The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


There's been a good deal of creativity going on around here. Stuff getting baked, built, knit, and grown.

On Sunday, since he had nothing else going on for a change, Joe baked the family recipe Easter bread. This yeast bread recipe has been in the family for ages. Nowadays Joe does almost all the family baking, but years ago this bread was my project each year. Back then, this bread won the blue ribbon for yeast bread in the state fair for four years running. Here, the big bowl of dough rising in the sunlight.

A couple hours later, the finished product. I think there were seven or eight loaves once he was finished.

Most went into freezer. Not this one. Who can resist fresh, warm yeast bread slathered with butter?

I'm still working on the first Express Lane sock. Since this is toe-up, and there's plenty of yarn in the skein, I'm seeing how far the yarn will go. If I were knitting a regular length sock, I'd have been well into the second one by now, but instead I'm fooling with calf shaping and wondering if the thing will stay up once it's worn. The sock always seems to look a bit knobby to me, but when I try it on the fit is perfect.

When I get tired of the little DPN's, I switch over to the Icarus shawl. It's growing slowly but surely.

Another project is underway in the back yard. We decided to get the back patio redone and covered over. The concrete work got done last week and the old wooden overhang was removed from the roof. Things were stuck at this point waiting for the lumber to arrive from Tucson; I'm happy to say that the order was delivered this afternoon while I was at the LYS buying more DPNs and circulars. Now the back yard smells and looks like a lumberyard and the new construction starts bright and early tomorrow morning. We anticipate the work will be done by this time next week, we hope, and we'll have a lovely shaded patio to enjoy this summer. For me, it will mean a good place to knit and spin.

This is not a project we're doing ourselves, heaven forbid; there are companies that do excellent work and one of them is doing this construction for us. And when it comes to the flowers growing in the yard, there is no better workman than the Master Gardener Himself.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Who's The Boss??

There was some serious knitting derailment this past week. I started up a new sock with the Jojoland Melody superwash; the pattern is Diane Mulholland's Express Lane, which I found by searching on Ravelry. (Both links are to Ravelry.) It's a toe-up pattern; I've only done a toe-up sock once before, over a year ago. The first change I made to this pattern was to use Judy's Magic Cast On rather than the provisional cast on and the short row toe. I found this cast on to be much easier than when I tried it the first time. This time I only had to try the cast on twice before I got it to work for me.

The second change was to use US Size 0 needles instead of the 1.5 called for in the pattern. I really want a snug sock, and the small needles definitely give me that. However, when I got to the heel, things started to go awry. I couldn't get the short row heel to work the first time, so I ripped it out and started again. This time I got the heel to work, only to find that it was too small for my foot. It's hard to describe how frustrated I felt, especially when late at night realizing that I'm going to either have to rip it out again or just give up and start over with another pattern. I let it sit for a day and then ripped the heel back once more. Now I switched to Size 1 needles and reknit the heel. Lo and behold, the heel started to shape up better. However, it wasn't long enough coming up the back of my heel, so I decided not to start the calf back lace pattern until I'd gotten more leg length. So I continued knitting the lace pattern on the front of the leg and continuing the back in stockinette until I felt it was time to start the lace pattern in back. By waiting to start the lace pattern, I should now miss having the lace rub against the top of any shoes I might be wearing.

Now when I try on the sock I'm extremely pleased with the fit. I've got the snugness in the foot where I want it, and the lace pattern falling where I want it. For the first time I've adapted a pattern to fit ME, not just blindly following a pattern and hoping it fits okay. Now I'm really believing that I can be the boss of my knitting, just as Elizabeth Zimmermann would say.

In some other ways, however, I'm definitely not the boss of my knitting. At work now, although I can still knit, I can't knit in the office that I had been using, the office where the light was really good. Now I have to go to another room where the lighting is poorer. It's more difiicult to read and/or knit, and I noticed a good bit of eye strain last week. I was taking the sock to work, but the small yarn and needles just aren't working out now. So I've started a K1P1 rib scarf in worsted weight from the stash. Hopefully I might be able to move back to the other office at some point in the future. But at least I can work up something from the stash, so all is not lost!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lovely Fibers

Qiviut is a lovely fiber. Too bad it's so...pricey. I could easily knit everything, forever, with this fiber. I finished the qivuit cowl on the flight home from New England last week. Too late to wear for the big snowstorm, but it will work out well for the windy Arizona days next winter.

The cowl is a generous size, using the entire ball of qivuit/merino/silk from Windy Valley Musk Ox. This is all that was left when I finished sewing in the ends.

The cowl scrunches up nicely around the neck, although a bit loosely for my taste. I probably should have dropped down a needle size, and if I make any more of these I certainly will.

On the other hand, it's a perfect size to pull up over my head, and I will probably wear it like this more often than just around the neck. This pattern came with the yarn purchase; the designer now has it and other patterns listed on Ravelry. You can also find my pattern notes here.

When I got back from the trip, a special box was waiting for me. A few weeks ago Margene held a contest and I was lucky enough to get picked as a winning comment. I have been reading Margene's blog for a long time and find that she is a great source of inspiration to me, especially to get at my spinning! The box was crammed with goodies. St. Pat's Day candies, which we've saved for today, and a pretty bookmark.

There was also beautifully scented soap from Blessed Juno, but I didn't take a picture of it at the time and now it's in use every day! There was also this colorful sock yarn from Brooklyn Handspun; Margene really knows the colors I love! This yarn is very soft; I'm thinking of knitting it up in a simple sock pattern to show off the amazing colors.

Finally, there were two packs of fiber for spinning, yak and baby camel!! As I told Margene, the family is just getting used to me knitting with musk ox, and now there is more exotic fiber in the house. Well, they'll just have to deal with it; I think it's fantastic that a body can get to play with such non-traditional fibers. Thank you, Margene, for being so inspirational and generous!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Catching Up

Since coming back from New England on Monday, I've been trying to catch up with just about everything in life. Amazing how being gone for nine days can screw up the home situation. The lack of groceries, the overabundance of laundry, the dust bunnies, the dog hair, the mountain of mail, etc. Not to mention catching up at work on all the changes while I was gone. But there was much productive knitting and three projects were finished in the course of the trip.

The Twisted Cables Pullover was finished and was a major success. It fit the younger granddaughter perfectly and she didn't want to take it off. And hasn't taken it off. I was very pleased with the pattern and the Patternworks Bretton Heathers yarn. Hopefully it will hold up well with the use it's going to get. All the details are on my Ravelry page.

Altogether there were six sweaters and vests that made the trip and stayed behind. The little ones, of course, are for the new grandchild on the way, and the others are for wearing now.

The Glacier Scarf was also finished. How appropriate that I should finish it and wear it for the remains of the big east coast snowstorm! The Pink Carrots yarn is extremely soft on my neck and this is definitely going to be a favorite scarf. Again, details are on my Ravelry page.

There was much snowball throwing and snow hiking. There was also a first knitting lesson, using the Glacier scarf! There are more than a few three year old's first stitches in it, making the scarf an extra special treasure.

Another finished project and more lovelies next time.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Ain't No Spring Around Here

Yesterday (Sunday) we went to Tucson for a bridal shower for Carolyn (and Mike). It was a lovely day. The temperatures in Tucson were near 90 degrees, it was sunny and lovely. We were in the foothills of the mountains and it was a marvelous day in the great Southwest.

Today we flew to Rhode Island.

Yes, the middle of that huge winter storm.

There was some question as to whether or not we would make it in. Personally, I had no doubts about it. As it was, the airport in Providence was closed until the afternoon; by the time we got there, it was still snowing and the snowplows were working the runways, but we landed right on time.

Shocker. A wind chill in the single digits. Good thing I had my knit hat and scarf. The down jacket I dug out of the back of the closet didn't hurt, either. I haven't seen this much snow since we lived in Germany.

The grandbabies have grown tremendously.

Tomorrow, sledding and snowmen. Hopefully I will be able to post some pictures, although I'm sure all the rest of you are tired of the snow. At least I have the benefit of the novelty!

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