nothing feels better than having a larg-ish project off the needles, especially with a trip away from home looming at the end of the week. i was actually a little further from the end of my nona scarf than i wanted to be at my last writing, but then vanessa’s test knit arrived in the mail. (i’m about to make a short story long, BTW, so if you need another cup of coffee, you might want to get it now—we’ll wait.)
vanessa has been test knitting my patterns since (literally) year one and in that time, we have struck a deal; since she is so generous with her knitting time and skill, and i love blocking so much more than she does, she sends me her test knits to be blocked, which also gives me the opportunity to photograph them in an alternate yarn, so you can see. it’s a win-win-win, and who doesn’t love that??
for this one, i sent her the skein of zen yarn garden serenity silk + that roxanne gave me at knitters fair, in colorway frosted kiwi. this skein was slightly smaller than my nona skein and had a little less yardage, but i had a good feeling that it would work perfectly with the design, since the fiber combination was similar. the twist is a bit more active in the ZYG, but all in all, a very close substitute.
i told vanessa that i planned to use as much of my skein as possible and that if she did the same, she’d still have a very nice sized scarf, if not identical to mine.
naturally she finished well before me (like in two days, i think, haha) and when her sample arrived the other day, i still hadn’t finished mine. by using all her yardage, she was able to finish 28 repeats of the pattern, about seven less than i’d estimated for a finished length of sixty inches.
well, yesterday when i woke up i decided to soak and block it to see just what 28 repeats and 500 yards will get you. and i was thrilled to find that it blocked out exactly to 60 inches without much tugging at all.
good news for me—as soon as i put in the last pin and took some pictures, i ran upstairs to count my own repeats—31.5. haha, i sat down right then and there to finish repeat number 32 and bind off. then i soaked my own scarf and blocked that too.
all i can say is—YAY!
not that i wasn’t enjoying every stitch of my red motheye—i most definitely was—but i was kind of done. those last repeats seemed to go by at a turtle’s pace and my mind kept wandering to other things, new designs.
so yeah, i was super happy to call it finished. i used about 525 yards of my yarn and my own scarf blocked out to 64 inches long with those extra few repeats (i knit a bit tighter than vanessa). and i still have plenty left over for some matching lace cuffs.
technically the lace runs in one direction, but you have to look pretty hard to see that once it’s on the body. and the hems block out into equally nice scallops, so i felt comfortable knitting this scarf all in one piece. but you could totally do it in two symmetrical pieces if you wanted.
i think the nupps on this one are just fab—almost entirely obscured in the fabric before blocking, they held a much stronger profile once the scarf had a good bath—with the lace surface smoothed and sleek, they stood like little knots in straight rows along the top, each one visible now.
still, i couldn’t resist the urge to primp them just a bit and, using one of my blocking pins as a mini afro pick, i gave each one a quick fluffing so that they’d puff a bit from knots into popcorns.
you absolutely would not have to perform this final step—they look fine without it and probably would have poofed on their own as they dried (heh, but i dare you to resist the temptation!).
personally, i excuse myself for this type of obsessive behavior by rationalizing that i need to make things as pretty as possible for photography . . .
as with other pieces i’ve designed, this one is a good candidate for beading—though i have yet to try it myself, i could see adding beads or substituting them for the nupps. it would be so pretty with that extra bit of bling. and one day, i may even try it myself . . .
so i think we’re all set now, except for photography. the pattern is finished and i made a date to do photos with cookie while we are in the finger lakes together next week. maybe by then i’ll even have the cuffs finished and i can add those to the pattern (if not, look for them a bit later on their own).
the rest of the weekend was spent on myriad chores and project starts.
i have a very respectable pile now of projects in bags, ready to go whenever i am. haha, i won’t be taking ALL of these on my trip next week (i’m only going to be gone ten days or so)—it’s a somewhat daunting pile of work—but it feels good to have everything organized for going away AND for staying on track once i get back home.
i’ve got a couple of shawlettes, a couple sets of mitts, some lace cuffs, a scarf, and a secret project or two encased in those bags (i know someone will ask—the bags are from three bags full on etsy).
i’ve been wanting to start this project for over a year, ever since i knit the sock samples for the book. as i was working on them, i pulled one over my arm to better view the pattern and WOW—i was struck with how stunning they’d look as long fingerless mitts or gloves. i promised ann budd that i’d wait though, until after her sock book was published to proceed with that project. and now it is time, yay!
without thinking it completely through, i started the mitts in zen yarn garden serenity 20 sock, the tealicious color which had been in my stash awhile. two or three inches in, i realized i might not have enough yarn for long mitts AND a hat, so i consulted with roxanne about what to do. we decided that rather than try to replicate this older color, i should wait for two skeins from a fresh dye lot in her current colorway, frosted teal.
awesome. i’ll have to rip out what i’ve done, but better to backtrack a couple of hours than to get to a point where i’ve invested a lot more but can’t finish.
after a bunch of swatching, charting, and even devising a prototype shawlette pattern, my gray cotton/wool blend decided that it wants to be a susanna bandana scarf after all. so i got that on the needles, put it in a project bag, and added it to the pile. that was easy . . .
however, the new pattern i came up with is nagging to be knit as well (and don’t forget i also have a little iris shawlette OTN in a to go bag). so i spent a bit of time yesterday looking through my
yarn room mess stash and found two things i love to knit that with. i’ll show you that one a little later this week, after i get it on the needles.
actually, i spent considerable time over the last few days organizing new projects, which i’ll show you in the coming week (it was a very busy beehive around here this weekend, let me tell you).
the other big news around here is how quickly winter is beginning to set in. i think the last of the brilliant fall days is upon us. the leaves were spectacular here in ohio this year and hung on longer than usual, deepening in color and intensity so that it seemed like it might last forever. but they are starting to fall to the ground now in serious drifts after all.
our little japanese maple went from dark green to flame color overnight and suddenly our garage, which was still irksomely green green a few days ago is now bright orange and gold.
since this was my last weekend at home before the real colds sets in, i also needed to get some stuff out of the garden and into the freezer, in the form of good soup.
after my run yesterday, i dug around in the garden for about an hour, unearthing the last of the potatoes, some more carrots (we have lots this year and they are tasty), celeriac, and the ubiquitous rutabaga (i swear, they are multiplying out there).
a good scrubbing reveals those mud-caked specimens to be desirably colorful fare for a nice vegetable barley soup. i started a mirepoix with garlic, onions, celery, carrot, etc, and let that sweat while i chopped up the more hearty vegetables into bite-sized niblets and cubes.
i just love our colorful carrots—i’ve enjoyed using them strategically to make the most out of them as a color accent. i can see that they will save many a winter dish from monotony this year.
after adding several quarts of vegetable stock from the freezer, in went the root vegetables and some peeled tomatoes. at this point, it all smells and tastes pretty raw and unappealing; while i do add parsley, salt and pepper, i don’t season it completely until later, when the cooking as had a chance to bring out the real flavors of the soup.
this takes about an hour of slow simmering, maybe more. 20 minutes in, i add barley, which gives a straight vegetable soup a little body and heft. then it can simmer on until it tastes good—the transformation is well worth the wait (besides, you can do other things with that time, like knit; soup doesn’t need to be watched).
once the pot comes into its full flavor, i finish seasoning it and add some veggies from the freezer—those that don’t stand up to too much cooking and shouldn’t be added too early. green beans, corn, okra, even summer squash are some possibilities (this time, it was corn and beans).
turn off the heat and let the whole thing sit for at least several hours before eating (in the fridge is ok). recheck seasoning before serving.
we’ll eat ours tonight for dinner, mmmm.
ok, now, the sun has come out which means i should go for a bike ride to take advantage; i’ll make it a working ride by taking blog photos of the leaves, how about that?