how much of a heel am i?

Posted on 31 CommentsPosted in projects, spinning and fiber, Uncategorized

the mail goddess brought great stuff today, and good thing, too, because none of my knitting is that much further along to wow you with.

i did get a bunch done on the orchid scarf in classes today, but i won’t have nice picture til tomorrow.

so we’ll just have to make do with some great stuff from adam. about a week ago or so, i sent adam some tree scum handspun yarn, thrown in a brown box without adornment of any kind.
and today i received this

how embarrassed do i feel?? look at all this great stuff. yarn, fiber, chocolate, and coffee, too—whoa. i have GOT to hone my swapping skills, obviously. thanks, adam.

and how do you like that yarn? in person, it’s even better. it’s really nice. i picked a couple of colors—dijon mustard and charcoal gray—expecting somehow, to get two nearly-solid skeins. and he made a mixed colorway. that i love. serendipity to be sure.
he calls it “gray poupon”—ha!
it was going to be for david, but there’s plenty for me too.
adam, i hope you think about keeping this colorway in your collection; it’s pretty great. think of all the Falcons fans that need this . . .

the second color is “denims”, and i like its jeans-y feel; like the genuine article. this is his 900MHz weight; a fine, 100% merino sock yarn that knits up to about 9 sts/inch i would guess. the gray poupon is his 1500 MHz weight, which is heavier, and is a merino/nylon blend. and we love choices, right?

BTW, the roving is merino in colorway dallas; i haven’t had a chance to manhandle it yet, but it felt nice upon first groping . . . something else to try out on the new wheels.

and because he is so fun, and because i promised a picture of his yarn in my garden,

ok—and also because i could NOT resist its resemblance to a caterpillar . . .

and then, once i got out there, i just had to push the joke a little further (though the hangtags might give away the fact that they are not actual insects).

but wait, there’s more.

i SO was not expecting another package from ed and wanda, but there was one. just look at these trés delicate things

that is my pinkie finger next to ed’s latest—size 2 lace needles. now i realize that my little finger can hardly be classified as “little”, but these are still really tiny. just beautiful ed, and i thank you.

the join is so seamless, it deserves its own photo

it’s just great that ed is working so hard to make these needles perfect. ten years ago, you wouldn’t even have imagined a knitting tool for the general market that was made through a process of back and forth conversation between woodworker and customer. this is the beauty of the internet, bringing us simple premium tools for handcrafting from specialty producers who hand craft them.
technology for better lo-tech. i LOVE it.

this makes me happy . . .

Posted on 43 CommentsPosted in food and garden, lace/shawls, projects, Uncategorized

(swiss chard, bright lights tricolor—a little taste for the gardeners of what’s at the end of the post)

gee, the day just flew by. my goodness.
a full day of work, then the garden, then take some pictures, and all of a sudden it is 9pm.

the last few days i have had little time to knit, but now the garden is 99% in the ground—just a few eggplant starts to put in and that’s it. now i will have a few more free hours at night for my real work.

i’ve got the bee shawl underway and am swimming along on the first section of “hive” motif

i have to figure out now how deep to make each section. i often understimate how much the fabric will stretch when blocked, and end up knitting more than i need to. i’m going to try to get this one right, but i’m aware that i’m dealing with one of the great mysteries of knitting here—how much is too much?
as much as i swatched and blocked already, it is hard to estimate from those attempts the size of the finished piece. small difference are magnified SO much in the translation.

i love the edging

i searched everywhere for a dainty bee edging, and finally came up with one thanks to karen. she knit this swatch for the walker treasury project, and fortuitously, i stopped in at her blog just when she talked about it. somehow i had overlooked this one while flipping through the books (ahem, far be it from me to use the index, and look up “bee”. oh no—wa-a-ay too easy).

so i played around with a couple of versions of it, and finally decided one column of faggot with one column of bees. i added the little winglets to the outside edge to turn it into an edging, and i think those are my favorite part.

i have decided for the third panel to go with the bee and waving grass version

and i’ll tell you why—it’s a seemingly insignificant detail, but i am so smitten with it that i can’t not have it in the shawl.

see next to the grass, where it comes close to the bee? there is a little wavy column of stitches that opens up? i LOVE THAT! it looks like a heat shimmer, or a buzzing sound. it makes another dimension in the fabric for me. (told you i wasn’t normal . . .).

now i know there was a strong contingent for using the honeycomb stitch somewhere too, and i am thinking that i might work that one into the bottom edge, since it’s sheer and float-y.

and now for the garden report. of this i am proud:

cook’s custom mix mustard greens
we got all our seeds from Cook’s Garden—they have a great variety, and as you can see, it looks like every single seed sprouted, because i “sowed thinly” as directed on the package.

i’ve stayed away from planting seeds for the first few years of our garden, because i did not trust that my farmer genes would be up to it, and we don’t have much space to waste. it’s been so long since i grew anything this way. not that i’m taking a big risk here—i’m just doing the greens from seeds for starters. stuff i can start outside, right in the ground, and can replace if it fails.

we have collards and erbette (another chard, from france) as well, but they haven’t sprouted yet.
the last plants came in the mail today

i don’t know if you can read the tag, but it says fairy tale eggplant—tell me, how could i NOT?
and sunday i filled in that new bed with hostas taken off our existing plants.

i might fill in the empty spots with some coleus or something just for this year, while the bed fills out a bit. because it will . . .

and much as i appreciate your appreciation of my garden, i can’t take any credit for the beauty of these plants. honestly, i barely do anything except admire them—they take care of themselves.

as it should be—mother nature doesn’t need me tampering with her work.

no time for socks

Posted on 30 CommentsPosted in food and garden, lace/shawls, projects, Uncategorized

poor socks have been almost completely ignored this week. between the garden and the big knitting projects, the poor little guys have suffered. maybe this week they will see more action.

mystery project gave me a run for my money this week. it’s a good-sized piece, you know, and on thursday, when i was about 10 inches into it, i had a crisis of quantity—i looked at my piece and i looked at the remaining one-of-a-kind yarn and knew that i wouldn’t make it to a length that would even approximate my expectations. i also knew that it was knitting up wider than my estimation.

after skirting the issue for a few more rows (i’m on a deadline after all; going backwards didn’t seem productive), i realized i needed to stop shilly-shallying around, rip back, and start over with one less pattern repeat. it was my only hope of making it all work.

you know how sometimes, when you suck it up and do the right thing, even though you will lose time or money or dignity, it still doesn’t work out, and you are the only one who knows you really tried? (ok—let’s face it, that just doesn’t happen sometimes . . .)

well, this time, THAT didn’t happen. it all worked. everything felt more right-er as soon as i cast on again. the rows zipped along at a thrilling speed, and each completed repeat was a delight. the object fairly FLEW off the needles (well, sure i stayed up knitting til 4am thursday and friday, but who cares when it’s going well??). after a big push all day yesterday (i did not even look at the computer til evening), i had the thing done, soaked, and blocking by 9pm.

and i LOVE it. i love it i love it i love it.
i don’t even care if this thing gets accepted, i l-o-o-ove it. and i think you will too . . . someday. i am so NOT trying to be a tease—but you have to wait.

well. now that that’s all done, i can focus on some other commitments, and hopefully some variety. as soon as the last pin went into the blocking piece, i grabbed the orchid scarf and added a few repeats.

it felt weird not being on size 11 needles anymore, but also comforting to have this soft, light wisp of a thing in my hands. my shoulder was aching from the big piece—knitting on thick needles wrecks my neck (or maybe i’m just really out of shape, ya think?). anyway, this scarf is moving very fast too—it seems like i can add a few repeats in no time.

(is anyone else getting the sense that a sort of knitting mania has taken hold of me and my household? well, it’s time you all knew—i’m not normal. you’ll have to adjust.)

of course, as with all mania, there comes a moment when the affected body falls like a tree. that happened around 11:30 last night. after a jolting twitch struck and then subsided, i looked at the scarf in my hands and realized that i had just knit at least a few stitches while dozing.
“but it’s early!” i wailed to myself.
“go to bed, ” i wailed back.
and so i obeyed.

naturally, i was wide awake by 5:30. but you know, that’s a very good time of day to start something new, and i know you’ve been waiting for this

not much to look at yet, but there is a whole afternoon (and evening) ahead of me. had a couple of false starts where i miscounted and then changed my mind, but now it’s on it’s way.
i’m pretty excited . . . this one has been on my mind a long time. wish me luck!

we are still getting the yard in shape for summer, too, so i need to get outside for a little while at least. the vegetables are all in the ground now, but david tore up a terrible-looking patch in the back yard, so that we could plant it with some nice things. it used to look like this

the hosta bed was nice, but the background part all along the fence was scruffy and weed-ridden, with our lilies struggling to hold their ground. now it looks like this

this is a small area outside the back door. it has an old slate patio which david re-laid a couple of years ago. i go out there for fresh air breaks a few times a day, to just sit and watch the plants grow for a minute or two.

(wow, look how big the hostas got in 2 weeks). david dug a new bed all along the fence, and we spread out the asiatic lilies more. they needed more space because they propogated so well this year. we’ll fill in the rest with more hostas, coleus, and other shade-loving plants.
we are on a mission to eventually replace all of the horrible, scrappy, weed-infested lawn surrounding the house with ground covers and plantings instead. you can’t grow a nice lawn in deep shade anyway—i don’t know why anyone ever tried that so close to the building.

it’s much nicer and more private than the front garden area, and we’ve worked harder and more creatively on it. some day we will do the same with the part that shows, but for now, this part is more appealing . . .

come to bed

Posted on 25 CommentsPosted in Uncategorized

it has been one of my busiest weeks. an influx of new pattern business (YAY!!), a ton of email, and trying to get the garden in—all in addition to the usual work and teaching load—has kept us moving from dawn to dark, and then some.

but it’s worth it, and will continue to be worth it for the next few months

we are adding two new beds and relocating one that was kind of far from the house to a spot with the others. we are planting herbs, celery, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, canteloupes, greens, and salad. and of course, the bed of dye plants.

i also did some cleanup in our perennial beds which are a somwhat-wild mix of plants and volunteers such as lily of the valley and these

may apple. they don’t grow everywhere (someone told me) and, they don’t all get flowers and apples, but some of ours do! we are lucky enough to have a patch of these funny, umbrella-like plants that must have been cultivated long before we owned the home.

in the Years of Neglect between the time when the garden beds actually had a plan, and the time we started caring for the yard, these didn’t even come up—since no one ever raked the yard for 17 years, a lot of plants lay dormant here. when we started playing around with it and cleaning up, all kinds of new life showed itself, including at least a dozen different varieties of hosta.

not that we are expert gardners by any stretch of the imagination (lord—we can hardly keep up with the weeding), but we’re trying. we’d like to bring some semblance of order, while keeping a semi-wild appearance to it all.

so, what going on in the fiber department??

a few rows on this sock is all i could manage. it is so close to being done; it’s a shame i can’t just sit and finish it up.

well, my new wheels want to take a bow to your shower of compliments on them—

they are basking in the afterglow of the past few days—there’s almost no talking to them.
the merlin got a good rubdown the other night with some yummy beeswax-and-oil preparation and is starting to gleam. it needs another coat, so hopefully tonight i’ll get to that.

a few people asked about the distaff, which is a tool (usually not quite so fancy) that is used to hold fiber while one spins. it is especially helpful for hanging prepared flax so that the long fibers are easily accessible and don’t get tangled.

of course, i love jessZ’s suggestion that the distaff looks like something to be carried around the house while pretending to be queen—sounds like a totally appropriate use to me.

yesterday in classes i worked on the orchid scarf and though i didn’t think i accomplished much, it does look longer

this is definitely one piece that will be completely transformed by blocking. i passed it around in class and everyone agrees—this yarn is the ultimate in merino softness. i shouldn’t say this but, it is pretty close to cashmere in its feel-y goodness. which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out the cashmere when you visit her store. how does deb do it??

i’ve been using my size 6 jenkins needles on it, and they are every bit as exquisite as the bigger size 9s i used for morning glory. have i told you i adore these needles? i can really get carried away just running my fingers over the wood (ask debbieKnitter—she caught me at it last night).

the mystery project continues to grow, and it’s all i can do not to show it to you because i’m SO excited about it. ACK! i’ve been spending a couple of hours each night on that.

yesterday a box arrived from anne with the much-anticipated yarn for the bee shawl(s).

as well as a couple of other goodies—a bit of beautiful alpaca/camel fiber (just in time, anne, to try on the new wheels!), and some more yarn samples for another project in the fall
(mmm, berries and wine . . .)

that means i can get started any time, but it probably won’t be til the weekend, when i can sit quietly and concentrate.

getting started will also give me the opportunity to try out the size 5 beta needles that ed sent me for a test drive

these are in bloodwood; he is experimenting with a thinner cord for the smaller needles, which i just realized i have not shown here. trust me though, it’s thin and soft. these are different in this way than the 6s i am using for the scarf; the 6s have the heavier cord used on all the other needle sizes, which is plenty soft, and makes an excellent join, since a smooth transition from cord to wood is enhanced by not having much diameter change. it will be interesting to see if the thinner cord makes a big difference there.

well, that about wraps up my past two days, minus the craziness (and oh, yes, there has been craziness). back tomorrow, hopefully with something new, and if not, there’s always just talking.