Tuesday, April 22, 2014

bergen cowl

A few weeks back I got it in my head that I should try stranded knitting again. It was already bedtime (isn't that always when inspiration strikes?), but I quickly read through a couple of stranded colorwork tutorials online. Without thinking too hard (that's the key, for me), I cast on for the Bergen Cowl

I sat in bed in the halo of my bedside light and suddenly found that my hands knew what to do. They weren't fumbling through a colorwork project, tangling yarn and struggling with tension. Instead, with Carrie's Yellow yarn in my left hand and Egret yarn in my right, the stitches flowed easily and knitted triangles began to emerge. Oh my! It was all I could do not to wake up my husband and gush about my new skill (and really, it was after midnight by this point, so I knew his reaction would have been more of a grumble than a cheer). 

After that first night, this cowl flew off the needles. It was a joy to knit. The best part of this project, aside from cracking the world of colorwork wide open, is that it converted me to continental knitting. I've tried continental knitting before because I wanted to be more efficient, but it never clicked like it did this time. Before this, I wasn't an English knitter or a continental knitter. I was a ragtag make-it-work knitter. And now? Knitting is much faster, and I've got dreams of more stranded colorwork in my future (maybe Anders, Chamomile, or A Most Bespeckled Hat?).

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What's your knitting style? And do you do stranded colorwork?

I'd love to hear about your experiences with it.

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P.S. I'm slowly checking off things on my resolutions list.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

a morning outdoors and garden plans

This boy loves to be outside, and, now that it's warming up, I'm happy to oblige. He helps me check the seeds we planted last week and always finds pots of black dirt to dig his hands in. 

I took last year off from gardening, but this year I want to plant a few things for the two of us to grow together. I want to keep the garden small because I know realistically I won't have much time to devote to it. I'm thinking some colorful flowers for cutting, herbs for tasting, and lamb's ear for touching. I'm also hoping our strawberry patch produces lots of strawberries to eat. 

Any ideas for good things to plant to keep a little one interested?

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P.S. Notes on my favorite baby basics are on my Ravelry page: Milo vest and Basic Newborn Hat.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

handspun scrollwork

Since last fall I've had a skein of deep purple handspun, a gift from my husband's aunt, tucked in a basket beside my bed. I believe it may have wriggled its way into my dreams at night and given me that final push to learn how to spin myself. It could easily have become one of those skeins you hear knitters talking about, the kind that are too beautiful and special to ever knit. A forever skein, if you will. But I'm not the kind of knitter who lets that happen. I am a product knitter, and I have this urge to make beautiful, useful things. And while this handspun skein was beautiful and inspiring, I knew it could be more.

But, you know, no pattern was good enough for this yarn. So it remained a skein for many months, until a gratitude knit along gave me the motivation to just use it already. Without too much thought, I cast on for the Scrollwork hat, a pattern I've had in my queue since it came out. This was a nail-biter knitting project; I really didn't know if I'd have enough yarn to finish the hat, and there would be no chance to order another skein if I ran out. Indeed, I used up every last inch of yarn and had to cut the excess from the long-tail cast on to sew up the top. Knitting can be so daring, right? Haha.

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If you're looking for a good knitting videocast, check out The Fat Squirrel Speaks. Amy Beth, the host, is charming and funny. She hosted the gratitude knit along that inspired this project.

Monday, April 7, 2014

siren song (or, yet another milo!)

Because I couldn't resist the siren song of a plump skein of Chickadee yarn and the promise of another sweet (and tiny!) vest, I knitted one more Milo. It has become a uniform of sorts for my boy, keeping him just warm enough on cool spring mornings and then getting tossed aside for afternoon playtime in the sunshine. Thank goodness this vest looks the same in front and back; I may occasionally reverse it after particularly messy encounters with graham cracker crumbs. Good as new, almost. The more he wears his Milo, the more I love it. It's easy to take on and off, which is a godsend with a toddler. And there's something about that simple garter stitch that makes me smile.

I'm thinking now of projects for spring. I cast on a pair of afterthought heel socks this weekend, and I've got a couple skeins of sock yarn from frogged projects all hanked up and ready to wash. So, I'm on the lookout for more sock or shawl patterns to knit. Do you have any favorites you'd recommend? I'm also trying to figure out something handmade for my boy's Easter basket. A little knitted something, most likely.

This rainy morning warrants lighting a candle and curling up for a few minutes of sock knitting, so I'm off! Have a good one!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

beginning spinning

I've been spinning a few minutes each day, just practicing and teaching my hands how to move. In truth, I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm learning. I finally got over my fear of ineptness and wasting good fiber. Learning isn't a waste--it's an investment--and even if the yarn I make isn't usable, it will be a step toward creating yarn that is.

I'm spinning with Bluefaced Leicester wool that I picked out at The Woolery as part of my birthday yarn and fiber adventure. The BFL smells wonderfully sheepy and feels great in my hands. So far I've been using the park and draft method, where I give the spindle a hearty spin and then hold it still while I release the twist into the fiber. Even at my slow beginner's pace, I am enthralled with that moment the twist takes hold of the fiber and changes it from fluff to yarn. It brings a bit of magic to my days.

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Do any of you have spinning resources (particularly drop spindling) that you'd recommend? Or tips for a new spinner?

Respect the Spindle has proven useful so far, but I'm interested in learning more!


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