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More Rain Outside 10

So I’ve said this before, but The Rain Outside shawl has to be one of the most satisfying patterns I’ve ever knit. The long sections of garter stitch are perfect for finding that zoned out knitting groove, that “haven of refuge and sanity,” that knitting provides, and the lace short row panels act like little landmarks that keep things interesting and let you measure your progress.*

Plus, this time I was knitting with Hedgehog Fibres yarn, and the colors reach right down into my soul. “Poison” and “Ruin.” Lordy.

And look at the wrap and the drape. Every way I fling this shawl around myself it stays put. Some of the commenters on Ravelry mention that they don’t like the drawn-in top edge, but I think that’s one of the things that makes it so wearable. It gives it just enough structure to help it hold on around your neck and shoulders.

I’m not planning to knit a third The Rain Outside right away, but I’ve got it in my mental inventory now, and some day, it will be just the thing.

I’m thinking my next shawl might have to be a Find Your Fade. By the time I get around to it, I’ll be the last person on the planet to knit one, but oh well . . . It’s not a race, right? I still haven’t knit a pair of Hermione’s Everyday socks, and that hasn’t killed me. Yet!

On an entirely different note, I’m thinking about a redesign for the blog. What do you think? Do you like it when a blog you’ve gotten used to changes its look, or do you prefer for things to stay like they are? I’d be interested in feedback if you have it.

 

*This wonderful description of knitting is from Susan Gordon Lydon’s Knitting Heaven and Earth: “When I am knitting, I can withstand boredom, inactivity, even conversations that would normally make me squirm with restlessness. It is as though I have a little portable world of my own wherever I go, a haven of refuge and sanity.”

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Django 10

One of the only circumstances under which I can imagine posting here without a single fiber-related photo is the one in which I currently find myself, that of having a new puppy in the house! Blog friends, meet Django. He came home with us on Tuesday, his seven-week birthday.

Lola instantly adopted him as her own and began telling him how things are.

Frankie, on the other hand, isn’t impressed.

I’m not sure whether or not I’ve ever mentioned it here, but my husband spent many years working with police and military dogs and still does some training in those areas. At nearly thirteen and fourteen, our two Belgian Malinois dogs, who’ve been his sidekicks since they were puppies, are getting up in years and prefer lounging to running around training all day. The plan is for Django to gradually become the new working dog in the house. He’ll learn all sorts of advanced obedience, tracking, and protection work, and he’ll be Paul’s companion when he does training with other dogs and their people. Primarily, though, he’ll be our sweet, silly lover boy.

We’ve been absolutely absorbed with him since he arrived. Hence, no pictures of the newly finished The Rain Outside shawl. I’m making slow progress on my Hitchhiker, though, so I’ll try to at least have a few pics of that to share with you soon.

Be well, my friends. And happy knitting!

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There and Back Again 8

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Texas with my mom lately. It’s not easy to get there from where we live. Bad weather doesn’t help. On the most recent trip, there were several hours of this:

A couple of hours of this:

About half a day of this:

One very late and frustrating night of this:

Before a new day finally allowed us to make our way around the storm:

And arrive in Texas with the next set of thunderclouds on our heels:

While I was there, I knit and spun amid lots of busyness and running around. I pulled out my spindle at one particularly crazy moment in the car, and lo and behold, not thirty seconds later, we pulled up to the mailbox, and there was a package waiting for ME!

My friend Cari knew I’d need a touchstone. She’s the best.

I’m back in Tennessee now, finally binding off my second The Rain Outside shawl.

Lola is expressing solidarity by snuggling in the edge part.

Hoping to be back with something new on the needles soon! Take care, my friends.

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Spinnin’ wheel got to go ’round 7

The Tour de Fleece is underway! So far, I’ve been spinning about three hours a day. I think the time for this must be coming from a parallel universe because the rest of life has been busier than ever.

It’s been so crazy that my BFFF and I had to stage a clandestine getaway so we could actually speak face-to-face for a few hours. This was one variation on my attempt to pack for said spinning/catching up/commiserating.

Two knitting projects–my Hitchhiker and the second The Rain Outside. Three different choices of fiber. Spare bobbins. Bobbin winder. Lazy kate. Chocolate. Walnuts. Chips. Wine. In the end I left the bobbin winder at home and brought more chocolate.

It was divine.

We even managed to take a belated World Wide Knit In Public Day picture.

In addition to having our WIPs with us, we both happened to be wearing handknits as well. I LOVE that.

Since the Tour started, my knitting has mostly been on hold except for car rides and other times when it’s been inconvenient to spin. I’m finding that I tend to either knit or spin and not go back and forth between the two. Does anyone else do that?

Frankie is fascinated by the spinning. He doesn’t try to grab the fiber or stick his paw in the wheel like Augie occasionally does. He just wants to be involved. Sometimes, he’ll actually reach his paw out and rest it on the fiber in my lap. Other times, he’ll crawl up under my arm and literally be right in the middle of the spinning.

It’s hard work being the spinning assistant, though, so he spends the rest of the day resting up.

I’ve got more travel coming up, so I’ll be staying connected through Instagram for the next week or so. If you’re on Instagram and I’m not following you, be sure to let me know so I can.

Happy July, my friends!

I’ll leave you with this gem.

 

 

_____________

P.S. This is Cari’s packing photo for our getaway. Hahaha!


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The World of Leaf and Blade and Flowers 4

 

 

Hello, friends! I hope the warm days are treating you well so far.

After a whirlwind few weeks of work and travel, I’ve finally had a little time to start settling into summer. The flowers are blooming.

 

 

The blackberries are starting to ripen.

 


We’ve tasted our first tomatoes from the garden.


 

There’s been some hiking.

 

 

I’ve begun a love affair with milk kefir.

 

 

There’s been some reading.*

 

 

Some yoga on the porch . . .

 

 

Plenty of knitting, of course (though I’m fresh out of pictures) . . .

And now there’s going to be  spinning! The Tour de Fleece starts tomorrow, and I can hardly wait!


 

Is anyone else joining in this year?

I’ve been loving everyone’s blog posts lately. I’m behind with commenting, but I’ve definitely been reading. I can’t imagine what I’d do without our wonderful online fiber community.

Wishing you peace, happiness, and lots of knitting AND spinning during these wonderful long days!

 

———

The title of this post is from John Steinbeck’s The Winter of Our Discontent: “In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.”

 

*The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben has been mind-bending in the things it’s taught me about how trees communicate.

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On The Go 15

I’ve been traveling, and you know what that means. Knitting!

In the airport bar:

On the plane heading out:

By the light of the full moon during my very late arrival back home Saturday night:

I went to Texas to visit my mom and help out with a few things there. My mom and my aunt are both knitters too although my mom should probably be considered a lapsed knitter since she hasn’t picked up her needles in ages. I’m doing my best to bring her back into the fold!

My aunt is left-handed, so it always fascinates me to watch her.

Her precious kitty Lola wanted to help. Haha!

Even though I took three different projects with me, I spent the whole time working on my second The Rain Outside shawl. It was the one that didn’t require much focus, and since we were on the go the whole time, that was what I needed. Plus, this Hedgehog Fibres yarn seems to have a direct link to my brain cells because every time I look at it I’m flooded with happy.

I haven’t made as much progress as one might think because we were so busy the whole time I was there and I had to spend some of my prime travel knitting time on the airplane catching up on work. I’m hoping to pick up the pace a bit now that I’m home, though.

What are you knitting this summer? I’m thinking my next project should be something in cotton or maybe a cotton/linen blend, so I’m looking for inspiration.

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Funtimes in Babylon 10

Life has been especially lifey lately. As a consequence I’ve found it necessary to cast on many things. Well, just three things, but that’s two beyond my comfort zone, especially since I still have a couple of UFOs in the wings.

The first cast on is something I actually mentioned a couple of posts ago but haven’t really talked about. It’s Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from the book Victorian Lace Today. Here is a picture, but you can’t tell much. It’s destined to look like a blob as long as it’s on the needles.

This is the most challenging lace project I’ve ever attempted. A couple of years ago, I knit Hilary Latimer’s Mystery Knit Along Shawl and loved the way the painstaking, careful work of knitting it actually turned out to be very relaxing. I had to pay attention so absolutely that when I’d come up for air it was almost like I’d spent the time taking a rejuvenating nap. My mind would be clear, and I’d be refreshed and ready for whatever was next.

I’m hoping the Spider’s Web Shawl will give me a similar experience, but I’m not quite far along enough to tell. The thing that motivated me to attempt this pattern was actually the yarn. The yarn I’m using is an airy, soft, almost luminescent, lace-weight, mostly mohair blend that came from a couple of very special goats we know.

We met Gracie and her brother Reuben when they were babies. They belonged to our dear friend Marcia who runs Good Fibrations. Somewhere I have a picture of Paul holding Gracie the day we me her. I think she was only a week or so old at that point. It’s insanely sweet, and if I ever find it, I’ll show it to you.

Anyway, Gracie and Reuben now live with our friends, Ann and Trish, over at Out in Jupiter Farm. Here’s Paul with Gracie at their place last year.

Ann and Trish took the fiber from Gracie and Reuben’s first shearing and turned it into an out-of-this-world laceweight yarn, and that is the yarn I’m using for my Spider’s Web Shawl. I’m hoping to do it justice. I’ll keep you posted.

So that was the first wild-hair cast on. Remember the Inlet cardigan? It still has no sleeves. I just wasn’t in a sleeve knitting mood, ya know? The Spider’s Web Shawl requires concentration, and it’s gotten too warm to work on the Zigzag Blanket, so there were some knitting opportunities cropping up when I didn’t have anything to knit!

And there was stress. It’s the absolute craziest time of the year for me workwise. So one night when it was very very late and I was still sitting at my desk, I decided the only sane thing to do was cast on a project I knew I’d love because I’ve knit the exact same thing in the exact same yarn once before. Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker scarf. In Malabrigo “Archangel.”

I know you understand.

Cast On #3. This one isn’t actually on the needles yet, but that could happen any second. I’ve got the yarn.

Look:

I’ve been dying to knit with some of the wonderful, speckledy Hedgehog Fibres yarn I’ve been seeing everywhere, and after I knit The Rain Outside for Cari, I knew the next one had to be for me and that I had to get myself some of that yarn. I chose “Poison” and “Ruin.” What do you think?

And just in case the cast-on frenzy isn’t over, I ordered the two skeins of “Sangria” at the top of the post. I’m so not sorry.

 

*Father John Misty’s Funtimes in Babylon has felt relevant lately.

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This Neckline 2

Do you know about Mati Ventrillon? She’s the French-Venezuelan architect turned knitwear designer who made the news a couple of years ago when Chanel featured some of her designs without attributing them to her. She lives on Fair Isle (along with only 54 other people) and spends the year caring for a flock of sheep whose wool becomes the basis for her beautifully conceived Fair Isle garments.

There’s an informative video about her life and work in this article. And this article gives a pretty detailed description of her path to Fair Isle and her life there (be warned–the format is a little wonky).

The persnickety part of me wishes every stitch of her garments were hand knit, but at the same time, it’s hard to see how she’d stay afloat as a business without the aid of the knitting machine she uses for sweater bodies and sleeves.

That said, I absolutely love what she does with the collars, cuffs, and hems of her sweaters. These she does knit by hand. Some are a basic rib, but many are far more interesting. There are variations on what looks like i-cord edging, interesting hood constructions, and lots of unusual shaping for the necklines and hems.

That is actually the whole point of this post. I’m in love with this neckline.

 

If you follow the link to the Facebook page or go to Madi Ventrillon’s website where this is the cover photo, you can get a better look at it.

How did she do this? Is it just stockinette that’s rolled and been given an interesting shape by blocking? Or is there some sort of actual knitted shaping involved? I’m not even sure why I love it so much, but I seriously need to understand how to do this.

 

What I’ve Got For Today 8

So you know I’ve been knitting, but I don’t have much to share in the way of photos. The best I can come up with is today’s car knitting. The weather was rainy and surprisingly cold for May.

But the stripey blanket did me right. It kept me entertained AND cozy!

To distract you from the lack of exciting knitting photos, how about some baby goats? We got to see these precious angels last weekend at our friend Marcia’s. It was heaven.

These are angora goats. Their fiber will make to-die-for roving and yarn when it’s blended with a bit of wool.

Blackberry here is the mother of the little black baby and his brother. Twins!!

In the spirit of further distraction from the lack of knitting excitement, I’ve been meaning to share some interesting fiber related links with you. Here’s some good stuff I’ve stumbled across online recently.

  • No Wool, No Vikings  This is a fascinating article about a high school program in Norway where the students spend nine months learning what it might have been like to be a Viking. The fun part for us fiber people is that it involved LOTS of wool. In particular, the Viking ships used woolen sails. To outfit one boat required a thousand sheep or more! And the amount of fiber work involved was insane: “Building a boat might take two skilled boatbuilders a couple of weeks . . . but creating its sail would take two skilled women a year.” Crazy! (Thanks to Dorothea, dear friend and captain of my awesome Tour de Fleece team, for turning me on to this article!)
  • The mystery of knitting . . . remains a mystery  Just hilarious.
  • Yoga for Knitters and Crocheters  Did you know Lion Brand Yarn has a whole playlist on YouTube focused on yoga for knitters and crocheters?
  • Why Farmers and Knitters are Fixated on Icelandic Sheep  Are you sensing a theme? I think this might be another of Dorothea’s recommendations. Love me some lopi.
  • Stitch by stitch, a brief history of knitting and activism  Pretty much like it sounds with some cool pics.

That’s what I’ve got for today . . . except for this sweet picture of Frankie sleeping.

What kind of knitting goodness is going on in your neck of the woods?

The Rain Outside 10

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed knitting something as much as I enjoyed knitting The Rain Outside. What a great pattern! I will be forever indebted to Dana over at Yards of Happiness for posting gorgeous version after gorgeous version after gorgeous version of this design until I could no longer resist casting on for one myself.

The lace short row panels provide the perfect amount of interest to keep the garter stitch from becoming monotonous.

And the shape of the shawl–slightly drawn in at the cast-on edge and stretchy and open on the outer edge–make it ideal for wrapping around your neck or shoulders and staying put.

The yarn I used for my version is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Crackpaca. It’s a blend of 45% Merino wool, 45% Alpaca, and 10% silk. It was lovely to handle while knitting, but I’ll have to wait for a report from my friend Cari to hear how it is to wear. I knit this shawl for her because sometimes life is hard, and I needed a way to remind her that I love her and am here for her even when we can’t be geographically close.

I’m going to make another one of these for myself. In fact, I went ahead and ordered the yarn–Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend in “Wildflowers” and “Dove.” This seems like an ideal travel project, so my plan is to go ahead and wind the balls and put them in a project bag along with the pattern and needles. Then, the next time I need to grab something on the way out the door, I’ll be all set.

In the meantime I’ve cast on for my first epic lace project, Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from her book Victorian Lace Today. I needed something worthy of the incredibly special yarn I’m using. More about that later . . .

I hope you are enjoying the Spring weather and getting to do lots of knitting. I’ve been behind on commenting lately, but please know I’m reading and enjoying everyone’s wonderful blog posts!

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