Happy Knitting: August Socks and Yummy Shawl

I am on drug holiday from methotrexate (the drug that was given to me to treat my systemic sclerosis) right now and I feel great. I have energy, my joints and muscles are happy, and there isn’t even a hint of dizziness. OK, my ribs are still sore and I have to be careful moving around, but still… Wow! It’s been more than a year since I’ve felt this good. It is now obvious that, even though there were side effects and some of them forced me to quit methotrexate, it was working. My goodness it made a difference. I am gardening, cleaning house, cooking up a storm, and rocking the knitting. Happy, happy, happy.

In the middle of upbeat gardening yesterday I remember that it is also August. Time to cast on the New Year Resolution socks for the month. I dug through the sock books again, found a happy looking pattern and hit the yarn stash to search for a cheerful yarn dyed with long color sequences. Here’s what I came up with. Say hello to the August Socks:

Yarn
Isn’t this the happiest yarn you have seen all week? Agave Fingering by Becoming Art Yarn in the colorway “Cherry Tart”.
Sock
Doesn’t this pattern show off the yarn well? This stitch is called Seafoam Stitch, and the sock is 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.

As much as I like the seafoam stitch I think that I won’t continue it down the top of the foot of the sock. I will be wearing these socks inside of shoes all winter and I’m wanting the socks to be really warm and long wearing. If the colors pool badly in the foot it won’t matter that much to me at that point. With cute tops like these, nothing can happen in the foot that will spoil things. 🙂

When I dug through the stash I also found this yarn that I bought on a whim but still hadn’t knitted up because it is really busy in the colors. I’ve been waiting for the right pattern.

Yarn
This is Zen Yarn Garden’s Serenity 20 in the colorway Confetti. This yarn feels so great it makes me long for winter. There are a lot of colors in this yarn. How to show them off while breaking them up a little at the same time?
Shawl
Solution: Reyna Shawl by Noora Naivola. The pattern has a lot of garter stitch and sections of mesh lace that should highlight and then breakup some of the colors in the yarn. The edging and center stitch is a little different to me, but it is nice to learn new things, right? Further down the shawl there will be a lot more lace and the yarn will look different. I can’t wait to see what happens when I get to that part of the project. Here are my notes on Ravelry.

These two projects have kept me pretty busy but I have also been out in the garden. I sewed on the garden chair a little more and started attaching the sides to the frame. It is stretching out just right but the midpoint is refusing to slide on the frame; it still hasn’t expanded to the correct proportion. I soaked the stiff area with the hose this afternoon and left it to think about what it was doing for awhile. Let’s hope that does the trick as I’m afraid to tug on it too hard because my ribs are still sore.

Chair
I’ve sewn the fabric around the bar at the back of the seat, and am now crocheting the sides to the frame. the seat is now stretched to the correct tautness and feels great to sit on. I’m not too focused on the appearance as I have cute seat cushions that will be on top of this seat. Can’t wait!! I should be in the garden swing reading by next week.

I’m on drug holiday until I see the rheumatologist on the 20th. Let’s hope that I stay symptom free until then because I am totally focused on happy right now.

FO Friday: June Socks, Joker Shawl and Roses!

I’ve been working out in the garden all week except for when the afternoon thunderstorms roll in. Then it is knitting time! I worked on the June 2015 socks all week and got them done yesterday with a few days to spare.

Socks
Ta-daa!!. These are the Petal Socks by Rachel Coopey. Here are the project notes on Ravelry. 
Sock Feet
The colorway of this yarn is called “Thunder”. That turned out to be really appropriate as I knitted the socks to the sounds of thunder, rain, and even the tornado sirens one afternoon. 

I am really happy with these socks. The pattern come with complete charts for three different sizes. I made the medium size (66 stitches on size 1.5 needles) and they fit really well (which is something that I always worry a little about in a lace sock). I used double pointed needles in the leg portion of the sock, but switched to two 16″ cable needles as soon as the sock divided to make the heel and that made the lace panel on the top of the foot much easier to manage. The yarn (Becoming Art Cielo) was kind of elastic which I think helped.

I’ve also been making some progress on my second Joker and the Thief shawl. I was not happy with the colors at one point, but I am liking it a little more now that the color pattern is easier to see.

Shawl
It is about at the halfway point now. That bright blue doesn’t stand out that much in the actual shawl. 🙂

Look what happened in the garden with all of the rain this week!  My Princess Alexandra of Kent rose is blooming! I just love this one.

Rose
This rose sometimes struggles in the dry air of Colorado, but not this year!

That it for the week. The clouds are really rolling in again for our afternoon soaking, so I think it’s time for me to fire up the knitting needles for the afternoon. Orange is the New Black, here I come!

May and June Socks

I am really trying to keep up on my New Year’s resolutions this year. If you’re not keeping track of them (what, you have a life?), one of the big resolutions this year was to knit a pair of socks each month using a pattern from one of my (many, many) sock books and stash yarn. Sadly the end of May came and I only had one sock done for the month and the start of another. It’s not my fault. There are so many cute patterns and yarns out there that I keep getting distracted by a shawl or knitted hat. I guess I could stay off Ravelry and out of the yarn stores, but that is so not going to happen. Let’s be realistic here!

So I have a few projects lined up. I seem to be spending time in the craft room playing with yarn, beads, fabric, and organizing different projects. Lots of ideas; not enough time to get them done.  Yesterday I ignored the craft room, settled down by the television and binge knitted on the May socks for most of the afternoon. I was approaching the toe when I ran out of steam, so this morning it was pretty easy to get them done before lunch. Here they are!

This sock is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from hr book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in the colorway Grenadine.
Here is the sock the day that I started it. The pattern is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey from her book CoopKnits Socks. The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in the colorway Grenadine.
Finished socks
Ta-daa! The finished socks.. The lace pattern on the ankle and foot are switched between the two socks, and it is also different on the ankle portion of the sock (the front is one lace, the back the other). I used two 16″ cable needles to keep the patterns separate while knitting. The color changed a little as I knitted the second sock, but they are still cute!

So, I went into overtime a little on this one, but I am ready to dive into the June socks. I thought the Rachel Coopey sock was so cute that I selected another pattern by her (from a different book!) and matched it with a blue-ish yarn. Here it is.

June sock
It’s the end of spring. Obviously “Petal Socks” (found in the book knitting wizardry by Amy Clarke Moore) are appropriate to knit this month. The yarn that I am using is Becoming Art Yarns Cielo fingering in the colorway “Thunder”. Perfect color: there is a thunderstorm almost every afternoon this time of the year. 🙂

I have several little (excessively cute) projects to get done before I start on these socks. More knitting!! Must knit faster!!

Hello Joker!

It’s done, it’s done, it’s done! OK, this shawl has been going on for weeks. I worried and worried about the colors choices, finally got started knitting a couple of weeks ago, and have been just consumed with knitting on this Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg for the last 10 days or so. I finally finished the knitting early Monday morning, blocked it yesterday, and today I did the finishing and took it out for pictures.

Cat and shawl.
I first tried to take a picture of Joker on a chair. Nope. My cat MacKenzie just was just not willing to let me do that. He was just positive that this was a new game for him. Here is what it looked like between chomps on the shawl.
Finished shawl.
Knitter’s response to cat action: I tacked the shawl to the wall of the house. Here is the Joker in all it’s cat free glory.

Wow! I am happy, happy, happy with this! I have been wearing it around the house all day and even took a little nap wearing it.  The yarns that I used are Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light and colors from two packs of Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

While working on the Joker I also finished up another shawl (3S Shawl by Amy Meade) that was easy take-along knitting to wear with a new green top that I bought this winter. Here are the Ravelry project notes and finished shawl:

Finished shawl.
Aren’t these colors great? This is Becoming Art’s Theia Fingering in the color New Moon. Merino/cashmere/silk yarn. Yum!

Two shawls finished this month; I’ve been a knitting ball of fire!  Actually it has been raining almost every day this month (it has rained 20 of the last 24 days) so it has been cool temperatures and prime knitting weather. My poor yard is suffering as it has been two wet to weed the gardens and to make things worse there was a killing frost two weeks ago that froze all the leaves on two of my trees.

Frost damaged tree.
Here’s the frost damaged ash tree. Poor baby. It’s leaves had been out for only a couple days when the temperatures went into the 20’s overnight.

Today was a good day, however. After getting the pictures of the Joker shawl I took a good look at my sad little tree. There, on the ends of the branches, were new leaf buds and even a few leaves had burst out. Yeah! Looks like the tree may make it after all.

New leaf on tree.
Look! That little green structure at the base of the dead leaf is the new one! Go tree, go! If we don’g get a severe hail storm before the tree can leaf out again there is hope. 🙂

This afternoon there should be more thunderstorms. That’s OK. I really didn’t want to weed the gardens today anyway. I still have to get the May sock finished and I am running out of month. More knitting!

 

I’m Knitting as Fast as I Can!

I just love this new pattern on Ravelry that was published a few weeks ago. It is just fabulous!! It’s called The Joker and the Thief (by Melanie Berg), and it required 6 yarns that form a color gradient (this would be the Joker…) that is anchored by one color that is the Thief. I immediately went on the hunt for color gradients in my yarn stash, ended up making two trips to my favorite LYS, and moved yarns around and around until I finally settled on TWO color combinations for this shawl. Yeah! They are both fabulous and I have finally decided to make both of the shawls. Why do something if you can’t overdo it? See, this is a motto that all knitters can get behind. 🙂

Joker 1 Yarns
Here’s the yarn for the first Joker shawl (hereafter called Joker 1). The Thief will be the navy blue above the gradient. The Joker yarns (magenta and golds) are all Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat. The Navy is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (Colorway Ink)
Joker and Thief Yarn
This is the yarn for the second Joker shawl (AKA Joker 2) The Joker is more Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat, and the Thief is the gold colored Knitted Wit Fingering Yarn.
MacKenzie and shawl yarn.
As usual my cat MacKenzie is chomping at the bit to get started on the shawls. He was a big help as I was winding the yarns, making the color keys, and kitting them up in plastic snap top (and moth proof!!) boxes.

I’m all ready to get started on the shawls except… I already have three projects going and one of them is on the needles that I need to use to knit the Joker. I thought about going to buy more needles. (No way! Who would do something like that???) I considered taking the shawl-in-progress off the needles so it could hibernate for a few weeks while I knitted the Jokers. Yeah, we all know what would have happened to that shawl.  It would have hibernated in a corner somewhere for a few years. Nope! I decided to suck it up and knit like the wind until it was done. This shawl is beautiful, and I will commit to finishing it in a timely manner! Feeling very self-righteous I began working on this shawl (Sidere by Hilary Smith Callis) again.

Marked up pattern.
Self-righteous can take you only so far. This pattern is requiring very close attention to the details which are all written out. I’m marking up the pattern like crazy while I work. This type of attention means that I can only knit when I have a big chunk of time open and sleeping cats.
Shawl
Still, I’m making good progress and the shawl is starting to look fantastic! I can’t wait to get this off the needles and blocked. Here’s the project notes on Ravelry if you would like more information.
Shawl
I’m also making this dark green 3S shawl as simple take-along knitting. The yarn is Becoming Art Fingering Yarn. I love the yarn but this shawl is going a little slowly too. 
Knitted Cat
I’m also working on a long-overdue knitted cat for one of my cousins. This one I knit on during news broadcasts. Here’s the pattern for the cats (it’s free!!!) on Ravelry.

So there we are. I’ve got two more projects all lined up and I’m dying to get started on them. I’ve been knitting as fast as I can for over a week, and I still haven’t gotten anything finished. The weather is warming up and I need to start tending to the lawn and gardens outside.

Stay tuned folks! I think that it may rain this weekend, and I’m hopeful to get at least one of these off the needles. 🙂

Jokers, here I come!!

 

Wednesday Update: Shawls!

I am definitely in a shawl knitting phase. I just finished Edith’s Secret, and now I am cranking out two more shawls using bright yarns. This is fun! Here is what I’m working on:

Amazing yarn.
This overly bright yarn decided that it wanted to be a simple garter stitch shawl, so that is what is happening to it. After a week of knitting I have used about half of the skein.
Shawl
There sure is a lot of color here, isn’t there! The shawl looks nice with several of my winter tops, so it is all good. This pattern is 3S Shawl by Amy Meade, and the yarn is Becoming Art Cielo Fingering in the colorway Midnight Mountain. Here’s my project notes on Ravelry. I’m going to put a picot edge on this if I don’t find a simple garter lace edge that I like.
Shawl
I’m also working on a larger asymmetric shawl called Sidere by Hilary Smith Callis. This one is demanding more attention so I am only knitting on it in small spurts. The shawl has short rows, which is why the pattern of bumps is more spaced apart to the right of the picture. The yarn is Knitted Wit’s Single Fingering in the colorway Madge. Here’s the project notes on Ravelry.

That’s it. There has been a lot of midnight knitting going on with these babies. 🙂 I need to get them out of the way so that I can get going on the next sock of the month (since it is April 1st and all…) I’m really having trouble deciding on one sock as I found a lot of cool yarn when I went stash diving earlier this week. Then there were the patterns in one of my sock books. How to pick just one?

Isn’t it great to have a stash!!

 

FO: Edith’s Secret done at last!

I have been knitting all week on my Edith’s Secret shawl by Kristin Ashbaugh-Helmreich. Finally, at 2am on Wednesday night (I’m the Midnight Knitter, remember…) I was approaching the end of the bind-off when I paused to look back at all of my fabulous knitting and saw <gasp!> a double picot where there should only be one. NNNOOOOOOO!!! That was that. I stuffed Edith into her project bag and went to bed.

Cat on shawl.
Once again my cat MacKenzie closely supervised all of my work. Here he is on the wet shawl while I was blocking it. I had to cover it with a towel overnight to keep it safe: MacKenzie slept on the towel on the floor all night.

Yesterday in the sunshine I frogged back through the binding, reknitted it with the correct number of picots (one at the tip of each leaf detail in the final lace section) and cut the yarn at last. Blocking happened overnight (with my cat MacKenzie sleeping on top of the towel-covered shawl all night…) and here Edith is in all her glory.

Shawl in tree.
Edith on the arms of my usual shawl model: the ash tree. The tree is starting to develop leaf buds so I will have to leave it alone soon. These models are so fussy…
Lace on shawl.
Here’s a close-up of the lace sections with the beads. My hands got a little sore pulling all the beads onto the yarn with the crochet hook, but the final effect is nice. See the little picot detail at the tip of the leaves?  I messed up by putting two on one leaf. 
Here it is on a chair which shows the drape a little better then the tree did.  A little dark, but you get the idea. :-)
Here she is on a chair which shows the drape a little better then the tree did. A little dark, but you get the idea. 🙂

Here’s my project notes on Ravelry in case you would like more details.

I am so glad that Edith is done, but now I am in a slump for sure. I even did my taxes today as I wasn’t quite sure what project to start knitting next.

Cat on desk.
This is my cat Morgan helping me get my income tax filing in order. He’s not really into knitting supervision, but put a piece of paper on a table, boot up the computer, and there he is. I hope that my tax lady likes cat fur…

I’ve placed the likely yarn candidates on the dining room table, and each time I head upstairs I kind of pat different skeins of yarn and consider the projects that they might be used for. So hard to make these decisions… Such beautiful color, and half of the skeins contain cashmere and silk too. I may have to start several projects all at once.

Amazing yarn.
Look at this! This yarn wants to become art: it even says so on the label. What should happen to it? Socks, mitts, little shawl? I’m tending towards the shawl (garter stitch, picots, eyelets, but no other lace.) Maybe a little Hitchhiker? Help!

Happy knitting everyone and have a good weekend.