Friday, September 13, 2013

Hot dog!

Jackson is a good sport when it comes to modeling knitwear.
I knit this last weekend with one skein of Tahki Yarns' Boulder, a super-chunky wool and nylon mix. I knit it flat with a provisional cast-on, then grafted the ends together.
I was nominally following a pattern that would result in a woven-cable appearance, but I wasn't paying close attention and ended up with waves instead. That's OK. If you want the pattern, it's quite easy. Knits up in a couple of hours on size 19 needles. (You can use even larger ones, but that was the largest I had.)
I might try making another, but I'll do it as a buttoned cowl instead so it will be more snug. I like a cozy neck when it's chilly outside.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Green Day

I had this pretty yarn in my stash. I decided to knit up a swatch for a hat I want to make.

When you swatch, you should wash the swatch in the same manner as you would the garment. In this case, I followed the label's instructions to use cool water. I added a little Wool Wash.

"Is the water supposed to look like that?" asks Lucy.

"I know!" says Jackson. "Let's fill the Sergeant's Unobtainium bottle with it!" (In fact, the Sergeant was planning to fill the jar with water and green food coloring.)

VoilĂ !

And the swatch finally rinsed mostly clear and dried out still looking pretty, if a little less brilliant and blue-green than before.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

It be May. Maybe.

Springtime in the Rockies is becoming predictable. Nice weekend followed by midweek snow. This time I got a little smarter and harvested some tulips before the mercury dropped.

This morning, it was 19 degrees, a record low for May.

It's good to have moisture; these storms have replenished the mountain reservoirs and lessened the likelihood of wildfires. But they keep freezing the buds of everything trying to bloom, and that's a bummer.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Before the chill

Here's what was blooming (or almost blooming, in the peach tree's case) in my yard two weeks ago. That was right before a week of snow and temps down into the single digits. I don't worry about the plants or tree surviving, but the flowers were toast. Sadly, this probably means no peaches this year. Last spring was warm from March on, and we harvested a bumper crop. More bulbs are flowering this weekend, with more snow on the way. That's how it goes.

I won't show you a photo of my very ambitious rhubarb plant. It was thigh-high and already flowering. After the deep freeze it was a pile of mush. It will survive, too, but I regret not harvesting it when I could.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The newbies on the block

Last week I got some new bees, a package from Wyoming. Last year's bees swarmed and the hive never recovered. I was rather worried about this batch; the delivery was rather earlier than I would have liked, followed by a week of bitter cold and snow. Unlike a swarm, package bees don't have the opportunity to stuff themselves with honey before their journey, so their resources were thin. Basically, just the sugar water I placed in a feeder inside the hive. I need to track down a source of clean, untreated honey I can feed them with. Sugar water will do in a pinch, but it's not optimal.

Still, the weather warmed up yesterday and I came home to find bees hovering around the hive entrance, and they had drained the feeder. So that's a good sign. And they are finding the few flowers blooming.

More snow is on the way Monday.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A delicious meal was had by all

We meant to go to Chez Panisse, but there was a fire there earlier this month, so we had to make alternate plans. This one was a winner.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Farro salad with apples, toasted almonds and more

It was a snowy day on Saturday, though not the raging blizzard we were expecting. The predicted foot of snow turned out to be 4 inches, and I didn't even have to shovel the south-facing sidewalk. All the snow just melted right off it.

Still, I didn't want to leave the house unnecessarily, which meant cobbling together something for lunch with what I had on hand.

That turned out to be farro, apples, sliced almonds, a handful of dried cherries, dehydrated toasted onions, spring mix lettuce and a spicy Asian-inspired vinaigrette that was left over from my book group dinner party on Thursday. I boiled 2 cups farro, toasted the almonds, sauteed the apples briefly in a little olive oil with some dried thyme, rehydrated the onions, and tossed it all with the vinaigrette.

There's enough left for lunch later this week, too! I bought some cheese today to go with it. I think some crumbles of goat cheese will work really nicely with it.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Plugging away ...

Just when I think I'm doing OK using fewer lifelines, I flub one row and have to rip back 16. Oy. But I'll finish it one day!

The bag is from my friend Karen at Fringe Association. We were able to meet up briefly at Stitches West, which is a big-ass knitting convention in Santa Clara, Calif. (There's Stitches South, East and Midwest, too.) Yeah, I went to a knitting convention. I bought some yarn. I'll show you that later.

Right now I've got to go pick up some stitches and knit back up to the row I flubbed.

You should go buy a tote from Karen. You know you want one.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Double knitting interlude

I'm still working on the brioche scarf. I started over with fresh yarn (same color), screwed it up, ripped it back, started putting in lifelines and now I'm good.

Meantime, I got lured into a little side foray. Lucy Neatby teaches double knitting and got me started with a lovely skein of Blue Moon Gaea in Mulberry (I think it's Mulberry). How I could I resist?

Once you've done brioche, double-knitting feels quite familiar. You're working two layers of fabric on one needle. But in double knitting, the two layers remain separate, so you can make things like bags, pockets, straps, double-soled socks, etc. And each side can have its own pattern.

As you can see above, I worked up this swatch on one needle, then separated the layers onto two needles so you can see it's really a pouch.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Two-color brioche in baby steps

My goal in learning the brioche stitch and spending months on the one-color scarf was this two-color pattern. Nancy Marchant's Alex scarf is pretty darn stunning.

Well, now I grasp the concept pretty well, and even managed to get my head around working two colors at once. But my stitches are super-sloppy, the overall pattern is distorted, and I can see where I made several obvious mistakes.

Plus I am having my doubts about the colors – the first time he saw them, the Sergeant said, "Yay, Oakland Athletics!" So that's all I see now. The Green Bay Packers also come to mind.

(The easy solution would be to make the scarf for the Sergeant, but he doesn't wear scarves.)

So, do I:
  1. Struggle on with this piece and trust that my stitches will improve
  2. Struggle on, trust, and add a third color in one of the central leaves to add a focal point of non-sports-team color
  3. Start over with these colors
  4. Start over with a different coordinating yarn

That's about 40 rows of knitting there, so it's not a huge waste. I would just cut the strings and start with fresh yarn.

Oh, knitterly dilemmas.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The lace adventure begins

I have a new resolution for 2014: Finish this shawl.

Yes, 2014. This pattern has a cast-on of 361 stitches. You work 121 rows of knitting with short-row wraps and turns, then get to the lace proper. I haven't even counted how many rows that is.

This will likely be a background project I work on in between others with more immediate gratification.

Teeny tiny stitches! And I'm slow.

Maybe I should have my head checked.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pam Allen's State Street Cowl completed

Well, that was fun! A fairly quick, easy knit that looks more complicated than it was. I learned how bad I am at estimating how much yarn I have left – I could have done a whole 'nother pattern repeat. Really. Instead, I've got a bunch of ribbing at the end. Which looks fine.

I had planned to do a tubular bind-off, but instead went for the easier method of going through two stitches purlwise, back through the first knitwise, and dropping it off. Still took me a couple hours.

I wet-blocked it with a little woolwash, then dried it most of the way on an inverted five-gallon bucket covered with a towel. That allowed me to stretch it out a little without having to pin it.

Once again, the yarn is two skeins of Mirasol Ushya – 98 percent Merino and 2 percent polyamide – in Fern Green, from A Knitted Peace.

Thanks to Karen at Fringe Association for nudging me into knitting it, and to Pam Allen for the lovely design.

Now it's on to the next project, which might just drive me around the bend: a lace shawl knit sideways on Size 3 circulars. The cast-on is 361 stitches. Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sew then this happened

Over the summer I expressed an interest in getting a sewing machine, and my most awesome mother-in-law said, "I have an extra machine you can have." She and her stepmom had bought the same machine back in the '80s, and she later inherited it when her stepmom died. It's a very lightly used Husqvarna Viking 190, and my mother-in-law had it serviced before she handed it over.
I hadn't touched a sewing machine since eighth-grade home ec, so I signed up for Sewing 101 at a local craft store and made a couple of pillow cases. Not too hard!

The first thing I made on my own was a zipper pouch. I found a free Craftsy class by Kristin Link of Sew, Mama, Sew.
My mother-in-law got the pouch for Christmas.

Then I made a drawstring bag to hold my knitting (yeah, I learned the brioche stitch from another Craftsy class, "Explorations in Brioche Knitting.")
So handy! I made some more, also for Christmas gifts.
And some more zipper pouches.
Jackson thinks they're not very interesting ("No treats in there? Yawn!"), but I think they're pretty neat. I gave them away, too. I need to make some for myself!

There's just not enough time to do all the projects I have in mind (sewing! knitting! sewing! knitting!) but I keep plugging away and once in a while I manage to finish something.

What are you working on these days?

Monday, January 07, 2013


I got worried that I was going to run out of yarn before I finished. I have a third skein, but I really don't want to break into it for just a couple rows of knitting. I'd rather take it back.

So I skipped the last three rows of the pattern repeat and started the ribbing. Turns out I have way more than enough yarn.

So, do I rip back and finish it properly? (I put in a lifeline just in case)

Or do I just call it good and end here?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Cowl me Ishmael

So the knit-along has begun. I actually got started on Sunday and I'm glad I did, as I needed different needles and also had to look up how to purl. And how to do a yarnover, SSK and K2tog. How pathetic is that?

As ever, lifelines and stitch markers are the key to my sanity. I had to rip back a couple of rows at the beginning. If I had to, I could go to the yarn shop and get help. It's not like brioche, where no one knows what the heck those stitches are doing.

Speaking of, here's the brioche scarf, all finished. It's being shipped off to Mom tomorrow.
I guess I could resolve to knit more this year, but that's happening anyway.