Archive for September, 2010

hiding right in front of us

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

it’s no secret that i hate secret projects; all that knitting and nothing to talk about on the blog. bleh.
as a workaround, i’ve given myself license to gush about the yarns i’m using, without actually revealing the project details. i think that’s ok and i know you want to know . . .

from the comments i’ve been receiving, i know that the natural dye studio is already a very popular dye house among UK knitters. and now that they have had a presence at TNNA, their beautiful yarns will soon be more well-known to US knitters as well (and you can always order direct!)

i’m knitting this week with their silk 4-ply singles, precious, in colorway heather. the yarn is absolutely delicious to work with—smooth and buttery, with rich color. the nearly-solid lavender is highlighted with some pink and subtly streaked with pale brown and deeper purple. the resulting fabric is washed with variation, thoguh not in a distinct way. just lovely.

then there is this other secret project that i started on monday night. it’s on a deadline; i might be able to tell you more about it next week. the yarn is from the woolen rabbit; it’s kim’s bambino sock, which she has replaced now with the very similar pandora sock, a beautiful bamboo/merino/nylon blend (the yarn i used for pea vines and potager). the colorway i’m working with is woodrose.

suffice it to say that this project is practically knitting itself and flying off the needles; i should be able to finish it today (well let’s just say, i better finish it today, heh).

i mentioned the other day that i think my sock mojo is returning, and with the completion of david’s longjohn socks and the advent of chilly fall weather, i picked david’s brain to find out more about his favorite sock yarns (he loves the yarn i used for the longjohns, which is shalimar zoe). he said his other favorite socks are the tottering cables, knit up in zen yarn garden squooshy, which i also loved knitting with. i don’t have any more in the house though, and roxanne has replaced that yarn with her serenity sock line. similar yarn base, but with a touch of cashmere. so yummy. i do have lots of that in my stash, as it happens, so i wound up a skein in the copper peach colorway

which came to me in this batch of serenity sock 20. i adore roxanne’s colorways and feel a kinship with her love of squishy sock yarn. david and i both appreciate a cozy pair of socks . . .

i haven’t cast on yet—i’m pondering what to do with the design. i’m sorta feeling a need to make another gansey sock; i like that style a lot. i definitely want something that isn’t fiddly to knit; my sock mojo may be too fragile yet for that. it needs to be something addictive that travels well. i’ll keep you posted on it . . .

speaking of david, he’s moved right on to another house project, now that my study is done. this time, it’s roofing work. the extensions on the first floor of our house which were originally built as porches and now house the office and the sun room, have been badly in need of new roofing and railings for some time (well, since we moved in). he took the rotting old railings down last fall and last week, began demolition on the sunroom roof.

our back garden is now filled with debris, some of it very old and rotten, which is making me sneeze and cough like crazy. and for some reason, the job requires the use of a lot of indoor floorspace.

the sunroom is totally off limits at the moment because he’s storing all the materials there and because taking off the roof is making a mess in it—thankfully, he’s covered all the furniture with plastic. except for that footstool, but i forgive him . . .

since the TV room provides the upstairs access, there’s a pile of tools and stuff there too. even the entry hall is a staging area of sorts

i think the front porch has the only access to outdoor electricity.
contrary to what my whining may lead you to believe, i am VERY excited about this project—i’ve been griping and moaning about the state of those porches for years and no one is happier than me that they are going to be finished. we have saved up six different times for this project and finally, finally, we will have new railings!!

railings complete the house design, but are mostly cosmetic, so it’s one of those jobs that has gotten pushed off every year for the sake of spending money on another, more urgent jobs—like the front steps last year and the gutters the year before, and the storm windows the year before that. before that, it was the furnaces (yes, plural; there are two) and before that, it was the gas and electric service.
old houses are just black holes for cash, let me tell you; we are definitely paying for this place on the installment plan.

but finally, we are in the closing stretch of the outdoor renovation—once the roofing and railings are done, it will be just how we want it. we’re even starting some landscaping after this, yay.
honestly, i never thought i’d see the day, but so happy i am.

yesterday i persuaded david to take a little time out from his project to do a photo shoot of a few items. i blocked the wristlets the other day so we were all set to take photos.

even the roofing debris came in handy as a prop

look at that cool texture in the insect-eaten wood.
the pattern will be ready soon and i’ll be all set to stick some nice pictures onto page one.

ok, it looks as if this dreary day has turned a bit sunny, so i think it’s time for a nice bike ride. i’m signing off; see you next time.

boots back on the ground

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

this was the scene in my kitchen last friday morning, before i left for miami—the day dawned hot and though i hadn’t planned on putting up tomatoes before my flight went out, the very ripe scent filling the house told me i’d better.

so i roasted and pureed and cooked and by the time i left, i had eight more quarts put up for the freezer. tomatoes wait for no woman . . .

i got to the airport just in time to discover that my flight was delayed a few hours. oh joy. i tell you, the big airline that has bought all the other airlines?? should not be allowed to grow any bigger til they get their act together. it was a grueling day, indeed.

BUT, it passed eventually and when it did, i found myself in sunny miami (only it was well into the night by then, so it was dark, heh).
the good news is that i finished david’s longjohn socks before i even got on the plane (i would say “go me!” but i really don’t deserve that, since it has taken like, ten months to complete them, heh).

these will be a sturdy and warm addition to his pile of anniversary socks this year. and you know what?? i think my sock mojo is creeping back—i actually feel like starting another pair right away. it’s our tenth anniversary this year, so i should try to make at least one pair that is especially brilliant, right? more on that next time . . .

once i finished those, i cast on right away for my secret project in that lavender precious silk from the natural dye studio. of course, i can’t show it to you, but i can tell you it’s going swimmingly; i finished about one-third of it before landing in miami. but boy, i was almost sick of knitting by that time, no kidding—that’s how long i was traveling . . . no worries though; i got over that feeling after a good night’s sleep.

anyway, i didn’t get to my hotel til 1 am (and luggage-less at that), so i hit the sack immediately to rest up for classes on saturday. it wasn’t til the next morning that i finally got to meet my lovely hosts for the weekend, virginia and annie, who own the knitting garden yarn shop in coral gables.

the shop is a delightful destination for knitters in the greater miami area; if you live there and haven’t been, well, you haven’t lived. they have a delicious selection of yarns arranged throughout their comfortable, friendly shop space. a large table in the back invites knitters to sit and work or take a class, while a cozy seating area near the front provides another spot to settle oneself for a visit.

virginia and annie go to great lengths to illustrate their yarn inventory with copious samples, swatches, and pattern support. they also provide a full schedule of classes and events to bring their knitting community together.

an incredible selection of knitting-related gifts and accessories are tucked into every nook and cranny; you won’t have any trouble finding interesting buttons, gadgets, and gifts here.

as a fairly young shop (not yet two years old), they have made a giant effort to provide an active place for knitters to meet, learn, and shop. in addition to classes and KALs, weekly events include movie night (monday), kids knitting club after school (wednesday), and happy hour (friday). you can see all of the shop events on their calendar.

we had three really good classes that left me pretty jazzed up—it was my first time teaching two of them, so there was a bit of an experimental component there, but everyone seemed to take that in stride (thank goodness knitters are fun and easy-going!).

i taught the start to finish class, which is a smorgasbord of various starts for shawls—provisional cast on and pickup, starting from a knit edging, knitted edge bindoff, etc. there is a lot to cover in a short time, but our group was focused and ready to learn; we had a blast.

then we tackled the marie antoinette sock in the afternoon. this sock looks very complex, but actually, if you take it step by step, it’s not overwhelming, so it makes a good class project. it’s not something you can finish in a class, but i think everyone went home feeling they could manage the rest on their own.

then on sunday, we had an all-day shawl project class, which is a great kick-off for a shop KAL around one particular shawl design. this group chose to work on the pine and ivy shawl; a complex, but very pretty piece. we worked through a swatch to introduce all the patterns and the shawl architecture during the morning, then everyone cast on for the actual shawl and got started working with the full-sized pattern. lots of knitting that day—i think it’s wonderful that participants take a whole day away for themselves to focus on a more difficult project; something they might not be able to make time for at home.

once it gets underway, this kind of class is a little less hands on for me—while i’m there to guide and answer questions and help get people unstuck, most participants want to get as much knitting done as they can before they leave. there is a lot of quiet time, which can be almost strange for a teacher, but good too, because it means everyone is happily working away.

it’s good to have some knitting of one’s own to do

so i brought out my wasp and rose to work on. i actually got quite a bit done—though i started it at home and got almost this far on the plane ride, i had decided to rip it all the way back and adjust the way i knit the edgings. i was able to restart it in class and work that out during the quiet times.

i am so impressed with this group—while not the most experienced of lace knitters, everyone tackled this project with relish and seemed determined to get a good start. the mood was entirely positive, which always makes for a great teaching experience. and that’s the thing—going into a class, you don’t need to know everything ahead of time—being open to learning will allow you to get what you came for. virginia and annie plan to expand this class into a shop KAL; they will have a monthly meetup at the shop when participants can bring their pine and ivy project for group knitting and support. isn’t that fantastic?

after class on sunday, five of us piled into barbara’s car for a nighttime tour of miami before dinner. i got to see all the sights from coral gables, down through south miami beach and back again—it was awesome (i’m only sorry it was too dark to take pictures). barbara, annie, elena, and carmen all grew up right there in miami and have an extensive catalog of personal and factual information that they proudly share about their city. it was almost too much to take in, but i loved every minute; it reminded me of how my own extended family talks about albany, where they grew up.

we ate delicious “modern” cuban food for dinner and then headed back up to coral gables. i would have loved to ride around all night with them, haha, but i had to get up bright and early for my flight back home.

so, while i don’t even have one picture of the beautiful palm trees and gardens in coral gables (i was too busy during the days and wow, it gets dark a lot earlier there), i have a memory filled with exciting architecture lit up by the night lights at the beach. wonderful.

because my evenings were pretty full, i didn’t knit much in my room at night, but i still got lots done this weekend—on the return trip (which went much more efficiently), i worked on the gray mitts for my niece.

i know this photo makes it seem as if i’m in exactly the same place as when i left but . . .

i also have a finished done to show for myself. yay.
i love these mitts—the stitch pattern is from one of my favorite socks and the yarn is simply delicious—so light and soft, that in a fitted mitt like this, it feels like a second layer of skin.

this is some dye dreams classy sox that i had left over from knitting the cité neckwarmer. the merino/cashmere/nylon blend is perfect for a mid-season mitt—light enough to wear effortlessly, indoors or out, but enough of a layer to chase off the chill at this time of year. these will fill the bill perfectly for the “classy, neutral” pair my niece asked for (in addition to a lacy pair).

i also worked some more on my secret project once i got home and into my monday afternoon class. what a shock when i got back to ohio—i left it on a sunny, 90-degree day and came back to that raw, wet, fall weather that makes me want to hide indoors under a blanket.

there are ripe tomatoes out in the garden to pick but i’m having trouble psyching myself up to go out there—i’m a terribly fair-weather gardener; as soon as it turns chilly like this, i lose all interest, haha.
i mean, i will go out there—a nice hot bowl of pasta with roasted tomato sauce sounds good for dinner—but i need to talk myself into it.

on the other hand, warming up the house by using the oven?
priceless.

potager

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

here it is—the potager lace stole, sister to the pea vines triangle shawl. i know that some of you have been waiting for this one, but i thought it would be fun to save it as a treat for my travel day, when i won’t be able to blog in person.

potager is the french word for “kitchen garden” and here, the pea vines and trellis patterns form a vertical garden landscape along the stole length. knit up in fingering weight yarn, it’s the perfect thing for fall and spring (and fun to knit, too!). there is even a scarf version included, if a larger project isn’t within your time budget right now.

shown here, a hybrid of two sizes offered in the pattern—the tall width knit in the petite length—mix and match the pattern sizing to suit your own taste.

as with the pea vines triangle, this sample is worked in woolen rabbit pandora, a bamboo/merino fingering yarn, in colorway sweetheart (new this week on the woolen rabbit website).

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

this beautiful sample was knit by our incredible friend karolyn, who is always so enthusiastic; i can never get over how much she enjoys test knitting. when kim asked her which colorway of the pandora yarn she’d like, karolyn just couldn’t decide, so she told kim to “surprise” her. we all agree that this gorgeous shade of rose is absolutely perfect—it’s one of those colors that looks great on everyone (and pink is karolyn’s favorite, as it turns out). thank you kim!

and then there is my dear, wonderful friend beckie, who agreed to model the stole for us—doesn’t she look outstanding in it? she’s such a great sport and so fun to photograph; i just love her—and who wouldn’t??

(that’s my most favorite picture of the day)
thanks too to kian, too, who kept himself busy in my garden while we worked—you can catch a glimpse of him here and there, rummaging through the tomato vines looking for “wed wuns” (that kid eats tomatoes like they are going out of style, haha! oh yeah; they are, in about a month . . .).

how about ending with a few more beautiful shots of beckie?

gift from a garden

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

just as i was starting to write this post, the mail arrived with all sorts of goodies, in time for my trip to miami tomorrow (it’s nice to get going away surprises the day before flying . . .)

first off a beautiful box of garlic from michele in maine (maker of our very favorite project bags), from her garden. we email a lot and she’s been trying to talk me into growing garlic for a couple of years now. she finally hooked me for real when she said she’d send some homegrown heads for me to plant. and look—there’s enough there for a decent amount of cooking too. thank you michele!

(ok, i just went to her store to get a link and let me tell you, i should NOT be allowed to go there. the spotted owls bag?? omg, so ME. and i’m so weak . . )

as if the garlic wasn’t enough, i got a beautiful bundle of yarn from amanda at the natural dye studio. we are planning something, but it’s a secret and you’ll have to wait to see the results; however, i can show you the yarn now

and you can let your imaginations run wild for a few months til it’s time for the reveal. we have some precious 4-ply, a 100 percent silk singles in a gorgeous lavender, shot with some pink. it’ll look like rich brocade when it’s knit up, yum. i can’t wait. then there is a skein of angel 4-ply, a luscious blend of alpaca, cashmere, and silk.

they are dyed with all natural dyestuff; another gift from someone’s garden, if you think about it. i’ve already swatched with some samples i had of these yarns and i can tell you, they are practically edible.

one more wonderful thing arrived as well (really, a grand day for mail, wouldn’t you say?)—these tiny copper stitch markers i purchased from spindle cat studio, after seeing rave reviews about them in the knitspot ravelry group. cathy said they are the very best and cathy never leads me astray (well, not often, anyway, and never in the quality department)

copper is one of my most favorite materials, so it wasn’t hard to convince me. and i am always on the lookout for great stitch markers. they come in two color finishes, too. they’re even hammered. and snagless. AND they are really good (i should go back and get the silver ones). i’m putting them in my bag to take along for my new project. yay.

speaking of knitting, i finished my secret project and now i know enough about it to knit the several copies that i’ll need. it’s a quick thing, obviously, so it shouldn’t take too much time away from the knitting i can talk about here.

which brings me to my new swatch, finally off the needles (though the hem part is still unresolved) . . .

wasp and rose
(i’m still mining those crazy victorians and their fascination with flora and fauna).

it’s going to be a pair of lace pieces, one triangle shawl and one rectangle stole. i’m very lucky to be working once again with some incredible yarn from fibre isle—this time it’s sylvie’s kami 2-ply lace, a bamboo/merino/bison blend, in colorway petale, a delicate antique pink (she’s so great; i described the project in email and she picked the colorway and it’s perfect—exactly what i imagined).

i adore sylvie’s yarns and the sheen on this one will knock your socks off. the pink colorway is rescued from being overly sweet or babyish by a halo of natural brown, provided by the undyed bison fiber in the yarn.

i’ve already cast on and packed this project up to go with me on the plane tomorrow

the first part will make wonderful travel knitting with its easily-memorized pattern and small, portable size. i’m pretty happy that i’ve finally gotten this project on the needles; it’s been on my agenda since the spring.

that’s literally the only thing i have packed for my trip as of now—i’m going to need to get organized soon. i do have several almost-finished small projects laying about that i’ll toss in my bag with the shawl

seriously, if i don’t finish this sock this weekend, i should not be allowed to call myself a knitter (or to come home, haha). it’s been on the needles since february. and david needs socks. so miami, don’t let me come home without this one done.

my mitt kit is pretty much in exactly the same shape as it was when i arrived home from my last trip—two mitts almost done and two more need to be knit to match. so that’s a good one to bring.

and if i don’t finish my second wristlet tonight before bed, i’ll take that too. i’ve only got about an hour’s worth of work left on it, so it’s possible it’ll be done before i go.

speaking of packing and organizing, i really should go do that now. and i’d like to go for a bike ride some time today, too.

i’ll see you in sunny miami!