Project Update

Halloooo!!! (taps on computer screen) Is anyone out there?

I guess a blogger as negligent as I has no right to expect that all of their followers will stick around while they’re off doing other things and ignoring their blog. But here you are, and I’m thankful for that.

It’s been ages since I’ve done a project update so I thought I’d give a quick one, although I don’t have time for photos at the moment.

On the needles:

* Always a sock. Or in this case, two pairs of socks, each only needing kitchenering on the toe of the second sock. We’ll be taking odds on how long it will take me to finish them, so place your bets now.

*  The Peacock Eyes Cardigan. This is coming along nicely. I’ve got the body of the sweater completed, and the button bands are underway. Next are the sleeves, then it will be done. It’s going to be a beautiful sweater, I think, done in a hand-dyed yarn in a lovely shade of green. I don’t have photos of my own project yet, but here’s the link to Ravelry:

Peacock Eyes Cardigan by Justyna Lorkowska. Photo from Ravelry. (Click link to go see it live!)

* The Peacock Eyes sweater has been set aside to work on a black cardigan for my son. No photos for that, since it’s a custom knit from Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges. I’m really excited about how this is coming out, because it’s turning out to be a perfect fit, and it’s been kind of fun to make a sweater from a “recipe” rather than a very specific pattern.

* Oh, and finally, I am down to the buttons on the Shapely Boyfriend Sweater from Knitty. It’s knit, blocked, and just waiting for me to get the buttons sown on. I hope to finish that soon so I can wear it before summer comes. (Again, happy to take odds on that one).

What’s on your needles?

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I Knits Because I Likes It

I had the great fun of talking to a coworker today who is interested in learning to knit. It was an interesting moment of insight for me because the situation forced me to think about why I love knitting so much. Honestly, it’s is such an integral part of my life these days that I can’t recall what it was like before I started. It was also fun to have the chance to introduce someone new to this age-old craft. Plus, she’s just an interesting person and I love talking to interesting people.

Every now and then I run into someone who wonders why people would want to knit because after all, you can buy your clothes these days. You don’t have to make them yourself. In fact, it’s often cheaper and easier to pick up a ready-made cardigan at the store than to make one with your own hands.

So then why do we knit? Well, I can’t speak for you, dear readers, but I can tell you why I knit. I knit for the flow, for the process, for the challenge (and sometimes the cursing and wine drinking that results). I knit for the feel of the yarn in my hands. I knit for the lovely colors and amazing patterns you can make with yarn that was made by hand and dyed by someone you know and respect.

I also knit so that I can wear things like this, which you could not buy in any store, and wouldn’t be nearly as special if you could anyhow:

Icarus Shawl, done in hand-dyed laceweight from Abstract Fiber in Portland.

Icarus Shawl, done in hand-dyed laceweight from Abstract Fiber in Portland.

And finally, I knit because knitters are amazing, creative, wonderful people. Some of the most interesting people I know are knitters. (Not to say that you non-knitters aren’t awesome as well. You just should also learn to knit).

So, why do you knit?

A Colorful Life

Today, I’m grateful for the color that we have in our lives. I think we often take this for granted in our modern society when all it takes to add color to your life is a quick stop at the paint store or the purchase of a new sweater at Kohl’s.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, the reason that purple is considered the color of royalty is because many years ago, it was crazy expensive to make. I read about this recently, in an article that described how historians replicated the process of making purple the old way.

First, gather something like 1500 of a specific crustacean (because that’s easy, right?) Next, soak the shells of said crustaceans in urine (I didn’t say this wouldn’t be gross) in the bright sunshine for something like 14 days. Strain, let dry down to become more concentrated, strain some more.

Now you can finally dye your yarn, which you will have created by shearing the sheep or picking and ginning the cotton, then combing and spinning it. If you want linen, you’ll have to first find the plants, then soak them for weeks, then beat them to remove the bark and spin them while still wet. I personally love the spinning process but let’s face it, my family would freeze if they had to wait for me to make their clothing.

If you wanted a different color, or say, a color on the walls of your home, it was another extensive process to first find the pigments and purify them. Not to mention that the saturated beautiful colors we have today simply weren’t possible.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love natural dyes probably more than anything else. That said, I’m also grateful for the bounty of colors we have to choose from and the fact that color is now within the reach of even commoners like me.

As for me, it is my day to be a princess. I’m wearing purple, after all.

What are you grateful for today?

P.S. Speaking of color, the painters were awesome and the place came out beautiful. I was nervous about the gold we picked for the stairwell but it’s gorgeous. If you’re curious, you can check out my color choices here:

Main Color: Sherwin Williams: Bittersweet Stem

http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW7536-bittersweet-stem/

Accent Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Ceremonial Gold

http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/find-and-explore-colors/paint-colors-by-family/SW6382-ceremonial-gold/

Mittens and Gratitude

This post is part of the 30 Days of Thanks. Every day for the month of November, I’m posting something I’m grateful for.

Friday night we went to a football game, the first playoff game of the year for a young man in our family. It was an important game, because he’s a senior and because his team was 2nd in the state championships last year so we are hoping that they’ll come out on top this year. As loyal family members, we dressed up warm and headed out to the field carrying blankets.

As we sat there, the cold crept in and what started as a nice calm night got colder as the breeze picked up.  The longer we sat there, the chillier it got, making me very grateful for these:

Warm and Wonderful. I love alpaca.

Warm and Wonderful. I love alpaca.

They are the Simple Autumn mittens by Halldora. Available on Ravelry free: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/simple-autumn-mittens

The yarn is Cascade Eco Alpaca.

They were simple, easy to make and super warm. I was toasty throughout the entire game. (Which we won, by the way. Go Cougars!)

In other news, I also finished the Brunello cardigan a few weeks ago so I figured while I was taking photos of knitted items, I’d share a couple of those too. I think it came out well although if I were to make it again, I would pick a sturdier yarn (it’s already starting to pill). I’d also make it in a solid color because I think the lace would show up better. And I would probably add a button – I may do that anyway as it would just make it more comfy to wear. Still, I’m very pleased with how it came out and I love the Knitty patterns because they have big girl sizes that actually fit, plus the patterns are very well-written and easy to understand.

Brunello Cardigan from Knitty.com. Done in BFL from Blue Moon.

Brunello Cardigan from Knitty.com. Done in BFL from Blue Moon.

Close-up of the lower edge lace on the Brunello cardigan.

Close-up of the lower edge lace on the Brunello cardigan.

So that’s what I’m grateful for. Family, football and warm knitted things on a cold November night. What about you? What are you grateful for today?

They’re Not All Mine

It’s funny how when you live with certain things in your home long enough, you fail to notice them. Like, for instance, a growing population of spinning wheels.

We had appliances installed recently. The guys were really friendly transplanted Midwesterners like myself, so we were chatting as they scoped out my kitchen and figured out what they needed to do. As he was headed to the truck to grab some tools, one of the guys happened to walk past my craft room. He stopped for a minute, then with a look on his face that said “I have to ask,” he said the following: “Wow, you really like spinning wheels, don’t you?”

Now, in his defense, the current population of spinning wheels in my house stands at seven, and my craft room is small so they look like a large herd. In my defense, however, they’re not all mine. The majority are, though, and the other three I’m holding for a friend who didn’t want movers manhandling her wheels during a recent real estate transition. He was kind enough  not to ask what was in all those bags lined up along the floor behind them. (Three fleeces in various stages of processing, plus three or four alpaca blankets just for good measure). Nor did he ask what was in all the bags on the table (six or so assorted knitting projects plus a drumcarder and container of half-processed fleece).

I’m not sure why, but since the end of the Tour de Fleece, I really haven’t been spinning. I think part of it is that for me, spinning is a social activity and with no one to share it, it just doesn’t appeal as much as it did when my fellow spinners were getting together every week. I haven’t been knitting much either, due to some tendonitis in my wrist.

That said, it’s time to get off my duff and get started on some of this stuff. Fall is coming (we hope. It’s been in the 90’s here which is crazy). It’s time to bust out the soup-making provisions, brew some tea, settle in and get to work.

Here’s to Fall – may she come quickly and reduce this heat. And may she bring some creative inspiration with her.

TdF Progress (or in this Case, Not)

So, if I were the repentant type (which some probably will argue that I should be), I’d be here with all sorts of apologies for my Tour De Fleece performance. I could lie and say I’ve been sick or I fell off my spinning wheel or I was too busy at work or…well, you get the picture. But I won’t. Truth be told, this is my third year spinning in the TdF and my third year of falling off my bike somewhere at the end of the first week despite all sorts of good intentions. I don’t know why it is that I can’t focus my attention on a single task for a month, but I can’t. So, there you have it, the truth…Team Captain and all.

That said, we’ve had a blast so far, some sangria was made (and enjoyed), some good eats were gobbled, and some pretty darned good yarn was made (albeit not a lot by me. I think my total output so far is two skeins and on one of those all I did was ply).

It’s not like I was totally slacking. I did manage to make 18 jars of jam and spent the requisite number of hours scrubbing sticky stuff off the kitchen counters afterwards. I managed to replant the veggies in the garden that had either bolted due to the crazy June heat or pelted by hail or that just plain didn’t get a good start in the first place. And for some reason, I randomly decided that it was time to start practicing the piano again and I’ve been tackling some old pieces which were much harder than I remembered them.

So I guess the lesson here is that life will occasionally overtake you and you may set a goal and not stick to it. It happens. The important thing is to keep finding that next thing that gives you joy and do it, even if it means a few hours with scrubbie in hand removing the results from the kitchen counters.

Happy summer, everyone. I hope you are all still spinning. If I get a whim to, I might just join you.

 

Tour De Fleece Progress – Days Three and Four

So, if you’re counting, you’ll bust me for not riding on Day Two because I totally spaced it off. (I blame the sangria from the kickoff party). I managed to spin on Day Three and got a bobbin or so. This is Blue-Faced Leicester, which I can no longer name without hearing my husband chant “B-F-L! B-F-L!” cheerleader style.

In any case, day three saw some progress, about a half-bobbin of BFL, spun on the Kromski Polonaise, which is a beautiful wheel but much fussier than my Ladybug.

Day 3 Progress - 1/2 bobbin of B-F-L!

Day 3 Progress – 1/2 bobbin of B-F-L!

Day four saw continued progress on the same fiber, this time filling the bobbin. There’s a bit left but this stuff is lovely for hand-spindling so I think I may go ahead and ply.

Here’s the day four output:

Same BFL, this time with a full bobbin.

Same BFL, this time with a full bobbin.

How about you? How’s your tour going? Have you fallen off your bike yet?