Monday, June 30, 2008

arts and eats

We finally made it to the farmers market yesterday. The kids ran around with their friends, enjoying snacks and activities, checking out the vintage cars, chatting with vendors and sampling their goodies. We weren't there five minutes when we ran into some people we know. We got some early season corn for the evening's cookout. Scott had an especially good time chatting with weavers and Dennis Peabody, whose dichroic glass work we've admired for a long time.

Kids' friends came home with us for the remainder of the day, so while they were all having a blast in their own way, Scott made some floral buttons on a salmon background.

My afternoon was spent taking care of some work-related business and doing errands -- and getting caught in a spectacular but short-lived downpour! The sun came out again in time for our cookout (mmm...sweet local corn!) and marshmallow roast. Five unexpected hours of work have been added to my day today, so here we go!
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Sunday, June 29, 2008

'tis the season

With the summertime romping in full swing, there's a steady stream of options of good places to be and good folks to hang with. When I toss an extra 15 hours or more of work into the mix for the week, it keeps me on my toes during those hours and spills over into the weekend for some catch-up scrambling, especially when the calendar offers plans from morning to night. Still, I wouldn't have it any other way.

After spending much of Friday in a client's office, then doing some of my regular work at home, and then spending a while talking to a potential new client (who is now a definite new client -- yeah!), Leah and I headed out for a knit night at Creative Fibers. We only make it there on occasion, but this was the last such gathering until fall and there are four other knitters working on the same sweater as Leah, the February Lady Sweater, so we definitely wanted to see them.

A portion of the crew in a surprisingly serious-appearing moment in between laughing, cheering, drooling over pretties, and feasting on berry tart and other goodies.

Our friend, Allison, borrowed one of our drop spindles. Under Karen's guidance, she had a practice run of spinning scrap fiber into the yarny equivalent of cat puke, as with all new drop spindlers. She was originally reluctant to take up the spindle, but she received some roving as a gift and figured she might as well try, with the caveat that Leah or any number of other spinners would be willing to spin her roving into yarn if she wanted them to. You see her concentration and determination in photo 1 above? It paid off! By the end of the evening, she was getting the hang of it and her yarn was getting thinner and more consistent. She began pre-drafting her gift roving and went home with the spindle, ready to make yarn! Allison is a new doctor who recently relocated to CT from a warmer place and is psyched about all the knitterly things she can make for winters here.

I spent much of yesterday rushing to catch up on work for pay and work around the house while Scott was out helping a friend with a heavy project and then getting a little fishing in. Even though it was muggy out, Leah was willing to model her newest FO, a neckwarmer in the My So Called Scarf stitch pattern, using Manos del Uruguay yarn and glass buttons made by her dad. We think it comes in handy for knitters to have a resident bead- and button-maker!

Out to see a performance with friends in the afternoon. We know a few people who were involved in this play and have enjoyed their performances immensely in the past, and the productions are growing in every way with each passing year. The shows happen on the lovely property of some of the most gracious hosts I've ever met, a homeschooling family who seems to pull off with ease (with the help of many friends) coordinating a play with 60+ children in it and having a couple hundred guests roaming the property for the party afterwards. Between the fantastic play, the potluck feast, the friendly folks, and the chickens and sheep to visit, it couldn't have been a more pleasant afternoon. Before and during the show, I worked a bit on my current Undulating Waves scarf, in Alpaca Sox yarn from Creative Fibers.

They do a raffle fundraiser to help with the costs associated with putting on this event, so we donated a bracelet made w/ Scott's beads, two handknit hats, and a handknit baby sweater. It was fun to chat with the enthusiastic and appreciative people who won them! Leah won something in the raffle too, so smiles all around.

We had another stop to make and, by the time we got home, at almost 10:00 p.m., having been on the go since 4:00 a.m. (Note to our feathered friends: we share your enthusiasm for these long summer days, but if you could hold off on the joyful songfest for another hour or so in the morning, we would very much appreciate it. Thankyouverymuch.), we realized that we totally forgot about a beach party at a friend's lakeside house, planned for the same evening -- yikes! We hadn't made firm plans with them, so that's why it wasn't on the calendar and slipped our minds, but drat. Will get in touch with them later today to reschedule. But first, there are friends to pick up for the day, a farmer's market festival to enjoy, a cookout in the works, and a certain somebody wants me to help her make some sort of decorative clasp with lampwork beads to hold her silk scarf-as-belt in place.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

bits and pieces

There are plenty of projects going on around here, as always, but I have nothing major to show you today. Thought for a moment that I didn't even have anything to say, but I was wrong. :-) In no particular order, highlights of this week's projects:

Scott is making square buttons now. I like 'em a lot. These are cobalt with silver wisps. The cobalt looks almost black when there's not light shining through, but there's a place for black and silver buttons too. They'd look great on a gray cardigan.

We spent an evening with Kathy Goldner of Knitting Out Loud audiobook company on Monday. I've been working in a client's office this week and thoroughly enjoying the No Idle Hands audiobook during my rides.

Bren's gloves fit her well. I reached the halfway point on Undulating Waves scarf #2 (haven't taken a pic of that one yet) after dinner on their deck on Tuesday. This scarf, like its predecessor, is a people magnet. I had fantastic knitting/stitching conversations with two people while waiting to donate blood on Monday and one person while waiting for Jesse on Tuesday.

I scored a free cedar chest recently and transferred the stash to it. Since the stash is currently of a size that means it'll be around for a while, keeping it safe from moths is a good thing. Rummaging through it all in the transfer process was fun too!

Leah finished a neckwarmer this week and cast on for the February Lady Sweater yesterday.

Ravelry projects pages (livnletlrn and cottonhollow) have been updated. The Goob's knitting has come a long way in the past year or so. It's great to see how many folks have already left comments on her work or added her projects to their favorites. Big boosts for a young knitter!

Not fiber- or glass-related, but creative nonetheless: Jesse has been designing an air-powered pvc gun for a while and finally was able to put it all together yesterday. It works very well and he's psyched!

Okay, off to client's office. At least I've managed to get one swath of the scarf pattern repeat done while in the office each day.
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Monday, June 23, 2008

glove love 2

Pattern: Karendipity's hand painted gloves

For: My sister

1. Long tail cast-on.
2. Personalized some finger patterns, like adding my sister's initials to the front of the right index finger and a big Z (nephew's initial) to left ring finger.
Otherwise, I followed the pattern as written, already knowing from the first pair I made that it's an excellent pattern.

What I learned:
1. It takes almost as long to weave in the ends on a project like this as it does to actually knit it, but somehow it all seems worth the effort.
2. My sense of timing is a bit off, given that it's almost July.

Random: I live on a tiny patch of land near the center of a 35,000-person town, but there's a pond and a patch of woods nearby, so we enjoy seeing wildlife in our teensy yard more often than I'd expect. Yesterday's critters included a growing flock of turkeys! Hazy pic, but not too bad, considering it was snapped from behind a window screen.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

b'day gifts

Leah's off to a friend's birthday party later today, so earlier this week she went to work on gifts. She chose to knit the Coronet hat in Reynolds' Tipperary Tweed, a skein of which was part of our score at the yarn tag sale bonanza this spring. (BTW, have I mentioned lately how much we love having the resultant stash at our fingertips for instant gratification playtime? Very much!) The hat turned out super thick and squishy, and was, as expected, transformed beautifully by blocking.

She also made this little drawstring pouch, following an amulet pouch pattern that was available on Magknits but apparently went bye-bye when that site imploded. Inside this pouch is one of our favorite dice games, in hopes that her friend and friend's family will enjoy it as much as we do.
The enthusiastic knitter has since shifted gears and is working on some beaded cross stitch projects, also gifties, designated for future occasions.
Meanwhile, her dad happily melts glass each day, thoroughly enjoying coming up with ideas for his Etsy shop. No idle hands around here!
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Friday, June 20, 2008

reporting from The House of Halters

Ever since the Goob discovered the cool comfort of wearing halters in the summertime, she can't get enough of them, so this week I cast on for the fishtail lace from the Lelah pattern and followed the same basic procedure as the Goob did for her Halterrific top.

This halter just sort of appeared out of nowhere. I cast on one day, followed the pattern for a repeat of the lace, and then it was intuitive enough that it became the social knitting du jour. Other than one error in my positioning of a yarnover, which is screamingly obvious in the photo above, the lacy fishtail repeats just magically flowed from the needles. Blink -- another repeat done! Quickie, quickie, quickie. Blocked only a few days after it was cast on and worn with glee on this beautiful summer day, it's another winner.

If there's another halter in my/Leah's future, we'll make the top triangles with a wider base or slower rate of decrease for more side coverage, and I might add a crocheted edge around the triangles of this one, but for now, this'll most certainly do.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Blocked and ready to rock and roll, just in time for a big day of romping with friends, is a new halter top, designed and knit by Leah. She picked an easy yarnover holey pattern from a stitch dictionary and knit a swatch using cotton yarn (reclaimed from a Goodwill sweater, leftover from her Josephine top) along with a big cone of blue cotton yarn, possibly from the yarn tag sale bonanza or maybe one of the freebie cones from the Webs tent sale last spring.
She used a loose-fitting tank top for measurements and calculated how many stitches to cast on for the body rectangle, w/ some garter stitch rows/stitches around the perimeter. Continued until the skirt was long enough, finishing that portion at Worldwide Knit In Public Day. Bound off 5" of the right and left of the top of the skirt after a few garter rows, then started one of the top triangles in stockinette, having it continue ~2" past mid point for overlap of the triangles. At first, she decreased on every other knit row, w/ a ssk on the right and a k2tog on the left edge of the triangle, just inside a 3-stitch seed stitch border all around. After doing that for 3-4 sets of decreases, she continued decreasing in the same way on every knit row until she was down to 7-8 stitches. Repeat for other top triangle, picking up 2" of stitches behind the first triangle so they overlap in the center.

We then used 3-4 thicknesses of the yarn combo to make twisted cords, first threading the yarn through the stitches through the top of one triangle, then twisting the yarn a lot before doubling it over and letting it twist on itself. Makes a nice effect at the top of the triangles and distributes the weight of the top among those 7-8 stitches, rather than just in one or two spots if the cord had been sewn on afterward. Same sort of deal with the cord to tie it in back, at the top of the skirt.

While this was blocking, she started a b'day gift that will be ready for a friend's party this weekend. She's been working on it like crazy and has already tossed the stash and browsed Ravelry to decide which project will be on the needles next, but today she's thrilled to be wearing her own finished handiwork.
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randomness between the zap-booms!

The lightning and thunderstorms have been spectacular lately. When we're not in the middle of a downpour, I have tried and tried to take a good pic of the undulating waves scarf, but it's always too dark or the beads are sparkling too much or something. I haven't been able to capture the subtle iridescence of the yarn and the beads, so this post-blocking pic will just have to do. Trust me, though, when I tell you that it's a winner. The bit of weight added by the beads makes it feel incredibly good to wear and it goes with everything I own.
Milestone in Jesse's life: He's now taller than Scott. My 13-year-old is over 6 ft. tall, just a wee bit taller than his dad. Just for the fun of it, I looked up the average height chart for adolescent males. See that blue star? The one that's about 5" above the 100th percentile for 13-year-olds? Yeah, that's my mutant moose boy. Sheesh.
We saw two more Shakespeare performances last weekend, bringing the summer 2008 total to four Shakespeare shows to date, with at least two more still on the calendar. One was a modernized Midsummer Night's Dream version that included break dancing and rapping mixed with the original language. As if Midsummer Night's Dream wasn't already enough hilarious fun, this took it to the next level. Fantastic! The thunder rumbling outside the auditorium was a nice bonus while the fairies made their mischief. Raucous good Shakespearean fun.

As far as I'm concerned, every day is knit in public day, but Saturday was the official World Wide Knit In Public Day, so we spent a couple of pleasant hours in the shade of a big tree, near a fountain on a town green, knitting with new and old friends. I didn't get a shot of the whole group, but here are a few of the folks at the gathering. Again, rumbles in the sky as the afternoon was coming to an end, and we weren't quite ready to go home yet had taken a poor new-to-Connecticut knitter under our collective wing and were showing her the paths to yarn in the area, so most of us moved the party to the nearest yarn store for a while longer.

Scott's been fishing just about every other day lately, including on a friend's boat for Father's Day and along the CT River with friends, followed by free salsa dancing lessons (kids and I went along for that evening). We have had no fish dinners to show for it, but there are a lot of other benefits to these outings, like strolling in a park along the river and taking time to notice the setting sun through a heart-shaped hole in an enormous gnarled tree.

Simple pleasures, summertime happiness.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

sweltering, swatching

As you may know, it's been a little on the warm side around here lately. I didn't know my car thermometer went into the 3-digit range, but it does. Sweltering, drooping, awful sort of hot and humid days with thunder every evening to tease with the possibility of a cooling drench, but often with no such luck. Still, it's amazing what a cool wet cloth draped around the neck and simply chatting on the porch in the evenings can do for the outlook after a scorcher. Those Waltons knew what they were doing. ;-)

I was looking forward to the hours of knitting time at a baseball game with ~500 homeschoolers on Tuesday evening, but the temp. was such that I didn't even take my knitting out of the bag. The yarn wouldn't have been able to glide through my fingers. Luckily, the beer was cold! Since I don't have a pic of baseball knitting, here's a shot of some of our group holding the big flag on the field during the National Anthem. Such fun to see so many old friends, put faces to names of online acquaintances, and generally have a great evening.

I realized recently that I never did put up pics of the little ipod pouches Leah made. This one protects it while in her pocket.
And this one has a hole toward the top left, where she hooks it to her belt loop with a carabiner. Both were freebie patterns from Ravelry, where there's an abundance of ipod-holding options.

The flurry of finished objects last weekend has been followed by much swatching. Here's what remains on my desk at this time, although there was also a baby sweater and a hat cast on and torn out at some point.

Top to bottom:
1. A Lelah-based halter top that I'm making for Leah.
2. An undulating waves scarf in alpaca with supercool iridescent beads with copper cores.
3. A lace ribbon scarf made from a big ol' cone of green wool ($1 at Goodwill!) combined with the never-ending cone of tencel from Webs
4. Undulating waves (again and again) in alpaca and iridescent beads without copper cores.
5. Fire sock in Trekking. This is the 2nd sock in what will hopefully eventually be a pair, but I think these socks are cursed because you wouldn't believe how long they've been in progress and how many problems there have been along the way. And nope, they're not even a complicated pattern; just plain toe-up 2x2 rib all the way. There is no other possible explanation for the difficulties with such a simple project except to believe that they're cursed, but the fire yarn is cool, so I'm sticking with it.

Cooler temps now and looking forward to summertime outdoor festivities all weekend long. YaHOO!!!
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Monday, June 09, 2008

why we lovermont

Hot days, cool river
Cool nights, warm campfire

Even 50 bajillion ends to weave in on stranded gloves can be a pleasant thing in the early morning with yummy coffee, dappled sunlight, and frisky chipmunks.

The beads on the (finished but unblocked) Undulating Waves scarf sparkle as beautifully as the water.

Fishermen happily double as sock models.

There are four yarn stores on our way there and back. :-)
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Friday, June 06, 2008

yeah, they make stuff

7:30 p.m. Thurs. evening: Opened knitting machine, borrowed from friend, and dove into the quick start directions.
8:30 p.m. Thurs. evening: Had 60 sq. in. of a swatch done.

Would've been more knitting in less time if I was a little more inclined to actually follow directions I read, or willing to move to a table where I could clamp the knitting machine in place, or not simultaneously been provided with demonstrations on the newest K'nex contraption's features. Jesse, our resident Mr. Mechanical, was right there with me for much of the process, since the clatter of this knitting machine is absolutely irresistable to someone like him. I'm not sure this is going to work well with this yarn and I don't really understand the mechanism enough to know what to fiddle with to make it right, but it was a good first run-through. I'll do a better set-up next time and give it another try. I might also just try a small swatch and wash it because I know this yarn blooms significantly and the gauge might be perfectly acceptable post-washing. Pretty cool machine, though, so I'm looking forward to playing with it some more.

The beadmakerbaker is trying some new things lately too and left this jumble of stitch markers and buttons on my desk after a photo shoot yesterday. I think my favorites are the monkey sock stitch marker set and also the "Bah bah black sheep, have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full" set (toward bottom right of pic). Oh, and the sheep to sock set. And Violet the sheep. Oh, drat...I love them all.

After a visit to the Higgins Armory in Worcester on Wed., my guys came home with the drinking glasses they made at a glassblowing workshop last Fri.

Scott's glass is on the left, the taller, iced tea type glass. Jesse's is a little shorter and wider, lighter in color with swirling purple and green frit that you can see better from the inside out. It's amazing how good these glasses feel in your hand. There's just something about handmade items, how good they feel to make and how good they feel to use.
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Thursday, June 05, 2008

if you give a goob a demo

(the title above is with a wink and a nod to the children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie)

If you give a Goob a spontaneous visit at a historic home with yarnies in period costume out front and those yarnies give a quick demo on Tunisian crochet,

the Goob will get home and start rummaging through the stash closet.

If the Goob is in the stash closet, she's going to find a quilt block.
And if she's where there are quilt blocks, she'll also be where there's yarn.

And if a Goob finds yarn, she's going to need to dig about in the hook and needle drawer for the Tunisian crochet hooks she's seen before but didn't know how to use.

And if the Goob and the quilt block and the yarn and the long hook and the ipod cocoon in the Goob's room for an evening...

There just might be a quiltish Tunisian crochet square on the mom's desk in the morning.
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Monday, June 02, 2008

who's happiest?

Is it the cute wannabe fisherboys with their sticks-for-poles and hooks that were big enough to catch Moby Dick? Or is it the seasoned fisherman who took them under his wing, provided smaller hooks, general info, and a knot-tying lesson...and then had another young fishing enthusiast (and his definitely-out-of-his-element dad) wander over for guidance too? And in between, the fisherman caught a few fishies and released them again.
Or is it the knitter soaking up the sunshine while reaching the halfway point on the beaded scarf? The scarf which, BTW, is a people magnet. I cannot tell you how many random passersby have commented enthusiastically about this project since its start on Thursday. Also, the Addi lace needles I'm using? Fabulous! I am not picky about my needles in the slightest, using whatever's available in our needle stash at the time, but the p2togtbl w/ 4 laceweight strands was a little tough with the blunt needles I had, so I picked up these lace needles at knit night on Fri. and they won me over.
Or is it our kids, who were romping the park with their friends, stopping in on their bikes for food/drink, then heading off to play in the streams and explore the woods again?

It's all good.
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