a cheerful volunteer

Posted on 23 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, projects

after some beautiful festival weather, we are back to overcast chilly days. but this happy-faced daisy plant decided to grace us with something to smile about. neither of us remembers planting it so it must be a gift “dropped off” by a bird or squirrel. at any rate, it landed in a good spot in our back yard hosta bed so we will keep it, thank you very much.

but overcast and chilly isn’t all bad . . . it’s good weather for working outdoors and i got all the vegetable plants we have in the ground.

the bare spots await some plants that have not arrived yet (fingers rapping the desktop) from the organic grower in california (supposedly, they’ve had a lot of overcast weather too, and are shipping late). i hope they come soon; most of those are eggplant starts and they need time to grow.

but it’s good . . . the new garden setup is working out pretty well (i still wish i had more room for greens—i may have to see if i can wheedle david to dig up another patch somewhere). there is plenty of room for all the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs, and squash i wanted. i would love to have space to grow spinach and lettuces (omg, that sounded an awful lot like “i’d like to have space for just a few more balls of yarn . . .”).

(linda, i’m embarrassed to say these are not in the ground yet, but i plan to put them around the base of my little bay tree when i bring it outside this week. they still look happy though, right??)

we were quite torn about taking out the raised beds . . they’ve worked fairly-well for us for five years, producing nice growth, but our planting space was severely limited, we felt. we couldn’t put enough room between plants and wondered if the roots were able to go down far enough (the natural clay and stone-filled soil beneath the beds was like solid rock). hopefully everything will grow well in the new arrangement (in-ground planting).

i hope they will like it this way. these tomatoes are so gorgeous, aren’t they? there are buds already on them . . .

while i worked in the veggie patch last night i enjoyed the wan evening light setting these hardy geraniums to glowing a bit round the edges

these are my favorite cranesbill (i have many . . they are cheap, cheerful, and they grow anywhere, every year—what’s not to like?). i love the buds on those whitish-pink ones. the geranium sanguinaria should be along soon—those are red—and my other favorite.

ok, what about the knitting, you ask?
that’s been happening too. i’m working on a big piece that has to remain secret for a while, but making progress on the many socks i also started (even though i said i was happy working on one at a time, and would not get myself into a sock glut again. sigh.)

i’m working away on the second shifty sock and manon has completed a test knit which is looking very handsome on her hubby. the pattern is all set to go—i just need david to take a few photos. i’m aiming to release this one tonight.

i finished up the monarch caterpillar sock while knitting with debby the other night

it’s positively an invasion of them. i wanted to start the second matching one, but decided instead you’d rather see the sock knitted in the alternate colorway, wooly bear

(ooops, if you look out the window you can see my still-empty planters on the front stoop)
anyway, i’m doing this one in my size; it’s a more tonal mix of warm, rich, blendy colors, just like a real wooly bear would be. i know. you can’t see anything yet. but i have class today so i promise you will see some creepies tomorrow.

adam has the kits for this sock up for pre-ordering, and actually the pattern is done, too. as soon as this newest version is knit and we get some photos. we’ll be all set.

(i’m sensing a theme here of being behind on knitting and photos, hmmm. the thing is, i’m NOT. you should see how much knitting and patterning i’ve been doing. oh yeah, you can’t see that . . hehe.)

and then there are the diamanti—i tell you, it’s a new revelation every day with this pattern.
first i am lovin’, lovin’ the bamboo blend yarn—what was i thinking ignoring it so long (and i know david will like it too).
then, there is the experiment with the stitch motif—here’s my latest progress

i have both socks now past the heel. i knit them in the same pattern on the same needles with the same yarn. the only difference is that i flipped the stitch motif on the sock #2 (above, right), sensing that i might like it better (which i do). it looks much crisper and has more knit/purl contrast.

here’s what’s weird: i fully expected that if i looked at the socks from the reverse direction, the opposite would be true—that i would appreciate sock #1 more. after all, in the other direction, the knit/purl motif of sock of #1 will be the same as sock #2 (knits point UP, purls pointing down)

why then, when i flip them, does sock #2 still look lots crisper (and yes, better—i know it’s just a matter of taste, but bear with me) than sock #1??

i know that logically there is an answer to this . . . it is because of the way the knits and purls stack up . . . that is, they are not really identical when flipped. but—wow.
are you saying wow?? (i bet you are)
it’s a big visual difference, right?

and an interesting thing to ponder. let’s face it, david is NOT going to care which way the purls point, up or down. he likely won’t even notice that the two socks are different, and even if he did, he wouldn’t consider it worthy of actual comment.

but for us, it’s fascinating, right? we could probably get a several hours conversation out of this (oh yeah, i already am). i mean, considering that for top-down socks we are usually knitting motifs that will ultimately be viewed upside down, this is something to keep in mind.

ok, maybe it’s not such a big deal. good thing i have distractions

not exactly a knitting post . . .

Posted on 29 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, spinning and fiber

(i think i found a good thing for david’s next BD gift; i just hope i don’t forget)
i spent a good part of the last couple of days out at the great lakes fiber show which is our largest local annual sheep and wool event.

i HAVE been knitting, but i’ll show you that tomorrow . . . today i have luscious fiber to look at.

yesterday i managed to get out of there with just one bump of fiber from maple row stock farm—i buy one every year of their au naturale blend (tunis/shetland/silk noil/flax—at left in the photo below). it’s different every year and the first time i bought it, i spun it into a fine, lightweight yarn that eventually became david’s beloved hypoteneuse.

but then today i went back with my spinning class, and closer inspection of all the fiber led to a bit of a fall-down (though i did NOT succumb to a whole fleece, even though there was a coopworth one that was sooo pretty and a second place winner).
i found some orange crosspatch creations that i couldn’t stop looking at (above, right), a small bump from three bags full, and some heavenly merino/alpaca that was prepared in an italian mill and feels like it dropped from heaven (bottom, center).

i just got small amounts of each so as not to overwhelm myself with obligation to it. good thing we plan to continue the sunday spinning class for at least two more weeks (maybe more); i’ll at least have that weekly session to spin some of it.

it is one of my great heartbreaks that my spinning time has been so limited this year. i definitely need to make some changes in my practically-maniacal work life. and believe me, they are coming. i don’t want to miss out on the fun stuff.

this is bob, from that maple row stock farm whose fiber i love so much. he’s one of the nicest people you will ever meet, as is his wife deb. they appear at lots of fiber shows, including rhinebeck and i HIGHLY recommend their goods.
bob is carding wool here . . . actually, he is carding some nice border leicester that deb is spinning from rolags, into yarn for her mother to knit a sweater from. how cool is that??

a sweater with sweat equity from the entire family . . . what a treasure.
(i’m sorry i did not get photos of deb and her mom; they were right there, too, but i started talking to “mom” and forgot my blogger duties.)

karen shopped for a wheel all weekend because she has not really bonded with the ashford joy she owns. here she is with the lendrum, which was a top contender. but the majacraft suzie pro won out in the end and she came home with a new wheel. way to spend that economic stimulus check karen.
i haven’t thought about how we should spend ours—i’m still waiting to see the actual check. i’m trying to think of a way NOT to spend it on the money pit drain house, but having a hard time coming up with something.

we spent some really good time today over the table of show fleeces, examining the different breeds and colors (and trying not to give in to buying one). matt and jamie from the wooly knob fiber mill offered much humor and information as we grazed the offerings. susan and karen both went home having purchased fleeces and sent them of for preparation.

by the time they get them back in a few months, they will have had time to spin up a variety of fibers and practice a lot more—they’ll be ready to start a spinning project toward a sweater’s worth of yarn.

i spent some time talking to catherine from knitting notions; it’s SO good to see friends that i mostly communicate with in email, especially ones whose yarn we love. i brought along the new mitts which she heartily approves, especially on her hands, and while there i bought some yarn for debby to knit some scarves

she said to pick for her and i hope she likes these (they are even richer in person).
catherine’s daughter meredith was along for the weekend; apparently she is a big help on these trips, and even has her own little enterprise going

she makes these beautiful turned shawl pins from all manner of exotic woods. meredith is about to graduate from high school, and i think she has a bright future, with such an industrious streak to rely on.

at the end of the day beckie and i went off to share a relaxing dinner with our dear friend chris (AKA briar rose) and her family, including baby dillon. chris gifted me with a bag of yarns to knit up into new designs . . .

. . . some angelface aplaca laceweight and some grace bamboo/merino that she dug up.

i always enjoy these evenings and afternoons with chris—we have become such good friends and collaborators over the two years we’ve known each other. it’s so good to catch up on family gossip, business news, and yak, yak, yak, about fiber and yarn (no pun intended there). chris is learning to spin, and has two new grand-babies this year. we got so involved with talking that of course, i forgot to take pictures . . . next time!

i have been honored to be included in several family outings with her husband roger and her children, nate, christy, and amy. i feel so close to her in so many ways . . . all because of knitting, fiber, and the internet. she is a wonderful gift and i treasure our friendship.

i really do have lots of sock progress to show, so i’ll be back soon with that.

tenacity and adaptation

Posted on 41 CommentsPosted in designing, projects

a wise weed once said: “when your stem weakens, lean on a rock and get on with it.”

i have no idea what this weed is, but suddenly, this year, we are overrun with it between the pavers out back. and since we don’t have tons of time to deal with weeds this week, they are blooming. and they’ve turned out to be so pretty, now i don’t want to pull them out. sigh.

we are destined to have a city wilderness out there.

ugh, we are in the second week of gray, drizzly, chilly weather. typical month of may in NE ohio.
i wonder if i’ll ever get used to it; in NYC (where i used to live) may is one of the two most dazzlng months of the year (the other being october). i enjoy NYC throughout the year, but i think anyone who lives there will agree there is a certain joie vivante in the air during those months, and sadly, though i instinctually prepare for it each year, i haven’t experienced it in ohio. no matter—july and august are splendid here.

still i tried to find a couple of things in the yard to perk me up. there’s been a tremendous slowdown in new growth out there, so there’s not much emerging now

these hydrangea buds on my climber are just beginning to open. and that weed up there.
we still don’t have our vegetable garden in but we’re working on it. by the end of the weekend we should be done, and then there will be lots to keep an eye on as the plants grow, flower, and bear fruit.

but i did get a few good shots of this, which has been chasing off the chill and gloom

this beauty arrived yesterday from jocelyn. how incredible is that?? and these photos really don’t show off the richness of that green to its proper advantage.
jocelyn and i decided to gift our star shawls to each other, after we’d finished them . . . isn’t that cool? i love that sort of exchange; we’ve been working together for a while now so it feels extra-special to know that we each have something the other has knit.

and in an oddly wonderful turn of coincidence, she received my package yesterday too, so we even got to celebrate together.

yesterday in class i worked on the second diamond sock—no, i haven’t finished the first (not even close!), but while knitting the first one i began wondering if the stitch motif would look better flipped in the opposite direction,

here is the first sock, on which i have now completed the heel. see how the purls form a ridge at the top of the stockinette heel? it makes a nice contrast. flipping the pattern will change the look and place stockinette points at the top of the heel, which might be more flattering to the ankle than that purl ridge running straight across (i have thick ankles so i’m sensitive about these things . . .).

i decided i really needed to know right away which i’d like better, and started the second one to get a comparison. in my mind (sorry to mention the scary place), i like the second one better already, but i’m trying not to be biased.

(BTW, steve says: “now that’s a sock.” he probably doesn’t give a whit about which end of the motif is up, but i’m happy that he’s happy.)
i haven’t gotten to the heel yet but already there are a couple of things i like better. with the purl-end up the motif makes a much nicer contrast and transition from the ribbing than in sock #1

which then makes the little stockinette pyramids really pop. so on that alone i made the decision to write the patten with the motif reversed. my only concern is that at the toe it might look a little blah, but actually i’m not THAT concerned. the stockinette points will make up for it.

ok, now that i revealed how very much indeed i think about knitting stitches throughout the day (and night), and actually catch myself conversing to myself about and with them, i feel like i’m standing here in my underwear, so maybe we should move on to the next item.

i started a scarf. a deep, squishy, yummy, warm one . . . this is what this weather is doing to me. i’m knitting with the same (luscious) yarn and stitch motifs as the mitts i finished the other day . . . it will be a lot more stunning when it gets longer.

the first caterpillar sock is almost done, but i’ll save that til tomorrow. i am spending most of the day writing a pattern for a big project that remains unnamed. and thinking about another big project i CAN talk about to be started soon. then this evening i am going to knit with my buddies (and greatly looking forward to getting away from the computer).

ok, time to get back to the drawing board.


Posted on 30 CommentsPosted in patterns

this quick and easy scarf makes for great emergency gift knitting, but the result won’t give away how little time, effort, and yardage it takes. it’s a seriously great way to use a couple of hundred yards of precious yarn.

shown here in 4-ply silk cashmere from oldmaidenaunt.com, colorway bramble.

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

many thanks to lilith who generously supplied her beautiful luxury yarn to inspire this project, and to rachel who guided the pattern to safe harbor.