Saturday, November 20, 2010

FO: Violet's First Sweater

Pattern: Basic Knitted Dog Sweater from Dogs in Knits
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Taos (Hopi) and Nashua Handknits Julia (Velvet Moss)
Started: Nov 6, 2010
Finished: Nov 20, 2010

After making a sweater for a co-worker's dog, how could I not make one for our little puppy? That's the question Izzy recently posed. Then as if to drive home her point, the shaggy but not particularly furry Violet keeps shivering outside in the mornings. (Nice to see Izzy's been sharing her dramatic skills.)

So I set about using leftover yarn in my stash, just in case Violet turned out to be sweater averse or decided it was as tasty as Izzy's socks. I saved the leg cuffs for last, testing after I'd added one — and good thing, that band proved the tipping point for Violet's tolerance. Off it came. Right now, Violet's wearing her sweater without complaint. Izzy even swears she's smiling about it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

FO: Izzy's Skating Sweater

Pattern: Finley from by Marie Grace Smith

Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton

Started: June 2010
Finished: Nov 2010

I started the year with two simple, but long overdue, goals: knit lace, knit cables. For nearly two decades, I hovered in the advanced beginner realm, picking projects that promised relaxation and few challenges. But 2010 would be different. I'd stretched but hard for work the previous year and came out the better for it and not too banged up. Time to move out of my comfort zone in other areas.

Being a "let's hold our nose and get the worst of it over first" kind of person, I started with the lace. The pattern was easy on the lace scale, but a worthy enough foe to make it one of my now prized possessions. Onto the cables ... and the discovery that I couldn't wait to turn that next cable.* The pattern, itself, was addicting and oh-so-smartly written. What's not to love about a sweater that requires weaving in ends and toggle buttons as the only finishing details. No seaming! (And even so, that finishing sat untouched for a good month.)

Since I wanted to morph the Finely coat into a closer-fitting sweater for Izzy, I chose to use up a bunch of black cotton yarn I'd had for years — intended for Leigh Radford's gorgeous Kandinsky Kimono. I purchased it back in 2002 during a moment of "nothing's too hard if you want the knit item bad enough" delirium. (On a side note, kudos to the four Ravelers who've actually completed it. I'm so not worthy.)

Other than swapping out the wool yarn for cotton and using the 4-6 directions (Izzy's 9), the only other mod I made was to do one fewer toggle (knew she'd never want it buttoned at the neck).

Special thanks to The Knitmore Girls for their terrific couture button tutorial.

* And couldn't wait to start the next cable project; while I worked on Finley's cable-less sleeves, I added in a few bibs.

Friday, October 22, 2010

FO: Citron with an Edge

I, like so many others, loved the Citron when I first saw it in Knitty. I watched it explode in popularity for the Ravelympics and then continue to be added to queues at a healthy double-digit/day pace in the many months since. (Any statistics junkies out there really need to check out this cool feature, if you haven't already.) So by the time I got around to actually knitting it — not counting my first failed attempt with Classic Elite Yarns Silk Alpaca Lace (which is now taking an extended timeout in my stash bin, given that it was the second failed project attempt with said yarn) — I called it "Citron #1,000,001."

And off I went, casting on with Malabrigo for the first time. What can I say about this heavenly soft, color-drenched yarn that hasn't already been said? Sigh. Or about the mindless mindful knitting Citron's many stitches provide? (It was only that last 540-stitch ruffle that tested my patience.) Then I tried on my unblocked piece and, once again, was reminded that my neck is as short and stumpy as Ms. Callis' is long and graceful. (This probably wouldn't be such a sore point, but all my life it's a detail that's been rubbed in with silly zodiac descriptions proclaiming that as a Taurus I have a "swan-like neck." No, I'm not bitter.)

So after scanning Ravelry to see how else knitters were wearing it, I found a kinder draping. Check. Then I decided that as much as I loved the ruffles, it was a little too girly for my wardrobe liking. How about mixing in a few hard edges? So I blocked it with some random, angular points. (Promise: It wasn't just lazy pinning.) Must say, I'm pleased with the outcome.

And, for better or worse, so is Izzy.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sweater Weather + FO: Cabled Bibs

Even before "sweater weather" meant hand-knit woolens, fall was my favorite season. But here in Albuquerque, crisp mornings continue to betray me. Midday temperatures climb with the sun, reaching for 80. So it was with great joy that I actually cast on a wool sweater this weekend — the "Transverse Cardigan," which has been at the top of my Ravelry queue since I bought the burnished terra cotta yarn in Taos.

And the desire to start that sweater meant I found the momentum to finish the straggling projects I'd decided needed to be done first. My "Citron" is blocking right now (stay tuned) and I completed the second round of "Modern Cabled Baby Bibs" (the blue ones below, alongside the girly one I knit earlier in the summer but never got around to blogging). This pattern is a fun variation on cotton dish cloths when you're looking for a cheap thrill. And the FO photos are a good lesson/reminder — I'm going to pull up these side-by-side pics the next time I'm tempted not to block anything.

Next up? The i-cord loops and button band for Izzy's "Finley" so I can cast on that "Oscilloscope Shawl."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Taos Wool Festival!

Headed north Friday night to Taos with my friend Jane, whose husband hosted a sleepover extraordinaire for their daughter and Izzy — backyard camping, telescope viewing of Jupiter, Saturday morning pancake making, and a visit to Explora ... all before ferrying the girls to their ice skating lessons, then pizza for lunch and "Little House of the Prairie" viewing. I'll, of course, leave it to Jane to decide whether she wants to submit the Husband of the Year paperwork, but I do think he's sure to place if not win the whole thing. Just sayin'.

With the lure of yarn winning out over our desire to enjoy Saturday morning solitude/sleeping in, we were up and ready to meet for the free hotel breakfast at 8 a.m., only to find the place overrun. So we headed into town, found the World Cup Cafe, and paid for coffee and pastries definitely worth the price. We then arrived at the festival, beating a few of the vendors. Definitely a plan I'd advise — we were able to do a full circle before the crowds descended and only had to deal with elbow-to-elbow tents and lines for our purchases.  As way of comparison, I'd say the festival is about 1/3 the size of Maryland Sheep and Wool (which I was last at when Izzy was a baby), but there was certainly no shortage of yummy yarn. Here's what I finally decided on.

The 500-yard skein of Brooks Farm Duet is going to be a lighter-weight version of the oscilloscope shawl and the terra cotta Striations skeins (75% mohair, 25% wool) along with the buttons (purchased later at Common Thread in the Taos Plaza) are designated for a Transverse Cardigan. Now, which to start first?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

FO: Deep Peace + New Project: Fresh Chaos

Let me begin with the knitting, for a change. After much ado (and I do mean much ado), I have survived my knitting kryptonite and completed Deep Peace. All told, I knit this wrap nearly three times. My problems had nothing to do with the pattern, which fulfills its promise of two straight-forward lace repeats, but had everything to do with being new to lace. And did I mention, irrationally afraid of lace?


When I first started knitting Deep Peace, I flashed back to those early knitting days — the half-holding your breath when working through a pattern for fear of making a mistake with no idea of how to correct it. I went in with the low, low goal of knitting something *close* to the pattern. Hey, this was a "lace experiment." Even then, the center section is what nearly did me in. Each unmistakable mistake meant ripping it back to the garter-stitch divider. After a half-dozen starts, I got smart and hunted down some tips ... and (cue choir of angels) discovered lifelines.


Once I knew that sustained perfection was no longer a requirement, I exhaled. And relaxed. Started feeling that deep peace. And then frogged the whole thing to start over. Because why not aim for something close to perfection when it's within reach? (And being the knitter my grandmother raised, really there is no other choice.)


So, feeling all ridiculously "hear me roar," I decided to tackle another aspiration.

Meet Violet, our 10-week-old puppy.


The Birds (and Mess) Are Growing

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Real Women Eat Quiche

And sometimes they even make it. Guess who insisted on having a picture taken with her specialty creation, "Isabel's Fruit Salad"? (At the risk of blowing her secret recipe, it's bananas, blackberries, and strawberries with a pinch of sugar and a few sprinkles of cinnamon.)

This Spinach & Pine Nut Quiche, which has lots of garlic and sage, is so good that the kiddo periodically craves it, which she did today — after waking up from the late-morning nap she asked to take rather than go to ice skating lessons. (Yeah, it's been that kind of week.) After getting in lots of knitting time while she napped, I was so agreeable that I said yes even though it meant a trip to the grocery store.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In Praise of Constant Companions

Smiles have been in short supply this week, ever since a nasty, never-ending stomach virus took hold. But Lily, bless her sweet kitty soul, has willingly spent those days in some variation of this pose.

Just as the Moderne Log Cabin has been there for me, each evening taking the edge off a week of single motherhood crashing headlong into career. And while much progress has been made, it's good to know yards of garter stitch comfort remain.

Bronzed Green and Block 8 await...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Things to do in Denver...

As I said last night in my Facebook status, "That'll teach me to besmirch Florida!"

Yesterday was, all in all, a bad travel day. The sister and brother-in-law arrived at the Mpls. airport only to find that their plane to Orlando was canceled. They were sent home, having been given an afternoon flight for today. (Terrible weather out East to blame.)

Since we were traveling from the other side of the country, all was well weather wise. (Which, being the extra cautious soul I am, I confirmed online before we headed to the airport.) All was going well — fastest trip through security ever. But then our plane to Denver had a mechanical problem. And we waited. And waited. Talked with some fellow knitters headed home to Chicago via Denver. Put in a Herculean effort at keeping the over-excited kid busy while we waited 3 extra hours to board the plane. By then, all hopes of Orlando on Saturday had been quashed by the gate agent.

Finally we left ABQ and arrived in Denver, where United put us up for the night at a Marriott. No luggage = no swim suit for the kid (and, of course, the hotel has a pool). My little carnivore's mood improved vastly, though, when she discovered she could use the meal voucher to order a steak sandwich via room service. And, better yet, eat it while watching TV. (No parental judgment please, a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do!)

Headed to Orlando today (god willing) but first plane they could get us on leaves at 5:35 tonight. At least they booked us in first class.

On the knitting front, yesterday was also a bust. Started back in on Deep Peace, my first foray into lace knitting. Or should I say, my first foray that wasn't quickly abandoned? Here's where it stood when I set it aside for the Ravelympics:

Even though it's not a complicated pattern, it proved too challenging with continual conversation from my spirited kid. Think I got about 8 rows done before I realized I had lost a stitch in the process. Going to cast on the other project I brought (thankfully in my carry-on) — the Geodesic Cardigan, which is much better suited to multi-tasking. It's going to be a trying day; no need to handicap my patience!