land and see

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, food and garden, projects

oh gosh, it’s been an incredibly full couple of days; in fact, a very full week. i have a jillion photos and took a couple of hours last night to sort through the ones from the last two days to make sense of them for a post.

even in the desert, spring is everywhere—though southern california does not get anywhere near as much rain as the northern west coast, which i visited last month, it sure does have its own brand of lush greenness at this time of year, when the rainfall has been at its highest.

multicolor ice plant blooms across the hills and beaches, along with cascades of nasturtium along the roadsides in bright orange and gold

(it’s marvelous to us that a plant we have to buy and cultivate as an annual in ohio grows in such wild abundance here)

a fountain of juicy blooms wherever you look. the jacaranda trees are just starting to bloom in a few spots and i didn’t get any great photos of those, but the palms

are spectacular. i like the super-tall and skinny giraffe-like ones best.

on thursday, we went to lajolla to meet jocelyn for lunch and a little goofing around, girl-style.

we ate all sorts of foods we oughtn’t for lunch at brockton villa

(kim says she “won” the dessert round with bananas foster sundae (back, right), but we know we won with the brownie sunday (front and center). the dark chocolate espresso layer cake, while passable, did not hold a candle to the other two . . . just sayin’)

after lunch we took a walk and did some shopping that had nothing to do with yarn—but there might have been shoes and jewelry involved

(maybe a little credit card damage was done)

we consider jewelry an investment though, and if that’s what it takes to work off those dessert calories, we are in.

down at the water, the sea lions and pelicans were sunning on one side

on the other, we headed down to the tide pools to appreciate the beautiful views and photograph the port ludlow socks for the pattern release next week

we got some excellent photos while exploring the nooks and crannies on top of the cliffs. just look at this gorgeous texture—we don’t see this in ohio.

all too soon, the slant of the sun told us it was time to bid our farewells to jocelyn, with promises that we’d all get together again VERY soon (we are campaigning to get her to rhinebeck next; we think it’s a must . . .)

we headed home to see what the boys were up to and take a little tour of kade’s animal refuge and garden.

kade is a very artful manager and takes opportunities while traveling away from home to pick up bits and pieces for decorating the chicken coop door. i just love it

i have a whole separate group of pictures i took of franklin the tortoise which i’ll post when i get home—he has grown spectacularly in the last six months.

the newest addition to kade’s second “family” is hermione

a one-eyed albino hedgehog. she sorta makes me go eeuw, but kade is forgiving (i do admire her from a distance; i just don’t have any desire to touch her)

where does he find these things anyway?? (oh, that’s right, kim found it for him. she likes to go on about the strange collection of animals he has, but she’s very fond of them too)

and i already have a favorite anyway—that would be chica. she my girl and everyone knows it. hermione would have to earn awfully big points to surpass chica . . .

kade’s garden is looking well, with little squash and strawberries coming already. he used the newspapaer-and-straw mulch that we tried and it’s working really well to kep the ground cool and moist

he also planted the tomatoes a little further apart this year, which will allow them to spread out more (not that being close together deterred them last year—he still had plenty to feed everyone and put up 15 quarts as well).

this year he’s growing lettuces and greens for the pets, too. we took a walk through the orchard so he could show us the rattlesnake that they killed the other day

and that’s when beckie turned to head back to the house—it was gigantic. that’s the one thing about southern california that’s a little daunting. albeit small, in light of its many attractions . . .

yesterday we grabbed some sandwiches and headed to cabrillo national monument at point loma for picnic and a walk along the cliffs.

we explored the tidepools there for a good while too—tidepools are my favorite coastal feature; i could sit and watch the water go in and out for hours.

there are amazing things to see in the little crevices and holes drilled by the incessant migration of water over the rocks

forming a gorgeous landscape of color and texture

and prints that only mother nature and time can draw

it was the perfect way to spend our last afternoon here, walking and talking with my two beautiful friends—just look at them against those cliffs

aren’t they fabulous?
(i really wasn’t kidding when i said kim hasn’t taken off her sprössling . . .)

when we got back to the house in the evening, beckie, kade, and i rustled up an elegant dinner for the whole family.

they have a favorite pasta dish they like me to make when i visit

(BTW, there are other kids here; kade is just the one who likes to hang out with us, haha)

and share his friends . . .

today we are leaving for home, though we wish we were staying forever; we’ll be back, though, you can bet on it.
thank kim for a wonderful visit!

movie night sock

Posted on 15 CommentsPosted in patterns

we all love those projects that practically knit themselves while we watch TV and socks more often than not fit the bill. here’s one that has a deep, tweedy texture which is entertaining to work, yet simple enough to knit during any spectator activity and as a bonus, can be made to fit any member of the family. an all-around favorite that works well in a busy colorway or a sleek solid shade.

shown here in size medium and knit in blue moon fiber arts socks that rock® lightweight, colorway paula mae, a new multicolor choice which will be available this monday on the blue moon site.

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

tina, the dye genius behind blue moon fiber arts, introduced this super, new colorway of socks that rock in our session of sock camp in april. we got to name the color at camp and chose “paula mae” for a variety of reasons. i tried to resist purchasing it and swore to myself i would live vicariously through other’s enjoyment of it, but then i saw it knit up and one thing led to another and not only did i buy it, but before i knew it i was swatching. ah me. but i’m so glad—another cozy pair of textured socks now lives in my sock drawer.

i must thank our dear friend agnes for offering to test knit this sock—it would not be correct or complete without her help (thank you agnes!!)

and where would we be without beckie’s lovely modeling skills? she is always such a great sport about working those sock muscles for us, thank you beckie!

how about a few more photos, straight form coronado beach in sunny southern california?

sunny, southern cali

Posted on 17 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

here we are in san diego and finally, i was able to upload some photos and write a post. beckie and i arrived on a late flight from home monday night (early tuesday morning for us!), during which we chatted and knit the whole way.

i worked on my second port ludlow sock and beckie worked on her longjohn sock

i managed to finish off my sock before we switched planes for our connection to san diego; it went much faster than i expected. now they are all set for a photo shoot tomorrow at the tidepools.

i even had a few yards to spare afterward . . . beckie called this one; i was all set to rip back a little to make sure i had enough and she said: “go for it”.

anyway . . . we fell into bed exhausted when we arrived, but flying at night put us in good shape to enjoy a full first day at kim’s, instead of spending half of the morning on the plane. we woke up happy and well-rested to the sound of peacocks calling from the next hilltop.

we just love being at kim’s house—there are so many little kim things here that make me laugh; she loves to add all those personal touches.

after some good coffee, a walk, and a little breakfast knitting, we set out for lunch at saffron, our very favorite place to eat

kim was looking extra sharp in her newly-completed sprössling sweater, knit up in briar rose grandma’s blessing

which she pretty much hasn’t taken off since we got here (YAY!). doesn’t it look great on her? and what a beautiful color; the yarn looks like the ocean—beautiful blue-green and brown.

we walked around a bit afterward and poked around in some shops before it was time for kims harp lesson. kim found a potato masher that reminded her of david

(sorry david; i have to admit, i see her point . . .)
we found a few giftie things to take home with us; then kim went off to her lesson and we hung out to knit and drink more coffee

i worked on my campanula scarf and got a couple of repeats done while we chatted. i dunno why this scarf is going slowly—it must be the fine yarn, because i love working on it and have been taking it everywhere. i’m seriously trying to get it done before i go home, so i can block it and get the pattern published. i’m getting there; it’s coming . . .

or maybe i’m dawdling because the yarn is so pretty and nice to work with—this is a lovely cashmere laceweight from craig at great northern yarns. it’s beautifully engineered, has great stitch definition and of course, the softness you’d expect from cashmere. only better—the long staple fiber is very resistant to pilling. it’s simply lovely.

last night we went to cole’s last high school volleyball game (which his team won)

he’s heading for college (with an academic scholarship) in the fall. he’ll play volleyball there too; he was heavily scouted this year. we’re all so proud of him.

this morning after another great walk, we headed for coronado island once again. we wanted to visit the beach to photograph one of the newly-finished sock designs

more on those later, because actually, that was a cover for another sprössling photo shoot, this time on someone besides me

don’t get me wrong, we got lots of nice sock photos, but i couldn’t help taking a bunch of glamor shots of kim, too

we even got some nice photos at our lunch destination today—the diner next to mootime creamery

where the staff generously offered for us to take photos wherever we wanted and even invited beckie to sit on the counter for some great sock shots.

another yummy lunch and dessert, this time featuring mahi-mahi and ice cream (we’re on vacation, after all!). we had the nicest waitress ever—what a sweetheart.

after which, we headed back to the ranch to make some dinner for the boys i took a pile more photos of kade’s garden and menagerie, which i’ll have to share next time; i’m ready for some evening knitting now.
i’m working on the baby sweater and have two little sleeves done. the body is underway, and i’m hoping to knit to the underarm before bed.

the yarn is the same one i used for the cradle me blanket—knitting notions classic merino sport—this time in colorway pear, a springy, bright green that i love.

tomorrow we’ll visit the tide pools at la jolla, do a little photo shoot, and meet jocelyn for lunch and knitting; we’re really looking forward to it. i have a ton more photos to share and a new sock as well—we just LOVE san diego . . .

in bits and pieces

Posted on 42 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, projects

with several traveling projects all set to go for my upcoming san diego trip, i took the last few days to do some swatching for future projects to begin when i get back.

(my coffee table always looks a mess when i’m on a swatching tear—piled with yarns and charts, needles all over the place. not that’s it’s SO much neater at other times . . .)

i’ve had several yarns lined up to work with and many ideas zinging around in my head for a while—after a bit, the noise just gets to be too much and i feel the need to create some order, you know? so, away we went.

i’m not one to necessarily play with yarn in the order i receive it. rather, i like to square away the most solid ideas first. when i saw jennifer’s sunna merino/cashmere/silk fingering yarn at MDS&W last week, i knew it was exactly the yarn i’d been hunting for a certain project that’s been marinating in my head for some time. let’s back up just a little . . .

remember the hayrick socks? i love these socks—ever since i knit the first leg of the first one, i’ve wanted to create a vintage sweater shirt in this stitch pattern and rib combination. just the fronts in the pattern and the rest in stockinette, with ribbed edges and collar—something akin to this, but different color, texture, etc. and probably no pocket (at least, not there).

can you see it?

anyway, finding the yarn was a challenge—when i first began the hayrick pattern, i had the same issue; namely, the yarn needed to be lightweight and soft, but have a bouncy twist to provide great stitch definition for this subtle stitch pattern. oh, and not too colorful or contrasty—the motif can’t stand up to that. and something with a bit of luxury would be nice to wear next to the skin (but truly, a bonus).

so for the sweater, i wanted all that, PLUS i wanted a slightly heavier yarn. but not too heavy; i wanted to pump up the scale of the texture just a little.
oh, and forget about forgetting it—this sweater idea kept nagging at me and nagging at me; it wasn’t letting go. i kept my eyes peeled all winter for something suitable and was just about to settle for something else, when jennifer lured me into her booth at the fair and pressed several skeins of sunna into my hands

along with a couple of skeins of birte, its DK equivalent.

i knew the hand of the yarn was what i was looking for; i couldn’t wait to try it out. after clearing my desk of all manner of chores for the first part of the week and getting my travel knitting in order, i set about on thursday night to wind up the yarns and cast on

the first thing i did was swatch the sunna in the most-likely-to work colorway, ancient stones. i love everything about these swatches—the luxurious hand of the fabric, the stitch definition, the color, the weight, the incredibly consistent stockinette (that’s important in this piece)—everything is just what i’ve been looking for.

isn’t it yummy??
then i washed the swatches and was even more impressed.

first of all, even when it was sopping wet, the swatch remained consistent and elastic, with great recovery—i mean real BOING factor, you know? i don’t even know how many time i’ve seen that before.

and the stockinette texture? shut UP.
that fabric is so worthy of being a design feature. i was totally sold—this is the yarn. but . . .

there were four other colorways and you know i wasn’t going to leave those stones unturned . . . so more swatching ensued. seriously, i was going to stop after my three most-likely-to-succeed colors—i was. but then i thought of you and how you’d want to see it all, so i kept going.

i was dying to see the rosewood and green velvet colorways knit up; i had a feeling they’d work really well, too. these i had only in the birte DK weight so that gave me a chance to know for sure whether the heavier yarn was out.

it is equally yummy, but alas, too heavy—the scale of the motif and bulk of this fabric is just wrong for a shirt, but i adore these two rich colors. i am going to have a tough choice in choosing between the three.

(secretly, this green velvet colorway is my very favorite with its hints of aqua and gold, and the red is to die for, but i think the ancient stones is more “vintage”. oh damn, i love all three and want one of each; what a pig!)

i had two more colors in sunna fingering that i liked a lot in the skein, but suspected they’d have too much contrast for the motif to shine through.

sure enough, connemorra and acadia did not work well with the stitch pattern, which responds better to a very subtle approach; they’ll be better for another accessory or sock design.

and don’t even ask me how many different needle sizes i tried—it’s important to get it just so; i wanted nice stitch definition, but soft drape as well (since it’s a shirt), so i played with needles a lot.

when i get back from vacation, i’ll figure out the garment design and start the sweater sometime in the next month. as long as i know it’s ready to go, i can begin any time. i always pictured this as a shirt which buttons form hem to neck, but after wearing the henley and loving it, i’m considering another placket front. we can vote on that if you want . . .

now, that’s just the swatching i did for one project—wanna see the others?

i LOVE this one—just love it. this is the yarn for the next baby blanket; MCN luxury from fearless fibers, a delicious merino/cashmere/nylon blend in the chastity colorway. is this not the most cheerful color combo? i have to smile every time i look down at it in my hands.

in fact, i was a teensy bit concerned that i’d chosen to go with too much color, but when i see it knit up, i’m ga-ga over it—it has a wonderful, over-the-top, jump-for-joy feeling. how could a baby wrapped in these colors not be happy?

i can’t wait to start knitting this project; it’s going to be my sunshine knitting. i’m playing with rosebud motifs here, tossed across the surface, but i’ve not really discovered anything i love to put with them (that eyelet motif on the bottom of the swatch is definitely out; i don’t like those textures together).

as soon as i hit on the right story, this is going on the needles. karolyn already has the same yarn in the meadow colorway for a test knit in a greeny yellow that’s equally cheerful.

i haven’t washed the swatch yet, because i need to try out some more stitches, but the hand of the fabric is lovely—soft and dense with lots of body (as you can see) which translates to excellent stitch definition. this surprised me a bit because the yarn is so soft, but i’m impressed enough to try it on a bigger needle, even—if successful, this will reduce the weight of the blanket, which is important to me.

quite a while back, i showed some preliminary swatching for a new lace shawl and now that i have the actual yarn in hand—kami from fiber isle—i’m working on swatching that too. this is actually the project i’d like to get on the needles first, but which is a bit more challenging to compose and requires more concentration.

the yarn is gorgeous—a bison/bamboo/merino blend in antique pink, and like all of sylvie’s other yarns, perfectly engineered to make beautiful lace.
i had to rechart part of that other composition, then reknit it all. i knit a little bit and then realized i needed to start over. so this is the only swatch photo i have so far . . . it takes a lot longer to knit these lace swatches than it does to knit the sweater ones, hehe. more on this process coming soon.

late night TV demands something much less exciting and taxing than swatches, so i’ve made some progress on my port ludlow sock. it occurred to me that the beach would be a fantastic place to photograph the finished pair, so i’m putting a move on this project over the next couple of days. i figure that between TV tonight, class tomorrow, and a long plane ride tomorrow night, i might be nearly done with them by the time we get to san diego. and hopefully, kim will be able to get them on for a nice photo shoot at the tide pools.

parts of my studio have appeared on the hall landing; i think this means that they are on their way to the garage for stripping and sanding. i stopped in on my work room the other night for the first time in months and found that david has the skim coat of plaster applied everywhere and is about to start on the finish coat. he was staring transfixed at the ceiling, wondering if he should start (this was at around 10 pm and it takes eight hours to do). i told him, you know, maybe not . . . why don’t you do the all-nighter while i’m away? so he took out the windows and trim for refurbishing instead.

the room is a big white box right now—holy moly it looks twice the original size, with the ceiling raised and the walls fixed. it’s much further along than i thought, but then i haven’t been home much lately. i would have taken photos this morning but he has it sealed off.

it’s turned cold again and mostly drizzly, but i have a few garden photos to share, like these of the painted ferns, freshly spreading out their feathers.

with all the rain we’ve had, the beds have almost completely filled in—so much more vegetation than a month ago

the last of the fiddleheads has yet to uncurl; haha, it’s gotten a little stuck in this position for the last day or two, which i find hilarious

they launched up and out in a crazy race during last week’s warm days, then stopped dead when it turned cold. but soon . . .

kris dropped these tomato plants off a week ago and i think they’ve doubled in size since then. i hate to leave them much longer before planting, but you never know. and the biodynamic calendar says to put them in on the 21st, so that’s my plan.
i may go out there this afternoon to put in some cool-weather plantings, like the chard and leeks and parsley. it looks somewhat sunny, but it feels cold and i’m a wimp about working in the dirt when it’s cold. maybe i’ll just wait.

maybe i’ll just work on getting my suitcase packed and a pan of curry going . . . doesn’t that sound so much more appealing?