Tuesday, August 31, 2010

M is for

[Did you think I had abandoned the ABC-along? What can I say? It has been a long, HOT summer.]

Way back in the 'L' post on the library, I mentioned that we would be seeing the building which housed the library prior to its present location when we got to 'M'.

So here it is. M is for Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art; now putting the art in martinis apparently. I have many fond memories of this building both as the library and from the summer art camps my child attended.

It is a beautiful 1910 Classical Revival building celebrating its 100th year serving the square this year. We'll see it yet again later in the alphabet.

M is also for Mayor. Marietta's Mayor, Steve "Thunder" Tumlin is one of the attorneys in the law firm where I work. You know you're in the South when the Mayor has a nickname in quotes as part of his name! Steve is definitely a people person, loves Marietta, and is a dedicated public servant (usually with a big smile and friendly hello).

And M is also for monument.

This monument to Alexander Stephens Clay today stands on the west side of the square. Clay was a U.S. Senator from 1896-1910 and died while holding that office.

The unveiling of the monument took place on the square in August 1912 as shown in this archival photo.

Looks like a mighty good turnout!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Charmed, I'm sure

A couple of weeks ago, Paula, who produces the Knitting Pipeline podcast, announced a giveaway of three different colorways of handpainted laceweight yarns that she had purchased from Lilith at Old Maiden Aunt on a trip to West Kilbride, Scotland [Paula's blog post about the visit/purchase here].

She drew names of three listeners from those who left comments and I was lucky enough to be chosen. I must be living a charmed life!

Although I had left Paula some comments, I don't think I left one specifically about the yarn. I didn't want to be greedy. I do confess, however, to visiting the Old Maiden Aunt website and thinking about the yarn.....a lot.

I got to choose a color and, of course, I chose green. The color is actually named Bracken and has such perfect, oh-so-subtle shadings. There is 1300 yards of this yummy 2-ply yarn in a blend of 80% merino and 20% silk. Paula says she has learned that she doesn't care for knitting with such fine yarn.

Once I learned that the yarn was headed my way, I began a serious search for a pattern. I had, I thought, narrowed it down to a couple. Seeing all those extraordinary Estonian shawls obviously influenced my decision. The yarn arrived, I hand wound it into a lovely BIG cake, and cast on immediately for a Nancy Bush pattern from Interweave Knits Spring 2010 she named Facing Lilies Stole [bonus photos at that link]

The lily of the valley motif appears frequently in Estonian shawls because it shows off so wonderfully their trademark nupps.

I love the small Lily of the Valley flowers, but sadly like all other plants, I have had no success in growing them. My mother-in-law had several plants in a rock garden and would sometimes pick a few for a tiny vase. Until I read about it (at that Wikipedia link), I had no idea that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Yikes.

But the article goes on to say that in the Language of Flowers Lily of the Valley signifies the return of happiness Well! That is Good News!

If you like to listen to podcasts and haven't listened to Paula's yet, do give it a try. She does a great job and has interesting segments. I always learn something on her podcasts; often something not even related to knitting.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Estonian shawls

It's fair to say that my favorite and most used knitting book is Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. I love all the patterns in it and it is easy enough to make slight modifications to the patterns to suit your yarn or design tastes.

The Ravelry group for this book has 1815 members (currently) and I love to look through all the projects. SUCH beautiful things being created and posted all the time over there.

In fact that's how I happened upon a blog and learned that August 23 was Haapsalu Shawl Day 2010. Can you imagine how fantastic that was?!

Do you have 4.28 minutes to watch a Haapsalu Shawl Waltz? OH, my! Such lovely work.

Or visit this blog and watch the not-too-long slideshow to see one knitter's beautiful, traditional Estonian shawls. As a bonus you get a glimpse of Haapsalu in the bargain.

Monday, August 23, 2010

W W M M K ?

The latest issue of "Piecework" arrived today. That would make it a Red Letter day around here even if they didn't print the name in Red Letters!

I've only had time to quickly page through it, but it is another wonderful issue (of course!).

The theme is discovering needlework in literature and you can see the cover asks "What Would Miss Marple Knit?"*

It includes an article about knitting gloves as depicted in the play "Dancing at Lughnasa" set in County Donegal, Ireland in 1936 and loosely based on the playwright's family.

In November 2004, my daughter played the character of Agnes Mundy in a college production of the play and thanked me in the program for being the pinch knitter.

She asked me to knit a pair of gloves to be used in the production and to teach her to knit in the round (which she went on to do while delivering lines).

I had never knit gloves and hadn't been knitting all that long, but it seemed like a good idea. Once again, Interweave came to the rescue. The Winter 2003 issue of Knits magazine had a comprehensive article on basic glove knitting. [available in the CD collection if you're interested.]

The set of 5 dpns used by the actress playing Rose came back to me as a set of 4. I still use them and they always remind me of that play.

Agnes and her sister Rose knit mittens to earn money for the family. It is a hard life depicted and the students gave such a remarkable performance that I found it somewhat difficult to experience, especially the sad outcome for the character Agnes. It felt like it was actually happening but to my real daughter.

*WWMMK? A shawl, naturally! A knitted square shawl pattern reprinted from Weldon's Practical Needlework Shawls in Knitting and Crochet from 1930 accompanies the article.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Pattern: Citron by Hilary Smith Callis
free at Knitty
Yarn: Plymouth Baby Alpaca Lace color 402 gray
437 yds/50 gr - a bit less than a full skein

Needles: size 4 KnitPicks Options; 32" cable

According to wikipedia, a bertha collar is a wide, flat, round collar, often of lace or sheer fabric, worn with a low neckline in the Victorian era and resurrected in the 1940s.

You can see a lovely lace one here and another lovely lace one here. One in Carrickmacross lace here with sweet shamrocks. Too expensive? Here's a less expensive machine-made one. One in Burano lace for Mary.
While this 100% baby alpaca was lovely and soft to work with, I think a smooth merino lace in a bright, happy color would work better for this simple pattern - at least for me.
To block this, I just soaked the finished piece as usual for about 20 minutes. I pinned out the top straight edge and gently patted out the semicircle. I didn't want to flatten any of the gathered sections or the edge ruffle.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

As the needle of the compass

The latest Victoria magazine arrived today and I immediately thought of Mary.

For two people who have never met in person, Mary and I carry on a very regular correspondence and one commonality we discovered early on was our love of Victoria magazine.

I didn't wait long to tear off the plastic covering when I found the new issue in the mailbox. I am ready for a look at autumn and tweeds and tartans. Bring it on. I'll close the blinds against this relentless summer sun and heat and hear instead the ripple of a stream in the Lake District and catch a glimpse of sheep in the shade of an old tree at Hill Top.

I was delighted to also discover within a two-page article "As One Grace To Another" by Claire Whitcomb detailing the three-decades-long correspondence between two needlewomen, Grace Medinus of Chicago, IL and First Lady Grace Coolidge. How coincidental that the article opens on August 18 - but in 1930. Here I am exactly 80 years later reading the opening of a letter Mrs. Coolidge wrote to a woman she had yet to meet. The passage quoted from the letter concerns geraniums, but the two women frequently discuss their needlework. Sound familiar Mary?

"Will you tell me the material you are using? I like it better than mine because it is softer."

Naturally as soon as I finished reading that I had to go pull out my July/August 1999 "Piecework". (Oh, how I love my Pieceworks!)

According to Mrs. Coolidge, "Every girl should be taught to sew, not merely for the sake of of making something but as an accomplishment which may prove a stabilizer in time of perplexity or distress. Many a time when I have needed to hold myself firmly, I have taken my needle, it might be a sewing needle, some knitting needles, or a crochet hook; whatever its form or purpose it often proved to be as the needle of the compass, keeping me to the course."

After the death of their sixteen-year-old son, Calvin Jr., in 1924 (blood poisoning from an infected blister made after playing tennis on the White House lawn), Mrs. Coolidge undertook a large project. She designed and made a filet crochet coverlet for the Lincoln bed, experimenting and working it bit by bit until she was happy with her work, completing it in 1927.

The next year the other Grace, Grace Medinus, duplicated the coverlet and, with Mrs. Coolidge's assistance, wrote out the instructions for publication in the New York Herald Tribune.

The two Graces finally met in 1937, twenty years before Mrs. Coolidge's death in 1957 at the age of 78.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Got an alpaca on my back - almost

I have learned a lesson. [The question remains, can I remember it?] The lesson is "choose a project wisely". Before I jump into a project just because the yarn is In The House, I should stop and consider - for even a moment maybe - if the project fits me.

If there is one thing I know about myself it is that I like pattern, repeating pattern. Love charts.

Is there a chart in Citron? Nope. And the only repeating pattern is plain stockinette alternated with gathered stockinette. I'm not sure that even qualifies as pattern. It is more design, I think.

The good news is that I think I will have enough yarn and the way my little hand-wound ball is holding up amuses me. I'm working back on my last purl row. Then I only need knit the 540-st row and then bind off. So far I haven't even started crying with the thought of it.

Oh, and that picture? It's the wrong side. I don't know but what I don't like it as well as the right side. Now that I'm nearing the end, I need to start thinking about NEXT. I'm going to try to not rush into anything.

Don't let my negativity set you against this pattern. There are some lovely ones over at Flickr: here and here for instance.

And since it is Monday, historically Wash Day, I thought you might like to look at some lovely pictures from the other side of the world that just happen to all have laundry in them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mary.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Keep on keeping on

I may be knitting a rat's nest.

I've been filled with doubts throughout this project. I don' t think this alpaca yarn is just the right match for this project. I have one more tier - 13,170 stitches if I calculated correctly - to go then I'm hoping the magic of blocking will help.

It's pictured here with string du jour. I went out today to look at beads but didn't find any that I liked for the edge so I'm going to do a regular non-beaded bind off. I did find Lizbeth thread on sale and bought this ball of lovely light leaf green. It is a match to the last ball I bought and can maybe stand in for the ball of black that has gone A.W.O.L.

Today while I walked I listened to another episode of The Knitting Pipeline. Very timely for me, Paula talked about perseverance. I've had to really persevere this HOT summer to keep walking. I've missed some days, but I've walked many days when I'd much rather have been inside out of the heat and humidity.

So I'll persevere with this Citron. Maybe it will be a happy surprise. Fingers crossed.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Sugar, ah honey honey
You are my candy girl
And you've got me wanting you.
Honey, ah sugar sugar
You are my candy girl
And you've got me wanting you.

Pattern: Little Girl's Shrug
by Knitting Pure & Simple #288

Yarn: Aslan Trends Santa Fe
Color #1332 - Pink Mist
85% merino/15% polyamide - 180 yds/50 gr.
about 160 or so used

Needle: Size 4 - circular and dpns

Back in May, browsing an Atlanta yarn shop, I saw this little shrug knit up for a shop sample. Man! Those shop samples! They really know how to get you, don't they? I loved it, but had no need for the pattern. Still it is rather hard to forget those shop samples! Once I learned a coworker was expecting a new granddaughter in November, it was time to spring into action.

I asked my almost-LYS to order the pattern. The pattern is sized for dk or light worsted weight yarn to be knit on size 7 needles to make size 18-mo. to size 10. The baby will be a sister of twin boys (all boy boys) born about four years ago. I knew I wanted a Serious Pink (can pink be serious??) and machine washable. I also wanted to try a finer yarn and smaller needle to try to get a newborn size.

Luckily the shop had one lone skein of this perfect pink in the Aslan Trends Santa Fe; a machine-washable sock yarn in a color they insist on calling Pink Mist when you and I know it is really Bubblegum. Just what I had imagined. The yarn was lovely and a treat to knit. Very soft. I'm sure it would make nice, soft socks.

The pattern photo shows it with a ribbed hem but gives alternate directions (and chart!) for a lacy edge. Well you know I had to knit the lacy edge.

It is so cute I can hardly stand it. I really need a tambourine to play while I dance around with it singing The Archies tune.

Want to see the back? Are you singing yet? [click to make it bigger while you sing]

What an EASY pattern and easily adapted to the small size. I can also see lengthening it and the sleeves, too maybe.

My candy girl. I'm glad I can keep it a few more months.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A promise of Fall

Hot again today and tomorrow's forecast is for a bit hotter. But apparently fall is coming - at least to Colorado. Interweave KNITS, the fall issue, hit the newsstands yesterday. I finally made it by and bought mine today.

There are several great articles in this issue. Clara Parkes celebrates the 100th birthday of Elizabeth Zimmermann and Deborah Newton profiles knitting legend Barbara Walker.

I know! BOTH in the same issue. It kind of makes up for there being no Nancy Bush pattern.

I am at least reading garment patterns more closely now. I'm still not quite ready to try one, but this cover pattern by Angela Hahn really caught my eye. It also calls for the elusive (at least for me) Louet MerLin yarn, a blend of merino and linen. I so loved knitting with that yarn.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Perfect Neutral?

According to this website, gray is seen as long-lasting, classic, and often sleek and refined. I'm sure I could have just as easily listed the negative descriptions for gray, but let's try to put a positive spin on this this, shall we?

I had this hank of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Lace - 437 yards [color 402, I think]. I bought it some time ago. The ball band and receipt have wandered off, but I remembered buying it because it was only $8. One reason is as good as another, I suppose. Today while trying to come up with some use for it, I decided to try it out for Citron. Over 4000 have already been posted on Ravelry and most knitters reported it to be fast and give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Citron calls for 470 yards so I'm short already. But I'm not trying for a shawl size. I'm hoping, if it works out, to have a little something to wrap around the neck (as impossible as that is to contemplate during this severe heat wave!).

The beginning looks pretty bland, but is pictured here with a MIRACLE. A plant bought earlier in the year is blooming again! Most of my plants die shortly after arriving here and the ones that do manage to survive, immediately quit blooming.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A sock is born

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

some serious sideburns in this video!

Lovin' Spoonful 1966