Mmmmmm. Pretty colors...
I promise to talk about something else after this, but I just had to share my recent sock yarn madness. This is the stash accumulated, mostly, during the past month...Largely rewards for meeting a goal I set for myself :-)
The two "cakes" are Lorna's Laces Watercolors and Neighborhood Fiber Co. (NFC) Brightwood. The skeins, clockwise from the top are: Claudia Hand Painted Chocolate Cherry; Sundara Yarns' Cherry Blossoms; NFC's Brookland (teal and purple); a gorgeous cranberry-colored semi-solid from NFC (I forget the color's name!); and Claudia's Pink Dot.
And, to quote Basie, "once more once," before they head to the post office today--the oh-so-pretty Orchid Socks (AKA Simply Lovely Lace Socks in Koigu KPPPM)...complete with sewn-down picot edge.
Please be advised: These socks are meant for far smaller feet than mine! (As you can tell.)
Finally, because Maggie's been getting all the attention lately...
This is Katja, looking pretty and pensive. Despite her precious "Fancy Feast" appearance, she's actually a hellion--a wannabe barn cat. We love that about her.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Mmmmmm. Pretty colors...
Thursday, April 26, 2007
OK, you just have to see this gorgeous hank of Neighborhood Fiber Company yarn that Karida delivered a week ago...I can't get enough of these colors:
It's named "Brookland." Teal-green and purple sock yarn--lovely, stretchy, puffy superwash merino sock yarn! (Yes, it's Gems Fingering, my utter favorite.) Thanks, Karida!
And, speaking of sock yarn, I received my Cherry Blossom yarn from Sundara yesterday!!! It is SO luscious, I could absolutely EAT it! No photos yet, but soon, I promise. (Since every hank is a little different, I think a picture is in order, just to celebrate the pink prettiness sitting on my coffee table, don't you?)
All of which leads me to socks...
This is about 10 rows short of where I currently am on Waving Lace (first sock), from Favorite Socks. (For more, check out the Favorite Socks KAL...)
The Lorna's Laces is working out nicely with this pattern, though the yarn's natural stretchiness may be exaggerated by the stretchiness of this particular lace. At any rate, I tightened up my knitting a little bit, and was happy with the results.
Have I mentioned that It's hard to find a true US #1 circular needle these days? (I haven't been feeling so great, and so can't remember what I've said lately.) Well, most #1 needles are actually US #1.5, but are not labelled that way--kind of irritating, actually. I wish we could get needles in UK sizes.
Measuring needles in millimetres instead of random numbers allows a broader range of sizes. I know I can go to DPNs, and I have many #1 sets, but I wanted to do magic loop so I could carry these in my purse without losing needles. Plus, I was craving the mindlessness of it.
So here you have it: Yummy new yarn and a new pair of socks in a really fun pattern.
Life is good.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I cast off on Sunday, and blocked them to make sewing the picot edge at the top a bit easier. Trying to wrestle a rolling edge into a nice, neat hem is a real pain. Sewing will probably happen today, but in my book this is now a finished project!
Pattern: Orchid Socks AKA Simply Lovely Lace Socks (IK Spring 06)
Yarn: Koigu (Can't find the band, but I'll try to remember to look up the color #)
Needles: Addi Turbo 32" US #0 (magic loop method)
Mods: None! This was a simply lovely pattern, and came out perfectly!
I must say, I really enjoyed knitting these. The stitch pattern is SO easy to remember, so you can just relax and knit. They were a wonderful project for knitting in public, since I love people-watching and don't like to have to watch my knitting instead. Of course, I keep a close eye on what I'm doing, too...Dropped stitches aren't a disaster, but they slow you down!
Last Friday I found myself in Georgetown after a doctor's appointment, waiting for my husband to meet me for dinner at Old Glory. BUT I'd forgotten to put my knitting in my purse! Oh, my God, what an emergency. And it was such a beautiful day. All I wanted to do was find a garden bench at the Old Stone House and knit in the sun. So...I made a quick trip to Stitch DC, spent money I couldn't afford to spend, and emerged with two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Watercolor and a rather cheap set of DPNs (US #1).
I cast on for the Waving Lace socks, which you can see on the cover of Favorite Socks. I chose to do a twisted 1x1 rib instead of the prettier pattern shown in the book's photos. Ribbing is just more practical for me...I like pretty socks, but they have to stay up or I know I won't wear them.
(Maggie's feeling MUCH better--YAY!)
Waving Lace sock #1 is much farther along now, so I'll take more photos today and get them up here. Meanwhile, you can also follow this project at the Favorite Socks KAL: Just click on the button in my sidebar.
Have a great day, everyone!
Saturday, April 21, 2007
First things first. Here's some belated eye candy:
The image quality sucks--I snapped this with my cell phone camera yesterday--but those colors were just gorgeous.
Anyway, I've been away for a few days. Not feeling so hot. I had a medical issue last week (Maggie wasn't the only one) and followed up with a doctor's appointment yesterday. I'm sure it's nothing, but it might be exacerbating my usual complete and utter exhaustion...
OK, enough of me. Let me show you some more cell phone photos:
That's right! The striped hat is actually DONE. Bad yarn karma (BYK) banished. And just in time, considering we went out to a Phillies/Nationals game the other night and it was COLD. Actually, I finished it just minutes before the DC United game I went to last Saturday, when it was cold and rainy.
You see, when DC had its faux spring a few weeks ago, we packed all my hats away with our winter stuff. So when the day of the football (soccer) game dawned chilly and damp, I was a bit worried. That afternoon, I rushed home, wove in ends, made tassel, and caught the Blue Line out to RFK Stadium just in time.
That makes two cold RFK visits in one week. And both times, I was thankful for this hat. For months, it's languished in a bag, slung over a chair back (all the doorknobs are taken). This is the pattern you have to knit to accomplish Level 1 in TKGA's Master Hand Knitter program, and I'm not very excited about it. It's OK. Just not the kind of hat I'd choose to make on my own.
But once I got going with the new pink yarn--which extinguished the BYK--it basically finished itself. All stockinette in the round. Knit, knit, knit, change color, knit, knit, knit. Needless to say, I made it in front of the television, watching BBC mysteries from Netflix.
Here's a blurry photo of Pat Burrell's butt--the same way I saw him when I used to go to Reading Phillies games in PA. Funny to see the same view five years later and a few hundred miles away ;-)
As for the Master Hand Knitter program...I've completed all of my swatches and the hat. Haven't answered the questions yet. But for some reason, I've lost interest. Now that I've done the work, I'm just not all that concerned about having the Master Knitter title. I'd rather knit for myself, for fun, for art. Not to adhere to someone else's subjective ideas of perfection.
So, the hat I scorned for so long will go into the box with my other woolies. It's not the hat's fault that someone wrote a dumb pattern. It's kept me warm when no other hat was around...I think I've grown a bit attached to it. And all of my swatches will join their friends in my bag-o-swatches, and someday become part of...well...something. A throw, perhaps?
(I can't toss a perfectly good swatch, can you?)
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Why is Louet Gems fingering weight yarn so lovely to work with?
This is Koigu KPPPM in the colourway I think of as "Orchid." (Gorgeously hand painted on Gems fingering weight)
I love the delicate sheen, the tiny little pillows of puffy merino, the yarn's gentle stretch and "steel magnolia" strength. I love the texture of Gems Pearl when it's knitted up, whether in stockinette, cable, or lace. The slight pebbly nature that adds interest to anything I knit...And, of course, I love the way it takes up colour. (I'm suffering from Anglophilia today.)
Is it weird to love a yarn that much? To take it out and gaze at it because the way it's spun makes me (oddly?) happy? Or am I not alone? Do all knitters feel that kind of passion for one yarn or another?
Neighborhood Fiber Co. uses Louet yarns, including my favorite. In fact, Karida dropped off a little cake of Brightwood the other day. Hand-painted yarn house calls...Now THAT'S luxury! I can't wait to use it. I'll be casting on for my chevron scarf as soon as I finish the second Orchid Sock.
Here's my yummy little Brightwood "yarn muffin" (blue), waiting with its friends to be knit into something wonderful. (BTW: I also adore her Brookland colourway...Uh oh. I feel another purchase coming on.)
Looking at my "I-can't-wait-to-start-these-projects" stash, I see that nearly all of my current and future projects involve Louet Gems fingering weight yarn in one way or another. Socks, of course. And the soon-to-be-mine Chevron Scarf. And the edging on Tahoe (sadly pushed aside while I complete the Orchid Socks, but I'll be back to work on it soon!).
And Gems is not just sock yarn--it can be used for almost anything. Check out Melissa's lovely Annabelle design (scroll down a bit, on the right-hand side). She made it in sock-weight cashmere. But wouldn't Gems make a great substitution?
(My small collection of Claudia Hand Painted yarn, also based on Gems.)
At last year's Maryland Meat and Wool Festival, I saw dozens of knitters crammed like sardines into the very small Koigu booth, grabbing armloads of skeins out of baskets marked "Sale." I was shocked...
To me, some of the colours were a bit--how do I say this--garish? But my fellow fiber-holics didn't seem to notice the colours. They just pushed, grabbed, and bought. I attributed this to the sock-knitting craze that pre-dated today's lace knitting craze. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was the yarn itself, and the mostly-fabulous colourways were the icing on the cake...
I really would like to know what you think. Do you feel the same way? Or are you true to another? Tell me: What yarn makes YOU lapse rhapsodic?
Go ahead, I know you want to comment...and I promise not to let the cat out of the bag ;-)
Monday, April 16, 2007
It's been a difficult two weeks. Just that long ago I was wearing sandals...SANDALS! And today I was bundled up in my February clothes.
My mild resentment about this cold, wet spring makes me feel a little guilty. Somehow, I picked up the belief that I "should" find inspiration everywhere, on every day. And I guess I could, if I really got the whole acceptance thing down.
But it's been wet and cold and gray for what feels like forever. Which is more than a bit painful after a lovely stretch of early spring warmth at the end of March. So, instead of looking around me today, I thought I'd look to the past for some relief and vicarious, photograph-induced Vitamin D...
This is the view from the porch at the Albert Stevens Inn, in Cape May, NJ.
Have you noticed that I return to Cape May frequently in my writing/blogging? That's because it's one of the coziest, most relaxing, unstressful , romantic, beautiful, and accessible places I know. We can get there easily: Drive up through Delaware and catch the Cape May-Lewes Ferry for a fun ride across the mouth of the bay (some day I'll tell you about our hurricane crossings!). When we disembark in NJ, our favorite room and a big warm welcome are guaranteed to be waiting for us at the Albert Stevens.The inn embraces us, filling us with that wonderful "coming home" feeling.
This is the high bed in our room, or rather "Bessie's Room."
According to legend, Bessie has been known to let a guest or two know if she prefers they sleep elsewhere. Chris and I respect the Stevens' house and the memories of their family. We're both aware that we're guests in their home. And we've never had any unpleasant awakenings. I believe it's possible, but really, I am quite happy not encountering the stern presence of the mistress of the house late in the night.
The Stevens are all gone now, and the new owners have revived the house to its turn-of-the-century glory. (I imagine this makes Dr. and Mrs. Stevens, and Vesta, their daughter, quite happy.) I know it makes US happy! Jim andLenanne are the best of hosts. He always has the latest scoop on Cape May happenings (theater, concerts, great early-bird specials at pricey restaurants). And she cooks up THE most delicious (and filling!) breakfasts.
In the late afternoon, as guests trickle back from long walks along the shore or a day's worth of exploring the town's many tourist shops and fancier boutiques, tea is served, complete with crackers and cheese, home made cookies, sherry, and (in colder months) hot apple cider.
This is our cozy little bathroom.
OK, I know this reads like a travelogue. But that's not my primary intention.
My point is that, when the days get dreary and damp, making me feel like every thing I do requires a major effort, I can close my eyes and go back to Cape May...all the while anticipating our next visit. I can see the patterns of the clouds on the steel-blue Atlantic the honey-colored sun streaming through the breakfast-room windows; the brilliant hues of leaves and flowers; and the crisp red and white of the Cape May Lighthouse.
The pastel and jewel hues of Cape May's Victorians, the quality of the sea-side light, the scent of salt and fireplaces, the patterns and textures of sand dunes and shingles and roof tiles...These are among my treasures. When my world is drab or frightening, I can take them out, hold them, polish them, press them to my cheek and feel their sleek perfection and comforting shapes, sounds, sights, smells, and tastes.
Inspiring, yes. And encouraging. And hopeful. Do these reflections find their way into my art? I think so...I know so.
For me, inspiration IS everywhere. But that doesn't mean the best inspiration is always in my immediate surroundings. It can be in our memories. In our histories--cultural and personal. Inspiration can be found in a dream, a conversation, a photograph, or a good book.
Well, that's probably enough about me.
I would love to know what places inspire you. Do you find elusive creative encouragement close to home? Or do you need to travel the world to collect your treasures? What role does "Setting" play in your creative process?
Saturday, April 14, 2007
A Nor'Easter in April???
Beh.He's the Nor'Easter Bunny...You'll surely see him again. But I hope it's not until next winter. It's time for spring to arrive...for real this time!
Anyway, the real reason I'm online is that I wanted to mention that these...
(The BAG, not the cat, silly.)
...will be making an appearance at the Knitters Connection June 6 - 10, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency in Columbus, Ohio. Just look for the Neighborhood Fiber Company booth at the Knitters Connection. Along with her awesome yarn, Karida's going to be selling Knit*Six knitting bags and stitch markers. (She's also offering some great pattern support at our favorite price: Free!)
I've been making these bags and markers for a while--and using them, too. I know they work, they last, and most of all that people like them (even non-knitters have asked about them). So, after about a year's worth of back-and-forthing, I finally decided to listen to my friends, get off the fence, and start selling some of my creations. Look for my Etsy shop soon!
Well, now you know how I'm going to be spending my rainy, cold weekend. Sewing, knitting, beading, knitting, and--ugh--having a little rendevouz with TurboTax. (Wish me luck!)
How about you? What will you be doing during our last (hopefully) taste of winter? Cool patterns? Shopping online? Vicarious shopping is always a thrill ;-) Do share!
I believe in loving-kindness meditation, the power of prayer, the sending of healing thoughts, or whatever you prefer to call it. Honestly, I've seen the results several times.
Maggie started eating on her own last night...not much, but enough to show she's feeling a bit better :-)
So I wanted to hop online this morning and thank you, very much, for all the good "vives" you sent Maggie's way! Knitters are wonderful people.
PS. Ugh...fuzzy photo. I'm at work, and it's all I have on hand. Still, it shows how sweet she is, doesn't it?
Friday, April 13, 2007
I find it in the gorgeous colors of a perfect spring day: Robin's egg blue; pale, sandy beige; tart, fresh green; and the glorious colors of blossoming trees illuminated by the golden morning sun.
Looking at these photos, it's obvious I've been in the mood for pastels mixed with brown. Pink and brown, pale green and brown (like mint-chip ice cream), and powdery blue and brown.
Luckily for me, I didn't have to look too far to find the perfect yarn to satisfy my cravings...It's called Brightwood, from D.C.'s Neighborhood Fiber Company (owned by the lovely Karida Collins). I love all of NFC's colourways, but this one--brand new for spring--really speaks to me. It's begging to become a sweet little scarf, like this one.
I really would love to know: Where do you find your inspiration?
Finally, I have a request: This little one isn't feeling well. She has a fever and won't eat. We're worried, because she's about 13 years old. Please say a prayer, send positive energy, meditate on her healing, or whatever you believe in--it's all good. Her name is Maggie, and she's a gentle soul.
Thank you, from all of us.
PS. Comments welcome :-)
Thursday, April 12, 2007
OK. Breathe. Crises averted. Illnesses passing. Ailing resting comfortably.
World peace? Well, all I can do toward that particular problem today is meditate and send what my grandma used to call "positive vives." And, of course, vote based on my personal beliefs. Which, because of my low threshold for righteous indignation, are probably far from mysterious. Let's just say that when I travel, I'll be the one in the "I'm From Ottawa" and "Nova Scotia Rocks" t-shirts.
Sorry. Back to knitting.
A couple of weeks ago, mired in wintery drizzle and grayness, I started longing for COLOR. Remember? I was looking at Claudia Hand Paint sock yarns in delicious colors, like Chocolate Cherry and Pink Dot. Names that actually make my mouth water...Mmmmm.
Well...at the end of the first week in April, I achieved a personal goal, and immediately knew how to reward myself:
Yarns ordered online, from Ewe Need Yarn. They were great :-)
On the left, ladies and gentlemen, we have Chocolate Cherry, a luscious blend of dark, rich mocha and deep chocolate brown, delightfully blended with, well, cherry red...
(Hey, wait a minute...What's that dust-bunny doing behind my chair?)
And on the right, we have Pink Dot: An ambrosia of berries, grapes, and minty greens. So lovely... And "lite" to boot!
(Eek! That's no dust-bunny--It's Katja! CREATOR of dust-bunnies.)
Sorry for the silliness and political commentary. It's been a long day, and a longer week.
See you soon, with some eye-candy. And as soon as it arrives, I'll follow up with Indulgence, Part 3!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
We spent a quiet Easter at home, in our PJs, doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, not really nothing...I did work a bit more on this:It's the rather ugly hat I'm required to knit for Level 1 of the Master Hand Knitter certification. All of my swatches are done...have been for a while. But this hat has been the bane of my existence. I've ripped it out three times. My opinion is that I'm having trouble knitting it because I don't care for the pattern. I mean, honestly, it's not like it's difficult!
I have this weird superstition/belief that if I have a lot of trouble with a pattern (regardless of difficulty) and have to rip it out several times, the fibers absorb the negative energy and develop Bad Yarn Karma (BYK). It's happened to me several times. Last year it was a pair of Jaywalkers I was knitting with a Koigu KPPPM in a charcoal/brown colorway. They just weren't coming together, even though it's not a hard pattern to knit. After several re-starts, I couldn't shake the feeling that they simply weren't meant to be.
When BYK happens, it usually results in me putting the yarn back into my stash and ditching the pattern. Sometimes I can't even use the yarn again for another project. Like the light blue Rowan I used in last year's unshapely tunic (the Shapely Tank, which stretched into dress-like proportions)--I unravelled the yarn, washed it, and reskeined it, but I just can't bring myself to use it again. It doesn't FEEL right.
Very weird...Or is it? Am I alone, or has anyone else experienced BYK?
I do, however, have a Bad Yarn Karma solution: Go directly to your LYS and buy some new yarn for the project. I swear it works. Like this dumb hat, for example. I knit and ripped, knit and ripped, using the brown Ella Rae. I had other colors for the necessary stripes, but couldn't get past that sinking feeling that this project was doomed and I'd never get past Level 1. So I stopped in my LYS on Saturday and picked up a new skein of Ella Rae in that light pink color. Now the hat's on track and I'm going to be able to submit my work after all. That shot of freshness was all I needed.
Speaking of a shot of freshness, I'm still enjoying the lovely shades of lavender, purple, and indigo in this Koigu KPPPM:
(Sorry for the fuzzy photo.)
That's sock #1, on my big foot. The recipient (not to be named until after the gift is delivered) has much smaller feet than I, but I wanted to show off the finished product. Well, almost finished--the picot cuff still needs to be turned down and sewn.
Here's sock #2, on Saturday morning:
Don't you love my little table piled with knitting crap? My lovely husband is so easy going--he never complains about it at all. Perhaps he deserves a pair of socks of his own...Oh, but those size 12 feet! That's a whole lot of knitting ;-)
By the way: We saw "Hoax" this weekend (Richard Gere's new movie). It was quite good. Funny, fast-paced, intelligent, and keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting for his house of complex lies to come crashing down. Chris and I both enjoyed it thoroughly, and highly recommend it. If you see (or saw) it, let me know what you think.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Can you believe our temperatures dropped 40 degrees in less than 12 hours? It's freezing outside...but it's still spring. These lovely little bluebells (Is that correct? I'm not a gardener.) cheered me up, though I'm feeling a bit uninspired in terms of writing.
During the past week, I've been reading a lot about ripples, at Nona's,
Alicia's, and on the No-End-In-Sight Ripple Along site.
Now, honestly, isn't Alicia's blanket delicious? Those colors--YUM! And her photos are so inviting and cozy...it makes me want to crawl into that bed with a good book, and take a long nap. (Don't worry, Alicia...I promise not to stalk your blanket.)
Well, I'm not much of a crocheter, but all that fabulocity finally got to me...
And, of course, I enjoyed every minute...maybe a little TOO much. I think a ripple blanket (or throw) may be moving up toward the top of my project list...
Finally, I just wanted to say that Ted and I are hard at work on the Orchid socks.
It's a fun pattern, nearly mindless but not uninteresting. I'll be sure to post the details when I'm done.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Wow. I just read a knitting blog that brought tears to my eyes. So beautiful, well written, tender, nostalgic, and just a touch bittersweet. It was titled "I want to be like my grandmother," and you can find it here.
When you read something that touches you and evokes an emotional or physical reaction like that, you know it came straight from the writer's own heart. That's something many writers don't know--it's not taught in school: If you don't feel the sensations when you're writing, your readers won't feel them, either. That includes humor, fear, and soul-swelling love.
My grandparents were also very special. While I didn't get to spend as much time as I would have liked with my paternal grandma and grandpa, who lived in Portland, OR, I did grow up in the tender care of my maternal grandparents (who lived in Burlingame, CA, and later in Half Moon Bay, CA). In fact, when I was 16, I moved out on my own. It didn't go too well for me in Marin Co., so I went to Half Moon Bay and lived with Grandma and Grandpa for a few years.
The times I spent with them in Half Moon Bay--as a child, and later as a young adult--were among the happiest of my life. Of course, I have many wonderful memories of my mom, sister, stepfather, and stepbrothers. But there IS something special about that grandparent-grandchild relationship that can't be denied or defined. I think my mom is feeling that difference right now, with my sister's son, Ethan. His relationship with "Birdie Grandma" is very special.
Add to that the freedom I enjoyed in Half Moon Bay, which--in the 1970s and early 80s--was virtually unspoiled...just a sleepy little farming community. That's all different now, though. I'm really not sure I ever want to go back.
I'd prefer to remember it as it was, when grandpa and I would head over to Thrifty Drugs for an evening ice cream cone (15 cents!). Or when grandma and I would wander around main street, exploring the feed store's magical inventory of clothing, seeds, and small animals.
These memories aren't sad, but they are a bit melancholy. Grandpa died in October 1989, shortly after he and grandma moved back to the Black Hills, in SD, where their families had settled in the 19th Century.
Grandma was diagnosed with dementia a few years later and lived in nursing homes until her death in 2002. And I felt her passing. Just after 8 p.m. one evening I was struck by a surge of dizziness and collapsed...My mother called me a short while later to tell me grandma was gone. She'd died at that exact moment.
Every day I think of them, every day I miss them. But they're in my heart, and I know we'll always be together.
Monday, April 02, 2007
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a yearly delight for those of us who worship long, balmy days, tender new foliage, the year's first flowers, and all the other glories of spring...
Unfortunately (for us, that is) this delight is a bit tainted by crushing crowds of camera-toting tourists, but they've got a right to be here, too, I guess ;-) (Especially that lovely man who took such a good photo of Chris and I under a canopy of cherry blossoms--Thank you!)
Today we went down to the Tidal Basin and spent some time on the water in one of the paddle-boats. Under scudding clouds, with warm breezes ruffling the water, we floated and listened to live trad-jazz (our favorite) being played by a band in front of the Jefferson Memorial.
Then we wandered up the mall, camera in hand, playing tourist for a while (when in Rome, right?), and found a nice shady bench by the carousel in front of the Smithsonian "Castle." Chris went to pick up some H2O while I chatted with a very nice couple from Mississippi. The husband wore a hat that read "WWII Veteran" (he was Navy, but I didn't notice the name of his ship), so I assumed they'd been to the fabulous WWII Memorial during their stay.
When they continued on their way to the Metro, Chris pulled out his iPod and I...well, you know...(That's "Orchid Sock" #2 on the needles. And yes, I've spent a little time out in the sun this past week!)
We found a little stuffed monkey under the bench. We both felt really sorry for the little child out there who lost his or her new friend :-( We waited and waited, but no one came back for him. So we decided to give him a good home amongst the other 50+ monks who live in our--ahem!--library (read: hallway).
Then we went out for Chinese food and came home to take a nap. All in all, it was a perfect day with mon cheri. XOXO