Archive for June, 2010

confessional

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

along with the amazing abundance of flowers we have this year comes an army of butterflies—all types, colors, and sizes. they seem to be concentrated out back, where the hostas are thick with blooms.

they especially love the base of the huge old oak tree that shades that whole area—i’ve been noticing for the last few years that there is a weepy spot at the bottom, which always smells like rotting fruit and sometimes, there are so many butterflies clustered there that the bark appears to be moving (unfortunately, whenever i’ve gotten close enough to take a picture of that, i did not have my camera in hand).

i don’t know squat about butterflies except that they are very pretty, so i can’t tell if the sticky stuff is something coming out of the tree that attracts them, or is it a substance they produce and put on the tree.

it’s a lot easier to catch them at the hostas, where they seem to sun themselves after a stint on the shady tree.

so now that i’ve distracted you with something pretty from the back yard, i can make my confession that i’ve got very little new knitting to show—again.

there’s a good reason, really; i’m completely addicted to my remaining secret project. right now, there is no deadline and i could be working on it at a more leisurely pace while accomplishing other knitting. but no—i’m totally immersed. it’s just turning out to be sooo exactly what i wanted it to be (even though i’ve had to back up a couple of times to rework some bits) that i can’t tear myself away.

the parts i had to rework were totally worth the trouble and now it’s even better for it. just a few more days and it will be finished (i swear). i don’t know when i can show it to you (maybe sooner than i think), but when i do, i just know you’ll be excited, too.

in the meantime, i haven’t completely ignored all my other knitting, it’s just a little random and, publicly at least, not growing all that quickly.

beckie came over the other night after work for dinner and knitting—we had a wonderful meal with lots of swiss chard from the garden and afterward, we settled in for some knitting. she’s swatching to begin her jackie jacket
with some gorgeous briar rose fourth of july, which she acquired from chris in a trade, a wonderful mix of deep olive, teal, and a little gold. by the time she got the swatch done it was too dark to take a good photo, but it looks aMAZing (you can see she’s in her happy place).

i worked on the baby blanket while we talked; david made coffee and chatted with us for a while, then wandered off to work somewhere else.

though it seems i haven’t worked on it much, the blanket is actually coming along rather nicely—the rows of plain knitting go quickly, so when i do sit with it, i can get through a bunch of them in no time. last night, i moved it to a larger needle—evidence that it is becoming sizable despite being a photographic blob.

having two large projects on the needles at once (and one of them secret) means that there is a lot of monotony in my knitting from where you sit, i guess. with the shawlette out the door, the secret project nearing completion, and just a scarf left as a small takealong project, i’m afraid you’re going to get bored and i’d hate for that to happen.

(don’t be fooled—that’s absolutely just code for “i’m getting itchy to start something new”).

yes, i confess something else—when i’m not working on the secret project, i have NOT always been working on the baby blanket—i’ve spent several recent evenings tossing my stash, winding yarn, trolling stitch dictionaries, and swatching to pull together a new project to start (or three).

our nephew amad has a birthday alter this month and i want to make him some socks—i can’t resist his enthusiastic appreciation and undying fandom for them.

(by the way and totally off-subject: his baby brother micah, born at the end of july last year? omg, he started walking a month ago. not just walking either—we received a video of him running all over the place, carrying stuff, and chasing amad. i have a sneaky suspicion there is something to fear in that, but for now, i just replay the video every few hours and marvel at him with tears in my eyes—he’s adorable).

anyway, back to amad’s socks; i can’t decide if i should just make three pair of socks that are mini versions of ones that david already owns (amad would be over the moon), or design all new ones (he’d be over the moon about these too but the “uncle david” ones would probably be preferable). maybe the best solution is a mix of both . . . a new design or two and a replay of an older one.

i pulled out a selection of yarns that should stand up to boy antics with no sweat. woodland bamboo blend in a bright bamboo green from mackintosh yarns, and from kollage, sock-a-licious in blue heaven, and luscious in sea. they are all a little different in fiber content; i thought a variety might be good for his climate and it’ll be nice to try out the new blends in smaller socks.

few little socks to have on the needles is a good idea, since i have no new ones going at the moment.

but where my heart is truly wandering is to my next lace shawl project. since i have two big things on the needles right now and some big patterns underway, i’m not quite ready yet to start another big shawl, but a shawlette? oh yeah.
another confession—i’m hooked on knitting and wearing the little shawlettes. ever since i made that small pine and ivy in my handspun silk/cashmere yarn, i crave to knit them. and they are just right for me to wear—taking them along on travel is a brilliant way to have that extra layer along without using any suitcase space.

so, with shawlettes on the brain, i wound up this gorgeous skein of spirit trail penelope, which i’ve been dying to knit.

it’s a sheeny silk/merino blend in the falcon’s eye colorway, a deep blue-gray with washes of gold.

being that it’s summer, i’m thinking fireflies . . .
i did some swatches and i think i know where i’m going with that; i just need to sit down and plot it out on the computer to get started.

then i took out some bamboo/merino leftovers from the woolen rabbit to swatch another motif i’ve had my eye on for a while.

this one reminds me of pea vines and i thought it was perfect for a sock at one time, in kim’s kashmir yarn. but when i swatched it, i didn’t like it—i just thought it needed to be knit in a bigger yarn with a little more bounce and definition. so i tucked it away in my head for another time. then the other day, when we were emailing about her new bamboo lace yarn (to be unveiled this week, i hope!), it occurred to me that it might work with this pattern.

i don’t have that yarn yet, but i wanted to make a swatch anyway, because i needed to practice up on nupps.

i find them challenging . . . i don’t know what the problem is, but i’ve worked them several different ways, with knitting needles and crochet hooks. i’ve got every book imaginable to guide me and am trying any technique i can find and so far, i’m not all that happy with any of them (this is why they’ve been absent in all of my other designs). not to mention how they slow me down.

i haven’t called cookie yet, but that’s next if i can’t get what i want pretty soon.

the ones above are too big and i don’t like the stitches at the base.
the ones below are ok, but they seem a little small and are barely showing on the face of the fabric.

but at least show up some—most of my attempts kept popping to the back side (???). i have ways to go, but i think i’ll get there eventually. and if all else fails, the motif does look ok without them (but that’s not really an option for me at this point, heh—nupps MUST be mine now). wish me luck.

so you see, all sorts of random stuff and not much to show for it. i need to buckle down. in fact, it’s getting late and i should do that right now.

les abeilles

Monday, June 28th, 2010

the bee is an age-old symbol of royalty, deserving of the rich textures in this little shawlette, knit up in a luxurious, silky yarn. the beautiful stitch definition is built right into the motif, so it works well for drapey or bouncy yarn alike. beginning with the sculpted hem, this easy-to-knit piece is sure to entrance, both in the working and in the wearing.

shown above, the size mini scarf in sunshine yarns sunsilk, colorway mustard seed (i believe some of this will become available in the sunshine yarns shop on 6/29).

shown below, the petite shawl in briar rose fibers sea pearl, in a colorway similar to 529 (525 or 527 are also close!).

the brooch of swarming bees shown with the shawlettes is a perfect match for the hem motif and was purchased from perl grey

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

for anyone who loves knitting company i hear tell that there may be a
“les abeilles” KAL forming in the sunshine yarnies and the knitspot ravelry groups. also, “les abeilles“, the video now posted to youtube.

(if you wish to subscribe to knitspot channel you can do so by clicking here)

dani, of sunshine yarns has a real winner with this luscious sunsilk yarn“, which inspired the design for this shawlette. it’s a terrific lace/fingering yarn that knits up quickly into a stunning fabric for shawls and scarves; i loved every minute of working with it. dani also dyes on several other yummy yarn bases in a beautiful array of colors; i highly recommend a trip to her online shop for a sunny diversion (oooh, shop update scheduled for tomorrow!)

and many thanks to my friend chris at briar rose fibers for the gorgeous gray/brown/blue sea pearl she tucked into my stash for a rainy day—it came in quite handy for the second sample knit. this luxurious blend of tencel/wool has an incredible hand and worked up beautifully to show off this piece in a completely different color.

and where would we be without some awesome test knitters? karolyn and kim from the woolen rabbit jumped right on this one the minute they saw it. kim is knitting hers in one of her lovely bamboo blends and has promised to show photos later today on her blog—thank you kim!

knowing karolyn’s well-documented addiction to favorite patterns, i almost felt a little bad about handing this one off to her, but i figure, she’s a grownup, right?? well sure enough, she’s on her third one already. but to be fair, it’s therapeutic—she’s been recovering from a nasty wound she suffered in a gardening accident (and we SO wish her a speedy recovery).

thank you both ever so much for all your help!

david got a new camera for taking modeling shots for pattern releases and covers. there’s a learning curve with it, so he sorta went crazy taking pictures between thunderstorms yesterday—we ended up with almost 900 photos to sort through. i worked til 3am this morning, trying to pare them down to a reasonable number, but i still have a lot. grab a cup of coffee or a sandwich and we’ll take a look together . . .

the color of midsummer

Friday, June 25th, 2010

happy midsummer weekend!

i’ve been knitting my fingers to the bone, but i can’t show you any of it, groooaaan.

well, maybe just one thing

the baby blanket is growing, more than i thought. as i’ve worked on it bit by bit, it hasn’t seemed all that big, but suddenly, when i spread it out, there it is—BIG (not big enough yet, but getting there).
i thought the rows seemed to be getting mighty long, but i wasn’t really paying that much attention; this is something i work on only a little, late at night while we watch the bike races. but it makes me happy . . .

two of my secret projects are out the door now, so i’ll have more time to devote to public knitting. i’ve got to catch up before i have anything to photograph.

fortunately, the garden has much to contribute this week to a post about summer color. everything has doubled in size just since i worked out there last—i can hardly believe it

everyone around here is exclaiming over the bounty of big, colorful flowers we have this year—it’s certainly a feast for the eyes and a nice respite from a generally bad-news sort of year.

a full week of sunny, warm weather after all the rain we had previously has worked wonders out there. we even had a couple of rain showers to mix things up and some cool nights as well; a good variety of weather to suit any plant’s preferences

my beloved bed of greens has filled out with all colors of the rainbow, too.
(well ok, maybe not blue . . )
we are picking some of that golden chard tonight to cook up into david’s curried tofu pasta, because beckie is coming for dinner and knitting (YAY) and she loves that dish.

some of the tomato plants are filling up with fruit—these egg-sized (and bigger) amish paste tomatoes are turning from dark green to a yellowish shade; i expect they’ll be ripe in a couple of weeks.

and holy cow, they’re going to need another haircut on saturday. this is when i need to be especially watchful that they don’t get out of control like last year. it’s easy to say, “oh, i just pruned those last week”, not realizing that they need it even more this week.

every squash plant has a couple or more fingerling zucchini, yummy in omelets, quiches, and pasta. i picked the first ones on sunday to add to the quiche i made and in no time, the plant replaced them with more.

the okra bounced back from being thinned and transplanted really well—each of them has doubled in height and gained several sets of new leaves. i’m excited—last year i got started late with the okra and it didn’t survive this stage.

the eggplant is still sorta sitting there at its original size, but that’s how eggplant is—it takes a while to surge. but i see some new leaves today, so i bet anything it will be twice the size and showing its first flowers. we have a bunny friend again this year and though he seems to have stayed away form the garden for the most part, i see he sampled the weakest eggplant and left the leaves laying right there. they must not suit him; hopefully that will teach him a lesson and he’ll stick to the clover in the back yarn as usual (really truly, he almost always stays away form the garden and grazes in the clover-filled back yard). pictures soon . . .

actually, i do have some summer color of another variety to show you, as long as we are looking at colors

my dear friend sheri berger, owner of everyone’s favorite yarn store, the loopy ewe, has launched her own line of solid series fingering yarns in a whopping 90 colors and wants everyone to know about them.

i picked out this pretty wisteria color for a future project; the yarn base is smooshy, smooth, and beautifully spun and the color is beautiful. i can’t wait to try it out.

and from the natural dye studio in great britain, amanda and phil have sent some tiny sample skeins of their gorgeous luxury yarns in silk, alpaca, and british wool, dyed with all natural dyes.

(above, their line of precious silks)
you may have read about this dye house in clara parkes most recent knitters review, reporting on TNNA.

this is a selection of various weights of dazzle british blue-faced leicester wools, in three weights

and finally, angel, a luxurious blend of alpaca and silk, also offered in three weights.

everything here is so beautiful; i’m hoping to be able to work with one of the laceweight very soon . . .

and i think that’s it for today—hopefully next time, this page will be filled with knitting; have a good, colorful, wonderful summer weekend.

putting things away

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

though i’ve spent a lot of time over the past few days getting on top of a bunch of patterns i needed to write, there has been some knitting and general wool activity in the house, too—i can only take so many hours of running numbers in my head before it breaks, heh.

i have several secret projects going and two of them have priority status this week, so most of my knitting time is devoted to getting those done and dusted. however, i still need some variety, so once in a while i take a break to put a few rounds onto the cheery rosebud baby blanket, because it always improves my mood.

all those pink, yellow, and orange colors are the perfect pick-me-up, while completing the rosebuds one repeat at a time never fails to delight me
(i know you know what i mean).

the yarn is perfect for a baby project—soft fearless fibers MCN luxury, a machine wash merino/cashmere/nylon yarn that is as practical as it is luscious. i’m knitting with the chastity colorway and karolyn will knit a sample in the meadow colorway as soon as i have the pattern ready for her (later this week i’ll be free to put that together, yay).

it feels like i haven’t invested a whole lotta time in this project for the past week; nevertheless, it appears to be growing.

i’ve completed my first repeat of the larger roses and i’m almost finished with my first skein of yarn—it goes a looooong way, especially at the beginning of a square like this. soon, the project will begin eating yarn at a much faster rate, just like a real baby, haha.

my scarf is growing, too—i took it along to a couple of appointments at the end of last week and knit in the car while david ran a few errands (it folds up plenty small enough to fit in my purse so i don’t look like a bag lady when i arrive at the chiropractor’s, haha). it’s about half finished. isn’t the yarn beautiful? it’s enchanted knoll farms 50/50 merino/silk laceweight in colorway queen mermaid (looks like there isn’t any in her shop right now, but hopefully, soon).

when i got back from my trips last week, there was one big task i wanted to take care of when i unpacked—something that i’ve been meaning to organize for months. i knew it would take some time, so i kept putting it off . . . and suddenly, i realized how stupid it was to continue doing that.

my personal closet has become completely overrun with finished knits—folded shawls and scarves took up precious space where linens and off-season blankets need to live. plus, i was starting to avoid wearing my favorites, for fear of disturbing the alarmingly tall piles of woolens in there—how ridiculous is that? and yet, i need everything to be within reach so i can put together the trunk shows i take with me in my travels.

when david renovated the back half of my work room last winter, he put in a big new cedar closet for storing fiber and installed a narrow dresser in there, which i could use for organizing finished work.

then he filled it with miscellaneous bags of fiber which i now needed to move in order to actually use it.

this is the task i was avoiding . . . but i was determined after this last trip to tackle it, so i cleared those drawers, unpacked my bag

and brought in all the samples from my bedroom closet. i found new homes for the bags of fiber (who am i kidding? you and i both know it’s all just a big rotation process: A) spin the wool and put it in the yarn closet; B) condense other fiber into the empty space left by that wool; C) install handknits where the fiber used to be—you know the drill).

anyway . . . i sorted everything into piles according to type—scarves, accessories, triangles, rectangles, faroese. i plucked a few favorites for personal use and put those back in my closet. i’m a person who sticks mostly to old favorites or things made of special yarn i consider precious in some way, like handspun or gifted yarn.

then i tucked them into the dresser drawers accordingly

where i’ll be able to find things easily, without wrinkling or having to refold what i don’t need for any given trip.

(one of these days, i need to do a big washing and reblocking of them, but i shudder to think what that would entail . . .)

and here’s proof that i’m getting a little smarter with age—i even left one drawer empty for future finished objects. eventually i will have to rotate again, but not for a while . . .

i felt completely virtuous after completing this job—for all of five minutes. i’ve just gotten back another big box of old samples from a LYS that i’ll need to sort and find homes for (but hopefully, i can actually get rid of some of those). for now, i’m thinking on it.

here’s something funny that happened at TNNA, but i have to back up a bit to sock camp in april to tell it.
remember the suessian creatures we made at camp?

while not exactly attached to my purple back hatch-a-batch in any lasting way, i still couldn’t bear to toss it out at the end of camp. i was in a real quandary about what to do with it (i was determined NOT to take it on the plane—i have enough stuff to circle around at home).

sooo—and please don’t judge me for this—i left it on a nice bench outside a yarn shop in seattle, thinking that some small child might find it a fun reward for being good while mommy shopped.

later, someone wrote and told me that indeed it was found and brought into the shop. yay.
then at TNNA, i ran into a group of shop employees and one of them told me the creature was in residence there for a bit and has since moved on to what i think is maybe an antique shop? (sorry, the details escape me now)

after discussing it a bit, we decided that yes, every once in a while it should be placed back out where some interested person will pick it up and take it on to its next perch. in this way it will migrate as all birdish creatures ought to.

and finally, i have some yarn that arrived the other day from jen at spirit trail fiberworks—she sent a big box of sunna fingering yarn in ancient stones, rosewood, and green velvet colorways for the vintage shirt project i swatched for in may. i’ll begin knitting that in july and barb will be test knitting, once i have the pattern ready. you can take a look the yarn and swatches in this post.

but there were added treasures (as if yarn for three sweaters isn’t enough!)—jen also included a few sample skeins of yarns we didn’t talk about in her booth at maryland (blame it on the heat and wool fumes).

from left to right: minerva, a luscious 50/50 bombyx silk/merino blend in color redwood, ixchel, 100% prime alpaca DK in color stormy seas, and lyra, and alpaca/merino/silk blend in color deep ocean.

that’s it—she just has too many gorgeous yarns.
i’m not thinking of heavier knitting projects at the moment, but these weightier yarns will be lovely for fall knitting, so it’s good to have them on hand when the mood strikes me to get started on something for september.

ok, now, it’s time for me to get back to work on my patterns. it’s raining, so there won’t be any bike riding outdoors, but it would be good to do some yoga and weights today. if i get done early enough, i can finish one of the secret projects. and THEN, i’ll treat myself to knitting whatever i want when i go to knit at debby’s this evening, haha.