Birthplace: Tuscany

Fresh off the needles: Kusha Kusha Scarf.

Kusha Kusha was cast on during a day trip through Tuscany in late September.  We were on our way to Volterra and it was a beautiful day.  Rolling hills, topped with farm houses flanked by tall cypress trees.  The fields had been harvested, so the dirt lay as a dusty taupe blanket on the hills.  Grapes were still on the vine, hanging in all their succulence, tempting the lips, and tempting the camera.

Knitting Kusha Kusha. Well, it is entirely stockinette stitch, so there’s not a whole lot of entertainment value in the knitting, and in fact I was surprised how long it took to knit. The way it is knit is that for the first two-thirds or so of the scarf you knit the strands of superfine merino (I used brown) and silk-wrapped steel (black silk with glints of steel peaking through) together as one, and then at about the two-thirds mark, it’s just the silk-covered steel strand.  I discovered that although there’s nothing magical or mystical about knitting with silk-covered stainless steel, it wasn’t as easy to deal with as it appeared because the yarn doesn’t just wrap itself aroung the needles like typical fibers, but it bends and you wrap it around the needle.  It doesn’t exactly fight being knitted and it’s not like trying to knit with cable off your TV or anything, but it just has it’s own mind despite it’s threadlike appearance.

The best part about the whole project is felting it, because just when you think it’s not going to look any different, suddenly the fibers open up and felt and you have this very interesting piece of subtle wearable art to hang around your neck. After I felted it, I pulled at the rolled edges in various places to give it a toothsome edge.  Ironic for me that Kusha Kusha is so subtle and that the project I finished just before it is Norah Gaughan’s Cabled Coat, which is so in your face, that when I wear it, people do double-takes (which, isn’t quite me, I have to admit).  If it weren’t so slow going, I’d jump on it to make another one, but I think I’ll wait on that for a bit.

Would I recommend knitting a Kusha Kusha to anyone who has yet to try it?  Absolutely.  Why?  Because it has to be experienced.  You’re knitting with stainless steel, for goodness sake, and it’s just too different a concept not to try it.

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Raid on Antibes*

Finally got my Mac back after the techs at Apple had their hands on it for some warranty work, and now I can access my pictures from the trip to Europe.

My knitting traveling companions were Bird’s Eye Shawl and Kusha Kusha Scarf, which I cast on for during the trip. I worked on Bird’s Eye for much of the first week, and then cast on for Kusha Kusha toward the end of the first week (during a day trip to Volterra, Italy). Taking lace on a touring trip is probably not the best idea and I knew it going in, but I didn’t have anything else easier and as small to carry, so Bird’s Eye was the primary candidate, and it turned out to be a lifesaver for the flight to Europe because I ended-up in a seat with a non-functioning personal video screen, and a non-functioning light, so it was Bird’s Eye for much of the 9-hour flight (I had a little clip-on LED book light to use to see with). Luckily I brought everything for Kusha Kusha, as that was definitely the better project for touring with.

Kusha Kusha in Antibes, France

Antibes looks much better without knitting in front of it. No?

Do you think the guy with the really big boat is worried about global warming and the price of gas?

Jolly Jail Birds

I couldn’t resist this picture. They were penned-up in this cage in front of a shop along Voie Georges Pompidou in Paris. By the way, how do you know which bank is Left Bank and which is the Right Bank in Paris? From what perspective are they left and right?

By the way, my apologies for claiming that there was a Beard Papa in Portland, Oregon, if that sent anyone else scurrying for information on the locale as it did Super Eggplant blogger Mariko. For some reason I thought I’d been told that there was one there. However, despite her dismay in finding no Beard Papa to be had in her town, Mariko informed me that Beard Papa’s website states that there will be a Beard Papa in Lynnwood, Washington in November in addition to the one in Seattle’s Uwajimaya. Parking shouldn’t be a problem, which is good because my husband still owes me my meter money stash.

*Not to be confused with the Peter Finch film, Raid on Entebbe, and this sort of play on names assumes the mispronunciation of Antibes. Sorry.

Wisp Completed

Here’s Wisp completed, and I’m pretty happy with it. The super light Habu silk mohair blend yarn is rather dreamy and makes the scarf incredibly light.

The color is funky in the first photo because I played with the image, since the scarf looked like a blur of pink mohair due to light reflecting off the mohair when the photo’s in its raw state.

There are reasons for blocking, and I don’t often block my knitting. Scandalous, I know. Part of it is that I have a 3-year old and three cats in the house, so I don’t have anyplace to lay anything out, and finally, no sooner do I wear the blocked item, it relaxes and needs to be blocked again. Why bother? Yesterday, muttering such things to myself, I blocked Wisp on a carpet and in one glance I spotted an error in my knitting (not unusual). A stitch had been caught by mohair fibers but not the silk fibers of the stitch it should have been knit by. Luckily, it happened on the end closest to the bind-off.

Here’s the close-up:

So I set about undoing the bind-off to the column I’d need to work on and undid the stitches down to the rogue stitch and worked back up again.

The gold crochet hook is where the error was:

Of course, a really good magnifying glass helps a lot:

If I hadn’t blocked the scarf, I wouldn’t have found the error until it had a chance to unravel considerably.

Anticipation

I went weak in the knees last week when I saw Fluffbuff’s latest finished item, Wisp, and had to give in and, oh, so uncreatively copy her. I’m like that though: in most cases when I see something I like 100%, I just have to make it, right down to the color used. I guess I lack creativity, oh well. So that day I ordered the same yarn, Habu Kasuri Silk Mohair, in what appears to be the same color (sorry Francesca, we’ll be twins), and it arrived 3 days later and I cast on that night.

Part of it is that I love mohair, especially if it’s really good quality, and mohair scarves (see my previous entry) and the lightweight warmth they provide. Habu Kasuri Silk Mohair does not disappoint as it is superbly soft, fine and lightweight; it’s so fine it could perhaps be classed as gossamer. In fact, I like the yarn so much I may use it to make another of my all time favorite scarf later this year, Simply Sensational (see also previous entry).

While in the beginning stages of knitting Wisp, I have found that my usual bamboo needles just aren’t cutting it in ease of knitting with such fine yarn, so I’ve finally given in and ordered a set of Knitpicks Options Interchangeable Needles in Harmony Wood, which are reputed to have fine points comparable to Addi Lace. Amimonogatari seems to like them, as do others, so I thought they’d be worth a try and I am anticipating their arrival.

The other day I awakened to find this spectacular surprise outside.

Every twig and swordfern leaflet was coated in snow. It was just a beautiful day, and there was enough snow to put my son on the toboggan from Norway that a neighbor gave us at Christmas. My neighbor got four toboggans in a trade with someone on Craig’s List. My son wasn’t too sure about it, but we had fun scooting down the drive on it together. It was his first legitimate sled ride, as opposed to the improvised sled of last year that consisted of a tote bin for toys with wheels on it.

Afterwards, we went inside and warmed-up by munching on my latest food addiction, Brainy Brownies, from The Sneaky Chef cookbook. They have wheat germ, whole wheat and pureed spinach and blueberries in them and you wouldn’t know it, they taste just like an ordinary brownie. They’re simply delicious.