Sunday, September 23, 2007

Autumn



The Autumnal Equinox seemed late this year, but today (finally) marks the beginning of the season I try to celebrate all year. In the autumn, I feel more creative, more inspired. I want to write, read, create, knit, cook, make tea, bake, light candles, study, organize, decorate, celebrate with family and friends. My favorite months are September and October, and they bring my favorite weather here in the Northwest - bright, clear, cool days, where the colors of the sky, the leaves, the sun are so sharp I feel a physical pang of joy. It's scarf and sweater but no jacket weather, time for making leaf bouquets, picking up acorns and chestnuts and pinecones, visiting the farmer's market in its final weeks of the season, shifting the way I cook and eat along with the seasonal foods.



At our house we celebrated today with pumpkin pancakes, naps, finger painting, football, sweater knitting, a walk around the yard to check in with the plants and trees, slow-cooker vegetarian chili, and a general feeling of contentment.

Happy Autumn!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

just in time for fall

Spring socks!



Pattern: Hedera, by Cookie A.
Yarn: Louet Gems Pearl in crabapple blossom
Started: December? February? I forget.
Finished: September 15
(Photo taken blind while being pinned down by a 30-pound toddler who got herself between my face and the camera.)

I complained and complained about this yarn the whole time I was using it, I got bored with the pattern, I let the second sock sit around half-knit for months. But now that they are done, I love them. Other than the wonkiness in the toe grafting. This is my fourth finished pair of socks, and I have learned a few things about sock knitting and about myself as a sock knitter. I know that I prefer toe-up to cuff down, I don't like having leftover yarn and wishing I would have made the cuffs longer, short row heels fit me better and I prefer how they look, I hate picking up stitches, and I hate kitchener stitch. Which means, for future sock projects, I'll try to stick with toe-up. No picking up stitches, no grafting, the easiest heel is the one that fits me best, and I can use up all my yarn. Unfortunately, there are a lot of really great cuff down patterns out there, some of which might be a challenge to convert. And, actually, the next pattern I plan to knit is written cuff down. The stitch pattern on the Canal du Midi socks would look almost the same upside down as right side up, so I'll probably just go ahead and do them toe-up without worrying about flipping the chart or anything. I am also intrigued now about Cat Bordhi's new book. I participated in Summer of Socks (as a blog reader - obviously not as an accomplished sock knitter!), so tonight I got the email from the SOS host about the free download of the winning pattern in the design contest. It is based on Cat Bordhi's Cedar architecture (the designer had Cat's permission to use the architecture and share the pattern), and I love how it looks. The lace pattern extends down the heel and over the sides of the foot, and there's a tiny short row heel at the bottom. Definitely something I want to try, especially as there is a related architecture that can go toe-up. I think I'll buy Cat's book rather than try to work that one out myself as the winning designer suggests.

I'm still waiting on my order from handpaintedyarn.com. I just ordered on Friday, so I'm trying not to be impatient, but I am excited to start my next sweater. I was also planning to start the Child's Cabled Jumper from Anne Hanson at Knitspot. I chose some 3 ply Rio de la Plata merino because I wanted something very soft and with subtle variegation. The pattern gauge is 18 st/4" so technically this yarn will work, with its gauge of 16-20 st/4", but I forgot when I was buying it that the pattern suggests a DK weight yarn knit at a looser gauge for drape. I got the Rio de la Plata from a LYS that went out of business, so I can't go exchange it or anything. I was a little disappointed when I wound it to find that it was mildly felted in spots, as if it had been skeined while it was still damp or something. Anyway, a good alternative would be the merino DK from handpaintedyarn.com, which of course I didn't think of until the day after I'd placed my order. Oh well, I can order again. I think I only need two skeins of the DK to make the largest size jumper for Mina, which makes it ridiculously cheap.

As always, too many knits and not enough time. Now that it's late, I'll just relax a bit with a glass of wine and something easy. Goodnight.

Friday, September 14, 2007

a bad case of startitis

Of course. There are always far too many tempting projects and far too little time! I still don't have that second Hedera done (though it should be finished tonight, really!), I still haven't finished seaming the VK top, and I still have too many things on the go. There's always room for more, right?

I've really got to learn to be more discriminating with my sock projects. The Hederas? I think I started them last December! My plan for Summer of Socks 2007 was to knit three pairs of knee socks. I haven't finished a single sock. Not even half a pair! Here's how far I got:



That's one of my favorite yarns, Colinette Jitterbug. The color is nice - Fruit Coulis. But the pattern. What was I thinking? A plain 2x2 ribbed knee sock? These will take me a year to finish. I get bored far too easily. Most of the progress on the leg of this thing was made while waiting in the DMV for two hours on the morning of my birthday. Um. That was August 16th. I don't think I've done more than a couple of rounds since then. Since I have two skeins of this, I'm considering frogging this entire thing so I can knit this sweater. I am a devotee of the cardigan anyway. A cute, basic cardi from just two skeins of sock yarn? Sounds like a great idea to me! One thing I've realized this summer is that I can crank out sweaters (or most of sweaters) with crazy speed, but socks take me forever. Which is of course why I am planning to do this:



If you've read this book, this will make sense. The story jumps back and forth between the years 2005 and 1209 and takes place in the south of France, or the Midi. I have been reading this rather slowly but enjoying it, so it is on my mind a lot. On our last trip to the library, I pulled Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road off the shelf and opened it randomly. The page I opened to was the pattern for the Canal du Midi socks. Socks that match my book! The Lorna's Laces in blue spruce was already in my stash waiting for the right pattern. Ta da! Then I thought it would be really cool to have a knitting project for every novel I read. I don't read nearly as much as I used to now that my hands are so busy knitting, so the prospect isn't quite as crazy as it sounds.

Of course, the new Knitty came out. The fall issue is always the best, and I think this one might be the best ever. There are six projects jumping up and down saying "pick me, pick me!" and it's been hard to resist! I just may have an appropriate yarn for one sweater in the stash, just a few feet from where I am sitting. And the yarn for a stole. I could probably come up with something for a hat too. And, I just may have ordered four skeins of something today, because this was really, really too much to resist for longer than 24 hours. I am weak! So weak that this is not all that I want to cast on. I picked up another skein of Fonty Kidopale at the LYS this week, in rich autumn colors, for a light, fluffy little fall scarf. Then I remembered the Habu silk stainless J brought back from NYC. I have mini-cones in blackberry, navy, and lavender. The navy and blackberry would go well with the kidopale for something very kusha kusha-like. I'm fascinated with the beautiful, sculptural scarves I've been seeing. Lovely.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

even grouchy princesses need hats



This is kind of how the last couple of days have been. We got caught up on a couple of Mina's vaccinations yesterday, so she's been tired, feverish and fussy. The princess dress helps. So does chocolate. And new hats.



This is the best photo I could get. The hat was off her head and onto the floor milliseconds after the shutter clicked. Her daddy tells me that she kept it on during an entire trip to the grocery store on Sunday morning, but I was allowed to sleep in that day for the first time since before she was born (really!) and I missed it. Anyway, the hat is the Basic Cable Hat from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, with some minor alterations to make it a little smaller. The girlie has kind of a big head though, so it fits me too. I used most of a skein of Noro Kureyon that was left from a hat I made for J over two years ago. (The big head gene comes from him - I always count on a little more than one ball to make him a hat.) It went really quickly - just a few days of knitting on it here and there when I had a chance. J's hat has softened up considerably after a few washings, so I'm not worried about this being too itchy for her. (Oh, speaking of washings - J machine washed and dried another hat made of Tahki Donegal Tweed. I about had a heart attack until he handed it to me afterwards. The yarn bloomed into a soft, fuzzy, squishy fabric - it didn't felt. I was amazed - his treatment definitely improved it!)

Of course since I finished a project I had to cast on another one. I had a frog-fest a few weeks ago and cleared out a sock and two stoles, so the works-in-progress number was lagging! I finally started J's Dashings:



I know the yarn is the same color as the original. I don't care. It's not the same yarn though, it's Tahki New Tweed, which is considerably softer and next-to-skin friendlier than the Donegal Tweed. It's a wool, silk, and viscose blend, and I'd love to have a whole sweater made of it. I'm using size US 5 Crystal Palace dpns and getting a nice, stretchy, cushy fabric. I did this much of it last night, so it shouldn't take long at all to have the pair finished. Then I think I'll start J's hat and use the same cable patterning on it. At this rate, both will be done by our anniversary in a few weeks! (If the girlie lets me knit, that is.)



(Can anyone tell me why my pictures are rendering so crappily? I don't remember having this problem before. I'm grabbing them from Flickr and they look totally fine there.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

long overdue

I'm finally getting around to posting a couple of finished projects that have been sitting around. I'm lazy that way.



Chevron Scarf, from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, made with superwash merino fingering weight from Fresh Yarns on size US 3 bamboo needles. I did most of this while watching the dvd's of seasons 1 and 2 of LOST, and the scarf sat around unblocked and forgotten for quite awhile, so it is the LOST scarf. On my monitor the colors in this photo are as close to true as I can ever hope to photograph - there is some deep purple and deep teal that aren't quite showing up. But you get the idea. The scarf is about six feet long, and I have a ton of yarn left over. I like how light it is; this will be perfect for the transition weather before I need to break out the alpaca.



Here's a quick webcam shot of the Ribbed Lace Bolero from 10 feet high. This was a quick project and I've been wearing it a lot even though it's quite a bit too wide for me. A couple of tips if you knit this: 1) have someone else measure your shoulder span, and 2) really stretch out your ribbing when you measure gauge. I think made both mistakes. The color is way off in this picture. I actually used the exact same yarn and color as the original, and her picture is more accurate. I didn't like how the collar looked rolled over once I tried it on, so I left mine flat. That was my only change.

Today I actually set in a sleeve and sewed one of the side seams on my VK Short Sleeved Top #5 (such a creative name, no?), but that was all the seaming I could stand for one day. I just have to do the other sleeve and then the crochet edging. It's sort of a scallop/ruffle edge all around the sleeves, bottom, and deep V neckline, and I was almost out of yarn so I went and got another skein today just to be safe. Hopefully I'll have it done before next weekend.

Currently on the needles (and not in hibernation) I have a basic cabled Kureyon hat for the girlie, my Luna Moth shawl, and the second Hedera. I picked up all the stitches that Mina pulled the needles out of and finished the gusset decreases. Almost there! I need to start J's Dashing mitts (in Tahki New Tweed, which is wonderful stuff) and a new hat for him in the Schaefer Lola I got today. Our fourth anniversary is in less than a month! I haven't chosen a hat pattern yet. All the ones I've made for him so far have been 2x2 ribbing on the entire thing and I don't want to do that again even though he likes them a lot. I'm thinking something slightly cabley to go with the Dashings, since the yarns are the same color (dark olive green, of course - that is his color) even if not the same type. Nothing too regular/symmetrical or anything....we'll see what I come up with.