Monday, December 28, 2009


After the December holidays, I like to have a day to myself to gather my thoughts and reorganize the occupations that make life meaningful. I love friends and family and the time spent together during these festive weeks is always wonderful. But I find myself craving some solitude at the end... just one day to calm my mind and order my thoughts.

In keeping with this day of solitude, here is one of the projects that I made for a Christmas gift, the Solitude Tippet.


The pattern is Saroyan (Ravelry link) and it's a quick and very pleasant knit. It's written as a scarf, but as you can see, I shortened it to a tippet (a Victorian neck-warmer) to fit the hand-spun skein I had. It can also be lengthened and widened to make a shawl, something I plan to do for the winter Ravelympics. Saroyan is knit end to end, from narrow end to wide center to narrow finish, creating the leaves as you go.


My skein of worsted-weight yarn is from Solitude, a "small batch artisan yarn from the fleece of Tunis sheep blended with red alpaca." It was 120 yards, and nature dyed with Cochineal, a beautiful rose-grey. I used the entire skein, with just a three-inch tail at start and finish.


I think the recipient liked it - it certainly looked great on her - but you know how it is with handmade gifts. Do people really like them? I do. So I guess that's why I keep making and giving them. I live in hope.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas travels

It's hard to imagine that almost four months have passed since we had a new addition to the family. Although I've made a lot of baby things - as my project pages on Ravelry will attest - I haven't made as many as my friend Nad, who is a kind of knitting wizard!

Here you can see the results of her nimble fingers: a Baby Tomten being modeled in action.


She used a beautiful multi-coloured fingering weight yarn (which must have taken forever on little needles) and all the colours blended so perfectly. I highly recommend this pattern, although I haven't made it myself. It's easy to get on and off a wriggly baby and has that adorable pointy hood! This particular Tomten is getting a lot of use!

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's coming on Christmas


It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

I can tell that Christmastime is coming... It's been snowing - lots - and kids are ice skating in the streets (no traffic)... and the only movies on the TV are sappy Holiday romances (girl returns to hometown, finds love she left behind, rejects him again, snow storm strands them alone where they become convinced that life together is not that bad, Christmas marriage, Rinse, Repeat). I can also tell its Christmas because I have projects that I can't reveal on the internet. Was there ever a time when you could post your holiday projects and your entire social network wasn't watching?? I didn't think so, but thought I'd ask....

Finally, though, I've completed an old WIP and it's just for me, me, me!


Simply Lovely Lace Socks
Yarn: 2 skeins Debbie Bliss Cashmerino
Needles: DPNS US size 0
Size: Women's 6.5 (small)

I started these Simple Lace Socks (which are not simple, may be lace, and are definitely socks) when they first came out in a summer edition of Interweave Knits. It was 2006. Does anyone else have socks they've worked on for FOUR years? I made classic mistakes: I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino - not a sock yarn - and chose the smallest needle size in the pattern, which was meant for light fingering weight - size 0 - and I used the cast on and stitch count for the lightest yarn choice. This all resulted in the tightest lace stitches imaginable: not a comfortable or enjoyable knit at all. I struggled through the first one, just past the heel gusset and then, understandably, abandoned these in favour of other things.

But I always remembered how pretty they were and how perfect it would be to actually wear them with my summer shoes... So this year, in spite of the ever increasing holiday obligations of handmade gifts, I pulled out the project bag in which they slept, woke them up, dusted them off (so to speak), and whipped right through them. The only glitch...and one you can't see because of creative picture-taking... was that I ran out of yarn for the tip of the final toe graft of the second sock - I needed only 5 inches. Yes, 5 inches of yarn!

I used a bit of Cashmerino from the odds-and-ends bin... It was purple.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

smooth as silk....

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! at least, Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US and happy Thursday to my friends in the rest of the world, since Thanksgiving is an American holiday based on when the original Pilgrims arrived on these shores and (supposedly) celebrated the first harvest with the Native Americans here. Living so close to Plimoth Plantation, I hear a lot about the assumptions we've made about that first Thanksgiving, but it's an American tradition now and we love it. It's one of our few holidays that hasn't been moved to a Monday or Friday! I'd love to hear about holidays in other countries that we don't celebrate here.

I've been away from the internet for at least two weeks because I lost my wireless! I finally got the laptop part I needed to connect again - what a relief! But... not having ready internet access did increase my knitting. I was knitting first thing every morning while I watched the news, instead of checking the webs. Lots of pre-Christmas knitting and crocheting has been going on. Unfortunately, since so many of the people that I knit for read my blog, I won't be able to share that with you for a few weeks...

I do have a new pattern for holiday knitters, though! Here's a little preview:


The pattern has been written up and will be in my Ravelry store soon, but I left the PDF at work so it may be a couple/few days before it's posted. This is crocheted and is very quick so makes a great last-minute gift. My sample, above, was made in fingering weight silk similar in size and twist to perle cotton.

I got the silk at the old Fiber Studio when they used to have weaving yarns - lots of silk, really inexpensive, made up into huge cones. I'm so glad I stocked up before they sold the shop. (It's still a great shop but focused now on commercial knitting yarns instead of the wild and woolly weaving fibers).

For my Thanksgiving knitting, I think I'll start the dog-walking gloves I'm making for my boyfriend - easy to transport and don't need a pattern... What are you taking along for your Thanksgiving knitting or crocheting?

Monday, November 9, 2009

more domestic

There is nothing like small projects to restore your confidence, your inspiration, and your general interest in life around you. This last month - October - was so difficult as I struggled to re-enter my usual cycle of days and occupations after a month on the west coast with my far-flung family and new family members. Work responsibilities, phone calls from friends, my bf's lovely dogs... nothing was sinking its hooks into my heart and I felt restless, sleepless, and dissatisfied.

Some months ago when I was at a loose end, my friend Briley had suggested "small projects". His advice came back to me, so for the past four weeks I've concentrated on finishing those little WIPs and starting up fast-moving fiber snacks - hats, the long-neglected second sock, the final rows of a project never completed. This project is one of those results:

More Domestic
Fine Cotton Dish Towel

Each towel: 2 balls Filatura de Crosi Millifili Fine or Filatura de Crosi Dolce Amore, 100% mercerized cotton

Needles: Size 5 (3.75 mm) straights


Cast on 56 sts, leaving a tail twice the width of the towel (you will use this to sew down the picot edge later).
Knit 5 rows in stockinette stitch. You will end with a wrong side (WS) row.
Next row: Knit 2 together, Yarn Over. Repeat across row.
Knit 5 rows in stockinette stitch. You will end with a wrong side (WS) row.

Begin Pattern:
Row 1: Knit 5 stitches, (Knit 1, yarn foward, slip 1 purlwise, yarn back as if to knit) repeat to last 5 stiches, knit 5.
Row 2: Knit 5, purl across to last 5 stitches, Knit 5.
Row 3: Knit 5, (yarn foward, slip 1 purlwise, yarn back as if to knit, knit 1) repeat across to last 5 stitches, knit 5.
Row 4: Knit 5, purl across to last 5 stitches, Knit 5.

Repeat these four rows for 5 inches, then change to stockinette stitch, keeping the five edging stitches at beginning and end of each row.

When the towel is the almost the length you like, repeat the Pattern for 5 inches, then repeat the 11 rows of the beginning picot edge. Bind off fairly loosely, leaving a tail twice the width of the towel.

Finishing: Fold the beginning and ending edges at the Yarn Over row and neatly sew the edge down on the wrong size of the towel, using the tails of yarn attached. Weave in ends.


These cotton towels are soft immediately, but will get more soft and more absorbent with use. That's the nature of this beautiful, fine gauge, vibrant cotton yarn. I love the colours it comes in. Sadly, my LYS has discontinued stocking it so I'll have to find an alternate source but it's well worth it.

Finishing this project marked my re-entry into my east coast life. I immediately felt that gratification that only a quick project that results in an item that is lovely way beyond its effort of creation can give. I smiled. I looked forward to other, more complicated projects. I made plans for the future.

Holiday knitting. Ahhh... that's the ticket!

On another note, if you're on Ravelry, we are all gearing up for the 2010 Ravelympics - that wonderful time when we join a team and challenge ourselves to complete an entire project within the confines of the broadcast winter Olympics. The Winter Olympics in 2010 span February 12 to the 28th, so... not many days, but oh so fun!!

I am a co-captain of Team Blue Moon, and all of our projects, both knit and crochet, will be made out Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarns. We already have 50 team members. Blue Moon has given us permission to use the BMFA logo in our Team Ravatar and, in that email, Tina - the dyer extrodinaire of Blue Moon - asked an innocent little question that sent my heart soaring: "Do we need a colourway for this?" Oh, my! Imagine - a Ravelympics colourway! Stay tuned, because you know if this does happen, that colourway will show up here on my blog!


If you want to join the Ravelympics - and I sincerely hope you do - the official group is Ravelympics 2010. In the Team lists of that group, you will find many Team threads, including Team Blue Moon, our official team thread. Do you want to be team member 51?

Friday, November 6, 2009


I finally decided to post my summer sweater project, which I finished last month. I've been waiting to see if I could get someone to take a photo with me wearing it, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. So, here is....



Yarn: Lyndon Hill from Plymouth Yarn, 85% Pima Cotton, 15% Silk, 218 yds per skein, colour 101. I used 6 skeins because I wanted extra length.

Needles: Knitpicks Options circular, US size 6

Modifications: I added an extra half-skein to each sleeve and finished the sleeves with one lace chart repeat. They are 3/4 length on me now. I also used one extra skein for sweater length and just kept repeating the lace pattern. It's pretty long now - lower hip length.

This yarn is fingering weight and very drapey and light. The pattern calls for a bulky yarn or a worsted weight held doubled. Obviously I just ignored that and made a more lightweight summer sweater. I think it's going to be perfect for wearing over my sundresses at my air-conditioned work. I'm not really a fan of garter stitch sweaters but on this design it works and certainly makes it a very quick knit! Or... it would have been quick if I hadn't set it aside for a whole month.


I plan to put just one button at the neckline - I doubt I'll ever wear it closed. But, wouldn't you know, I had a beautiful green glass button that a friend gave me quite a while ago set aside to use and as soon as I finished the sweater, I lost the button! I have an alternative and will make a crocheted loop at the neck edge, as the pattern advises.


Making this sweater was so gratifying! I hardly ever knit or crochet anything for myself so it's almost a guilty pleasure. I love it inordinately and think I'm really going to like wearing it next year!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quiet Halloween and a Recipe

It was perfect weather for Halloween. The air was warm - unseasonably warm - but the sky was a ominous white/grey with dark clouds racing from one horizon to the other. The wind was tossing its hair petulantly and yellow, red, and burgundy maple leaves wove a Persian carpet on the streets and sidewalks.

At about 4, my bf and I took the dogs out to walk. It was just barely spitting rain - a few light drops as though the wind was lifting beads of water from the park fountain and breezing them into our faces. We saw several high-schoolers in costume and in couples. They seemed to be walking to a party downtown.

By the time we got home, the first trick-or-treaters were out. The first wave is always the babies, whose parents bring them out before it gets full dark. We saw a ladybug, and a green lizard in a stroller. One of my favorites was a tiny tiger - less than a year old. When they came up the steps to our door, the Mom whispered, "What do you say?" and the tiny tiger said: "Grrrrr! Grrrr!". It was mega cute.

My boyfriend had gone really overboard with the Halloween candy-buying. We had a huge basket full. I was sure we would be stuck with a million calories to hide on our thighs because last year we had only 2 or 3 costumed kids. But this year, everyone was out! The wind picked up, the porch lights went on, and crowds of ghouls roamed the streets. We were saved from the weight-gaining leftovers - hurray! Our basket was almost empty in an hour!

I made Chili and cornbread for our Halloween dinner. We had mulled cider with Courvoisier and pumpkin doughnuts. I gave the dogs doggie yogurt - apple & cheddar. We watched past episodes of The Vampire Diaries. It was great.

My Chili Recipe:


One Sweet Red, Yellow, or Orange Pepper (or all three)
One sweet Vidalia Onion
Fresh Mushrooms
2 cans dark red kidney beans
1 large can diced tomatoes (no spices pre-added)
Vegetarian meat subtitute or 85% ground beef or ground turkey or chopped chicken
1 package McCormack Original Chili Spices (if you don't have this you can use garlic powder, onion flakes, parsely, papprika, ground chili pepper, salt, pepper)
Olive Oil
Worcestershire Sauce

Saute the chopped peppers, onions, and sliced mushrooms in olive oil. Add ground meat (or substitute) and cook until done. Sprinkle with Worcestershire Sauce (about 1 teaspoon). (if you're Jule, add Grammie's Salt. If not - you can skip this step). In a large pot, mix beans, tomatoes, and Chili Spice mix. stir gently to mix. Add vegetables and meat to this. (I add one small can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes to this because I like Chili with lots of broth, but most people like it dryer, so you can leave out this step). Simmer gently for a while so the flavours blend. (if you're hungry you can eat as soon as its hot. If not, you can keep it on low heat for an hour. I cooked mine in the Slow Cooker for an hour on high and an hour on low).

Serve with a spoonful of sour cream on top and with Cornbread that has Parmesan cheese added to the mix. Or serve with grated cheese on top and Blue Corn Tortilla Chips.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh Shenandoah....

I knew the world was a beautiful place, but the more I see of it, the more amazingly beautiful it seems to me. This past weekend, my bf and I went to visit friends in Washington DC for a few days, and while there, we spent a day in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia (only a little over an hour away).

It was one of those perfect autumn days, where the trees are at their most colourful - orange, red, burgundy, gold, deep greens, and purples - and all these colours are echoed in huge baskets of apples that catch your attention from roadside farm stands. The further we drove from DC, the less frequent were shops, businesses, and even houses. Rolling green fields were dotted with huge black cows and noble-looking horses. The few houses were nestled against the far borders of these fields in stands of oak and maple trees that still flourished with leaves on the branches. Many houses - and even barns - were build of local grey stone, a testament to endurance.

Our destination was the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. We arrived a few minutes before they were open, which you know I love, and so were the only customers at the just-opening yarn booths. The first one was a nearby alpaca farm, where they spun and dyed their own yarn. These handsome alpacas had been raised by this couple from babies, so they were very tame and liked to give kisses!


My bf picked out some yarn from this farm for me to make him things. The blue for mittens; and the natural chocolate and grey mix for a sweater (very intimidating because he wants cables!):


We all enjoyed browsing the barns and booths and talking to the farm owners with their sheep, llamas, and alpacas. We sampled apple butter and watched a very smart dog herding his flock of sheep right down the field road and into a pen on the little hill!

Of course we bought more yarn - my friend crochets - and made so many plans for so many knitted and crocheted gifts!

This yarn is from Rock Creek Fibers, a local Washington DC dyer. The pink, called Cherry Blossom, is 100% single strand silk, and the other is Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn - so soft! She had so many others that I wanted, like a cashmere blend, but I'm on a BFL kick for socks at the moment...


These next yarns are from The Flock Bransonas - I don't know what that means; perhaps it's their name? The first is 600 yard of 100% silk lace. The second, which I mean to pair with the first, is a most beautiful deep dark claret handpainted Mohair/Silk lace-weight. And the skein on the end is a handpainted, hand spun yarn from a woman who shears and spins the fleece from her own flocks of Romney sheep and alpacas (this skein is a blend of both). It's called "Playing With Fire" and though it's only 200 yards, the colours were so stunning I couldn't resist it:


A real high for me was the booth for Solitude - Small Batch Artisan Yarns. Their flyer says: "We are two Loudoun County Virginia shepherds who love wool". They're both spinners, and dye the yarns - the ones that aren't left in their gorgeous natural colours - with natural substances, many found locally. They say, Solitude treats dyeing as art - each dye is inspired, not controlled."

I bought these yarns for small projects, hats, gloves, mittens, an Ishbel shawl...


The colours are so much more vibrant, subtle, and striking than my sorry camera-phone photos convey, but here are some details...

1 & 2: The first two skeins are 100% light weight wool, the first - a deep green/blue is dyed with indigo and goldenrod. The second is the same yarn dyed with tomato vine, and is a very light lime green/grey.

3: The third skein is a silky-feeling DK/light worsted weight from "Border Leicester and Leicester Longwool - both English breeds with heavy, lustrous fleece and a wavy or curly crimp". The colour is a bright cyan green dyed from indigo and weld.

4: The fourth is a gorgeous single-ply from Shropshire sheep - they have a "down-type wool". It's handpainted in variegated fall colours like olive and deep rust, brown, sienna, umber... and it's called "Leaf Pile".

5 & 6: The last two skein are the same type - a two-ply blend of Tunis sheep ("a down breed with fairly fine, soft, springy fleece") and 1/3 red alpaca. It's very soft against the skin, yet feels sturdy and seemed perfect for hats and gloves. The blue skein is dyed with daffodils and indigo, and the mauve skein is dyed with cochineal. I don't know if you can see it in the photo, but this yarn has two plies - one is the naturally dyed coloured strand and the second is the natural red alapca. From a distance, this makes a subtle soft colour - you can only see that the two plies are different when you look close up.

In late afternoon it began to rain heavily. My friend's husband arrived back from his 50 mile bike ride and my bf emerged from checking his Blackberry and chatting with a local vintner. We dashed for the low, swampy field where the car was parked and drove home in a downpour so severe that it obscured visibility 2 feet from the windows. I would have thought it was a hurricane, except there was no wind at all.

Later, when it was calm and fresh again, we went to dinner at a little French restaurant across from the Ford Theatre and next to the house where Lincoln died:


My friend and I shared Escargot and Butternut Squash soup while our men wrinkled their noses and ate salads with cheese and sausage.

Luckily I had left lots of room in my suitcase for yarn, because when I packed, I noticed that I had bought more than I realised. You know how those skeins creep up and throw themselves into your arms, right? Now I have many dreams to make the actual items - gloves, socks, scarves, shawls, and sweaters! I even bought yarn for something for myself - imagine!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

antique beaded purses

I finished the Tellum cowl (sorry for the crappy photo-in-the-mirror phone picture):


It still need a button (the one in the photo is just sitting on top, not sewn on) and weave in the ends. Its just what I wanted... a neck scarf without long ends. And I love that it's also a hat. I love to walk in the rain, but I hate the feeling of cold winter rain on the top of my head! and it's just cool that it's convertible.

Today I wanted to show you a most beautiful gift that a friend sent me some weeks ago:


It's an antique crocheted purse, of course, crocheted tightly from silk twist and it's design is crocheted in with steel cut beads. The fringe and tassels are twisted beads and their cut silver sides form a unique sparkling architecture.

These beaded purses amaze me. I always imagine the person who might have painstakingly made it, counting out one of a couple thousand tiny beads, then another and another, following a complex pattern.


That's one of the things I love about vintage pattern books - the connection with the actual person who used them. Some of the booklets, like the Fleisher Knitting and Crocheting Manuals, have beautiful pen line drawings of knitters and crocheters going about their happy pastimes. They read by bow windows and ski in hand knits down small natural slopes, and gather with friends to window-shop. And all the time, they're creating these beautiful items that take so much skill and detail. It really makes me want to up my game, and stop doing small instant-gratification type projects. Well, I can dream. :)

Oh, by the way, last night I ordered another set of needles. I got the notice that they had shipped this morning. This afternoon, I found my original unused set, in the very place I had looked all week. It must have happened for a reason, but my poor credit card is saying "ouch!"

Saturday, October 3, 2009


ETA: Editing my blogpost to be a little more coherent - I am really struggling with jetlag, or the time-zone change or something!!

I'm back home now and having serious re-entry issues. I miss my little family on the west coast and the new friends I made there soooooo much!! After a month of sleeping on the floor on an air mattress, I'm having trouble sleeping in a real bed and after walking and taking the MAX everywhere, my legs get really restless - they miss walking long distances, (very fast because everyone but me had such long legs) and uphill both ways. ;)

So I've spending this morning (or the hours somce I wole up at 4 am) on the couch watching VH1 music videos. I love Pink's new song" "This used to be a fun house, but now it's full of evil clowns..." ha ha! I know she's serious, but it's really funny because clowns are scary! It's a perfect "get ready for Halloween" song.

I've had to start all new knitting projects because I am in such a funk. AND (speaking of evil clowns): I somehow lost my new Hiya-Hiya interchangable needle set! It arrived just before I left, in August. I put it away in a safe place so evil clowns wouldn't steal it when they broke into the house while I was away (I know, I have irrational fears about clowns breaking in). Now I can't remember where I put it and I've looked everywhere. If anyone who reads this is psychic, please tell me where my new needles are. I didnt throw them out in the mailing box by mistake, did I?

Well, back to the new knitting projects... Don't you love Knitquest'a patterns? I've started Tellum, a scarf/hood thingy and am using a *new* yarn: MacKintosh Yarns in Iona (small amount of cashmere!) in the oceany colourway Taurus. {{dies}}. I love this yarn. The colour is a prefect deep teal - not solid, more shaded hues of the colour. Okay - I gave you the link to this fabulous yarn, but if you buy it all I'll never forgive you.

Off to sleep now, and try to rebuild my poor brains. Maybe they were lost along with my needles?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


A wonderful package arrived here from Germany yesterday! Aren't these kiddie stamps great!?


My dear friend Nadine sent the most wonderful box of goodies for the baby! We all enjoyed them and it was so fun opening the box, because she had hidden each item in layers of tissue paper.

I'm afraid I didn't get very good photos because I was so excited opening the box with the rest of the family, but here you see....

in the foreground, a super soft blue and tan Baby Surprise Jacket with a special Nad-designed front placket with wooden buttons, and a matching hat (modeled on a squirmy baby):


In the background is a most beautiful sweater that made us all go "Oooooohhhhhhhh!" when we lifted it from the box. It is so gorgeously done in the softest of fingering yarns and the buttons are little tiny yellow turtles!! The little collar is soooooo sweet! And the turtle theme goes with a charming little book she included called "Happy Birthday Franklin" which we started reading to the baby immediately.

The next one I'm showing is a baby Tomten jacket. Nad is an incredibly accomplished knitter!! I really love the colours. This is so perfect and Jule said "It has a hood!!!!!!" when she lifted it out:

There were several hats and hoods, including two pixie hats that seem to be from a vintage pattern - perhaps something that is handed down in Nad's family? I only say that because I've never seen this pattern before and it is incredible - a perfect hat and yet not something you could figure out by looking at it - it has complicated looking increases and decreases to make the points and peaks. We all loved them - I especially loved this blue-green one in the picture (and it has a pair of tiny baby socks to match!) and the parents loved the fair isle one (which unfortunately you can only see in the background of one of the pictures...). Sorry the baby was so wiggly - he blurred this photo a bit (of course we had to try everything on him and he got a bit impatient):


All in all, Nad sent a whole basket-full of gorgeous hand knit and beautiful baby things, including clothes she got on a trip to France so our sweet little one is quite "Continental" now!!


I couldn't get everything in the photo, but there was:
Blue-green pixie hat and matching socks
Fair Isle pixie hat
Blue & tan Baby Surprise Jacket and matching beanie hat
Yellow and red and blue jacket with collar
Green and red and blue Tomten jacket with hood
Short sleeved French baby onesie
Long sleeved French baby onesie
Baby Blue Jeans!!
and a Franklin Turtle book!

I hope I didn't forget anything - there was so much!

What a well dressed child this is. :) His mom said "He'll be a well-sweatered baby with all the hand-knit sweaters from you and Nad!"

Monday, September 21, 2009

Twisted in a good way

I visited the yarn store, Twisted, again, even though I hadn't planned to go way out there again on this trip. Now that I knew where to go, it was smoother, but still several blocks of walking up Broadway after getting off the MAX and finding my way through the Lloyd Center... I had to go back though, because they had forgotten to charge me for the tea we had at our last visit and it was eating at me... I had to back and pay it!

I'm so glad I did. I think my "sock knitting mojo" was calling me the whole time. They were having a Sock Sale to celebrate a neat sock class they're going to be running. All sock yarn was 10% off and sock accoutrements had even deeper discounts! How could I not fall to this temptation?

I know, this is inexcusable stash enhancement!


The golden wheat skeins you see are for the person who's been checking in on my cat, who needs drops in her ears twice a week. This person has also been cleaning up after her, so deserves a really nice treat. I got her Indigo Moon and Black Trillium Fibers sock yarns...

Black Trillium is a new company for me. I discovered their Blue Faced Leichester sock yarn at Twisted. It is unbelievably soft and the colours are incredible. On top of that, BFL socks are supposed to be especially hard-wearing because the fibers are so long. Here I have 2 black and red, two grey and white, one grey tweed, and one deep seaweed green, and one deep blackberry - a kind of combination of blood red and deep purple... Other skeins shown include an Artful Yarns sock skein in a beautiful fall colourway (I've forgotten the name) and a Chewy Spaghetti skein in my usual blues and sea greens :).

I also indulged in some really tiensy sock blockers - one infant sized that I figure I'll be able to use for 2 - 3 years, and one child sized that I think will last until about age 8 or so? The baby blockers were only $5!! Twisted does online orders too, if you're interested....


Things here are going well. This is a bustling, lively city and the part where I am is beautifully green and full of gardens. Sometimes the view out of the big picture window is very interesting. Take last night, for instance. Since the apartment buildings in this section of town are non-smoking, people often gather across the street under a spreading shady tree to smoke. Yesterday someone put out an old red couch for their own smoking convenience. It was used all day for this purpose. But when night fell, and the apartment-dwelling smokers were cosily inside, another purpose emerged... A homeless couple, with their belongings in bags and sacks, moved in and proceeded to sort, and squabble.

We had all gathered to watch The Neverending Story and Wolverine when the beginnings of a real fight broke out. The very tall hefty man had taken off his shoe and was threatening the very slight, short woman with it. We saw him push her down and raise his fist and thought that some intervention was called for. B yelled "Hey" out the window to let him know he was being watched (this caused him to immediately lower his arm and step back but muttering, yelling, and threatening all the time while the woman pursued him) and S called the police for the woman's protection. While we waited, the couple continued fighting and then finally wandered into the neighbour's sheltered yard for a make-up session.

A few minutes later the police arrived and, finding the clothes and belongings on the sidewalk, began to search the yard. We turned out the lights and peeked out through the fan blades. Sure enough, they found them under the bushes and herded them out to the sidewalk. They sent the woman in one direction and the man in the other, with a verbal warning. As the police walked back to their cars, one said to the other "I was hoping a call would come in - it's been a quiet night." so we felt we had done our duty for all concerned.

At midnight, when I looked out, a lone figure was wrapped in a blanket on the red couch under the trees, silently sleeping. I predict that couch will not stay there for long.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rose Petals and Gingerbread

We had a chance to visit the Portland yarn store Twisted a couple days ago. It was a long ride on the MAX and then a long walk down Broadway, but so worth it! If you have a chance when you are in Portland, you really should go. It was probably the friendliest, most welcoming yarn store I’ve ever been in. We were there for a couple of hours, had tea and ate peaches for lunch at their table (which they were fine with - they have a big washroom so we could make sure our hands were clean for browsing afterward), talked with both of the ladies there about all kinds of things - not just sales talk, and looked at everything in the store 2 or 3 times. It was relaxed but they are seriously FULL of yarn and patterns. I don’t know how they get so much into their space. It’s very pretty too with lots of comfortable chairs. When we left, a book club was on the couches discussing their latest read!

I got several skeins o yarn - all from local dyers, including of course Blue Moon Fiber Arts. These are Gibson (the top one) and Gingerbread Dude... aren't they perfect fall colours?


I also got skeins from Black Trilium Fibers, and Indigo Moon...

There are so many rose bushes in people's gardens in Portland. Whenever we walk, and we walk a lot, we stop a million times to smell the different rose petals. Some smell like strawberries! On 23rd St in the Alphabet District, we stopped at Alotta Gelato and I got Rose Petal Gelato!


It was wonderful.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A new philosopher is born

I'm sorry I've been away for so long. I have embarked on (what is for me) a great adventure! I am 3000 miles away from home and living in an unfurnished studio apartment in a kind of spare Zen way... I will be here for a month. I have a good reason and this is it:


He is a Very New baby, just a week and a half old. Jule is doing great and she is a wonderful parent. I'll be here - far away from my own home - for the whole month. It's strange and exciting living in a new place, and of course I love being with them every day...

I am living on the 3rd floor of Jule's apartment building. She found and rented this place for me because it would be so much better than staying in a hotel for the same length of time. My apartment is beautiful, in a building that used to be a convent in the 30's. I have a big claw footed tub, a gorgeous deep bay window that is just begging for a window seat, and I have a lovely little 30's kitchen with built-in glass fronted dish cupboards and a sunny window.... I've bought very little and intend to live quite simply while I'm here.

As you can see, the baby is wearing the sweater I made before he was born. It turned out very tiny, but he's a tiny baby (just 7 lbs!) so it fits him perfectly now. We've had a couple of cold days here on the west coast, in between scorching 96 degree days, so he did get to wear it once or twice. I'll make him a bigger one when I get back home.

I also finished the big comfy sweater - Red Lantern - for Jule while I was here. I needed to fit it on her to make sure the arms were long enough. It's perfect! I'll take action shots as soon as we get a chance.


This is a beautiful deep red (deeper than the photo could capture) of Plymouth's Baby Alpaca Grande yarn. It took several skeins - maybe 6? It's my own pattern that I intend to write up. Here you are seeing it unblocked. And for some reason, the photo turned blurry when I saved it....

But here is a bit of a close-up that is a little sharper:


Today is Jule's birthday, and I suggested making a Maple Bacon cake and friends will be coming over tonight so there's lots to do and I'd better get started...

I'm keeping up with Ravelry and reading your blogs, but I don't get a chance to post very often, and now you know why!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Fish


Yarn: Panda Bamboo and Soy
Needles: Knitpicks steel DPNs Size 0
Style: Toe up (obviously), 64 sts around
Pattern: My own

These are another pair of socks that I'm knitting when I need something mindless. Yes, that means I'm knitting more than one project at a time. I don't really finish one project before I start another, ever, but I have been making an effort lately to make sure that I do finish the projects I start! That means that I only have two or three projects going at a time now instead of so many that I lose track of how many I've started!

This yarn, with it's little bit of elastic stretch, makes a really nice finished fabric, but is difficult to knit with - which is why I'm using my pointiest needles! Even so, many stitches have split and I've needed to tink back 3 times to pick up the splits.

I meant these to be very short summer socks - socklettes, so to speak, and am just now doing the heel. As soon as the back heel flap is finished, I'll do a few rows of K1P1 and that will be that (for sock #1). If it weren't for the splitty yarn, these would be done by now!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Juliet in Summer

I don't think I've mentioned that I finally wrestled my way out of my knitting funk (by way of socks, naturally) and embarked on a summer sweater. I chose Juliet, by Zephyr Style Knits:


As usual, my favorite style is a raglan, knit top down all in one piece. I wanted a significantly lighter weight - the pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn held double on a size US 10.5 needle - so I'm using fingering weight on size 9. As you can see, It's loose and airy. I've just done one repeat of the lace pattern:


The yarn I'm using is Plymouth cotton and silk - very soft and drapey; in fact exactly what I was looking for. This pattern is so easy I don't know why I haven't done it before. My only excuse is that I'm a terrible slacker and prefer fast projects with as close to instant gratification as I can get. If more sweater patterns were like this, I'd get a lot more done. I shy away from set-in sleeves like a horse from snakes. And don't even mention a sweater that's knit in five pieces and then sewn up!

I've been knitting on this while watching the Red Sox - Yankees series this weekend. One more baseball game today, but I don't think it will be quite enough time to finish this sweater. The Friday night game was very knit-worthy because it went into 13 innings, starting at 7 and ending close to 1 am!! Sadly, we are losing badly. What's with the Red Sox these days?

Oh, sorry - back to knitting.... Oddly, this vintage glass button looks much more green in person than in this photo:


I'm not sure if this is the right one, and besides, the pattern calls for two buttons. What do you think? Should I use this one or search through my box for two others? How about two vintage mismatched buttons?

In other news, I think I've placed my last yarn order of the year, unless there's a sale at Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the winter. Economy woes have started to trickle down and my place of work is going to have 9 unpaid days a year for two years (though I doubt if they'll ever re-instate them). Actually, they've decided that that these unpaid days will be holidays, so that means we no longer have any paid holidays at all. On those weeks, we'll just get a smaller paycheck. Merry Christmas, folks. Thank you very much Mr. Scrooge. This sock of coal is just what I needed to warm my little hands. (oops, sorry - just imagining my future!)

But I know you want to see this last order, don't you? It's very beautiful!


These are all lightweight sock yarns (STR) and the colourways are Peekaboo Peony, Siren's Song, County Clare, Sockgate, Crabby McCrabbypants, Beached, and Sea Mar. I have no ideas yet for how I'll use these. All I can say in my defense is that I had a gift certificate for Blue Moon and I was seriously envious of all my friends who are out at the Sock Summit at the Convention Center in Portland Oregon right now, and especially at what I can only imagine is the best yarn marketplace ever.... My timing is flawed. I'll be in Portland in 3 weeks... Don't eat all the VooDoo Donuts, guys! Save some for me!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

quick like popcorn, satisfying like butter and salt...


Did I tell you I was knitting a pair of transitional socks? Transitional in the sense that they are meant to help me transition back into my planned knitting and design. I just can't seem to right myself after the bustle of wedding creativity and the thank you gifts afterward. I just can't seem to interested again.

The solution is always socks. What ever the question, the answer is...socks.

These are made from two mini skeins (155 yds each) that I picked up at the local Sheep and Wool Fair a couple of years ago. The resulting socks are slightly short, slightly scratchy, and the dye job on each doesn't quite match the other. That odd looking mess on the instep is actually a purl pattern from a vintage 50's stitch-dictionary booklet that I wanted to try. Unfortunately, it didn't come out anything like the picture.

But, they served their purpose and it was a satisfying quick knit. Rather like eating a bowl of buttery popcorn instead of a meal when you're hungry and tired. Its quick, tasty, and satisfying in the immediate but never gets to the root of your hunger.

I do want to knit or crochet something substantial. But the inspiration hasn't hit me yet. So I guessed it...another pair of socks! These are Panda Bamboo and Soy - soft and very, very splitty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unexpected vintage...

I just found out that the Fleisher's Style Book that I found this weekend is not from the 40's like the other booklets. It's from 1934!!


(sorry for how fuzzy this picture is)

This is so exciting, because my collection of Fleishers knitting and crochet books already spans 1898 through 1932. After that, the booklets I had found previously from that company were all from the 40's and 50's.

I love Fleisher books because they are most likely to include equal numbers of crochet and knitting and their books have wonderful pen and ink illustrations of vintage fashion along with the photographs. The patterns are creative and well-written - sometimes very quirky (which I love) - and easily adapted to size and style... The crochet numbers are just as stylish as the knit, which is refreshing. Fleisher designers weren't afraid to use small hooks and luxury yarns for their crocheted designs.


The pictures of sweaters and the robe in my last post are from this same booklet.


Bed Jackets are among my favorite vintage designs. I always think they would make wonderful everyday sweaters. How Luna Lovegood!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Glove Egg

While my friends on the West coast were at the Portland Zine Symposium, I was searching out elusive vintage knitting and crochet magazines at a local antique fair. Every once in a while, the skating arena in town is taken over by a crowd of antique flea market dealers and mass vintage hysteria ensues. I noticed the sign a couple of weeks ago but couldn't induce any of my friends to come along - no, not even with promises of tea and cake afterward...

So off I went on my own, full of hope and with a pocket stuffed with one dollar bills. When I first entered the door of this huge space, I was disappointed. Few tables were set up and there was a lot of empty space. The goods looked more yard sale than vintage... but I thought there might be some hidden treasures, so I went on the hunt...


I actually found 4 tables with knitting and crochet. My attention was first caught by a colourful pile of aluminum knitting needles, which I passed up. This same vendor had the stack of 1940's magazines above and gave me big discount on them. The best ones are in the front: The Fleisher's Style Book, Woollies for Babies, Handknits by Beehive, Jack frost Sweaters... A couple of them were missing their covers, but had such great patterns that I couldn't resist them, like these crown and pomegranate charts for intarsia or duplicate stitch :


Some of my favorites... the Smart 40's Sweaters:


and this great robe! I think it would be wonderfully cosy to wear a knitted or crocheted robe in the winter, but very boring to make something so big and repetitious.


The rest of my attention went to vintage tools: this glove egg for my collection, which will be put to immediate use mending the finger tips (which lasted about a nano-second) of my winter cashmere gloves:


There was one vendor who had lots of bone crochet tools in dishes on the floor (which was annoying because I had to keep crouching down, and then getting up to ask a question, then down, then up, then...well, you get the picture) and on top of that, they were annoyingly expensive (like $30!). I was able to talk him into selling me this tiny, tiny bone and steel crochet hook and ivory thread bobbin for a couple of dollars, but had to leave all the pretty carved hooks on the floor. (tears)


Finally, at the very last booth I stopped, I found a big bin of antique buttons! After I was done pouring through the bins and boxes on the table, the woman said, "would you like to see my special buttons?" Apparently, she kept the good ones in a little cedar chest under the table and didn't display them, but I got to look through those too and bought quite a few. She was selling these so inexpensively, that even though I had spent most of my money, I was able to collect three bags full! Here are just a few of the good ones:


The big one is pressed horn with a pattern of grapes. There is a glass paisley button with gold accents, and a black glass one with melted copper flakes in a violet flower design, some mourning jet buttons, and a complex milk glass, blue glass, and gold carved button. There were many more, but I can't show them all because, well, my friend Marky has a birthday in a couple of months and he is as crazy about old buttons as I am.

The great thing about my button collection is that, since I use them on my knitting I can buy just one instead of holding out for the full sets. So I get really excited with these random single finds! Even so, I fell for two sets: some small coral domed buttons, and 12 really unusual red glass buttons with mother-of-pearl centers.

So the Antique Flea Market was great fun and has set me up with goodies to mull over for while!

I'm completing a transitional pair of socks (transitional between one project and next) right now because I couldn't decide what to get started on. I do have to complete the lace Lily-of-the-Valley shawl, and then might start the blanket design I have percolating in my brain. But I really, really want to start making sweaters for fall! Is it too early?