Friday, December 29, 2006

Knit, Knit, Knit

It's that in between the holidays time and I'm still knitting like crazy to finish Christmas presents. I cast-off mother's Kiri shawl late Wednesday night. I deliberately knit several more pattern repeats in order to make this Kiri a bit larger than my 1st one. Using double stranded Alpaca Cloud helped it be a bit more substantial as well. I haven't blocked her yet since my sister and her family arrived yesterday to spend New Year's with the "grandparents" and Aunt Kristina :-) They occupy all my blocking spaces in the house, so the task (and the pictures) will have to wait.

Now that my sister is here, I needed to put the finishing touches on her Fetching fingerless gloves. I knit the last thumb and sewed in the ends while we chatted after the kids opened their presents. I can't believe how tall Mark Thomas and Victoria have gotten in only 6 short months. Mark had just passed me at 5'4" in July and he's passing Julia (aka Mom) now at 5'8+". But he's also in size 11 shoes and he just turned 12 last week. Yikes! Victoria is 7.5 yo and is shooting up like her brother. It won't be too many years and I'll be reclaiming my title as shortest person in the family.

So anyway, I tossed the 1st mitt over to Julia while I finished the 2nd one. her hands were icy as usual so she put it on right away. She said she tried wearing athletic wristbands after we chatted about this idea, but they were too tight and uncomfortable. But it wasn't 15 minutes and she was commenting on how her hand was warmer already and the Fetching mitts were just perfect for when she's at the computer at work. Yippee! She didn't even mind my color choice of charcoal gray. I told her I was trying to be practical about how grungy they might get with extended use. I guess I'll have to knit another pair so she has one for the office and another for home. That's simple since they are such a fast knit:-)

Now I'm on to daddy's socks--my last gift knit. I measured his foot and am making up the pattern as I go. The subtle tweedy variegation in the Trekking XXL yarn is helping me minimize boredom, which is a good thing since I'm using size 1 (2.5mm) dpns and a 72 st count (yawn, yawn). After consulting with our local sock expert/celebrity Judy Sumner (KnoxSox Designs) I decided to do the cuff in a broken rib pattern. It was a very good choice. I just finished the last row on the heel flap and am ready to turn the heel. Picking up the gusset stitches should be interesting. I may have to switch over to my trusty Crystal Palace bamboo needles for the task as I've been using the new Knit Picks dpns which have a finish similar to Addi-turbos. They are super slickery (one of my mom's favorite invented words) which has been both wonderful and, at times, challenging in this project. These needles are not for the faint of heart sock knitter for sure!

I need to get daddy's socks done so I can move on to the 3 KALS I've signed up for. The first is the Branched Fern Socks KAL initiated by one of my Lace Knitters pals. She designed this great lacy sock pattern so a bunch of us are going to join together and knit ourselves a pair. Oh boy!

Next is the Hidcote Garden Shawl KAL. I've been granted special entrance to this one, but am ineligible for the prizes since I started knitting my shawl back in November. For this one I'm using Richard's ColourMart 2/28 laceweight cashmere in aquamarine--a beautiful dusty aqua blue. After swatching I chose to use US 5 (3.75mm) Addis for this project. Right now I'm on chart 5, row 19 of the pattern which is almost to the end of the first section. The pattern is extremely well charted and is very easy to follow so even newbie lace shawl knitters will be able to keep their place. I've knit a ton of cdd's at this point and am ready to move on to the next stitch sequence :-) I didn't have that luxury when I was crazy tired of knitting on Kiri!

And the last group I jumped into in the Victorian Lace Today KAL. I'll be lurking there initially until I decide which project to knit 1st out of this amazing new book. Of course the EZasPi group is starting a gansey workshop, but there I'll be learning technique and history and knitting little things. I'm not planning on knitting a full-blown gansey sweater just yet. The way things are going, It won't be cold enough around here this year for me to wear it. Heck, I've got daffodils shooting up like rockets in my garden and the earliest bloomers already have buds. This is 3 weeks earlier than ever before! Daffodils in December... Sheesh!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

There's no place like home

It's good to be back home again after an extended absence. I'm talking about accessing the internet from my desktop computer at home of course, something I haven't been able to do since our wireless router died sometime last summer. I replaced the router and got the upstairs computer back up without a hitch but nothing I tried worked when it came to my own computer. I tried all the little things the online help said to do, but none of it worked and I was frustrated and just plain old grumpy about the whole thing. My previous experiences with tech support services over the phone have been awful, mostly because American companies keep outsourcing tech support to places like India where they speak a different kind of English language. You know, the kind that can't be understood and you spend and hour just repeating "I'm sorry, I can't understand what you're saying" and playing a-b-c-1-2-3 with every letter and number in the hopes they'll finally get it. Sheesh! But after 2 hours on the phone with tech support (still with foreign accents, but I think they may have at least been on American soil) I have finally managed to get everything together to successfully reconnect with the web "in my own little corner in my own little chair." Hallelujah!

It's pretty hard to blog from someone else's computer so I have some catching up to do. The up side is I spent a fairly good amount of the time I wasn't surfing either in my garden or knitting. I got lots of lace knit and my garden received Yard of the Month from the neighborhood. How cool is that? I was *so* surprised! Right now I'm madly working on Christmas presents so stay tuned!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Finished another Lace Shawl

I've had internet access problems on my own computer, so I haven't taken the time to update my blog. But I have been finishing knitting projects lately and I need to tell you all about them! I'll try to get some pictures posted soon, but here's the scoop:

Mystery Stole 2: I cast off last night! I knit the body of the stole right on schedule with the KAL--about 6 weeks--but I got derailed on the edging. I've decided I don't love knitting edgings that are perpendicular to the shawl. Oh I think they're really pretty and all that, but the shorter rows, frequent turning, and etc is cumbersome at best and is generally a hassle. So this one sat in a basket lacking the edging on one side for a couple of months until I decided to empty my UFO basket and get things finished. Actually, it's mostly becasue it is now cold enough and I want to *wear* my lace pretties :-) I dressed the stole out this afternoon and it is really a striking piece!

The final facts: Yarn-KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud, Color-Tide Pool, approx. 950-1000 yds., Addi-turbo needles size US 3 (3.25mm), Blocked dimension- 18" x 84" (72" length of body of stole plus 6" on each side for edging). Comments: This was a great design and fairly pleasant to knit, an intermediate level lace pattern; you do need to count like crazy and concentrate on the charts. I would knit this one again. Thanks Melanie (pinklemonknits)!

Ostrich Plumes Scarf: I finished this scarf back in September I think, although it was a few weeks before I got up the courage to block it. I used only pins for the blocking so the edges were a bit dimpled. I need to get some blocking wires! Then I reblock it and the scarf will look even better. As it is it already looks pretty darn wonderful so I can't complain. It took me awhile to memorize the pattern, mostly because I kept wanting to knit the pattern on every other row instead of every 4th row. I do love the ostrich plumes lace motif though and will definitely knit it again in either a scarf or a shawl (or both!).

The final facts: Yarn- Rowan Kid Silk Haze, Color-Candy Girl (a bright, deep raspberry pink), approx. 1.5 balls (~375-400 yds.), Addi-turbo needles size US 6 (4mm), Blocked dimension - . Comments: My 1st KSH project (I'm crazy in love with this yarn), After blocking the ostrich was *very* lacy. I think size 4 (3.5mm) needles would have looked better.

Branching Out Scarf: This is the infamous pattern from that many suggest as a good 1st lace project. I disagree. It's a nice design, but the "how many ways can you knit a 3 to 1 decrease in a single row" aspect of the design drove me bonkers. Yes, it was essential to the look of the branching, but it was a PITA to knit (esp the k3tog). It was such a PITA that it took me 7 or 8 months to find the courage to pick up this UFO and finish it.

The facts: Yarn- Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, Color-Bright turquoise, 1 skein (the whole skein!), Size 6 needles (I tried them all- Addis, Bamboo, BaleneII, Bates--none of them improved this knitting experience). I haven't blocked it yet, but it's approx. 9"x66". Comments: Never again. Not the pattern and not the yarn. NOT NOT NOT!

Sock Memories Socks: This was my brainless portable sock project. Just plain mostly stockinette knitting out of a royal blue, raspberry pink, bubblegum pink, and purple color mishmash. But they fit perfect (56 sts. on 2.75mm dpns) and I love how soft and yummy this KnitPicks yarn is. Too bad it's not superwash. I've already cast-on for the next pair (purples, blues, and yellow) as it's time to wear those warm wooly handknit socks! Yum :-)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Still here, still knitting

I know it's been almost 2 months since I last updated my blog, but I'm still here and I'm still knitting! I've had troubles with my wireless internet connection and frankly, I've been too lazy to fool with fixing it. Oh I've done a few things, but it's still not working. I am about to the point where it's starting to bug me though, so this shall be remedied soon. Then I'll be ready to add pictures and all that jazz.

While I've been offline I have kept up a steady pace of knitting. Let's see, I finished a nice pair of cotton blend anklets in shades of aqua, green, and yellow. I like the idea of cotton socks, but I prefer the wool yarns for knitting as they have so much more *spring* in them, hence the fit is superior. I also finished test knitting a scarf pattern for someone on the Knitlist who gave a shout out for some help. The actual design of the scarf was pretty much OK (it was a well-known lace pattern) and the chart was fine, but I didn't like some of the finishing recommendations or how the pattern was written in general. I started to write out all the things I though should be corrected, then decided hey, isn't that what they pay editors to do???? Since the designer hasn't contacted me at all since sending me the pattern, I figured I would save myself the grief. If she *really* wants input, she can contact me and I'll tell her. Thanks to Loops, my new LYS that carries several great lace yarns, I knit the scarf in a luscious raspberry colored Rowan's Kidsilk Haze. I made a zillion mistakes while knitting it since I kept forgetting that every other right side row was just a plain knit row, not a patterned one. Tink, tink, tink. It's an honest error when one is knitting a stole at the same time where every right side row is knit in pattern.

And speaking of the stole, I've also been knitting with Melanie's Mystery Stole 2 KAL. For this one I used KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud in the Tide Pool colorway. The stole has a mix of paisley and diamond geometric elements and it's quite lovely in my chosen yarn. The 6th and final clue will be posted in the morning so I'll have this one finished sometime next week. That gives me a couple of weeks to spare before the next EZasPi KAL starts in September. I've got a simple pair of socks OTN at the moment for my brainless/portable knitting project and I bought some delicious alpaca laceweight yarn (Alpaca witha Twist's Fino in a rich mulberry shade) at Loops to knit the Shetland Tea Shawl from Meg Swansen's "A Gathering of Lace." I also bought some new Regia Superwash Merino & Silk blend sock yarn at the Knit n Purl. I've been wanting a solid color sock yarn to knit a fancy pair of lace socks out of. The brand new yarn feels heavenly! I'm still considering patterns, though, so I haven't started knitting these socks yet.

I've had a migraine for 3 days now. I tried casting on for the Shetland Tea Shawl last night, but I couldn't do it. OK, a circular cast-on isn't the easiest thing to do, but honestly I am capable. That's when I knew my headache was *really* bad (as if I didn't already know that from the pain LOL). I gave up, took drugs, and went to bed at 8:00 PM. The migraine is still here today, but it's a little better. That's good because I *had* to go to campus today and fill out the application form so I can graduate this semester (if the Good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise--again!). I rewarded my courage with a brief stop at Lilly's Bead Box for some pearls and Swarovski crystals. Then I hit Loops with the intent of getting some more Kidsilk Haze. She has a yummy shade of dusty aquamarine KSH that I love, but then I saw this multicolor Madil Kid Seta that just took my breath away. the Kid Seta was a couple of dollars less per ball, so I bought 3 thinking I might just try it out in another Kiri shawl (which calls for KSH). The Kid Seta is basically the same weight and texture as the KSH and the melange of apple green, royal, fuschia, purple, and teal will mix and match with tons of things in my closet. Besides, I need a quickie project to knit before the next KAL gets going, right???? ROTFLOL Knit on!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's a Monster!!!

My 60" Addi circular arrived in the mail from KnitPicks on Tuesday and I resumed work on the pi shawl. At 1152 sts., about 1400 yds, and at least 60" not stretched out, this thing is a MONSTER!!! I pretty much have to work on it inside under the influence of air-conditioning (and diet coke) because it's too big and too warm to knit on it outside. I couldn't even lay the shawl out flat when I had both the 32" and the 60" needles in place during the transition/doubling process. Well, I said I wanted it to be big (just in case I never endure something like this again) and BIG it is! ROTFLOL

I've been keeping up with all my groups and email, but I haven't really been able to post this wek since I got bit by the unsavory, worm laden, email that attacked yahoo on monday. I had just opened a yahoo email account 2 days before the attack and the only people on my address list were my yahoo groups, which was fortunate in that they were the only ones that got the ugly mail sent from some lesbian source in my behalf. Of course the unsavory character that sent it was taking advantage of a loophole in the "new & improved" yahoo stuff that was implemented last week. Yup, that's progress for you! And most of the folks in my groups all hate the changes. Personally, I'm neutral at this point as to the improvements but I hate that I was attacked by the worm even though I never opened the email. I just trashed it and reported it as spam from the get go. The only good thing was that it didn't get to my other email accounts and I don't think it ever infected my computer. I'm sick to death of running scans for virii, adware, & spyware. The reality is, none of them are worth a hill of beans until after a worm like that is unleased on you. Then they can go write a program to fix the problem or prevent it from getting someone else in the future, but if you are in the targeted group, you are just SOL. period.

I've signed up for another lace KAL which starts in July. Melanie at pinklemontwist is offering another mystery stole along. Since I didn't knit lace last summer when she did the 1st KAL--Leda's Dream--this will be another new adventure for me. Oh boy! Better yet, I will be done with the pi shawl so I don't have to feel guilty about creating more ufos/wips. I finished one wip while I was waiting for my 60" needle, the Holly's Socks knit in KnitPicks merino. I'm still not in love with knitting fancy patterns into my socks, but this was only my 1st time doing it so hopefully it will grow on me. For now it only seems to increase the amount of time it takes to knit a pair of socks. My previous attempts all resulted in socks that were too big, either a little bit big or really big, but my holly's socks fit snuggly. I haven't washed them yet, but I think I probably want just a smidge more room for my feet. The best part is I now have the perfect match of sock yarn, needle size, and stitch count to achieve that perfect fit. It does take a little trial and error to get to this point. Somehow all the math in the world just doesn't quite do it.

I've also pulled the N Wiseman Shawl out of the ufo basket and started to knit on it again. For now, this is my portable project as the pi shawl is too big to be portable. However, with all the experince I've gained knitting the pi, I am more comfortable with this shawl and the Zephyr yarn. Zephyr is a 50/50 blend of wool and tussah silk and it is one of the most popular laceweight yarns out there. The price is reasonable and the yarn comes in a zillion colors, both solid and hand-dyed multicolors, and it does have a nice touch of a sheen to it. But the yarn is not a stretchy and elastic as the merino I've used or as supersoft as the baby alpaca or kid mohair I've knit previously. I just didn't love the feel of the yarn at first and the zephyr was finer than the other things I'd used. But I've adjusted to fine threads from using the gossamer and now the zephyr doesn't feel so foreign to my fingers.

Many folks will be using zephyr for the mystery stole, but I'm still debating what I want to do. I just got a bunch of natural merino laceweight from KnitPicks. I love the natural cream color although most folks buy this stuff to custom dye their own yarns. Then there's the 2 cones I bought from Colourmart. Melanie say it's not a wide stole and you can't alter the pattern to make it wider so if you want a more substatial stole you should knit it in a fingering weight yarn. I could double the dusty aqua cashmere which will make it about a fingering weight, but then I would have only 1150 yds and that might be just a tad shortof the 1200 recommended for the project. Running out of yarn on the border would be awful and I can't get more, so I probably won't do it. I have some alpaca cloud in "tide pool" which would knit up very nicely. The bonus is this color matches my new Coldwater Creek trousers perfectly, so I have a great wardrobe option from the start. Hmmmm...this sounds good. Decisions, decisions, decisions!!!!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yee-Haw! Clue 4 is Done

Yee-Haw! I finally finished knitting the Clue 4 section of my pi shawl. Yup, all 96 blessed rows of the durn thang! Yes, it's beautiful, but I am half batty. I would have jumped up and down swinging my arms wildly in jubilation but 1) I have *so* much pain in my right shoulder and arm right now I could cry--swinging is out, and 2) I ain't done yet. Nope, gotta double those stitches to a ridiculous 1152 and starting bleeding--uh, start knitting the bleeding heart border that is. But that will have to wait until my care package from Knit Picks arrives with a 60" Addi circular needle in it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever need a needle that long, but it was a snug (for me) fit to knit 576 sts on 32" and nothing short of 60" will handle this monster. I finished my 3rd ball of yarn on row 93 so it's taken about 1400 yds to knit the main portion of the shawl. Another yikes! I have 2 more skeins so I know I have enough to finish the border to my satisfaction.

I picked up some ufo socks (Holly's Socks) to knit on this afternoon. It's too warm to wear them right now, but I'd like to get them finished and off the needles. I still have the leaf shawl in coral Zephyr left to finish, but it's not talking to me at the moment. I could cast-on for the ostrich plumes scarf I promised to test knit for someone on the knitlist who hopes to publish the pattern. The glitch is she hasn't gotten the yarn or a commitment from the supplier that she hopes to use and frankly, I don't want to waste my time knitting it up in something else that may not meet her needs in the long run. The pattern is OK, basically a standard lace pattern with a simple selvedge edge on each side. It's knit in 2 pieces and grafted together at the center back, so it should be good for a newbie lace knitter. I have some fingering wt mohair that might work nicely and it's just enough for the project. I hate to dip into some of my lacewt stuff that is enough for a shawl to do a scarf. or I could use some of the leftover cashmerino from the Kiri shawl. That might be really nice too. Hmmmm.

I signed up for another mystery KAL that starts in July. I should have the pi shawl finished by then (please!!!!) so the timing is good. I missed out on the Amazing Lace Race KAL that I wanted to do, but my priority was to finish the pi so I wasn't able to meet the time frame. Ah, so many projects, so little time & energy & yarn. After all, there *is* more to life than knitting. Yup, like gardening. It was hot a dry today and I hauled the hose around twice today. But I have lots of baby tomatoes growing and my veggie box is progressing. My new hydrangeas are just starting to bloom (a big bluebird lacecap in a pot and 2 little forever pinks outside my window). The front bed is bursting out with daisies and the new transplants in the rose garden are making it despite the lack of rain. The liatris is also on the verge of blooming in the rose garden despite the bunnies nibbling on the leaves at night. Yup, I had to do another chili powder treatment yesterday to discourage the little critters. I love 'em but I want them to eat other things.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Aztec Pearl Verbena

I've never planted verbena before, but this lovely blush pink color of this hybrid along with the mounding trailing habit of this plant made it an excellent choice for a ground cover in the rose garden. The more I can cover with plant material, the less space there will be for the weeds which plague this bed. I set out 5 plants around the border of the bed and I hope they do well. Despite the fact they were on the "scratch and dent" half price table, they were beautiful plants ( I think they just weren't selling so they got moved out). I almost wish I had purchased a couple of more of them, but they aren't cold hardy and I hate to pay out too much $$$ for annuals. Posted by Picasa

Landmark Peach Sunrise Lantana

This is another new hybrid, Landmark Peach Sunrise Lantana. This one is a very soft blush pink and butter yellow combination-one of my favorites! I planted 2 in the rose garden but I may try to add at least one more as it is so pretty! This should do a wonderful job of hiding the bare ankles of my floribunda roses. Posted by Picasa

Miss Emme Inspects the Flowers

This is one of the new Lantana hybrids I planted this year, Lantana camara 'Christine'. I adore Lantana because it grows into a huge, sprawling bush 2.5-3 ft tall and attacts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds like mad! I've planted confetti lantana in the past, but I like the bright magenta to yellow colorway of this one even better. If I'm lucky and the winter is mild (as they have been recently), the lantana will come back again next year in late June or July. They sell it as an annual here (zone 6), but it's a perennial further south. Posted by Picasa

Pi Psychosis

I think I have have lost my mind. I have been knitting away at this same lace pattern for so long now I have reached a zombie-like state. Is this pi psychosis???? I just started the 1st row of the last repeat of the trailing vine. I only have 11 more rows to go in the 96 row section and I am *so* looking forward to getting this over and done with. I can't tell you how tempted I was to cheat and skip the last repeat, but I didn't. Besides, I need a bigger Addi to do the border. I ordered a 60" from Knitpicks last weekend and it won't get here until Saturday at the earliest so it's not like I can go on anyway. I'm just eager to be finished. Mom was sitting out on the deck with me tonight while I was knitting and she asked me why I was torturing myself. ROTFLOL! Uh, because it's LACE! Then she asked me what I was going to do with it when I was done. Oh duh, Mom! Sometimes she has no vision at all. I told her I was going to wrap myself up it in this winter and be warm and cozy--that I was going to drape it over the back of a chair and stare at it and smile and say "I knit this! Wow!" And this from the woman who readily chimed in with the rest of my family to tease me about my lack of imagination and humor as a child (the attributes she and my sister possessed in abundance). Of course people in the real world all think I have a delightful sense of humor and am very imaginative & creative. Only in my family am I the fuddy duddy. Geez......

I have been having a good time scrolling through the ebay listings for patterns and yarns and such. I've purchased several promising issues of the Burda Anna magazine. The neatest one was a "buy it now" lot of 5 issues for about $7. The seller was promoting cross-stitch but when I emailed her I learned there was lace knitting too (as I suspected). I snatched that one up fast as I knew the seller had no clue how popular the lace content was and that folks were gladly paying $8-10/issue for the lace knitting. Groovy for me! I was watching several bids last night and I was *so* tempted to join in the fun but my June allowance is mostly spent and it's not even halfway into the month. I finally had to admit to myself that buying on ebay was addicting and that I needed to simply turn the computer off, walk away from the desk, and do something else. I have enough patterns, newly acquired ones at that, and lace yarn to keep me busy knitting for at least a couple of months. I think the pi psychosis was to blame in part for this crazed state of mind. LOL

My garden is doing quite nicely and I have most things pretty much planted and set for the summer. I have been pulling the overgrown pansies out of the rose garden and replacing them with lantana, verbena, and a few petunias. The lantana is a new hybrid called sunrise peach and it is my favorite shades of blush pinks and yellows--very soft and pretty. I found the verbena on the half-price table and decided it would be the perfect ground cover plant to help keep the weeds at bay. Its a hybrid called Aztec Pearl and the flowers are also a blush pink. They are a perfect border companion to the peach lantana I set in behind them. I filled in the otherwise barren little spots with small pony pack petunias (also 50% off). I would have chosen other things, but I needed to be budget conscious and the petunias will do fine. The only downside is getting *down* to keep them deadheaded-a must for standard petunias. But I deadhead all my wave petunias anyway, so it's not that big a deal. I just trot around the yarn with a little pail and some snips and deadhead every morning &/or evening, so adding a few more plants to the routine is NBD. It's what I do to destress--I deadhead plants. It's better than deadheading people I suppose ;-)

I'm still waiting to hear back from the IRB about my research proposal. Sandra hadn't heard anything as of Tuesday either, so I guess I'll just have to wait another week. If I don't hear back by next week, I'll email Dr. Hall and see where's she's at with the thing. I figure it's passed the College of Nursing committe by now and I'm only waiting on the University board to approve it. I'm anxious to get going on my study so I can get done! I am ready to graduate and move on with my life. Can you tell I'm very restless and bored today????

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Stash Enhancement

I have been on a stash enhancing binge the last couple of weeks. Oh boy it *is* fun! this binge got started when I learned that I could buy amazing cashmere yarn at ridiculously low prices. The catch--you have to join ebay and buy the yarn from Richard at Colourmart in the UK. I have sucessfully avoided/boycotted ebay for 8 years after having a horrible experience in my first ebay transaction. Many of my tatting friends assured me it was an unfortunate "bad seller" experience and encouraged me to try ebay again--after all, there's awesome stuff to be had on ebay. I refused to bite. I figured there wasn't anything I neede that bad, and besides, I am so poor I don't need to be tempted by ebay. And so I wasn't--until the cashmere lace yarn came into my life. I just had to have some--and so I bit!

Ah, the evil fruit of ebay. I scroll through the listings of yarn, and patterns, and tatting things, and I drool and lust and waste oodles of time. I bought that first cone of cashmere. Next came a cone of lambswool and angora in a bright bubblegum pink. Now that will dazzle the eyes once knitted LOL But this week I have gone crazy finding vintage lace pattern in Burda's Anna magazine-the premier German needlearts publication. I won bids for 2 lots of Anna (6 issues) from the 80's and I just went gaga as I thumbed through each issue. Now those are great magazines. Why can't Americans have such great designs? Those mags came from a lady in Montana who bought the inventory of a craft store that closed. OK, not so bad. But then last night I won another auction for 1 issue. It's coming from Germany and the text is in German! The other ones were in English. Oh, but there is an amazing lace knit tablecloth in this issue that was screaming out to me. Yikes!

I have promised myself to improve and not buy any more stuff on ebay for awhile. I have lots of new lace patterns to choose from. After all, I just bought myself the Kinzel 2nd book of modern lace knitting and Meg Swansen's a gathering of lace as a birthday present to myself. I have enough lace yarn to knit for the rest of the summer right? Well, uh, sure. But I needed to go to the Knit n Purl to get a size 9 Addi (32") and some fingering wt. baby yarn to knit some booties for Kasey's baby. And darn that Melissa if she hadn't just stuffed the 50% off corner with tons of discontinued yarns. I could have spent $100 quick if I had the money. To make it worse, she had new skeins of Helen's Lace yarn from Lorna's Laces in beautiful colors. I WANT, I WANT!!!

My quickie trip to the lys turned into almost 2 hours as I drooled and fondled and tried to make a wise decision. I ended up choosing a some exquisite fingering wt. cotton yarn from Filatura di Crosa, a fine Italian yarn company. I love their yarns, but they are normally cost prohibitive. This yarn is called Dolce Amore (sweet love) and the color is a variegated baby pastel palette of pink, yellow, blue, green, and white. It is sweet to touch-so smooth! At $3/200yd. ball, I bought all 11 balls (enough for another pi shawl). I want to knit some lace with cotton threads, so this yarn will be a nice transition. I can adjust to the feel of cotton before going down to fine threads. I figure I can pick up the Helen's Lace another time as it isn't as likely to sell out as the closeout yarns.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Daisy, Daisy

I love daisies. They are such a happy flower. Shasta daisies are a well-known and popular perennial, but they get up to 3 ft tall and tend to fall all over themselves. I was excited when I found a seed packet of dwarf shasta daisies 3 years ago. I sprinkeld them in a pot and by the end of summer I had 5 or 6 plants ready to transplant in the cool of the fall. Last spring I had to divide the plants and I had an enormous border of blooms all across the bed in front of the house. I planted more seeds and planned to spread the glory to the north fence beds. Sadly many of the front bed plants did not come back this spring. Maybe I deadheaded and cut them back too aggressively? Maybe they are short-lived perennials? I don't know, but I moved most of the new plants to the front and they happy blooms are back. And for good measure, I've got another planter box of seedlings coming up to replenish the beds if needed. Growing flowers from seed is a fun adventure! Posted by Picasa

Watch Out Pom Squad!

Yup, I've got the biggest purple pom poms in my rose garden! I planted giant allium for the first time last fall after seeing them in a catalog. A member of the onion family, they are 3 ft tall, have very strong stems and huge basilar leaves. They do not stink like onions! My niece is visiting for the week and she thinks the purple pom poms are really awesome! Posted by Picasa

Veronica 'Red Fox'

Here's a close-up view of this deep pink Veronica. I purchased some blue veronica this year after the success of these pink plants I set in last year. At about 1.5 feet tall, this is an excellent border plant. Posted by Picasa

Garden Update

Here's the latest out in the yard! Along the north fence are additions I planted last summer and are blooming for the first time. I'm smitten in love with the delicate spikes of Veronica 'Red Fox' (aka Speedwell) in the front. In the background is a huge cluster of Blue Hill Salvia. This is a great perennial but it sprawls out into a deceptively large ball so be sure you give this plant lots of room in the flower bed! In the middle is a fabulous new oriental lily called Lollipop. Unlike Stargazers, the Lollipop only grows to about 2 feet tall, but it is a joy to have in the garden. Posted by Picasa

It's supposed to be a girl

My step-niece is expecting her first baby in July. She's had plenty of ultrasounds and tells me the child is supposed to be a girl. A little visit 2 weeks ago was enough for me to figure out that she would really like something handknit from her great-aunt Kristina. So I hit the web and found this new pattern on the knitting forum. It's a simple top-down raglan cardigan. I'm using the suggested yarn, Bernat Baby Softee in a soft pink, and size 4 needles. After knitting lace the yarn feels fat and the stitches snug, but my gauge is spot on and the sweater is a really easy knit. I have a few more rows to go before putting the sleeves on waste yarn and knitting the bodice. The sleeves are finished on dpns so there are no seams to sew. That's very nice for the knitter and for the baby! Posted by Picasa

Pi Shawl Keeps Growing

This is the second section of clue 4. The 1st section was 24 rows of bumblebees (2 repeats at 12 rows each). Next up is the Norbury version of Traveling Vine, also knit in 12 row repeats. I'm at row 23 so that means I'm essentially half way through clue 4. Gee, only 49 rows left to go, then a doubling round and an edging. I'm really looking forward to finishing! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 20, 2006

My Mother's Day Present to Me!

I've always wanted to have fuschias, but I haven't been lucky with them before. Last year I bought a stressed plant that died, but his one is gorgeous so I'm optimistic this time. Keeping fingers crossed... Posted by Picasa

Pi Shawl through Clue 3

Get a look while she's off the needles for a frog session! I didn't like the tulips so I'm going for some bumblebees instead! Posted by Picasa

Moving on to Traveling Vine

I finished 24 rows of bumblees on my pi shawl yesterday and have moved on to my last pattern for the body of the shawl-Traveling Vine. One of the knitsters in the KAL mentioned some problems with the TV so I was leery to start. But as it turned out, her issues were not with the accuracy of the pattern but with the esthetic and her personal preferences. Nevertheless I decided to do some work before starting to knit as frogging 576 sts/row is not my idea of fun. I wrote out both the Norbury and the BWalker version of the pattern. The finished product is the same, but they wrote the patterns out differently. The Norbury was easiest to chart so I sketched it out and compared it to Mindy's variation. Basically Mindy stretched out the vine to make it a 16 row repeat rather than the 12 rows of the original pattern.

After some thought and knowing that I liked the look of the original pattern in the books, I decided to knit the Norbury rather than Mindy's version of TV. I'm not in the mood to deal with any more surprises at this point. I had planned to knit 16 rows of bees to mesh with Mindy's TV so I increased the bees to 24 rows to mesh with the Norbury. At the moment I'm on the 5th row and the transition between patterns is perfect! I am happy! Taking scans or pictures at this point is almost impossible, so you'll just have to wait until I'm done. I just printed off the 5th set of clues so I can think about which edging I want to knit next. Oh boy...the end is getting closer!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What color is this yarn?

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Ugly Yarn, Achy Body, Foul Mood

If you are reading this beyond the title, I commend you. Most folks would run like the dickens! But let's face it, icky days do happen and apparently so do icky yarns. Did you see my picture? I scanned this hank and posted it unedited. On my computer it looks just as it does in person--thanks to a brand new scanner that scans true to color (unlike my pervious scanner which required much tweaking to look good). OK, so what color did you get? I see beige, aka tan, aka khaki--the classic neutral. Guess what color I *thought* I was purchasing? Not beige, I assure you. I thought I was getting a soft shade of yellow. That's what it looked like to me both on the 'puter and in the printed catalog. Besides, the yarn color name is "sunlight," another reason to think I was getting a yellow yarn. Silly me, to think that sunlight is yellow!

I am not a neutral color wearing person and I (selfishly, I suppose) knit for myself so beige is not a color I would knowingly purchase. Nope, not never ever! No black, no beige, no tan. Ok, I do own a couple pair of khaki pants to wear in the fall and one pair of black to wear in the dead of winter, but they hang in the closet most of the time. I wear bright happy colors and soft pretty pastels. I wear pink and aqua, fuschia and turquoise, and lots of blues. I carefully choose my yellows and greens to get the right shade for my pink/blue skintones and blonde hair. I look dead in beige & black. As a person recovering from depression/dysthymia, I use color (and knitting, and gardening, etc.) to help keep my serotonin levels up. I no longer require antidepressant medications ( a miracle!) so I depend on other things to keep my mind healthy. I am not an angry person, nor do I hold grudges, but I am quite angry with the yarn company for their vanilla, unsympathetic response to my emailed complaint. Not only did I get not-yellow yarn, but I also didn't get the lace shawl pattern I thought I ordered (but didn't show up on the invoice???). Grrrrr!

The weather in East TN has been cold, cloudy, and just plain icky. That hasn't helped my body one bit and my pain level has been outrageous for days now. The bad yarn transaction just put me over the top in the foul mood department. I guess it's a good thing my pi shawl is progressing nicely and the bumblebees are buzzing without a hitch (1st 12 row repeat done x576 sts!). Hmmm, maybe it's the *happy* pink and blue yarn that is helping things along! I decided to send another email to the yarn company-one that expresse my emotion a little more clearly (but still diplomatic). I'm thinking I was too nice in my 1st email and that maybe they didn't get the fact that I am *not* a happy customer right now. Of course I didn't get angry until I got their response to my 1st email--that's when I got mad. I don't get mad too often, so that's saying something---and it ain't good!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Nooooo! Not Again!

I can't believe I did it again! Yup, you guessed it-I frogged clue 4 back to the lifeline. I like tulips but these tulips simply did not fit my shawl. After working nothing but lacy patterns to this point, the large areas of stockinette between the tulips just looked, well, awful. to make matters worse, the colors in my yarn finally started to pool out in this section and the combination of the pooling and the denseness of the stockinette just screamed at me. It looked garish, so I frogged the 10 rows I so delightedly knit in. I took me at least 2 hours to pick up all those stitches, fighting with the lifeline the whole way, redo the doubling round and knit 1 plain transitional row. So now I'm set to start again, but what option to do? I think my best bet is traveling vine, but I think I'd like to knit a small section to separate the vines. I've have the bumblebee pattern on my mind. I didn't like it early on, but I think it will look nice at this point in my shawl. The original is a 12 row repeat (2 sets of bees), but I can change it to a 16 row repeat (3 sets of bees) and substitute the bees for one of the repeats of the traveling vine. I've knit 1 row already, so I hope it works out cuz' I *don't* want to frog anymore. I'm sick of frogs. I don't have a pond at my house--only trees for the frogs to live in--and I'm too decrepit to climb trees. No more FROGS!

OK. Not that I've got that off my chest, I found another one of those crazy blog quizzes where you offer a bit of trivia about yourself and the quiz magically makes grand statements about what kind of person you are. This one is pretty close, remarkably close, eerily close. How do they do that????
Your Birthdate: June 6

You tend to be a the rock in relationships - people depend on you.
Thoughtful and caring, you often put others needs first.
You aren't content to help those you know... you want to give to the world.
An idealist, you strive for positive change and dream about how much better things could be.

Your strength: Your intuition

Your weakness: You put yourself last

Your power color: Rose

Your power symbol: Cloud

Your power month: June

Thursday, May 11, 2006


After several years of struggle with this plant, I finally found a happy spot for it along my neighbor's fence in the backyard. This fast growing vine is covered with blooms! Posted by Picasa

Yellow Trillium

A pair of Yellow Trillium are well-hidden in a field of green growth in a bog near the Sinks. The Sinks is a popular swimming hole in the Smokies. Posted by Picasa

Rushing Waters

The view of rushing waters from a footbridge across the creek at the Elkmont Nature Trail. Posted by Picasa

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails

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The Little River

Another view of the Little River at Metcalf Bottoms in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is my favorite place to picnic! Posted by Picasa

The Little River at Metcalf Bottoms

This was the view from my picnic table at the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. The water level was quite high and the current swift. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies surrounded us in this serene setting. Posted by Picasa

The Sinks - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Starting Clue 4

After knitting endless rows of vines I finally finished the Clue 3 section of my pi shawl. I opted to work my vines in 3 sections of 16 rows each. Mindy had suggested doing 4-12 row repeats, but I prefer the look of odd number repeats. The sideways swirling of the vines balances nicely with the swirl of the peas section.

Mindy & Iris posted clue 4 on Monday so I had a few days to think about what to do next while I finished clue 3. Once again the decision wasn't exactly easy. I dismissed the onion pretty quickly, although it would have been fine with my flower & vine theme considering I *am* growing giant allium in my garden. The 4th clue was an adaptation of Ogee Lace. It looked pretty but I wasn't sure it would mesh nicely with what I already had and it looked a bit more complicated/risky to knit. I *did* place another lifeline last night, but I DO NOT plan on needing it this time. So I nixed the Ogee Lace. Ditto for the Traveling Vine option. Having just knit 48 rows of vines, I'm sick of vines. Plus, someone posted an inquiry about a possible editing issue with the TV option, so I *really* don't want to go there.

The remaining option was for tulips. The flowers are formed by openwork on a stockinette ground, similar to the daffodil option for clue 3. The tulips look ok, but the clincher for me was a simple lace "path" that forms a straight line separating the repeats of the flower motif. This kept the linear aspect to my shawl intact and added lacy interest to the pattern. The bonus is the knitting is very simple and straightforward--a good thing since I would be knitting 72-96 *very* long rows of this clue and a complicated lace pattern would take an eternity to get through. I'm not up to that much patience with this shawl. I'm on the 4th row and the knitting has been delightfully easy so far. The amazing thing is I'm still working off my 1st ball of yarn. It's amazing how far 440 yds of laceweight yarn will go. The experts say that 2 balls isn't enough, but I doubt I'll need more than 3 balls.

Now that I've updated the obligatory knitting content, I'll share some pix of what I've really been up to: Working in my garden and playing in the park--The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, that is :-) The weather has been unusually cool and we've had lots of rain lately so the Little River was really gushing and the vegetation was thick, green, & lush.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

False Hopes and Frogs

Gee, I sounded terribly positive about the Pi shawl on Monday. I made it through the 18th row today-about a third of the way through the trellis motif. I have weathered my incorrect guess on how to fix the stitch count problem on row 17, tinked back and reknit the row using the correct edits, and fought through yet another row of trying to knit left leaning decreases into a double yarnover. I've also learned to *not* try to recommend a pattern correction to the whole list but to say "hey, there's a problem here" and wait for the designers to fix it. Silly me trying to solve the problem and move on. LOL

Maybe it was the 2-day walloping migraine, maybe it was the end of the semester crunch time get-it-done-and-turned-into-your-professor crisis, maybe it's just my fickle perfectionist tendencies, but I'm just not getting this buds in trellis design. Oh, I think I'm knitting it adequately enough, but I'm just not feeling the love here. Nope, not loving it at all. That's one of the challenges of knitting lace--you can't really tell what it's looking like until you've made a significant commitment of knitting on it. Pulling and stretching small segments just don't give you the answers. Finally I had the courage to admit I hate those goofy little loop knots that come from trying to knit a decrease into a double yo. I don't like the way the trellis was/wasn't lining up and the buds looked more like big knots stretched out on a mesh of strings. That's it! I frogged the blasted thing back to the lifeline.

Lenore mentioned she was doing the vines selection for her 3rd clue. It's the only 3rd clue option left that I might have a chance of liking as there is too much stockinette w/o lace in the daffodil option. The vines look very easy to knit, but they still have enough laciness and texture to not look too dense. Right now an easy knit sounds mighty appealing as I'm mighty grumpy at this point. To add to the pain, I found a significant booboo in my leaf lace shawl too. somehow I got off count on the last leaf sections worked on each side and on both sides of the center line. I tried fudging and creating 2 missing stitches, but it was too obvious to me that I goofed. The downside here is I have no lifelines so I'll have to frog carefully. The upside is I wanted the needles (#7 32") from the leaf lace shawl to step up for the pi shawl. So I pulled the needles and resumed work on the pi shawl. I'm going to let the other one sit for awhile cuz' right now I'm in the mood to frog the whole thing. I love Kiri and the Flowre basket Shawl patterns, but I'm not feeling the love for the leaf lace. Tonight that's a dangerous thing! Rib-bit, rib-bit!