Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why I Didn't, but Now Do, Wear Hand Knit Sweaters

You've seen me shopping with Sue in yarn store after yarn store. I'm an avid knitter but, until this week, I seldom wore hand knit sweaters. After all, there are only so many ways to seamlessly knit a sweater before your whole wardrobe looks sort of identical.

Oh sure, I knit LOTS of sweaters. The completed pieces have piled up for years in neat stacks, with the instructions, buttons, etc. all neat and tidy. Many are so old they have cedar cubes in the middle to keep away the moths! But, they hadn't been sewn together.
And here's the problem, the yarn stores have dozens of classes telling us how to knit, purl, do cables, intarsia, etc., etc., but they then offer one class every year (limited to 5 people) for finishing. I've read the books, watched the videos, I can mattress stitch with the best of them, but I needed a neutral third party (sorry Sue, I know you offered) to instruct me and correct my human failings on sleeves. So the pieces sat in neat piles awaiting some sleeve-sewing fairy.
After being rejected for yet another finishing class (sold out before advertised, really) I decided it would be worth my money to hire a tutor to do an individual session. I really didn't want an individual thing, I like the give and take of a class setting, but… This idea had been percolating for a few months so when Shannon from Cultured Purls in Issaquah spoke at the Eastside Knitting Guild last month I asked about individual lessons. Well - they have Project Central where you get four two-hour sessions of help. You share that time with a bunch of other people working on various projects, but no more people than would be in a regular class setting. I knew shops had such groups, but they never seemed to fit into my schedule before.

The part I knew would be hard was putting away my preconceived ideas of how to do the sleeve seam. I'm a good knitter I should know how to do this and I should have opinions. It was difficult to shut up and listen, but I managed, sort of, and came out with lovely sleeve seams.

The sweater is now complete and I have enough confidence to work on sleeves in another sweater.

Now that I've tackled sleeve seams maybe Shannon can help with that lace shawl disaster.

Monday, March 17, 2008

When you have this ... you need this

David and I are pretty practical people. We are also very independent thinkers, pretty much determining our lives without being concerned about "what the neighbors will think." We like to think we are in control of our lives. Well, after the last few weekends, I am beginning to think there is another force leading us along. A force multiplied by four. A force with 4 legs, so when multiplied by four that's 16 legs in all.

You see, when you have this ... little Johnny, 11 months old ...
You need this ...
This is the temporary fencing around the pea patch, but effective all the same. In the next couple of weekends, we will have Johnny fences around all of the beds, all about 12" high. Got to keep the little critter out of the garden beds.

Then there's Edgar.

When you have this ...
You need this to keep Edgar from freaking out the neighbors each time they bring their dog out to pee and poo right under our noses (but that's another story).
This was David's project this past weekend. We will enjoy it. The biggest plus is the lattice will keep the sun out of our eyes this summer, and provide us some privacy from the neighbor's security lighting at night.

And then, when you have this ....
A motley crew of dogs.

You need this ...

With a canopy so you can haul all of them in their crates when heading over to Edgar's place.

And ...
A fence around .75 acres to keep your doggies in the yard.
And out of the neighbor's yards.

And out of the garden at Edgar's Place.

There is a definite pattern here. In other words, David and Sue have gone to the dogs. Think I need a glass of wine.

Tomorrow a treat ... we have a guest blogger.



Thursday, March 13, 2008

I've Fallen In Love (and David's Okay With it)

Last Summer I touched a yarn that was beyond belief. I couldn't believe how luxurious it was and how I wanted it NOW! Fortunately for me at that time, the color was wrong. Since then, I have been on the hunt for this yarn and finally found it at the Market Place at Madrona.

The yarn is Hand Maiden's Swiss Mountain Cashmere and Silk. Oh my! What a yarn. It is 65% cashmere and 35% silk, and yes, it is expensive. It is way expensive, but I decided to save up my money and get some, because I'm worth it, and I love it. I had fallen in love with this yarn, and fallen hard.

Okay, so at Madrona I find the yarn, ... and ... I found the right color. Isn't this beautiful!
And I am worth it. Overtime has to pay for something, right? I got two skeins in this green, and two skeins in grape. I have been fondling this yarn since I got it trying to figure out what to knit with it. After finishing up Frank's fingerless gloves, Barbara's comfort socks, and the baby blanket, I decided the time had come to knit up the Hand Maiden yarn. I decided on a scarf to wear this summer at work when the air conditioning is on full blast, blowing down on my neck.

The next question was what stitch to show off this beautiful yarn. I pulled out the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary John gave me for Christmas one year and found this.
It's called the Simple Eyelet stitch. It helps that I found it in a green color, which helped to visualize how the yarn would look in this stitch. I like the way it is looking ...
and I love the way it feels when I knit it. This is a very special yarn. I love this yarn. Not only does it feel like heaven on the fingers, it is well twisted, and is a dream to knit up. The stitch definition is clear. I am using size 3 Addi Lace Needles to knit this up and it is moving like a dream. It is also very soothing to knit this lovely stitch with this heavenly yarn. What a nice way to finish off a day.

I think I won't have a problem getting this project done because I want it around my neck. I love this yarn!



Monday, March 10, 2008

What a Great Weekend

We had a great weekend. The weather was nice enough to get outside and do chores around the yard, and to start planting the Garden. Saturday Cynthia and I got our toes done and discovered another yarn shop in Wallingford. Got the baby blanket done in the orange Bella DK, and David made me shelves so I can have my salad garden on the deck this year.
Isn't this cool. I planted lettuce and radishes, and on the second shelf is another planter that has spinach. In one of the beds below I planted the peas. I had to get the peas planted early this month so I can sow them early, before the heat moves in.
The doggies were outside all weekend long, playing and running. It wore them out which made for quiet evenings. When they came in at night, they were ready for naps.

The only one missing here is Edgar, and he was on the couch snoring his head off.

As I mentioned, I got the baby blanket done. After I had my little talk with the yarn, all went well. I love the way it washed up and I know Grandma will love it. I was going to have lunch with her today and give her the blanket, but she was with her daughter, hoping for the baby to be born. Not yet, but maybe tomorrow.

Last evening around 5:30 it was 60 degrees which is really nice for this time of year. David and I were sitting on the deck admiring our work in the yard, when our neighbor's air conditioning came on. I can't figure those two out. I don't think they have heard of global warming or conservation. When the temp gets around 65-70 degrees (or 60 degrees yesterday), the air conditioner kicks on. When the rains stop, out come the hoses and the sprinklers and the lawn is watered, watered, and watered some more. Each night the sprinklers run for at least two hours. I guess being professionals (one's a lawyer, and the other is a doctor) they can blow their cash on utility bills, regardless of the waste of nonrenewable resources. Oh well, enough about that.

Well, it seems late to me even though it is only 8:40 (really 7:40), but 5:15 a.m. (really 4:15 a.m) came too soon this morning. Off to get some sleep.



Saturday, March 8, 2008

We Spoke

Bella DK and I had a conversation this morning. I had to find out why the yarn wasn't cooperating with me.

Me: What's going on? Why aren't you cooperating with me?

Bella DK: Huh? Whatta mean?

Me: You're fighting me on this blanket and I want to know why.

Bella DK: I can't.

Me: Can't what?

Bella DK: Can't say.

Me: I feel like I'm talking to a teenager here instead of yarn. You need to be more specific. Why can't you say. Come on, tell me.

Bella DK: I can't be a baby blanket.

Me: What?

Bella DK: I can't be a baby blanket.

Me: Why not?

Bella DK: I'm the wrong color, I'm orange.

Me: I know you're orange. That's why I'm knitting you into a baby blanket.

Bella DK: Wrong color.

Me: Why are you the wrong color?

Bella DK: The pinks and blues told me so.

Me: What? I need more information here.

Bella DK: The pinks and blues at A Dropped Stitch told me I was the wrong color for a baby. They told me that you had to be pink or blue to be a baby item. They told me orange was the wrong color for a baby item. They seemed to be right because the pinks and blues were taken away while I just waited on the shelf.

Me: Alright, listen up. I bought you because you ARE orange. I looked everywhere to find you. You are the PERFECT color for this baby blanket. Babies love color, and quite frankly, most pinks and blues are too blah for babies. You are a lovely, bright, soothing orange. Just what I was looking for. Everyone has agreed you are perfect for this baby blanket.

Bella DK: Really?

Me: Yes really. This blanket is for a first grandson for a friend. My friend is so excited about becoming a grandma, and her favorite color is ORANGE. That's why I need you to be a baby blanket, and to quit fighting me along the way. You are going to be a snuggle blanket for this baby, and will get lots of love. You are going to bring lots of comfort to the baby, and grandma is going to be thrilled that you are ORANGE.

Bella DK: Really???

Me: Yes. Now can we move on with this, put your hesitations behind, and get the blanket done? I'm having lunch with grandma on Monday and would love to give her the blanket then. How about it?

Bella DK: Alright!!! Thanks for letting me know. Thanks too for picking me out.

Me: Okay, off to knitting. Glad we could talk this over and work out this issue.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Rowan Yarns is always good for a laugh when it comes to some of the patterns they come up with. The models they use are scary, and their poses are short of being ridiculous. Then there are the Rowan patterns which truly are classics and beautiful designs.

I was going through the Rowan website and came across this design and all I could think was "Why?" What is the purpose of this knitted bandaeu. With this cute little blouse no less. What is this garment for? Is this to keep the midriff warm, the breasts warm, or to just scare someone? Does her hip hurt? Can she see?

I then got to thinking that maybe this is an upcoming design and knitters beware. I did an Internet search and only came up with another pattern. This one from Interweave Knits. It's a bit better (and the model looks human), but I am still asking why?

Anyone got an answer for me?



Monday, March 3, 2008

The First Spring Bouquet

Yesterday was a beautiful day. We had sun and it was dry. We were able to get outside and work in the yard. The dogs and Abby the Alpha Cat were busy and enjoyed themselves too. After the long winter, the first few days spent in the yard consist of cleaning up and getting things ready for the upcoming Spring.

This flower bed is bordered with Sweet Alyssum, which I have discovered is a very versatile flower. Bees love the little tiny white flowers, the scent is heavely, and it makes for a great ground cover, smothering out bothersome weeds. It is also a snap to control because it has a central root system that is easy to pull up. It is self-seeding, and in the early spring the sparrows use the dried stems for their nests.
Last year the sparrows cleaned up all of the brown stems in one week. I'm going to leave the bed as it is for a couple more weeks so the birds can take what they want. I imagine the dried stems make for a nice comfy nest, and it probably smells good too!

We are still getting our garden beds ready for planting in the next couple of weeks. The beds have been cleaned. Next weekend I'll add the compost and David will spade it all under with my organic fertilizer.

The bee balm plants will get moved in a couple of weeks as well, and I'll use this last bed for my salad garden.

Last summer I couldn't get beans to grow because of the lack of sun on the beds. David trimmed back an ornamental tree yesterday so the sun will shine again.
We've been eating commercially canned green beans this winter and we have NOT enjoyed them. My whole family has told me we have to have enough of the Blue Lake Pole Beans. I am hoping to have enough for 50-70 pints. The Blue Lake beans really are the best. They have more rich flavor, and process up beautifully.

One problem we may have this year, however, is Johnny. He just doesn't understand why he can't play in the garden beds. I think we are going to have to put up little fences around the beds to keep the puppy out. Nothing like having a baby dog in the family.

I pulled all of the fuchsias out from their winter hideaway and cleaned them up. I gave them haircuts. I think they liked their winter digs under the catwalk in the back. All of them have new, little pale green growths on them. Of course, they were mostly dry, but today's rain took care of that. This coming weekend they will be fed and then they will be off to do their growing thing. By the time the first weekend of April comes around I'll know how many I need to buy to replace the plants that didn't make it. We are heading out to Covington to The Earthworks to buy our fuchsias. The Earthworks is an amazing little nursery that specializes in fuchsias. They have 1000's and 1000's of little fuchsia starts of every type of fuchsia imaginable. It's a fuchsia lover's dream come true.
I love how vibrant the spring colors can be. The crocus are so vivid and so welcomed. This picture doesn't do the color justice. When the first crocus start blooming, there is hope of longer days and more sun to come.

I picked our first bouquet for Spring. The pink flowers are the Anniversary Rhodies, with daffodils. The greenery is forsynthia and cottoneaster. I added some rosemary springs, and then there is daphne for the sweet, sweet scent.

I leave you all with this picture. This is a knitted sweater for a horse. This is ambious. This is not a small horse, nor a small sweater. This is from Reynolds Lopi Volume 26. In case you're wondering, the sweater is made up in Lopi bulky weight yarn. It calls for 18 balls at 109 yards per ball. In other words, you are knitting up 1,962 yard of bulky weight yarn. That's knitting up about 4 pounds of yarn. That is heavy duty knitting on a pair of knitting needles.

The horse does look pretty dapper, doesn't he? He also looks very content. What a nice thing to do for a horse. It takes a lot of love to knit up such a big sweater. No wonder this horse looks content, he knows how loved he is.

Well, off to get some sleep.



Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Camellia Storm Has Hit

For the last twenty years we have been able to count on one thing each winter.
As soon as the camellias are in bloom, we're going to have one last bad storm. These camellias are about 25-30 feet tall and the blooms are large and ever so perfect, in a pale pink. The shrub/tree always looks stunning when it is full of the blooms.
We also know that as soon as the Anniversary Rhodies are in bloom, we are going to have a bad storm. This year, however, the rhodies are blooming a bit late to coincide with the Camellias. The rhodies usually bloom in early February, which is why we have always called them our anniversary rhodies.

This morning I went outside and noticed the camellias were looking beautiful, all nice and flowery. The Anniversary Rhodies are in full bloom, and we even have some daffodils in bloom. The sun was shining through the fluffy clouds and it was nice and temperate. The dogs and I spent quite a bit of time outside this morning just enjoying the day.
That was this morning. Around 1:00 this afternoon the Camellia storm moved in. We have had rain, wind, thunder and lightening, and hail. The weather continues to be stormy so who knows what the camellias will look like in the morning. On the flip side, however, generally after the camellia storm, comes Spring.

This morning I sent off my seed and plant order for our garden, which is always fun, and full of hopeful anticipation for better weather.

Then it was time to knit, sit, and enjoy the quiet time with David and the doggies. Edgar decided it was timefor a nap.

I got the hand candy socks done. They are now official FOOT CANDY. I know the recipient will love the socks. It's cold where she is, so the socks should feel good on her feet. I had Cynthia try them on last night to make sure the size was right and I could tell she didn't want to take them off. Who knows, maybe Cynthia will start knitting socks.

Frank's fingerless gloves are done too. I am really pleased with the way they came out. They are so soft now that they have been washed. The dogs like the gloves too. Edgar is usually so good about leaving my knitting alone, but for some reason, he likes these gloves. He hasn't been rough with them, just wants to carry them around and then sleep with them. It's Johnny I'm worried about. He'd probably try to eat the pair. The gloves are currently behind a CLOSED door so they can't get them.
Tomorrow I do taxes. If we get a refund I'll send the tax return in right away. If we owe taxes, I send them off on my birthday. Got to love April 15th.

It's off to my scarf and a lapful of dogs.