Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Kissmas and a Houndy New Year

My daughter, home from college, and Jack ...




Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lily of the Valley Scarf

The scarf, she is done! It's the Lily of the Valley Scarf from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush.

Want a closer look?

That's about seven repeats of the pattern. I would have preferred a longer scarf - say nine repeats - but I was plum outta yarn.

But seriously, could there be a more romantic scarf? As fun as the scarf was to knit, it will be even more fun to wear.

And in beagle news, Jack wishes it weren't quite so cold. He spent the day inside, a difficult task for a sportsman such as himself. Here he is, passing the time on a December day that didn't get above 0 degrees.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Knit Like An Estonian

The Aran vest for Tom can wait; the sock club kit for whoever (I don't wear socks) can wait. This week, I am a Selfish Knitter and this scarf is for me, me, me. It's the Lily of the Valley Scarf from Nancy Bush's perfect new book, Knitted Lace of Estonia. The yarn is White Lies Designs Joy in Shell Pink leftover from Photobucket and Photobucket, both from Joan McGowan Michael's book.

The Lily of the Valley Scarf is a 27-row pattern chock full o' "nupps", those little knit bobbles.
This bobble-like feature is a specialty of Estonian lace knitting and is used to add texture in openwork patterns or to create a figure or image on a stockinette-stitch ground. Shawls were typically sold by weight, and those containing nupps weighed more and could bring a higher price. Nupps were (and still are) proof that a shawl was handknitted, as they cannot be made by machine. - Nancy Bush

As that might suggest, a nupp is a tricky little devil. It's all in using your best lace needles (mine are ebony #3s, a freebie from Herrschner's last year) and in keeping those nupp stitches loosey goosey.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Double Yak Hat

A snowy day is as good as any to finish a warm hat. The cable is from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting, page 51. Using the construction of's Coronet hat for inspiration, I grafted the cable together, then picked up 85 stitches around the edge with #7s. When the hat was done, I picked up 85 stitches around the bottom rim of the cable and knit a second layer. Two layers of Shokay 100% yak yarn should be nice and toasty through the Wisconsin winter.

And now for a breath of spring! This arrived from Knit Purl's Sock Club a few weeks ago.
I can't say enough nice things about this sock club. This installment's pattern is called Buds and Butterflies. An azalea garden inspired the colorway. See the sunlight glowing in the yarn?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cablemania 2008-8-8-8-8-8

If I said: two skeins of Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere, color: violet, total yardage: 90, what pattern would come to mind?

I bet this one was in your top five ...

Lovely Fetching, somewhat abbreviated (2 cables at the wrists, not 3; 12 rows of k4 p1 ribbing for the hand, not 16; 3 rows at the final cable and no picot bindoff). Lovely pattern, lovely cashmere - so soft, so adorable to work with.

That project took maybe three hours, leaving me some weekend time, a cable needle, a row counter, and a ball of Shokay, a.k.a. 164 yards of pure yak-y goodness.

Enter Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting, with its gorgeous, inspired cables. My Swedish-American husband helped me choose the one on page 51. A Viking buckle from Skane, Sweden inspired it. The plan: the cable becomes the rim of a watch cap, à la Coronet.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Color Kittens - My New Go-To Baby Gift


A little Lion cotton worsted, a pair of #8s, a free pattern (scroll down), et voilà! Easy, useful, fun bath mits - your thumb makes the tail wag and your fingers wiggle the ears.

They remind me of the Margaret Wise Brown children's book about two kittens and a lot of paint,

These are for my nephew's two new babies, little Will and newborn Elana. Welcome to the spinning world!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Filed under Dang It

So Neiman Marcus does this outlandish Christmas catalog every year, right? One of the most outlandish gift selections this year is a group of three verrrry old rings.

Look at the medieval English one. That dog ... it's a beagle!

Now, where to find a reproduction in silver?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Aran Island Mittens

A new washing machine and a new pair of mittens just the other side of too big.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Felt, baby, felt!

Into the new washing machine went the big mittens. A little hot water and a little agitation later, you've got felt. The fit is great but the mittens are not perfect - I could have done the fingertips more evenly. Still, knitting knirvana.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

"Why Don't You," Demanded Diana Vreeland, "Wear Violet Velvet Miittens with Everything?"

Since most of us don't live in the same plane of chic Vreeland called home, we wear wool mittens.
Aran Island Mittens from Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski in a decidedly untraditional, veering-toward-Vreeland deep peony pink called orchid. The wool is Brown Sheep Co.'s Lanaloft.

Friday, October 24, 2008

On and off the Needles

I always have at least two active knitting projects going at any given time. Right now I have three. The first is a mindless round and round and round pair of socks in self-patterning yarn. I snatch it up when I sit down for nightly political tv-watching, knit without even looking at it, and pretty soon I have another pair of socks.

The other projects require more concentration. I work on them when I have uninterrupted time. One is lace.Photobucket

This is about 10 repeats of the very fun Cascading Leaves Shawl by Vicki Mikulak. The yarn is Mmmmalabrigo Lace in Hollyhock. I'm hoping to wear it late next week but I'm thinking yeah, probably too optimistic.

And now for what was going on below the shawl while I took the photo ...Photobucket

The other project is cables. Photobucket This is one pattern repeat into the Skye Tweed Vest by Kathy Zimmerman in Black Water Abbey wool, toasty brown with green flecks. I asked Tom what he would like for our 20th wedding anniversary. "I'd like you to knit me a v-neck vest," he said, no hesitation at all. Good answer! After I got an okay on the pattern from Tom, I showed him the loveliness that is the Black Water Abbey color card. I would have bet good money he'd have chosen blue but nope, brown it was.

Not everything is a work-in-progress. Here's Tom wearing his new Swedish double capPhotobucket


Now all we need is snow. There'll be an inch accumulation north of here tonight, I hear.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Swedish Fish Mittens

We're going to have to get spillyjane, to quit designing mittens. Her stuff is just too cute to resist.

Exhibit A: Swedish Fish



A little hard to see the thumbs, right? They're in the same fish pattern and are constructed in a way that is new to me. spillyjane's directions are as clear as her design is cute. It's all in KnitPicks Palette, total cost including needles of something like $20, with plenty of the colorful fish wool left over to make a baby cardigan.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Birdwatching Beagle

and pal ...


Friday, September 19, 2008

The Science of Socks: Science Project #1

I had just had one of those great ebay moments, the kind where you sell an item for a lot more than you thought it was worth. In this case, it was a Johnny Was shirt, once-loved but no longer needed.

Flush with ebay cash, I signed up for the Knit Purl Sock Club. Here's how the internal conversation went: Six pairs for $195? Why, per pair that's only ... oh, that is a lot. Never mind, it's not real money, anyway. It's ebay money!

The first project arrived in early September: Andamento Socks, custom pattern by Sarah Pope, 2 skeins custom Koigu Premium Painter's Palette.

It turns out this is one of those obsessive projects. I cast on two nights ago, grafted the toe on the first sock this morning.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cascading Leaves

A surprise package from the talented and fabulous Simple Knits arrived the other day. While Nala the scary orange kitty tore into the adorable handmade cat toys, I tore into the Jelly Bellys in ice cream flavors, the lavender soap, the measuring tape, the knitting journal, the calendar (chocolate and so evil!), a pair of lace-knitting circs, the two scrumptious skeins of Mmmmmmmmalabrigo lace yarn in Hollyhock, and -best of all - the shawl pattern designed by none other than Vicki herself!

I'm talking about her Cascading Leaves Shawl. That very evening, I cast on. And into my bag it went for a weekend trip to Door County.

Three words to describe the weekend: rain and excellent eats. The Door County tourist board's promotion is called Door County: Kingdom So Delicious!, a dorky slogan if ever there was one. (It's the title of a late-'60's National Geographic article, apparently.) From a cherry-filled puff pastry called cherry basket to cherry wine to Swedish meatballs to apples straight from the orchard we joyfully lurched, snacking our way across the countryside.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fighting Bob Fest

It was a blast.
The pink poodle with the man's head? That represented John McCain. It was everywhere during Fighting Bob Fest, usually led around by a gent in prison stripes and a big papier mâché head (Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rice were all seen).

1. A beautiful day for rabblerousing, 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Phil Donahue gave a rousing speech that involved the audience. He read the rollcall of Wisconsin legislators who had voted against the Iraq War. We were to speak for them, as they had spoken for us.
"How do you vote?" Donahue asked. "Representative Tammy Baldwin."
"NO!" the audience shouted back.
"Representative Jerry Kleczka," he intoned.
"NO!" we shouted.
"Representative David Obey."
"Senator from the great state of Wisconsin, Russ Feingold."

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin told us go "Get on the ball, y'all!" to help elect Obama. The great feminist thinker and writer Arvonne Fraser spoke about Governor Sarah Palin's nomination. "It is an insult," Fraser said, her voice shaking with anger. "If your friends plan to vote for her just because she is a woman, they are making a terrible mistake."

2. The Raging Grannies had us all laughing and singing. They are are social justice activist women who dress up in clothes that mock stereotypes of older women and sing songs at protests. They write the lyrics themselves, putting their political messages to the tunes of well-known songs like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".

3. Justice Louis Butler, Mike McCabe, and Ed Garvey exposed the loopholes in Wisconsin election laws that allow special interests (often from out of state) to outspend candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

4. Best bumpersticker slogan: Pontius Pilate was a governor and Jesus was a community organizer. Best food: pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw. Best beverage: real lemonade!

There was a lot to think about at the end of the day. That's when you take up your knitting ...
Swedish Dubbelmossa by Elizabeth Zimmerman and Meg Swanson. So much fun to knit!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dog Days

Only a fool argues with a skunk, a mule, mohair yarn, or the weather and have mercy is it hot here today.

This will be a great evening to sit inside and watch whatever the Republicans decide to do about their convention. Ever since the Iowa primary, my husband and I have been watching a lot of MSNBC's coverage of presidential politics. It is rare that we miss Keith Olbermann and most nights we also manage to catch Chris Matthews. With the fabulous Rachel Maddow getting her own show on MSNBC, we'll be logging even more time each weeknight.

If I'm gonna sit, I'm gonna knit. Here's what I knit last week sitting through coverage of the Democratic Convention: Photobucket
Plain vanilla mittens in Dream in Color Classy, Gothic Rose. How about a better look at the color? Photobucket It reminds me of Vamp, Chanel's famous nail color, an indescribable rouge-noir-chocolat.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Tip for Bleary Eyes

more animals

At my last eye exam, I complained about how bleary my eyes became when doing lace. My doctor had some good, painless advice that does not involve giving up lace knitting, thank heavens.

When we do handwork, especially fiddly lace, we tend to stare unblinkingly while we concentrate, without realizing. This causes a build-up of oily film on your eyes, making things look smeary.

There are two cures: 1) blink more - d'oh! and 2)failing to remember to blink more, use some eyedrops. Your doctor can recommend some.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Hermione Hat

The very brilliant Jackie Lauseng noticed a cute knit hat on Hermione in a production still from the Harry Potter film in production. She studied the hat and succeeded in reproducing it in pattern form for knitters. Here's the Hermione hat I just made for my 16 year-old Potterhead:

I love it! I love it's three-inch ribbed brim, the eyelets, the cables, the color. Thank you, Jackie! You can see the still and get the pattern for free at Jackie's blog.

And now for a sad, sad picture ...Photobucket
We came home from taking our older daughter to college in Ohio and found this devastation. Jack the beagle was not on garden patrol since he was staying at a kennel while we were away. Here's Jack on duty:Photobucket

Who done it? Had to be squirrels. Who else would maul sunflowers this way? Photobucket

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lovely Hamsa

When I bought the pattern for Anne Hanson's Hamsa, I just liked the pattern and happened to have one skein of rose Sea Silk. I had no idea what a hamsa is or what it symbolizes.

The Hamsa (Arabic: خمسة, Khamsa‎, literally "five", Hebrew: חמסה, Khamsa‎) is a symbol used in amulets, charms and jewelry to protect against the "evil eye." [1]

An alternative Islamic name for this charm is the Hand of Fatima or Eye of Fatima, in reference to Fatima Zahra, the daughter of Muhammad. An alternative Jewish name is the Hand of Miriam, in reference to Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron. It is a kind of "protecting hand" or "hand of God".

In recent years some activists for Middle East peace have chosen to wear the hamsa as a symbol of the similarities of origins and tradition between the Islamic and Jewish faiths. The fingers can point up or down.
- Wikipedia

If you google hamsa, you'll find many beautiful, inspiring, graceful ones. Here's a closeup of the scarf pattern, hands pointing down:

The pattern is beautifully-written and the chart just the right size to follow easily.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


How fun is this! You can make your own word collage using words from your blog. To see my collage much better, just click on it.