Confessions of a missing bloggist

I confess, that despite my absence from blogging I have been knitting, and therefore, I also confess that I have not been blogging about it. Having said that, I think it’s time to do some catching-up.

From the depths of my knitting projects languishing in neglect, I present Bird’s Eye Shawl. Never reaching it’s originally intended size, and having become bored at the one-third point, I decided to call it “finished” and began casting-off last fall. The cast-off was so laborious, I didn’t finish it until April. Actually, I’m now glad that I didn’t make it bigger, because the rate of increases would have made the ends so long that I would not be able to wear it much. As it is, the ends are so long and tapering that I don’t know what to do with the ends; they get caught on things, trapped in car doors, pulled by small children. The resulting fabric is beautiful, and so soft, but I find I don’t wear it much because of the long ends. If I were to do it differently, I’d forgo the increases and make it into a rectangular wrap. Finished size: 200 cm (78 in.) x 85 cm (33 in.), blocked.

Details
Project: Bird’s Eye Shawl, by Sharon Miller
Yarn: Heirloom Knitting Merino Lace
Needles: 3.00 mm/US 2.5

Next to finish was Langston, in response to my daughter’s request, “Please knit me a sweater.” I added a few more rows to the bottom and cuffs, and a crocheted a little reinforcement to inside of the collar, to keep it slipping off of my 4-year old’s shoulders. Of course, by the time I finished it, she wasn’t able to wear it because the weather had turned too warm for wool sweaters on an active and vivacious 4-year old, but it should fit her fine this fall because it’s pretty roomy.

Details
Project: Langston, by Teresa Cole
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK
Needles:
3.25 mm/US 3 & 3.75 mm/US 5

Then came Chinook Scarf, an end-of-the-year gift for my son’s first grade teacher. Fortunately, I started Chinook in April, and by most accounts of others on Ravelry who had knitted it before me, there was a good chance it would be done in less than a month, and it was. It is a narrow crescent-shaped scarf that started-out kind of fun and by about the middle began to drag on. The only thing that kept me going was that looming deadline of the last day of school in June, and still, it is a fun scarf, and I am toying with idea of making another one. It was tricky to get the I-cord edging just right because of it’s tendency to curl, and I found that if I kept the three stitches that comprise the I-cord quite loose, the curling wouldn’t be as pronounced. The other thing I realized, which is hard to see in many of the finished photos on Ravelry, is that the scarf is and arced crescent, and therefore to some degree the curling of the edge creates the arc.

Details
Project: Chinook Scarf, by Ali Green
Yarn:
Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering
Needles:
3.5 mm/US 4

For fun and relief after Chinook, I went onto Twig. I had this ball of fingering weight Shetland wool yarn loitering around in my stash, begging for a chance on stage, and I could leave it standing in the wings anymore, and I needed something fun and quick. I have no idea what brand it is nor could I trace it to any project I’d ever made, but I loved it’s peaty green color and was desirous of making a neck wrap of it. Based on the yarn weight, I approximated that I had about 150 yards of it, which gave me very few options, and then I saw Twig, and I knew that that was the one. Twig was fun to knit and, as you can tell from the pictures, very unusual to make. Great fun and I look forward to wearing it under a coat or sweater this fall.

Details
Project: Twig, by Grace Mcewen
Yarn: stashed fingering weight Shetland yarn

Elm Row came out of buying a skein of Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace for a specific project and then deciding to use something else, so into the stash this went. I found Elm Row while sifting through Ravelry using the Advanced Pattern search (my favorite method of finding patterns) and knew that this would be perfect for Alpaca Lace. I loved knitting this, although I had to keep back-tracking and fixing mistakes because I was trying to knit it while watching movies. I fell in love with the yarn, and it’s so indescribably soft, I would love to have a whole bed made of it. I think this will probably be my new go-to scarf this fall and winter.

Details
Project:
Elm Row, by Anne Hanson
Yarn:
Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace
Needles: 3.25 mm/US 3

Since I didn’t use all of the skein of the Alpaca Lace for Elm Row, I just had to do something with as much of the remainder as I could. So I decided to look at Anne Hanson’s patterns and found Hellebores, which consists of a beret and wristlets, so I chose the wristlets. I like these wristlets! Just enough lace where it counts and ribbing where the cuffs are hidden by a coat sleeve. This pattern was easier to knit while watching movies, and it went along quite smoothly. I have to say that I am impressed with Anne Hanson’s patterns; she has such a sizable collection to choose from and they are well-written and interesting to knit.

Details
Project: Hellebores Wristlets, by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace
Needles: 3.25 mm/US 3

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An Excellent Adventure

What a crazy few weeks it’s been. Where to start?

When I last posted, it was almost the end of August and Alex and I and the kids were off to the ocean for our summer vacation. Fast forward a few days with a rushed drive home from the ocean culminating in an emergency appendectomy (husband), in which we drove all the way back from our ocean trip straight to an hospital ER door. Follow that up with a last-minute, unplanned change of schools for our 7-year old (more on that some other time). Next was my trip to Los Angeles for Vogue Knitting LIVE! 2011 (more on that later, also). After that, I was home for 4 days before my husband and I flew to San Jose for a tour of the Tesla factory. Sometimes it’s just easier starting with the most recent thing first, so I’ll focus on the San Jose trip today, as well as some knitting..

So, Alex and I left the fall gloom of Seattle and landed in San Jose on a hot, sunny day—the sun felt so good. On our way to the hotel we happened upon a Japanese neighborhood festival and grabbed lunch. We had a hearty meal at Gombei.

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I had broiled mackerel—amazingly moist and buttery—with a side of cool tofu with green onion and bonito flakes, and Alex had soba noodles on a bed of ice cubes, which we found pleasantly refreshing on a hot day.

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Before we left the festival, I bought a beautiful pair of Big Sur blue jade earrings.

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Later that day, we left for the Tesla factory.

What is Tesla? I can’t possibly get all the facts right, but it’s a car company founded by Elon Musk, and is on the verge of changing the way we think about electric cars. Gone are the images of little puttering electric cars that drive about as fast as a golf cart and have a range that takes you not much further than the confines of your city.

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The sedan Tesla, Model S, will seat 7 people, will be completely electric, have enough charge to go up to 300 miles, and will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds. The current Tesla car, the Roadster, is a two-seat model, has a range of 245 miles, and accelerates 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

20111013-171627.jpgElon Musk, addressing the crowd.

It was quite an event, and we were there with a couple thousand future Model S owners for the tour and a ride in the Model S. The final version of the Model S has not been made yet and will not be available until 12 months from now, so we rode in a beta model. The test ride was fast, and demonstrated it maneuverability, low center of gravity (due to the lithium batteries on the bottom of the chassis), and responsive acceleration by taking it up to 70 in a short closed track. It was fun.

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Knitting. I been using-up my stash of Zephyr 2/18 in black, making Kozue, and I thought I’d have enough for it, but I don’t. Having bought the yarn about 10 years ago, I couldn’t possibly match dye lots, so I bought some in a different shade, Claret. I decided that it would be best to add bands of Claret in various placed throughout the shawl. I’ve put a sizable band near the end of it, and now I’ll add a thinner band to the beginning by cutting into the earlier rows and picking-up stitches. Why do I always have to do things the hard way?

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I’m trying to roll with the fact that final Kozue isn’t going to look the way I’d hoped it would, and find that inner easy-going me that never was, and love the new look.

It came from the black lagoon…

No, actually, the yarn is Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18 in black and it came from the deep dark reaches of the bottom of my stash.

A couple of weeks ago, there I was, happily knitting Rose Diamonds when my thoughts kept returning to the Abrazo I’d made for my mother and gave her for the trip to Turkey and I began to wonder how the little shawl was making out. Was it enjoying it’s trip to Turkey? Was it enjoying my mother’s social calender? Then I began to think how I’d really like an Abrazo for myself, and in an astonishing flick of an eye, I’d dropped Rose Diamonds and cast on for my very own Abrazo.

Everything was going really well on it, I’d begun the short rows, and I thought I was almost done when I discovered that I’d inadvertently added 28 yarnovers where there shouldn’t have been in the final row of lace. This is the final row before starting the stockinette short rows; I had thought finishing was a few hours away. With the extra yarnovers, the placement (or centering) of the short rows was way off, and I had no other option than to fix the whole thing. So I ripped-out all of the stockinette, then the row containing the offending yarnovers, and resumed from there.

All’s well that ends well, as they say, and I’m fairly pleased.  Of course, as with the one I made for my mother, I had to steam block it because I still couldn’t find my handy blocking squares.*

Details
Pattern: Abrazo by Susanna IC
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Merino-Silk 2/18 in black
Needles: 5.0 mm/US 8.0
Additional Supplies: silver-lined purple seed beads, size 8/0

*My husband has since found the missing interlocking carpet squares, and although he won’t admit it, it seems he stowed them away someplace high and out of the way during one of his organizing frenzies.  Hey, I’m just glad to have them back!

Tokyu Wisp

The very first photo taken by my five year old son. I'm so proud!

Tokyu Wisp is done and I’m relieved! The stitch pattern is easy, but slow going, making it rather tedious after a while. Even so, it makes a pretty scarf.

Details
Pattern: Wisp by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: acrylic, mohair blend from Tokyu Hands, Tokyo, Japan
Needles: 5.0 mm / US 8

Finishing two projects in a week has to be a new personal best, and definitely a rare event. Now that Abrazo and Wisp are done, the tendency is to start more projects, and I may still do that, but I’d like to finish some long languishing projects and bring them out of hibernation. If I do start something new, it might be Frost Diamonds Shawl by Stefanie Japel.

Scarfed that one down!

I started and finished One Row Lace Scarf by Turvid lightening-fast and, really, it’s not too surprising because it’s definitely one of those quick and easy projects, especially when using DK-weight yarn vs. the fingering-weight called for in the pattern. This was one of those plain and simple stash-busting projects to utilize the one skein of light blue DROPS Muskat I was given at a knitter’s guild holiday party a few years ago, and at a very short 100 meters (109 yards) I had no idea what to do with it. Thankfully, Ravelry is the wonderful pattern source that it is and I was able to find this scarf in a pattern search. I knew that with so little yarn to use that it wouldn’t go far, so instead of 5 pattern repeats, I did 4 repeats across and was able to produce a scarf 12 cm x 96 cm (5” x 38”) in size; just enough for one wrap around the neck and a simple tie. Perfect for a mild weather scarf.

Details
Pattern: One Row Lace Scarf by Turvid
Yarn: DROPS Muskat (100% mercerized cotton), one skein
Needles: 5.0 mm (US 8 )

Color me purple.

Amanda Shawl is done.

What a pleasant project it was, and I like that it has some lacework in it and that the bulk of it is stockinette.

Stripes are not my usual thing, but I’m trying to step outside my “usual” and do things that stretch me and push me out of my comfort zone.

It’s a fairly easy knit, although I have to say that I hate it when I have pick-up tons of stitches to knit with as this pattern calls for.  The instructions come in PDF format, providing both written instructions and chart for the lace work, but my only criticism is that the chart is so small, it was too hard to read easily as I went along, so I went with the written instructions.

My gauge was slightly smaller than called for, so it made the shawl smaller,  and instead of the medium-sized one I’d hoped for, I ended-up with something closer to the small-sized one, and measuring 44″ across the top.  I knew it was smaller going into it, but felt that a larger needle would have made for a looser knit.  It’s okay, I’ll live with it. I think…

Progress at about a week ago.

Details
Pattern: Amanda’s Shawl by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Great Northern Mink (sheared)/Cashmere Yarn in purple and Michell & CIA Indiecita 3-ply Alpaca in brown.
Needle: 4 mm (US 6)

I don’t know what it is with me and purple lately, but I’m all about purple.  There was Ribbed Mini-Scarf in purple Shokay Shambala yarn, then there was Veste Croisée in purple La Droguerie Alpaga Plumette, Shawl Neck Cardigan in purple Elann Quechua, and then there was the purple Great Northern Mink (Sheared) Yarn I used for Amanda Shawl.

Okay-Shokay Completed

Well that was satisfyingly quick and easy! In all I probably spent about 4-6 hours of time knitting my version of Ribbed Mini-Scarf (Raverly link or designer’s blog link), but life and other projects took much of my time, so it took a whole month to make.

It’s a good pattern and I recommend it if you are seeking a super-quick knit for a gift for someone.

The only thing I did differently was that I made the hole through which the end of the scarf should be strung through for wearing smaller, and made it more of a buttonhole for the really cool button I bought at Nancy’s Sewing Basket in Seattle. If you go to one of the links above for the scarf you’ll see that it’s meant to be worn in a manner that is far more interesting, than what I did, but I wanted the scarf to block-out more cold air.

Pattern: Ribbed Mini-Scarf by Celeste Glassel (free pattern)

Yarn: Shokay Shambala Yak Down in purple, one skein (100 grams, 164 yds/150 m – I had 15 grams left)

Needle: U.S. 6/ 4 cm

Finished dimensions: 4.5″ x 34″ (11.5 cm x 86 cm)

Gauge: 20 sts/4 in. (10 cm) in pattern stitch

Notes on the yarn: it is scrumptious to touch, but upon wearing it around my neck, it’s a tad bit scratchy which I find a bit disappointing, but that’s the nature of yak down, I guess. Also, it’s probably going to pill a bit, as when I frogged parts of the scarf as I worked to get the buttonhole just the right size, it released bits of fuzz, and then when I washed it, the water had a fair amount of fibers floating around; a bit of color also came off in the wash.

My son and I have been home sick with some kind of nasty cold lately, so I opened this mysterious package of tea my mother brought back from Japan last September:

Mysterious, only because I don’t read Japanese and all my mother knows is that it’s meant to be used when sick. I could break out my Kanji dictionary, but that would take about 2 hours of knitting time to decipher, and why would I waste my time?

Whatever it is, it’s quite good, and clearly has some green tea powder in it, some ume (plum), and maybe some yuzu (citron).

When one is sick, does one bake? Stupidly, yes. So as lousy as I felt yesterday, I made croissant from scratch and they were my best batch yet.

I have no idea why they turned out so well this time, except that there was the toddler factor: “Mommy, I want to see what you’re doing!” “Mommy, I want to stir!” “Mommy, what are you doing?” “Let me do it!” “Mommy, I need to go potty!” It’s a bonified miracle the croissant were so good.