classes, I was able to work during the lunch hour to finish steaming my yarns.

Once the dye is heat set, the yarn is rinsed and set out to dry.

Now, since we kept blowing the circuit in the 4-H building we were in, I was not certain that all my skeins steamed for the full amount of time required. So, rather than rinse my yarn immediately, I bagged them up and placed them inside my van, in the direct sun. After mentioning to the teacher, she admitted that she's often bagged her yarn in black plastic and set them on blacktop for a full day to heat set the dye. I was pleased that, on my own, I figured out a legitimate way to further the setting process.

Once I got home, I opened my little packages and thoroughly rinsed the yarn out in my laundry room's utility sink. I hung them to drip dry, using a fan to speed the process up a bit, and voila . . .

Drum roll, please. The results of my hard, somewhat messy labors is . . .

Six skeins (enough for 3 pairs of socks) of my own hand-dyed yarn. In no way are they perfect, with little dribbles of miscellaneous colors mixed in but they are my own special blends. The blue/green/yellow skeins were my first attempt, with the tropical orange/pink blend being the last set I dyed. The blue/purple/pink blend was an attempt to use up some leftover dye from other students' work, while still getting a pleasing colorway.

Once they are completely dry (which should be very soon), I'll be winding them up into center-pull balls.

My next challenge, to finish up a few UFO's and some gifts that are due in June BEFORE casting on with some of this yarn.

Or my Shepherd's Harvest Stash Enhancement Acquisitions . . . more on those later.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Another meme

I have at least 3 different ideas that I'd like to blog about. However, the garden is calling me, so I'll just post a quick meme and save the rest of the ideas for another time. I saw this on Extravayarnza and was curious how many of them I have done. Well, I was amazed. See for yourself.


Mark with bold the things you have ever knit, with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up

Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns (I’ve swatched for one)
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn

Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn

Two end knitting – I don’t know what this is!
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn

Graffiti knitting
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book

Teaching a child to knit

American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money

Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting

Dying with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars

Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living (I wish!!)
Knitting with cotton

Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch

Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards

Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine

Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

What have you learned to do that has marked a definite change in your knitting life?

I would say, learning how to knit continental when I was in high school. Prior to that, I was an English knitter and somewhat slow, especially purling. But training myself to pick increased my speed significantly and now I can knit with either hand (or both hands for stranding), although continental is preferred. It certainly makes teaching others to knit easier, too, especially south paws because I can knit both ways.

P.S. Shepherd's Harvest is tomorrow. I'm so excited that I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control and I think I like it!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

More yarn - oops

In spite of my stash-busting intentions, I did purchase some extra yarn from Webs last week. But inexpensive cone yarn isn't easy to find and when you can get 1 pound (or more) cones for $5, what IS a girl to do?

The four cones lined up on the window sill are a silk/wool blend. I love the slubby texture of this yarn and it is the perfect weight to go through my knitting machine. I envision a Eunny Lang-ish Fair Isle cardigan. I particularly love the Venezia sweater in the winter 2006 issue of Interweave knits. I'll probably use a different Fair Isle pattern, one that comes on the punch cards for the knitting machine, but will use the color transitions in Venezia as inspiration for my design. This project is going on my summer project list, for that time when our homeschooling schedule is lighter and there is more time to set up my machine and spend the longer stretches of time complicated projects like this entail.

The cones on the chair have different fiber content. The navy blue is 100% silk and very fine. I would probably have to combine it with another yarn or ply it with itself to make it thick enough use in my machine. Perhaps this yarn would be a good one on which to learn how to Navajo ply on a spindle.

The larger cone of white is an over-twisted 100% wool. I'll probably end up plying this with itself or something else as well, to compensate for the excessive twisting or the knitted fabric will bias. I also think it would be a great yarn to dye. At $5 a cone, it's certainly inexpensive enough for experimentation.

The other cream color yarn is 100% wool, which would work in my knitting machine or for hand knitting. I don't have plans for this yarn yet, other than to marinate in the ol' stash for awhile until inspiration strikes. Perhaps a Swallowtail Shawl? (Have I mentioned how much I like Interweave Knits magazine lately? Oh, yeah, I did!)

How on earth I'm ever going to find time to use all this yarn and the rest of my stash is beyond me! Although I've worked hard to radically diminish my stash since last fall, temptations continue to plague me. (Sigh) Hello, my name is Lorraine and I'm a yarn-a-holic.

P.S. Shepherd's Harvest is the day after tomorrow! More stash expansion forecasted, with a 60% chance of over-spending. Heaven help me!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Looky what I got!

I love getting packages in the mail! Especially when they contain such wonderful little gems like these. The talented glass artist at Glastonbury Glassworks whipped these buttons up specifically for the ribbon cardigan. I am thrilled with them!!! The clear body of the button allows the yarn to shine through but the vivid blue around the petals of the flower add the sparkle to make the buttons pop out of the background. I absolutely love them. Check out their stock, as there are many more styles. I am hoping to add a few more styles to my stash in the near future, budget permitting, of course.

Well, I guess I know what I'm going to be working on next. Unfortunately, once the back was finished, I calculated how much more yarn I'd need and I didn't have enough in my stash. I have ordered more from Webs. However, since I couldn't get the same dye lot, I'll be alternating rows of the old and new up the fronts and on the sleeves of the cardigan, just to blend the dye lots. Thus, I have to wait until the yarn I ordered arrives to continue work.

And just when I was so re-energized . . .

Perdita done!

Three FO's to show! These are the final additions to dance teacher gifts.

I have to say that the pattern was really fun to make. Small enough to work up quickly, yet complicated enough to keep my interest for the duration.

The white one, called Bluebell, was the most complicated of the patterns, requiring yarn overs and decreases on all rows. I made a slight error while reading the chart and alternated left- and right-leaning decreases along each edge. This resulted in a bit more decorative border on each side, instead of the smooth, continuous wale of decreases. Since I was several rows in before I discovered my mistake, I debated ripping it all out and starting over or just continuing. I found I actually liked the look of the wale with the alternating decreases and decided to continue it for the whole wristlet. I don't know if it's considered kosher or if anyone else has ever used this as a valid decrease structure but I may experiment with it some more, in a larger format, just to see how it would look in other contexts. Click on the photo to enlarge it, then check out the wale just inside the edge and tell me what you think.

The burgundy wristlet, called Lilac, is my favorite of the three. I like the twisting motion of the lace pattern on each side, since it looks a little like a cable pattern but without the need to actually do cables. I kind of wish the beads blended better but I'm still busting stash around here, so no new beads for me - yet. Still, it is lovely, isn't it.

The pink one is called Lily of the Valley and it comes a very close second to Lilac because the lace pattern actually looks like Lily of the Valley and those are one of my favorite flowers. Unfortunately, it wasn't until it was posted that I noticed the "flowers" of the wristlet were upside down in the photo but I think you get the idea.

All three were made with white glass beads and cotton/wool blend yarns from my stash. I'm looking forward to when the stash diet ends and I can buy some colored beads and the pearl cotton the pattern actually recommends to make a few of these for myself.

BTW, 5 days until Shepherd's Harvest! Woohoo!

Friday, May 04, 2007

New Interweave Knits!!!

I just received the latest issue of Interweave Knits. By far, this is my FAVORITE knitting magazine.

There were quite a few "must do" patterns in this month's issue. I loved the Little Smocked Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge and the Wheat-Ear Cable Yoke by Pam Allen. The Ogee Lace Skirt by Gryphon Perkins looks like a great gift for dance teachers in the future and the Spiral Boot Socks by the inimitable Veronik Avery is next on my sock list, fer shur! And the Lace Chuppah makes me wish I were getting married in the Jewish tradition. Lover-ly!

However, the Oriel Lace Blouse pattern was the hands-down winner. I thought I had the perfect pattern picked out for the Shimmer yarn from Knit Picks but if I can get Shimmer to knit to gauge, this is my next project. Of course, if the Shimmer doesn't work, I'll just have to buy the right yarn and make it anyway because this is GORGEOUS!!!

Of the knitting magazines that are out there, the only other one I find worthwhile to pick up consistently is Vogue Knitting. The only wee problem (and it is wee small) I have with Vogue is that sometimes the patterns are just a little too fashion forward for this midwestern gal. Although the patterns are innovative and exciting, too often they would not be flattering on my fuller-than-average figure.

Interweave Knits is very good at being on the forefront of trends without going to extremes. They also do a fabulous job of providing informative and educational articles that I am always referring to when writing lessons and teaching knitting classes to my homeschool students. Top-notch editing and photography round out the reasons why I love IK.

How about you? What is your favorite knitting magazine and why?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

First Blog Swap and miscellany

It's official. I'm going to be hosting a Knitting Gnome sometime this summer. Yup, it's my first swap and I'm totally stoked. I've already notified my pal (anonymously, of course) and placed my orders for items to include in her box of goodies.

Now I need to do some research and pick some spots to take Norm (or his twin) for his tour and photo shoot. My only question, am I limited to my small town or, since I live in a suburb of the Twin Cities, can I roam farther afield? There are so many great places around here, the hard part will be to limit how many places I drag this poor gnome.

Also of note, Knitty.com is having their calendar contest again this year. I'm debating taking a photo of Samus to submit. I'm not a fabulous photographer but I do have a neighbor that could probably help me out with a higher quality photo. Perhaps a trip to the local arboretum for the photography would be a good idea. What do you think? Would Samus make the grade?

I just placed my first WEBS order today. I was going to run short of the Berroco Zen yarn I'm using in my ribbon cardigan, so when I found it at WEBS, what else could I do. I also picked up some clearance yarns on cones for my knitting machine. All in all, I'm pretty excited to receive my first order from them. Yarn photos to follow.

Well, can you guess where I'm off to now? That's right, dance - again.

(P.S. Guinifer, there is no rest for the wicked. DD#1 dances all summer. She's en pointe now, so she needs to dance year-round to keep her feet and ankles strong enough to continue progressing. Fortunately, she'll only have classes one day a week, except for the intensive camp, which will be all day, every day, for a full week. I'm looking forward to the lighter schedule!)