Archive for March, 2010

chasing winter out

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

daffodils are so resilient—just look at them.
the first time i saw our daffs crumpled to the ground under a coat of april snow, i almost cried. but now i know how well they recover from a little setback like that and take cheer from their fortitude.

our yard continues to spring to life, despite the chill of the last few days. with the temperatures due to warm up any minute now (they are climbing toward 60 degrees as i write this), each plant is finding its way to the sun in succession.

tulips dot the lawn and grow in clumps everywhere—david’s efforts to create a random carpet of them are coming to fruition after six years of planting bulbs here and there across the yard.

i’m hoping these are hyacinths; i mentioned to david that i like their scent and asked him to get some bulbs. i see a few of these in the front beds, but i’m not sure that’s what they are (fingers crossed, though).

last year, the doctor across the back fence spent a day dividing and thinning his day lily beds and offered for us to take whatever we wanted from the gleanings. the row of plants we scavenged looked pretty bad most of last summer, but are growing out nice and healthy this spring; they’ll be a colorful border that i can see from my office window later this summer.

the first hostas are upright now, while others are just waking and crawling out of their beds. within the month, they will tower over that rock you see in the background and eventually obscure it completely.

and the bleeding heart has finally made its appearance; a little later than last year, but that’s ok; i’m always happy to see it back.

now this last one makes me chuckle—a new chard plant! there are a few of these in one of the old rows i planted last summer; they must be growing from previously ungerminated seeds that laid there all winter.

which reminds me; i really must order some seeds this week.

i wish the ground was turned up now; i’d plant some chard right away, so we could eat fresh greens in a month or so . . . david is reluctant to till it up yet; he’s afraid most of it will just go to weeds and need to be tilled again.

it’s nice that at this time of year we get to appreciate the work that went into these plants last summer and fall. gardening is really a process—even more so than knitting i think. it’s important to enjoy and learn from the work you put in at the moment—you often don’t get to see the full results of your efforts til much further down the road.

speaking of knitting and things growing

the baby blanket is becoming a size that allows me to fully take in its overall appearance and texture. to me looks visually charming, yet has an indestructible quality i can really appreciate—the fabric is squishy and dense, but still very light.

i know i sound like a broken record, but i absolutely love this classic merino sport yarn—just take a look at those crisp, flat borders and corners

they are handsome and certain to keep their shape. and it’s all in the yarn, i swear. you should take a look at the one that catherine is test knitting in her persimmon colorway—so juicy and lively. i can’t wait to see more of that one.

the other night after knitting class, i sat down and began my re-working of the lace beret i’m designing in miss babs yet laceweight. i think i’ve got something i like this time. i’ve worked all the way through the brim and crown sections which have a lace pattern that looks a bit like wings or leaves.

i wrapped up last evening by starting the decreases across the top of the hat; you can’t see much of what’s going on there, but isn’t the yarn pretty? i’m working with the outback colorway; it’s a little busy, but i think it works—i sure do love the brownish straw, rose, and plum mix.

it’s so hard to tell what it will actually look like once it’s off that little needle; i’m working as fast as i can, just so i can see the result, haha. i hope it’s good.

and for my late-night TV knitting, i have knit almost all the way through my first chicklets sock already—it seems to have knit itself. working with the STR mediumweight will do that for you.

in fact, i think i’ve knit a little too far on the foot (dang!).
one of those situations where i measured and knit, then measured again and it was still the same length. so i didn’t allow myself to measure again for a while (even though i thought i should) and when i did—it was too long.

i really need to stop playing games with my knitting; i always lose.

anyhow, i’m ready to start the toe now, as soon as i rip back about twelve rows.
(heh, loser.)

still, it’s a fun, quick knit, so i don’t mind.
i’ll finish that up later tonight and put in some work on the cabled sock for a break. both of these socks are going so quickly, i hardly recognize myself.

it sure helps my productivity to have fewer projects on the needles, but it’s a struggle to contain my enthusiasm for the projects i have in my head which i want to begin right away, too. i’m trying to practice moderation (and finish some socks for next winter).

but then, next winter is sooo far away . . .

loop-de-loop

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

today i am blogging at loop knits, as the guest of craig rosenfeld, owner of loop in dowtown philly. we are planning an upcoming weekend of classes that is right around the corner; maybe it’ll be a good fit for your schedule!

please take a gander at craig’s blog, online shop, and selection of classes. he has a lovely place; well-worth the visit.

reno nation

Monday, March 29th, 2010

captain, it appears we have achieved a ceiling for the unit in question.

if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that some part of our house is always under construction.

in december, we emptied the studio i’d been using for the last six years

so that david could gut and renovate it to match the adjoining newly-completed workroom

demo took a while; one wall that had three layers of old wallboard and the rest had multiple layers of wallpaper and “faux finishes”. plus, he had to “button up” the old areas of plaster he wanted to restore to secure them.

then he found a leak in the roof once the dropped ceiling was removed; while he waited for the roofer to fix it, he completely rewired the room and fixed a bad vent pipe situation that was going on.

the room has been completely sealed off during all this to keep the rest of the house free from grit and i haven’t traversed the triple-plastic-sheeted doorway or ventured through plastic-lined tunnel to see the progress; i mean, what progress and what would i have to add to it, right??

i just pay the roofer and the credit card bill—that’s my job.
at the end of our work day on friday, david casually mentioned he was making a trek to home depot.

two hours later, he drove up in a big rental truck with a load of over-sized wallboard, about a dozen bags of plaster, all sorts of other stuff, and—the icing on the cake if you love DIY—a wallboard lift.

you know what that means?

we are getting walls and a ceiling. yay.
now that we are rid of the old dropped ceiling, the new one one could be placed back in the original position (about a foot higher) which will improve the lighting angles immensely.

it was a noisy weekend, full of the whining sound of screws going through wallboard, but worth it. i think the next step is plastering, which will bring the room out of the dark and into the light (pssst, my personal stash is sealed inside that closet, like a time capsule).

david likes to restore the old plaster whenever possible (i just love that scraped surface; i wish we could keep it that way), and this is possible for three walls, but one whole wall needs to be replaced as well as the ceiling, so he’ll do new plaster over the wallboard he’s installing (as in all the other rooms he’s done).

i tried not to let the incessant noise get to me—i know there’s no way around it and that some day, this house will be a light-filled sanctuary of clean and quiet (at least, that’s what i tell myself). but the whining drill does wear on one after a bit . . .
so as much as possible, i plugged in my headphones this weekend and escaped into my knitting and my book (i didn’t think this book would be so engrossing, but it is).

i got a couple more repeats done on the knitting notions baby blanket. it looks so neat and crisp, i can’t get over it. the yarn is super soft so i didn’t expect such great stitch definition and clean edges. the fabric has the merest amount of stiffness, which i’m glad for, because that means there’s room to grow in the blocking without losing the texture.

the washes of subtle color changes are fully visible now and looking gorgeous—like a really successful sky-and-cloud painted ceiling. kudos on the yarn and colorway catherine, it’s beautiful!

i also got lots done on my neon STR sock; working with heavier sock yarn is so gratifying and the colorway is sheer joy (a rare gem). i wrote the pattern for a normal leg length, but after weighing my yarn, i decided to add a repeat for my own pair. it’s nice if heavy socks are higher than my boots to keep the wind out. i hope i won’t end up paying for this later . . .

i love the texture and what it does to the overall fabric. mmm.

part of the weekend was spent working on patterns, bookkeeping, and meeting with the tax accountant (they’re done, yay!). i think i’m honing in on a new design for the beret, which i hope to begin working on that tonight. and i have a new shawl design brewing that is keeping me preoccupied . . .

in the meantime, i also got some inches added on to the other new sock, a cabled affair in fearless fibers MCN luxury in colorway sublime.

it’s a completely different sock knitting experience and a nice change of pace from the heavier, brighter sock—soothing. this cable has a bit of lace to lighten it up—i tried to get a photo, but i’m not sure if you can really see the full texture.

it’ll be easier to see once i can put it on my foot.

i gotta get going soon, but before i do, i want to mention a change in my schedule for the philly trip . . . i will now be teaching at loop both days of that weekend (april 10-11). we are adding a day of saturday lace classes to the loop lineup; please visit craig’s site to read more information about them and to register; it promises to be a really fun weekend!

tomorrow, i’ll be guest blogging at craig’s blog—i’ll let you know where to look . . .

oh, the cruelty . . .

Friday, March 26th, 2010

ok, mother nature, we know you love a good joke, but is this really necessary?

sigh.

although. the sky is an incredible shade of blue this morning—just like every other WARM day this week. except it’s 28 degrees. and that’s after it warmed up a bit.

the poor flowers

they popped fully open yesterday afternoon and by last night an icy draft of weather had kicked in to punish them. (they’ll recover; this has happened every year since we’ve planted them and they always survive mightily).

i had no idea it was going to snow—i don’t keep up with the news as well as i should. it was raining all last evening while i was focused on my knitting and barely aware of anything beyond my needles. then i got up to stretch around
11 pm and saw this outside the door

a scene much more suited to december than to the season we’re in right now. but then, that’s ohio for ya . . .

i thought for sure it’d be gone this morning but no

it’s not much but i don’t like the way it’s clinging in an icy coat on every single bud—the hydrangeas just started coming to life and they don’t care for this sort of thing. we missed having them last year because a similar storm at this same time burned the buds.

the lilac will be ok, i’m sure (thanks for the great tips everyone, about how to rejuvenate them; we’re going to try that)

it’s a good thing i have knitting to cuddle up with and distract me.

i haven’t fixed the beret yet because i wanted to finish up my last pine and ivy and after that, i felt like doing some easy knitting. i had plenty of less challenging knitting on the needles to play with.

the first baby blanket is on its way, after i ripped back and reknit the border on a smaller needle (i meant to start the first time on the smaller needle and i forgot). this is such an easy and soothing project—doubly so because i’m knitting with this soft, delicious classic merino sport from knitting notions. i’m enjoying how the pattern looks like little cradles rocking. i keep stopping to admire the perfect blue colorway, but i can’t help but note the irony—winter sky indeed.

i got this far while we watched a rather bad movie about coco chanel—the story was a bit choppy and not well written, but i will always be entertained by great costuming and satisfied to watch scene after scene of sewing and millinery work (it was really good for that).

i seriously think someone should create a fiber network, where we could tune in an just watch hands at work in all manner of needle arts. channels devoted to the production of knitting, sewing, millinery, beading, spinning, and the like, with and without words. even factory work and manufacturing of materials—it would be fascinating and very calming.

if i had the time and skills, i’d do it myself—i can see the whole thing in my mind. but sadly, i’m lacking that way. . . . all i have is a very active imagination. which i really shouldn’t share so readily; it can make me sound crazy.

anyway, i was feeling kind of chilly and achy last night (i’d got into a new yoga pose the day before that left me feeling a little sore; it was one of those one-legged ones that i usually can’t do—i have awful balance—and i was so stunned to be doing it that i stayed there to see how long i could actually hold it and now i’m sorry, haha. i’m not in pain; just feeling muscles that i didn’t even realize could get sore. i dunno why i didn’t think to just. stop.).

so i needed something cheery to brighten and warm up my evening and i went back to work on swatching with my neon STR mediumweight (rare gem colorway, scored by my friend gail).

and i finally hit on something i like a lot. the pattern progresses with the spiral of the colorway, while bending and squeezing a bit for an optical effect. i’ve had this motif earmarked for a couple of years, but never found a yarn i liked it in. this tight-twist yarn does the trick; its stiffness and spring accentuate the pattern and the bendy turns it takes.

working on it last night was like having a little fire in my hands; i enjoyed it so much i forgot about working on anything else. it doesn’t look like i spent all evening on, but it took hours to get this far—mostly due to my own mental sluggishness. first, i knit a couple of swatches before i started because i just had to be sure, you know? then i started and knit some and decided the cuff should be different, so i ripped back and restarted. then i realized i’d meant to make the pattern travel in the opposite direction, but i’d forgotten, so i needed to go back yet again (just partway this time). now it’s good.

and because i’m still enjoying everything about it after all that, i know i’m on the right track.

once i was set on the right course with that sock, i went upstairs to watch late-night TV with david and took up my fearless fibers sock again.

i just adore deb’s MCN luxury; it’s so smooth to knit with and feels yummy going through my fingers. the fabric is lovely; i can’t wait to test drive it underfoot. and the color is truly sublime, with soft transitions and little glints of light.

i know i said something in the beginning of march about taking a break from socks but obviously, i was talking out my back pocket—who am i kidding? not having new socks underway is like not breathing; i just can’t do it. and i like both of these so much. one is very loud and cheery and fast to knit. the other is soft and sophisticated and sensual. i love them both.

i’ll get back to the beret project this evening and maybe work on the blanket a little more, while i try to stay warm and hope for a thaw.

right now, it’s time for a little of the hair of the dog that bit me—as bad as the prospect sounds at the moment, a session on the exercise bike and a little after-yoga to stretch should warm up these stiff hip muscles and set me right as rain. or snow.

have a good weekend wherever you are.