Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Move Over, Bozo

...there's a new kid in town.
My friend, Kay, is a quilter and she's used to challenges. Her quilt guild and other groups she is in often have challenges. Usually these involve being given one or more fabrics, quite often bright or busy prints, and being challenged to use them in a particular way or to dream up a quilt on a specified theme.

You may remember the very clever one she did last year when the theme was "Windows".

Well Kay has spent this summer at her cabin on a lake in Minnesota. She and a quilting friend stumbled into Amazing Threads thinking it was a quilt shop only to discover it packed with yarn. Since Kay is always generous and often sends me goodies, especially when she's off in MN, she decided to get me something.

Her letter said "I thought you needed something outside your usual color scheme and this could put you over the edge".

This yarn (Sakura by Noro) is every bit as colorful as my friend Kay. I opened it just as I finished binding off the Plain Vanilla Malabrigo shawl and I spent the next couple of hours rooting through patterns and searching around Ravelry for the perfect project. And do you know? I think I found it!

I won't post a picture of what I've managed to get done so far just in case Kay stumbles over here, but it's on my Ravelry projects page.

That Kay. She keeps you laughing!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Almost there!

I've just started knitting the edging chart on the Angel Lace shawl. This Malabrigo lace yarn is just so soft! I keep wondering how blocking is going to affect it.

I'm hopeless at gauging yarn amounts. That ball is about the size of a lemon. I'm guessing it is plenty for the edging but not enough for another full pattern repeat and then the edging. But who knows??
This has been a pleasing interlude of plain vanilla [like the good stuff with the great vanilla bean bits in it]. I think I'll be satisfied to return to the colorful land of Jojo when this is completed.
In the meantime I'll link to a YouTube video just e-mailed to me by a lace club friend. Sadly there is no narration, just music, but the technique is amazing.
Now that is real stringplay! A bit more information here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Malabrigo Angel

The ever-colorful Jojo shawl was coming along nicely. The pattern is (as the name implies) easy and, with only three pattern rows, easy to keep track of the knitting. I think (I'm still not sure) that I will like it OK once it has been blocked, but every time a new bright color emerges from the ball it is a bit of a shock. And I've said before, it is a little difficult to knit on late in the evenings.
So I decided to have a little outing to the LYS. I wasn't really thinking of natural, but they had a couple of hanks of Malabrigo lace so I came away with one and decided to give the Angel Lace Shawl another go. That pattern deserved better than I gave it last time.
So far, so good. The Malabrigo is incredibly soft. It's also quite a bit more substantial than the Jojoland and feels more like knitting with fingering weight than lace weight so that has made a nice change as well. I would still like to knit this once more but in a semi-solid; something to give a bit more depth to the pattern. I just need the Perfect Yarn.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

New sock bag

Perhaps I should have named this blog Bagplay!

It is hard to resist the call to make a new bag - especially when so many wonderful fabrics exist.

I loved this line of fabrics when I first saw it. You can't see the lining in this shot, but the lining fabric was the one I fell in love with first. [It is the third one down in the middle row of that previous link.] Only later did I return for a few fat quarters of the coordinating fabrics.

I had in mind a different bag. I have some fabrics left and may still be able to eek out the one I want, but I'm close enough to the LQS that I can swing by for more if needed.

But my first idea was put on immediate hold when I spotted this pattern tutorial. It's the perfect size to hold a sock in progress.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the comfort of friendship

Yes. It is pretty bright.
This week I found a new knit book at the library, "Inspired Cable Knits" by Fiona Ellis. It's a nice book with several nice patterns, none of which I feel up to tackling yet. Still it's always nice to run across new knit books at the library and get to bring them home and enjoy them for free.
Each project/pattern is followed by a Mindfulness Pointer - something to contemplate. I haven't read them all yet, but was taken with one near the beginning of the book, "the comfort of friendship".
The knitter worked on the project in stops and starts and described the feeling of returning to it each time as reuniting with an old friend. Her hands remembered the stitches and they brought the comfort of familiarity along with them. Fiona urges knitters to resolve to spend time with our "friend", even if it's just for a few rows each day and every time to remind ourselves that the comfort of friendship is right there - just waiting for us to pick up the needles.
That's very much how this project is for me. I'm not in any particular hurry to finish it. The very simple pattern is not difficult to work or remember at all and each time I pick it up, whether I have time to work just a few rows or the luxury of spending an hour or so with it, I do find it very comforting and relaxing. And isn't that why I knit in the first place?
I have a couple of other projects started and even more in the pipeline, but this is the only one that calls to me and soothes me whenever I need to relax or retreat from the heat of the day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mother Gooseberry Caps

75% extra fine merino/20% silk/5% cashmere
127 yds/50 gr - 1 ball for both caps and bit leftover
shade 0004 - Gooseberry
Needles: L-size 5 dpns R-size 4 dpns
An invitation to a double baby shower arrived necessitating a trip to the Babies R Us jungle, I mean store. Registry lists were consulted and gifts were purchased, but why not use the excuse to knit up some sweet little caps?
This was my first time to try any of the Sublime yarns and I was not disappointed. I liked this yarn and I loved the soft color. I was quite tickled that the shade was named Gooseberry.
I thought I remembered hearing something on the radio recently about Chinese Gooseberries.
Sure enough that is the real name for the kiwi! It seems that New Zealand claimed it and renamed it something they considered more marketable.
And you thought you wouldn't learn anything here!
*Susan's lovely pattern had a wonderful spiral of eyelets leading down and around from the top star and involved only moving the beginning of round marker one stitch. Apparently this was WAY too much for my gooseberry brain and I lost a stitch the first round. 'eh, who cares' I thought and went with plain stockinette. The recipient will never know!

Friday, July 11, 2008

No Sweater Necessary

Whew! Hot, humid, and hazy. That's pretty much a standard weather forecast for these parts in July and August. It's hard to be too energetic sometimes in the face of such heat. So much easier to sit in an air-conditioned room and knit something lightweight.

So why am I thinking of sweaters? Well, Mary and I have been batting ideas back and forth for some time. We've been thinking about maybe, someday actually knitting one. Someday being a vague point in the future.

In my cyber wanderings this evening, I ran across a baby sweater on the Berroco website.

I really don't think a baby sweater would qualify, but it might be a good practice tool. And who couldn't use an emergency baby gift? Just yesterday I had to brave Babies R Us and purchase gifts for a double baby shower that is coming up soon.

This free pattern caught my eye. This is listed as one of their top-10 free patterns. It also calls for their Comfort DK yarn. If you'll recall I had a roller coaster experience with this yarn earlier, but it would be an economical test.
All of this is just the idle ramblings of a heat-crazed knitter. Don't be the least bit surprised if you never hear about this from me again.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The weekend in which I channel both Tasha Tudor and Bozo the Clown

3-day weekend! Are there sweeter words in the English language? It has been a very relaxing time around the cul-de-sac. Some knitting, some sewing, some reading, a little movie watching.

Saturday Mother and I met for breakfast and then visited a couple of quilt shops. I came away with one fat quarter. I think it caught my eye both for the color and because it had line drawings of women down the columns. See it closer here [or click to enlarge picture]. I knew I wanted to make it into a drawstring bag and having the extra day gave me just enough time to do it.

As I was working on it, I realized that I must have been heavily influenced throughout by all the reading I've been doing lately about Tasha Tudor. I've always loved her books and illustrations.

You may already know that Tasha, who died at 92 years old late last month, lived as though it was the 19th century and not the 21st.

On the knitting front, the Jojo wrap continues. This will be a long slog I imagine.
I'm still not sure how I feel about it. In fact, after reading about the recent death of Bozo the Clown, I've taken to calling it Bozo sometimes instead of Jojo!
That's a LOT of color all at once. I may be knitting a clown shawl!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What? No alpaca?

I'm way off the beaten path here. First of all I'm knitting from a pattern not written by Evelyn A. Clark (shocking, isn't it?!) and secondly the yarn is not Misti Alpaca.

In a weak moment I bought some not-solid-color yarn. I may live to regret it. I certainly did with the Angel Lace shawl. This will be another knit where I make extreme judgements every other row. I love it. I hate it. It's OK.

It's a long way until I reach that pinky red patch. I have no idea what that will make me think.
I thought I had best stick with a very simple pattern for this Jojoland Harmony yarn and I picked Easy Lace Scarves and Wrap (AC-87).
There are only three right-side rows to this so I needed a simple way to keep track of my place and I didn't really want to carry the pattern around with me. Mary suggested I use an index card and paper clip. Great idea. Thanks, Mary.

I had been using my favorite rubber ring stitch markers and the KnitPicks Options needle. I've found it much faster going since I've switched back to the bamboo needle and the ridgid Clover markers.