Posts for : September 2015

Easing Into Fall 3

Today, we hung out with great friends and alpacas.

Alpaca Days 1

It was learn-about-alpacas weekend around here, so we spent the day visiting and spinning while the curious came to see our friends’ farm. Last week was busy and left me feeling a little dragged out, so it was fun to relax outside on a pretty fall day and laugh and talk and do fiber things.

Alpaca Days 7

Our friend L was demonstrating weaving. The gorgeous yarn she’s using is yarn she spun herself from fiber from the farm’s alpacas.

Alpaca Days 4

The rest of us were spinning.

If you look closely at the very bottom of this picture, you can see my Swedish Fish Socks. Handknits in action!

Alpaca Days 3

Like any good day, this one involved dogs. Meet Duke the Cute. He was intent on mastering the finer points of spinning.

Alpaca Days 5

And this is Buddy. He was in charge of getting pets, taking naps, and general awesomeness in the dog department.

Alpaca Days 6

Catching up from last last week, I wanted to tell you about this delicious soup. It’s Smitten Kitchen’s Carrot Soup with Miso and SesameBarefoot Rooster blogged about it, and I’ve been dying to try it ever since I read her post. This seemed like the perfect time for it since I’d been sick all week and Wednesday made it officially fall . . . Oh, my. It was insanely good, definitely not your standard carrot soup.

Carrot Miso Soup

And I made soda bread to go with it.

Soda Bread

These two mooches kept trying to convince us that soda bread was the ancient food of their people so they should have a piece.

Beggars

In other random news, I finished Midnight’s Children which I’d been reading for a few weeks. I’m now in withdrawal. It’s an absolutely astonishing book.

MC

Progress continues on Gramps. I’m just about to separate the sleeves and body. I’ll post pictures soon.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Fall!

Calligraphy Pics 4

I finally have some pictures of Calligraphy to show you!

Here it is during the sewing-on-the-buttons stage. This was after a nice long soak and gentle blocking.

 

Buttons 2

 

Augie is chief button inspector, and he takes his role very seriously.

 

Aguie 1

 

VERY seriously.

 

Augie 2

 

Here are a few pics of me wearing the finished sweater.

 

Calligraphy 5

Calligraphy 3

 

The full-length one shows super clearly how big the body is. Oops. Oh well . . .

 

Calligraphy 8

 

I’m already wearing this in the cooler evenings and mornings we’ve been having, and I love it. The Peace Fleece yarn is surprisingly soft and comfy, and the floppy collar is great for opening up if I don’t need the extra warmth or pulling close around my neck if I do. And the buttons! For some reason the orange buttons make me really happy.

If I’d paid attention to my gauge from the beginning, this sweater would have been just about perfect. I can’t wait to make another and get the fit right. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it, but it just might be sooner rather than later, maybe even after I finish Gramps.

Ugh . . . 4

Sick day 3

I brought the creeping crud home with me from my trip. I’ve got a miserable cold. It’s nothing that won’t pass, but it makes me not want to do anything but sit around and feel sorry for myself. Know what I mean?

There is no shortage of work stacked up, though, so I’m trying to persevere. As I was sitting at my desk this morning, I looked over at this.

Sick day

Yes, I had ice cream for breakfast. And yes, I was using periodic rows on my BFF sock as a negotiating tactic with my sick self. I actually managed to make some progress on my editorial project this way.

Augie had promised to help, but the yarn and ice cream were too much for him. It wasn’t so bad when he just wanted to sniff the ice cream, but when he started chewing a knitting needle, he got himself demoted from his position as number one office assistant back to kitty who doesn’t get to be on the desk while work is going on.

Here’s a question for you. If you had to choose, would you prefer that a blog be updated every day, even if that meant that some of the content was nothing more than a picture or two and a quick shout out, or would you prefer that it be updated every few days and that the content be more substantial? I actually think I prefer the former, but the only blogger I read who actually does this is Jean Miles. When I myself start to post for a second day in a row, I usually end up stopping myself because it’s just more of the same . . . knitting, reading, cooking, working, hanging out with cat and dogs. But then, that’s what this space is all about, right?

There are definitely times like today when I don’t have much to say, but I’m thinking about knitting, so it seems nice to pop in and mention that. At the same time, I don’t want to bore readers with content that is even more inane than usual. If you have an opinion about this, I’d really appreciate your sharing it with me—either by leaving a comment or by emailing me at melinda@knitpotion.com.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of today’s mail delivery.

Pounce

Tinkle and Glint

Can you even believe the gorgeousness??! I got this in two separate destashes. I’m in love with the colors. Hello Yarn fiber is always beautifully dyed, but these reds and pinks absolutely slay me. Spinzilla is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I’m planning to dive into this then.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day, and happy knitting!

Gauge 2

Gauge is the most important principle in knitting.

So sayeth Elizabeth Zimmermann. These words are from the chapter on gauge in Knitting Without Tears. It’s one of the first books on knitting I ever read. It’s right here next to me. I can reach out and touch it. It’s spent so much time by my side that the corners are fuzzy, a bunch of the pages are stained with coffee, and one whole end is purple from the wine that Augie knocked over onto it when he was a kitten. It seems like I’ve learned a lot from EZ.

Nope.

Apparently, I am a hardheaded person who ignores the sage advice of her heroes and scoffs at the lessons offered by her own experience. I am someone who, while staring across the room at the giganto-cardigan recently knit without benefit of a swatch, casts on for another cardigan and knits for a skein and a half before checking her gauge. Yep. I’m that person.

My gauge on Gramps is completely off.

Despite Calligraphy and the things I said right on this very blog earlier this month about the need for swatching, I dove into Gramps without one single teeny tiny thought about checking my gauge. Actually, there may have been one, but it didn’t last long. So it turns out that instead of getting 20 stitches and 28 rows in 4”, I’ve been getting 16 stitches and 24 rows. I know that now because I did finally check my gauge. I’ve been wrestling with what to do about the situation since last night, and here’s where I am. Because I’d really like to have a sweater that fits and because I’m hoping that every stitch I knit for the second time will help drive home the importance of swatching, I’ve ripped back to the beginning.

Here’s an action shot:

Ripping gramps

Back, back, back to . . .

Square one, meet the hardheaded knitter. Hardheaded knitter, meet square one.

Swatching for gramps

I swatched.

I went down from size 7 to size 6 needles, and this gave me 19 (rather than 20) stitches and 27 (rather than 28) rows in 4”. I’m still off by one in each direction, but I think that’s okay. Knitting Gramps on size 6s should produce a finished sweater that bears a little closer resemblance to the measurements provided by the pattern than I was going to get with the 7s.

Hopefully, the time I spend reknitting the entire top half of the sweater will give me ample opportunity to reflect on the importance of checking my gauge.

No Idea What To Title This Post 2

Plane knitting 3

The sun was just coming up as I left Texas to head home. As I had anticipated, I got to do a lot of airport knitting on this trip. Most of it was on Gramps.
 
This was the day I left, during the first loooong layover.
 
Layover knitting 1
 
This was on the plane on the second leg of the trip to Texas.
 
Plane knitting 1
 
This was as I was landing that first night.
 
Plane knitting 2
 
And this was during the second layover on the way home as I was eating the homemade pimento cheese sandwich my mom made for me for lunch.
 
Lunch
 
The most exciting trip news I have to share with you is that Storm Cloud is fabulously wearable!
 
Most of the shawls I have feel like they’re wrapped around my neck more than my shoulders when I wear them, even the big ones. And I’m constantly fiddling to make sure they don’t come loose from how I’ve arranged them or slide off altogether. Storm Cloud was completely different! It rested naturally around my shoulders, and I could adjust it for the temperature without even really thinking about it.
 
I had it on all day a couple of different days, and when I wasn’t noticing that it was my handspun yarn and feeling kind of giddy about that, it was a perfect instance of form meets function. Nothing missing, nothing extra. It was like wearing a hug. I can’t say enough good things about it. This is truly the most enjoyable knitted thing I’ve ever worn. 
 
I even managed to get a handknits-in-action shot:
 
Storm cloud on plane
 
The trip itself was terrific. I spent lots of time hanging out and visiting with family. This is my step-brother’s dog, Roman, who is the sweetest boy ever.
 
Roman
 
And this is my aunt’s cat, Lola, who loves everyone!
 
Lola cat
 
I tried to get a shot of my mom’s cat, but they all turned out blurry. Next time.
 
This is a bird we met in a parking lot. I found out that my mom and my aunt carry bird seed in the car! When they see a hungry-looking bird (not sure how they can tell), they spread a handful of seed for it. I love them so much.
 
Bird 2
 
 

 Outtakes:

 

Aloe vera
 
Plant growing along the Texas Gulf Coast is a serious affair. Everything looked like it was about to take over the planet. The leaf on this one had to have been 18” across.
 
Big leaf plant
 
Did I mention that the layovers were realllllly long?
 
Lunch reading

Handspun Storm Cloud 4

Storm Cloud 1

Finished, soaked, and blocked Storm Cloud late last night, and managed to get some pics today. 

Storm Cloud 4

I think I’m really going to enjoy wearing this.

Storm Cloud 8

Storm Cloud 7I’m taking it with me to Texas for the plane and any other cool spots I might run into. I kind of hope there are lots. 

Trip Essentials

With two long layovers and a bunch of hanging out and visiting on the schedule, I should have plenty of time to knit. Hopefully, I’ll have some fun pictures to show you when I get back.

Wishing you love and peace on this September 11th.

BFF Socks and Banana Bread 2

I’m heading out of town this weekend to see family in Texas, so I’ve been trying to get all the things done this week. It’s been a little hectic. The weather is beautiful here on the mountain, though, and I’ve been enjoying that and making sure to set aside a little time for the things that keep me steady.

The day before yesterday, I cast on for Cookie A’s BFF Socks.

BFF Sock CO

I love this yarn. It’s Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock that I got at Stitches a million years ago. The colorway is “Eastern Bluebird.” At the time, we lived in Chicago, and I’d never seen an actual Bluebird, but here in Tennessee we see them all the over the place. Kind of cool.

Today, I made banana bread. It turned out even tastier than usual for some reason.

Banana Bread 2

It’s so interesting how the top comes out looking different every time.

Banana Bread 3a

And here’s a tiny little view of fall.

Changing Leaves

That one little section of leaves has started to change color. It’s kind of startling to see the red in all that green. Before we know it, the red and orange and yellow will be everywhere. It happens so fast.

I’m still waiting on the buttons for Calligraphy, so no update to share there. I’ve almost finished my Storm Cloud Shawlette, though. If I manage to get the last couple of rows done tonight, I’ll try to post some pics tomorrow before I leave.

Happy knitting, my friends! Be well.

Labor Day 1

Calligraphy è finito!

Calligraphy Blocking

It’s not a well-knit sweater because I’m a goof and didn’t swatch. I could try to defend the not swatching by explaining how I got gauge to the millimeter with the last swatch I did, and the sweater ended up way too big. I think that in that case the problem was that I was doing a stockinette swatch for a lace pattern; however, knowing that didn’t make me feel any less grudging toward the idea of swatching for this sweater. Even when I got to the sleeves and had the huge-ness issue, for some reason I felt inclined to attribute this to the position of the sun relative to the marigolds in my herb garden rather than consider the not swatching and the fact that my gauge might be miles off.

I should have swatched. The sweater is huge in the body, and it’s because I didn’t swatch. Swatching is important. There, I said it. I know it. Knitting friends, please hold me to it.

Moving on . . . . I think I’m going to love this sweater even with its exceptionally roomy body. I wore it nonstop until I had to put it in the water to soak before blocking. I’ve been petting it every few hours. I ordered these buttons for it. They should be here this week. I can’t wait.

Buttons

And instead of casting on for Gramps right away, I cast on for the Storm Cloud Shawlette with my handspun! This will be the first wearable thing I’ve made with my handspun yarn, and I’m loving knitting with it. Work is kind of insane this week, so I’ve had to knit in the in-between times, including when we took a break for a festive Labor Day lunch today.

Storm Cloud 1

As you might guess from the photo, lunch was followed by a nap.

But after the nap and the next set of papers, I snuck in a few minutes of knitting on the porch.

Storm Cloud 2

I love knitting. Thank goodness for knitting.

Capacitor Socks

Over the weekend I moved on to sock number two of the current pair of stripey socks. I love knitting.

Ewe have a delivery . . . 4

Hola, knitters! Just checking in to say a quick hello and share a little knit love.

If you’re looking for an interesting read, I highly recommend this post over at kariebookish.net. Karie’s blog is new to me. I’m not even sure how I ended up there, but it looks like it’s absolutely full of interesting knitterly things. The most recent post talks about Karie’s experience at the In the Loop 4 conference and includes information about a number of the presenters and the topics they explored. I wasn’t familiar with In the Loop, but Karie describes it as, “an academic conference about knitting and crochet.” Who knew? It sounds fabulous!

One of Karie’s many awesome links took me to the Skein Blog and this post about Japanese knitting books. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but Japanese knitting books make me weak in the knees. Skein’s 10 reasons why these things quickly become an obsession are right on.

Meanwhile, on the homefront . . .

Sticker

Isn’t this an awesome sticker? It was on a package from The Yarn Attic that came in the mail today. It’s the first time I’ve ordered from them, and I like their little sheepy so much I want to order from them again just to have her turn up in my mailbox.

This is what was on the inside:

Argyle

It’s Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in “Argyle.” For Gramps. Finally! I’ve been intending to knit a Gramps cardigan for ever and ever and ever.

I’m on the button band of Calligraphy, so I might even get to cast on for Gramps this weekend.

Button band

On a completely unrelated note, look at our bees!

Bees

Our friend J, the bee whisperer, came by last week and was worried the bees weren’t finding enough food to put up a good supply of honey to get them through the winter. He advised us to start giving them sugar water. We’ve been setting a tray of it out for them once a day, and this is what happens from the time we put it out until it’s bone dry. Crazy, huh?