Sunday, December 04, 2011

and so it is christmas...

i am living in a girls house.  no i haven't been sent there because of the bad things i do, but because my life has changed.  my sweet friend and i relocated to my sisters house which is about 1.5 hours from where we used to live.  the big guy is still there, staying with friends who offered a room so he could continue the life he is making for himself.  and the person who used to be my husband lives on the coast across country from here.

so we are experiencing new perspectives.  i am relearning things that somehow got lost in the shuffle.  and i am trying to be at peace.

knitting helps.  it keeps me focused and quiet; creating something lovely for someone,  maybe even me.

and though i know everything happens for a reason and it will all work out in the end, this transition makes me feel blurry and unfocused.

and so i keep knitting.  i have most of my knitting items here;  i think there is a box of knitting books in storage which i could probably locate if needed, but for the most part, i have what i need to continue creating things.  and i have the love and support of my children and friends.  that is quite a gift at christmas.  may your holidays be as full.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

somewhere beyond the sea...

i love yarn overs.  they're cute, they're decorative and they are easy to do.  they were in the first item i knitted.  i think they add a little something to a project.  and they are the first step to lace knitting.

i have always been drawn to knitting lace, heaven knows why since i can't read charts.  but ever since i started knitting i have been entranced by lace patterns. a hint of lace is what draws me to a pattern. i have books on lace and have downloaded gobs of  lace patterns. i look at them longingly, aching to cast on, until i break out into a cold sweat when reading a pattern that is all charts.  sigh.

a few years ago while participating in my first swap, i was introduced to the pattern "blossom".  this is a easy lace pattern shawl.  it was designed for hand maiden sea silk yarn which is a beautiful yarn made of silk and a sea weed derivative.  it is beautiful, believe me.  my swap buddy gave me a hank of the yarn and suggested the pattern.  i was mesmerized.  the yarn was so amazingly blue and shimmery.  and the pattern!  it was nothing but double yarn overs!  i was in heaven.

but i didn't cast on.

i can't remember how it happened, it must have been because i was working at the LYS and the yarn was on sale, but i decided to make my mother the blossom shawl out of elsbeth lavolds silky wool.  this is a tweedy looking wool, but very soft when knit up.  and when it is washed, it is quite lovely.

the shawl took me quite a while.  i couldn't figure out how to keep track of where i was in the seven row repeat.  and i couldn't find my rhythm in the various double yarn over and k2tog patterns so was continually having to rip my knitting;  i also had a challenging time reading my knitting so when i made a mistake i couldn't figure out where i made it, i just knew a mistake had been made because the pattern ended incorrectly.  somewhere in the fifth repeat of the pattern  i got to a place where everything was correct, i knew where i was and i put the project aside.

fast forward two-ish years. i decide it is time to clean up some unfinished projects so out comes blossom.  i figure out where i am, glance at the pattern and off i go.  amazing what a few more years of knitting experience teaches you. not only did i find my rhythm in the various double yarn over patterns, but i could also read my knitting and correct my mistakes.  amazing!  i was so thankful.  so i finish the shawl and gift it to my mother;  who loved it!  the color and fit were perfect for her!  she couldn't wait to wear it to church!

(commercial break for some yarn deets:  yarn:  elsebeth lavold silky wool;  color:  #24, claret (discontinued); yardage: 192 yds per skein; close to 3 skeins used.)

finishing my moms blossom meant i could now start mine.  eagerly i cast on the sea silk.  quickly i discover how slippery silk is.  wow!  i was instantly thankful i had made blossom out of a heftier yarn first because this yarn was so slippery on the needle.  stitches regularly slip under the markers or under other stitches so i have to pay attention to which stitch is where and are they all accounted for.

but can i tell you how beautiful this yarn is.  it is like running water.  the picture doesn't do it justice since it does not catch the light or the oh so slight variegations in the yarn.  it is so lovely.  and it shimmers.  the picture is one repeat over half-way done.  i am at the stage where i think i will have gobs of yarn left over and then the pattern explodes into bigness and sucks up all the yarn.  pretty soon it will barely fit the 26" circulars it is on.  at that point i will need to be very careful not to make mistakes.  knitting back over hundreds of stitches to correct a mistake is not my idea of a good time!  but on the other hand, i can't wait.  it is closer to being finished then not being finished, which makes me more anxious to finish it which makes me more prone to make a mistake.  sigh.  i'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a whiter shade of...

i have this thing about weird greens.

i am not really drawn to the color green much, but it seems to be drawn to me. and it can't be a regular green, it has to be a weird shade of green. it seems that i can wear weird greens, they look good on me. which is an odd and good thing since weird greens are usually the last thing to sell on a sale/clearance rack. whether it be for clothes or yarn.

i have always wanted to knit the paris loop which calls for bulky yarn. and while the lys was having its "last month in existence sale", i thought i would check out the bulky yarn shelf. and what was on it but this...

yup, weird green yarn. gobs of it. thankfully it was a yarn i have always wanted to work with, classic elites sprout, a 100% organic cotton yarn. i usually find cotton yarns a bit rough but this one is soft and cuddly so i was glad to have the opportunity to work with it.

so i cast on. and even though the pattern said it fits every body, i decided to add 20 stitches. just in case.

bad idea. this pattern turns out big, very big. so big that when i first tried it on, it slipped off my shoulders and landed on the floor big. it would have been big even if i hadn't added the 20 stitches, so with the 20 stitches it was even bigger than big.

so i went down to the local joannes fabric and got some cord. i wove the cord in and out of the 2nd row of knitting so i could tighten up the poncho as needed and ta-da! it fits!

i am so glad. because i love the way it turned out. the pattern is so easy it is like a knitting vacation. and i loved working with the yarn. it felt good going through my fingers and it knit up really well. the poncho felt soft and comforting in my lap as it became bigger with my continued knitting.
my original concerns in knitting with a cotton yarn is that it would not be soft and it would not have enough give. both unfounded. the yarn is very soft and has lots of give. as well as being pretty warm. i thought cotton would be a nice, light wrap for summer, but because of the yarns bulky-ness it is heavy and and keeps me warm, even with our cool evening windiness.

i find myself wearing it all the time. yup, i'll have an order of weird green please. thanks!

btw: this last picture does not reflect the actual color of this garment. the middle picture is a much better representation of the actual color. just so you know!

Monday, August 22, 2011

trying to make the grass grow greener

i like plants. i think they add something to a home.

for a long time i had a whole window sill of african violets. there wasn't a good windowsill for them in the new house. they gave it a good try, but the sun won out in the end.

late last summer, we got a puppy who chewed and dug out all of the house plants i had thriving in a corner of the dining room. thankfulluy i was able to salvage one of the christmas cactus'.

she then started on the outside succulents and begonias. i wasn't happy. but, like babies, puppies have no clue. especially this one. so i continued to water and fertilize those poor stumps of plants, hoping they would come back.

the winter storms took care of winter watering. and i started watering and fertilizing after the rains finally stopped. yesterday i went onto the patio and walked out to these.

i love begonias. they are funny little plants that never give up. they are so glad for some attention and care, they just bloom their happiness.

and thankfully they survive being chewed by a puppy.

now if i could do something about the roses....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

the beat goes on...

the last month the lys was open for business they had a sale. it started with merchandise being 30% off; then 40% off and finally 50% off. and though the end of the sale meant the end of the lys, the sale, and the lys, was pretty fun while it lasted.

i had gone into the store a few times during that last month. most of the time, just to sit, knit and chat while i still had the chance. but these visits always turned into scouting for yarn opportunities. and since the yarn was on sale, i would sometimes pick up a ball of this, a skein of that, knowing that my big purchase(s) were yet to be decided. finally, on the last week the lys was open, i purchased big.

sock yarn was my first choice but it was also the first to go, which meant i needed to get creative on what type of yarn i was willing to make socks out of. to this end, i bought panda cotton and bunny hop.

my sweet friend came to shop with me and fell in love with the "leaf lace sock" sample the owner had knitted up. only one sock was knitted which meant if my sweet friend wanted a pair to wear, i would need to knit the second sock. so the pattern was purchased as well as the panda cotton yarn it was knitted in.

i have a total jones for frog tree yarn. i also have a shawl jones. coincidentally the lys had quite the selection of frog tree. they also had a sample of "the scallop shawl" which just happened to be knit up in a frog tree sportweight colorway that was on the shelf. so to indulge both jones', i purchased the pattern and the yarn. the purple frog tree was purchased during one of the scouting visits. it was the last ball in that colorway and just to lovely to pass up!

the last yarn i purchased that day was some classic elite sprout. i love shawls and poncho type garments and had always wanted to knit stefanie japel's paris loop which calls for bulky yarn. which sprout happens to be. so there you have it.

this purchase was well within the "budget" i had set for myself. which meant i had money left over. how lucky was that? it also meant i could go back to the lys to make some last minute purchases. so two days before the lys would close forever i found myself back at the store. i decided on two skeins of raspberry/lavender frog tree which complimented the dark purple frog tree purchased earlier with hopes of pairing both in knitting some fingerless gloves. i also planned on checking if clara parkes book of yarn was available since it has a pattern for fingerless gloves i find myself consistently drawn to. much to my surprise, one copy was available. and at 50% off! score!

so with this final purchase, along with many hugs and thank yous, i said goodbye to the lys and its owners one final time. i miss them all terribly but am thankful for the time we shared together.

Monday, July 04, 2011

the end of an era...

the LYS closed this week.

it is the end of an era. after six years of having an LYS within walking or biking distance from my home, i now have to drive to another city for my knitting needs. this makes me sound like a whiner, i know, but my local LYS was part of my knitting community. it may not be easy to replace.

the LYS was my supplier, my teacher, my part time work place and my refuge. i learned from the owner(s) and from my fellow knitters. having a knitting community was fun. it was also my safety net. i knew if i needed an explanation or found myself in a mess of trouble, someone at the LYS would guide me out of it. and i would learn something along the way.

my LYS community supported and challenged me. they oohed and ahhed over items i made and suggested things i would never think of making, but then would, and successfully, too! they kept me abreast of the newest patterns, the coolest yarns and the juiciest local news.

how can that be replaced?

i will miss my LYS, but more than that, i will miss the camaraderie of fellow knitters and the combined knowledge they are so willing to share.

best of luck in your future endeavors, LYS owners. you will be greatly missed.