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.
At this point I removed him from the picture shoot.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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?
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…
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.
Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated.
Copy and paste the Liebster Award medal (logo) onto your own blog.
Link back to the blogger who awarded you and give thanks.
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.
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.
List your questions for your Liebster Award nominees on your blog.
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.
Why did you start blogging?
Why did you chose the name of your blog?
What are three of your very favorite books?
What are the biggest challenges in your day-to-day life and how do you deal with them?
What does your work (crafting) area look like? Pictures, please!!
Are you hoping to make gifts for Christmas this year? Share!! (Please do this one. I need ideas…)
What is your favorite (handmade) gift that you have received from somebody else?
Where do you get your best ideas?
Where do your creative energies go? What craft or activity is the most important to you?
Have your creative hobbies changed over the years or do you stick to the same ones?
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.
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!
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!
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!
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’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!
I finally got started on an outdoor project this week too. Check out my very bare and exceedingly lonely garden swing.
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?
I just finished reading my first “Bee” book, A Sting in the Tale by Dave Goulson. This book was a quick friendly read about bumblebee biology, ecology, and the efforts to build habitat in the United Kingdom that will support and grow wild bumblebee populations. One of the techniques that the researchers in the book utilized to detect bumblebees was to have observers sit in their garden (or some other location) for 20 minutes to tally the number of bees they saw.
I’ve been a little sad over the absence of a strawberry crop this year, and I thought that it was due to a lack of bees. As I read the book, however, I realized that many of the bees that I have seen in the past were actually bumblebees. I plant a lot of flowers that should be attracting bees, too. Late yesterday afternoon I headed out to the garden for 20 minutes with my camera to see what was actually going on out there.
A little search of the internet led me to believe that this is a Bobmus huntii bee. The bees were really targeting purple flowers yesterday afternoon. I saw them on the lavender, this catmint plant, and on the pincushion flowers. I don’t know why my strawberry plants were a flop this year, but maybe is was due to a very wet and cold spring that made it hard for bees to get to them. I learned that bumblebees struggle in those conditions as they need to maintain enough heat to work their flight muscles. Who knew?!
As I was sitting out with the bees and the flowers I realized that while I have a lot of plantings that attract wildlife, I have actually made my yard and garden into a habitat for cats. Check out what I’ve done for them.
Squirrels use the yard constantly and provide the cats with some quality exercise as they chase them, but I no longer put out food for squirrels. They have been raiding a neighbor’s trash and burying stuff in my planters, so they get little else from me. I used to have a bird feeder and nesting boxes in the yard, and I really liked the birdsong and the activity was hours of entertainment for the cats (who really never managed to catch anything, but they loved to try!). I discovered that the birds also attracted other cats (AKA enemy cats!!) so I had to stop putting out food. Even an invisible fence will not keep a cat in the yard who chasing out an invader!
Now my cats think they are dogs. They make me get up in the morning to let them out, mill around the door carrying on as soon as I come home, and are happy to go in and out all day through a cat door. They come running in from the yard when I shake the kitty treat bag, and stay in all night (asleep!) like good boys. I can do cat-free crafting activities during the day (like warping my loom) while they happily doze outside dreaming of bugs and garter snakes. By making the yard an appealing habitat for my kitties they stay put and are safe outside.
Crazy cat-gardening lady, huh! Some of my friends think it is strange to let my animals tunnel thought plantings, but they are just a part of my overall scheme. After reading Dave Goulson’s book I also realized that this isn’t just a backyard; it is also important habitat for wildlife in the city. I will be putting in more plants with an eye to supporting bumblebees (who evidently are critical to the pollination of strawberries and tomato plants!). Later this summer my butterfly plants should get going and there will be hummingbirds and butterflies for kitty entertainment. Everyone wins!