Spinning again

July 27, 2010

OK, this is a little rough, but it has been a long time since I’ve made yarn

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but I like it!  It felt so good to get this off the bobbins  – I had started this over a year ago – and bought the roving two years ago!

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The roving is 100% superwash merino from The Dyeing Arts and the colorway is Goth Chick Duo.  The roving was  2 oz’s of two different colorways – one with black tones, and one red/pink.   I spun the red/pink first, and the black was a bit of a chore – sort of boring which is why I think I stopped spinning it.  But once I started spinning again a couple of weeks ago, I was so happy to get back to it that it just flew, and I was so excited to get to plying that I finished it in one sitting.  Not the most even yarn – definitely thick and thin but it’s about 250 yards of sport weight, so I think I have enough to do something – maybe a cowl for the winter.  The colors are pretty, and its very soft and I’m looking forward to using it (there is something so satisfying about knitting with  handspun!)

Once I finished this yarn, I went back to another project that has been on the bobbins for a long long time.  This is a merino/tencel blend and I finally finished the single last week.

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I haven’t plied this yet because I want to Navajo ply it to maintain the color stripes – and I have only done Navajo plying once and I think I need to gear up for it (for those of you that don’t spin, Navajo plying is when you take a single yarn and ply it to get a three ply/cable ply).   Kim sent me a great video so I think I’m going to sit down this weekend and give it a try.  I love the colors in this yarn and the sheen is amazing so I think it’s going to be a beautiful yarn when it’s done.

Since I’ve been back to spinning, I had to also get back to buying a little stash enhancement!

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Pretty, eh? The one on the left is from Gale’s Art – it’s a combo of dyed light and dark BFL (blue faced leicester) and it’s just really amazing.  I’m spinning it now, and I’m really enjoying the colors  –  the dark BFL really adds a good depth and mix to it.     The roving on the right is Perchance to Knit and its 100% Polworth – I’ve never spun this type of sheep fiber, and it’s so soft and I’ve read good things about it –  I  think the colors are beautiful and I’m definitely looking forward to it.  It is so much fun to get new things to spin up – and so hard to resist starting it.

So there you go – now you know what I’ve been up to fiber-wise!  I haven’t knit in days – wow!  I just realized its been almost a week  – I can’t believe how long its been!  It has been very very busy at work, and I haven’t had a lot of downtime.  I’m really missing it though – I have so many things I want to get to!  I just found out today that a co-worker is having twins – it’s a high risk pregnancy so I’ve been hesitant to knit for her, but she had some tests recently and it looks like things are going better so I think I’ll start knitting her up some presents.  Definitely booties – maybe some blankets.  I was thinking about trying some of the new Loopy Ewe yarn because of the pretty colors.  Any other thoughts on nice baby yarn?

OK I think I’m going to go read some blogs and sneak some knitting in – just a couple of rows would make me so happy!  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!


Purple

June 20, 2010

If you look at my Ravelry project page, you’ll see that I’m in a pretty big rut – everything that I’m currently working on is blue.  I don’t know why that happens, but I’ve always been that way – in my life, and in my knitting.    I will stick with certain colors all of the time, even if I think I should have other colors around (like my clothes – mostly black, or the family room/kitchen – lots of red).  Anyway, the blue phase of knitting has been going on for some time  – but I think that it may be changing soon…

Not too far from blue, but judging on my two recent yarn purchases, I’d say purple is the next “stuck in a rut” color!

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This is Wandering Cat Alley Cat yarn in the Grapes of Wrath colorway.  Alley Cat is a Merino/Nylon blend and its fingering weight.  I think it’s going to be very pretty knit up – I just need to come up with the best patter for it.

I placed a Loopy Ewe order a couple of weeks ago for the yarn for the Peaks hood – and couldn’t resist throwing in a little Malabrigo.

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This is Malabrigo lace weight in the Cuarzo colorway.  I saw it online, and just loved it – and then when I got it and also saw the Wandering Cat yarn, I just had to laugh.  I guess I’m shading away from blue to purple!

So hard to decide which one to start something with – so they both have been sitting out where I see them all the time.   I’m trying to finish up two of my current projects – I have about 30 rows to go on the Artemis shawl and its knitting up quickly.  I’m a little worried that I’m going to run out of yarn because the ball seems a little small, but I suppose worse case I’ll improvise something.    My cashmere scarf is now long enough so I just had to do the beaded row and cast off.  I think I may do that today – assuming I can find where I put the beads!  The scarf is beautiful – so soft.  I’m going to block it so that the lace pops but I think this will be done today.    Once these two are done, I need to get a commute knitting project going – so socks or scarf?  What do you think?

We are having a very quiet weekend.  We did a little shopping yesterday (food, clothes, dog toys) and then went out to dinner.  We went to a local restaurant, sat outside and it was just so nice.   I know that in the blink of an eye it will be cold again, so its nice to be able to spend as much time outdoors as we can.  Today we are having a lazy day – Cieara is coming over for lunch, and Dan for dinner to see Larry for Father’s Day.    I’m going to be attempting to make a home-made banana cream pie  (it was so tempting to do a cheater pie with a store-bought graham cracker crust and some jello pudding mix!).  I haven’t made home-made pudding in a long long time so I hope it works out.     Other than that, its going to be really hot here so I’m planning on just hanging out by the pool, knitting and relaxing.

Our hydrangea are blooming – a little weird this year – normally they are all blue, but this year they are light blue with a white center.  I have no idea why, but it’s very pretty!

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OK, I’m off – happy Sunday (and Father’s Day if you celebrate!)


Changes

June 4, 2010

You know, it’s always hard to know what the balance between sharing personal information on my blog and keeping things to myself.  Over the years, I’ve actually shared a lot but it’s typically good news, or things that I don’t think are so personal that they can’t be shared.  When I read blogs, I also like a bit of the personal – it gives me a sense of who the blog writer is and I like to peek into other people’s lives when they let me.    So I thought I’d share a little bit of my personal life today – but if you don’t want to read it, look for the knitting picture and move on from there!

I think I may have mentioned our up and downs with Cieara.  In the last year, we had a lot of problems working together as a parents/children should, and it culminated last week in her moving out. It was a blow up and wasn’t planned but I think for now she’s going to stay where she is.  So we are facing so many things all at once, so suddenly, that its sort of hard for everyone.  We are worried about her – making bad decisions, not planning for the future – you know, all the things some 18-year-old kids do.  I myself made some bad decisions at the same age, so I know how it is.   She’s safe, and she’s still going to school and should be graduating next week, but its hard to not have her here.     Lines of communication are damaged but I’m hopeful that we will be able to fix that and at least keep talking to her and keep some connections.    There isn’t much we can do right now to change her mind – she’s 18, and she is determined to go her own way, but so hard as a parent to let go.

For us, we went from being parents with children at home to empty nester’s in a 24 hour  period.  And it’s really weird.  Andrew is visiting right now so I think some of the impact isn’t felt yet, but it already feels odd.    All of a sudden, after 25 years, I don’t have children to take care of.   And I finally get why some parents have a hard time with this – in the past I never really understood it.  I mean, who wouldn’t like the freedom of just being a couple after all this time of raising kids?   Now that I’m looking at it – it’s just so weird and odd that I think I’m going to have to adjust slowly.  Larry and I are both busy with work, hobbies, the house, and all that.  We have things we do together and things we do alone.  So that’s all good.  And I think we’ll be fine – but it is just so weird and I feel a little bit  sad when I think about it.

So there you go – that’s the little bit of personal on today’s post.  I hope that it wasn’t too bad – and if you have any thoughts or advice, you know I’m always looking for input!

OK, for those of you that skipped the personal and came for knitting.

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I had a bad case of startitis last week – so much so that I actually went out and bought yarn to do it!   I don’t know why, I don’t remember how this came to my attention last week, but I came across the pattern for the Peaks Island Hood and all of a sudden I just wanted to make it.  I had seen the pattern when it first came out and queued it, but for some reason, seeing it again just charged up my knitting mojo and I just had to start it.  Because the perfect time to make a heavy wool scarf/hood is in June!

I didn’t have the yarn I wanted to use in the stash, so I went to the Loopy Ewe and ordered some Cascade 220.  I love this yarn – I think its one of the most perfect yarns.  It feels so good, and I love the practicality of it – its relatively inexpensive, comes in a lot of colors and has a lot of yardage.  I picked the blue because I thought it would look nice with my coat – and because I was in one of those moods where I wanted to keep close to the original pattern.

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Miles and miles of seed stitch.  I can’t say that its my favorite stitch to do but I love the texture of it – this is so soft and squishy, and its going to be so warm next winter.  And its a great project to have while driving, knitting or just when you don’t have the mental capacity to do anything complicated.  I’m enjoying it and for now its bumped all of the other projects off my active list.

Its June  – I can’t believe how fast time is going  – it seems like it was just January and snowing!    I need to  go find a farm stand and buy fresh strawberries.  Because Penny ate most of ours – we only have this little crop right now..

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I have a three-day weekend this weekend again – I have to go have some oral surgery done today.   And I got a reminder that I have a mammogram scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  Honestly  – does that sound like a fun weekend?   I suppose, though, that its ok.    These are things I have to take care of and at least I’ll have some of the weekend to enjoy

OK, off to the oral surgeon’s – have a good 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!


Miss me?

May 16, 2010

Have you missed me?  I can’t believe how long its been since I’ve blogged  – I’ve never taken such a long break before and I was worried that I’d never get back to blogging.  But I’m in a break between busy and thought I’d check in and let you know that I’m still here, and that I’ll be back (that also means that I’ve been away from reading blogs too and I’ll be catching up on those too – promise!).

As I mentioned before, the last month has been really busy and crazy.   Dan moved out, we had painting, repairs and what seems like a million things going on at home.  But now the rooms are painted and the last of the inside repairs was just finished tonight and things are starting to calm down house-wise.  Isn’t it stressful when you get out of your routine and things are all over the house?  I hate it – I always feel better when everything is it its place, and my routines are kept.  Anyway, all is back to order for now – next month we are going to start painting again, but for now, its quiet.

We also have had a visitor for the last couple of weeks – my Mom has been visiting from California!  She stayed with me a week, and I took  some time off work, and we had a really nice visit.  Lots of talking, knitting, shopping, and a little cooking.  I have had a recipe book since I was a teenager and it contains all the favorite recipes that I’ve come across since that time.  My mother and I were looking through the book and came across two of her fudge recipes (maple cream and divinity).  I commented that I had never actually made the fudge but remembered it from childhood.   We decided to make both – and I have to say – yum!  I can’t show a picture of the maple cream since it went really fast, but I did get a picture of the divinity before everyone ate it.

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I must say – it’s a good thing that she was here when I made it.  When she gave me the recipe, she gave me the abbreviated version that she used – she had been making the fudge for years and just skipped over steps when she gave me the recipe to write down.    She hasn’t made either recipe in at least 20 years, and we muddled through the maple cream, but when we made the divinity it didn’t set – so we tossed it and tried again.  And then I wrote down the steps!  Both were very good, and it was so nice to spend the afternoon in the kitchen with her, bringing back some memories.    I’ll be making both again – so good!

Mom spent last week with my sister, and went up to Boston for my niece’s graduation.  And this week she comes back to me, and we are heading down Thursday to see Andrew.  He’ll be graduating from the University of Maryland, and we are very proud of him and I’m looking forward to watching him take the first step into the next phase of his life (I’m getting a little emotional about this!).   We are planning celebrations for him, and last night I finally came up with the perfect gift.  I don’t want to write what it is because sometimes he reads this, but I can’t wait to give it to him.   

There have been so many changes lately – house stuff, kids moving out, graduations – its been hectic and so busy.  I haven’t been knitting other than when my Mom was with me – work has been busy and between sleeping on the train and working on the train, I just haven’t had a lot of time.  And to be honest – I was missing a little knitting mojo.  I have been working on socks, but it just felt like a chore. 

But yesterday I got news that has totally given me back my mojo!

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My nephew and his wife are expecting their first baby – and I am so excited.  The minute I heard I just had to cast on for a cute pair of booties to say congrats with – and I’m planning a couple of other things to give them.  It’s so exciting and I love knitting these little things.  I’ll post more on this when I post the completed pair – I’m already on the second one, and just need to find some cute ribbon for it.  But they are so cute that I can’t wait to make more.    Next I need to find some nice yarn for some sweaters, more booties – maybe a blanket.  And maybe this.  I don’t want to get too crazy about this – but I have to say – knitting for babies is so much fun, and I think I’ll have a hard time resisting!  Do you have any favorite baby patterns that you think I should make?

OK, I’m off to get ready for the week.  I promise that I’ll be back soon, and hopefully will have picture of some finished socks.  I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to – I’ve missed my blog reading time. 

Have a great week!


Something new

April 28, 2010

I just couldn’t do it.

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I couldn’t be project monogamous.  I had to start a new project.  I really like Coraline.  I love the cashmere scarf.   But I just really had to start something new – I missed that new project feeling.  You know, the feeling when you rummage through your stash, look at Ravelry and find just the right pattern, the right yarn and start something new.   I used to have a lot of projects going at once but then I realized the more I started the more I didn’t get done.  So I tried to have one at home project, and one commuting.   Which worked for a long time.  But last week I just needed something new.  And I’m really happy with it.

The yarn is Ellen’s Half Pint sock yarn – my Ravelry stash shows I bought this at Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I haven’t gone to Maryland in at least three years, so this is old stash.   I picked it out for a simple reason – it was already wound up.  When we painted our bedroom I put my swift and ball winder away in a box and I haven’t unpacked yet.  So when I was rummaging through the stash for something new, I didn’t want to pick something that I’d have to wind up since I’d have to do it by hand.   I had started a pair of socks for Dan with this yarn but it was too pink so I put it back.  But its perfect for now and I’m enjoying it.

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The pattern is Sunday Swing Socks from Knitty – a very very nice pattern, especially for variegated yarns.  My cast on is 64, and it worked out perfect for this yarn; no pooling and just nice little stripes.   I really love how the pattern looks and I think this may make my “have to make it twice” list.  They are top down, and I’m really enjoying the knit.  I’m just about done the first sock and I think this will be a quick pair.   In fact, I like them so much that I didn’t sleep on the train at all yesterday and knit all the way in – very unusual for me as I normally pass out half way there in the morning!

We have had a little bit of change in the house recently.

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Last Saturday Dan (on the left) moved into his own apartment, and we got our office back.    We are very happy for him, and I know he’s much happier in his own place.   I will miss seeing him every day but I have Facebook to harass him with!   

Larry and I painted the trim in the office on Sunday, and today Larry painted the walls.  We picked out a color we thought was close to what was there which is a dark gold.  Going on the paint looked like a something between 70’s appliance gold and carrots – I was a little scared.  But it dried into a very pretty color  – sort of like a dark butternut squash (I know – sounds weird but it is pretty) – and I’m very happy with it.  We have to move our desk back in and get it all setup as an office/guest room again (we had everything in our bedroom while Dan was living here).    It will give me more room in my bedroom and a place for my Mother to stay with us when she gets here next week. 

I was planning on going to Maryland Sheep and Wool this weekend – as I said, I haven’t been in a few years.  But I don’t think its going to work out.  We have a lot of things to do this weekend to get ready for my Mom’s visit – we still are getting our bedroom back in order, and now the office.    Plus we have three graduations coming up and it’s just not the best time for me to have that much temptation to spend money.  I really went back and forth on this – Maryland is my favorite fiber festival – but I know that I wouldn’t be able to go and still get everything done I need to – and I certainly can’t go and not spend money.  So I think I’m going to skip again – but I may go through my stash and remind myself that I’m really not all that deprived!  But I’ll enjoy seeing all the pictures and reading all about everyone else’s good time.  Maybe Rhinebeck!

OK, time to go play with Penny.  She’s harassing Ruby (who is feeling better by the way) so she needs to be distracted.  Have a great week (and weekend!)