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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Ode to Joyette

Here I am again, returned for a time from that mysterious world where blogging doesn’t occur called Life.

I have a few finished objects to report on, but one step at a time.

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Most recently off the needles is Joyette and, as it’s name suggests, it was a joy to knit.

I needed a small shawl to fit under my jacket when I stand outside my son’s school waiting for dismissal in the cold, driving rain, and digging through Ravelry, I found this shawlette pattern. Lucky me, I just happened to have the right yarn for the job.

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Looking rather serious. I must be thinking about the mountains of clothes to be washed, folded and put away.

The only hesitation I had in diving right in was because the pattern calls for a fair amount of crochet work at the end for the bottom edging, and I’m pretty rusty in that craft. However, my desire to start a new project that promised to fill a need was too great to ignore.

I loved this project, specifically the way it quickly grew and how the leaf stitch pattern took shape; it kept me on my toes and made it interesting.

From the depths of my stash, Sajama Alpaca, which I received as part of the gift exchange at the Seattle Knitters Guild Annual Holiday Party a few years back came to mind as perfect for this: two hanks of white and one blue. Luckily Joyette is knit from the bottom up, so I was able to use all of the white, reserving the blue for the crocheted edging along the bottom.  Unfortunately, one skein wasn’t quite enough to complete all of the rows of the bottom edging, so I accomplished only half of the rows.

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The edging that runs the length of the top of the shawl, was supposed to be a knitted picot bind-off, but I didn’t care for how that looked so I ripped it out, did a regular bind-off and opting instead for the very last row from the crochet edging (what would have been on the bottom of the shawl if I hadn’t run out of blue), slightly modified, for a more subtle finish (see photo below).

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Details
Pattern: Joyette by Debbie Anne & Susan Ann
Yarn: Alpaca by Sajama in colors white and blue
Needles: 3.5 mm (US 4)
Crochet Hook: 3.75 mm (US F)

Kozue at Midnight

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I wanted to make a simple wrap, because despite my attraction to lace shawls, particularly the triangular variety, I find they don’t suit me or my current lifestyle. In my ordinary suburban life, I am not going to be wandering the moors, and if I were to, I’d want something more substantial than a shawl, but especially, I have two young children to keep up with, so I don’t have time for something that keeps slipping off my shoulders. I’m finding the rectangular style works best for me, as it can fit under my coat or, as is more often the case, it can be wrapped around my neck as a scarf.

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Kozue fits the bill, and I had some Jagger Spun in Ebony leftover from something that never came to be back in 1997, and they seemed like a perfect match. However, I messed-up (a common theme throughout the whole project, I’m afraid) early on, and realized that I would not have enough of the black to make a decent-sized Kozue, and I just kept going on as I pondered the futility of knitting something laceweight in stockinette stitch that may very well end-up as a blanket for my 3-year old daughter’s stuffed animals. Just kept knitting Kozue, but all the while trying to decide what to do. Clearly, finding anymore of the same dye lot was an absurd concept given two limitations: a) I bought the yarn in 1997, and b) I didn’t have the dye lot info., anyway. I went to Weaving Works in Seattle and looked at all the colorways in stock, and settled on Claret, a beautiful rich deep, deep pink, and added it on at one end of the wrap. Then I picked-up and started knitting it onto the other end, and that’s when it hit me: I was knitting a 1980s version of Kozue (you can see a photo of it in the previous post). The music from Psycho filled my head, you know that kind of shrieking music used in that movie, mixed with all the greatest hits from the ’80s. I was mortified. I didn’t even bother ripping it out, I cut the Claret off. Returned to Weaving Works, and this time settled for Indigo, a very muted blue, and definitely not to be confused with the cobalt blue of the ’80s. I was relieved that Indigo did the trick and I like the way the wrap turned-out, even if it is not the way I’d originally intended.

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I added a band of Indigo to end of the shawl, and then cut off some of the beginning, picked-up stitches, and added Indigo, followed by the remainder of the black. Then, to cover the fact that adding a contrasting color was due to a mistake, I cut into a spot off-center of the middle of the piece, added Indigo there, followed by a few thin rows of black, followed by more Indigo, and then grafted it to the other half of the piece. Yes, it was a lot of work, but I kept telling myself that it would all work out fine, and it did. In fact, I think it’s my new everyday, go-to wrap.

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Details
Pattern: Kozue by Kirsten Johnstone
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18 (Cone) in Ebony and Indigo
Needles: US 5 (3.75mm)

In The Black

Just to prove I am knitting, here’s photo of my newest work-in-progress, Kozue by Kristen Johnstone.

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It’s a super easy pattern and, other than a few rows of stitch pattern, it’s all stockinette. Nothing wrong with that, especially since it seems to fit my lifestyle these days. I would like to do something more challenging, but I just don’t have the time nor the concentration these days. Embrace the stockinette stitch, it is your friend, busy mom of two little people in the dog days of summer. Busy Mom. Busy, busy, busy.

Things I’ve been up to….
July was about summer camps for my son, though it’s up for debate whether he appreciated them and, truth be told, driving him hither and yon everyday just about did me in (thankfully, little sister had only one camp this summer). Upon remarking on just how busy we were, someone told me that this was just the way it’s going to be from here on. I maintain that not in my world will my children be so hyper-scheduled again, not if I can help it. Though I had a prescient moment back in June during the last week before the end of the school year indicating that I was in for a busy summer when I overheard another mom at a school event gripe that in a week her ability to accomplish anything would end until September. Wow. She was not kidding.

Pennsylvania sister-in-law and her daughter was in town for the first half of summer.

Cousin from France and her husband stopped by for a first visit. I’ve found that having small children in the family are a great lure for distant, long lost family members.

We made a family trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine at the train museum in Snoqualmie. The kids had a great time, of course, but my son enjoyed it more than he did three in 2008, and this was partly because with his sister along he had someone to enjoy it with. As a matter of fact, our 2008 trip was not very memorable, and thankfully this one was.

There were birthday parties, mine and my daughter’s (3!). Here are some pics from my birthday dinner at Mistral Kitchen in Seattle.

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This was some sort of heirloom tomato salad with some basil puree underneath it. Heaven.

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This was a scallop with beets, and it too, was delicious.

Birthday gift from my man: an external keyboard for my iPad 2. Love. It. Flip the iPad over and the keyboard becomes a hard protective case. Love. It. Love my man for thinking of this for me.

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Friend from California (NoCal, to be specific) came to town, and with her visit I realized how much I wished she and her family would move back here, but there’s no chance of that, they’re smitten with NoCal. She and her hubby are old friends of Alex’s from high school, and of all his friends, I enjoy them the most.

And if I didn’t need more to do, I volunteered to head our somewhat embattled neighborhood landscape committee; people are really passionate about our community gardens around here. Of course, for some reason I’ve taken the job so seriously that I’m actually doing some of the labor myself, including transplanting shrubs, pruning plants in-between visits by our landscape service and personally shoveling a 150 cubic foot pile of wood chips left to sit and moulder for the past 12 months. Call me crazy.

Not that it’s been all bad, because with August I’ve really enjoyed not rushing out the door every morning now that camps are done, and taking the kids to some fun stuff has been a blast. Although I could do without another trip to the zoo for the rest of my life. It’s a great zoo, don’t get me wrong, but a zoo is no place for elephants, giraffes, hippos, lions, tigers and bears, and I really saw how unhappy these big animals are, even in a modern, “humane” zoo. The trips to the parks and play areas have been fun and it’s been fun watching the kids really develop a relationship and enjoy one another’s company. Soon we leave for a few short days at the ocean, and we’re looking forward to it. It’s our only vacation this year, since although our kids loved our spring trip to Kauai in 2010, our daughter proved to us that we should’ve waited longer before traveling in a plane, because she pretty much screamed in terror much of the flight to and from. But we have our sights set on 2012, just you wait.

Still, not much time for knitting or blogging, but this will change, I think, when my son goes into first grade this fall and my daughter starts preschool. And with September comes my very first knitting convention. Yes, I will be going to Vogue Knitting LIVE this September, so this should be interesting. I’ve already warned Alex, knitters don’t leave these events empty-handed; he beginning to have nightmares about how he and the kids will have to move out if I bring more yarn home…

Final pic: One of our resident frogs hanging-out on the front porch window box.

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Hear that cracking sound?

That was the sound of my Western Washington amphibian-like skin cracking in the heat of the southern California sun over the weekend. Ahh, that felt nice….

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I’m back home today, but I was in LA for an extended weekend for a cousin’s wedding. I felt sorry for the souls I’d left behind back home, drowning in the cool, wet, soggy weather of the Pacific Northwest. Not really.

The newlyweds had a photo booth at the reception for guests to use as a memory book of their big day. Great idea.
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My mom was my traveling companion.

We met-up with Fluffbuff Francesca at Le Pain Quotidien in Manhattan Beach, and Ben was there too. I got to drool over Francesca’s latest swatch, done on really tiny needles. I wonder what my mother thinks of my curious life as a knit-blogger?

Of course, while there, I loaded-up on Le Pain’s answer to Nutella to take home.
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I did almost no knitting the entire trip, save for the continuing, long, drawn-out process of binding-off Bird’s Eye of domesticshorthair lore (I started it 4 years ago), and that was only worked on in flight, coming and going. If it weren’t for my visit with Francesca, I could have said that I did nothing knitting-related; I didn’t visit a yarn store, I didn’t fondle a random skein of yarn, and I didn’t even buy a Japanese knitting book at Sanseido Books during a stop at Mitsuwa in Torrance. However, I did finish Wandering The Moor before I left home.
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(sorry for the bad, away-from-home photo)

I like it, and I love the un-scalloped edge for being different. When I finished it, I thought I’d messed-up because it was so small, it looked like something for my 6-year old, but once I blocked it, it opened-up and became adult-size.

Details
Pattern: Wandering the Moor Shawl by Celeste Glassel
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (just over a skein)
Needles: US 6/4.0 mm

Today I actually had really really good answer for a change when a cashier at the market asked me if I did anything fun over the weekend.
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Latest Activity

Knitting:  Wandering the Moor shawl

Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine. Had to unwind the pull-skein I’d made of it and ball it up because it kept getting tangled.

eBay Purchase: I think I got a bigger kick knowing that it came from a small town practically at the northernmost tip of Scotland.

Movie:  Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (3-D).  I actually liked this more than #2 and #3 Pirates movies. My knitting companion was Wandering the Moor. Why is it I always take dark knitting projects to work on in a movie theater?

Internet Find:  London Fruit & Herb Company Green Tea & Blackcurrant.  Love this stuff!  I first bought this tea in Canada and had been meting it out carefully over 4 years until I found it available at Mark T. Wendell Tea Company.

Eating:  Gluten-free pão de queijo (pronounced something like “pow d’ kayju”) from the local Brazilian espresso/soccer-viewing joint.  I’ve been gluten-free for about 3 months now and this cheesy tapioca bread has become my guilty pleasure, and it’s “guilty” because I’m also allergic to dairy, but no where near as much as I am to wheat. Recently discovered I’m also allergic to potatoes, corn and chocolate, but I ignore those allergies for obvious reasons.  I’ll get around to trying to bake my own once I get over my funk.

Happiness: My new bright red Fermob (I think it’s pronounced sort of like, “fayr-moe”) French bistro table and chairs; even on a dark rainy day they bring me joy.

Favorite Sight: Mount Rainier from Interstate 90 floating bridge in Seattle (I wasn’t driving).

Smelling: Lilacs at the kitchen window.

Planning: A quick trip to Los Angeles for a cousin’s June wedding.

Juicy Red Melon

Despite my frequent bouts with blogger’s-block I’ve been hard at work finishing projects that have been hanging-on longer than they should.  In fact, I’ve been quite the monogamous knitter of late and it’s paying-off.  I present Red Melon using Melon Pattern from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby.

Corners got a bit wonky because I had a hard time getting around the bend.

I started Red Melon at the end of March 2010, and I think I just mentally assigned to the same category as other big shawl projects, most notably Bird’s Eye Shawl (too boring and too big) and Grand Duchess (too complicated and too big), both of which remain in Hibernation Hell. By which that translated in my mind that this will get done—never, but with Jacob’s Delight done I felt like revisiting some things that have been lurking in dark corners of the house looking at me with big doleful eyes. You know, sometimes you just need a confidence-building project, and Jacob’s Delight was that.

Melon Pattern is really very enjoyable, especially for a lace project, and despite the repetition of the same two stitch patterns for so long, the rows were short enough, the stitch patterns are easy enough to memorize, and the progress fast enough that it made for a pretty good knit, when I actually gave it a chance.  The yarn is a dream—so soft.

Details
Pattern: Melon Pattern for a Shawl or Scarf from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby
Yarn: Frog Tree Alpaca Wool Fingering (four skeins)
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)
Finished Dimensions: 21” (53 cm) x 82” (2.1 m)

Many of the pictures in this post would not have been possible if it weren’t for my new photographic assistant, Joby Gorillapod Magnetic Flexible Tripod. What a wondrous thing!