Archive for April, 2011

progress

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

i think it’s safe to say now that spring is here. a little late, but beautiful as ever. these fritillaria that i thought i missed, have finally showed their quirky little heads to my extreme delight—these guys usually show up much earlier in april, or even late march.

we’ve had a veryy balmy week actually—in a storm-tossed, rain lased way, but nevertheless, it’s warmer.

which means that the yard is giving up it’s pretty secrets by the minute.
every time i look out my office window and across the side yard, a few more of these deep pink tulips have opened.

even the moss is blooming.

and speaking of woodland delights, one of my top five favorite spring emergences has finally come out in formation—the may apple.

now, i find these little plants amusing for a whole variety of reasons (which i’ll leave you to mull over all on your own), but i think the thing i like best about them are the stages they go through as they sprout each year (not sure sprout is the right word, though . . .)

they are the class clowns of the garden, surely, but each year, they manage to mature into tall, cool, generously wide-armed citizens of the back yard that provide enough of a shade canopy to inhibit the growth of weeds underneath. and therefore, they are my very good friends.

just a little past this patch, the lily of the valley is beginning to spread itself out across the part of the back yard that lies in deepest shade, touched by just a glimmer of filtered light each day.

in a couple of weeks it will be so thickly carpeted with them that you could lie on it and not touch the ground.

and it’ll smell like a little slice of heaven on earth for about seven to ten days; i hope i don’t miss it (i’ll be away the second week of may).

last on today’s rounds, but certainly not least are my other very favorite thing—the fiddle heads, still keeping their little chick heads tucked in tight. but very soon they will unfold and reach for the sun and when they do, they will take my breath away (i’m positive about that; they do it every year).

the fiddleheads of some of the japanese painted ferns are much further along, having already arched up and started to uncurl their fingers. they look slightly petrified at the moment but in a few weeks they will show gorgeous gradations of green, plum, and silver.

sigh . . . i love spring at our house.

now, before i launch into chattering about my knitting and weekend travel, our dear friend alice (AKA socktopus) wants everyone to know that registration for knit nation 2011 will open Sunday 1 May at 8pm BST.

if you want to familiarize yourself with the offerings and make a gameplan, check out the schedule ahead of time to do so.

i don’t know everything, but i know one thing—it’s gonna be a lotta fun. i had a wonderful time there last summer and i’m looking forward to this year’s event with equal anticipation.

ok, now let’s talk about knitting—yeah.
since i’m taking my light and portable lace projects to loopy’s spring fling in st louis this weekend, i’ve been working hard on getting a couple of sweater patterns squared away. i’ve also been spending as much time as i can working on these heavier samples, so i can leave them home when i go.

i am usually not pokey at all about getting sweaters seamed up—by the time i get that far, i want to see the piece done-done. however, this little sweater has had to be patient while i’ve been beset with a tide of distractions.

it’s not that i’m not working on it—i am—but that my work sessions are far to short and specific. i got the collar on it during class monday afternoon and bgan sewing the sleeves in during a club meeting we had that evening. and i actually stopped mid-seam and have not gotten back to it.

so it’s parked back on the spare chair in my study for the time being. i may actually work on it while we visit with company this afternoon. johnny and lacey from newstitchaday.com are coming over for the afternoon and since they are knitters, i’m sure they’ll be up for a knit and chat, haha

after lunch, that is (we’re having curry, mmm)
and i really should be packing my bag instead of blogging or entertaining today, but you only live once, right??

anyway, my knitting is pretty well packed—it’s just a matter of deciding whether to take four projects or just three (or was it four or five i was deciding between??)

i’ve been motoring along to the finish of the secret project too; this is a big deal because it’s large and once it’s done, i can play a little, yay. gotta finalize the pattern for that when i get back next week, though.

anyway. the other project i’ve been putting considerable time into is my cable and rib cardi in woolen rabbit grace—you know, the one that makes us all drool or swoon, in colorway scottish heather.

the sleeves are done now and i’ve started this left front piece. i very much want to take it along with me but i’m trying to keep my baggage very streamlined on this trip and this project is a bit of a ball and chain in that regard

due to the half-pound cake of yarn that goes with it everywhere. far be it from me to have thought of that when winding the darn thing and to have separated it to make my travel life easier. oh well . . .

it’s not like i don’t have other projects to bring that will easily fit into small bags—i do! i have plenty in fact and one sock that you don’t even see here, because it’s in my purse. but of course i want the big one, too. and that’s just silly; i’ll never get all that yarn knit up this weekend, right?

but then there is the horrible weather; i could get stuck there.
omg, imagine if we did not have knitting to save us from those situations?

ok, time to pack now; see you in st louis.

day of reckoning . . .

Monday, April 25th, 2011

boy, oh boy, the weather has been nothing but miserable here this week—rain every day, except for the few hours when i absolutely cannot get outside.

even if i could, everything is dripping wet; not the greatest conditions for planting onion sets or chard seeds. which is what i’d do if it would just dry out a little. haha, i had a look at the 10-day forecast, just see if the very weak sunlight trying to assert itself now would turn into any sort of trend. and i discovered that we are due for more heavy rain and thunderstorms every day EXCEPT the three days at the end of this week when i’ll be at spring fling. wouldn’t you know . . .

it’s still pretty though—the grass and flowers have taken on the most intense coloring from so must thirst-quenching rain. and it is warm—mostly in the high 60s and 70s; we can’t complain about that after the winter we had.

new growth is emerging everywhere i look—a row of parsley has come back along the edge of the asparagus bed (thanks jody m!). and our favorite, the may apple, has begun to poke its head out above ground, though not nearly as early or quickly as last year, when april was very warm and sunny.

soon, though, very soon . . .
everything is a little later this year than in the last couple of years; it stayed cold into april, much longer than we’ve gotten used to.

i do think we are headed toward warmer days now. maybe may will be brilliant for a change, to compensate. and, whether or not it rains, ’tis still the season for flowers . . .

it’s just as well it wasn’t nice this weekend, though—i had some indoor jobs i’d been putting off that really, REALLY needed to be done. namely, cleaning out my closet and sorting out my yarn stash.

i took care of the closet thing on friday night, got rid of a bunch of old clothes, and took stock of what needs replacing (i am much too big a fan of old, soft t-shirts and sweats; some is good, too many is not).

i took a day off from the organizing on saturday to block the crooked little scarf and cook for the coming week. that was really nice; it’s been absolutely ages since i spent the day puttering in the kitchen and i sorely missed it. i made an excellent vegetable curry for supper, which we ate with relish (and we’ll eat leftovers tonight, yay).

the scarf blocked out beautifully, too—knit up in great northern yarns yak/mink/merino/soy blend in charcoal gray, the yarn bloomed and relaxed into a soft, dense, but lightweight fabric that will be lovely to wear three seasons of the year. i’m actually planning to have david model it for the photo shoot to show off its versatility.

i knit the longer, wider version, but the pattern includes a regular size as well.

i also cast on for a couple of new lace scarf projects—this one is a somewhat-reversible pattern of soft, interlocking ovals that create a relaxed rib; i wanted a slightly-but-not-too fuzzy yarn to accentuate the zaftig curvature of the pattern and at the same time, hold its own in terms of stitch definition. i rooted through the stash and came up with several options, but this sweet georgia cashsilk lace in the gorgeous riptide colorway came out the winner of the swatch wars (there are no losers, only next times . . .).

you’ll be seeing much more of this project over the next couple of weeks—it’s the perfect size for traveling, and i’ll soon be on the road again.

speaking of the stash, my day of reckoning with my yarn room was long overdue and since the weather outside was frightful, it seemed a good time to bite the bullet and make some headway. not only had i been dropping new arrivals in a pile just inside the door, but the trunk show needed shake and refolding before being put away.

because i have to pack a wealth of tools, books, and materials into my work spaces, these kinds of piles really get to me in practically no time; they make me feel hemmed in, like a bull in a china shop.

and while it would be easier of all it amounted to was putting the yarn away in these bins, that was not the case this weekend—i need to make space by doing a serious sorting and culling of what was housed in my yarn closet—the equivalent of pulling out all the furniture and rolling up the rugs for a good spring cleaning.

it’s always worse at the start, before i have a sense of what the new organization should be. basically, some of my work stash is sorted by yarn weight or type and some by dyer, depending on how much i have from any one source.

i took out everything that was discontinued or truly not something i would knit with. i also put aside skeins that i love, that will be knit by someone else into samples for the trunk show (this is a great use of extra yarn for me, but it doe eventually come back in another form, haha).

slowly at first, and then faster, the skeins get sorted and re-stored; each bin gets labeled with a yarn type and the dyers included. but that’s not the end of it—they all still have to have a spot on the shelf when it’s over. i had four new boxes filled and not enough space

ok, make that NO space.
i got to work in another part of the closet, emptying a few bins of older novelty yarns (beautiful ones, i swear, or they wouldn’t still BE here). my mom and her friends have been knitting scarves with these yarns recently and i think they’ll get a lot more use out of them than i will.

in the end, i had three big bags of good-quality yarn that need to go elsewhere. some of it is for test knitters, some for my mom and her friends, and i’m considering a possible destash sale to benefit a good cause . . . we’ll see. i’m not sure i’ll have time for that . . .

the whole process took ALL DAY yesterday—no joke. i started this project around 10 am-ish and did not walk downstairs til 6 pm. i was floored when i saw the time; no wonder i was hungry!

i made a nice dinner of flounder and veg from our freezer stash, using some fresh scallions form the garden that wintered over.

after that, i rewarded myself by starting the second new project of the weekend, a lace stole that i am totally and undyingly in love with (sorry david).

are you ready for this??

the yarn is glint of goldfish lace from alisha goes around, in colorway octavian. alisha gave me this skein at TNNA in january and i have been dreaming on it ever since—it is SO me.

the stitch pattern is incredibly large for most yarns, but is perfectly proportioned for this fine laceweight. and the spidery interpretation of the dramatic line work within, when worked in the merino/silk blend just takes my breath away.

i’ll work each half toward the center and then graft for a beautiful center motif; i can’t wait to see more, can you??

read all about it, the knitspot newsletter

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Yes, finally a Knitspot newsletter. The newsletter will be emailed to alert Knitspot.com readers of new blog post, events, new patterns and of course our newest offering of a Knitspot club. Distribution will be culled from our database of Knitspot customers that have subscribed to the newsletter option. Those of you that have not subscribed to the newsletter, can do so here: sign up for Knitspot newsletter. Unfortunately we were unable to access email addresses from our poll/survey regarding club. So, if you do not frequent Knitspot.com daily, or Facebook/Twitter Knitspot, the Knitspot newsletter may prove another means of being informed. Our first Knitspot newsletter will debut on Sunday, April 24.

Thank you so very much.

Mister Knitspot

my little patch of happiness

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

what a sight for sore eyes, eh?? i am SO happy to be home, especially with a greeting like this—my lipstick tulips (not their real name) just outside the garage door, at that perfect prebloom moment. sigh.

and these hyacinths—WOW. slightly past their prime, they nevertheless held out til i got home to show off their dressy easter ruffles and perfume.

one last daffodil also stayed the course for my viewing pleasure . . .

sorry for the delay in getting back into the blogging saddle, but the last couple of days have been sorta not what i’d planned—both the weather outside and my post-flight equilibrium failing to rise to an acceptable level. despite heading straight to bed after getting in monday night, i couldn’t work at all on tuesday. while not technically sick, i was so congested that i couldn’t hear or walk straight (cookie and david have seen me in this state and will attest it is NOT amusing after an hour or so, haha). thankfully, that has passed and i’m feeling much more myself.

yesterday i had a pile of bookkeeping and paperwork that needed urgent and immediate attention, so that was another day lost. but today—ahh, today is for us to chat.

so, i bet you’re all waiting with baited breath to hear who won the crochet inspiration book by sahsa kagan—thank you all for participating; we really appreciate that!

and the winner is . . . kristi~ohio. congratulations, kristi!
you know, many people leave wonderful stories with their comment entries for books—i’m not sure why, because it doesn’t influence who gets picked in the random drawings we do, but i LOVE reading them. it’s as if by telling the most elaborate story, the karma gods will smile on that commentor and make their name rise to the top.

anyway, kristi is one of those people that includes a little story with her comment and i like this one particularly well . . .

I learned to crochet at a young age and then taught my grandmother. We started out making afghans. I moved on to knitting. However grandma loved it so much she continued on with crochet for the next 40 years until she passed away. Over the last year I’ve been thinking of crocheting again. This looks like the perfect book. Thanks for the opportunity to win it. :)

i would love to see an old home movie of little kristi teaching grandma to knit . . .

i was SO busy in austin i never even got to tell you about my wonderful weekend at hill country weavers—wow, what a shop. that’s the owner, suzanne, with me in the photo above. we offered three full days of classes plus a trunk show and lecture friday evening. we did lots of lace knitting, finishing, and talked about making better yarn choices. we looked at all 565 photos in my slide show, too. oof!

the shop itself is a knitter’s wonderland—suzanne has been in business a long time and has an incredible inventory to show for it. everything from sturdy yarns to knit for kids to the most luxurious fiber blends are represented here. you need a nice long day to explore it all and the staff at HCW will let you have all the time you need.

i feel bad because i came home with so few photos—many of the ones i took didn’t turn out. i know david has a bunch; maybe he’ll put them up on our facebook page.

i did get this photo of the back of sherri’s gorgeous leaving cardigan, which she finished at 1am the night before her class—which is touching and impressive all at once in itself, but then damn, that is a nice sweater she made, too. it really does the pattern justice and i’m so happy she wore it to show us.
unfortunately, my photos of the sweater front did not turn out so well (too dark to see it), but sherri has some lovely photos on her project page.

most of our outside time in austin was spent exploring the local coffee joints before getting started on the day—we did not make it out to take part in the night life on this visit.

but with such beautiful mornings to wake up to, i didn’t feel like we missed all that much. the people watching is equally great in the early part of the day—just different, as they say there . . .

and while we didn’t get out to hit the social scene much, we DID have a wonderful time with our family. i got out every day in the gorgeous weather for along trek with junebug, who an excellent walking companion, very well trained. and the kids are a constant source of fun.

aaron wanted me to be sure to take a nice picture of his bike. moving vehicles are his passion—this kid is going to have a devastating ride one day . . . although i’m not quite sure where or how the dragon fits in.
like i said—different.

(seriously, can you resist the cuteness??)
even when david took us all out for a sushi meal and they were faced with a lack of traditional tableware, they carried it off with flare

the texas hansons are getting a screen printing business off the ground, so we spent some work days with my brother, discussing a few projects and swapping software skills.

we’ve actually had these totes onsite for a while, but soon they’ll be in our store; it’s a nice, sturdy bag, big enough for project, patterns (of course) and tools, but not SO big as to be threatening in a crowd. isn’t the print job lovely?? joe is really good at his work . . . and an awesome guitarist, too; they’ve put together a great family band—check it out on youTube

so you might think that with all that going on, i did not advance my knitting projects much, but funny enough, i got a ton of work done, too (as is often the case when i visit texas).

the pieces of the new whitfield shortie are complete and they await seaming and completion, probably this weekend. they don’t look nearly as cute as they will in a few days, with the collar and pocket on. and we should have a pattern ready for testing very soon as well, yay.

i swear, every time i took this project out of the bag to work on it, a flock of knitters fluttered over to feel the fabric—kim, the frolic yarn is just gorgeous and a big hit in texas.

and then there is the ruckus caused by scottish heather colorway of grace merino yarn i’m using for my cable and rib cardigan—another crowd favorite.

i have to add that each one has been a wonderful knitting experience, too; the kind of yarns that make you WANT to rush to your knitting chair to work each evening.

my secret project is heading down the homestretch as well; i’ll be done very soon and getting that pattern on to the next step. which will leave some of my needles free to start something new . . .

i was thinking that since i came home with a scarf to block (hopefully this afternoon, when i’m done here), that i should get another on the needles right away to take along on my next travel dates to the loopy spring fling and the spinning loft retreat (still spots open and it’s sooo close to maryland; you could escape with your new fiber to spin/knit dreamland!).

i’ve printed off a few charts to keep in a folder of “spring scarf ideas” because i think it’s time we had some new and pretty lace scarves, don’t you?? it’s the perfect project for the season, totally totable and lightweight enough to slip into a mia bag (omg, that orange poppy dot one is too, too cute) and carry in my purse.

i just have to go through my yarns and pick something (that’s the hard part). i think the first one is going to be something fine, but slightly fuzzy; not exactly sure what yet, but i’ll know when i see it.

i still have to unpack my suitcases too, so i’m thinking that today, i’ll block the scarf and unpack while it’s drying. if i’m really good, i’ll get some stash organized before i have to go out this evening (i bought containers and everything before i went away, but never got started on the actual sorting and organizing . . .).

i have fiber and spinning to talk about, but i think i’ll save that for another day.

spring beckons and i think it might be a good day to get outside as well. if i’m going to have time for all that, i better get cracking.

one last thing though, since a few people have written to ask . . . we are DEFINITELY working on getting our fall project club pulled together and making excellent progress. we plan to open signups around the 1st of may; currently that is dependent on when the site is ready, but all seems to be moving along on schedule. we will let you know as far in advance as we can of the actual signup date, by posting an information page explaining what to expect. the club ravelry group will be put together at the same time to provide a place for everyone to get together and chat.

meanwhile, the yarns have all been chosen and most of the projects have been planned; we are super excited about the luxurious selections we’ve been able to pull together for it. i think it’s going to be a ton of fun; i can’t wait!