Sunday, December 5, 2010

Organic Kanoko Pants

My dear sweet Jenny (her blog has been on hiatus for a while) had her baby girl last month, and once she got within two weeks of her due date I started knitting in earnest.  I guess I am still superstitious about waiting to knit for specific babies until they are almost here.  Plus, since Jenny and Mr. C decided to not find out the sex of their little baby, I decided to knit something gender neutral, then add a little embellishment.  My pattern of choice: the Kanoko Pants.

Back story: Some time ago, while still living in Albuquerque (both of us, actually), Jenny and I decided to place a big order with Elann for some Pakucho worsted weight organic cotton.  I can't remember what Jenny was going to make with her yarn (was it a Green Gables?) but I made mine into a Cable Eight tank, that was a disaster. Worsted weight yarn held doubled then cabled? And for a busty girl? Eeek.  I had some yarn leftover, then somehow I also ended up with a sizable amount of Jenny's yarn.

So, with that kind of history I thought it would be fun to pass it to the next generation.

I swatched, took measurements, washed and dried the swatch, retook measurements, and calculated I would need an extra 10% for shrinkage since I wanted the care instructions to be kind to a new mother.

And soon, I had a pair of pants perfect for an Austin, Texas winter.

Kanoko Pants
Pattern: Kanoko Pants by Yumiko Sakurai
Yarn: Pakucho organic cotton, worsted weight, approximately 3 skeins
Needles: Size 6
Size: smallest, but adapted, see below.
Mods: I added 10% in length to both the upper area, and the legs to allow for shrinkage since I wanted these pants to go through the washer and dryer.  I added a little bit of running stitch and a daisy stitch to the top of the pants as well.

The pants have arrived in Austin, and look like a perfect fit.  These are the first pair of baby pants I have made, but I don't think they will be the last. So cute!

Now to go find that doomed tank.  I think I need to harvest the yarn.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Temporary Visitor

I took advantage of the last warm day of fall to do some yard clean up.  Both wheel barrows were stored away, the rabbit wire was rolled up and stashed, garden tools and hose guides were collected, cleaned and put away.  Our unheated breezeway was swept, and the glass doors were shut for the season. And that is when I heard the high pitched squeaking.

Anyone who has heard it before knows exactly what I am talking about.  We had a bat.  It had decided to spend the day wedged between the glass doors and the screens of our breezeway, and since I was shutting the entire system up for the year, the bat had to go.  Using a clever system of shoeboxes and miss dig flags, P and I were able to remove the bat from our screen door.

I didn't want to leave him outside during the day as there are at least two very good varmint hunting cats in our neighborhood. (The chipmunk massacre of 2008 is unlikely to be forgotten around here).  So I put him in a shoebox, and brought him inside until dusk arrived.

At sunset the entire box was left outside, and a few hours later the bat was safely on his way.

I am hoping that he will remember this kindness and come visiting in the summer.  We need all the help we can get with the mosquitos - they are nearly as big as he is!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

From Autumn to Winter

How an entire month can go by with little notice is beyond me, but here we are - the end of November.  Michigan experienced an incredibly long autumn this year, and now the weather has changed and the mercury has dipped. Ice sits at the edges of my driveway and when I take the kitchen compost bin outside I can feel the frozen-heaved soil crunch and settle beneath my feet.

Christmas knitting has begun in earnest now, really at the last possible moment for the amount of Christmas knitting I feel needs to be done. Some projects will get done this year. Some may need to be saved for next year, and I am trying to knit out of my stash.  I have one Brother-in-law with very long feet who apparently dreams of handknit socks.  Not this year I am afraid.  I have yarn for him, but not the time to get the socks done.  That project will be a labor of love.

Snow has started to fly, and we are restocked on firewood and birdseed, both essential items for my winter happiness.

I have bombed out of NaNoSweMo with flying colors.  But I will keep plugging away at my sweater, because what is better than an alpaca sweater in the depth of winter?  It is heaven to knit, but it is time to think of others.

One of my new guilty pleasures is introducing my Knit Night friends to my guilty pleasures - beautiful films (I hate chick flicks, but the term is almost applicable in this context) with escapist plots.  Cold Comfort Farm, Pride & Prejudice (BBC/A&E), and A Room with a View (surprising amounts of full frontal male nudity) (hi dad!).

If you have an recommendations for films to add to my list, please let me know.  My loose requirements are:

1. must be beautiful to watch, but not require constant attention. (I love Amelie, but it is hard to work on deadline knitting while reading subtitles).

2. escapist plot.

3. readily available.  I have access to Netflix and their instant downloads, plus a kick-ass library system.

I also deploy countermeasures to make sure we don't overdose on happy endings.  Ab Fab provides some vicious comic relief.  And I am debating over Out of Africa - is syphilis and the death of a main character too much for light and fluffy Knit Night?

Ideas? Suggestions? Please pass them on!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Year of My Sister's Christmas Socks

For nearly a year I have had a project hanging over my head, waiting to be finished - my sister's Xmas socks of 2009.  My dear, sweet sister has often asked for socks for her birthday or Christmas, and I have always tried to oblige.

K1P1 ribbing - 6 1/2 inches
Last year she wanted knee highs.  Actually, knee + highs.  So, while at Rhinebeck she picked out an incredible shade of near-neon red from Creatively Dyed Yarns.  Despite having over 500 yards of yarn, I was still concerned that I might not have enough yardage, so I added in some extra sock yarn leftover from another project.  I got the yarn mid-October.  I started the socks at the end of November.  By Christmas both socks were halfway done, that is, they were normal sock size.  I wrapped them up, needles and all, and gave them to my sister.  Then I had her try them on and return them to me.  And so they sat, and sat, and sat. I had to work out the calf increases.  And while my sister has feet nearly the same size as mine, her calves are just on a different scale than mine.

Opal Toes and Heels - Judy's Magic Cast on and Short Row heels
I studied her measurements carefully, calculated ease, checked my gauge over and over.  And I hope I got it right.  Because as of October 1, I picked up the challenge to finish my sister's Xmas Socks (2009), preferably before Thanksgiving.  And yesterday, October 31, 2010 I finished my sister's socks.

Knee + High Xmas Socks.

And no, I am not giving them to her for Christmas this year.  She will be receiving them once they are blocked....however long that takes!

Pattern: Improvised
Yarn: Creatively Dyed Yarn, steele.  Red. 510 yards per skein.  Opal Uni Solid, in fuschia.
Needles: 2.25 mm and size 2.5 mm.  From toes to mid calf - on two circs. From calf increases to ribbing, magic loop.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Project 333: Good Nick

When faced with a limited wardrobe it is essential to keep what you have in good nick.  That is, make repairs and alterations when needed, but also, perform maintenance on your most heavily used items.  Most fixes are cheap and take little time. (Remind me to tell you the story some other time wherein I say to a complete stranger "I need a screw, quick!)

But, yes, my Phoebe Dansko clogs.  While peering down at my feet yesterday I realized that I was looking like an urchin. There is a reason the saying "down-at-the-heels" means to look sad, worn, and even impoverished. In the case of my clogs, it was the toes, not the heels that needed immediate attention.  Since these shoes are a major pillar in my Project 333 experiment it is important to me that they continue to look good (especially since they are nearly indestructible).

Before - Urchin toes

After - Moneysworth Best Shoe Polish.  Yes, indeed.

A quick application of shoe polish can make just about any shoe look almost new.  Leather dries out as it ages, and polish adds oil and colorant back into the leather to cover the scuffs and scrapes.  This not only helps your shoes look better, but can actually prolong the life of your shoes as well.  The oil in shoe polish can help repel water and salt stains, and since I have been known to wear my clogs out in several inches of snow (by-the-way clogs offer no traction) this is important to the longevity of my shoes.

I used to be on very friendly terms with my neighborhood cobblers in New York, Albuquerque, and Cambridge.  Cobblers are wonderful people - they can resole shoes, change heels, replace stitching, and even fix leather jackets and luggage.  Their shops will have a treasure trove of items you never knew existed and shoe polish for almost any color leather imaginable.  Shoe whiteners, shoe laces, shoe horns and trees, shoe bags, caps for your toes and heels.  It can be a wonderful experience.   In a throw-away culture such as ours, perhaps it is no surprise that almost all cobblers I have used are foreign-born: Mexican, Armenian, Hungarian, and Indian.  My cobbler (Armenian) in Cambridge had the following written on his business cards:

I will heel you, save your soles, and dye for you.

I should mention his shop was covered wall-to-wall with religious icons.  He took his work seriously.

I haven't sought out a cobbler since I moved to the mid-West, mostly because I am no longer wearing high heels since leaving the art world behind. But I do have a pair of dansko sandals that need some TLC, and I have been told the general proximity for a good cobbler.  

With some extra care my sandals may just be around for next summer.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some thoughts on Project 333

I have now been part of Project 333 for almost a full month, and I am really enjoying the simplicity of it.  And I am functioning using LESS than 33 items.  But perhaps that isn't suprising...

I never had tons of clothes, although my parents may argue otherwise.  In college, some of my friends had closets stuffed full.  And I do mean FULL.

Until 10th grade I was a public school kid - rode the bus everyday (it happened to be the short bus in elementary school, which actually says more about the topography of where I grew up, rather than my mental abilities), and was relentlessly bullied by several kids in my grade.  With glasses, braces, a terrible Princess Diana haircut, and the onset of puberty, it was probably inevitable.  By the time I started to 'grow up' in ninth grade, I was also starting to reject the images these kids projected. Benetton, Guess, and Espirit were to be reviled.  I started wearing black. My sister and I would shop at Thrift Stores.  We wore polyester, lace, men's suit trousers and blazers.  We often bought Rit Dye to change the color of our second hand clothes.  My image was being formed in polar opposite of the people who picked on me, as if to say, 'Yes, I am different, and now you can see just how different I am.'  Most importantly, I ceased caring what they thought and went my own way.

And then 10th grade came around and I ended up in private school.  As private schools go, it wasn't bad.  There were wealthy kids there, but also a lot of my classmates were getting financial aid, and many of my classmates were first generation Americans.  But the kicker, the real kicker, was there was a uniform. Not just any uniform, but a plaid skirt (Campbell) and a white turtleneck.  (To this day I can't wear turtlenecks.) And suddenly the clothes I did have in my tiny closet were irrelevant, because I could not wear them to school.  I had two Campbell plaid skirts, a grey skirt (boy the grey skirt got a ton of wear!) navy pants, a navy crewneck sweater, two white turtlenecks, and a white button-down shirt. Shoes were usually Chinese slippers, since they were black, reasonably fashionable, and not penny loafers.

And so I could spend five days a week in clothes I had little to no control over, and really only had to make sure they were clean... ish.  For three years my wardrobe consisted of the same trousers, skirts and boring sweater - and because I was done growing, they may have been the exact SAME trousers, skirts, and sweater.

So, honestly, 33 items? Kinda feels like luxury when thinking about those private school days. And I have not, nor while I ever own a pair of navy trousers ever again.

In the end my high school alma mater got the last laugh.   When I went to college and joined the Lacrosse team the skirt uniform was Campbell plaid. No kidding.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fiber Expo 2010

From left to right: BFL Top from Yarn Hollow, colorway Sleepy Hollow.  Iona Worsted Weight, 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon from MacKintosh Yarns, colorway Maude. Annie Goatley Goat Milk Lotion, Rosemary & Perppermint 8 oz.  BFL from Fiberstory, colorway Spruce.  BFL Twist from Color Bug Yarns, colorway Koi.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ann Arbor Fiber Expo

My return from Rhinebeck inevitably created a pschological slump.  There is nothing like spending a few days with friends, in an area that you love, with a chance to see your parents, AND throw in fiber in great quantities to make the next few days feel ho-hum.

Luckily the following Saturday (this past Saturday) I drove down to Ann Arbor for the Fiber Expo with a fiber friend.  And what an incredible little fair the Expo is becoming.  I believe this is the fourth year the expo has been put on, and this was my third time going, so I feel like I can speak to its changes.  Year by year the Fiber Expo has been getting bigger and better.  It is the perfect size really.  A few barns, enough vendors to spend a few hours, but not overwhelming in any way.  My only complaint? I was rammed by moms with strollers several times.  Double wide or double long strollers really should be banned - they are a menace!

I bought several hanks of roving, one ball of hand dyed worsted weight yarn, and some hand lotion made from Goat's Milk.

One of the calmer sections

My ban on buying sock yarn continues, so I didn't buy the yarn that most caught my eye and continues to create little moments of longing.

Happy Fuzzy Yarn - fingering weight
I can't begin to describe how incredibly saturated the color is in Happy Fuzzy Yarn.  They had a very limited palate range for the worsted weights, which is the ONLY reason I didn't come home something from their booth.  My b'day friend ponied up and bought a skein of sock yarn - one of those magenta & green skeins you can see on the right.  I am still whimpering.

Photos of what I bought to come!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Signing: Chris de Longpre and Timeless Knits for Kids (Size 4-14)

I am having an incredibly fibery weekend - and I am loving every second of it. This morning I went to the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo (more on that in my next post) and experienced the joy of fiber festivals all over again.

I got home with just enough time to drop off my packages, bolt down some lunch, and head out again for my LYS, Woven Art.  Chris de Longpre of Knitting at KNoon was there doing a book signing and had a trunk show too!

Chris de Longpre and me with the trunk show.
Her designs are simple and classic, with little details that really make a sweater - a little girl's sweater with a String of Pearl's cast off edging - a boy's vest with garter bumps from a slip stitch pattern.  Timeless Knits for Kids (Sizes 4-14) is a fantastic book for that difficult age range in kids.  It isn't hard to find patterns for little ones, but anything smaller than adult can be a real challenge!  Plus, Chris's patterns wisely call for easy care fibers - Plymouth Encore, Kraemer yarns, and Cascade 220 superwash.  Dirty? Just throw into the washer AND dryer with jeans, turtlenecks, and socks.

Timeless Knits for Kids size 4-14
I know I need to make several vests for my ever increasing herd of nephews - and easy care yarns (I am thinking Plymouth Encore - such a nice light grey!) will take the terror out of the gifts for my sisters-in-law.

The photos in the book are beautiful - I think I even recognize some of the locations in Michigan - and Chris took them all! (Except for her author photo, that is.)  All the models are her grandchildren, and you can tell that this book was made with joy and love.

I can't wait to knit some projects out of this book - but I can take my time - with so many sizes to choose from, I can use this book for a decade for each child!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Autumn around the Little Yellow House

Gingko Leaves

Sugar Maple and Oak Leaves
Foliage at Lake Lansing

Milkweed Pod, Lake Lansing

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rhinebeck Photos

I drove east with a small contingent of Michigan knitters.  It was wonderful.  I got to see my parents (briefly) and I soaked up the goodness of coming home.  It is lovely going to places where you don't have to consult a map constantly.  I miss the familiarity of Fairfield and Westchester counties.

Crowds at Rhinebeck

Mums at the fairgrounds

View of the Catskills from the fairgounds
Rhinebeck haul - sport weight wool from Bartlett Yarns,
a yarn bowl from Jennie the Potter,
handspun/handyed by Stonesthrow Farm,
Darling Basket by Ellen Hotis and
Handwoven placemats and dishtowels
by two separate weavers.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Charity Challenge Complete

Saturday was the last day to drop off knitted charity goods at Woven Art.  I finished a few more hats that are headed to the Black Child and Family Institute just in time for the cold weather.  Each hat was made out of yarn that was in my stash for well over four years.

A Very Warm Hat by EZ - outside
A Very Warm Hat - inside
Orange Hurricane hat
Grey Hurricane
Raspberry Hatto
Embossed Chevron Hat
I am so glad I could knit so many hats to keep kids warm this winter.  I am hoping that I can knit one hat a month for a full year.  This will let me knit other projects, knit for charity, and decrease my stash - an ongoing project in itself.

Last year at this time I made a commitment to knit from my stash for the entire year, adding yarn only under the most special of circumstances.  Next week is Rhinebeck and I am not holding back. I won't be out of control, but I fully intend to enjoy myself. And maybe THIS year I can get a pot pie!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

State Fair Cowl

Since returning from the retreat I have been laid up on the couch with a head cold.  With cold medication in my system I could only really knit in garter stitch.  So I dug out some handspun I bought at the New Mexico State Fair five or six years ago and started knitting.  On my second day on the couch, I have a finished cowl.

State Fair Cowl
And you can just make out Zeby on the inside of my front door.

Yarn: Handspun yarn in natural colors, and dyed yellow from the New Mexico State Fair, in 2004 or 2005.
Needles: size US 10.5
Notes: cast on about 40 stitches, knit every row, throwing in random stripes of yellow.  Knit for 22 inches, graft into a tube. Fold in half, and ta DA! Cowl.

This is not a soft yarn. It is a wooly wool, a natural wool.  And I love it. I love wearing it against the skin of my neck.  It still has a faint lanolin smell, and I love that too.
Time to make some more tea. And have a snuggle with my dog while I am wearing my new cowl.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Woven Art: Retreat at Macatawa Lake

I am just back from working the weekend at the Woven Art Retreat in Holland, Michigan.  Aside from presently being sick, I am riding high on the energy and passion that is exuded by 24 other passionate knitters.

I had such a wonderful time getting to know my knitting community better.  Friday night Sarah Peasley taught a workshop on gauge. I know, I know, GAUGE. But it is the basis on EVERYTHING that we do.  Gauge is critical, and too many knitters turn a blind eye to their best chance to making a project successful.

I got to hand out the goodie bags Friday night, and it did indeed feel like an Oprah moment.  For one, the bags are stinkin' cute!  But they were stuffed with wonderful things.  A copy of EZ's Knitters Almanac, a set of straight Kollage square needles, a ball of Kollage Fantastic yarn (yum!), a ball of Punta Merisoft, a wonderful felted notions bag from Frabjous Fibers, and a sample of Soak wool wash.

Saturday morning Sarah led a workshop on double knitting, a technique that I really have wanted to pick up.  I learned a super simple way (once you get the rhythm down) to do a tubular cast on, and then I knit a little phone cozy in the round with only two double pointed needles!  There was a bad moment when I bound the double knitting closed, but with a dropped stitch and some dexterity, I was able to fix my own mistake.

Retreat House at Macatawa Lake, Holland, Michigan
The rest of Saturday was nearly a blur for me. I know that at one point I led a teaching session on Elizabeth Zimmermann's mitered mittens, and got to show the afterthought thumb that involves cutting a stitch in your knitting. (I could hear the gasps and whimpers all around me as I snipped that stitch!)  I missed both of Jill Bigelow-Suttell's workshops on converting from flat to round, and on knitting shapes.

After that the day kinda blurred on by as I was in the kitchen, answering questions, and teaching magic loop.  Dinner was on the other side of the lake, and I had a lovely Pasta Primavera that way heavy on the vegetables and light on the pasta.  It was perfect.  Especially with a glass of white wine.

Sarah Peasley and Erica Owens, Saturday
Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful.  The lake was like glass, and I enjoyed my breakfast on the three season porch.

Breakfast in Retreat House
I was really wishing I had brought my yoga mat with me so I could have done some sun salutations on the dock that morning.  Ah well, next year!

Nancy led the last workshop of the retreat on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Ganomey hat.  Knitters were working on any of the projects from the previous sessions, and last minute questions were flying right up until the moment people were leaving. I think I was even asked some questions in the parking lot!

Mist rising on Lake Macatawa
It was a fantastic weekend.  Truly lovely.  As Nancy and I drove back to East Lansing (and left the sun behind - what is it with mid-Michigan, anyway - I feel like I would see more sun in the Pacific Northwest!)  we began to brainstorm about next year's retreat.  

Suffice it to say it will be even better than this year's retreat.  I can hardly wait!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bramble Stitch Scarf

Bramble Stitch Scarf

Many years ago I wrote up a little scarf pattern that is still available over at Nepenthe's Misadventures.  This scarf was a Christmas present for my sister.

I still get hundreds of hits a week for that pattern, but because I can't update all the links that head my way, and because Blog-city will be disappearing in 2011, I have a handy-dandy link to the new pdf!

download now


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Project 333

After reading about the project on Bev's blog, I thought long and hard about whether to do Project 333.  I love the idea of a minimalist but highly functional wardrobe.  I really don't have that many clothes.  Actually, strike that.  I don't have that many clothes THAT FIT.

wardrobe - missing, brown canvas jacket
Months upon months upon years of having "the blues" has left me with an uninspired wardrobe that was meant to "make-do" until I got back into the clothing that I still own and love, but cannot wear.  The only problem? I haven't worn my wool skirts since 2006.  My nice winter jacket won't button across my bust.  I have been "making-do" in my closet for far too long.

So I am taking the Project 333 challenge.  I will be restricting my wardrobe to 33 items for 3 months, including shoes, outerwear, and jewelry.  (Thank goodness gym-wear, unmentionables, and pjs don't count, that would be more than I could deal with on a day-to-day basis.)  And I will be working at getting back into my favorite clothes. I am tired of being uninspired by my own closet!

cashmere & textured shawl - missing grey swing cardigan & yoked cardigan  

My list for the next three months:

4 pairs of pants
3 sweaters
1 shawl
1 leather jacket
1 canvas jacket
1 pair flats
1 pair earth shoes
1 pair black boots
1 pair brown clogs
2 necklaces
2 pairs of earrings
1 bracelet
1 pair handknit mittens
2 long-sleeve t-shirts
6  t-shirts
1 knit top
2 button down blouses
1 silk shirt
1 briefcase bag

shoes - missing - earth shoes

    I reserve the right to replace items that fall apart.  My favorite black scoop neck t-shirt is getting pinholes at the hemline. And it will survive a few more weeks, but after that I am not so sure.  I also reserve the right to replace items that get stained or otherwise unwearable due to my own clumsiness. 

  My other caveat?  If I finish knitting a sweater I can add it to my wardrobe without taking something out. I can't imagine I will be able to finish more than two sweaters in three months.  But if I am knitting myself a garment, dammit, I am going to wear it!

I may have to make strategic changes to my choices. I always forget how cold I get in Michigan in winter.  But as I downsize myself, I hope that I can bring back in my favorite clothing, rather than gather more uninspired pieces.  

Project 333 starts on Friday.  I guess I will enjoy my sandals until then!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Little Acorn Hat

Autumn is my favorite time of year. Where I live in mid-Michigan acorn nuts start falling from the trees in late August, often coming down still green and then ripen into dark red brown nuts.  Our back yard is full of squirrels trying to store away their winter supplies, and the dog is beside himself trying to chase every last squirrel out of our yard.  Last Monday I got a bee in my bonnet to knit an acorn hat.  So I bought the yarn, cast on, did some calculations and ta-DA!

Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

This adorable little acorn hat is available in preemie, newborn, baby, and toddler sizes.

It takes two balls of Mission Falls 1824 wool in different colors.

The leaf embellisment is not included in the pattern, but can be found in Lesley Stanfield's book, 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet, St. Martin's Press, p. 56

Pattern: Little Acorn Hat, a meg croft design
Yarn: 2 balls Mission Falls 1824 wool. 1 ball color 008, Earth (cap color) and 1 ball 014, Dijon (nut color). 
Needles: US 6 DPNS
Gauge: 5 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch
Available for purchase now on Ravelry.

I made my acorn with a greenish nut, but you can also choose a reddish brown - Mission Falls 1824 wool in Russett, color 010 would be perfect.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Out the window

Knitting activity has slowed down a little bit in the last week - mostly due to some aching in my wrists.  I would like to avoid carpal tunnel if at all possible. So while I am still knitting, I am also icing my wrists, and wearing a brace on my right wrist at night.

But make no mistake, I am still knitting up a storm.  Since I last blogged I have completed two more hats, have nearly knit one mitten, and have gotten to the final stages of a pattern edit.  Not too shabby.

Instead of knitwear, I will leave you with a photo taken through the window.  There are many different kind of squirrels that live in our neighborhood. We have Eastern Grey Squirrels, Fox Squirrels, Black Squirrels (a mutation of the Eastern, or so I am told), and Red Squirrels.

When I lived back East, Red Squirrels were a little smaller than Easterns, and sometimes had little tufty ears.  In Michigan, Red Squirrels are much smaller, in fact, they are slightly larger than a chipmunk.
Red Squirrel
Oh, so cute!  I took about thirty photographs of this little guy.  Who could resist?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Friday Night Hat

Friday Night Hat
What happens when you have three complimentary partial balls of yarn leftover from other projects and a Friday night free because your husband has law school homework?

A stash-busting bonanza!  For those of you knitters not in the know, the Stash n' Burn group on Ravelry has another thread devoted to those knitters who want to knit down their stash yardage.  Coldsheeping takes dedication and almost constant vigilance.  Distraction comes from all corners - online sales, LYSs offering fantastic sales, souvenir skeins.  But the guidelines are pretty basic - give yourself a window of time to NOT buy new yarn, and to only knit from your stash.  My first go around I went 6 months without buying a single skein.  I bought patterns, books, notions and accessories, but no yarn.  I have strayed recently - there was a reward yarn purchase (from working the Woven Art booth at Stitches Midwest, and there was the purchase of a sweater's worth of yarn from Miss Babs at Stitches Midwest. But overall I have been very good.  I think my next goal is to avoid buying yarn until I have knit up three sweaters.  And I have all three picked out already. Let's see if they stick!

Pattern: Friday Night Hat just something I put together last minute
Yarn: Purples: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. Beige: Debbie Bliss Merino Aran
Needles: US 8
Formula: Cast on 96 stitches, rib 2x2 for 1 inch, then knit for 5.5 inches.  Begin decreasing, and pull end through when you have less than 10 stitches left.

Slightly slouchy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Preparing for winter

At a certain point at the end of the summer one just can't eat another tomato.  (Or zucchini, but that is another tale from childhood.)  The roasting has begun, and my house is filled with the scent of tomatoes and garlic.
Four orange tomatoes and one red.
Winter pastas and soups with roasted tomatoes. A bit of summer in the depth of winter.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Childhood Memories

Black-eyed Susans always remind me of my paternal grandfather who died when I was very young, his yellow house, and my dad showing me how to burn holes in paper with a magnifying glass.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fall Swing

My knitting mojo has really kicked in recently, at least for making hats.  I am averaging a hat every two days, and almost all of those will be going to charity.  Little pockets of space are opening up in my stash bins, and I can rummage through them now without creating overflow.  Ideally?  I would empty out one complete bin (the one that is cracked and missing a corner) and not get a bin to replace it.

Charity Spiral Snuggler
Pattern: Spiral Snuggler by Kalamazoo Knits
Yarn: no name chinese lopi-esque wool
Needles: US 8
Mods: none

I am loving the fall weather that has arrived in Michigan.  I am preparing the household for winter - knitting, roasting, freezing, stockpiling vegetables and fruits.  I sure do wish I could smell the lovely scent of roasting chili from my days in Albuquerque.  But a cobbled together tortilla soup recipe may help with that nostalgia.

I am hoping that I might be able to go apple picking next weekend.  Homemade applesauce, cobblers, and pies are in my near future.  And gosh, I want to bake Dilly bread. There is not enough time in the day!  And perhaps more importantly, not enough room in my freezer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Snail Hat

I loved all the offers of baked goods - so much so that I baked a lemon blueberry bundt cake to celebrate my move from blog-city to blogger.  The bundt cake is mostly gone now, but will be replaced shortly with a carrot cake.  This spring I joined the local CSA at Michigan State University, and I can honestly say that I have received carrots every single week.  That is a lot of carrots!  Hence an alarming frequency of carrot cakes.  Not that P is complaining.  Anybody have any good recipes for carrots?  Because I am getting desperate!

Knitting from my stash continues, and I have another finished hat.
Snail Hat by Elizabeth Zimmermann

Pattern: Snail Hat from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Schulana Capo-Nord, a new bulky weight yarn, 100g, 98 yards in grey.
Needles: US 10.5
Mods: None!  Multiple versions of this hat have been published by EZ, this version is a five spiral hat.

The truly amazing thing about this hat and yarn combination?

The Remainder
I had less than 12 inches left of the yarn by the time I bound off - and that includes the remainder of the long tail cast-on. Whew!  That was close.

This is a new bulky yarn by Schulana, and it has a wonderful twist and bounce.  The stitch definition is fantastic - if I had more than one ball of this I would have made a cabled hat.  The yarn came into my stash a few weeks ago as a gift, and now it goes out again as a charity knit.... although a part of me wants to keep this hat.

Dang.  Nope. It is getting donated, and I won't look back.

And, seriously? Send carrot-related recipes!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Welcome to the Yarn Lab

Relocations are never easy, and after six years of blogging at Blog-City under the name Nepenthe's Misadventures I have had to move due to the closing of Blog-City.  I have no idea how long my archives will last there.  Ideally, I will have my entire history transfered here.  Ideally, I would also have the time to do this.

In an effort (ongoing I should say) to clean out my yarn stash I am participating in Single Skein September 2010.  Loosely organized by Stash n' Burn podcast listeners on the groups' Ravelry board, the challenge is to knit up your single skeins during the month of September.  There is no way I will get through all my single skeins, so I am concentrating on skeins that are more than four years old.  Coincidentally, my LYS has a charity knitting challenge for six weeks from September through October, so most of my single skein projects will be hats headed for donation.

My first hat is done!
Raining Down Hat

Pattern: Rain Down Hat by Robyn Devine
Needles: US 6 & 7 done magic loop.
Size: medium - youth
Yarn: Sunny Mountain chinese lopi-esque yarn in red/pink from deep in my stash, and leftover bits of Stonehedge Fiber Mill's Shepherd's Wool in granite.
Mods: none.  Although, there is no suggested gauge for this pattern, so I may have been way off.  Next time I will do a large, as the medium really is a youth size in this yarn.

Gosh, that red/pink really doesn't photograph well, does it? Yikes!  It looks more eye-searing in the photograph than it does in person.

If you have come over from my old blog please leave a comment to say hi. And if you are new, please say hi too!  I am hoping that with this new blog I may actually be able to respond to comments, something that was nearly impossible for me to do at Blog-city.