small schemes

we are greening up so fast, it’s hard to remember now what the yard looked like two weeks ago. a couple of days of big rain tipped the scales in favor of green and everything is leafing out heavily. the last of the spring flowers are fading and now the strawberry plants are blooming.

haha, i have nearly a whole row of chard plants that wintered over and want to be part of the action. i may try to transplant them, but i may just harvest them in a few days. i found that these plants got a little tough toward the end of last season and it might be just as well to retire them in favor of new ones from seed. see how dirty they get without the mulch around the bottom? score another one for newspaper and straw . . .

we’re planning the garden layout so that we can plant the fruit-bearing things around the 21st of may. much as we’re all itching to start now, there is still a danger of frost here until memorial day. i may get some seeds in before i go on vacation (may 10th; i am so ready). if i can do that, then the chard, scallions, okra, beans etc. should all be sprouted by the time the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant go in and we ‘ll be able to lay down the paper and straw mulch right afterward.

that’s the plan i have in my head anyway . . .

our one good asparagus plant has sprouted in the last two days and is already 15 inches high. unfortunately, it’s the only one so far to make a showing. our poor asparagus bed has been such a failure—this will be the fourth year and so far, nada. we didn’t want to dig it up last year to amend the soil, but seeing the success that process brought to the rest of the garden, we’ve decided it’s time to overhaul this section, too. we’ve ordered new crowns and are getting the soil tested; we’ll re-do the whole thing again. maybe we’ll be able to salvage a few viable crowns, but if not, we’ll just have to wait a couple more years.

good thing i’m a productive knitter and can see results elsewhere in my life.

i blocked the baby blanket yesterday and was thrilled that it ended up exactly the size i’d estimated and used just about the yardage i’d figured, too. i can’t say enough about how much i loved working with this yarn—classic merino sport by knitting notions, colorway winter sky.

it washed up and spun out beautifully in the hand wash cycle (in a mesh bag) of my machine, while keeping its shape very well—you know how i feel about those nice corners . . .

it needed very little blocking—for photography purposes, i straightened the edges with the blocking wires. but a busy mom could easily wash and lay it flat without fussing. i could have stretched it more, but i wanted to retain the cushy texture. the fabric is soft as all getout and yet the stitch pattern really pops. i just need to find a baby to model it, hehe.

so yesterday, i was emailing with catherine, the dyer, who is knitting her blanket in the persimmon colorway. we got chatting about what to do with the leftover bits (about 150 yards in my case) and i described a hat i had in mind. well, she thought that was a great idea so last night

i knit one up. how cute is that?? in fact, we like it so much we are talking about creating a sweater/hat/bootie set. see how these things happen? if you ever wonder where i get my ideas, here’s an example . . .

i think maybe you are getting a glimpse this month into my helplessness in the face of baby knits. i actually try to stay away from them most of the time because for me, they are a black hole of distraction. i like them far too much and will easily fill a box with little sweaters and hats and socks in the blink of an eye if left untethered. since i have no children and no nieces or nephews of the right age for newborn knits at the moment (except for one in las vegas and well, he doesn’t need wool), this mostly wouldn’t do.

but i do indulge sometimes and this winter, i had the idea that it would be good to design a few baby things for spring and summer, because i know i’m not the only one who needs a fix now and then. things that are an extension of my other work, only babyfied.

in addition to this blanket (and maybe a sweater set) worked in catherine’s yarn, my friend debby has had a long-standing request for another child’s dress or two, something like this one—easy to knit, easy for kids to dress themselves, uncomplicated to wear in hot weather. her granddaughters just won’t stop wearing theirs, using them as tops over jeans when they get too short to be dresses.

i haven’t decided what they might be yet, but it’s on my mind.

and there must be another blanket—something lacier and a little more fancy. i loved knitting the honey baby so much last summer that i made plans to design another one in this batch of yarn from fearless fibers

this is deb’s lush MCN luxury—a merino/cashmere/nylon blend that i’ve enjoyed knitting with in a sock project i have going. the yarn makes a beautiful fabric that is light and super-soft, but has a nice density. it will be wonderful in a larger blanket piece. and that color?? is it not de-lish? it’s her chastity colorway, a yummy mix of melon and raspberry, with a little mango mixed in—mmm, mm—i cannot wait to get my hands into this project. i’ve got swatching to do before i can start because i’ve been marking stitch patterns for a few months and need to pare down my ideas. but soon . . .

so that’s what i’m thinking for baby things; i have to leave room for regular shawls and a sweater i want to start as well. my brain is about to explode, so i think i’ll put my feet back on the ground now and tell you what-all i’ve been knitting in the real world. i’m actually down to just a few projects on the needles, which is how i cam to allow my imagination to run wild up there, heh.

twinings is off the needles and grafted, waiting in line for the blocking spot on my living room floor. maybe i’ll do that later this afternoon or tonight. this is such a pretty stole and so easy to knit—it looks much, MUCH more difficult to knit than it is. as someone said to me during the spring fling, “it’s my lotsa bang for the buck shawl—the lacy look and compliments i get for it totally outweigh its difficulty level”.

i worked a little on campanula too—i’ll probably take this one along for car knitting this weekend as we are, after all, making a quick trip to maryland for the wool show. i wasn’t going to go, since i just got home, but another errand is taking us in that direction and we can visit james, so why not? we’ll only have a few hours at the show on saturday morning, but if you see us there, please stop to say hello.

i am zipping through my socks, especially the red ones, for which i wrote up the pattern and sent it to ronni for proofing already. i’ll work on the pattern for the yellow one next.

thank you all so much for the nice compliments on my henley sweater pattern; i have enjoyed wearing it and i’m glad the photo shoot reflects how much. it’s a terrific spring sweater. jocelyn is actually getting ready to knit a second one for herself and we went “yarn shopping” yesterday on the knitting notion site. she was all set to purchase the superwash sport merino, but then catherine’s merino/bamboo caught her eye; what did i think?

they are very different yarns, but it so happens that anne marie is knitting her henley in briar rose sea pearl, a similar yarn to the merino/bamboo and i love what is happening with hers. since i had some merino bamboo in the house, i told jocelyn i’d swatch it to see for sure. late last night i cast on 28 sts and knit up the cable pattern

while the overall fabric is thinner and silkier with more open holes, the stitch definition is still great and my stockinette swatch has a nice, even surface

i hit the correct gauge spot on using the needle size stated in the pattern for both swatches, however, i told jocelyn to also try it on a needle one size smaller just to see. sometimes, the stitch gauge changes very little but the fabric has that little extra bit of firmness that feels right.

here is the new swatch next to the original swatch in sport wool

when pinned out to a 4-inch square, the cable rib remains stretchy and comfortable, neither too taut nor too flabby. i like it. BTW, this is how i do gauge swatches in all ribbings where the pattern says “X sts to 4 inches, slightly stretched”. what the heck does that mean??

i cast on the number of sts, knit my swatch, then stretch and pin to 4 inches. if i like the tension and the resulting fabric and can visualize that it will be nice as an overall garment, i’m good. if it feels way to tight or hangs too loosely, i change my needles til i get what i want. then i keep in mind as i knit that the garment will change size once it’s washed and worn. i make sure to try on the sleeve or another piece as i go.

here you can see an up-close comparison of the two fabrics with both swatches unpinned. the sport wool on the left has a slightly fuzzy, soft, dense surface and a heavier hand. it’s very stretchy and comfy to wear. the stitches in the merino bamboo swatch on the right fit together less tightly and the yarn has a much smoother, silkier surface that allows the openwork more room to grow. and yet the stitch definition and rib remain distinct, so i’m ok with that—it’s a more “summery” fabric, different, but equally desirable.

this is how i go about assessing swatches when making a yarn substitution; i may swatch on more needle sizes and i may even swatch unrelated yarn just to see how different yarns react in the stitches. of course, in this case, it’ll be up to jocelyn to swatch more extensively, but this gives us both an idea of which fabric is most appealing to her (and she has one henley in sport merino already).

oy, that’s enough i think—my brain needs a rest. time for a bike ride i think and maybe for you—more flowers . . .

33 Responses to “small schemes”

  1. nancy schwartz sternoff says:

    mmmmmm love the blanket and adore that little hat!! cannot wait until pattern is posted – i have two baby blankets to make and have made way way too many obstacles in baby blankets!! and of course the garden….yum

  2. Elizabeth says:

    The baby blanket is lovely, as is the hat. I’m wondering if you can indulge yourself in knitting baby items by donating them to a women’s shelter, a teen age mother’s organization, some organization that benefits infants or maybe create an organization of your own that you could rally knitters to support…(I know, like you need more things to take up your time!) I know in my neck of the woods a need for this is filled by knitters. Regardless, all your creations are lovely.

  3. josiekitten says:

    It’s so exciting watching everything come back to life in the garden. Ours is doing just the same over here in England. I’m longing for the first pickings of peas! We already had some rhubarb a couple of weeks ago. Your shawl Twinings reminds me a bit of rhubarb! Looking forward to meeting you at I Knit this summer!

  4. josiekitten says:

    I meant of course Knit Nation, not I Knit! DOH!

  5. Anna says:

    Sooo jealous of your strawberry flowers! I just transplanted my two dinky plants from a place with no sun to a much more suitable bed. They’re putting out leave like crazy but for now only a few tiny buds! I love the color of the Twinings stole: warm and rustic reddish. :)

  6. imjustlori says:

    Twinings looks so comfortable there, I just want to pick it up and wrap up in it. Doggone it, off to add to more to my queue…

  7. Jocelyn says:

    Have I mentioned lately how amazing you are? Thank you SO much for knitting up those swatches for me; I’m dying to get my teeth into this project again, and I know I’m going to love the lighter, summery version as much as I love my Grandma’s Blessing version. Also, that yarn from Fearless Fibers is gorgeous! I’m looking forward to seeing what it turns into :)

  8. Lou says:

    I LOVE the new baby blanket design! If a very close friend or family member makes an annoucement, I’m going to have to make this. It looks like a fun knit. And I’ll be at MS&W Saturday too, so I hope I bump into to you sometime while you are there. We’re supposed to have great, warm weather. :o )

  9. Kim says:

    WOW…there is a lot going on in this post! I love the new baby blanket…it’s so pretty! I’m actually going to knit another honey baby this summer and maybe the bee shawl. ;-)

  10. Anne – plant dense parsley in front of your asparagus and tomatos behind it. Next year – wa=la! You will have a gorgeous harvest

  11. susan says:

    My strawberries are in leaf and growing well, but no flowers yet here in my part of the UK.

  12. Krystal says:

    I love the blanket and the hat! I have 2 baby shower gifts to get busy on for this summer, and I have my fingers crossed that your patterns will be out in time. (please?!)

    The garden is beautiful! We just moved so I will be starting from scratch this year. Your pictures are very inspiring.

  13. catherine says:

    I am amazed that the Merino Bamboo works so well for the Henley. I thought I knew a thing or two about yarn substitution, but I wouldn’t have predicted how well that worked. Thanks for the awesome lesson. :)

  14. Donna says:

    The baby blanket and hat are lovely! I would love to see a layette set. So pretty!

  15. Erica says:

    The baby blanket is wonderful, and the hat is adorable. I love the stitch pattern!

    We’ve been having a baby boom at my office this year; my baby came on New Year’s Day, and there are already 3 more babies here since then and 4 more coming that i know of. I think that hat wold be a sweet little present for the fall babes, so I’m looking forward to the pattern. :)

  16. Ann says:

    Love the baby blanket & thanks for the swatching lesson – it’s really interesting.

  17. jill says:

    Thank you for the swatching information. As always, I am inspired and learning more each time I read your entries. Thank you!

  18. sherri says:

    I adore the little blue baby hat, can not wait to make it and hope sincerely that you will quickly write a sweater pattern. come to think of it, forget everything else you are knitting and designing and move it to the front of the line. The hat is to die for!!!

  19. Claudine says:

    Blanket and hat are divine. Can’t wait to see what you do with the new “chastity” colorway.

  20. Knitnana says:

    Thank you for the swatching information and photos!! I bought Henley the other day with thoughts of using my stash Fleece Artist Sea Wool and so, after discussing with Jocelyn her new choice of yarn (while you two were discussing it, too) I thought, well, I’ll swatch – and here I’ve been given the detailed instructions I’ll need to do so!
    YAY!!
    The baby blanket is lovely, of course! And that melon colorway is scrumptious! Ok, now I want a fruit salad for lunch! {grins}
    (((hugs)))

  21. Debby says:

    Roxy is clamoring for her new pink dress–and I was ready to begin another Vine Flower. Maybe I’ll just hang on for the one that’s cooking!
    The blanket and cap are adorable!!

  22. AnnH says:

    Love that blanket, and the hat that goes with it! I’m looking forward to getting that pattern — we, too, have a baby boom going on. What I appreciate so much (and I’m not alone, judging by the posts) is how you give us such a wealth of information. Keep up the good work! And enjoy your well-deserved vacation.

  23. What a chockablock post, Anne! The blanket is lovely, and Knitting Notions colors are so sublime. I love that Persimmon! And it was nice to revisit Honey Baby, another favorite. The baby in our family just turned 4, so maybe a knitted dress instead of a blanket is in order (once I finish her poncho!).

    Thanks for the swatching insights! And I took your Ondule advice and ripped and reknit with decreases.

    Have fun at MSW!

  24. Roxanne says:

    I’m a big fan of your blog and I have enjoyed knitting many of your patterns. I would like to ask if you would include a photo (or two) of a grafted area on a stole or scarf on your blog. I would really like to see what it could look like versus what it looks like when I do it!

  25. Bobbie in AK says:

    Anne,

    I have been looking forward to seeing the finished baby blanket. Will this pattern be published soon? Will there be different size options? Say, for an adult, throw size?
    As always, your FO’s are lovely.

  26. Virginia says:

    So, Anne. Let me tell you. I picked up Irtfa’a today after taking a break, got halfway through the row, and had a total mental breakdown. Why were there not enough stitches on the chart? Why did I have more sections? Was I supposed to be working off three pages at once?

    “Oh no,” says I! “I am going to have to email Anne Hanson and tell her that she broke my brain and I can’t do it, and she will email back to help me because she is the nicest person alive, but she will be upset that I’m too stupid to knit her pattern, and then I will feel bad for upsetting her, and it will be a Terrible Spiral of Despair.”

    Then I realized that I was looking at the wrong page.

  27. Debbie says:

    You’ve been busy! I’ve been wondering about the baby blanket. It’s really special. The wee hat is adorable. I read Virginia’s post, about the mental breakdown on her shawl, and I thought it was really cute. Loved it.

  28. Maryse says:

    This is quite a post! Everything is beautiful! The baby blankets are so pretty! I definitely love the blanket and hat duo!

  29. Angela says:

    Love the blanket! Our godson was just born on April 30th and I’d love to knit that up in the midnight blue color. No pressure but how soon do you think a pattern will be ready? (If he had end up being a girl it would have been Honey Baby all the way!)

  30. Teresa says:

    I really love the baby blanket. I’m addicted to baby projects….and no babies to knit for! I’m forced to knit for “stangers” I meet on the street!
    Well, not quite, but I do have my radar up for a deserving baby!
    Looking forward to that pattern.
    I’d love to test knit the campanula. I have quite a stock of yarns to choose from…teehee!

  31. Adrienne says:

    Love, love the baby blanket! Conveniently, there are a couple babies on the way that I’d like to knit for. =)

  32. Tara says:

    Lovely baby knits, Anne. Can’t wait to see the Honeybee blanket in that gorgeous Fearless Fibers!

  33. Riin says:

    I love that hat! Baby, schmaby, I would make it for ME!