two pretty to pass up

Posted on 34 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

not the best opening shot i’ve had on the blog but it does tell the story of how busy the last couple of days have been. first, my living room floor was covered with sweaters laid out to dry. then i had two shawlettes off the needles that needed blocking.

so yesterday when i woke up, i folded up the sweaters, put them away, and set my just-finished the les abeilles scarf to soaking. when it was ready, i pulled it out and put the pea vines in for a bath while i blocked the first piece.

this one is knit up in briar rose grace, which is now sadly discontinued, but check out sea pearl as a great substitute.

it stretched out beautifully on the wires in practically no time (fingering yarn is so much easier to thread than laceweight, heh). this is actually the second project i’ve knit in this colorway—i used the other half of this batch to knit david’s luxor socks a couple of summers ago. and i still have some left over.

once i had les abeilles pinned out, i got to work on the pea vines shawlette. this first prototype is actually a “between” size; when i saw the final result, i wrote the pattern so that the scarf size is a little smaller and the next size up is a little bigger—this one just seems a little big for a scarf.

the stitch patterns are so much more striking when they’re fully opened up, aren’t they? the insert detail along the center back, defined by the decrease lines of the side panels is my favorite thing, something i obsessed over in the design. i pulled it from barbara walker 2; it’s the pattern that i used in my cloverleaf mitts pattern, shown here as a little panel of a single motif.

i always loved the curling shapes in this tiny eyelet pattern and was intent on working it into the pea vines design (i might not have such a perfect opportunity to use it again!). it means that the chart has to be pretty large (and the written instructions long), because matching the repeats of this panel and the main pattern takes sixty rows. but it’s worth it . . . and it doesn’t really make the knitting more difficult, despite the impact it has on the page count of the pattern.

another nice effect of getting the piece stretched is that the nupps now stand proud of their “pods” on the surface of the fabric, thus achieving their final dimensional effect, even from a distance.

it really glows in the sunlight, doesn’t it? the woolen rabbit pandora was the perfect yarn choice for this pattern—it’s full-bodied hand provided beautiful stitch definition, while remaining soft and silky to the touch. the spring garden colorway—kim’s choice for me—was pure genius, with it’s mix of soft lettuce yellows and dashes of baby carrot, deepened here and there with a blush of celery or scallion green.

the whole thing worked up to be just the profusion of garden tangles that i hoped it would be—so prettily disorganized, the way nature should be . . . let’s take a look

we’ve been discussing how we should photograph it—we’re toying with the idea of taking it to the farmer’s market on saturday for some shopping.

then its sister had a turn on the mannequin

sigh. isn’t it nice to have finished some things? i really enjoy the feeling . . .

i also enjoy the feeling of having some needles freed up so i can finish some more things—like the rosebuddie blanket, waiting patiently for me to pick it up again.

which happened last night—i worked on it for several hours while we watched TV and now i’m really and truly within reach of finishing the body. three rounds left to go.

of course, then there is the edging to do after that, but watching it come off the needles is a big incentive to work through that part quickly (or as quickly as i can through 1740 rows of it, haha).

anyway, it was really good to get reacquainted with this project and this gorgeous MCN luxury yarn from fearless fibers (wowie, deb has some awesome colorways up right now; i’m working with chastity). it was good to have something substantial on my lap as i worked, reminding me that i actually knit all those stitches individually by hand—i made this, big pink blob that it is, hee-hee!
ahem, i think you know what i mean . . .

i spent a good part of the last two days working on the pea vines pattern and i’m happy to report it is now with the test knitters. i even wrote up the stole version and am putting the final touches on that as soon as i’m done here. busy, busy . . .

when i got back from austin, i still had some finishing work to do on my secret project, so i’ve been squaring that away, too; just a little bit more to go. but little enough that i allowed myself a couple of nights of “goof-off knitting”—that is, work on projects that are not as pressing, but which i have a strong desire to touch and knit because of the the novelty factor (i don’t think i’m alone in my enjoyment of variety).

for instance, last night i could have completed my finishing work by spending the whole evening on it, but after i’d worked for two hours, i was at a good stopping point, so i folded it up, set it aside, and switched gears.

and now, i’m almost to the underarm on the sleeve of my new vintage shirt. i loooove the fabric—thinner and softer than any other sweater i’ve knit lately, it will feel lovely against the skin (the sunna yarn’s silk and cashmere content are the insurance for it). i told myself that by the time i finished this sleeve, i will have decided about the style for the fronts, and i’m almost 100% convinced it should be a henley (rather than a cardigan). when i weigh the sex appeal of one against the other, the placket front wins. and i think this style does need some sexiness built in as a counterpoint to the masculine shirt style that inspires the design.

the remaining questions are how close a fit do i want for mine (i’m currently thinking classic fit, with two inches of ease) and what buttons should i use. i keep forgetting to take the sleeve upstairs to hunt for a set of buttons that will work. i might have some some shell buttons that go; i can’t remember. i do know i want something that looks vintage, not too ornate.

now that i’ve got a really good reading on my stockinette gauge, i need to make a few adjustments to the first draft of my pattern. then i can start the front, which is fancy part. or maybe i’ll do the other sleeve and save the patterned part for the middle of the project . . .

i’ve got some more garden stuff to show you, but i’ve run on long enough and i think you’d be happier if i actually got some work done today too. so, i’ll hold that thought for now and try to squeeze in a post tomorrow. but if you just can’t wait, check out this wonderful flash your garden! thread that karolyn started in the knitspot ravelry group—it’s an entertainment winner.

let’s close with one more pretty thing

it’s a jungle out there

Posted on 21 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

upon arriving home, one of the first things i did was go out to see what was happening in the garden. usually by this time of the summer, our plants are showing signs of fighting off blight or bugs and looking kind-of worse for wear. but not so this year.

it’s the first summer that we’ve had such a healthy garden, so it’s a constant surprise how much everything continues to grow and spread so late in the season.

the second planting of scallions is getting tall and thickening, the okra plants are positively tremendous in size, and the pepper plants are completely covered in fruits

(we’ll never use all of the hot peppers we have, but i dearly love the decorative note they add to the scenery!)

the day before i left, we pulled out the scraggly squash plants, dug up the dirt very well around the holes, and i put some seeds in for patty pan and ronde de nice varieties—i figured, what the hey?? i got tired of looking at the yellowing non-producing zucchini plants; what could it hurt to see if i can grow something else?

i couldn’t believe it when i went out this morning and saw these seedlings, some of them with second leaves already, in just five days! even if all we get is foliage and flowers, it’ll be worth it.

(more okra flowers; i can’t resist sharing their delicate beauty)
and look what else i found

baby eggplant, hooray. it’s looking like it will be a good year for them after all; the plants are loaded with flowers and new fruits.

these are the small hansel variety—a petite elongated oval, fairly hard that holds its shape very well in stewed dishes. not so great for stir-frying, but it’s all they had left when i was shopping for plants. next year i’ll be sure to get out earlier to score the wider range of types that i prefer.

i set about picking all the tomatoes, okra, and peppers—by the time i was done i had a beautiful basketful

plus everything that david picked while i was away. it took me until noon, but i got everything squared away by sticking to the kitchen—three bags of okra for the freezer, a big batch of roasted tomatoes and garlic for a pasta sauce later in the week, and two pans of dried cherry tomatoes, yum.

(read more about drying tomatoes and what i use them for in this old post)

in between putting pans in the oven, i also managed to wash a bunch of sweaters and now i have five clean ones drying on the living room floor. as much as i wanted to work on the pea vines pattern all morning, i have to say it was pleasant to spend some time puttering around the house—a nice way to get reacquainted with my usual domestic routines . . .

our flight back yesterday was nothing short of glorious. we had clear weather all the way and a good tail wind once we hit missouri. we took of as the sun came up around 7 am and flew across texas, arkansas, missouri, tennessee, kentucky, illinois, indiana, and ohio, arriving in canton just about 2:30—excellent time.

i worked on the sleeve for the my vintage shirt during the flight, while debby worked on her sprøssling sleeve. we both stopped frequently to admire the gorgeous bottle-green color (colorway green velvet, which was shown off to its best advantage in the glowing light within the plane),

and to squish the fabric in our hands—the sunna yarn really is all that.

once we hit the ground, debby and i jumped in the car and made it to knitting class a little ahead of schedule, with enough time to wolf down a sandwich with susie and catch her up on our weekend.

when maureen and janet arrived, we all settled in for knitting. i worked on my sleeve some more—i want to make sure on this first piece that i get an exact reading on the gauge, so that the shaping in the body works out right.

i also had one last thing to finish on my pea vines shawlette; after reknitting the top half on saturday, i didn’t have my toolkit handy to graft the join at the top, so i left it on the needles. i made quick work of that in class and now it’s complete—it just needs to be blocked.

i’m going to wait til tomorrow though—since my new les abeilles is also almost finished, i may as well block them both at once.

thank you for all of your enthusiastic inquiries about an ETA on the pea vines piece; the pattern is nearly done and will be going to the test knitters and proofreader shortly. i don’t really have a publication date, but it won’t be long. and we will be offering a stole version for this one as well—stay tuned!

les abeilles is working up so beautifully in the briar rose grace (a bamboo/merino blend, not currently offered, but sea pearl is a similarly lovely alternative). this will be off the needles tonight and if my sweaters are dry, i’ll block both shawlettes tomorrow.

then it’s back to the rosebuddie blanket—i have just a little bit to go, but i’ve picked it up just once up since i got back from london. it was way too hot for a few weeks there to have such a heavy piece on my lap. i felt bad putting it aside, but i just couldn’t; it was sticking to me all over, ugh.

but now the weather has cooled a lot, especially at night, so it’s back to work for me. and karolyn is almost done with her test knit, so it won’t be long for this one either.

i just need to find a model for it . . . anybody local got a baby i can borrow? i promise i’ll take good care of it . . .

les abeilles is a good bakugan nest

Posted on 26 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects

this morning, andrew wanted to help me write a blog post. we went outside to where dad was working and he took some photos

(there were many pictures of other backyard features, but we narrowed it down to these few). next we took some knitting pictures

we spread out the les abeilles shawl for a photo, making room for Dragonos Vamps bakugan.

once situated, it really adds the right touch, don’t you think?
ok, andrew wants to talk now . . .

One day I was brawling against Aaron and Gregory, but my best friend Chance was on my side. he used Leonardus the subterra soldier of vestroia and he said “Abilitycard activate laserbeams.” I used Dragonoid and Dragonos Vamps and I said “Abilitycard activate attack.” Gregory and Aaron watched in shock as their bakugan were blasted off the field. in defeat, Aaron handed over his doomcard and his bakugan shooter and I used the doomcard to send Gregory’s bakugan to the doom dimension.

got that?

yesterday i spent some time working on the pea vines shawlette pattern and finally solved a math issue i had been having with the draft charts. once i did, i realized i liked the shaping for the top half a LOT better, so i actually ripped back the shawlette to reknit that section.

back on the needles, it’s moving along very quickly to its second completion. (really, it’s so much better now).

i wanted to stay up really late to finish it, but then i remembered that everyone around here gets up early . . . i’ll finish it tonight.

on thursday night, susan and i had the pleasure of visiting the knitting nest yarn shop, where a knitting group was gathered for the evening.
we got lost a couple of times on the way, but eventually we got there and it was well-worth the trip. my friend debby met us there as well; her family lives just minutes away.

this is stacy, the shop’s owner; she’s a warm, generous lady who loves her knitting community and her shop is a reflection of how much she enjoys the company of knitters. in addition to a great selection of yarn and project ideas, there are several knit nights throughout the week, classes, and public events to participate in.

a large table sits in the middle of the space, providing a place for people to gather, take classes, or just sit and knit at any given hour. that night it was filled with knitters working on all manner of projects. susan and i sat right down and started chatting away with everyone.

christina and her daughter elizabeth modeled a couple of wraps knit from my patterns and elizabeth posed next to a mannequin holding one of her mom’s designs

then we explored the shop a little, where lots of project inspiration can be found—cute baby clothes and accessories, beautiful felted bags, scarves, and lace shawls were tucked everywhere to show off the yarns on offer

debby’s been making some little dresses for her granddaughters that have knit tops and fabric bottoms, and she found some cute ones here with variations she hadn’t tried yet

the shop just moved to new quarters a couple of months ago and the new space is wonderfully large and airy, with some room to grow. one wall is decorated with a charming mural by franklin habit.

the knitting nest certainly has an enthusiastic following; once i mentioned i wanted to visit a shop near austin i got a wave of emails telling me to go there. and really, if you live in the area and haven’t been, you should go too.

thank you everyone for a lovely evening; i’m just sorry we didn’t get there earlier and stay longer; hopefully we will next time . . .

full house

Posted on 46 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, designing, lace/shawls, projects

i had to laugh when i walked in the door of my brother’s family’s house for the first time and saw this—i think it pretty much tells in a nutshell the story of a large family, haha!

let me back up a bit and tell you about our travel day yesterday

we woke to a beautiful day for flying—clear skies and cool morning air.
we took off just as the sun was peeking over the horizon and i snapped a nice photo series of how it lit up the misty fields as we rose over ohio with it.

a moment later, the blue, blue of the sky emerged above; the colors were fantastic together, with a final whip of cloud in crisp white to set off the extravagence

debby and i got our knitting out as soon as we were settled in the back seat, establishing a fully-equipped knitting zone in our little space

debby worked on her sprossling; she has the body pieces all done now and is starting the sleeves. she wants to have it finished before she starts school in two weeks

she’s knitting with briar rose sea pearl, in a beautiful green/blue colorway with streaks of goldy-brown.
her buttons arrived the other day from moving mud

i think these are going to be stunning—the mostly clear-brown glass is a brilliant contrast with the sweater fabric; they positively light up from within.

i started the flight by casting on one of the sleeves for my vintage shirt in spirit trail sunna. yay, i’m finally off to the races with this sweater. i’m working mine in colorway green velvet, a beautiful bottle green mix. my friend barb will be test/sample knitting one in ancient stones for jennifer’s booth and one in rosewood for herself.

by the time we stopped in missouri to refuel and take a break, i had the first cuff done and the sleeve shaping well-established; i’m looking forward to lots of progress on this over the next few days.

as we descended for our landing, i couldn’t help but notice that these fields reflect the colors in my yarn. look at them stretching as far as the eye can see into the distance—missouri is truly flat.

robin is such an excellent pilot; it’s easy to enjoy the takeoffs and landings when we fly with him. once we got low enough, debby suggested i take a landing shot. i didn’t think it would work, but when i downloaded the photos

they did look pretty cool

once we were aloft again, i switched to my pea vines shawlette project so as to save the easy sweater knitting for more hectic surroundings (7 KIDS!!)
i thought maybe i could finish it before we landed in austin.

but we flew even faster than robin had estimated and i didn’t quite make it
i also took a short nap; might as well take advantage of the opportunity (did i mention the 7 kids??).

we flew through some tall cloud canyons and landed without a hitch in austin around noon just ahead of an oncoming thunderstorm.

my brother picked me up on his lunch break and we headed back to town, where i got to sit and knit for a while at his job site while watching a big thunderstorm (that’s when i finished the shawlette). it only poured for a short while, but it was dramatic; i’m glad we got in underneath it.

my SIL deb picked me up after work and once we got home with the kids, there were a couple of chaotic hours of baths and dinner preparations, followed by a movie while we all settled down for the evening. joe’s family moved into their new house a year ago and i hadn’t seen it yet; they finally have one that’s the right size for them and it’s really nice.

this house was a couple of years in the planning (convincing the contractor, for instance, that yes, they really do need all those closets) and another in the building; i’m so glad they are finally in it. there’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the company. seven kids suddenly doesn’t seem like as many as it used to . . . . they’re getting so big—life is actually a little less chaotic than i remembered from previous visits, though joe says school mornings are still a bit painful.

joe is quite a good cook and enjoys taking charge in the kitchen and trying all sorts of techniques and recipes (he showed me his wok last night while we did the dishes, hee-hee!). i love the new outdoor fireplace with bread oven built in—i heard a rumor that he’s planning to make pizza in the bread oven on friday evening, mmm. too bad david isn’t here . . . we miss you david!

like i said, i finished the pea vines shawlette yesterday and this morning i got to take some photos of it. i really want to block it but i don’t have the tools here, so it’ll have to wait til i get home

you can see here how the top half is designed—a little simpler, but with a bit of openwork that suggests pea fencing.

someone asked whether you could eliminate the nupps if you didn’t want to work those and i don’t see why not. i could also see adding some beads in those spots instead.

in fact, i think the bead enthusiasts in the knitspot ravelry group have convinced me i should try it. i’d want something big and clear enough to look like a dewdrop. i’m also wondering how it would look with both nupps and beads. or with the beads right near the nupps so they magnify the effect.

uh-oh; i may be in danger of knitting with beads for the first time, if i can get my hands on the right ones soon enough. it all depends on where i find myself in relation to knitting supplies in the next few days . . .

it might be easier than i think; on the enthusiastic recommendation of so many austin knitters (and wow, you do know how to get whipped up about your LYS), i’m planning to check out knit night at the knitting nest with my niece susan. and if we happen to find beads there, who knows what could come next??

with the pea vines shawlette off the needles and in need of something i could practically knit in my sleep, i put a few more rows onto my les abeilles scarf while we watched godzilla (a family favorite; the tape’s cover is so worn that it’s half missing)

it was hot when i arrived yesterday and it’s hot this afternoon too, but it was nice and cool in the morning and evening. today i woke up before dawn, but stayed in bed for a little while to snooze; i don’t get to do that enough at home (or more correctly, i don’t get to bed early enough at home to do that).

i hung around while everyone sorted out their backpacks, lunches, socks, and shoes, but once they were out the door, i buckled up junebug, the dog and headed out for a long walk to take advantage of the temperature early in the day.

junie, a jack russell terrier mix, is new to the family within the last two weeks. isn’t she cute? their two older dogs both expired within a week of each other very recently, so they adopted junebug from the humane society shelter. she’s two years old and was actually very well trained in her former home; she picks up her leash to tell us when she needs to go out and she sits and stays pretty well. she’s also very quiet alone at home all day, not mischievous at all.

she’s also apparently a little camera-shy, though it could be simple coyness on her part here. we headed out for a walk around the neighborhood and stayed out about an hour; she walks really well on the leash and keeps up a good pace (i walk very fast). she likes to stop and explore if i let her, but will stay apace if i keep moving. i think she really enjoyed our outing, but was a little tuckered out afterward.

and then there’s pickles, my nephew joseph’s tiny kitty. she’s a good pet too, though a little harder to take pictures with, heh.

it’s been a nice quiet day at home here with the kids all at camp and just me and junie in the house. i caught up on my email from yesterday and wrote this post; now i think i’ll spend some time on the pea vines pattern so it can be test knit. after that, i’ll knit if there’s time before baths and dinner (not likely). and then, it’s off to knit night; maybe i’ll see you there!