Wednesday, February 29, 2012

yarn along: handspun and roughin' it

Hip, hip, hooray! It's yarn along day!

This week I've been knitting up some handspun yarn that I bought over the weekend at the maple syrup festival. It's thick and thin in shades of lavender and periwinkle. I've never knitted with handspun before, so I couldn't wait to get this yarn on the needles. Garter stitch shows off the texture and colors well, so I'm making a simple headband.

Another skein of handspun made it home with me, too. It's blue and gray and more uniformly spun. I can't wait to try it out!

This week I'm reading another of Liesl's "roughin' it" recommendations, Settled in the Wild by Susan Hand Shetterly, which is a collection of short essays about the author's experiences in nature. She rehabilitated wild birds for 10 years, and the book contains, among other anecdotes, her recollection of raising a raven like a pet. Her writing reminds me of Annie Dillard's and Terry Tempest Williams'. She uses simple yet precise language and includes imagery I won't soon forget, such as her description of getting her boots stuck deep in marsh mud and having to return home sock footed and streaked with dirt. I'd love to have her along on a stroll through the woods.

* * * * * 

What are you making and reading this week? 

Friday, February 24, 2012

planting and planning

Last night I planted lavender seeds. I planted two kinds--English lavender and Blue Hidcote lavender--with the idea that at least one type will make it. This is my first attempt at growing something from seed, so I kept it simple--egg cartons, soil, seeds. After planting the seeds just below the surface of the soil, I wrapped the cartons in plastic bags and hid them away in a refrigerator drawer. They'll get a nice 4- to 6-week chill before I start giving them water and sun. 

I'm nervous already. I've got such big hopes for these tiny seeds. I've imagined an herb garden just out the back door, where the lavender will share space with basil, peppermint, spearmint, sage, and lemon balm. It will be a kitchen garden filled with herbs I can cut for dinner or tea. Then there's the front porch, which I've decided needs a border of lavender plants. On humid summer days the scent of lavender will hang in the air, making the front porch the perfect perch for sipping lemonade and reading books.

Last night the weather was unseasonably warm at nearly 70 degrees. The promised thunderstorms never came, so I put on my galoshes and puttered around my muddy backyard. We didn't buy our house for its land. The small backyard is tangled with overgrown bushes and slick with muddy dog paths. There are also moles, along with the tunnels and holes that they make. Turning the yard into my dream vegetable, herb, and flower garden will be a challenge. I started with the overgrown bushes, cutting, tearing, and stomping down their dry stalks. I made only a little progress last night. Still, I'm starting to see where the compost pile might go, where I should plant the blueberry bushes, and where my lettuce bed will be. It's a start.

* * * 

P.S. I'm excited for the Sugarbush Festival, which runs this weekend and next. If you're close enough to go, you should. There's a pancake and waffle breakfast with all the syrup you can handle. I always stock up on my year's supply of maple syrup at the festival.

Monday, February 20, 2012

a rosa for emily

As soon as my coworker Emily found out I was a knitter, she asked if I'd make her a hat. She had a skein of sunset-colored yarn that was begging to be knit. I agreed.

Then the ball of yarn hung around my house for an embarrassingly long time. I excused myself with Christmas knitting, but after the new year, I started to feel guilty for promising a hat and not delivering. So I combed through Ravelry for a simple pattern that would show off the yarn and not distract from the colors. I also needed a pattern that could keep my interest.

SouleMama's Rosa fit the bill. I'd been wanting to try the faux cabling technique featured in her hat design. And then when I realized that I was making a Rosa for Emily, well, the lit nerd and the knit nerd in me combined into one super, happy nerd. All was right with the world.

The faux cables were fun and a little magic. They are easy to make and yet look complex. I can imagine incorporating this design feature into future projects. 

I didn't know what to expect from the yarn. I was surprised to find that the colors in the cable section slowly fade into one another, while the main part of the hat is striped. Who knew the stitches would work out that way? 

The hat is sweet and simple. I hope we get at least a tiny bit more cold weather so that Emily can wear her Rosa this season. I've given up my hopes for snow this year, though. Maybe next winter.


P.S. Don't you just love my vintage glass head? I looked for one for a couple of years before I found this one. It's perfect for blocking hats and not too creepy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

marshmallow fluff scarf

Marshmallow Fluff Scarf

This is the scarf that started it all. I knitted my mother-in-law this squishy cable scarf for Christmas and developed a cream cable obsession. 

The yarn (Cascade 128 Superwash) was a treat to work with. So soft it felt like knitting with spun sugar. The needles slid smoothly, making effortless cables. The bulky weight and size 11 needles made for quick knitting. Maybe a little too quick because I soon added more cream cables to my needles (see my cowl, hat, and 

Details about the Marshmallow Fluff Scarf.

Free pattern--simple enough for a cable newbie.

* * * 

I hope you're having a good weekend and keeping warm. Louisville has not been a marshmallow world for even a day this winter, but we're finally experiencing a real cold snap. It has been bitterly cold this week, making for some eye-stinging waits at the bus stop. To reward myself for bearing the cold mornings, I've been starting each work day a little slower. I spend a few minutes sipping hot peppermint tea and studying for my new job. This little ritual carries a sense of calm through the rest of my day (at least until I have to battle the brisk weather again). Stay warm, friends!

Monday, February 6, 2012

striped shawl

A year and a half ago my friend Christine taught me the knit stitch. I was visiting her in Minneapolis and when she told me she could knit, I wouldn't leave until she taught me. Last summer she came to visit and mentioned that she wanted to learn to knit a shawl. Since she didn't stay long enough for me to teach her to knit one, I secretly started knitting a shawl for her. 

The idea was to finish it by Christmas. I started in August, so I figured there'd be no problem.  Oh, but there was a problem. At this point you should probably check out what the pattern is supposed to look like. Do a quick little comparison and see if you can spot the difference between my version and the original. Yep, mine is missing the beautiful lace edging. This is the first time I've been completely flummoxed by a pattern. Flummoxed to the point of hiding the shawl for months on end and hoping it would magically finish itself. 

No matter how many times I tried to follow the lace chart, the numbers just wouldn't match up. My stitches did not equate to the pattern. Stumped, I finally threw in the chart and did a garter stitch edge. It's simple and not quite so dreamy, but I hope Christine will appreciate a finished shawl more than one still waiting on the needles. I do love the Noro colors and the arrow-like striping. 

* * * 

Do you knit or crochet shawls? Do you wear them? 

I really like making shawls--I've crocheted a couple and knit this one--but I don't often wear shawls. I talked with Andi recently about shawls, and she mentioned she had the same problem.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

shawl collared cowl

I made this shawl collared cowl for my blog friend Amy as part of a swap. Amy told me to surprise her with something knitted or crocheted. I wanted to include some of my handmade buttons on whatever I made because Amy's husband is a woodworker, so I knew she'd appreciate them. When I saw the shawl collared cowl pattern it reminded me of Amy right away--simple and classic. The funny thing is that when Amy received her cowl she told me that she'd picked out the same pattern to give to her mother-in-law (a knitter) for Christmas. I was pretty spot on with my choice!

Amy mentioned that she liked my crochet-covered stones, so I couldn't help sending her one. This is one of Margie's lacy river rocks patterns.

Of course you just have to stop by Amy's blog to see what she made for me. It's a beautiful knitting bag! She let me pick out the main fabric and colors for the bag, so I went with blue, red, yellow, and pink. I love the embroidery she did to tie in all the colors! As part of the swap she also sent one of her screen printed "Winter Wash" tea towels. I am so happy with our trade. I've been using the knitting bag every day since I received it. I'll have to get some photos soon.

* * * * * 

I wanted to share what my knitting projects look like this week because I've gone a little crazy with casting on lately. I'm working on braided cable mittens, a Rosa hat, a pair of Rainbow Brite socks, and a Baby Surprise Jacket. Under all of that crazy knitting is a seed catalog because I'm still dreaming of my backyard garden and stockpiling egg cartons for starting seeds.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin