Just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, and in keeping with what seems to be a trend, I finished Shawl Neck Cardigan, making it my 5th cardigan for 2009, and making it my 10th and final finished object for 2009. The number of finished items is something close to phenomenal for me, considering how little available time I have knit in a typical day. Posting about it has been delayed by a nasty cold that has held us all captive since December 27, causing us to ring in the new year so differently than I’d thought.

(There's style: I'm standing in front of in front of the shower curtain in the bathroom.)

There were times when I thought I’d never finish it.

(It's my IKEA shower curtain.)

Apparently my stitch gauge went off while knitting it. This became evident when I discovered that the side seams didn’t match-up properly with the waistband piece. This was most obvious when I put it on and the side seams were too far forward. The thought occurred to me that this is a flaw that most people wouldn’t notice, especially with dark yarn and on a garment with a lot of drape. But I quickly set about undoing part of the seams and re-sewing them so that everything looks as it should. It looks fine.

Having worked on it in minute increments, I’m happy it’s done much sooner than I’d thought. Back when I started my second attempt on it last July, I thought I’d have it done 2 months later.  But then we got the call to get our daughter in South Korea, life got more busy, knitting schedules fell to the wayside, and I thought I would lucky to have it done by March 2010.

The yarn, Elann’s Peruvian Quechua, is very nice, maybe splitting a bit, and the tencel gives it a silky feel and a lot of drape, while the alpaca makes it soft. I used almost all 12 skeins of it (for medium size cardigan), with only 25 grams left; that’s cutting it too close for my comfort. Of course, it probably wouldn’t be so close if my gauge hadn’t loosened-up so much.

Pattern: #14 Shawl Neck Cardigan by Vladimir Teriokhin (Knit.1, Winter 2007)
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Quechua (65% alpaca, 35% tencel)
Needle: 3.25 mm/U.S. 3

The only thing I changed in the design was that I added a 4th button.

Don't know where I bought these pretty purple buttons....

Math is not my forte.

With a 2-week hiatus from Shawl Neck Cardigan to work on Randall Herringbone Scarf for my husband for Christmas, I’ve resumed work on it and the end is truly within grasp.  If only I can get a window of just a couple of hours, Shawl Neck would be done.  Maybe tonight, maybe not.  The scary thing is that I have only 45 grams left of Elann Peruvian Quechua for it, which I found out after launching a search of the usual places I stow yarn and came up with numerous stitch gauge swatches and weighed them.  I think it will be enough, but it’s really hard to say.  I could attempt some sort of math, but my math may have failed me when I calculated the yardage for it in the first place, so why rely on it now?

Back seam, before work on collar last week.

Last week my husband sent me off for a couple of nights at the Bellevue Westin, just me and my knitting, and I had a great time getting a lot done on Shawl Neck.

Mt. Rainier (left) on Christmas Eve morning from Bellevue Westin.

Not only did I work on Shawl Neck, but I brought three store-bought sweaters that needed mending, because lately I’d become rather heavy-handed in how I took the sweaters off and they’d all had the left armpit ripped.

Those darn ripped sweaters!

So, stay tuned, you should be seeing a post about another finished object soon!

Inching along.

I think the speed with which Vine Lace Cardigan progressed must have inspired me, because as soon as that was done I hopped right back onto Shawl Neck Cardigan, a project that at times has seemed as if it would never end.  It’s amazing to me that given the interesting twists and turns that Vine Lace pattern has, and despite its size (it’s really a jacket), and helped by the fact that it was made with bulky yarn on big needles, I didn’t get bored.  Whereas, Shawl Neck has seemed to inch along.  No matter.  Truth be told, with Vine Lace I became the almost a monogamist knitter, spending the bulk of my knitting time on it, and since then Shawl Neck had been coming along with the same degree of dedication and I’ve finished the two halves and am at 28″ of the 36″ required for the waistband (pictured above).  That is, until this ungodly cold snap hit our area, and as of yesterday I’m splitting knitting time between Shawl Neck (I save it for knitting at long red lights—we have tons of those around here—or for knitting when my husband drives) and a scarf for my husband (Randall Herringbone Scarf), who is in desperate need of some warmth.  So much for my flirtation with monogamy-knitting.

Randall Herringbone Scarf

How cold is it? Outdoor cat water dish on ice.

I’ve been busy….

When all else fails, start another project…. Vine Lace Cardigan (from in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, Sable colorway.

Originally, I used my $30 Knit Picks gift certificate from Christmas for this project, and ordered Cadena in Thyme colorway for it.  To my dismay, Cadena was all in hanks instead of the skeins Wool of the Andes was in when I made Cabled Coat last year.  Despite that, I made a swatch of one skein and found that Cadena really wasn’t right for the project anyway and returned it.  In technical terms, Cadena didn’t have enough fluff to it, and when knit up to achieve the proper gauge, the resulting fabric was loose, holey and lacking character.

It’s nice yarn though, and is a pleasure to knit with on a project better suited for it.  The color was perfect: not quite deep olive green, not quite light brown, and somewhere in-between, but I’m also quite pleased with my color choice of Lamb’s Pride Bulky.

I’ve also started Shoulder Cozy from Wrap Style.

Actually, I started that sometime in September, swatching and swatching, trying to find the right gauge, but by the time I cast on for it, it was mid-October. I’m using stash yarn for this, which is Reynolds Smile in a green-yellow-teal multi colorway. Smile was supposed to be for crocheted slippers that never made it to the hook.

Meanwhile, I haven’t given up on Shawl Neck Cardigan, but it’s become my on-the-go project to carry in my purse. I’ve passed the halfway point on it, but it will probably be finished in January.

What else?  Here’s my order from Frenchy Bee:  a bottle of almond (orgeat) syrup for my coffee, chestnut paste as a topping for ice cream, 4 tins of Anis de Flavigny violet flavored drops or mints (not minty, but tastes like violets—an old favorite of mine).

Then, I needed to re-stock on my Vegemite, and tired of having to find a local place that carries it because supply is unpredictable, I boldly ordered a 400-gram jar of it from a vendor on  Normally, I get a 150-gram jar but my kids have taken a liking to it, and even though they get just a scant amount on their toast every now and then, we’ve been going through my little jar quickly and since it lasts forever, I went for the big jar.

I shocked my family the other day, and made a full, real meal, the prime focus of which were these delicious split Rock Cornish Game Hens, broiled with a vinegar and broth sauce from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, Smashed Red Potatoes from, and roasted broccolini from The Gastrokid Cookbook by Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans.  The silence at the table was deafening as they feasted.

I’ve been going through stuff to get rid of, and one thing I came across was this helpful book that my dad gave to me a long, long time ago; I guess he was concerned that I wasn’t married yet.

That book always irks me.  Still.  Time to get rid of it.

Then there are the bags and bags of clothes for my daughter that have been passed on to us, and have been waiting for me to sort through.  The best item I found, which I find bewildering in so many ways:  a pink 100% cashmere sweater.  Cashmere.  In a 2-year old size.  Barely worn (I can imagine why).  Cashmere for a 2-year old?  Cashmere sweater given away.  We’ll take it.

We’re back into the rainy season.  I find it rather soothing to hear it on our roof, even though it makes for blurry views from the windows and dim lighting inside.

It’s downhill from here…

Now past the half-way point for Shawl Neck Cardigan I am pleased that I have gotten this far along. Honestly, I thought I was going to frog it as I did much earlier on back in January. I haven’t been enjoying the process here, not at all. I get kind of turned-off by projects that have instructions that read like this: “repeat this step 11 times every 4th row and at the same time repeat that other step 20 times every other row.” I think this is mostly because if I’m really lucky, I have a short amount of knitting time available every day, and projects like this seem to be ones where I lose track of where I’m at, and I begin to dread the how the project is going to turn out, and then it’s like, Why bother? It probably isn’t going to look very good. Despite this, though, it looks promising, but here I am at the part with the odd number of steps to keep track of and do it in mirror image of the other half of the cardigan and I hear the voices of procrastination and negativity whispering to me, “Give up! It will never work!” Having gone this far though, it’s unlikely I’ll abandon the project completely. At least, I think so.

Last week we celebrated my son’s 5th birthday and somehow I got it all together on very little preparation and shopping time and it was a success. Of course, it was the complete opposite of last year, when he didn’t get much of a celebration on his actual day because we were in Geneva, Switzerland, and I ended-up throwing together a belated party a few weeks later after we got home.

Personally, I’d like to be in Switzerland right now. And if I could find a good spa there where I could veg and have someone rub my feet and my shoulders 24/7, while eating chocolates from Tristan of Bougy-Villars (Switzerland), I would be quite happy.  I can see that hillside that Tristan is located on, sloping down to Lake Geneva and the fall sun warming the grapes on the vines.

Ah. That was was a nice mental break.

Whew! Back to school.

Heavenly trio: marocchino, Perrier, and croissant

I popped into French Bakery in Kirkland today for a quick bite to eat and a marocchino (an espresso drink), which Ms. Adventure’s in Italy so aptly called “Heaven in a Cup”. My son YM started preschool this week, and although I’ll miss him, it is a relief to me that he will be someplace to expend all that almost 5-year old energy in a safe, loving and supportive environment and under the guiding, patient and capable hands of his teachers, each of whom are my rock. You know, I think I learn more from his preschool teachers than he does.  So I took my daughter MR shopping at Sur La Table for a wedding gift for a friend: a Bialetti Moka Express.

Of course, the reason I went to French Bakery was to get a package of pre-ground Attibassi coffee to add to the wedding gift…or maybe that was the excuse to go there and have a croissant and a marocchino…okay, that’s the real reason I went. It was a lovely break, with YM in school and MR asleep in the Ergo carrier, it was 2:00 and I still hadn’t eaten lunch so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a rest during a busy day.  To the gift package I added a copy of the cookbook Pasta Harvest, by Janet Fletcher, which I bought gently used (really never used) through a seller on (I guess it’s out-of-print, because new books aren’t available).  As some of you may be familiar, I have used my copy a few times, and I am sure that the foodie groom and his bride will enjoy this book too.

The day ended well with Alex and I leaving the babysitter with MR and YM crying as we made our escape to a parent orientation meeting for preschool.  While there I was able to put in a few more rows on Shawl Neck Cardigan.

I don’t know, this thing is taking too long for me. My fingers are getting itchy to move onto something else. You know, something I can see finished before next summer. Maybe some gloves or a sweater in something truly satisfying like a nice bulky wool.

[Sorry for the cell phone pictures, but sometimes you have to make due.]

Fairest One Of All

Or, at least in my home she is.

We’ve been back from South Korea for two and a half weeks now and we’ve hit the ground running with an almost-5-year old and a 13-month old in the house. Life is both good and hectic for us these days. Our son YM has discovered that anticipating his baby sister MR has a flip-side: sharing Mom. From the moment they first met, they were thick as thieves and they truly enjoy eachother, however they are both facing the new reality of no longer being the sole center of attention as they each had enjoyed previously before they were brought together under one roof.  If only I’d known that instead of buying YM new toys, all we had to do was bring another child onto the scene for him to rediscover how special his old and long-forgotten baby toys really are.  MR is adjusting much better than we’d expected and she’s a lot of fun.  It’s a whole new world figuring out what she’s going to wear everyday, although I’m no fashionista, and trying to get her hair from getting food or nose-goo in it and trying to get barrettes to stay in it (they keep sliding out).

I hope to follow-up with additional posts about the trip, but these days I can’t promise much, except that tomorrow the sun will rise and there will be dirty diapers and laundry to wade through.

On the knitting side, I was pretty realistic about how many knitting opportunities I’d have on the trip and brought just two active projects, Bird’s Eye Shawl and Shawl Neck Cardigan, and I actually made some progress on both. By the way, I’m kicking myself these days for my never ending attraction to projects that call for small needles/gauge. I also brought a new Wine and Roses Mitts project that I sort of started months ago, and haven’t done much more than about 5 rows. I didn’t work on Wines and Roses, but I brought it along as my if-all-else-fails project, since I’m using US 0/2.0 mm needles for it, I figured that if security had issues with my other two projects (unlikely) on the plane they’d have a hard time justifying taking the needles for this one, because they’re bamboo and thinner than a toothpick. Whenever I fly I always make sure that: the projects I take on board are thin-needle projects (though most of mine are), that I always transfer the projects to bamboo needles ahead of time, and that with the exception of sock or glove projects, I use circular bamboo needles, and for the sock/glove projects I use short double-pointed bamboo needles. Also, I don’t use the two-circular needle method on a plane because it attracts more attention, and I figure that if I really want to be able to knit, it’s best to keep a low profile.

Thank you all for your support, prayers and well-wishes in our endeavor to adopt MR.  It seemed like such a long, never-ending ordeal and it was at times very uncertain for our situation, but in reality, in the scope of international adoption, the time-span we waited was not bad at all.  It just seemed longer.  One thing I can say about the process is, that with the adoption of both our children, once we had them in our arms any frustrations about the wait just melted away.  Whew!

We’re off to Korea!

Monday, we got the call of all calls that every adoptive parent waits for:  we were told we could go to Korea to get MR.  It seemed the waiting had become so never-ending that we’d kind of gone numb, and just as when we adopted YM four years ago, the call came at a time when we had truly resigned ourselves to wait and we’d really stopped talking about it much.  Now comes the mad dash to pack and prepare for the trip, and deciding what to bring and what not to bring; list, after list, after list.  Packing and preparing has been seriously set back by the worst heat wave in local history, with this week having temps running up to 109° F/43° C.  Temps are usually so mild around here, that in Western Washington state, most people don’t have air conditioning, so it’s been quite unpleasant and hard to accomplish much of anything.  This morning, however, I saw the temp had dropped down to almost half that high temp (59° F) and it’s blissful.  Now, on with the mad dash to pack and all. We are SO EXCITED to be going!

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted about much of anything.  The wait for the call was weighing me down, the high school reunion that I was on the planning committee for was keeping me a bit occupied, summer activities with my son, the long-running heat, and the list goes on.  The reunion was a big success, although we came out a little short on attendance, so we committee members have to pay an additional $25 along with our personal admission fees. I guess I’m going to keep the blog I started for my graduating class, since everyone really liked it.  The good thing is that that blog won’t keep me as busy now that reunion is over.

And now, some knitting content (sorry, no pictures)…

After having spent a good week trying to get the right gauge, I’ve cast on for Shawl Neck Cardigan, and I ended-up using US 2/2.75 mm for the pattern stitch and one US 1/2.25 mm needle and one US 2 needle together for the garter stitch parts, because the pattern calls for two different stitch gauges.  I’m using Elann’s Peruvian Quechua, which is alpaca and tencel.  I like the combination of the soft alpaca and the silkiness of the tencel, I just wish I didn’t have to knit the cardigan with such small needles. I tried knitting this earlier in the year, and realized that my gauge was off and that I messed-up on the pattern, not that I’d gotten very far on it.  I’m not sure if this is a project that will see completion this year, but it’s good for now.

I’ve also picked up Bird’s Eye Shawl, but I may end up making it into a small shawl, because it’s taking too long to finish and to knit a row on it, I need a good half hour to do that.

Also, I was recently encouraged to resume Grand Duchess, my attempt at an Medallion Square Orenburg shawl.  The encouragement came from my dental hygenist from Moldova, who after asking about it’s status, was shocked to hear me tell her that I didn’t think it was worth finishing.  She encouraged me to continue with the project, telling me that as a girl she used to watch her best friend’s mother knit Orenburg shawls, and assuring me that though they are very hard to knit, the shawl I was knitting was exactly as she remembered them. I just don’t know when I will ever find the time to figure out where I was on that project….

So that’s it for now and will probably be for a while, although I may try to squeeze in a post from Korea. We are so EXCITED!

Tangled up in blue cables.

Blue Harvest: one down, one to go.

I was all set to post about starting Yellow Harvest Mittens (Ravelry link) from Vogue Knitting Fall 2008 while watching the presidential inauguration, and then the week got away from me, and now we have on hand, literally, one finished mitten. I’m using my stashed Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower, so I decided to call the project Blue Harvest. This Manos stuff is rather a handful to deal with, it’s so bulky and, lumpy, and the needles just slip out. I used two circular needles the first mitten (pictured below), and it made it just a bit confusing for me, so I’ve found my doublepointed needles and will use them for the second one.  The first mitten has gone quite well and using an I-cord as the foundation for the stitches makes it very intriguing, since I’d never done that before.  The pattern relies on charts and utilizes 8 different cables stitches (left- and right-orientated), so I took out the colored pencils and colored the chart to make it less confusing (it’s just me, I have a short attention span).

Mitton one: cuff

On Thursday, I popped into that old Seattle fiber arts institution, The Weaving Works (I’ve been going there since I was a kid tagging along with my mother—a long time ago), and visited with the all the lovelies, and met the new generation of Manos del Uruguay. Now I know that the Manos I have is the old generation stuff. As you may recall, I bought my Manos about 4 years ago, and that was when it was spun very unevenly, making it hard to get good gauge with. Well it seems that things have changed, and if only I’d bought new Manos, I probably wouldn’t get these spots of thin stitches where the fiber thins from bulky to fingering; makes for a drafty mitten. But then I wanted to use my stash, and well, there you go. So, I find myself fiddling with the stitches on the finished mitten to close the thin spots where the yarn is fingering weight.

I can see clearly now, the yarn is gone.

In looking around in Ravelry, I found out that the designer of Yellow Harvest Mittens, Mari Muinonen, is also the designer of the one and only Sylvi, which set many a knitter’s heart a flutter last fall, and which I still long for, and that she is also the same knitter whose modification of Tychus is something to be admired.  Now it all comes together: this woman is a powerhouse of creativity!  Such whimsy she incorporates into her designs.

I’ve also started started Shawl Neck Cardigan (Ravelry link) by Vladimir Teriokhin from Knit.1, Winter 2007. It was took a bit of hunting to find this issue, but I was able to track one down at Hilltop Yarn East at 50% off.  Shawl Neck Cardigan was something that I found while digging around Ravelry, and it looked like a fairly reasonable thing to make; not too involved, which is good, because these days knitting time has diminished further and I’m down to about an hour or two every day.  I’m using Elann Peruvian Quechua (65% Alpaca/ 35% Tencel) for this, which I’ve never used before, and it seems pretty nice stuff: it has a firmness to it, but it is soft and shiny.