there is knitting, too

Posted on 29 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

though summer weekends are busier with outdoor activities, i’m trying to keep up with all my ongoing knitting projects, too (otherwise, i’d drown, haha). i do once again have secret (deadline) knitting i must finish, but i can’t live by secret knitting alone—i like being able to share and chat about what i’ve got going.

i wasn’t able to fit knitting into yesterday’s already long post, so i saved it all for today. the firefly shawl has been humming along and by sunday morning i had almost half the hem done.

fireflies were starting to emerge and looking pretty good, though i was still found myself tweaking a bit as i went. but that was yesterday and this is today—now, however, it is off the needles, yay!

not blocked yet, but certainly finished. david wants to make some kind of video while i block the next piece so i told him we could do it tonight or tomorrow afternoon (not an instructional video; something more creative. hmmm).

now there is a whole row of fully-formed fireflies around the hem. they won’t look like their finished selves until they are fully blocked out but here’s a sneak peek—each one even has a shiny little butt at the bottom, haha.

i got quite a bit of mileage out of my one skein of penelope yarn, using almost every luxurious yard of it (i think about 425 yards total). i’m always pleased not to have a small, useless ball left over, heh.

this will be the middle size, with an option for a smaller scarf and a larger, full shawl as well (and now i have all the info i need to put the pattern together). i love the way the tips of the shawl spring up a little on the end; i’m going to make sure to keep that when i block it

i’ve already cast on another one in a completely different colorway for the scarf size. this time i dug into my stash for a yarn i’ve been anxious to try

zen yarn garden serenity silk in the creamsicle colorway, mmmm. i’ve been so looking forward to experimenting with this and so far i LOVE it. it’s an 80/10/10 blend of merino/silk/cashmere and let me tell you, that little touch of cashmere feels like a whole lot more.

it’s got a nice bouncy twist that is offering up wonderful stitch definition, too. i’m sure i don’t even have to mention how happy the color makes me feel. it is SO going along in my traveling bag to london with me. in fact, now that it is on the needles, i’ve tucked it into a project bag to ignore until i’m on my way (wish me luck in keeping my hands off).

i really need to work on my secret project and my rosebud blanket until the day i leave. speaking of which

it’s growing, the baby blanket that swallowed my TV room, haha.
not really . . . but almost.

i have about 10 or 12 more rows to finish the border, then i have to start the edging. i’m not at all sure i can finish this by the end of the tour, but i’m still trying (never give up—even lance is still in the race and he’s had a mad string of bad luck).

i was thinking more about the name (which i had put forth as “bed of roses”). and i got a few cute suggestions from readers, too, such as “bud of roses”, but i forgot i had come up with something i might like even more . . . what do you think of “rosebuddie”?

the bunny says i might have something there . . .
i’ll be back in a couple of days with blocking shots (can i just say, i’m starting to panic about what i can reasonably get done before i leave for 8 days)

finally, the problem is solved

Posted on 28 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

as expected, the weekend has been awfully busy—summer saturdays are filled with the usual bookkeeping first thing, followed directly by several hours of work in the garden to keep things up to snuff. and now, the harvest has begun, so there is cooking to do afterward as well.

my first chore out there yesterday was to prune the tomatoes yet again (this was the fourth time in the last month). i have to say, this does keep the plants very manageable and seems to help the production of fruit; the plants with the most (and nicest) tomatoes are the ones i’ve pruned the most aggressively. i picked a few more to bring inside, but i know the real tide will be coming in just after i leave for knit nation next monday.

my next chore was to strip the bean plants of their final crop and pull up all the plants (there they are on the compost pile) so i could put in another new row for later in the summer. it was then that i spotted a serious problem we hadn’t noticed before this.

remember how i’ve been complaining that a lot of my plants seemed sluggish and wilty this year, with very little in the way of actual vegetable production? it was for a good reason—they weren’t getting any water, yikes!

i turned on the soaker hoses to dampen the ground while i planted the new seeds and move a few okra plants to new spaces. the water had been on for about half an hour when i realized that the ground in this one area was definitely NOT getting damp—not even close. sure enough, there was no flow in the one set of hoses which services my “cut and come again” table vegetables—greens, beets, beans, squash. no wonder they weren’t as lush as last year.

the tomatoes, leeks, basil, eggplant, asparagus, and peppers were getting plenty, but not the leafy things. oy. david fixed it later that afternoon, once i’d gone inside to work in the kitchen and now everything is MUCH perkier and happier.

no more wilted greens.
the okra actually weathered this dry spell pretty well, but then they are bigger plants with what i imagine are deeper roots.

i had a very pleasant surprise form the okra yesterday . . . this is the first time i’ve been able to get them past the small plant stage to where they will actually bear fruit and when the little pointed tips appeared all over the plants, i assumed these were the okra pods themselves. but it turns out that no

they are flower buds! really soft, pretty flower buds, too.
i’m completely smitten—i had no idea that okra produced such lovely blooms

aren’t they pretty? the actual pods (you can see one just behind the yellow flower above) are shinier and more blunt on the end and appear from inside the flower, which apparently doesn’t open any further than this

because when i looked back at it just 30 minutes after taking this picture, it was already wilting away. i’m telling you, the garden reveals something magical every time i turn around . . . it’s so gratifying to be out there in it.

i pulled up all the beets while i was out there, too—with not much water, they didn’t get as big this year, but they were halfway out of the ground and the tops were bolting.

david really doesn’t like them, even after trying them several different ways (more on that later), so i don’t think it’s worth letting them sit there, when i could plant another batch of greens for fall instead. maybe after i dig up the shallots, i’ll plant more beets for the freezer—just enough for me to enjoy and maybe give a few away.

my eggplants, which until this week were still all about six inches high have finally surged and come to full life, all at once—they’ve literally tripled or quadrupled in size in the last seven days. covered with pinholes from some bug or other, but that seems to be a yearly thing that doesn’t harm them all that much. we keep an eye on it, but as far as i know, they survive it alright. even the one that the bunny chewed up has sprouted all new foliage and grown higher.

the newly rejuvenated asparagus bed is doing very well (jody, that parsley you told me to plant looks like a fence along the front, haha, so pretty).

i wondered where the heck our annual volunteer tomato plant would show up this time and was surprised a couple of weeks back to see it had emerged amongst the asparagus. it’s doing quite well; i probably should have pulled it out (hopefully, it won’t choke the ones it’s near), but i couldn’t bear to do it. they always give us such nice wild tomatoes . . .

here’s a good one, from a corner of the garden that’s been getting the right amount of water—the acorn squash that looked like this last week

now looks like this

gorgeous, right? and there are several more of those on the vine. i have much more hope for the rest of the vegetables now . . .

even after just one night of proper watering, they seem to be on the right track—today i spied three new summer squash that are past the tiny bud stage. they weren’t that big yesterday, for sure. thank goodness the plants have been very healthy and have hung in there patiently while we sorted things out.

we are loaded with bees again this year too. the big bumblebees just love the wealth of hosta flowers in the back garden

these guys are so big and fat, it’s a wonder they stay aloft, really. i’d say they average about an inch in length and are plenty big around, like a cartoon bullet.

that part of the yard is filled with their droning. they are competing with the butterflies for these flowers, but i haven’t seen any fisticuffs yet.

(i know this is a lot of bee photos, but i couldn’t help myself)

we have honey bees too, but they prefer the clover which fills our so-called “lawn”; it’s a little harder to get good pictures of them, but i’ll try for that another day.

here’s a funny story though: you know we always have a bunny that takes up residence in the back yard. they are usually not at all interested in the garden after a couple of experimental nibbles (like one of my eggplants this year and the shallot tops). i think they like the back yard better because it’s filled with clover and dandelions, which they can eat by the bale. well yesterday, i saw the bunny contentedly crunching on an apple from a may apple plant, haha. i always wondered whatever happened to all the apples when the plants die back and now i know.

after a few hours of working in the sun, i collected all the greens i could harvest and headed indoors to get the goods cooked and/or put away in the freezer. i put up four bags of greens and one of green beans. then i made a side dish of lightly cooked baby beans with caramelized garlic and a few drops of balsamic and roasted a big pan of beets with onions, garlic, pepper, salt, and rosemary. after that i made a quiche with red swiss chard, homegrown scallion, and mushrooms.

while it baked i treated myself to nice, long, cool shower (finally, haha) and after that we ate

a very well-deserved (i think) late-evening meal.
david tried the roasted beets, and though he claims they are indeed “better than the ones we had last week”, says he still doesn’t care for beets (and poor thing, he looked as if he really had trouble swallowing them). so i think beets are for my own enjoyment only.

i do believe though, that this is my new favorite way to eat them.

after dinner, i finally got to sit down and knit for a bit. i’ll put up a short post tomorrow about all that—i think it’s time i put a couple of hours into pattern work (i leave for london in a WEEK! must get busy).

mermaid’s tale

Posted on 22 CommentsPosted in patterns

if what you are looking for right about now is something cool, shimmery, and weightless, this may just be the piece for you. a sheer lace scarf in an easy-to-work pattern that folds away into the smallest of bags for knitting on the go. and when it’s done and blocked, a beautiful accessory to pack along for a weekend getaway; it’ll stretch a meager traveling wardrobe or chase away an evening chill while taking up no space at all.

shown here in enchanted knoll farms 50/50 merino/silk lace, colorway queen mermaid, it can also be worked in a wide variety of lace yarns.

accented here with a gorgeous seahorse brooch, purchased from perl grey

the perfect piece to set off this beautiful iridescent colorway (and for those who’ve seen it before on this blog, i’m very excited to report that they actually have it in stock again, yay!)

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

once again, david has made a little video featuring this scarf; it should be up later today on the youTube knitspot channel (if you wish to subscribe to knitspot channel you can do so by clicking here)

josette, of enchanted knoll farms is a dyer beloved by many for her charm, good humor, and gorgeous yarns and spinning fibers. you can browse and purchase her fibery goodness at her etsy shop or, for a more extensive view of her talents, visit her on ravelry.

lace, lace, and more lace

Posted on 28 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

the tomatoes are starting to ripen, mmm.
i picked these four perfect little ovals yesterday to eat in a salad; they should be delectable by this evening. i can hardly stand to keep them so long without eating them, but it’s nice to share with david too, hehe.

i also picked my third big batch of green beans, which i put up in the freezer for winter, when we’ll really appreciate them. i’m surprised by how many green beans we’re getting from that little ten-foot row; i think we’ll have one more decent picking before they are exhausted. definitely good incentive for doing a second planting. it’s a little late, but if i do it this weekend, there might be time to grow some nice beans by the end of august (they supposedly love hot weather).

other than that, i haven’t been out in the garden much this week. there’s not a lot to do except pick things for dinner and wait for more produce to come in quantities for freezing (oh i have a feeling i will rue that statement eventually).

so i’ve been able to do quite a bit of knitting, which is good—i’ve got a bunch of projects that need to get done, including another bit of secret knitting. and today, as it happens, it is all lace, all the time—lace in all stages of planning and completion.

are you excited??
let’s get on with it then.

i made a concentrated effort over the last few days to get my blue scarf done and last night, while knitting at beckie’s, i finished it. first thing this morning, into the bath it went, after which i blocked it

up til now, it’s sorta just been a blue scarf, but wow—isn’t it so different when it’s stretched? though i know we’ve always loved the gorgeous colorway, it’s been hard before now to see very much detail in the fabric, so a good stretching has made a dramatic transformation.

this is knit in 50/50 merino/silk lace from enchanted knoll farm, colorway queen mermaid.

both ends stretched to make nice hem points, one end different from the other, but equally delicate and pretty.

i was going to name this something completely different, but now that it’s blocking, i like the idea of calling it “mermaid’s tale”. i usually shy away from names that are so closely related to a colorway, but in this case, the shapes within the lace force my eyes to see swishing tails and water bubbles everywhere, as if a school of the mythical creatures is passing by. so i think that’s the direction i’ll go too, haha.

once it’s dry (that won’t take long) we’ll take some nice pictures so i can release the pattern on friday.

you know, i keep saying that the baby blanket is progressing slowly, and it feels as if i’ve just started the outer border pattern, but suddenly i’ve got sixteen rows done and that area is starting to look like something that i like a LOT.

i was a little concerned about this part of the blanket because much as i wanted to use this staggered “stem” motif, it did not bowl me over in the swatching stage; it just didn’t have the same nice stitch definition or oomph that the rosebuds had.

but i was determined to use it because i’ve always liked it so much and i’m afraid i won’t have another opportunity—that is, i’m afraid i’ll never put together a composition in which it fits so well thematically (does everyone go through this or what?).

anyway, i took a chance that when knitted in the round, the texture would tighten up that extra little bit that makes the difference. and i’m over-the-moon that it has.

in fact the whole thing has taken on a new life with the addition of the border, i think. it really adds that much-needed hit of texture i was hoping for, with its bits of garter stitch here and there and its lively zig-zag motion. and for me, it’s really working with the corner panels. one more repeat (sixteen rows) to knit of this pattern and then it’s on to the edging.

uh—yeah, which i haven’t picked out quite yet, haha. i have some ideas. it is really helpful to see the final section taking shape to make the decision though; i’m glad i waited and didn’t get married to something that wouldn’t work.

and can we just talk about the continued good cheer that the colorway brings to my late evening knitting? it’s the irresistible fearless fibers MCN luxury in colorway chastity—so soft to the touch and so happy, like having a real baby to hold (but without the diapers and drool, haha)

(just kidding; i love babies. i even like changing diapers—really.)

what i really need to do is get a pattern pulled together so karolyn can get started on her test knit in the meadow colorway—i can’t wait to see that one; i think it’s going to be different, but equally beautiful knit up in these motifs. pattern writing is top of my agenda for today, as soon as i finish writing this post.

oh, and ps: i need to think of a name for this blanket, too. i was tossing around the idea of “bed of roses”, but i’m open to ideas, short and sweet, thanks!

i know a lot of readers are anxious to see more of the firefly shawlette and i’ve got that too—isn’t it amazing how everything suddenly is pulling together?

i’m at the end of the top section of eyelet stars and am now ready to launch into the hem section of lace fireflies. tonight’s the night!

speaking of night, isn’t the colorway wonderfully nocturnal?
this is the über luxe penelope silk/merino yarn from spirit trail fiberworks in colorway falcon’s eye. i’ve enjoyed every single second of knitting with it and will be awfully sad when it’s over (but i’m sure i have a remedy somewhere in my yarn closet, haha).
i can’t help but see a moonlit sky streaked by thin clouds and golden flashes of starlight.

i remember watching this sort of sky during autumn nights while growing up in the hudson valley; under a sky like this, i could clearly see where the sleepy hollow legends sprang from.

i’ve been strategizing to use as much of my 437-yard skein as i can. right now, i’ve used 2 ounces and i have 1.6 ounces remaining. i’ve knit 96 rows and i’ll be adding 32 MORE rows (one-third more) to the outer perimeter. i’m waffling about whether i have enough to add another half-repeat of the body pattern. i know that some of you already have a spreadsheet all set up for this sort of calculation, while i myself am not so savvy about using them for knitting (i love them actually, and i used them extensively in another life, but i already have so much math stuffed into my head that thinking about putting one together now sends me to the sofa for a lie-down).

so if you are one of those wonderful people, could you let me know your thoughts?

ETA: i’m such an idiot (and lazy, too!). i had a shawl calculator (look in the side bar) right there in my “shawls” pattern folder all along. according to this handy spreadsheet, if i took a chance and worked another half-repeat of the body because the yarn ball just “feels big enough” (a total of 140 rows), i’d be 47% finished with 53% left to go: .53 x 3.6 (original ounces of yarn) = 1.9 ounces.

if i stick to the number of rows i originally planned (128), i am 56% finished and i will need 1.58 ounces to finish: .44 (the amount to go) x 3.6 (the original yarn weight).

i have 1.6 ounces. so i think i’ll just continue as planned and start my hem now. even then i’m taking a chance, but i can cannibalize my swatch if i have to.

my big swatch is in a mini timeout. again.

i worked on it like crazy all weekend long—and i double-emphasize the crazy—and after ripping out this one section for the third time, finally realized that what we really needed was for me to put it down and and go find something else to do (like finish my damn scarf or cook a meal or get outside for bike ride).

i’m refreshed now and ready to tackle it again—it just needs a little tweaking really. most of it is pretty lovely and i’m very happy, but i was overthinking the last motif WAY too much. and at the same time, i was anxiously rushing to finish and block it to see what i had. not a good combination.

now that i’ve had a deep breath, i can approach the rest of it more calmly, i think (i do get awfully wound up from swatching and composing).

ok now, i said something about needing to put a pattern together and i think i’d like to get on with my work day. you have a happy midweek and i’ll see you next time.