Yarn Feeding Frenzy

It’s been a kind of tough few weeks and I’ve been missing too much knitting. Last week I pulled myself together and returned to my weekly Wednesday knitting group at my favorite yarn store, Colorful Yarns in Centennial, Colorado. How wonderful to return to my peeps. How great it was to catch up on the new yarns and books. It was a little like coming home after a trip away… there was even a commotion going on between rowdy shoppers towards the front of the store. As shrieking and laughing continued I finally wandered over to see what was up.

Skein of Yarn
Looks pretty innocent, doesn’t it. This yarn, which I wouldn’t have ordinarily given a second glance to, was the trigger for a major yarn event at my local yarn shop. It is Bamboo Bloom by Universal Yarn. The color I bought is called Emperor.

It was a yarn feeding frenzy!! Having caught the scent of blood in the water a great yarn, ladies were digging through a tub of artsy looking yarn on the floor.  Huh? Nice yarn, but what was the big deal?  It makes a cowl, one of the frenzied yarn diggers told me. A second shopper waved the article in question at me… and I froze. Hey, this is kind of cool. I kind of want it. I need some of this yarn, but by this point there were only a couple of disappointing orange/tan colored skeins in the tub. Sniff.

Wait… Why are there more ladies pouring through the door to get this yarn? Answer: A new shipment of the yarn had arrived and the calls had just gone out. The first yarn sharks had pulled up and more were on the way. Oh, no! There was no way I wanted to miss this action. I suddenly realized that the bags of newly arrived yarn were on the floor by the cash register where a couple of unprincipled fearless shoppers had ripped them open and were busy handing out skeins in all the possible colors. Skeins were flying through the air! You know where I ended up… yep! Behind the register where the main action was occurring. After making some yarn tosses myself (go long, go long!)  I gathered up examples of all the colors, plus the cowl in question, and carried them back to the other knitters in the group. Oops. That was that. A major yarn feeding frenzy and knit-along commenced. Woohoo!! I hoarded three skeins of the stuff myself for at least an hour before I calmed down enough to put two of them back into the tub.

So, here is what all the fuss was about.

Yarn
The yarn is a single ply bamboo yarn with 6 inch strips of unspun wool inserted every three feet or so. The barber-pole sections are where the connections between the two fiber types were made, Wow. I think that I need to spin me some of this yarn. With beads!!
Cake of yarn.
Here is the yarn once I had it wound up into a cake. Looks more interesting, doesn’t it. The puffs stand out, but actually there is about 10 times more bamboo yarn in length.
Cowl
and this is what the yarn looks like knitted up into a cowl. Woohoo!! Talk about fabulous. This is the Simple Rules Cowl that is a free download on Ravelry. I knitted it a little bigger than the pattern; I cast on 100 stitches with a size 10 needle. All the stitches are knitted until you come to one of the puffy strips; those are purled to make the puffs stand out. Too easy!

I finished the cowl this morning. Fast, easy, almost mindless knitting that was perfect for catching up on television that I missed over the weekend. Luckily there was a little action to break things up when I heard another (but not yarn related ) commotion occurring at the back door…

Unhappy cat
Mom took away my snake…

The cats had cornered a little garter snake out back and the commotion was Yellow Boy trying to bring it inside while MacKenzie fought to get the snake for himself. Yikes!! No, no, no! No snake frenzy! There was an intervention of the “release the wildlife” type. Cats in, snake out, and me knitting the rest of the cowl.

Tomorrow it is going to be a lot colder. I have a powder blue sweater that will be rocking my new cowl when I go to the Wednesday knitting group at Colorful Yarns.

It is good to hang out with your peeps. 🙂

Drachenfels: Making Progress

It has been a really good week knitting-wise. The weather is cooling down at last, I’m caught up on most of my major projects, and the new season is starting up on television. I find myself knitting outside in the garden, at the doctor’s office and even during the football games (Go Broncos!!) The leaves are turning at last and I am churning out my Drachenfels shawl.

Shawl
I’ve made the transition from the charcoal grey to the slate gray yarn. It’s subtle but should look better when I get to the solid slate portion of the shawl. I put in one black garter ridge at the midpoint of the charcoal/plum section of the shawl. Later on I will use the black to do the I-cord bind-off. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.
Cat on shawl
Of course as soon as I put the shawl down for the picture MacKenzie moved in. One of my favorite shows to watch while knitting is the A&E production of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. You know that quote from the book/film: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” MacKenzie believes that it is a truth universally acknowledged, that an unattended knitted object must be in want of a cat.
Cat chomping yarn
and loose yarn is made for chomping. He especially likes this cashmere blend Smooshy by Anzula Yarns. He and I have had several conversations about this over the last week…

At this point I removed him from the picture shoot.

Knitting
Here’s the cat hair embellished closeup of the black yarn ridge and the transition from charcoal to slate grays. What do you think?

You can’t see it in the pictures, but this yarn is knitting up really soft and should have a great drape when done. I am using a smaller yarn than the pattern was designed for (fingering instead of sport) and moved down to size 4 needles (3.5mm) instead of size 6 (4 mm), but this shawl is coming out plenty big!

The forecast is for cooler weather and rain showers this weekend, and there is a Broncos game Sunday. I plan to really crank out some knitting over the next couple of days. The shawl should be big enough both for me and the cat soon. 🙂

 

Liebster Award!

I was surprised to wake up a couple of days ago to find that Sharon of Creativity and Family had received the Liebster Blog Award and had nominated me to receive it also. For those of you who don’t already know what this award is, it is one that is designed to recognize and draw attention to smaller bloggers (in terms of the number of followers) who produce sites that you (the nominator) find helpful/entertaining/meaningful and would like to share with others. At the end of this post I will pass the baton to some of the sites that I follow and really enjoy. Sharon, thank you so much for nominating me. I’m really flattered that you thought of me.

As part of accepting the award I am asked to answer some questions that Sharon sent to her nominees in her original post. I get to pick 5 or more of her questions. So, with no further ado, here are her questions that I have selected and my answers.

  1.  What is your favorite crafting tool?

My knitting needles!! I have gone through a lot of needles in my time, but my absolute favorites are now Chiaogoo lace tip needles. I have a set of interchangable needles that I bought extra tips and cables for, several sets of cable needles, and and a set of double-pointed needles to match them. If I am just knitting a sock or mitt I use my Kollage Yarns square double-point needles. I love them so much I bought a set (or two) in every size I commonly use. I have zip-up Chiaogoo cases for them that I treasure.

Knitting needles
It really is the little things that count. I love these needles!! The cables of the ChiaoGoo are wonderfully flexable and the square needles are so easy on my hands I can knit for hours without my hands tiring.

2.   What is your favorite craft book

That’s a hard call. I went to the book shelf and hunted for the book that was the most worn and tattered. Here it it.

Book
This book is my go-to source for patterns when I need to make a hat, or mitten/glove. It is especially nice as it helps me use my handspun yarn.

 3. Do you have a project that you have made time and time again?

I have made the same sock pattern so many times that I have it memorized! It is the Chouwa sock from the book Knitted Socks East and West by Judy Sumner. No matter who I make this sock for, it fits!! I tried to make my sister something else last year and she just demanded another Chouwa. So there. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. 🙂

 4.  What is your favourite handmade gift that you have received from somebody else?

My cousin Cathy sent me a handmade quilt that I just treasure and use everytime I stay over at my son’s house. Next time I get hospitalized (knock wood) I’m going to have it brought to me because it makes me feel so happy!

5. Where do you sit to do your creating?  If possible could you share a photo?

Chair
This is the knitting chair! It is so big I can sit cross legged in the chair and during the winter I snuggle under a blanket while I work. Notice the nice big (cat-suitable) arms; the cats still insist on sitting on me (chomping yarn) or on the leg rest while I knit.
Sewing table
This is the sewing table and off to the right is the cutting board. Cats sit all over all of this too.

 6.   Have your creative hobbies changed over the years or do you stick to the same ones?

Knitting has been a constant for me ever since I learned around 8 years old. I’ve added in spinning, weaving, quilting, card-making and some bead work over the years, but the vast majority of my time is spent knitting. My spinning wheel resents this…

7.   What do you store your wips and take out projects in?

I live it fear of wool moths. Every time I attend a workshop lately I am warned that there are, indeed, wool moths in Colorado. I have a lot of fiber coming through my house…

Cat
and I wage a constant war to keep the animal fur in the house under control.
Storage box
I now store all my projects in these plastic snap top storage boxes. There is enough room in there to include scissors, patterns, extra needles, etc.
Storage
It’s really easy to stack and store them too!

That is it for my questions. It is now my great pleasure to nominate some of the blogs that I follow and enjoy. Please don’t feel obligated to accept the award, but if you do, there are some requirements that I have listed below. I hope that you will because I like your blog and I think that other people will to.

alexand knits

That Girl  at (Not) Another Lupus Blog

joeylynne28 at Tubie or Not Tubie

Princess Yarn

Orange Smoothie

Teal Brick Road

knitsbywhit

Knit Jubliant 

Monarenton

As an award winner you must:

  1. Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated.
  2. Copy and paste the Liebster Award medal (logo) onto your own blog.
  3. Link back to the blogger who awarded you and give thanks.
  4. Answer the questions put to you by the person who nominated you. This is a great way to get to know the people behind the blogs. The number of questions have vary from 5 to 11 depending on who is asking.
  5. On your blog nominate and link to your 5 favourite blogs (or more) that you enjoy but have a small readership (the rules have varied from less than 200 to less than 3000 readers). It could be that they have only been blogging for a short time or have a niche interest but are worthy of gaining more attention in the wider blogging world.  That means the blogs of large, commercial enterprises are not eligible for nomination; nor are blogs that are well publicised in a variety of media and established with tens of thousands of followers.
  6. List your questions for your Liebster Award nominees on your blog.
  7. Inform your nominees by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Some of the blogs that I nominated are written by people with serious crafting addictions (and not enough time to get to all of them…), others are blogging about their lives with serious medical conditions, and some blogs are by people with both of these things going on in their lives. 🙂 I tried to make questions that will fit the bill for people in either group; pick 5 or more of the questions that appeal to you.

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Why did you chose the name of your blog?
  3. What are three of your very favorite books?
  4. What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day life and how do you deal with them?
  5. What does your work (crafting) area look like? Pictures, please!!
  6. Are you hoping to make gifts for Christmas this year? Share!! (Please do this one. I need ideas…)
  7. What is your favorite (handmade) gift that you have received from somebody else?
  8. Where do you get your best ideas?
  9. Where do your creative energies go? What craft or activity is the most important to you?
  10. Have your creative hobbies changed over the years or do you stick to the same ones?
  11. What makes you the happiest?

Farewell Summer, Hello Drachenfels

Yesterday was the last day of summer. Wow, how did that happen? I woke up, headed out to the garden to drink my latte, and there is was. The first changed leaf on the maple tree. It’s so hot outside I can hardly believe it, but the cooler weather of fall is on the way. Really, eventually it will get here.

Red leaf in green tree.
There it is! Fall’s first leaf.

Time to think about warmer clothes and shawls. Alexand has been driving me nuts with her posts about her Drachenfels (by Melanie Berg) knitting journey. It is just beautiful. Check out her post about knitting on the go here. There is just no way around it… I am suffering from Drachenfels envy in the worst way. Fall is here. I have finished all my other knitting projects. No more excuses. Time to get started on my own Drachenfels effort.

One of the best things about Ravelry is that you can poke around and check out the projects other knitters have made of any particular pattern. I found a project (by fineknits, one of the test knitters), that was done in three colors and a highlight color. Perfect!

Yarns
Here are my yarns. I will knit the body of the shawl using the two greys with the plum as the contrast color in the middle. The black will be used as a highlight color in the knitting and for the bindoff. All of these are Anzula Squishy and the cashmere in the yarn make them feel great. Here are the project notes at Ravelry.

Saturday night I visited one of my sons and cast on while watching him play Destiny after dinner. It was kind of fun watching him destroy alien creatures using a sword of fire (it’s a Destiny thing…) while I started on a shawl called Drachenfels. There were even some creatures in the game that were kind of dragon-like. It’s a sign!

Shawl
Here’s how far I had gotten by Monday night. The yarn that I am using is a lighter weight than called for in the pattern so I am using smaller needles (size 4 instead of size 6). I’m thinking that I can extend the pattern if I need to enlarge the shawl.
Close-up of stitches
and here is the close-up of the scale stripe pattern. This is the darker of the two grey yarns. I’m saving the lighter one for later on in the shawl where there will be more plum. The yarn is extremely soft and, well, squishy. (See what I did there?) This shawl should be a joy to wear.

Did you see the cat hair in the middle of the picture? No matter how careful I am everything that I knit has CAT HAIR ON IT!!!

Yellow cat
Yellow Boy: your point would be?

OK, I’m over the little cat-hair related rant. The shawl is starting out great and I’m really excited to finally be knitting it. The weather is still nice even though the leaves are changing so I plan on doing as much outdoor knitting as I can.

Bye summer.

 

 

The Yarn Warrior

Last night I knitted like crazy and got my Reyna shawl (by Noora Laivola) finished. I wet blocked it overnight (hoping that sleeping kitties won’t notice it…) and this morning I took it outside to the garden swing to finish it up while I was watering the lawn. Of course my cat MacKenzie couldn’t resist helping out.

Cat chomping shawl
Oops! I didn’t realize he was hanging out under the swing… At least he’s predictable in that he never missed an opportunity to chomp!
Shawl in tree
Here it is rescued from the cat. Isn’t it a fun mix of garter stitch and mesh? Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

This shawl was a fast and easy project, but I learned a lot of new things while working on it and it led to some new insights. After all, while I love to knit, I really am more driven to play with new yarns, patterns and ideas more than I need a new shawl (or pair of socks for that matter). Every new project is an opportunity to learn something new!

I first selected this pattern because I had a skein of wickedly soft and colorful yarn in my stash. I knew that the colors would go with everything in my wardrobe, but there were so many of them in the skein that I needed a way to show them off without nasty pooling or something that looked muddy.

Yarn
This is Zen Yarn Garden’s Serenity 20 in the colorway Confetti. See what I mean about the colors? 
Closeup of Shawl
I knew that garter stitch plays well with multicolored yarn, and I was hoping that the mesh would break the colors up a little more and help each one shine. Mission accomplished! The yarn looks really different in the two sections of the shawl and the colors each stand out.

There are YO stitches to each side of the center stitch in the garter section. Hard to see aren’t they? That’s because they are hidden by knitting in the back loop of the YO on the wrong side row. Who knew? By hiding the YO stitches the garter stripe stands out better between the mesh segments.

I also noticed a difference in the mesh. Normally K2tog stitches slant to the right. In the mesh section of the shawl the K2tog creates a slant that goes to the left. Check it out!

Mesh stitch
See the left slant? This was knit by [yo, K2tog] stitches that repeated every other row (all stitches purled on the wrong side).
Mesh closeup
The right slanting mesh was created by the opposite type of decrease stitch: [yo, ssk] repeated across the row. Once again the stitches on the wrong side were purled. The designer balanced the direction of the mesh slant around the center stitch of the shawl. Cool! 
As I was knitting along I realized that my ball of yarn was starting the shrink a little faster than I wanted it to. Yikes! How can I be sure to use as much as possible while leaving enough for the last three garter rows and then the BO?  Well, this is when a yarn warrior really digs in and takes control.

Row Tracker
Look at what Noora gave us in the pattern! Wow, isn’t this a nice idea. In fact, it made me think that all patterns should be organized as a table with the rows, stitch count, the pattern, weight of the yarn and a place to make tally marks. I mean, why does the entire thing have to be written out? See how I started tracking how much my ball of yarn weighed every 4 rows? I decided to switch to the last 4 rows as soon as I had only 8 grams left. (8 rows of the mesh section were skipped)
Yarn on balance.
This is how many grams of yarn I had left over after binding off.

See, it isn’t about the final object (OK, it is a little). It’s about being a YARN WARRIOR!! Capture the learning and master the craft. Be at one with the cashmere and bond with your fellow knitters.

Isn’t this why we all do it?

 

 

FO: Garden Swing is Done!!

Cool weather with thunderstorms arrived this week and I headed out to the back yard to finish up the garden swing. I had crocheted the largest part of the seat a couple of weeks ago and gotten it sewn onto the frame of the swing; a good start but still not usable. What I needed to do now was to remove the seat from the rest of the chair so that I could crochet side panels to attach the seat onto the sides of the frame. I attacked the bolts with my handy little tool kit and got the part holding the seat off and onto the lawn where I could work on it in the shade.

Cat on chair seat.
As soon as I got that seat off the rest of the chair frame Mr. Helpful moved right in.
MacKenzie helping.
The help just kept on coming as I crocheted side panels to attached the seat to the sides of the frame. I used my foot to put tension on the twine while I worked which put the working materials too close to MacKenzie the chomper.

Even with all the help and a break for a thunderstorm I got the side panels crocheted and sewn onto the frame after a couple of mornings. Today after lunch I reattached the seat to the swinging frame and then I was back in lawn chair business.

Completed seat.
Here’s the completed seat with the sides attached to the frame. A little on the ugly side, but functional.
Cushions on swing.
Yeah! The swing is done and the cushions are back on it; I pulled the ties for each cushion through the crocheted mesh and then knotted them in the back. My outdoor knitting spot has been restored.

I’m still not completely happy with the tension on the seat of the swing so I’m going to use it for a couple of days and then will take in a tuck or two on the seat fabric to make it more taunt. Still, things are looking up; I am back outside for my morning latte. Happy, happy day!

Cat on the finished swing.
Final product is cat approved. 🙂

Outdoor knitting, here I come!

FO: August Socks are done!

August! This is my favorite part of summer. The flowers are blooming like crazy, the monsoon is cranking moisture up to Colorado for afternoon showers, and the hummingbirds and butterflies are cruising through the backyard every morning. The cats and I have been outside too for knitting and bug chasing.

I finished my August socks while sitting out in the garden this morning. Since the cats have been hanging out with me the entire time I was knitting these socks I thought MacKenzie might enjoy posing with them.

Cat and Socks
MacKenzie is my good boy. Usually if I just slowly ease my knitted items into his personal space he’s OK with things. Today that back foot came right up…
Cat and Socks
He flashed his “this is completely unauthorized and you are now in trouble” look,
Cat and Socks
and there was a chomp. Luckily he wasn’t very serious in his protest and I was able to extract the socks (and my foot) without any damage. Don’t you just love cats? It would have been nice if he had given a little warning noise first, but no, he had to go right to the claws and teeth!

OK. Message received. Having been denied assistance by the cat most likely to cooperate I decided to pose the socks on one of the garden tables. (I know; very boring but no teeth!!) Look at how great the Seafoam Stitch shows off the yarn!!

Finished Galvez Socks
I decided to stop the seafoam pattern at the top of the foot because I usually wear socks inside of lace-up shoes or boots during the winter. I lightly steamed the seafoam portion of the sock with my steam iron to set the stitches which really calmed the knitting down.
Socks on my feet.
The stockinette fits my fat little foot better too. I’m really happy with the way these came out.

These socks are the  Galvez Socks by Debbie Haymark. The pattern is in my copy of Lace One-Skein Wonders edited by Judith Durant. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

Gosh, I finished those fast. There’s lots of August left before I need to think about socks again. I promised a friend to help out during Alpaca Farm Days next month. I feel an urge to knit lots of little fingerless mitts (out of alpaca of course!!) to show off (and sell!) to visitors to the farm… 🙂

I can feel the midnight knitting coming on!

Friday Update: Knitted Tee and a Lawn Swing Seat

I’ve been gardening and reading more lately (I have finished three of the “Bee Books” and am pondering what I should write about them…) so my knitting projects have been languishing a little bit. Nothing is finished. Nothing. Not even halfway done. I have been busy enough to get some things started, however!

Tee
I have made some progress on my Clover HItch Tee by Courtney Cedarholm. The very wide neck keeps worrying me, but when I check the picture with the pattern I am reassured to see that the original has a large neck opening too. 
Close-up of sweater.
The yarn is one that I found in my stash that is a rayon/linen blend knitted tape. It’s a little crisp and is working up “heavy”. I continue to be hopeful that all will be well as I knit. Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

I finally got started on an outdoor project this week too. Check out my very bare and exceedingly lonely garden swing.

Frame for lawn swing
Look at this. So sad. Poor naked swinging lawn chair. The original fabric seat rotted away and I just hate to give up on this perfectly good frame. Time to make a new seat!
Jute garden twine.
The local hardware store had some jute garden twine in this nice green. I looked at it and thought… crocheted seat for the garden swing! I bought the entire box.
Crochet hook.
Off I headed to Hobby Lobby to find the largest crochet hook that they had. OK, this is the second largest, but it’s pretty big. 🙂 You can see the fabric of the seat that I am making in the picture. I decided on single crochet using two of the twines held together as I was worried about weak spots in the twine. The width of the piece of fabric that I’m making is a few inches narrower than the actual chair.
Tension of the yarn.
I had some issues with handling the stiff jute and keeping enough tension on the yarn so it wouldn’t twist and flip around. This is why we have toes, right?
Cat attacking yarn.
The other difficulty with the project is fending off helping cats. Sigh. I’m trying to work on the seat each morning in the cool outdoors while drinking my morning latte. That’s also the prime time for cat friskiness and general misbehavior.

I’m working steadily on both projects at the same time. The crocheted swing seat is making progress in the mornings as that is a good time to work outside with it, and the Clover HItch Tee is growing every evening while I indulge in a little binge television. Right now I’m watching the series Fargo on DVD. Wow! What a good production. A little dark (OK, really dark at times…), but still excellent. And the way those people talk? I’m Swedish-American, and the social norms and speech of the Fargo characters is the language of my childhood. By the time these projects are done and I’m finished with Fargo I’ll be in my swing in the garden and talking in the language I used to hear while sitting in my Grandmother’s kitchen learning how to crochet. The circle is unbroken after all. How cool is that?

Way cool! You betcha!