Traveling Woman – Handspun Version

September 5, 2010

I know I’ve been away from blogging for a bit, and I have a lot to catch up on, but I thought I’d go out of order and show you what I finished and then next post I’ll show you where I’ve been.

So my last post was on August 15, and I show you pictures of the handspun I did – remember?

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I think I mentioned in the post how happy I was with the yarn, and that I really couldn’t wait to use it – and so I made a shawl!

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I finished this last week, and finally blocked it yesterday and got out bright and early this morning to take some pictures.

Pattern:  Traveling Woman Shawl
Yarn:   Gale’s Art BFL Handspun
Started:  August 16, 2010
Finished:  September 1, 2010

I really like the shawl, and of course, using hand-spun was great.  I don’t normally use highly variegated yarns for shawls, but I think this pattern worked with it – the pattern doesn’t get lost in the stripes.   It really looks sort of Noro-ish doesn’t it?    It isn’t super soft, but it’s wearable – I tried it this morning, and didn’t have an issue with it around my neck (I really cropped the picture because I hadn’t showered!).

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This was a great project to take on vacation – the pattern is very easy, and I was able to put it down and pick it up quickly depending on what we were doing without any trouble.  We had a very long ride down to Virginia, and this kept me entertained for a long time.  Even the boring bits of the pattern weren’t too bad because I was enjoying the color changes in the yarn (as well as the feel of it!).

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I think I’m going to keep this  rather than giving it away as I planned when I started it – I think it will add a  little something to a plain white shirt in the fall and be a nice warm scarf to wear in the winter.  I will also like it because it made it start to finish (well, almost start to finish since someone else dyed the roving!), and it was so nice to use handspun that I think  it will motivate me to finish whatever I’m currently spinning.

I’ve been really busy since my last post, and I’ll post some pictures next time from my vacation.  I didn’t get to one yarn store on vacation – I think that’s a first but we didn’t have the time for anything like that.  I did start a new project, and hopefully I’ll have pictures of that soon.

We are working on going through the house and getting rid of things we don’t use.  We are planning on a yard sale in early October, and today we did the basement.  I really can’t believe how much stuff we had down there.  Boxes that we hadn’t opened since we moved in 7 years ago, toys, games, empty cans of paint.  We had a huge pile of things to sell – and an equally huge pile of things to throw out.  But it felt good to get through it all.  Except for the HUGE spiders we kept on encountering (I am not a fan).   Next weekend we are tackling the attic and I think I’m also going to go through my project and yarn stash too.  I have a couple of projects that I haven’t worked on in a while that I need to either frog or finish (I’m leaning towards frogging).   And I want to go through the stash and make sure I only have yarn that I know I’ll use – no point in keeping things that I don’t like.   All of this organizing and decluttering really feels good!  And it makes me never want to buy anything again!

OK, I’m off to play with the dogs – it’s a beautiful day here and I want to get out for a bit.  Have a good weekend!


Artemis

July 11, 2010

As I mentioned on my last post, I finished Artemis last weekend and blocked it on Monday.  And it turned out so well (if I do say so myself) that I wish you all could see it in person!

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Isn’t that gorgeous?  I know – it sounds so conceited of me to talk about my knitting like that – but this yarn is so pretty that I just can’t help myself.  How about some project details…

Pattern:  Artemis
Yarn: Fluffy Cat, Blue Topaz colorway, by Wandering Cat Yarns
Started:  June 5, 2010
Finished:  July 4, 2010

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Ignore the left side of the shawl – I didn’t realize that it was like that until after I uploaded the pictures (and the shawl isn’t here so I can’t take more) – in reality the left side of the shawl was as nice as the right side.    This was a very nice shawl pattern – the body of it was done in a ribbing type style – I really blocked it out and love how it came out.  The pattern was interesting, but a fast knit – my favorite kind!  I was afraid that I was going to run out of yarn;  I checked with Valerie (the designer) and she had enough when she made hers, but I was chicken and didn’t think I had enough yarn so I skipped the last chart – looking at the ball I had left I probably did have enough though – and should have just gone for it.  Next time!

I can’t say enough good things about this yarn – it’s an alpaca/silk/cashmere blend, and it is so nice to work with.  After blocking the shawl was so light and airy – and so silky and had wonderful drape.  The colorway is beautiful too – this just seemed like the best color to knit in the summer – it reminds me of our pool.  I really love this yarn, and I’m so glad that I have another skein in my stash (similar colorway but it has some green in it).

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All in all, a very successful project.    Half way through it I decided to give this to my niece – she loves blue and I thought she’d like it.   I gave it to her last weekend – she did love it, but she’s moving to Ft. Lauderdale at the end of the summer, so I’m not sure how much use she’ll get out of it.    But it is such a cute shawl that I just may have to make another one for me!

I started another project last weekend – and I”ll show pictures next time.  It won’t be a surprise to hear that it’s a shawl – and one with a knitted on edging.  I’ve never done that before, and it took me a little bit to get my mind around how to do it.   I finally found pictures online that helped me figure it out – I really don’t know how I’d learn things without the internet – how did knitters do it in the old days?   Anyway, I’m not to that point, but I’m looking forward to getting to it.

I’ve also been spinning a bit this weekend – I don’t know why, but I think it’s all the blog posts of spinning for the Tour de Fleece finally got me back to my wheel – I hadn’t spun in over a year!   But this weekend, I’ve been sitting and spinning and listening to audio books – it is really relaxing, and I finished up some yarn that I had on the bobbins for the longest time.  It was a great feeling to wind it off – I should have pictures of it next time – I can’t say its the best yarn I’ve ever done, but its done.   Its enough for a cowl or hat, and I think I’ll start something with it soon.  I love knitting with hand-spun – there is something so satisfying about the whole end to end process!

OK, I think I’ll go spin a little more.  Have a great week!


Mom’s Scarf

July 5, 2010

I have mentioned before that my Mother  taught me to knit. I think I’ve mentioned that my Mother is a serious Knitter.  She’s been knitting her entire life, and was  taught by her grandmother – who sounds like she was another serious Knitter.  Mom remembers going over her grandmother’s when she was a very little girl – and my grandmother asking her where her mittens were. My mother said she didn’t have them – and my grandmother just whipped up a pair right there, ready for her when she went home. So knitting has been always a part of my mother’s life, and my memories of my mother always involve the clicking of her aluminum needles.

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When I was growing up, I always had mittens and hats made by my mother. I would occasionally get a sweater, and I remember one Christmas where she made my father and I fair isle sweaters from Icelandic Wool (I still have my father’s – and that’s a story for another post). As I got older, though, she didn’t knit for me as much – frankly, before I was a knitter I don’t think I really appreciated what she made as much as I should have. But I did get the occasional scarf, mittens or sweater.  Since I started knitting, however, my Mom hasn’t made me anything. She figured that since I knit I could just make things myself. So she’d send scarves, mittens, sweaters, socks to my brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews and occasionally, Dan, Andrew and Cieara. But never me. And I understood it – but sort of wished that I’d get something too.

My Mom is 90 and is starting to lose her eyesight due to macular degineration. She still knits but she can’t knit with anything fine or small needles. And she has a hard time with patterns and remembering where she is. She keeps on telling me that she thinks she is going to have to stop knitting – but you can tell she just doesn’t want to. She loves going to yarn stores, reading patterns and trying new things. Its really hard for her to give it up – and I think she also thinks she’s giving up that connection to me. She was so excited when I started knitting and she loves to talk about it with me.

Anyway, when I was visiting her in February, she was making my sister a scarf. I was joking around that I never got scarves – and she told me she’d make me one. And when she finished my sisters (my mother is a one project knitter), she started mine. I heard about the yarn, the pattern, and how she was struggling to find the right pattern.

Long story short (its already been long I know!) – my mother has been working on this scarf for months – and has struggled through it. She told me its much harder to knit for me than it is for anyone else because I would “see the mistakes” She’s frogged it three times completely because she thought it just wasn’t good enough. I kept on telling her that I didn’t care – that everyone has mistakes in their knitting but she just couldn’t do it.  She wanted to send me something that I would love because its perfect.

Last week I finally got the scarf, and I had to share it because I think that it represents the best thing about knitting – the memory, the love and the meaning behind some of the projects we do.

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I don’t think that every project represents something – I churn out scarves and socks and things simply because I want to make them.  But sometimes projects have a bigger significance to me – the shawl I make for someone carries with it my love and thoughts about the person.  The baby booties I made carry with them my good thoughts for my nephew and his wife.  And this scarf that my mother struggled to make for me for months carries with it the connection we share as knitters, the love she has for me, and the memories that I have of her.   I see the scarf, and although I see some areas that aren’t as perfect as she would have liked, I see the hours, the struggle and love she put into it.  And I don’t think that I could ever love something more.  When I wear this, I’ll think about her, and will love the scarf, not because its perfect or imperfect, but because she put so much into it. And I’ll cherish it a little bit more because it may be the last thing she makes for me because of her eyesight.  I think its a pretty amazing scarf, don’t you?  It holds so much meaning, and yet its just a couple of balls of yarn (really nice yarn, but still just yarn).

Thanks for all the nice comments about the cashmere scarf.  My mother loved it – in fact, she loved it so much she forgot that I was making it for her friend and thought it was hers.  When I reminded her, she asked me if I thought it would be terrible if she kept it -= that it was too nice to give away.  I really had to laugh – but it was really nice so I completely understood it as well.  I told her that I would make something else for her friend.  But I guess that I should make sure its not too nice!

I finished Artemis and just blocked it so next time I’ll have pictures of that.  And I may have started a new project – it took me an entire day to decide but I’m really enjoying it.  And its not blue!

Have a good week!


Cashmere Lace Scarf

June 26, 2010

I started this post 20 minutes ago and sat here with a blank screen, hands on the keyboard while I stared at the TV – Food Network was on and I got completely distracted by it.  We are huge Food Network fans, and I like most of the shows.  But they always make me hungry and now I really want to go make Lemon Tea Cakes (I’m not a huge fan of Sandra Lee, but the cakes look so good!).  Ahem…sorry…back to knitting…

I finished something last weekend – finally!

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Isn’t that nice?  Can’t you just see how soft and fluffy it is?

Pattern:  Party Lace Scarf
Yarn:  Filatura Di Crosa Golden Line Superior
Started:  April 4, 2010
Finished: June 20, 2010

Cashmere and silk…how can you go wrong?  This was amazing yarn  – it was so soft, and I enjoyed every bit of knitting with it.  It was a little fluffy – sort of like Kidsilk Haze so I don’t think it would be good for something that requires a huge amount of stitch definition, but it was great for this type of pattern.   My mother asked me to knit a scarf for her friend  – the friend had knit my Mom a scarf, and Mom wanted to give her something special back.  My Mom can’t knit lace anymore due to vision limitations, so I was happy to help.   We went to her LYS when I visited her in February and she picked out the yarn – the minute we felt it we knew it was the perfect yarn for a special gift!

I blocked the scarf after I finished it, and it really blocked well.  It completely made the scarf, I think – it looked so much nicer when it was blocked out and the yarn handled it well.  It became very airy and light – and the cashmere/silk blend is so soft .

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I really liked the pattern – very very easy to knit, and was great commute knitting.  I think you could use any type of yarn for this – the cashmere was laceweight, but I think fingering weight would work as well.  But I do think a solid/semi-solid colorway would be best – its not an obvious pattern so having varigation in the yarn would completely hide it.   This is a great scarf for a single skein of special yarn (like cashmere/silk!) – it only calls for 227 yards but since its a scarf, you could make it however long you want. I didn’t think my mother’s friend would  want a super long scarf so didn’t use all of the 330 yards that were in the ball that I was using (and to be honest, I was ready to be done with this project so I kept on trying it on and the minute I thought it was long enough it was done!).

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The pattern calls for beads on the ends of the scarf – just a single row as an accent.  I like that, and thought it added a little something.  But I wish I hadn’t used the beads I did – I just used a clear bead because its what I had around the house.  If I made this again, I’d probably buy beads that blend in a little better  – the clear just sort of were fake plastic looking.  I think a darker blue would have been nice.  But I’m trying to use what I have and not buy stuff for every project, so I was happy to at least have done that.

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So there you go – another successful knit.  I love the yarn and I’m so glad my mother bought me a second  ball to pay me for knitting this for her to give her friend.    I have to recommend the pattern as well – simple and easy, but I think it really comes out well and is a great pattern to use for a small skein of special yarn.

I hate to say this because my last three posts have said this – but I’m almost done with Artemis – I just have 6 rows to go.  I had to modify the pattern a little – I am running out of yarn and couldn’t do the last bit of the second chart so I’m going  just do the final chart (with a little tweaking to make it work).  I contacted Valerie, the designer, to see if she had run out of yarn – she didn’t and had yarn left over so I think I must be knitting it at a different gauge or something.  I never do gauge swatches for shawls – but perhaps I should really consider that!    I hate the feeling of running out of yarn – I stop at the end of every row and look at the ball of yarn and try to figure out if I have enough.  Valerie did offer to dye me some more of this colorway so we’ll see – if I can’t get the 6 rows done I may consider that.  Anyway – I can’t wait to show you the shawl because its very pretty – and the yarn – so nice!

Its been a busy week here – and yet I can’t really say why – don’t you hate weeks like that?  I’m very glad its the weekend – no major plans other than walking the dogs, maybe a movie.  Its been so hot here and muggy that I’m not too motivated to spend a lot of time outside – but maybe tomorrow I’ll hang out by the pool and knit in the shade!

Have a great weekend!


Booties

May 29, 2010

Thank you all for the nice comments about Andrew’s graduation.  He came home earlier this week, and last night we had the NJ family/friends dinner celebration and I can say that we are officially done with celebrating his graduation.    Now we have a couple of quiet weeks until the next graduation happens so I have a chance to recover!

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my nephew and his wife are expecting their first child next January.  As soon as I heard, I had to cast on something, and I finished these in a couple of days – but it took me a bit to get the ribbon and take pictures.

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Pattern:  Christine’s Stay-On Baby Booties
Yarn:  Dale of Norway Baby Ull
Started:  May 15, 2010
Finished:  May 22, 2010 (I actually finished knitting them earlier in the week but this was the day I put the ribbon in and officially finished)

This is such a great pattern – they are so cute, and were so easy to make that I can definitely see making more in the future.  The reviews for this pattern are all positive and apparently they do actually stay on the baby, so I’m happy that I chose this as the first booties to make for the new baby.   The story about the booties is really touching and I’m glad to continue Christine’s legacy (story is on the Ravelry pattern page)

I used Dale of Norway Baby Ull – I had it in my stash and I probably have enough to make another pair (maybe with a different color ribbon?).  Its superwash wool, so it will be warm but practical.    I think they are cute with the ribbons, but I may try to do a crocheted tie next time (although I bought a bunch of ribbon because I couldn’t decide on the color).    All in all – a very quick knit, and I had a great time making them.

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I sent these off to the expectant parents today as a quick congrats present – I hope they like them!  I’m holding off for now on making anything else – I think I’ll make a knitted blanket and maybe some baby booties for the shower, but for now, I think that I need to space out the baby knits a bit or I’ll overwhelm them with knitted stuff.

I have been knitting quite a bit this week – I finished a pair of socks (more on that next time) and I’m working on the cashmere scarf and think I will  be done with it in the next week or so.    I’m looking forward to getting it done because I already have two projects that I want to start – one if a shawl, one is a scarf.  I ordered the yarn for the scarf this week and it came yesterday – isn’t it funny that no matter how big your stash is, you never have the right yarn when you want to start something?  Or is that me?    Anyway, the yarn came yesterday and I may have a hard time resisting starting  – I think it will be a quick knit – size 10 needles, worsted weight yarn.

I’m so happy that it’s a three-day weekend – with all the running around, house stuff, visitors and family stuff its been hectic and stressful.  I’m looking forward to doing nothing this weekend except  sleeping late, relaxing with the family, golfing, knitting and making good things to eat.    Its beautiful here and I’m planning on spending the afternoon outside knitting and watching Penny play in the grass (she loves chasing birds!).

Have a great weekend!