Posts for : April 2015

All Over The Place 0

Here are some of the things I love:

 

  • Knitting
  • Crazy Color Combinations
  • Superheroes
  • Villains
  • Cool Graphics
  • Smart Writing
  • Nerds
You know what? There’s a blog for that!!!

This week I found Lattes and Llamas. The very first blog post I read was titled, “2015 Geek-A-Long: Dr. Doom” and started off with a photo of an awesome double-knit square featuring, you guessed it . . . Dr. Doom! It just gets better from there. There are LOTS of cool squares, a slew of geeky quotes, backstory on featured characters . . . And the writing made me smile. I might have actually chuckled a time or two on the inside.

From what I can tell, the Geek-A-Long is a year-long knit along. The Lattes and Llamas creators make a new square pattern available each week for 48 weeks—for free! At the end they guide you through putting 24 of the squares together to make a fabulously geeky blanket. They have a Ravelry group you can join to share Geek-A-Long war stories, and it all just strikes me as a ton of fun. I doubt I’ll join in for the full Geek-A-Long, but I’m pretty sure that when it comes to knitting at least a few of these awesome squares, resistance is futile.

In addition to discovering Lattes and Llamas, I did some knitting, finished a book, and had a full-out, avert-your-eyes, gnarly, nasty, skid-marks-on-the-pavement work meltdown.

So . . . the knitting. Here’s my pillow cover blocking. This is the most aggressive blocking I’ve ever done. I’m hoping to use a standard-size pillow core, and my cover is not quite big enough for that. Hopefully, the blocking will give me the extra couple of inches I need.

Blocking2

When I started out, Lola wanted to help:

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So did Augie. His specialty is “adjusting” blocking wires.

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But then there had to be crazy chasing.

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It’s all about priorities in this house.

Have I mentioned the swatching? I think I have. I’m trying to decide which yarn to use for the TKGA Basics course. I might have decided on Lion Brand Fishermen’s wool. It’s the top swatch here:

TKGA Yarn Swatch 2

It seems to have the best balance of stitch definition and sproing. I’m vacillating, though, and wondering if I should do another swatch with the Cascade 220 using size 6 needles instead of the size 7s I used for these. The original Cascade swatch felt a little “loose,” but maybe if I went down a needle size . . .  Hmmm. . .

And since we haven’t had one in awhile, here’s an action shot. I was on the way to an appointment and was running a little early, so I stopped by the river to knit for a bit. That was good.

Sock

Hopefully, I’ll have 28thirty pics soon. And I’m planning to cast on for CeCe any second now, so there should be pics of that to share soon as well. Be well, and happy knitting!

Happiness Inducing Handspun Yarn on the Needles? Check! 2

Who? Me? Oh, I’m just the one over here knitting with my very own handspun. (!!!!!!)

Last fall, I sat at my spinning wheel and turned the fiber in this (horribly over exposed) picture:

Hello Yarn Fiber

Into this yarn:

Hello Yarn Yarn

 

And now I’m using the yarn to knit this pillow cover (Rasta says hello): 

 

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This is kind of a big deal for me because this is the first real thing I’ve ever knit with my own handspun yarn. The fiber is from Hello Yarn—more about that in a minute. It’s Shetland Wool Top in the colorway “Minerals.” It was their November 2010 fiber club fiber, and I got a nice quantity of it in a destash a year or so ago.

My original, and I now realize overly ambitious, goal was to spin this for a sweater. Turns out I’m not that good yet. After finishing a little over a thousand yards of it, I realized there was no way I’d be able to get anything close to a regular gauge once I started knitting with it. It’s pretty consistent for beginner yarn, but not nearly consistent enough for a garment.

So . . . I set it aside and thought for about six months. Then, Friday night when I finished 28thirty, I decided to take the plunge. First, I tried knitting Quaker Yarn Stretcher, but the fiber turned out to be too coarse for neckwear. I wanted something that I could have around me all the time because, despite its lack of garment worthiness, I really love this yarn. It makes me so happy to look at it and think I took it from fiber to yarn with my very own hands. And I think about the happy things I was doing while I was spinning it—mostly hanging out with my good friend Cari and other cool fiber people at the Knotty Ladies Weekend Getaway last October. Having it nearby in the form of a tangible, knitted thing will be a regular source of warm fuzzies. I can clutch it to my breast on days like this past Thursday and Friday to remind me that work craziness will pass while spinning and knitting and friends remain.

I eventually decided to make it a cushion cover. I’m into the third ball of yarn at this point, so I should finish up the knitting tonight or tomorrow, and then I can seam it up and stuff it. Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Before I sign off, let me tell you about Hello Yarn. There are lots of awesome fiber clubs out there, but I find that as often as not when I’m looking at gorgeous handspun on Ravelry, the fiber is from Hello Yarn. I think I must have a particular affinity for their colorways, among other things. The only problem is that even getting onto their waiting list is a huge task. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that I’m now ON THE LIST! Sometime in the next six to nine months, I should actually get to join, and then I can look forward to a delivery of their gorgeous fiber every month. Woohooo!! Just one more reason why this seemed like the perfect time to take the plunge and knit with my Hello Yarn yarn . . .

 

I Missed You! 2

Oh, my knitters—I’ve missed you! I got on a post-every-day roll there for awhile and was really enjoying checking in regularly, but then life happened. You know what I mean—work got crazy, things that were done suddenly became undone, etc.

The fact that the last episode of The Americans aired on Wednesday should have been a sign. Do you ever feel a little lost when a television series ends for the season? That show was such a dependable, relaxing anchor for my week. No matter what else was going on, I knew it would be an hour of solid entertainment. The plot is smart and interesting, and Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are really good—especially Keri Russell. It’s like she taps into an extra register to communicate on screen. She’s REALLY good. But alas . . . no more Americans until next year.

Somehow, despite the craziness, there was knitting. 28thirty is finished! Here it is soaking:

Soaking

And blocking:

Blocking

I just need to add buttons. Better pics coming soon!

 

Today, was fiber guild. I took edamame salad:

Edamame Salad

And I got my kitty fix for the month. This is Barry White. He’s wonderful. He’s supervising.

Barry

I’m knitting a pillow cover with my handspun. More details on that tomorrow. I hope you are all well. Happy knitting!

Handspun

Chickens and Eggs 2

Yesterday, I finished the left arm of the 28thirty cardigan. One arm to go. No pictures, but I should have lots of pics of the finished sweater to show you soon. The day was so beautiful that when I got through with work I went outside to catch up on a little reading. As often happens, I spent most of the time watching chickens.

Chicken Watching

Then, for dinner I made Shakshouka. Can you believe I learned about this dish on Ravelry? In the chicken forum. It’s a dish that’s popular in North Africa and all over the Middle East, apparently, and it features eggs poached in a tomatoey, oniony, exotically spiced sauce. We love it!

Shakshouka

Most of my knitting time yesterday was devoted to the 28thirty, but I spent a little while trying to figure out what to do about a pair of socks I started a week or so ago. The yarn is from String Theory Colorworks. I love this yarn. This particular base is called Continuum. It’s a merino, cashmere, nylon blend, and it’s absolute perfection for socks. It’s so perfect that I joined the String Theory monthly sock club (shhh! I’m still not ready to admit I did this), so I’m going to be getting a skein of their fabulous, self-striping sock goodness each month.

Ribbed Socks

The issue with this particular pair of socks is the ribbing. I thought a two-by-two rib might make for a comfy fit, and I’m pretty sure it will, but the rib produces a very stretchy material, too stretchy for my normal 60 stitches it appears. I’m thinking I might need to restart these. Hmmmm . . . .

For now, it’s back to work. I wish everyone a wonderful spring day with at least a little time for knitting.

Why Blog? 4

Do you ever think about why people blog? I think about it all the time. I wonder what motivates people to do it, what they get out of it, whether blogging is a  service (an offering?) of some kind, or if it’s an indulgence, blog as verbal selfie.

Where there’s a business angle, I guess the reasons for blogging are obvious, but those aren’t the blogs that really interest me. The blogs I like are personal. One blogger I follow talks about wanting to be a documenter/reader of her life. That works out for me as a reader of blogs because I get to see lots of dog pictures and knitting and books, all of which make me happy. I think it must work out for her as a blog writer too. At the time she said it, she was posting almost every day and including tons of pictures, at least some of which she probably wouldn’t have taken if it weren’t for the blog. Fast forward six or seven years, and she’s got a kind of travelogue of that time in her life. She can track where she’s been, remember details she may have forgotten, reflect on her progress. . .

Of course, there is also the social aspect of blogging—no doubt about that. You get the occasional bit of feedback, and there is the sense of being part of a community, the pleasure of connecting with other people who share your interests. And there is accountability. Blogging makes you accountable in a way that private journaling  doesn’t. If people are actually reading your blog, there’s an occasion to rise to. It’s a nice motivator, especially if record keeping is one of your goals.

Some bloggers probably enjoy the feeling of being helpful. I sure hope TECHknitter does since she so totally is! Spinfoolish is. A Fisherman Knits is. Arenda Holladay definitely is.

Then there is blog as caffeine. Wake up! Turn on your brain! The main reason I decided to start a blog was to push myself to think. Even when the topic is straightforward, the blogging mind works where the non-blogging mind might not.

They say that the cardinal rule of blogging is, about each post, to be able to answer the question, “Who cares?” Sometimes I’m a slacker, and I think—my one friend who reads the blog cares, some knitter out there might care, my mom cares. . . But usually I try to have a better answer. In this case I’m hoping the topic is something other blog readers and blog writers might have thought about too. If you come across this post and you have thoughts to share, please let me know! My email is in the sidebar, or you can leave a comment.

In closing, let me just say that it brings me enormous pleasure to share a record of my recent yarn purchase. The Madelinetosh “Antique Lace” from Australia is HERE!! And it’s even prettier than I imagined.

Antique Lace ds

Happy knitting!

 

Llamas and Peacocks and Puppies! Oh, My! 2

Happily, llama shearing on Tuesday turned out to be a mostly dry affair. Rain threatened all afternoon but only actually materialized for about ten minutes.

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Nineteen llamas started out sporting a full year’s growth of fiber, and by the time the end of the day rolled around, they were each a pound or two lighter. It’s a fascinating process. I’d had a chance to see alpaca shearing a couple of times, but this was my first time with the llamas. They have an amazing vibe—very calm but tuned in. Rather than being mortified by the experience like the alpacas seemed to be, they were mostly just interested in what was going on.

I’m pretty sure that’s Knickita in the picture below. She’s the gorgeous white llama whose fiber became my Lin-Lin Shawl.

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Most of the llamas stood patiently for the shearing. Mellie, below, decided she didn’t like the shearing cage, but she was so relaxed with our friend Mary Lou nearby that the shearer was able to just let her stand free in the barn while she did her thing.

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Notice the tiny chicken head in the bottom right corner of the picture above. This chicken was awesome. Apparently, she likes to lay her eggs in that particular spot under the hay rack in the barn. She usually has the place all to herself, but with shearing going on, it was chaotic. There were multiple llamas, two shearing stations, all kinds of people, a couple of Pyrenees puppies tromping around the place, and a crazy amount of noise, but she insisted on being in her regular spot. She eventually turned her back on all of us and faced the wall. About half an hour later, she got up, made a bunch of noise, and walked out. I looked down where she’d been and found a perfect little brown egg. Totally cracked me up. I’m pretty sure there’s a life lesson here.

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The sweet face below is one of the puppies. Our friends have two of them who are in the process of learning how to be flock guardians. They’re very, very cute and have already learned that if they want to be petted, they should come up to you and sit.

Greg

And this is Sydney, the peacock:

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He made a very serious sounding, loud, piercing call on and off, all day long. I kept wondering if he was just trying to look busy so he didn’t get accused of slacking while everyone else was working so hard.

Bottom line—it was a lot of fun, one more absolutely cool thing I got to do that I’m fairly certain I would have never been part of if we hadn’t left Chicago.

On the knitting front, I’m ready to finish up the body of my 28thirty. It hits about mid hip at this point, so I just need to do the bottom border, and then it’s on to the sleeves. Woohooo!

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I got a little package from Jimmy Beans in the mail with these fun things. The yarn is some cotton I was thinking of trying out for CeCe. I might still do a swatch, but I’m pretty committed to using the Madelinetosh Pashmina if it ever gets here. The project bag just appeared in my cart. No idea how that happened.

IMG 2088

Aaaaand, this is the yarn I’m going to try out for the Basics course in preparation for the Master Knitter program. I’ll do a little swatching with each of these to see which one I like knitting with the most and that produces the best result when I block it. All three are popular options for the program, but I thought it would be good to try them out for myself since I’ll be spending so much time knitting with them. I’m pretty excited about getting started finally.

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That’s it for today. Be well. And happy knitting!

Let It Rain 2

It’s a rainy day on the mountain. The weather here is almost always interesting. Everything seems to happen on a bigger scale than it did when we lived in the suburbs. It’s pretty wonderful. The not so wonderful part will be the llama shearing in the downpour that is supposed to happen this afternoon. We’re helping out a llama owning friend. It’s okay, though. We love her. I’ll take pictures.

Morning

I don’t think I’ve told you about my Australian yarn purchase yet. We’re having a sweater KAL in my favorite Ravelry group. It’s going to be warming up outside as I work on this sweater, and it’ll definitely be warm by the time I can wear it, so I wanted to knit something in the light and summery category. Add to this that I’m seriously missing working on the lace shawl I finished a few weeks ago, and lace was the obvious conclusion. I settled on CeCe by Bonne Marie Burns. 

A lot of people have knit this in cotton, which seems like a great idea, but I just finished the cotton shawl, so my wool jones is more pronounced than usual. I decided to indulge myself and go with some yummy Madelinetosh Pashmina. But what color? Long story short – it seemed like every time I found a colorway I thought would be perfect, no one had enough skeins in stock. I finally decided it was Antique Lace or die, and I looked and looked and finally found it. Order placed. Happy me. Visions of wearing elegantly not-quite-white, lacy summer sweater to upcoming wedding, fancy dinner . . . Then, I got the confirmation email and had a stroke. 

First, I hadn’t realized the yarn was coming from a shop based in Melbourne. Australia! Second, apparently the shop didn’t realize I was nine thousand miles away either. The shipping charge that showed up when I was checking out was a normal ten bucks or so, but when I got the order confirmation, the shipping was listed as nearly $50! It was a dark night at Casa Knit Potion for awhile, but I finally decided it was worth the $50 to get the yarn. That was April 1 – ha! I just realized. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the whole thing were an April Fool’s joke and there was a $40 refund in my package when it finally gets here?! Anyhoo, stay tuned. There will pictures and celebrating when the package in question finally arrives.

In the meantime, look what I did on 28thirty:

IMG 2011

Two garter stitches in a sea of stockinette. Really?

Oh, well. What’s a little knitting oops among friends, right? At least it was a quick fix. Most of last night went like this: 

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My Lola pie is a little under the weather, so we’re cuddling and knitting which makes everything better.

Picture Day 2

 

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The weather is beeeeeautiful here today! It’s so nice that I spent several hours outside putzing around the yard and wandering off taking pictures even though I had work to do.

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I promised dogwood photos a couple of days ago, and here they are. The pink ones are new to me since we moved to Appalachia. There aren’t as many of them as there are of the white ones, but they still seem to be everywhere.

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The other thing I took pics of besides the dogwoods was my 28thirty cardigan. As you can see, I still have about a third of the body to go, plus the sleeves. The pattern is actually written for a cropped sweater, but I couldn’t imagine ever wearing that style, so I’m making mine longer. 

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I wondered whether or not to do body shaping but eventually decided against it. Hopefully, it won’t end up looking baggy. I’m actually copying this gorgeous sweater by Barefoot Rooster on Ravelry. It’s by far my favorite of all the finished ones posted.

As a happy side benefit of emailing Barefoot Rooster to find out whether or not she’d done any shaping, I found out she has a blog. A really terrific blog! It’s exactly the sort of thing I love—an interesting, thoughtful person posting lots of pictures of and talking a lot about knitting in her everyday life. She posts about all kinds of patterns and has pics of WIPs everywhere, and as often as not, there are pictures of her dog. He’s extremely handsome. His name is Boh.

So the 28thirty cardigan. Here are a couple of shots of me modeling it to give you a better idea of how it might fit.

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The yarn is Peace Fleece worsted in Grass Roots. The Peace Fleece yarn is a little coarser feeling than other sweater yarns I’ve used, and I’m actually enjoying that. People say that after you wash it, it blooms and softens, so I’m anxious to see if that happens for me. A funny thing about this yarn in this particular colorway is that it reminds me a lot of one of the first sweaters I ever knit—back in high school, I think. That yarn was a grayer version of this, with similar little flecks of color everywhere. I can still remember the feel of it in my hands—like a tactile flashback. Maybe I’ll dig it out and post a pic at some point.

I’ll leave you today with one more dogwood picture:

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And in honor of Barefoot Rooster’s Boh, here are my sweet pies enjoying the sunshine.

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In the news . . . 0

Knitting on the 28thirty cardigan is moving happily forward. I need to take some pictures. Tomorrow. I promise.

In the meantime, the news is full knitters doing interesting things.

I absolutely love the idea of people on faraway northern islands sitting by the fire with a warm cup of tea or a mug of beer and knitting away the dark evenings. This article is about that, sort of. The picture is perfect, and I actually had it posted here, but after doing some reading about copyright infringement, I’ve gotten cold feet. It’s great, though, definitely worth a look.

In Bolivia women are knitting parts for hearts—literally!

And in Australia, this:

Samson33

. . . pouches for sick animals. This is a common brush-tailed opossum, Samson. He is recovering from a punctured lung. In a hand knit pouch.

I know. I just said I was worried about copyright infringement, and here I am posting Alex Halford’s picture, but I’m thinking that, in this case at least, the Copyright Act would allow it, and hopefully Alex Halford won’t mind.

This Shawl! 2

Mystery KAL Shawl 4

 

Spring has come to the mountains! It was 85 degrees today, and the dogwoods are blooming. I need to take a picture of them to show you. They were blooming when we moved here two years ago, and it seemed like a good omen—first, because anything having to to do with dogs has to be good, and second, because my grandparents’ land in East Texas where I spent a lot of time growing up was full of dogwoods. Many happy memories there.

I took advantage of the warm, not-exactly-sunny-but-at-least-not-raining weather to take pictures of the finished Mystery Knit Along Shawl!! I’m through!! I actually finished it several weeks ago, but between lots of work and little sunshine, the pictures just didn’t happen. Until today!

 

Mystery KAL Shawl 5

 

The view above is looking out from the highest point in our area. Our house is out there on one of the smaller mountains. And the picture below shows the end point of a popular hiking spot. It’s called Black Stack and is across a steep drop from where we were standing when we took these pictures. It’s well above 4000 feet. We haven’t been there yet but hope to make it this summer. It’s not an easy hike, so we want to pick a good day for it.

Mystery KAL Shawl 2

 

This shawl. I absolutely loved knitting it. I seriously missed working on it after I finished.

 

Mystery KAL Shawl 1

 

Major knit potion here. It didn’t just cure whatever happened to be ailing me at the moment while I was knitting it, but every time I wear it or even see it, from now on, it will make my spirit soar.

 

Mystery KAL Shawl 6

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