Category Archives: Yarns

The Bedspread My Children Have Been Instructed To Fight Over When I Am Dead

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I don’t really want my children to fight over this blanket, but I don’t want them to toss it, either! I told one child that it was going to be a family heirloom and asked her if she knew what that meant. She thought it meant they’d be fighting over it. Close enough. Hence the name.

My beloved quilt started disintegrating after the move. It wasn’t even gradual. It was like one day it just gave up and saw no point in continuing down life’s long journey. Poof. (Sean says it was falling apart before we moved and I’m feeling like Fletch trying to fake being a doctor–“but at the end, though, the very end, that was very sudden!”)

I’m all about anticipating and planning for the future, so one morning after I woke up with my feet through separate and significant holes, I thought it might be time to discuss the next option with the husband. I checked out some local stores and some online shops, but cringed at the prices for nice quality quilts. They’re worth every penny, and if my Japanese Magnolia had shed dollars instead of pink banana peel impersonators, I’d have gone straight to the Queen of Quilting (yes, Cathe, that’s you) and asked for a custom order.

I decided the more economical route would be for me to knit a glorious bedspread. I know, it’s completely absurd, as Sean pointed out the second time I needed a substantial yarn reload for this bedspread. It’s going to cost 3 times the price of a stunning hand pieced quilt, and take 10 times as long to work.  The labor is cheap, but my expectations for this blanket are high. I expect my grandchildren’s grandchildren to be squabbling about this one, and if any of you ever see it in a garage sale, you have my permission to give the seller a spanking and a life sentence in the time out chair. Good gravy.

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I chose Kay Gardiner’s Mitered Crosses for Japan pattern, one that she wrote to support and raise funds for the earthquake victims in Japan. It’s a brilliant pattern, and I enjoy the perfectness of each happy square. Garter stitch has won me over from my poor first impressions, and it’s absolutely lovely to have something like this to alternate with more complex knitting.

The genius of this blanket, from my perspective, is that every known color in the universe is going to be in it, so I never (ever!) have to worry about matching pillowcases and sheets. A friend of mine says her best ideas are the ones that secretly allow her to be lazy, and I think I get a win in that category with this line of thinking. I don’t think it’ll even look weird for the pillowcases to clash with each other…they’ll still match with something in this blanket!

When I started last month, I had the cute idea that 30 squares ought to do the trick. I think I had 6 done before we realized 6 x 5 was not going to cover the Queen sized bed, and we actually wanted a blanket big enough to drape over the sides. Right now we’re looking at 8 blocks x 10 blocks. Last time I checked, that was 80 blocks. I’m on Number 27, my 3rd yarn order, and we have a long way to go, folks.

Don’t even ask about how many ends need to be woven in for each block. Denial is my friend.

Oh, and if you have any Noro Kureyon lounging about that needs a new home, let me know. I only need elebenty billion more skeins.

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Nice Landing!

This morning Sean took me to visit the second of two yarn shops in our new home, and it was such a treat!  I found so many favorite brands and yarns, and saw several I’ve been wanting to try for a while, too.  She also had the most gorgeous braids of fiber for spinning and felting.

I got to visit with the owner and one of the other staff, and they were really neat. I learned Stephen West had spent some time there at one point and was shown a model he’d knit for the shop…too fun! What a joy to have 2 lovely shops so close to my new home.

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This pretty came to live with me and become socks. Yes, it’s very orange. No, I do not have a fever. It called to me.  It’s a skein of Dream in Color’s Everlasting sock, and I’ve been eager to try it for quite a while. It looks like stitch definition is going to be gorgeous with it, so I need to find a nice pattern that will let it strut its stuff.

I’ve got about 2 more inches on the brown/teal socks before the second toe, and then it’s afterthought heel time!

 

Does genius burn?

When I was a girl reading Little Women, I loved the mental image I had of Jo writing furiously, ink splattered everywhere, pages scattered helter-skelter and covering her attic floor like snow. Her sisters would ask her if “genius burned,” and give her space to write and write.

I’m not Jo, and it’s not genius, but it’s been really fun to have the freedom to be so engrossed in design work. Right now I’m all a-twitter about a shawl design that’s been percolating for over a year. A little while ago I got my hands on a copy of June Hemmond Hiatt’s book, The Principles of Knitting. (It is a fabulous, fabulous resource, by the way, and has just been rejuvenated and republished with new material. If you can get one, do it posthaste!) I was flipping through the 712 pages when my eye caught on the one element that would pull the shawl together. I love providence!

So today I worked on a swatch and saw, to my delight, that this was going to work perfectly with the yarn donated to me by the artist behind Kangaroo Dyer yarns. Let me tell you, her yarn is gorgeous and her colors…oh, my. I wanted to do this yarn justice with a design that wouldn’t detract from her sumptuous colors, but would be bold enough to stand up to them.

Isn’t that yarn gorgeous? I don’t want to give a lot away because my secret ingredient doesn’t seem to be much on the radar yet, and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. (Or be overly hasty with my confidence that all will go as planned.)

My desk and the floor and table nearby are covered with books, yarn, and scribble-filled notebook paper, and my kids are in “Mom’s working!” mode. It’s almost like being Jo.

Sample for today’s class

I know it doesn’t look completely finished, but this is as far as this Baby Surprise Jacket is going get. It’s a shop/class sample, and this pattern is so mindbustingly clever that it really helps to see that the weird shape you’re coming up with is exactly how it should be.

I’m not sure it’s truly a “Baby” Jacket, though, as I found it was very attracted to having its photos taken in crazy angles. It might be a teenage Baby Jacket with an acute case of  “the angles.” (Har har…I get my inability to avoid a pun from my Daddy.)

I have to note for the record that I loved knitting with this yarn, Bombay by Katia. It’s a cotton, which is usually not my favorite. I love the springiness of wool, and the lack of that in cottons usually make knitting with them less than fun. This was a complete exception. It seemed to have a lot more give on my needles and the yarn was very soft. It’s perfect for a baby item or anything worn next to the skin.

Also, self-striping yarn is just plain fun!

 

 

The Color of Soft

Were you ever curious to know what color “soft” is?  Here it is:

I finished this shawl up yesterday and blocked it overnight.  It’s the same pattern (Textured Shawl Recipe) as this shawl:

It’s a good study into the difference gauge and yarn weight can make in a pattern. The pink/green one is pretty solid, without a lot of breathing room between stitches.

This one is knit at a very loose gauge, and of fingering, rather than aran weight. It gives the same pattern a completely different feel and drape. The textured stitches, especially, get a chance to open up and lend a delicacy to the overall piece.

I used Ella Rae Lace Merino for this shawl, and it’s got to be one of the softest yarns I’ve ever used. It bloomed beautifully after being soaked for blocking.

Today I want to finish an alpaca albatross that’s been hanging around my neck for a very long time.  If I can get that done before my next bit of contract knitting arrives in the mail, I’ll reward myself by breaking into one of those sock kits I made the other day. I’ll have earned it. This alpaca yarn does not play nicely with my skin and breathing parts, which is one reason this project has been hanging around forever.

Startitis Stopgap

Tidying up my desk and buffet is double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it’s nice to see surfaces again, and I’ve lost the “clutter twitches” that sometimes occur. On the other hand, when I do not have 100 unfinished projects readily visible, startitis inevitably ensues. Rational? No. Real? You’d better believe it.

Today I took steps.  I took a page from the Yarn Harlot’s blog and made myself some kits.  I picked out 7 skeins of sock yarn that I’ve been loving but haven’t brought myself to use yet, and 7 patterns from my Ravelry queue that have been languishing there forever. I printed out the patterns from online that were there, and copied the ones that were from books I own. Each skein/pattern combo is in its own ziploc bag, ready to be pulled out as soon as I’ve earned the right to start something new. I’m really going to try to finish 2-3 other projects first, but I’m making no promises.  Here’s what I’ve got all ready to go:

Rick, by Cookie A, in Dream in Color Smooshy, Visual Purple colorway

Hedera, by Cookie A., in The Sanguine Gryphon Eidos, Bacchic colorway

Mingus, by Cookie A. (I might be sensing a theme), Dream in Color Smooshy, Absolute Magenta colorway

Ornette, by Cookie A. (definite maybe on that theme), Wollmeise Twin, Hortensie colorway

Zen Garden, by Adrienne Fong (there it went), Politically Incorrect Yarns MCN, If I Only Had a Brain colorway

Conwy, by Nancy Bush, Dream in Color Smooshy, Dusky Aurora colorway

Clover, by Kate Blackburn, Malabrigo Sock, Cordovan colorway

Why 7, you may ask? That’s how many ziplocs I had left. (Note to self: put big ziplocs on the grocery list.)

Olympic Stall

I could tell it was coming. I watched the yarn cake get thinner and thinner as I knit merrily along, trying to live in that blissful state of denial.  It was easy to distract myself with those folks jumping off of perfectly good mountains and jumping around on razor blades, but truth finally hit me like a curling stone. My one and only skein of yarn was not going to be enough to finish this shawl.

There is quite a bit left to knit on Miss Ene. Way too much to fudge it. This, I suppose, is the danger of knitting shawls from the border up. It’s not like I can just rip out the last few rows and construe an earlier border, like I could if this had been worked from center-top down.

Lesson learned: Do not trust the pattern notes on yarn requirements. From now on, I’ll need to be sure I have extra yarn or have a way to fudge the end of the pattern if I run out.

Sean came to the rescue and ordered another skein to be sent to me. I’m hoping it gets here in time for me to finish and block Ene before the closing ceremonies, but until it arrives, Ene is resting for the last sprint.

In the meantime, I’ve dusted off the newly stained and sealed spinning wheel…