Thursday, May 29, 2008

all systems go!

Posted by Picasa

stash diving playtime

I'm up to the armpits on the sleeves of Jesse's Durrow-inspired sweater and the body is a plain ol' 4x2 rib all the way, so I'm going to try knitting that on a knitting machine. Until I buy or borrow one, that project is on hold.

Bren's gloves are nearly finished too, with only one thumb to knit and eleventy billion ends to weave in.

With Leah's Josephine also recently off the needles, the only other works in progress around here are socks, so it's time to play with a new project! Whee -- time for stash diving! I'd start another fair isle -- this one for me or this one for the Goob -- but it's almost June and I know I'm not going to want heavy wool wrapped around my hands or resting on my lap for very much longer. Time for a lightweight scarf, methinks, and there was a pattern in my Ravelry favorites that's been making me drool for quite a while. Went the Paypal and Ravelry download route for instant gratification pattern procurement.

Did a little diving in the stash closet and came up with that cone of Tencel that I got at Webs a while back and combined with burgundy cotton harvested from a Goodwill sweater to make Leah's hybrid cardigan. The color's not right in this pic -- it's deeper jewel tones with that beautiful tencel sheen -- but you get the idea.

I found a big ol' cone of a royal blue rayon/wool blend from the yarn tag sale last month.
Added in some peacock metallic #6 size beads from our bead stash.
Also added a strand of purple coned yarn, but that made the fabric a little too thick, I think, so I tore out that swatch, went down to just the two strands for another try, and voila!

I am ga-ga over this pattern and this yarn/bead combination. I would have knit much further on it last night, but I only had this little bunch of beads. Scott will pick up the rest of what I need when he's over by the bead store for bakery deliveries later today and then there's no stopping me, and this is a completely addictive pattern, so it'll be fun to see how quickly it moves along.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 26, 2008

we love Josephine!

Pattern: Josephine top from Interweave Knits, Summer 2007 issue

Yarn: reclaimed cotton from a new Abercrombie and Fitch sweater, bought at Goodwill for ~$3

Size: smallest, for 10 y.o. daughter

Needles: had to go down to size 1 to get gauge

Mods: Knit in the round to armholes. Did a few knit rounds at the hem at the start, instead of picking those stitches up and adding them at the hem at the end. Started V-neck higher. Twisted cord instead of I-cord.

Verdict: I loved every second of knitting this pattern and think the results are just about perfect. Two enthusiastic thumbs up from the knitter and the recipient! It was still the slightest bit damp this morning, but she loved it enough to put it on anyway to wear to the Memorial Day parade and ceremony in town.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

a stitch and pitch, of sorts

Nope, we weren't there with a group of knitters, but we were there with a group of homeschoolers.

1st inning.

9th inning.
Sleeve #2 of Jesse's sweater is now up to the elbow. Yup, that's the full moon rising between the lights.

Fun for all!
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 18, 2008


I have kind of a mental list of things I'd like to learn to do at some point in my life. It's constantly evolving, but I'm slowly but steadily working my way through it. I only visit briefly at some of the stops on this list (tatting, stained glass, lampwork, spinning), maybe revisiting every once in a while, whereas at others I linger for months...years...maybe a lifetime.

I spent a glorious yesterday at The Mercy Center, an oceanside retreat, learning the basics of pine needle basketry. Learning to make baskets out of pine needles has been on my mental list for years. As a matter of fact, I've seen online instructions and knew enough that I was sure I could sit down and do it at just about any time, but I never seemed to get around to it, until now. When Paige found this workshop offering and asked if I wanted to go with her, I jumped at the chance. I had no idea what a treat we were in for.

This is the view from where we did our work among a dozen or so other women, basking in the spring sunshine among flowering plants, gardens, wind chimes, garden art.

This is the Mercy Center's beach, where we took a little stroll after a yummy lunch in the Center's dining room. Sailboats on the horizon. Picture perfect day.

And here's my little pine needle basket-in-progress. I'm making it a size that will fit over a big cottage cheese container, with the goal of putting my orchid's pot inside. Raffia from a little stash in the basement, pine needles from neighbor's enormous tree, beads from you know who. I'm hoping the water-like colorway of the beads will complement the earthiness of the brown needles when they dry, along with the natural raffia. Such a beginner effort, but I'm loving every minute of this slow but satisfying project. I'm not one to have a million holders-of-stuff gathered around my house, so I don't know yet if pine needle basketry will be a short stop on this life-learning journey or a much more in-depth exploration, but I'll never forget the location of those first few stitches and the pause to enjoy what nature had to offer on that day.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

arts extravaganza

A few years ago, I bought a bunch of enameling supplies at a tag sale. Enamel is powdered glass, so it can be used on glass beads. I love the look of this, so I jumped on it when I saw the listing for the tag sale. Scott has used a little bit here and there, but we still have lots of supplies, so I've gotten some books from the library in an attempt to learn how to do enameling, with no success. As a matter of fact, Jesse and I kind of melted some things we didn't mean to melt the last time we tried. ;-)

All enameling classes I've seen are 8-10 weekly classes 1-2 hrs away from us and I haven't been enthusiastic enough to make that kind of commitment, so the stuff has been stashed, just waiting. Finally, I saw a listing for a 1-day enameling demonstration by Lilyan Bachrach at Worcester Craft Center . Perfect! I figured that's a low budget, low commitment way for me to get an idea of how it's done, so I'd know whether I wanted to pursue it further, on my own or with one of those longer class offerings. What I didn't realize is that Lilyan is an absolutely delightful 91-year-old enamelist who is very respected in the field and has written an excellent reference book on the art of enameling. If you read her bio (linked to her name above), you'll get an idea of the irreverent style and entertaining anecdotes that made time fly for the 3-1/2 hour demo.
I only have the most rudimentary understanding of how enameling works, but I think that's enough to get me started. We'll have to pull out the tag sale stash and give it a try one of these days. Still, even if I never touch the enamels again in my life, I am happy to have had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Lilyan.

The enameling workshop was actually on the tail end of a big weekend of events for us all. We volunteered with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra on Saturday and then enjoyed their live performance of the music of the Wizard of Oz, shown on the big screen at the Bushnell Theater. We were aiming for a performance of dances from around the world after that, but the time and price were incorrectly listed on the info I had, so that didn't work out.

While I was at the enameling workshop on Sunday, Scott, Jesse, and Leah were back at the Bushnell for The Lord of the Dance performance, our birthday gift to Leah, who has wanted to see one of these shows f-o-r-e-v-e-r and could barely contain her excitement. They had excellent seats for the show and thoroughly enjoyed the intermission conversation with folks around them.

By the time we all met back up on Sunday evening, we had so much to talk about! We caught up over dinner and spent the rest of the evening relaxing at one of our favorite places, the perfect place to wind down after such an exciting weekend.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 03, 2008

K.D. weekend

For the third year in a row, May Day arrived and I was completely unaware of the date until we received a flowering May Day celebration plant from some wonderful friends. Just to the left of these cheerful flowers on my desk is a cross-stitched lop-eared bunny picture made by my Gram many years ago and sent in a card that said "Somebunny loves you." I framed it and have had it near my desk ever since. Gram is 88 now and doesn't do much cross stitch anymore because she's busy solving crossword puzzles and trotting around the world to see interesting places! This weekend, she's at the Kentucky Derby, and when the Preakness and the Belmont happen, she'll be at those too. Can't wait to hear all about it!

With these cheerful things on my desk yesterday, despite the dreary, rainy day, I was able to get my work done quickly and decided it was as good a day as any to swatch for the Durrow-like sweater I planned to make for Jesse. I've never had sweater amounts of yarn in my stash before, so being able to shop in my own stash and have multiple possibilities in front of me was really fun! I figured out yardage with the borrowed McMorrow yarn balance from the same thoughtful friend who brought the May Day flowers, knit some swatches and, because they're coned weaving yarns from the yarn tag sale Bonanza two weeks ago, I washed the swatches to get the spinning oil and lanolin out of them and watch them bloom. Nice changes with that, so I'm looking forward to the transformation of the finished sweater too!

Since the Magknits debacle left me with only the text portion of this pattern in the Wayback Machine/Internet archives and Jesse and I weren't too crazy about the original cable anyway, we browsed Leah's cable Stitchionary and settled on the Genesis Hall cable. A few hours later and I'm up to the elbow -- woot!

We have some pretty exciting things to look forward to this weekend, so in between those events, while Gram's romping at the Kentucky Derby, I'll be Knitting Durrow. Excellent!
Posted by Picasa