Posts for : October 2015

BFFs 2

Blue Socks 3

So the BFF socks are off the needles. For some reason I feel compelled to share that they aren’t right. The pattern is great, the yarn is luscious . . . but the knitter wasn’t paying attention.

You can kind of see it here: 

Blue Sock 2

See how the right one is shorter than the left one? I used the same size needles, and the socks have the same number of cables, but when I was knitting the one on the right, I crossed the cable one row early several times. Fewer rows = shorter sock. Imagine me crying quietly into the sleeve of my blue bath robe. Even Lola looks a little dismayed.

Earlier in the day when I was working on Sock #2, I was enjoying the idea of wearing these until they fell apart sometime in the far off future.

Porch Knitting

And Lola wasn’t the least bit worried about the already finished secretly shorter first sock.

Blue Sock 1

Alas . . . I think the moral of this story is don’t knit something where you have to pay attention during a tense football game. I was rooting for Baylor during the leg of that first one. 

Oh, well. I thought about redoing it, and I guess I’m still kind of thinking about it, but I’m not really in the mood to knit another blue sock right now. We’ll see.

In the meantime there’s always the glorious handspun I’m going to use to make myself some fingerless mitts.

Fall Handspun

And banana bread.

Banana Bread

Not Yet, Winter 2

This weekend was all about fall. 

Fall Chicken Coop

The leaves are shockingly beautiful. It’s surprising again and again that they they can be so vivid. I keep trying to soak it all in so I’ll have it in the dark and cold that will be here before long.

Fall at Home 4

Fall at Home 7

I’ve been spending as much time as possible outside. Yesterday, we visited friends with GOATS!

Paul and Gracie

AT Goat 1 web

These guys are angora goats, and their fleece makes wonderful, lofty fiber for spinning and knitting. And speaking of knitting, I did some along the way. Here’s the first sock in this pair, finished except for the kitchenering.

Sock

Happy knitting, my friends! And happy fall!

Fall Sunday 1

Counting My Blessings 2

Signatures

My back hurts. A lot. It feels like someone ripped the muscle away from the spine and back-of-the-ribs on the right side. I mention this because it’s pretty much all I can think about at the moment, but I want to do a blog post anyway . . . so we don’t get behind. Please forgive any wandering thoughts. Because pain killers.

Here’s the news from my corner of the world.

Pictured above is the first 100% unexpected, mouth agape, knock-me-over-with-a-feather, surprise birthday present I’ve gotten in a long, long time. This is such a nice gift I felt badly about accepting it for about one nanosecond. Then the needle lust took over.

Do you know about Signature needles? They are like little knitting magic wands. The tips are exactly the right amount of pointiness, the needle surface produces exactly the right amount of friction against the yarn, the cables on these circulars (which rotate freely at the needle!) are so flexible it’s like they aren’t even there, and the join . . . what join? Close your eyes. You can’t even feel it.

I’ve wanted a pair of Signature needles for a very long time, but I would never get them for myself, and none of the big time gift givers in my life understand knitting well enough to know that these needles are THE GIFT. Last weekend, though, I saw my dear friend P—(she appears here pretty regularly—I need to ask her if it’s okay for me to use her actual name)—and P handed me a birthday present that turned out to be these needles.

To say I love them is putting it mildly.

I spent a day picking a pattern worthy of them. Sunday, I cast on Veronik Avery’s Travel Shawl.

Travel Shawl CO

K3tog? Hah! These needles scoff at your k3tog. I keep expected to find myself knitting 17 together by accident. Magic, I tell you. Pure magic.

For my Travel Shawl, I’m using the same Peace Fleece DK sport I used for the Calligraphy cardigan. My original plan was to rip back the cardigan and use that yarn since my gauge issues gave Calligraphy a less-than-ideal fit. I’ve started with fresh yarn, though, and I’m enjoying it, so I just might continue with it.

Travel Shawl CO 2

This is a great pattern, and these needles make it such a pleasure to knit. If I were to just knit this pattern with these needles until the end of time, that might actually be okay.

Other news . . .

At the Knotty Ladies Retreat last weekend, in addition to the wonderful camaraderie, there were these mitts from Spinfoolish. Actually, Spinfooish had a whole basketful of drool worthy mitts, but these jumped onto my hands and refused to leave.

Mitts

I have worn them every day this week until today when it was finally warmish. Besides being a great pattern that fits well and looks even better, these are hand knit from my friend Dorothea’s handspun yarn. I think Dorothea herself knit (knitted?) them although it might have been her incomparable mother, “Mummy” to Dorothea and wannabe-Mummy’s-children like myself.

These mitts are instant happiness. From the moment I put them on, I’m warm—inside, outside, all the sides are warm.

The other thing that I absolutely could not leave without on Saturday was this red yarn from Good Fibrations. This red. Oh dear angels of color inspiration, you have outdone yourselves with this red. As I’m looking at it now, the gloriousness of this red is *almost* enough to take my mind off the pain in my back. I swear—it resonates beyond the reach of normal color. I want to gently part the strands and sink into the center of this luscious hank of red. Seriously, there are no words for this red.

Burning Embers

And finally, guess what! After waiting for nearly two years, I’ve made it into the Hello Yarn Fiber Club. I got the invitation yesterday! I’m beginning to  think my sore back might be a blessing. Without it, I’d probably explode from all the fibery good fortune.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be back in a couple of days with more Travel Shawl. In the meantime be well, my knitters!

It’s All Good 4

Sunday 1

This past weekend was supposed to be one thing that we had been planning for nearly a year, and instead it was an altogether different thing, and it was all good. Imagine that. 

Dear friends C and P were getting married in Chicago on Saturday. It went without saying that we would be there. We’d planned to arrive a couple of days early, visit with people we hadn’t seen in two and a half years, eat at our favorite restaurants, do all our favorite Chicago things . . . We’re not big on advance planning, and those days had been circled on the calendar for something like ten months. 

But then life things happened. We had sick animals. We didn’t go. 

I felt sad and guilty and like we’d made the right decision all at the same time. When it occurred to me that being in town meant I could make at least one day of the Knotty Ladies Fiber Retreat, I first felt happy but then guilty again. It seemed bad to do something fun if the fun thing wasn’t C and P’s wedding. There was all kinds of angst and ambivalence. But then the weekend came. We took care of Blade and Eudora. I drove up to the retreat for a few hours on Saturday. We spent Sunday soaking up the gorgeous fall weather. C and P got hitched without us and according to all reports are well on their way to living happily ever after. When will I learn? It’s all good.

So . . . the fall weather:

Sunday 4

Sunday 6

Sunday 3

It’s almost too much to bear it’s so beautiful. Every single day has been blue, blue, impossibly blue skies, crisp air, changing leaves . . . so pretty it hurts.

And though I don’t have many pictures to show it, the Knotty Ladies Retreat was equally perfectly wonderful. This year, it was on top of Roan Mountain. The guests all stayed in cabins and hung out during the day at the conference center, complete with roaring fire in the giant fireplace, lots and lots of laughter, knitting, spinning, visiting, learning, eating, relaxing . . . again, almost too much to bear in its just-rightness.

My friend Cari is responsible for this. Cari deserves a dedicated post, but since trying to do her justice feels all but impossible at the moment, I’ll just say here that she is a force. She and her husband, J, moved to this area shortly before we did. It was a conscious decision to follow a path they’d chosen for themselves. And one day at a time, one small step after another, they began to build the life they’d dreamed. And beyond that, Cari began to pull together a community of knitters and spinners and shepherds and weavers and dyers . . . from what used to be a bunch of individuals.

She does this thing where she sets her sights on something good, something big—like the Knotty Ladies retreat, like literally wrapping her entire town in a knitted scarf to support cancer patients and their families and friends.  She’s so convinced the thing can happen that she convinces other people. Before long, one dedicated, creative, committed person at a time, she’s built a community. Suddenly you have a bunch of amazing individuals putting  their talents toward the thing Cari saw. And before you know it, that thing is real.

I saw where one friend recently posted to Cari on Facebook: “Look what you have manifested.” Indeed. 

This is Cari: 

Cari 3

This is Cari: 

Cari 1

This is:

Cari 6

And this:

Cari 2

And this: 

Saturday 1

And so much more.

It’s all good. Especially with people like Cari in the world.

 

Post Script

One more . . . It’s important. This is Cari too.

Cari and Gary

 

Computers, Cooking, and Contrasting Colors 2

Ever feel like the machines are not your friend? It’s been one computer drama after another around here this week. I’ve been fighting with my email for days, the server at work that lets me do my thing has been on the blink, my father’s computer went crazy last night and started sending him weird messages before abandoning its connection to the network altogether and leaving him at the mercy of the cable people . . . Yuck! It’s enough to make you forget how really wonderful these things are.

Despite the technical difficulties, the rest of life has been rolling along.

On Wednesday, there was knitting in the park. I had an appointment in town in the morning, and that left me with an hour to kill before yoga. Since the day was so overwhelmingly gorgeous, I decided the ducks had the right idea and joined them in this nice spot next to the pond while I worked on my BFF sock.

Sock and Ducks

It’s funny. If I hadn’t had my knitting, I would have been at loose ends just hanging out here. With my sock to work on, though, it was wonderful. I soaked up the sunshine and fresh air and enjoyed watching the birds and felt completely relaxed and at ease. Knitting is good in so many ways, and some of the best are hard to name or even describe. Know what I mean?

Another thing I’ve been up to this week is kitchen adventures with Alana Chernila and The Homemade Kitchen. 

So far, I’ve pickled the last peppers from this year’s garden:

Pickling

I’ve cooked Dal.

Dal 1

. . . with Raita which I’d never had—it’s AMAZING!

Dal 2

And I’ve made gingerbread!

Gingerbread

Yummm!!!!! Oh, my goodness. This was so incredibly tasty.

I’ve also been trying to decide whether or not I like “Echo” as a contrast color for the “Argyle” in Gramps. 

Gramps CC 2

Gramps CC

The “Echo” came in the mail yesterday. I set it and my Gramps-in-progress on the end table so that I’d see them every time I passed through the living room. I was hoping that if I just exposed myself to the combination for a day or so, it would become clear whether or not the two colorways belonged together. I’m still not 100% sure, but I think I’m going to take the leap and see how this turns out.

Now, I’m off to take a nap before the busy weekend gets underway. Lola has already found the sunny spot.

Sun Bathing

Thank you for stopping by, and happy knitting!

What did the tree learn from the earth . . .* 1

Spinzilla 2015 is in the books. Between the alpaca/BFL and the Targhee from Hello Yarn, I ended up with 1,896 yards according to Spinzilla’s method of measuring. They give you special calculations for plying versus spinning singles.

Spinzilla 2015

I was pretty excited to have exceeded my goal of spinning a mile. And then I started seeing other people’s totals. Holy moly! The top person on our team spun 5,834 yards. That’s 3.3 MIIIILES!!!! And many people spun in the two- and three-thousand yard range.

The result for me is that I am now focused on Spinzilla 2016 big time. Like a laser. Like the 2-quadrillion watt LFEX device that Japan says it just fired that in one trillionth of a second creates energy equal to 1,000 times the earth’s power consumption. I’m focused like that. Next year. I will spin. Multiple miles. You heard it here.

Speaking of hearing things, I’ve been hearing a lot about the new Amazon Handmade venture. It sounded kind of exciting at first, but now I’m not so sure. There’s an eye-opening blog post describing one artist’s experience with it here. Kinda scary.

And to continue in the vein of mentioning one totally unrelated thing after another, I read a fascinating review of a book on tree hugging this weekend. I don’t know anything about the site that published the piece, but the book seems worth checking out. Here’s the take away from the review:

The answer to how plants and trees affect us physiologically turns out to be very simple. It is all to do with the fact that everything vibrates in a subtle manner, and different vibrations affect biological behaviours.

Pretty cool, huh? It’s like knowing how amazingly similar chlorophyll and human blood are. You don’t need this information to appreciate trees or to make the case for our connectedness, but it’s good for putting your mind to work.**

I looked up during my walk yesterday and saw this.

IMG 1622

It was a beautiful day to be outside.

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And Blade made a friend.

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* . . . to be able to talk with the sky? From Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions.

 

**UPDATE, 10/13/15:  Sadly, it appears that the tree hugging book, Blinded by Science by Matthew Silverstone, lacks credibility. Here is one review that suggests it’s not entirely nonsense, but who knows. I’m not inclined to spend time following up.

Knit, Spin, Ply, Knit . . . 4

Gramps

On Thursday, we did a lot of driving, enough that I was able to finish the body of Gramps down to the ribbing. The picture shows the moment when I was finishing up the frogged yarn from Gramps Version 1 and starting a new ball of yarn. I’m not sure why this is always such a wonderful thing, but it it is, it is, it is.

Now I need to figure out what I’m going to use for the contrasting color for the collar and the ribbing. I’d like something that matches the taupey/neutraly color in the “Argyle,” but it’s hard to tell from looking at photos online which color might work. I contacted Lorna’s Laces to see if they can tell me, but so far I haven’t heard back. Might have to give them a call.

Last night, we had sushi with our friends Cari and Jay, and Cari and I had festive adult beverages. Mine was a Wasabi Bloodytini. It was very good. I can’t remember what Cari’s was called, but it was apparently very good too.

Dinner 1

And look at Cari’s necklace! How about that for handknits in action?! I love it! Our dear friend P made it for Cari for her birthday. I’ll check with P, but I’m pretty sure it’s this pattern.

Dinner 2

Before meeting Cari and Jay, we did a little belated birthday shopping at the bookstore. Since we live in the middle of nowhere, getting to go to an actual bookstore is big fun.

In addition to two novels and a new cookbook, I got a rechargeable book light (i.e., knitting light!), and it works really well. I have a headlight that I’ve been using for a few years to knit in the car after dark, but it goes through batteries like crazy. Hopefully, the rechargeable feature on the new one will make it a little less pricey to use.

I knitted on my BFF socks on the drive home, and the new light worked great. Here’s a picture. You can see the cookbook in the background. It’s Alana Chernila’s Handmade Kitchen. More on it another time.

Car Knitting

The other thing I’ve been doing this week is spinning. Spinzilla ends tomorrow, and my goal for it was to spin at least a mile. I think I might make it!

Here’s what I did today while we watched the Baylor game. This is 4 oz of superwash Targhee. It’s Hello Yarn club fiber that I got in a destash. The colorway is “A Tinkle and a Glint.” You can’t really tell from this picture, but it’s full of wine, burgundy, rose . . . lovely reds.

Hello Yarn

And here’s some of the plied alpaca/BFL I was working on earlier this week. I’m thinking I might use this to knit Summer Flies. I ended up with 480 yards of it, so I think I’ll have plenty. I’ve had the pattern in my queue forever, and now that I know from Storm Cloud how wearable the half circle shape is for a shawl, I’m anxious to knit something else with this shape.

Alpaca BFL

Of course, I ended up with an uneven amount of singles on one bobbin when I was plying this. Usually, I weigh what’s left and try to divide it between bobbins so I can finish up without any leftovers. Since this is Spinzilla, though, and time is yardage, I wanted a quicker, less fiddly way to finish plying what was left on the one bobbin. My plan was to try Andean plying, but while I was looking for a good tutorial, I came across another technique called hand plying. It’s awesome! I’m sure I’ll try Andean plying at some point, but this method is definitely going in my bag of spinning tricks as well.

I’ll be finishing up my Spinzilla spinning tomorrow, so I should have an update on that for you on Monday. Hope you’re having a great fall weekend!

Ride a painted pony, let the spinnin’ wheel fly . . . 3

Spinzilla is underway! Since Sunday, it’s been pretty much all working and spinning around here.

IMG 1544

I decided to start the week off with 12 ounces of alpaca/BFL I got from our friends whose farm we visited for Alpaca Days a couple of weeks ago. What a pleasure to spin! It drafts incredibly easily and is oh so soft.

This was what I ended up with on day one. It’s a little over 6 ounces of singles.

Spinzilla Day 1

On day two, with a lot of help from Lola and Rasta, I finished turning the rest of the 12 ounces of roving into singles.

IMG 1547

IMG 1553

Today, I ply! I can’t wait to see how this turns out. I’m thinking I’ll end up with a sport weight yarn that wants to be mittens or maybe a scarf.

The weather has been gorgeous with lots of welcome sunshine after all the days of rain we’ve had recently, so even though I’m trying to spend every spare second at my wheel, I made time for a walk yesterday afternoon.

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I think this might be Blade’s first appearance on the blog. He’s had some health issues lately, so we haven’t been on a good long walk for a couple of weeks. This one made us both very happy.

IMG 1495

While I’ve been spinning, I’ve been listening to podcasts and watching a lot of TV. I even put my Elizabeth Zimmermann DVDs in the line up. It’s so  nice to spin along while she talks about the poor dear pearl stitch and the tragic consequences of ignoring gauge. It feels like any second she’s going to reach out from the screen and give me an encouraging little pat on the back. She’s the coolest.

At some point during my fiber media fest (can’t remember exactly when and where), I learned about Neural Knitworks. Have you heard of it?

It’s a project connected to Australia’s National Science Week. They ask people to knit neurons, and then groups of these textile neurons are put together to make what the organizers call “soft sculptural representations of the brain.” The point of the whole thing is to highlight the ways “Yarn craft, with its mental challenges, social connection and mindfulness, helps keep our brains fit.” The quote is from the Neural Knitworks Facebook page.

It’s a great idea, but what’s most interesting if you’re not an Australian school child, is how the project is serving as a kind of information hub for neuroscience news. The Facebook page is the best place to look for this. If you’re curious about how the brain works and how this ties into knitting, definitely give it a visit. There are links to everything from relevant TED talks to representations of the brain in textile art.

Fifty 4

Today, I turned fifty years old. I slept late, had coffee in bed, connected with people I love, went for a walk in the woods wearing handknit socks, ate Thai food, took a nap, and am now about to curl up on the couch for knitting and the new season of Homeland. Feeling very fortunate.

Birthday Walk 1

Birthday Walk 2

Birthday Walk 3

Birthday Walk 5

Birthday Walk 6

Birthday Walk 14

Birthday Walk 7

Birthday Walk 13

Birthday Walk 10

Birthday Walk 8

“When it’s cold she wears a mitten and a glove . . . “ 0

This has been a hole up and chill out kind of afternoon. I’m in a perfect little spot of in-between with work. I finished up an editorial project around noon, and I don’t get the next project until Monday. Also, I’m between classes until Monday. I was suddenly free.

So I made soup.

Cabbage Soup

This is really pretty good. It’s sweet and sour cabbage soup, which I’ve always liked but never tried making myself. It’s basically this recipe with a few minor adaptations. Perfect for the kind of wet, chilly weather we’re having right now.

I also snuggled and sock knitted.

Lola Augie Sock

And I thought about the mittens I’m going to knit with some of the handspun I spin during Spinzilla next week. I’m liking these and these and these.

Through it all, I listened to The Wood Brothers’ new album, Paradise, which was released today. The music is great, and their lyrics are awesome as always. The title of this post is a line from “Singin’ to Strangers.”

On the agenda for tonight is my first fall cider, pizza for dinner, and the last two episodes of Homeland, Season 4. Season 5 starts on Sunday. Woohoo!

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