The adventures of a knitting grandmother

My Photo
Location: United States

She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

L is for...

Linen. I had been working on the Moss Grid hand towel from Mason Dixon Knitting for over a year; I just couldn't seem to feel the love for the linen. It was dry and hard to my fingers. Okay, not that dry and hard, but compared to a nice merino wool, yes, hard and dry. Like knitting with old string. None the less, I pushed myself to finish this and did so on June 8. Here is a picture of the unwashed towel.

The next day I threw it into the washer with the regular wash and let it ride. No great difference after the washing, but I tossed it into the dryer with the other things and turned on the heat. When the cycle was done, I hunted it out. Eureka! Amazingly soft and fluffed out! And not a bit of blocking needed!

Seriously, I was blown away by the results. I was standing there in the laundry room, squishing the towel in my hands and against my face, certain that some washer/dryer gremlin had replaced the dry, hard linen with this wonderful fabric. I'm sold. I'm converted. Now I believe that those beautiful patterns knit with linen are entirely worth the investment. (Now, if I hadn't put myself on a stash-only diet...)

Specs: Louet Euroflax Originals, one skein French Blue. I only had enough to knit 10 repeats of the pattern instead of twelve. US Size 5 needles. Scrumptious.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

K is for...

Keyboard. When I was in my teens, my mother bought me a piano and I took lessons for a number of years. Then I got married and moved away, and although I would play the piano whenever I went home, I eventually lost my skills.

Jump ahead to Fall 2000. Joe and I had celebrated our 25th anniversary, and my mother told me that as an anniversary gift, she would send me the piano. She contracted with a piano moving company and my piano travelled from Michigan to Arizona without mishap. I was very happy to get it, but I didn't remember any of my lessons any more. I didn't have time to take lessons, with all those kids still in the house, but the daughters did take lessons for a number of years.

Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to start playing again. I dug out my old music books, called in a piano tuner, and got a music teacher to come to the house once a week. And I'm happy to say that the lessons are coming along very well. Part of my reason for starting to play again is that I want to keep my brain active and busy learning new things. Learning - or relearning - an instrument is a wonderful thing. Of course, sometimes one can't practise until a kitty is removed from the keyboard.

Roxie hit me up with a meme today. It involves grabbing the nearest book, turning to page 123, finding the fifth sentence, and quoting the next three sentences. So I grabbed my current read, Elliott Arnold's "Blood Brother", an old favorite about the Apache Indians of Southeast Arizona. "He carefully extracted a long black stogie and received a light from the young lieutenant. 'You are most welcome here, Mr Bascom. You will find your duties not too onerous, I hope.' " If you want to play along just for fun, consider yourself tagged.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

J is for...

Jogless Jog.

I'd read about the Jogless Jog in Handknitting With Meg Swansen, but it never made much sense and I couldn't get it to work when I tried it. It wasn't until I got the DVD Knitting Glossary that it began to sink into my thick skull, and when I got the the video A Swedish Dubbelmossa it really and truly made sense. Finally. And it works. Behold the "Very Warm Hat" from The Opinionated Knitter by Elizabeth Zimmermann.

Oh, you can see the jog if you really look for it. But I can pick up the finished hat and not see it at all while just casually handling it. Here is one side...

And here is the other. The join is there, but so minute that no one will notice when Joe is wearing it in Alaska this fall.

Specs: Cascade 200 in Light and Dark Gray, less than one skein each. US Size 7 needles. Modifications: I cast on 112 stitches instead of the 91 called for in the pattern, and added an extra stripe above and below the two color pattern.

Joe says it seems a little too big for him, although I think it fits him just fine. He thinks I ought to try shrinking it down a bit, but I'm afraid that if I try I'll end up with something much too small. Hopefully he will just get used to it. It certainly is a very warm hat.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 09, 2008

An Extremeness of Weather

It's been a lousy couple of weeks, attested to by severe lack of posting. The extremeness of the weather has accounted for an extremeness of being under the weather, for both Joe and I.

Let's go back to where we left off, getting ready for Barbara's high school graduation. This is traditionally held outside on the football field, with the students on the field and masses of family in the stands and milling about everywhere. The weather was deteriorating all afternoon, with very high winds, chilly temperatures, and rain showers in the forecast. We were hoping that the powers that be would decide to move the ceremony indoors, but alas! Reasonable minds did not prevail.

We tried to dress accordingly. Joe and I both wore winter jackets and knit caps, and I had a woolen scarf and some fingerless mitts. The kids did not dress quite so warmly and were raiding the back of the car for blankets, old towels, anything that would add some warmth. The wind was gusting over 50 MPH, making the air dusty and freezing! The rain clouds were hanging off the horizon and over the top of the mountains. We stood out in this for over two hours. The graduates' caps were blowing away as well as the speakers' papers. We couldn't wait for the show to be over and to head for home, where we made up bowls of hot chocolate to cut the chill. You can tell from Barbara's picture how the wind was blowing.

Fortunately the rain - and mountain snow - held off until we were home. The next day the mountain tops were snowy white once more. (Sorry, no pictures, it was melted by the time I got home from work.) It was the first time that it had snowed on Memorial Day weekend, at least to my recall and the recall of everyone I know.

But the inevitable result was that the bronchitis and respiratory ailments that Joe and I had dealt with after Easter came back with a vengeance. We both were back on antibiotics and this time I had to take some sick time from work, something that I despise having to do. We both seem to be doing better now, except for a lingering cough whenever the wind kicks up the desert dust.

Since I was supposed to be taking things easy, I figured it was a good time to check out a new video and some new knitting. I had been wanting to knit up a Baby Surprise Jacket for quite a while now, just because I've seen and read so much about it. I'd ordered The Opinionated Knitter and Knitting Workshop, but found the instructions to be not as clear as I would have hoped. But all was not lost. I had also picked up Meg Swansen's video on the BSJ and found it to be a wonderful teaching video. Everytime I got to a new section I flicked on the DVD player and played the corresponding instructions. Eureka! A charming little sweater that will be put aside for the next baby in the family. Or the next time I need a baby gift. It took me exactly one week (May 25 to June 1) to finish it, minus the buttons for which I shall have to shop someday.

Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket
Size: Newborn-3 months
Needles: US Size 2 (at a gauge of 6 stitches per inch)
Yarn: KnitPicks Essential. Most of a ball of Tucson Multi, as well as part of a ball of Tan 23692, Brown 23697, and a few yards of Gulfstream. This made for a nice Southwest looking sweater. I will definitely be making this pattern again.

Labels: ,