i really should be working . . .

Posted on 32 CommentsPosted in projects, Uncategorized

(flower of the day, hosta)

i’ve never seen so many hosta flowers as we have this year, and so big and hardy, too. because they were always sorta straggly, i never cared for them much. but this year, i am bewitched . . . they all bend in the same direction (northeasterly) no matter where they are in the yard—don’t know if that’s a rule, or what.
swaying with each breeze in wide, fancy leaf-skirts, they are my own backyard corps de ballet.
since i can’t dance my way over hot coals, i do it vicariously through them.
can i just say? this hosta garden was the best idea we had yet for that space. i have enjoyed it with every passing week this summer.

(just needs a toe, and tomorrow’s the day)

let’s get a little news buzz out of the way: the bee shawl pattern is done; i just need to go through it with a fine-toothed comb and we need to do a photo shoot. vanessa the wonder knitter has completed her test knit and pronounces the project good to go [UPDATE: and reports to me today that she’s “lonely, and misses the bee”. how cute is that??]. you can see a photo on her blog. lilith is hard at work on hers, and that second pair of eyes is my secret weapon.

i’ll have patterns for sale here as standalone items and anne (we know. it’s confusing—she’s anne, i’m anne—it’s serendipity, we swear.) is getting kits ready, which will sell for—sit down, i know you won’t believe this—$32, with two options of colorway. contact her to pre-order.

all that ramp-up to say that we are expecting a release date earlier than predicted, hopefully next weekend (believe it or not, it sorta hinges on whether the oversized document sleeves arrive promptly. no, i’m not kidding). so keep your eyes peeled . . .

ok, i know—knitting. that’s what you want to see. and i have it.
let’s kick off with a shot that features the beautiful 100% merino sock yarn from twisted meg so i can extoll on it’s beauty and quality.

this is the longEST color repeat of the three variations she sent me. the color variations, mixings, and pixelations it are heart melting. i can stare at them for hours. and the quality of the yarn is stupendous. it knits up a treat, then rips and reknits exactly the same. i mean you can see just how beautiful the stitch definition is, how even the tension. that’s good yarn at work.

the texture is very nice—not so highly-twisted that’s it’s nubbly like koigu, but enough that it produces a firm, smooth fabric with some heft. i’m using size 2.25 mm needles, but i could easily use 2.5 or 2.75, i think if i needed a bit more room in my sock. i highly recommend this yarn for quality, and well, it doesn’t need ME to recommend it’s beauty.

here i have two socks begun, each in a different color repeat, because i couldn’t decide about the design placement. the one on the left is longER and the one on the right (which is the one i am going with for the final design) is longEST. i like the one best because it has more mottling and watercolor-effect between shades.

on one sock i have started adding the lace pattern in a little at a time and the leafy vine pattern will build up from the arch of the foot to eventually spiral up the ankle and leg.

since i really don’t know how that’s going to pan out, with the pattern twisting the sock just at that point, i started another sock where the pattern will begin just below the ankle and at the center (hence, it is just a stockinette tube for now, but still entertaining).

i want to make completely clear that my troubles with getting the design started were ALL ME, and had nothing to do with this lovely yarn atall. and mostly, i offer those design sagas for your entertainment, and to try to relate some of the inner stumblings of my (cough, cough) process.

for everyone who wanted to, but didn’t ask, this yarn (and my pattern to go with it) will be available as the october sock club kit from yarn4socks. you can get all the information about ordering it there, and i know there is a list forming. you will also be able to purchase the pattern on its own from me.

wow. i didn’t even KNOW i had that much to say about those socks. hehe.
well, and then there is this design which is still percolating (you probably would have guessed that on your own)

i absolutely HEART this yarn. it’s dicentra designs alpaca/merino sock. it’s a bit heftier and will make a cozy, warm winter sock. it feels luscious and cushy—a real treat for your toes. and with alpaca, i’m sure it will wear like iron.

teyani sent it to me to make a sock design, and i’m so afraid of not doing it justice that all i’ve done so far is make one swatch i didn’t like, and tear apart my stitch books searching for ideas (well, ok—they are already in pieces).

but then—when i wasn’t thinking about knitting at all (yeah, it happens . . .)—i remembered i had already thought up a great design for it, and somehow, when i was sick, i lost track of that thread. so tonight i’m going to tackle that one. now i’m pumped.

but now here’s something i’ve been looking forward to starting for some time, and just have not had room in my days for. i am always thrilled to work with anything from my friend deb at fearless fibers.

the orchid lace mitts have begun. i am really pumped about this project. i have had to put it off, but now that i’ve started, i’m sure it won’t take long to see something really pretty. the motifs will be the same as those in the orchid lace scarf, but on a slightly smaller scale. i’m knitting them with the same merino laceweight yarn in the same colorway, miracle (get it? its a set.).

have i mentioned that deb’s yarns are among my favorites? they are the premium-quality kind you only see when someone takes a lot of time to handpick, and test, their own products. i look to her dye palette over and over when researching yarns for a project—she has beautifully complex colorways in a wide ranges of hues. her subtlety is unsurpassed. and all of it at a price point that is purposely easy on the wallet. so check her out.

i have to pause a moment to say something important here. deb and i go back a ways—when my blog was just getting started, deb contacted me and said she knew i had something here, and that she really liked my work, and for her, my writing set knitspot apart from a lot of others. she wanted to support it by offering a yarn prize in a drawing i could hold to attract readers. i was SO touched and encouraged by her belief that i could take it to another level, and still am—she is continually supportive of all kinds of efforts at knitspot. you just can’t do this without friends like deb.

and there are so many others, too—chris, teyani, anne, all the generous people who have given prizes for drawings, advice, and supplies for designs—the little enterprise that knitspot has become is the product of a community, and one that i feel a great loyalty to, and thankfulness for.

ok, hallmark moment over (but i really meant all that!).
i have one last wonderful photo that perfectly sums up the abundance of this week (and made a liar of me to boot!)

(fairy-tale eggplant, for real)

coming up for air

Posted on 68 CommentsPosted in Uncategorized

i guess the universe told ME. here i was complaining for weeks about too much to do and not enough time. need to spend more time knitting, need to work, need to sleep—yadda-yadda-yadda.

i don’t think i said anything about needing to come down with the PLAGUE.
(hence the funeral flowers that open the post)

and yet, that’s just what happened. a little unexpected gift. something to make time pass . . . and then . . . not pass. something to make all other commitments and deadlines disappear. all that seemed important a couple of days ago just gets de-prioritized like magic. i did NOT do any knitting (heck, i did not even sit up for 24 hours).

i have to interject here that i rarely get ill. it is so rare, in fact, that i never recognize it at first. the last time i had anything flu-like was 1999. i’ve had a cold maybe once in the last 15 years. and good thing, too cuz now i remember how much it stinks to be sick. ugh.

so here i am a couple of days later “feeling better” (better than the depths of hell) and trying to figure out where the heck i was. still feeling quite foggy and out of sorts doesn’t help my organizational skills at all. i know i am WAY behind on work, cuz i was already behind three days ago.

sometime in the hours just before i knew my body was about to become a volcano, i finished the bee shawl pattern, and sent the last bits off to vanessa and lilith, our dear wonder knitters. they are doing an incredible job with it. so far, only some typos have popped up, and not too many; no major pattern adjustments have been needed. maybe they will post pictures soon; they are both using a different colorway than i did—they chose to go with the darker honey-gold color. and lilith is using mini maiden for hers, so i am VERY curious . . . (nudge) can’t WAIT to see pix, you guys.

a few days ago i was out in the garden trying to get some good shots to show you and this one seems oddly prescient of how i feel right now

you might think, what the heck was she attempting to do?

here’s what i was trying to capture

they were everywhere in the canteloupe patch, just doing their thing—pollinating. and in the process of trying to snap pix of them, i came across this

david has constantly despaired of ever finding good fruit in ohio—it’s just not like when we lived in NYC, right next door to NJ; there are no little greengrocers on every block, hand-choosing the most delectable produce, and putting some aside in a brown bag, because they know you will be by on the way home from work and love them twice over for their thoughtfulness (i swear, this is true, at least in my old neighborhoods).

so, he set out to grow some of his own. i was a little leery of being able to grow nice melons, but there you have it. he was right. this morning, that same one looks like this

even the leaves and vines give me pause

i see trailing lace in everything out there, i think . . .

the garden seems to flourish no matter what is happening inside the house (we can thank our lovely bees for this). let me give you a quick tour (i can’t help it, i’m proud):

these are coming on strong and i am hopeful for a bumper crop. last year we had lots, but we almost ran out come spring—i had to start rationing what we had left in the freezer.

we also have lots of these coming in, which is good, since i enjoyed the dried mini tomatoes so much last year, and found great uses for them all winter, too.

i only planted three hills of squash, but i am getting a little afraid if what i am seeing out there

fortunately, we got this seed mix that produces several varieties from the same hill, so it’s not all one kind

i dunno what that one is, but i’ll eat it (and i’m sure within the hour, one of you will tell me). ok, i can’t help it—on more squash picture, because it is so cool

and don’t think that the peppers are slouching either

the hot pepper plants that my friend kris gave me are going to town too

the only thing that hasn’t got fruit yet are the eggplants, but they are naturally slower—and they ARE covered with gorgeous flowers.
even the elusive bright lights chard is giving a photo opp today

even after reseeding, this variety really isn’t giving the plentiful crop of the other types, but i’m in love with it. each plant has a different coloration—some purplish, some red-and-green, some yellow. someday, i will triumph over this one, and grow a lush crop (of course by then, we may be so sick of chard that it will not be appreciated, but i’ll try).

ok, now, it’s time i got to work—more tomorrow and there will be knitting, i promise.

ok, now i believe in magic

Posted on 48 CommentsPosted in lace/shawls, projects, Uncategorized

(flower of the day, squash)

before i get to today’s story, i just want to go back and comment of friday’s post about math and beauty, and how it affects me as a designer. the discussion that this topic opened up was astounding . . . the comments are, as a group, the most lengthy and excited ones i think i’ve had on one topic. (FO posts not included).

i think the reason that knitting and design appeal to the latent mathematician in all of us is our need to access feelings of wonder and satisfaction in our work. there is nothing like the moment when, after building for a while with the simple components of knit, decrease, and yo (and a little faith), the beautiful truth of lace (or cables, or stranding) is revealed.
our wonder (and the faith) is further confirmed when we subject the piece to blocking, and the laws of physics cause the fabric to open, thus multiplying the beauty-effect with only the addition of tension, properly placed.

add to all that the satisfaction of knowing that it all spawns from our own hands, and hey, you can’t beat the feeling. as all of us spend more and more of our work time not really producing anything concrete, we hunger for some tangible validation of our investment of energy and precious time.

with knitting, you get that back. the fact that is is intellectually stimulating, whether conscious or not, gives our brains a reason to keep going back for more, increasing what we know, becoming better at it. it’s good for our self-esteem, it’s good for our inner Euclid.

i love the color combinations in this butterfly so much that i wanted to put it in a jar and keep it. but i didn’t. instead, i ran in the house and got the camera and bumbled my way back outside—it was waiting.

so, the other day, i was a little stunned when i wrote that i had only one project on the needles and it was a sock. i ran around the house and checked, and sure enough, aside from a few UFOs that are sort-of in semi-deep storage, that was the only one. so that night i got right down to business and cast on a few socks.

but today, i have only a long illustrated story about not knitting socks. yet.

maybe it’s that i have a couple more irons in the fire than i should, or maybe it’s that i’m spending the better percentage of my concentration on work and One Pattern in Particular, but for the last two weeks, i have been in a nearly-constant struggle with a sock design.

the yarn is both gorgeous, and a real challenge. i showed it to you a few weeks ago, and said i needed to design a sock for the yarn4socks sock club. i’m really excited to be working with meg from twisted yarns, who sent me sample skeins about a month ago; they are all the same colors, but the repeat of the striping is different on each one

so we have a fairly strong autumn palette, with striping, and lots of choices as to the graduation of color. hmmm.
i had a couple of ideas right off the bat, and of course, lots of people by now expect something lacy, so one thing to explore would be lace. but i also hoped to maybe find something not lacy, just for a change . . .

i immediately started looking at every horizontal stitch pattern i could find (and you know how many of those there are . . .). ideally, i would have liked a horizontal lace motif to make rings around the sock that worked with the color repeat. ha! that has not come to pass, though i’m still looking.
so i settled for ANY lace pattern that would work with the color repeat, AND be fun (a big priority).

the fun part is tricky. i really can’t stand knitting socks that feel arduous, or have too many crossovers, or where the stitch count means you have to break up motifs between needles. i just can’t deal with doing all that on the itty-bitty needles (sweaters and shawls are completely different, having just one needle). i am a lazy sock knitter, in other words, and that narrows the field of usable stitch pattens quite a bit. which is good because i have enough trouble making stitch pattern decisions as it is.

but i still want wow-factor. i still WANT the socks to look like they are way complicated and i slaved over them for weeks. who wouldn’t? (you’ll never create true sock appreciators in your cotérie unless you dazzle them with the goods and make them think they should earn the privilege of having them).

i did try a couple of non-lace patterns, and i’m still considering one rib i like (but not this one). the one i like is very subtle and works up into a beautiful ombré when i do the rows back and forth in the swatch. but when i put it on the DPNs, something went terribly wrong and it looked awful. i’m going to revisit it.

so i finally narrowed the lace choices down to two stitch patterns. mostly that means that i tried about 27 different ones, and only these two are appealing to me. my first choice is this

heh. notice anything odd about it? uh, yeah, it slants just a tad. and because i’m a masochist and i’m not feeling behind enough already (that is, i’m not lying awake at night over the sock YET), i’m going to try something. i’m wondering if using a slanting design will work ok after all—it might even make the sock hug the foot and ankle better, seeing as lace patterns sometimes don’t (if you’ve tried this already and it was an utter failure, it would be ok to let me know).

at any rate, i have a backup pattern picked out too. this one slants just a wee bit, but i can fix it.

in both these patterns i like the way the yarn shades as it progresses through the leaf motif. since this is an autumn club kit, i wanted something that says “fall”. i also like the way the colors fall over the leaves, like they are dripping down.

oh yeah, and then there was the decision about which needle size to use. this yarn is a tad hefty, which made me want to use a 2, but i am leery of using 2s for socks. so i tested both the 1 and the 2

wow, that’s a big difference. maybe we’ll go with the 1 so i can squeeze more motifs in. firmer is better after all . . .

so you’d think i’d be all set now that i have a stitch and some needles picked out, right? oh, no.
remember i still have to decide which color repeat will work best.

my instincts will always go with the longest repeat (shut UP debbie), but i felt i had to be fair, so i did some more swatching. at this point, i am employing every single set of #1 needles i can lay my hands on, because, you know i don’t want to eliminate any swatches til i’m sure (hint: i am never sure, even when i’m done).

so i cast on with the lonGER and did a toe. i have to work toe-up with this sock because the motif runs one way.


hmmm—looks like my usual toe construction isn’t quite right for yarns with long color repeats (a problem i usually avoid by working top down . . .)

(seriously, can you believe this?? you think this is really my subconscious telling me to take a break? or is a grand universal truth—make something nice like the bee shawl with practically no problems, and you will pay later in ways you never dreamed of).

ok, i need a better toe (again, shut UP debbie (she knows what i mean))
and THEN maybe i can get on with this sock.

so i heard my friend julie’s voice (which is odd, because we only email; we don’t talk . . .) saying how much she likes the magic cast on (and look, there’s a sock toe right on her blog today). now julie’s really ace, and i am not in the mood for fooling around with a damn toe, so i go right to the computer to look it up and print it out.

then when i finally sat down to watch TV this morning at around 2am, i tried it out. i have never liked techniques for starting at the tippety toe—it’s really hard to work it with my oversized hands and then, it makes a toe that tends to be too short and a little puckery along the sides for me (just my opinion about how it works with my foot; no need to defend it, i still respect all techniques without prejudice).

but wow. THIS i like well enough.
i mean, i wouldn’t switch from top-down socks just to do it, but for this situation, where the yarn demands even distribution all around, it’s nearly perfect.

ok, so yay. after about ninety-leven tries, i’m on my way. but maybe i should do two of them, just to pit them fairly against each other? (besides, i wanted to try that magic cast-on again).
so that’s what i did i started two socks, one with the lonGER and one with the longEST color repeats. i’ll try that ribbed sock with the shortest repeat, just for fun on the side.

usually (really and truly, i mean this) i do NOT have this much trouble with just a sock. i mean sock designs usually spring out of my head pretty much intact—i see yarn, and i see a pattern, i see a marriage, and then i just go with it. it rarely doesn’t work for me. this was very unusual, and i hope that’s the end of this sock being difficult.

because if it isn’t, i will just have to show it the sock i’m making out of this

more woolen rabbit yarn—mmmm. and it’s working up like a dream, of course. i can’t show it to you yet . . . i want to, real bad, but i’m thinking of using it for a submission come september, so, i’m going to wait.

tomorrow there are garden pictures.