Saturday, November 24, 2012

FO: Winter's Coming Sweater

While I'd finished the knitting nearly two weeks ago on the dog sweater teased in that June "where we're headed" post, I hadn't tackled all the weaving in of ends. So I packed it in the car for our trip up North for Thanksgiving, thinking it would be a good mindless task for sitting around talking with the family after all the eating and all the cleanup.

Good thing, too, as winter arrived with a vengeance on the holiday, dropping throughout the day and bringing first sleet and then snow. Friday we took my first Fair Isle project for several test walks in my parents' yard. Every walk started like this, with my spirited Violet ready to go...


... only to look like this within 5 minutes. Tops. In defense of my little NM-born pup, it wasn't that much above zero with the wind chill. 


While winter may not be a big hit with Violet, she does seem to enjoy the sweater. The best part about knitting for dogs? Unlike Izzy, she's yet to tell me that it itches. And, oh yeah, Fair Isle is completely addictive. I'll be doing more of it soon!

Pattern: Icelandic Beauty Sweater by Judith L. Swartz
Yarn: Sandnes Garn Peer Gynt (Mulberry)
with bits and bob from my stash

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FOs: Cassis & Stacked Eyelet Cowl

Got a two-fer today as I try to catch up on blogging. First up, my #10 (this might actually happen) shawl of the year, knit from the lovely birthday yarn from my friend Jane.


Pattern: Cassis shawlette by collete audrey
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Silk Solid in Spruce

Fun technique with this (free!) pattern: Start by knitting the lace border, then pick up 240 stitches and create the crescent. I decided I wanted the shawl a bit deeper than the original sliver, so I changed the K3s to K2s in the short row section.

Second up is a cowl to match Izzy's fingerless mitts, which you also see again in this very hammy photo. Lest you think fall has come really late to MN this year, full disclosure: The photo was taken nearly a month ago... And the cowl has gotten plenty of wear in the chilly days since the photoshoot. (And unlike Izzy's jaunty top hat headband, which she made at school, it's still in one piece.) Phew!


Pattern: Stacked Eyelet Cowl by Ami Madison
Yarn: Lana Grossa Cool Wool Merino Big Print (#811)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

FO: Nightlock Fail

We've got a first on the blog today, gentle readers. Love the yarn, love the pattern, but absolutely hate the FO.

It started off so promising. The colors in this TFA yarn are stunning and the the Merino-Cashmere blend is beyond lovely to work with. Here I am hanging out a few weeks ago at Wild Rumpus, a magical kids bookstore where chickens and cats (and lots of other critters) peacefully coexist. I grabbed a chair near the Harry Potter and was kept company by the friendly (and hungry) Bilinia while Izzy started her once/week volunteer work.

promising start

I brought in the second OOAK colorway during my visit to a (new to me) knitting group last week. And while I was a bit skeptical at the time, I was lulled by the group of kind women and the wine. It's not that the two colors don't work together — in fact, they echo the golds and pinks of the other strand quite well.


But now that's it's done, my fears are realized. Even if I hadn’t moved back to MN between purchasing the yarn and knitting it, I’m pretty sure I’d see only MN Gophers colors in the FO. :-(


Pattern: Nightlock by Lisa Mutch
Yarn: TFA OOAK Purple Label: Squash and Autumn Sunset

As you'll see, I haven't woven in the ends or blocked it. The decision at hand: Do I gift to a Gophers fan or frog and create two new items with the lovely (but not combined) yarn? The selfish knitter in me is leaning toward the latter since it's my first go-round with TFA Purple Label. What would you do?

Either way, it's chronicled here and counted as #9 in my 12 in 2012 challenge. At least there's that...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

24 Days...

The countdown to Halloween is on. While final decisions are still being made about Izzy's costume, the decorating has begun. We started with this Haunted Gingerbread House — a good Sunday afternoon activity after a week of battling off the latest bug.


And while we have made gingerbread from scratch, I fully embraced this no-cooking required kit. I mean, the decorating is 98% of the fun, right?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

FO: Malabrigo Mizzle

Do you ever just have to knit a particular color? For whatever unknown reason, I was craving blue. And this lovely Malabrigo with bits of purple and green in my stash answered the siren call. And how.


Pattern: Mizzle by Patricia Martin
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock (Indiecita)


The first part of this free (!) pattern went so fast. And then came the, shall we say "just slow down and breathe,"  decorative ribbing. But that deep border is what drew me to the Mizzle, so slow down and keep knitting I did.

For those keeping count, this is #8 of my "12 Shawls in 2012" personal challenge. Good thing it's knitting season, 'cause I've got some catching up to do!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FO: Izzy's Fingerless Mitts

Hello, Fall. How I've missed you.

In Albuquerque, the air turns crisp around Thanksgiving. For a "fall is my favorite season" person, the September equinox is a strange sort of torture: "It's nearly October. The kids are settled back in school. Why can't I pull out my woolens?!" Happily, Minnesota is bringing it this year — even throwing in a first frost warning on the 23rd.

Faced with chilly mornings, the kid started asking for a pair of fingerless mitts. We went stash diving last weekend and found three skeins of tween-perfect bright. (Matching cowl now on the needles, thank you.) The yarn is also superwash wool, so the mitts just might survive beyond the season.


Yarn: Cool Wool Merino Big Print (811)

Violet is a bit more skeptical about the September chill.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

FOs: Scalene Double Take

Since they knew we were headed back to MN, my sister and brother-in-law gave me a birthday gift certificate to another new yarn store that had opened in Minneapolis during our stay in Albuquerque. (This place is fiber heaven!) Rather than spending it right away online, I decided to exercise some rare restraint and wait a few months so I could visit in person... As luck would have it, I traveled to Mpls a few weeks later for an interview (for the job I got, yay! ;-) and visited Bella Lana over Memorial Day weekend.

Being the total geek that I am, I traveled with the last skein I planned to purchased in NM and the goal of buying a complementary skein in MN to create a symbolic transition knit. Yep, total geek! Here's my "Two-State Scalene," which I love for more than just the silly sentimental reasons.

scalene-2 Pattern: Scalene by Carina Spencer
Yarn: Zitron Unisono (1210) &
 Madelinetosh Pashmina (Magnolia Leaf)

Beyond the great mix of color stripes in the Unisono, my favorite detail is the double keyholes, which make the Scalene so easy to wear.


I wasn't alone in appreciating the style. The Scalene also caught my mother's eye... And I instantly knew what I wanted to do to thank her for all the help this summer, which included hosting Izzy for several weeks and unpacking my kitchen. Yeah, I know. I'm one lucky daughter! Not sure that this "Gratitude Scalene" is enough, but at least it's a good start. And the colors suit her to a T. (And in case it's not clear, Izzy insists that I note she's sporting her "silly face" in the following shot.)


Yarn: Sublime Yarns Cashmere Merino 
Silk DK (Nutkin and Anise)


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We're not completely unpacked and settled, but we're getting there. Enough so that I didn't feel (too) guilty enjoying the first lazy Saturday morning in months. And yesterday morning was a gorgeous one — sunny with a hint of chill in the air. So nice after July's record-breaking heat.

I hadn't realized how much I missed our three-season porch until I grabbed a cup of coffee and a book, laying back on the loveseat with the backdrop of blue skies and leafy old trees. After finishing up the highly enjoyable The Age of Miracles, I even knit for a good hour. Ah, bliss...

I'm not alone in loving this cozy spot. Both kitties have gladly taken up their porch perches again. (Chloe can be seen peeking in on the right.) And anywhere there's a lap and a view is just perfect as far as Violet is concerned.

Life is pretty sweet these days and I'm feeling truly blessed. When I made the decision to move back to MN without a job lined up, I was filled with anxiety...tempered only so slightly with the knowledge that I'd been freelancing and saving for the transition and was fully prepared to take whatever contract work I needed while looking for my next gig.

How sweet and unexpected that the universe dropped a dream job in my lap. While the challenge of building a new website is daunting to be sure, I'm loving being back in the world of education and being back at an organization with some of my favorite people in the world. All this while surrounded by family and dear old friends. Bliss squared.

Now, a good six weeks in, I'm finally feeling rested enough after the crazy transition — left my job in ABQ on Friday, drove with Izzy and the pets all weekend, arrived in Minneapolis Sunday night, and was at work Monday a.m. at the new job — that I can start to take moments like yesterday morning. I even blocked a shawl in the afternoon. Photos and that update soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Life Part 2: Where We're Headed

By this time next week, we'll be on the road. Destination? Well, here's a photographic hint.

Mosquito repellent and a book of dog sweater patterns.... Yep, Minnesota! After 3+ years in Albuquerque, we're headed home. This time, though, the "little CRV that could" will have three pet carriers. May the travel gods of animal spirits smile (or at least not frown) on us.

It's been a spring of tough decisions (and, as you may have noticed, miles and miles of comfort garter stitching). Thing is, despite a good job (the one that brought us to NM) and some of the best friends Izzy and I could ever hope to make, we belong in Minnesota. (I'll spare the laundry list of family/personal reasons.) By April, I knew it was time to say goodbye.

We're excited, not to mention relieved happy that our well-loved home in Linden Hills awaits us. A nice reminder that sometimes the universe has a good reason for dropping obstacles (bad real estate markets, property management struggles) on our path — and that even without those obstacles, the path is always winding.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

FO: Summer Color Affection

I queued this pattern back in March shortly after I first saw it and even bought three skeins of yarn (selecting shades of my favorite colors: green, blue, purple). Then I made two swatches and couldn't decide — indecision no doubt enhanced by the fact that I was in the middle of making some pretty big life decisions.

Thank goodness for the announcement of a TFA KAL — and the Yarn Harlot getting infected with the Color Affection bug — so that when I posted the swatch photo on Ravelry asking for help, my fellow TFA fans knew the pattern and helped me pick, with a few weeks to spare.

Even so, I got a late start casting on for the KAL since I wanted to finish up another project. But all proved well and good. This is an easy pattern to memorize and really flies off the needles — well, that is, until you get to those final, reeeaaalllllly long rows. Not that I was suffering my way through them — in fact, when I started to worry that I was running out of the Atlantic, I discovered I had read the directions wrong and had already knit an extra six rows of the three-color-stripes section.

Pattern: Color Affection by Veera Välimäki
Yarn: TFA blue label (Atlantic, Plum, Olive)

In the "bigger is better, right?" frame of mind I decided to leave them and start on the Olive border. Warning: This is one big, cozy shawl. It blocked out at more than 7 feet, not that my six extra rows really tipped the scales.

It's sure to keep me warm this winter. But more about that in the next blog...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FO: Stained Glass Is Sweet

More than most projects, this one has quite a few miles on it. I started it before we headed off on our vacation, getting in several rows on that lovely porch swing in Carlsbad. It traveled to all the Saturday ice skating lessons and Thursday practices, and even made the trip to Santa Fe for the competition. 

Mind you, when the yarn contains cashmere and silk, I'm happy to carry it anywhere. Anytime. The pattern was as sweet as the name promised. Yep, pretty much loved this project from beginning to end. What more can a knitter ask?

Pattern: Sugar Is Sweet by Rose Beck
Yarn: TFA Red Label (Stained Glass)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Life Part 1: Where We've Been

Long time no blog. In addition to a big freelance project, life with the kiddo has been keeping me (happily) busy.

This past weekend, Izzy skated in a competition, something she's long wanted to do. Here she is before her first event, a bit nervous but so much more relaxed than I would have been.

Can't tell you how pleased I was to discover the whole thing was more celebration than competition. Medals for everyone! Izzy got a 3rd place and 4th place, which are already proudly displayed in her room. We went up to Santa Fe the day before (her practice ice time was an ungodly 6:45 am on Sunday) and visited the Georgia O'Keefe Museum, which I'd yet to see.

A few weeks earlier, we celebrated Violet's second birthday with a hotdog dinner and new toy for the birthday pup. (Yeah, Izzy was pretty tickled by that "bad to the bone" embroidery.)

And last, but certainly not least, Izzy, Violet, and I took a vacation over the Easter holiday. We headed south to Carlsbad and spent five days hanging out in the desert. It was the perfect combination of exploration and unadulterated relaxation. Our base camp was the most charming little cabin with a porch swing (that saw some knitting) and a table inside for ongoing Monopoly games.

We went to the International UFO Museum in Roswell (a hoot, well at least I thought so).

Made an unscheduled stop at the Smokey the Bear museum (yes, it does exist) when we happened to drive past it.

We went to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, where we saw just a few animals out in the midday sun but some spectacular scenery...

... and a few hard-to-categorize indoor exhibits.

The best outing, though, was Carlsbad Caverns. And given that we spent nearly three hours taking the hour-long tour, I'm thinking the rock collecting of Izzy's early youth was no passing phase; might just have a budding geologist on my hands.*

* Clearly the iPhone flash is not intended for cave photography.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

FO: Zuni Truffle

Not sure what it is, but I find myself liking the look of garter stitch these days.

No doubt, it's partially tied to working with some gorgeous hand-dyed yarn. Who would have thought that bumps showcased color variations so well? While I've done my best to capture the greens and purples that emerge from this chocolate brown, it is even more swoon-worthy in person.

Life is also in one of those "buckle your seatbelts" phases, so the Zen-like nature of garter is not to be argued with. Evidence: Entry #3 in my 12 in 2012, which was knit in a few weeks, only to lag for nearly double that time before blocking and photographing.

Pattern: Zuni Shawl by Danielle Chalson 
Yarn: TFA Blue Label Fingering (Truffle)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

FO: Bunny Nuggets

Happy spring / Easter! These fuzzy little critters were a fun stash busting exercise. I only wish I'd seen the recommendation by one clever knitter to insert bread ties into the ears before I'd sewn them all on. In this squishy soft yarn the ears are beyond Peter Cottontail floppy. Even so, I had waaaay too much fun posing them outside in the best patch of returning grass I could find. (Yeah, it's been that kind of week.)

Pattern: Bunny Nuggets by Rebecca Danger 
Yarn: The Knitting Goddess DK Alpaca & Silk (Topaz & Dove)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

FO: Beach Glass Spectra

First things first: Izzy is recovering nicely from her sprained wrist — phew! Thanks for all the well wishes. Now on to the knitting. Remember that rut I mentioned about a month ago?

Pattern: Spectra by Stephen West
Yarn: Noro Taiyo Sock (S8)
Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (Antique Lace)

Well, I decided to embrace said rut when I couldn't wait to cast on another shawl the minute I finished up this one. Yep, I signed up for the the 12 shawls in 2012 challenge. Crazy? Perhaps.

And for those keeping track of my  New Year's "three new techniques" challenge, I'm counting this Spectra and its short rows as #2 down. Sure, I did a few short rows when making those holiday Malabrigo loafers. But here I worked on learning how to conceal the wraps — thinking of Cat Bordhi and her excellent tutorial each time I lifted a "yarn necklace" (all 500+ of them).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The St. Paddy's Day that Was

While I take a photo of Izzy every St. Patrick's Day* this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

The day started off just fine. We got to the ice rink early for her private makeup lesson (Izzy's competing in the Santa Fe Skatefest this May for the first time and we had to reschedule Thursday's session after her coach hurt her knee). They started putting Izzy's program to music for the first time and the kiddo got in an extra 1/2-hour practice. Then a break before the warmup session and her group lesson.

Five minutes before class started, Izzy fell hard on her wrist.

We spent the next 3+ hours at Urgent Care, where thankfully there was a volunteer manning the gift shop so Izzy got the above string cheese and some other ala carte lunch items while we waited. Even though it meant having to cancel our lunch and hanging out in Old Town with Jane and Nina, I'm still looking upon the day as fairly lucky — it's only a sprain, not a fracture or break. Phew!

Today is a movie and nap day for Izzy. And while I'd hoped to blog my finished Spectra, it's only just now blocking and will have to wait until next weekend for a photoshoot with my recovered model. In the meantime, here's a snapshot of the latest WIP — taken quickly this am while there was some sun and before the Grapes of Wrath winds (40 mph gusting to 67 mph) picked up and starting turning everything a dusty brown and will most likely succeed in blowing the blossoms off the trees. Ahhh, spring in Albuquerque.

* Izzy's birth mother's birthday is March 17. Each year I take a photo of Izzy as a way of honoring her and keeping her in our thoughts.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FO: Fracture

These days it seems I can't get enough of shawlettes/scarves knit in fingering weight yarn. The fact that I added several lovely skeins to my stash with the two StevenBe gift cards I received for Christmas (and had to spend before flying back to Albuquerque) certainly is aiding my momentum.

You could say I'm in a rut... But this shawlette only looks like it was designed by Stephen West.

Pattern: Fracture by Paulina Popiolek
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (Grasshopper)
Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 (Charcoal)

And while green is no stranger to my FOs, nor even acid green, it's the first time I've used a full skein this vibrant.

Then again, perhaps I'll just skip the rationalizations and add 12 in 2012 to my goals for the year. Something to ponder as I finish up the Spectra currently on my needles. And, yes, that one is designed by Stephen West.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

FO: Hearts & Bows Headband

Ah, the joys of having a tween. While Izzy specifically requested this headband for Valentine's Day — and was thrilled to get it this morning — you'd have thought I asked her to scrub the toilet based on her facial expressions in the quick photos I took today.

It's quite the miracle that this one smile slipped into the mix.

The yarn, which is a perfect girly pink and fuzzy soft, made its way to my stash via an online trade. (Last fall, I got a Ravelry message from a UK knitter in need of my leftover Lavender Cotton Glace.) While I got gauge, the fabric seems pretty airy... And now has me wondering if DK in the UK is actually what we call Sport in the US/Canada. It's a fun, fast knit and I have plenty of yarn still, so think I might try reknitting it with the yarn doubled.