Thursday, September 27, 2007

When The Going Gets Tough ...

(say it with me now) The Tough Go Shopping!

I won't lie. My beloved beagle was dying of heart failure last week and I felt helpless and sad. So I bought a lot of yarn. The Fiddlesticks' Knitting Expressions of Love scarf kit was just the beginning. I also had a lovely time at Little Knits.
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Two skeins of Fleece Maiden's 100% angora yumminess, otherwise known as Peter Rabbit. I have plans to make lacey wristwarmers from Lace Style, à la Mrs. Beeton, but more open and no beads.

We're just warming up on the shopping. Next, I surfed over to
Blue Moon Fiber Arts, home of Socks That Rock (and they do!). A thoroughly enjoyable 45 minutes of virtually fondling the wares, I chose the Cedar Creek socks pattern and one skein of Rooster Rock.
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Now humming with enthusiasm for my Christmas project of husband socks to commemorate this summer's travels, I stopped by PatternWorks. This arrived yesterday.
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Let's survey the damage:
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Two skeins Lorna's Laces in Seaside
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Two skeins Lang Jawoll Color Jacquard in #674
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One skein Tofusies ("Chitin is fiber from shrimp and crab shells! It's naturally antibacterial!" says the label)

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One skein Austermann Step ("mit Aloe Vera und Jojoba öl") in 07
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Two skeins Knit One Crochet Too's Soxx Appeal

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Two skeins Patternworks' Bretton in color 400 that is as lobstery red as it gets.

Somebody bring me my smelling salts, that's a lot of yarn! But it's okay, see. It's for Christmas presents, see. All that sock yarn? Superwash. Superwash and gift knitting makes it all okay, just like drinking a Diet Coke with a package of Pepperidge Farm cookies neutralizes all the calories.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Gonna Be Just Like A Country Song!

After some back-and-forth, this-and-that, eeny-meeny-miney-moes between the three Expressions of Love scarves from Fiddlesticks Knitting, I chose Hugs and Kisses.

What tipped the scales? A friend said, "Having a scarf with kisses and hugs on it made by mom would be like a Country song!" She was thinking of Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors" more than that schlocky song about the kid who buys his dead mom shoes for Christmas.

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My momma made a scarf for me
In wool of snowy white
And every stitch it carried
Kisses and hugs so tight

The events in the song would be long in the past, of course, and Momma long gone to her reward. Oh! And the singer - now grown, children of her own - is passing the scarf on to her own daughter.

I'm not writing a song but I am knitting a scarf of hugs and kisses with love in every last stitch. On her 18th birthday, I'll wrap around my baby bird about to fly the nest. My love song to my daughter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Beagles and Knitting, Knitting and Beagles, Beagles and Knitting, Knitting and Beagles, Beagles and ..

Thank you for your kind words about Suzy. Although I am currently in the guilt phase of mourning (why didn't I see how sick she was earlier? what if we had caught the infection that devastated her heart? and on and on), I am trying to be in a place of gratitude for the seven years of doggone fun we had.

In the meantime, there are three weeks to get ready for the two beagle babies and their many widdle needle-sharp puppy teeth. Want more photos?

Molly ...
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and Jack. *happy sigh!*
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Beagles and knitting R us. As for the latter, I have way too many projects on the needles and yarn for more projects coming in the mail. There is one FO to show: a Jaywalker in Lorna's Laces Blackwatch.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Letting Go and Saying Hello.

Suzy the beagle died on Friday of congestive heart failure. It's been a difficult couple of days.

A nearby farm had a litter of beagles exactly a month ago. We went out there this afternoon and found the seven cutest puppies ever. How to narrow it down to one? We decided not to. Instead, we have two luscious darlings who will be ready to come home with us on Oct. 13th.

Meet Molly and Jack.

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You know in the movie "Under The Tuscan Sun", the part at the end where Frances is covered with ladybugs, completely and utterly happy? That's how I feel.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sock Season, Swim Season

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It was parents' night at the high school girls' swim meet last night. Each girl gave her parents a rose.

Competitive swim season is short and brutal here. This week alone there are three meets and only one of those at home. On morning practice days, my daughter is out of the house at 5:15 a.m. If there's a meet, she's home around 9 p.m. Fortunately, the season goes only from September to early November.

It means we fix a lot of meals that can be reheated to accomodate wacky schedules. Yesterday, Yesterday was French Dip:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 green pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 beef bouillon cube
1 beef brisket.
Cook it all day in the crockpot and serve sliced on crusty rolls with a cup of the cooking juices to dip the sandwich.

Look what came in the mail today from Fiddlesticks Knitting.

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The pattern and Zephyr wool-silk, I was expecting. The nice presentation in the gold with ribbon and the gift packages of Eucalan Woolwash are a nice and very welcome surprise.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Socks for the Traveled Knitter

You know Nancy Bush's Knitting for the Road: Sock Patterns for the Traveling Knitter? The one where a particular place inspired each sock pattern?

So. I have a Christmas idea based on that book. As much as I love Nancy Bush's patterns, I'm not thinking of knitting each one.

My husband already has lots of beautiful sweaters. He doesn't have lots of beautiful socks. If I made him several pairs of socks as his gift ... if, like Nancy Bush's socks, our summer vacation inspired them? The gray of highway asphalt, the deep green blur of Ontario forests as we sped by, the stones of Quebec City, Bay of Fundy lobster red, something Celtic or Green Gables-inspired for Prince Edward Island, Atlantic blue, the golden summer fields at Gettysburg, maybe a skein from The Raven Series by Socks That Rock for Salem, Mass?

It would mean buying some interesting sock yarn, gosh darn it.

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This is the last of my sock stash. It's Lorna's Lace's Black Watch and Grumperina's fabulous Jaywalker pattern. Fun, fast, and, um, Nova Scotia shoreline-licious?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Invisibility Shawl - Take 3

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Kerrie Allman's Invisibility Shawl jumped off the page when I first paged through Charmed Knits: Projects for Fans of Harry Potter by Alison Hansel. At the time, my stash didn't contain just the right thing in the laceweight cashmere called for in the pattern. I fiddled around with some Seasilk in ivory. It was pretty but not diaphanous enough. Frog. I finished one Invisibility Shawl in a variegated mohair and gave it to my mother-in-law.

Who maybe has heard the name Harry Potter. Maybe.

I'm not a Potter fan, either. Rowling has imagined a complete world but dang, she's wordy. The predestined-for-glory aspect of the story doesn't do anything for me, either.

My youngest daughter does not agree. She's just about the age of Harry, Hermione, and Ron and loves them and their oddball world. The shawl will be for her Christmas. Her take is in 2-ply cashmere, whisper-weight and warm as toast.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Subject Is Lupines

We vacationed on Prince Edward Island this summer, just at the peak of the lupines. Hillsides and sloping meadows bursting with amethyst, lavender, mauve, and apple-blossom pink ...

Since, those lupine colors have somehow jumped into my knitting basket.

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This color is actually called Lupine. 640 yards of 2-ply Mongolian cashmere (Jade Sapphire). How long would it take you to wind this into a ball? It took me an hour, with a dining room chair serving as niddy noddy and our orange cat staring at the yarn the entire time. This is just the yarn for a Charmed Knits invisibility shawl.

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Lupine-y socks from Koigu in the Broadripple pattern. What I love: the lace pattern is super-ultra-mega easy to memorize and gives just the right ration of opened to closed for a sock. It goes without saying that the ripple effect of the pattern would show up much better in a self-striping yarn. What I don't love: next time, I'll add some ribbing around the tops to make the socks that much easier to get on and off.

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And this happens to be one of my favorite books. Miss Rumphius is a Johnny Appleseed who plants lupines, fulfilling in old age her parents' long-ago advice that she leave the world a more beautiful place. What better ambition could there be?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hearts or Flowers?

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She's totally planning to tear up my next sewing pattern. That's Sally, modeling my second Broadripple sock, now in the homestretch.

My oldest daughter has requested a scarf - off-white and lacy. This gave me just the excuse I needed to order Fiddlesticks' Expressions of Love kit. What do you think - the hearts or the flowers?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Beagle Update

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As you know, Suzy was diagnosed with a greatly enlarged heart. Yesterday was a bad day: no interest in the mailman or even a new Dingo. Breathing came only shallowly and rapidly. Her lungs were filling with fluid.

This post does not end the way you think. Even though Suzy is on the maximum beagle dose of Lasix, the vet gave her a double shot of the stuff. The medicine has bought her more time. I am happy to say that, as of yesterday evening, Suzy was almost her old self and the Dingo was no more.

I am also happy to say that I did not down Jelly Bellys by the fistful during the emotional rollercoaster ride that was yesterday. Instead, I took up my knitting needles - knitting is therapy knitting is therapy knitting is THERAPY !#$#%!^ - and worked on this mossy Irish lass of a scarf:

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Concours de Négligence

Hilton Head, Pebble Beach, Palo Alto, and probably others hold an annual motoring festival called the Concours d'Élégance. There, you and your flute of Tattinger can stroll among classic cars - not forgotten, not taken apart and abandoned in despair in some shed but taken apart, each tiny bit steam-cleaned, the whole put painstakingly together again and buffed to a high sheen of perfection.

Knitting blogs are largely a Concours d'Élégance of FO. But all of us have our soul-sucking junkers. After all, that's why the Slog-Along exists.

Welcome to my Knitting Bag of Despair. It's where good projects go to die.
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Let's take a peak.
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-some skeins of Stylecraft Pavlova
-Vogue Knitting Teen Knits
-a sweater front and most of a back
-two pairs knitting needles.
-one skein Sea Silk. What's that doing with this lot? Look at the Sea Silk glow next to the pink acrylic or whatever the bleep that is.

In fact, what is that fuzzy pink stuff?
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It apparently cost $7.99/skein. Just a little reminder of the Bad Old Days. There was a time when this kind of thing passed for luxe in yarn stores.

It wasn't that long ago. I started this "Pink Pullover" by Emily Westman in 2001. It's a blocky design with garter stitch trim at the hem, wrists, and neck. The front gets a star, probably silver bugle beads sewn on after. Back when I began it, my youngest daughter was in a figure skating club. The pink pullover was going to be something glamorous to wear to Sunday evening practice.

The neck shaping seemed unfathomable. Into the Knitting Bag of Despair the project went. Looking at the directions today, they seem perfectly clear.

Edited to add: What also seems perfectly clear, now that I've finished the front neckline and started a sleeve: the project needs to graduate to the circular file. The sweater shape is out of style and the yarn is fugly to work with. There is only so much time in this life.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

What I Do for Excitement on a Saturday Night

Saturday night and our daughter's movie party in the other room still had a couple of hours to run. Tom picked up a book; I rummaged through my stash, picked out a a skein and a partial skein of divino Koigu KPPPM. Color P836 is best described as "Rosy-Fingered Dawn": it's lilac and lavender; it's pink and rose.

Would I have enough for a pair of socks? Maybe. If it were a lacy pair and I abbreviated the cuff to 4" (which I like to do anyway)... maybe.

I cast on for Rob Matyska's Broadripple Socks.

A few hours later, the skein ended at this point:
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I'll have enough to finish a pair. Whew! The lace pattern is easily memorized (don't look at the front of the ankle area - I forgot to k every other row just there). It would be a fun, fast, kicky knit in any sock yarn. Other yarns would show off the ripple effect a lot better. But oh, Koigu yarns, you are the fairest of them all.
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Friday, September 07, 2007

Two of My Favorite Things

Thing 1:

Thing 2:
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Jo Sharp Silkroad DK.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Little Luxuries

This is what 14 balls of Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed look like.
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The yarn's 85% wool, 10% silk, and 5% cashmere make for a luscious hand but a rustic look. I bought it for a cardigan.

But when I got the yarn home, the desire to knit a cardigan had vanished. The Beanshoot color - a pale spring green with flecks of deep violet and cream - now seemed more suited to an accent piece. But what accent piece? A scarf? A hat? A bag? A pillow?

Just take the yarn back to the store?

This is where came in very handy. What had others had done with Silkroad DK Tweed? There were hats, sweaters, lace - all very nice. What really jumped out at me was texture. The yarn's rustic, tweedy look makes it a natural for cables, while its softness makes it comfortable against the skin.

That's when I cast on for the His/Hers Reversible Scarf from Melissa Leapman's Cables Untangled.
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That's one side.

Since the scarf is reversible, here's the other...
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The K6 P6 pattern is the foundation, with cables worked over 3 stitches. It's a very easy knit on #9s but keep track of which row you're on. That's what the rs marker is for.

The scarf will be about two yards long and use about 3 1/2 balls, leaving me 10 more to knit other little luxuries. The season of Christmas knitting has officially begun.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I Love Not Camping

The dishwasher decided to expire in our arms, like a reinactment of the death scene from La Dame aux camélias. I'll spare you the drama except to say that the machine had the decency to pick a fairly convenient moment.

It also had the decency not to start a fire. It turns out our model is under recall for some kind of short that starts fires, only we hadn't yet received the letter. It's bad when you can hear the repair guy swallow hard on the other end of the phone line. This was right before he told me to cut the power to the dishwasher NOW.

So months before we move, we have to buy a new dishwasher. We dug out the settlement check from the class action suit against Maytag for the Neptune washing machine problems, good only towards the purchase of a Maytag product. How it's fair to settle up for a defective product by handing out credit to buy another product by the same company, I don't know.

"Throw it away!" I told my husband when the check arrived in the mail. "It's useless! I'll never buy another Maytag!"

He didn't throw it away and we did what I swore we'd never do again: we bought another Maytag appliance. Everyone has their price. It turns out that my price is the opportunity to score a new dishwasher - even if it's a Maytag - for under $200 out-of-pocket.

I did buy a dishrack for the small interval between the death of Old Dishwasher and the installation of New Dishwasher. We hardly used it. We ate out. It was fun. We had cheap but good Mexican food and cheap but good Chinese food and not-that-cheap hamburgers that are the best in town. As the Ann Taintor card says, "I love not camping".

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This is Basic Camisole from Joan McGowan-Michael's book. The yarn is her 100% merino Joy. My version has the collar in the MC, mostly because I didn't have anything in my stash that looked great with the shell pink of the main color.

Shhhh! It's a birthday surprise for my older daughter. Her sister agreed to model it for you. Ignore the fitting issue until I can take a photo of the birthday girl in this cami, will you?
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