Posted on 15 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

after a couple of days of chilly rain, the sun this morning was a very welcome sight. the rain is not without its benefits—a few new signs of garden life were evident in the aftermath. the lilac is now presenting full leaf buds (above); our large shrub is getting old though, and a bit scraggly. it only blooms in the upper branches. we can’t decide whether to pull it out and start with a new one . . .

today the may apple showed its little head all over the back beds—yesterday there were none and today we have a score of new starts, this one being the biggest. according to my blog records, they are a couple of weeks early this year (though other plants are not; i always wonder about that . . .). soon they’ll form the funny little gnome caps of folded leaves that i find endlessly amusing.

the daffs in the back yard are progressing at what seemed an almost-alarming pace, til i took a peek at the ones in the front yard

and saw that these are ready to pop open at any moment. once those tops nod downward and the husk peels away, there is no going back. if it continues to warm up steadily, we might see open flowers this afternoon.

the hellebores (lenten rose) are now blooming too; unfortunately, the pretty pastel flowers got splattered with dirt in the torrential rain we had earlier this week. this is my first year growing them and i’m thrilled that they seem to like our back yard. i’m going to get some more in different colors; barb says there is a greenish one that’s really pretty and i definitely want one or two of those . . . i also like the dark colored ones and the mixed ones. haha, too many to choose from.

and mysteriously, there is new knitting sprouting all over my house as well—i can’t imagine how that happened . . .

ok, i do know—after all the concentrated work on getting pine and ivy tested and published, i was primed for a bout of small project startitis. i’ve been wanting to knit a little lace beret and mitt set, so i started that

i love that the yarn—miss babs yet laceweight, colorway outback—has all the warm colors of a hellebores mix. i think i’m even going to name this project after that plant.
what i don’t love is that the motif doesn’t have the impact i imagined, nor does it carry the color especially well. so tonight i’m going to rip back to the brim and start over with something larger and more voluptuous, hopefully closer to the look of the rounded lenten rose flowers.

once i’m set with a better pattern, i plan to design a coordinating mitt to go with it. babs has also provided matching yarn in a heavier weight so i can pattern it both ways.

isn’t it interesting what a difference the yarn base makes? this is miss babs yummy sport 3-ply in the outback colorway—the heavier, superwash yarn takes the dye a lot more readily than the silk blend, so the colors have a bit more punch and distinction. now that i have it in hand, it will help me choose a stitch pattern that works with both yarns.

two new longjohn socks to match the ones i knit in february have been cast on and now live in my tote bag. they go with me to appointments, visits with friends, and car travel (and soon, on the road for some teaching dates). they’ll get knit up bit by bit in the next month or so (maybe sooner).

i received this skein of fearless fibers MCN luxury sock, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend in colorway sublime, a while back and decided to start a new sock with it the other day. the photo above does not even come close to the actual yarn colors—they are much closer to this

you can’t tell anything about it, i know, but i believe the lush cable and lace pattern i’ve picked out will marry really well with the cushy, softness of this yarn. and i like the pattern; not too much cabling; just enough to create great textural depth.

you’ll see more of this sock soon—i’ve been slouching on late-night sock knitting in favor of getting my last WIP off the needles. i thought for certain that on one of the last two nights i’d finish it, but no.

my last little pine and ivy shawlette, knit in fibre isle magique, colorway magical twilight (dyed magique should be available beginning in in june) almost complete—i have just a couple more hours of work left at the top.

this subtle colorway—a dark taupey brown with an overlay of plum and midnight blue—is knitting up to be lovely. i can’t wait to wash it and see the cashmere and bison fiber bloom. i’ll finish tonight, for sure . . . if i get home from shopping with beckie early enough, hehe.

i want closure on that project now—i’ve got all these other lovelies on the needles that i’m anxious to play with. plus—don’t tell the WIP police—i have another bigger shawl project i’d love to tackle soon. in my mind it’s really pretty and if i can realize it the way i imagine it, it will be a great knitting project for me.

oh, and one last sprout happened on monday during knitting class

i got one of the baby blankets on the needles, based on the blue swatch i showed you the other day. this is the soft, yummy classic merino sport from knitting notions in colorway winter sky—just the right gift for a busy family on the go. it’s an easy, practical knit that has plenty of handsome texture to keep a knitter interested.

i can totally see this pattern knit up in other pastel colors or rich autumn tones to create whatever look you’re going for; it’s very versatile. the yarn is amazing—it knits and feels more like a DK weight, but the has generous yardage like sport yarn. it will make a cuddly, lightweight, year-round blanket.

oh wow, it’s after 12:30 already—where did the morning go?
i better scoot if i’m going to get some work done and a bike ride in before beckie picks me up this evening. bye!

pine and ivy

Posted on 36 CommentsPosted in patterns

what could be more magical than a little Victorian shawl with a bit of alice-in-wonderland whimsy and mystery? this delicate lace composition has the beautiful endpoints of a triangle with the gentle slope at the back and shoulder shaping borrowed from the faroese style. an enchanting hybrid creature knit of leaf, vine, and pine cone motifs, lured from a storybook just for knitters.

shown above: size tall in woolen rabbit tranquilo, a fine alpaca lace yarn. kim is offering a kit in colorway black velvet, shown here; please visit her site for more information or to purchase.

shown below: size petite in fibre isle porcelaine, a new merino/bamboo/seacell lace yarn to be offered beginning in june 2010.

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

my friend kim from the woolen rabbit is always enthusiastic about our collaborations using her beautiful yarns; it makes me so happy to have her in my life to dream up and realize new projects together. please visit kim’s updated online store to see more of her luscious fiber offerings.

now, every pattern takes a village to bring to publication; this one in particular. i am so fortunate to have the eager help of test knitters (and dear friends) karolyn, carissa, leanne, and vanessa on board to carefully knit and check, knit and check, knit and check—you have to love them for their speed, good spirits, and accomplished stitchery—thank you so much.

and finally, a very special thank you to our model, my friend helena, whose poise and grace lend a special beauty to pine and ivy and whose sense of humor adds a lot of fun to my life.
(let me tell you, this kid is going places!)

what’s cookin’ good lookin’?

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in food and garden, lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

wow, sunday is here again already, can you believe it?
i’ve been so busy all weekend that i completely forgot to take pictures of my current knitting—we’re going to have to make do with activity photos.

we had a wonderful spinning class once again this morning; i swear, some weeks i just live for sunday spinning. barb brought along a finished skein of soft and squishy 3-ply yarn (above) spun from briar rose BFL—a soft gray with blue and red streaks. we passed it around, squeezing and petting and cooing to it; that’s how we treat new yarn around here.

i got so caught up in admiring the yarn that i forgot to get a picture of barb’s newest sweater—another aztec mazes knit from briar rose glory days, in a wonderful mix of brown, gray, and a bit of turquoisey-green; really stunning.

(hehe, we’re all taking one last opportunity to wear our winter sweaters during these funny days that start out chilly.)

susan is still working on the dark brown shetland i showed you last week, but she brought a bag full of yarn from ireland, gifted to her by her daughter, who purchased it during a recent trip there. she’s not a knitter, but she sure knows how to scope out the good stuff for her mom. our favorite was this oiled wool, which will change dramatically once it’s knit and washed.

linda’s alpaca is spinning up into a gorgeous caramel and ivory singles that will make a yummy yarn. we’re not clear on where this fiber came from, but it’s awfully pretty.

i’m still working on my brown-black shetland too, and today i plied a little of it to see what sort of yarn i’d end up with—it’s just the weight i was hoping for and much more even than i expected. i’m still the kind of spinner who hopes for the right results, since i can’t yet completely control the outcome. i’m getting better though, especially with fine yarns, but chunkies still are a bit hit or miss for me. it always feels like i’m spinning unevenly when i draft larger amounts of fiber through my hands. anyway, this one looks good; it will be a good partner with the other yarn i want to use in the same project.

i just plied one quick bobbin up to see what i had; i actually want to get all the fiber spun before i ply it. i recently purchased the new jumbo spinning and plying head for my schacht wheel (from the woolen rabbit; thanks kim!) and i’d like to use that for the bulk of the plying, so that i don’t have a whole bunch of 60- or 80-yard skeins. it’s a big project this is destined for and little skeins would just be inconvenient.

after everyone left, i worked with linda for a while on office stuff and then treated myself to a nap—it’s always good to start the week well-rested. that’s my story and i’m stickin’ to it.

when i woke up, i got to work cooking a few things for the week ahead. beckie came over to sit in the kitchen and visit with me while i chopped and sautéed—i just love having such a good friend for a neighbor. i think the happiest times in my life have included being settled enough to make friends right in my neighborhood (i’ve moved around a lot; it’s been rare for me to have that). we’ve been in canton long enough now to have gotten to that point and it’s really nice.

anyway, beckie likes indian food and was happy to come by and wile away an hour or two in my kitchen while i put this curry together. this dish has a surprising number of vegetables from last summer’s garden, so it made a good backdrop for talking about our upcoming gardening season.

tomatoes, both roasted puréed and dried, zen greens, summer squash, and roasted eggplant. potatoes, okra, carrots, garlic, ginger, and onion were purchased. the colors and flavors are fresh and vibrant; much better in some ways than takeout and definitely less rich (we love our local indian restaurant, but it can be heavy; we prefer home-cooked curries for everyday good nutrition).

after that was bubbling away on the burner, i put a quiche together

i had some fresh farm eggs, mushrooms, and scallions, and added another package of greens from the freezer—this time swiss chard (well-drained and squeezed of water).

we decided to eat this dish for dinner tonight; the curry will be fab if it sits for a day to meld the flavors but quiche is so good fresh, that we couldn’t resist

so another day of not much knitting, but now we’re all set with meals for the week ahead.
and i have good news—tomorrow i will release pine and ivy.
NOW it’s time to go knit.

the great outdoors

Posted on 25 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

like i said in my last post, the weather’s been just glorious here. between the blue, blue skies and balmy temperatures, it’s been easy to give in to the lure of the outdoors, if even just for a quick photo op.

yesterday i went to visit my friends kris, helena, and jeff for the afternoon. it was a perfect spring day for a photo shoot at their farm

kris is working at getting the gardens cleaned up and ready for planting, while the three-legged cat indulges in some strenuous napping, being perfectly shaped for lounging on her bad side in the sun

i’m not really a cat person (ok, i’m not a cat person at all), but i do appreciate the spirit in which this one throws herself into her work, heh.

helena graciously helped me out by modeling the pine and ivy shawls for an hour or so before our sewing lesson began. helena, who is aiming for a career in fashion, is already an accomplished stylist (she loves combing through thrift stores) and has begun a serious study in sewing (she’s going to be great). we meet every two or three weeks for a lesson and then she works on her own in between. over the winter, she made the gray wool lined skirt she is wearing in the photos (more to come for the pattern release)—isn’t it lovely? it fits perfectly. yesterday she worked on mastering darts; she’s making a dress that has eight of them (so there was lots of practice) and was delighted to be able to measure her improvement as she sewed each one.

we had our choice of interesting spots to work in, including kris’s kitchen garden, inside the big barn, and at the top of the hill to the lower pastures. everyone wanted to be outside, enjoying the sun and we had some visitors that insisted on being included in the blog photos.

jeff’s bees are waking up and discovering the world again after a long winter—though still a little sleepy, i think, and not very interested in lace.

here’s a piece of beeswax from the top-bar hive in which they are raised

looks like a few greedy flies got caught in there forever.
all in all, a beautiful day.

you might be suspecting that i don’t have any knitting to show you today—and you’d be right. i’m working the toe of that french quarter sock and got a few rows in on my littlest pine and ivy and have done some more swatches, but no new project underway yet—i’ll have to work on that over the weekend (along with some cooking; we could use a couple of new and interesting dishes in our lives).

that’s what happens when i get spring fever—i get distracted by more active tasks around the place and focus on bringing new ideas to life, so that less project knitting gets done.

then there’s bike riding—all winter i used the eventual change in weather as incentive for climbing onto my exercise bike for an hour or so. for the past two weeks, i’ve been released to ride out in the sun and fresh air most days.

this is a creek the runs between two nearby neighborhoods; in order to ride through, i have to cross over it on a little bridge—i always go out of my way to use the bridge, even though i could stay on the streets by riding around.

when david and i ride together several evenings a week, we take our “serious” (but somewhat fussy) road bikes out for some fast biking on a straight shot out to the country and back. we love this kind of trip, which requires special shoes and padded pants, because we can ride hard in a synchronized way and keep each other challenged. if we flat out or have mechanical difficulties, it’s nice to have the other person there, too.

but if i want to ride in the morning, i have to go out alone, so i prefer to take my “town” bike for a more twisty-turny sojourn through the various neighborhoods that link our house to areas north of here. the upright position of my bianchi allows me to enjoy some sightseeing, keep up with neighborhood changes, or even run errands if i have any. and i really don’t have to worry about mechanicals or special clothes. david doesn’t enjoy this kind of riding so much; he thinks it isn’t challenging enough, but i find i can still get the same miles in at almost the same speed and it makes me happy. and it is not without its challenges

(just look at the blue of that sky! how can anyone resist smiling at that?)

ohio is not by any means mountainous, but it IS hilly. repetitive, rolling little hills that will kill you, i swear (i once read, in a story about a west-to-east cross country bike trip, that the rockies were great training for the hills of ohio). this hill is not long, but it’s steep. at this time of year, when i’m just starting my outdoor rides, it feels more like this

i use this hill throughout the summer to gauge my fitness (or maybe it’s tolerance) for hill riding—if i can ride up without gearing all the way down to “1”, i’m having a good day (or it’s not windy, or it’s below 90 degrees).

now this hill is different; i’m always glad to see this one—we live at the bottom and i can let go here and ride as fast as i want all the way to our door.

and now, it’s another grand day and i think it would be a good idea to go for a ride—you never know in spring when a rainy day is around the corner. it’s good to take advantage of the nice ones when you can.

i hope your weekend includes some of that too!