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

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)

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.

Time flies…

Tomorrow’s my birthday, and I have accepted that I can no longer fool myself into thinking I’m still 25.  It just took me a good portion of my life to come to that realization.  Tonight I got a call from an old friend in Minnesota to wish me an happy birthday, and neither of us could believe how time has flown.

Speaking of “flown”, time has really flown since my last post and it seemed like it was time…

I finished Saroyan (which I never posted about previously). Fun shawl and I love the way it just flew along, but then how can it not go fast when using worsted-weight yarn on US 10 needles? I used Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage, which was leftover from my stupid attempt to use it for Jacob’s Delight, but which turned-out to be too lightweight for the project. I have a lot of yarn to use from that mistake.

Details
Pattern: Saroyan by Liz Abinante
Yarn:
Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage (100% machine-washable merino) in Tern
Needles: US 10/6.0 mm

Modifications: I made an additional repeat of the pattern stitch on each end, adding an additional 6″ to the overall length while making it few inches wider at the same time.

Maybe it’s a sign of getting older, but I’m starting to do some stuff I would never have done in my youth.  Like use the word “youth” in reference to my younger years… Then there was the day I recently drove past my childhood home, ogling it, and took-up the current owners’ on-the-spot offer for me to come in and see how they’d renovated it.   It is fantastic what they did to that fabulous 1919 craftsmen style home.  The first thing I said when I walked in the front door was, “Wow!  You got rid of that awful ’70s shag rug my mom and step-dad put down in 1971!”  And there was, “Oh!  You took down those stupid white-washed floor-to-ceiling boards we’d put over the mantle to ‘modernize’ the living-room! Thank you!”  You cannot imagine what my parents were thinking back then in 1971 when they destroyed some of the good bones of that house and “updated” it; I couldn’t.  I was 11 and I kept asking them, “But why are you hiding the mantle?  I like it.  Why are you knocking-out that wall?  But, why are you taking out the French doors?!”

In front of the house in 1978. Chocolate Easter pig in hand.

These people, who bought the house from my mother years later, thankfully restored most everything we’d done and took it to the glory of its era.  The only thing we did right, was the exterior paint scheme (New England barn red with deep forest green trim), which my mom chose, and which remains on the house today.

Today, sans chocolate pig.

I thanked them for the tour and for not tearing down the house and for not changing the original structure in any way that would detract from it’s design.  It is beautiful.  You should have been there.

On a foodie note,  I went into Bellevue Uwajimaya shopping for the ingredients for my family’s Sunday night favorite, Hot-pot with Chinese Barbeque Sauce and was shocked to find someone actually making fresh takoyaki.  I decided that such a rare find around here was worth going-off my gluten-free diet, so I took my order home and didn’t share it with anyone.  Not a soul. It was delicious.

Before I left with my takoyaki order, I grilled the guy making it, who told me he is going to different locations in the area to introduce people to takoyaki and, hopefully, open a takoyaki place someday.  I made my argument for takoyaki in Seattle, telling him that with the popularity of sushi in the Seattle area, people are ready for takoyaki and okonomiyaki and that the time had come to make them available.   If you are interested in finding out about where Shin and his team will making takoyaki next, please visit Tako Kyuuban for more information.

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!

I’m ready.

I’ve done pretty well this Christmas in keeping my eye on things and staying on top of deadlines.  Well, at least better than previous years.  After all, I had all the gifts wrapped before midnight this time and I have actually prepped some of the dishes before Christmas Day.  And I actually finished my mother’s second and final Christmas 2010 knit gift three days ago, so no late night knitting for me.  There’s always room for improvement and next year I will do better, but the best part is this time I’m staying pretty calm despite being the default host every holiday.

About the knitting…..

Well, I made those reading mitts (Susie’s Reading Mitts) for my mother a couple of weeks ago (see previous post).

Then I made my second My So-Called Scarf of 4 skeins of Ornaghi Filati Opera which I made 3″ wide and 103″ (260 cm) loooonnnnggg.  I can’t decide if I like it that long and may rip it out and make it wider and consequently, shorter, but it is rather fun to wrap it around my neck a few times and feel all bundled-up; perfect for chilly morning walks to the bus stop.

Opera makes an interesting pattern on its own, but when applied in a stitch pattern, it’s even more fun to look at.

Details
Pattern: My So-Called Scarf by Allison Isaacs
Yarn: Ornaghi Filati Opera
Needles: 12.75 mm / U.S. 17

Then I made my third My So-Called Scarf (sorry if you’re sick of this pattern on my blog), this one for my mother, which I feel rather smug about because I used yarn that she attempted to make a sweater with 17 years ago.

The sweater that never was.

She never finished the sweater, and was halfway through it but lost interest. She still wanted her sweater enough that she passed it on to me to finish for her. This was a bad idea because I never even tried to finish it.  Digging around in my stash I came across the project and with some of the skeins missing, and I thought it would be great fun to make a scarf for her and see if she recognizes the yarn.

Frogged and balled-up.

Halo by Bucilla is nice yarn and super soft with gold-colored threads in it, hence the name “Halo”.  Unfortunately, I washed the scarf, dried, and wrapped it, forgetting to take a picture.  So I’ll have to get a picture of her wearing it later today.

New scarf in progress.

Details
Pattern: My So-Called Scarf by Allison Isaacs
Yarn: Bucilla Halo (Discontinued)
Needles: 6.0 mm / U.S. 10

I actually made myself the same sweater she almost made, but with the green version of Halo. I loved it.  I remember it was super soft and super lightweight, but cozy.  I wish I still had that yarn to make a scarf of for myself.

So, if you’ve had enough of My So-Called scarves from me, I have something new but old in the works and from the very first knitting book I had. Stay tuned.

My you have a joy-filled and peace-filled Christmas.

Another Scarf

I actually finished this weeks ago, but forgot to post about it. I started it June 2009 and got so bored with the slow pace of the stitch pattern, that I put it down and forgot about.  I rediscovered it this fall and finished it when I realized that I can’t comfortably wear many of my wool scarves anymore.  This has turned-out to be the softest one I have.

One might say it’s a dream to wear.

Details
Pattern: Cashmere Neckwarmer, by Sarah Keller
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Caribeno 474
Needles: 4.5 mm / U.S. 7

It was finished in time for the pre-Thanksgiving mini-Arctic Blast we’re having. It’s been snowing all day, and actually sticking.

I love the symmetry revealed in nature  when everything get’s covered in white stuff.

And interesting patterns appear where there didn’t seem to be any before.

The trees seem to stand taller.

And suddenly a sad blueberry bush loosing it’s leaves enjoys a final moment of glory when it’s red leaves are dusted with snow.

My So-Called Scarf saw some snow today, too.  The two scarves have very similar appearances, by the way, but the stitch patterns are different.