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Monthly Archives: October 2012

I know that highly organized people start holiday knitting way before it starts getting cold.

I would put myself generally in the organized end of the spectrum, but I am a total adrenaline junkie and cram queen which means that I usually put off really serious holiday knitting until about Thanksgiving.

Holiday knitting for me starts with a sweater that I knit to wear to all the holiday functions (that I can wear a sweater to, that is). No intarsia Santa and Rudolph, don’t worry. I have a really pretty ensemble planned in silk/merino fingering and kidsilk lace which were specially dyed for me by the lovely Sabine at Lichtfaden. I will be casting this on my needles on 11/1.

I have been also contemplating incorporating my knitting into my holiday card photo. Usually, I browse through my dog photos from the year, select my favorite, and that is my card. I don’t send holiday cards every year, but I think I have a cute idea for a photo so my plan right now is to do one…I will be writing about my holiday card photo shoot, I’m sure. Here’s the knitted prop I want to use. And of course, Finn and Lucy will be prominently featured.

As for gift knitting — because I realize that when everyone says “holiday knitting” they mean gifts (and not for knitting for themselves like I’ve just been talking about!) — I am still a bit up in the air.
I think I’ve picked out the theme for the women in my family this year, which is centered around the yarn that I want to use. I think the guys are going to get socks, although my brother may get a bit luckier, if I don’t run out of time.
Have you started your holiday knitting yet??

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Got one “errand” accomplished. My Ideal Sweater got the whip cream topping. Buttons on the pocket!

Three sweaters worth of yarn.

Something I use often, and as I learned on this trip, should use more often.

And I may have grown my pottery collection a little. Just a little.

 

Have you enhanced your stash collection lately?

I really like Heidi Kirrmaier’s sweater designs. Or I must, since I’ve knit three of them so far this year. (Buttercup, Vitamin D, and Boardwalk)

 

 

 

 

 

When she posted a sweater that she called Tea with Jam and Bread, I was really intrigued. It looked really comfy, and just simple perfection.

It was a pre-pattern photo. Maybe she didn’t mean to write a pattern for the sweater, but did because of the overwhelming request that she must have received after putting up her photos.

What really got me was this description of the sweater on her Ravelry project page:

“The spirit behind this design is something cozy you want to throw on top of your pyjamas for breakfast. Of course it would be also great for going to school, the grocery store, a football game, walking your dog, lounging around your home, or whatever else you love – or need – to do. It’s also a nod to the current colour blocking trend, because we all want to look stylish in our hand-knits (even if we are wearing them with our pj’s), right?!”

Of course, it made me wonder. “Hmm. What is MY ideal sweater”? Heidi’s sweater was pretty ideal. But what if I were to customize it more for me? I set out to knit an ideal sweater for myself.

  1. The design and construction. The stripes! It was so cute, and I love the color block on it, and of course, the colors were perfect: 2 shades of grey and an accent color in an orange-y yellow. Heidi let on that it was a top down knit with minimal seaming, with a couple of pockets. I loved everything about this — so I dragged out a couple of top down sweater patterns (in the end, I purchased The Bible of top down knitting, Barbara Walker’s Knitting from the Top and found Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters on my bookshelf), decided on a crew neck like Heidi — and decided on a raglan sleeve since that is my favorite.
  2. The yarn. Heidi used Brooklyntweed Shelter. While I am a big fan of Brooklyntweed’s colors, I have a sweater knit out of the Shelter yarn that I am not 100% happy with how it has worn. Being gun-shy now on another garment knit out of Shelter, I looked around (not very hard). And gee! The Verdant Gryphon had JUST released a new worsted base, Mondegreen, which is 60% BFL/20% Baby Camel/20% Silk. And I don’t have to remind anyone what I think about the Verdant Gryphon/Cephalopod Yarns (the former Sanguine Gryphon team) colorways. This sweater was JUST the excuse to try this yarn. Off I went, happily to order my yarn. I stayed in a close color choice as the designer’s — except my marmalade is a blood orange marmalade. I love orange, and I love grey. I was all set.
  3. The sleeves. I get the attraction to slouchy sleeves. Comfy. I don’t like ill-fitting sleeves, however, and this is probably because sleeves that are too long makes me feel short. (OK, shorter than I already am!) But I liked the idea of sleeves that came over my knuckles. So I decided to do a 2×2 rib on the entire portion of the sleeve that would go from my wrist bone to my fingers — and insert a thumb hole. This way, I can pull down the sleeves when it was cold and have the sweater look like that is what it is supposed to do — and I can fold it back on top when I was wearing the sweater otherwise.
  4. The pockets. I am a big fan of pockets. I’d rather stick things in them instead of carrying a purse. But the location of the pockets in the original sweater seemed a bit too decorative. Also, I knew that pockets have a tendency to sag (because the pocket that I added on to my Oranje sweater sags). And I decided — what am I likely to be doing when I’m relaxing??? I’m either outside with my dogs, or I am knitting. I decided to morph the pockets into a single big pouch like pocket, buttoned on the top. The pouch is big enough to carry all the accoutrements of dog walking (iPhone, keys, poop bags — although I don’t think I would put keys in these pockets), and it is big enough to hold a small skein of yarn. How perfect is that, right??? Oh and the big bonus is that this sweater is another opportunity for me to showcase some Jennie the Potter buttons! (I really thought about putting lego buttons on there, but decided that would be too childish.

I was excited about this sweater. After a few instances of ripping back to fix a few issues… totally panicking and purchasing the pattern after all in the middle of my knitting frenzy just to make sure all my measurements and calculations were at least close to Heidi’s sweater, I raced through the sweater.

I am finally done. Well, except for the 3 buttons for the top of my pocket which I will pick up from Jennie at Rhinebeck this weekend. Here it is, my version of the comfy sweater. (And that’s Finn’s favorite Mr. Bill toy in the background.)

It appears that I was well on my way to catching a cold when I posted last, which explains why I seemed completely intrigued by liquids.

Armed with Purled’s chai recipe (folks, it is ridiculously good — the only thing I have done  to it is adding a stick of cinnamon for its warming properties), I have been a busy bee on the knitting front.

It also helps that it’s baseball playoff time, which means hours and hours of potential knitting time while supposedly socializing. I have one such afternoon coming up, and while my guests are armed with beer and hot wings, I will be content with my sweater in my lap.

See. Knitting is also my way of “dieting”. If my hands are busy, and I have gorgeous yarn running through my fingers, do I want wing sauce all over my face and hands? I can just have my share, wash my hands, and knit away as my 100 wing tub magically disappears.

Just in case I drink beer, the sweater I am working on is stockinette in the round. It’s going to be perfect (although I’ve been known to seriously mess up very simple knitting while knitting socially).

Just in time for Rhinebeck, fresh off my needles is Romy by ANKESTRICK. I made sure my sweater was fall-weather ready by knitting it out of Hedgehog Fibres Merino Aran (the old yarn — Beata has a new Merino Aran base out that is now superwash — I haven’t tried that yarn yet) in a great pumpkin-y orange called Rusty Nail. It variegates from yellow to brown, going through almost every shade of orange. It’s got a high neck to ward off the wind, and this is the other sweater which will require some Jennie the Potter buttons to complete.

This sweater almost knit itself. I was really intrigued by the contiguous shoulder method, so that took a bit of reading and ripping out (complete user error. This was the first time I knit an ANKESTRICK pattern and I was not 100% familiar with the set up. Once I “got” it, though, it went swimmingly — the pattern is fantastic), but once I saw what was going on, the knitting flew. The measurements in the pattern are perfectly clear, and this sweater, fitted properly at my shoulders feels like a garment custom made for me (which it was, of course, but fitting a sweater is not always easy). It may be because the sweater was knit at a relatively tight gauge and it is a “slim” fit, but it is feeling less bulky that I thought it may.

I love this sweater, and while it hasn’t been worn in public yet, I am hoping that Rhinebeck weather cooperates.

Eying any new sweater patterns?

 

And the farmstand had a beautiful head of broccoli.

I like broccoli any old way, but broccoli always reminds me of one of the best bowls of soup that I had in New Zealand several years ago.

I can’t remember where I was exactly — but it was raining, and cold. We walked into a small cafe with teeth chattering, and I ordered a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup.

The thing I remember the most about it is that the bowl in front of me wasn’t a bowl of green bits swimming in cheese colored liquid, but it was a steaming bowl of beautiful green soup, with a mound of grated cheddar in the middle which was melting into the soup as it was placed in front of me.

Since then, this is my favorite way of eating broccoli soup. The soup itself is nothing special — just sauteed onions, celery and broccoli stem, boiled in home made chicken stock and some wine, and the heads added at the last minute and cooked until just soft — and then blended.

I eat it with lots of cracked black pepper, and of course, the mound of grated sharp cheddar cheese.

YUM! Totally warms you up from the inside.

Speaking of warming up from the inside…The other thing that I like to make is chai. I use this version from Elana’s Pantry with extra ginger, but I cannot forget the chai that Nancy/Purled made for me (every morning!!). Ever since I read her last blog post about knitting in bed with the mug of chai, I have been thinking about it! Maybe the chai master will reveal a bit about her secret concoction……

Chai…..mmmmmm

P.S. Yes, I consumed both the soup and chai out of Jennie The Potter ware. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ravelry is a pretty amazing place. Not only is it an incredible database of patterns and a personal database of all things knitting for me, it is a place where I have “met” some fantastic people.

It appears that I am in the middle of an inadvertent KAL (knit along) with one such friend.

I cast on Conic, as you know, and my friend Judy (from Ohio, where Finn used to live!) cast on shortly after I did. We have had a nice back and forth online, updating each other on progress and asking each other about opinions on any changes we were contemplating. (That has got to be another blog post — how I think I know better than people who write the pattern and insist on changing it, all the time.) I did not change this pattern at all except to change needle size on the cuff ribbing, but I think Judy must REALLY hate picking up stitches because she was contemplating provisional cast ons on some edges.

It’s really nice to have someone cheer you on as you are knitting away on many stitches (>400) on small-ish (US2) needles. I had the ribbing done in a few days, and I actually wore Conic to work this past Monday!

I think Judy is on her last bit of ribbing as well now, and I think she will be able to wear the shrug to work on Friday. I can’t wait to see the finished object photo of her shrug!!

Conic was a really fun knit, and I expected nothing less of Cookie A. She, after all, singlehandedly turned me on to knitting socks. I knit mine out of Wollmeise 100% Merino sock (of course, a sock yarn. So appropriate.) in a deep, almost-cranberry red called Ruby Thursday. The construction is really interesting — you knit the spine down the back, and then do the big dolman sleeves attached to this spine. From a knitting progression perspective, it’s really satisfying because the sleeves get progressively small in big increments — so once you have gone through about 5 sets of decreases, the knitting feels like it flies off the needles.

From a wearability standpoint, I thought it sat on my body pretty well. I felt like I kept on tugging on it at the back, but I am not quite used to the shape of this garment — it’s not quite a sweater. By the middle of the day, I was done fiddling with it.

I have a really funny suspicion that Conic will not stay in my wardrobe for long. I am pretty sure my little sister will try to weasel it out of me. (Mesmerize me into giving it to her, actually. She’s really good at that.)

I can always knit another!

PS WIP Wednesday admission. I’m too busy casting on new projects. But Waterfall is still out on my coffee table, sneering at me.

My dog Finn is almost 13 years old. Hard to believe that he has been my sidekick for almost 9 years. He came up lame several weeks ago, which resulted in Old Human throwing out her neck carrying him to the eVet (he’s 50lbs, if you were wondering whether I was a wimp getting injured carrying a 5lb Chihuahua in the streets of Manhattan) and pain meds, anti-inflammatories and crate rest for the Old Guy.

Poor Lucy (my “puppy” who is no longer a spring chicken @ almost 7 years old) has had to deal with limited exercise as well since the Old Human doesn’t have enough energy to do too many separate exercise sessions. (Although the neck thing may have been due to our frisbee throwing session for what seemed to be HOURS. I’m going with the Carrying Finn Through the Streets of Manhattan story though.)

Aging just isn’t pretty, is it? In my head, I can still hike for hours, run top speed without warming up, and generally compete with my dogs for activity level. In reality, I have had to pace myself. I can still hike for hours but in cool temperature and my pace has slowed. (Finn’s fault). I can still run top speed without warming up but my top speed is now at a snail’s pace and I risk serious injury. And I now compete with my dogs for their inactivity level (they must sleep 20 hours a day) and relish my naps on the weekends.

I am blaming my Old Dog….but it really does sound suspiciously that the Human is getting old as well, doesn’t it?

On the good news front — Finn is off of crate rest, we got a couple hour window without rain in the mountains, and the three of us went for a nice amble on one of our favorite hikes. It took longer than it normally takes us, but I got to hunt for mushrooms, Lucy got to nose at all the critter holes along the hike and Finn was just happy to be out — as evidenced below!