Dreaming and Fading…

I’ve been just cranking on my What the Fade?! shawl for the last week or so since I last wrote about it. Once I had bid the brioche section at the top of the shawl goodbye it was garter time… lots of garter. This is really easy knitting even with the fun of the fading, and MacKenzie and I have just settled in to binge watch Netflix and crank out the rows of changing colors.

Knitting
The shawl is now so big that I can’t get it open for a picture, but you can still get an idea of how it looks. I just finished fading in that light blue speckle, and there are two more colors to go before I’m done. My project notes on Ravelry are here.

Here’s the thing… I’m doing a lot of dreaming about yarn colors and projects while I’m knitting. It makes things worse that I still have the fabulous Western Sky Knits yarns that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last month still out on display to encourage my dreaming. I already blogged about this yarn: check this out if you want to see my fabulous dream-inducing colors! I’ve been reorganizing the yarn stash and going through my patterns between bouts of knitting, and then I kind of slip into a garter stitch, color-induced waking dream state where I match color/yarn ideas with patterns to decide on projects.

So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to the line-up of May and June projects:

Yarn for sweater
The blue tonal Posh Fingering yarn from the Uncommon Thread has been hanging out in my stash for about a year waiting for the right project. I just love this golden brown from WSK, and it also is 10% cashmere. Perfect match! I’m going to make a Zweig sweater from them, and the golden brown will be the lace yoke in the sweater. I can’t wait to get going on this, and every time I think of how cool this sweater will be the garter stitch pace in my Fade shawl picks up.
Yarn and pattern.
I absolutely love this skein of painted cashmere blend yarn from WSK. Don’t you think that it will look great with the Zweig sweater? I love the look of this little shawl, and I’m thinking that I should transform some of the handpainted Christmas yarn in my stash into scarfs like these for gifts. But not now. Now I have to knit all of this fabulous yarn that is calling to me.
Yarn.
These two yarns are my absolute favorites. I want to make a shawl that shows the two off really well, but not too crazy in the pattern. I’m not completely committed to it yet, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to make Albuquerque Sunset by Casapinka with this yarn. Did I mention that I just bought a light pink summer top? Perfect!
Yarn and pattern.
Last but not least, how about a simple summer tee that will use up some of the cotton yarn in the stash and show off the colors of the shawls? Yep! I’m hoping that these Throwback Tees will just fly off of my needles, because I’m going to need them to go with these shawls!

See why I’m knitting so fast? Look at these fabulous yarns and great patterns! Actually there is a lot more where this came from. I just checked, and I have 25 items in my knitting Queue on Raverly, 1,122 patterns in my library, another 159 patterns in my Ravelry shopping basket, and a world class yarn stash. This is all kind of overwhelming if you think about it too much, which is why it is hard to finalize decisions. The last couple of days things just fell into place and I made a list of knitting decisions and kitted up the yarn with the appropriate pattern.

Then I went back to knitting my fade and dreaming of what to do with the colors I have left over. Dreaming of yarn and the beautiful, useful objects that I can make from them.

What can be better than that?

In case you’re wondering… I am still in the middle of testing to clarify the cause of my worsening scleroderma-related symptoms. This week I head in to see another doctor and will get my echocardiogram done; after my heart is sorted out I can get the pulmonary testing that I need. Right now the discussion is mostly about my heart, but they are still gathering data so no definitive diagnosis yet. Through all of this I’m just rocking my knitting and refusing to worry about what I can’t change. Tomorrow I’m planting more flowers in my garden! Peace on, everyone!

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Watercolor Days

A couple of weeks ago I had trouble breathing, called my doctor’s office, and the nurse there called 911 for me. Wow. What an experience that was. Okay, it was a little surreal to be frank. One of the things that happened was the paramedic, after he had placed a needle in my arm vein, attached me to heart monitors and then placed me on oxygen, told me how much he liked my watercolor paintings of cats. What? This is really happening? Panting for air, I struggled for a moment to think of what he was talking about.

Cat Quilts
Oh. These cat pictures.

Those aren’t really watercolor paintings, but they sure do look like it, I suppose. They are actually art quilts made with handpainted fabrics that give them their “watercolor” look.

Siamese Cat quilt.
Here’s a close-up of one of the quilts. You can see that the picture is made by fusing down lots of painted and stenciled fabric pieces that were then sewn and quilted. 

The patterns for the quilts came from McKenna Ryan and I bought them at a local quilt store years ago. Over months I slowly assembled the fabric stash to get the colors that I wanted, and then I created the quilts in my own colors to make them show cats that I have known and loved over my life. These three cats are Morgan (the yellow sunflower cat), Zach (the tuxedo cat) and Teak (my beloved Siamese cat).  I love these quilts, especially because of the quality of the dyes on the fabric and the way the colors work together.

So, do you think that I am a sucker for handpainted yarn? Oh, my lord, that would be a huge YES!

The week after the exciting and exhausting ambulance ride my BKB (best knitting bud) Deb and I went up to the Interweave Yarn Fest to do some quality shopping.

Yarn booth.
The first booth in the door was this one by Western Sky Knits. Look at those yarns!! Look at those handpainted yarns in amazing colors! Look! Look!

Don’t those yarns look a lot like the colors that are in the quilts?

Yarns
Take a closer look. See what I’m talking about?

I saw these yarns and I was gone. I didn’t even do my usual pass through the entire yarn show before buying anything. I just started piling up the yarn that I wanted and that was that. I bought 11 skeins of fabulous, water-colorish yarns and wanted more. Let me show you what I got.

Yarn
I am a complete sucker for a good gold yarn. That was the first skein to jump into my arms. I love this gold. I bought two speckles to go with the first gold skein, and then had to get another skein of gold just in case. You know. Who can tell what I’ll need in the future? The stash cries for gold yarn. I’m on the hunt for the right shawl pattern now, but I’m also dreaming of socks and arm warmers.
Yarn
Then there was this. I needed these colors in my stash.  These yarns are the missing pieces that I needed to make some shawls that I’ve been organizing from the stash. Just like I did with the quilts, I have been assembling colors for projects that I dream of from a number of sources and putting them into my stash. These yarns, and these colors, filled the final gaps and made my vision come together.

Here’s the thing. Looking at these yarns, I realized that they are the colors of the quilts. Watercolors. Colors that make me smile inside. The colors of sunshine, flowers in the garden, cats, and summer days. I look at these yarns, I imagine the projects that they will make shine, and I begin plotting the knitting. And the flowers that I will plant in the garden next month. And the people that I will gift the knitting to. Some projects that will last as long and give me (and hopefully others) as much joy as the watercolor quilts that I have on the wall.

Watercolor days.

May you all have many of the same.

Rocking the Week #1

This is so annoying: here we are at the end of another week and I have NO finished objects to show off. How can this be? The house is littered with projects that I have started or are planning to start soon… I tell myself that I’m just organizing and it will all come together soon. There’s no reason why I can’t have more than one knitting project cast on, right? As long as I’m in single digits I don’t have a problem! Seriously, that is a true statement: ask any knitter.  I am reading books like crazy. Lots is going on, but I’m struggling to put together one theme that would be suitable for a blog post.

So, why don’t I just show you my week? Really, it will be fun. Here are all the moments of the week that prompted me to pull out the camera.

Knitting
I found a tempting pattern for fingerless mitts with a hidden pocket (for hand warmers!!!) on Ravelry called Dueling Gradients. This Kauni yarn that I’ve been itching to try out should work great. The two balls actually have the same colors in them; the way the ball is wound affects the appearance. Sunday I cast on and started playing with the yarns and the pattern.
Warp
Monday I wound off the warp for the dishtowels that I want to weave. Ugh. It is done.
Tree Cookies
Tuesday I taught a Project Learning Tree workshop for teachers in the local school district. I had to sand down this 2 foot wide tree cookie for the teachers to use in one of their activities. Yikes. That was a lot more work than I expected,  but look at those tree rings! This tree was 24 years old when it was cut down.
Happiness
Wednesday I headed to a hospital up north for pulmonary function testing. It’s official now; I don’t breathe as well now as I did a year ago. It’s almost a relief to get closer to the diagnosis: I really am out of breath (and not just out of shape!)  On the way out of the hospital I bought this great figurine in the gift shop.
Cat in yarn shop
and of course I visited another yarn shop. This time I went to Mew Mew’s Yarn Shop, and here is Mew Mew herself. How fun is that! She woke up from her nap while I was there and demanded attention. Mew Mew (and some new fabulous yarn) was just what I needed.
Cat
Thursday I spent the afternoon getting the warp onto the loom with some cat assistance. This is called warping because you descend into a time warp that sucks dry the entire afternoon and leaves you blinking and tied in knots before it is over. Tedious and stressful at the same time. Cat assistance is not appreciated! 
Cat outside
How sad for MacKenzie.
Stitch Markers
Today I finished warping the loom and then made these wickedly awesome stitch markers from some beads I bought at last year’s Interweave Yarn Fest. Wait! I did manage to finish something this week. The stitch markers are actual FOs!!

This evening I finished a fingerless (production knitting) mitt that I started last week and cast on another pair of socks. I now have four knitting projects in progress and a warped loom that I can start weaving on next week. Whew! There’s a lot going on.

Stay tuned for next week. I’m sure I’ll have something done by then. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Yarn Fest Report

Last Saturday I went to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado with my friend Margie where we met up with other friends (AKA fiber addicts). I’d been looking forward to this outing for weeks, and had organized myself with specific shopping goals. Yeah, whatever. This is one of these deals where it is best to not over think things. Still, here’s what I hoped to accomplish.

  • Find yarn for some specific patterns. Specifically, I was on the prowl for yarn to make Red Rock Canyon (by Rosemary {Romi} Hill) and The Joker and the Thief (by Melanie Berg).
  • Hunt for some great gradients or ombre yarns that I could use for shawls.
  • Buy unique yarns that I probably won’t see in my LYS.
  • Make arrangements to visit the paco-vicuna Gulliver who is a resident of Jefferson Farms. I have 6 ounces of his very expensive roving that I want to spin up for a lacy shawl. OK, this is one of my New Year resolutions.  I’m also terrified to start on this project without some lace spinning lessons. Maybe I can make arrangements for a class while I’m there…
  • Score some great new patterns.
  • Run wild with my friends!!

With every intent of exercising some self control I entered the marketplace with Margie and stopped dead at the first booth. OMG! Yak yarn! Dyed by Ms. Babs in a colorway called Red Rock Canyon.  The exact colors of the national parks in Moab, Utah. Oh my goodness, I just love Moab, and I really love those colors. Here it is.

Tibetan Dream Yarn.
This is Tibetan Dream yarn (by Bijou Basin Ranch) is 85% Yak Down, 15% Nylon sock yarn. These are the colors of one of the best vacations I’ve ever gone on. To touch this yarn is to be in heaven (dreaming Tibetan dreams of course!) How can I put this on my feet? Say hello to my next little shawl.

What wonderful, soft yarn. This is yarn that a person can fall asleep while clutching in happy exhaustion at the end of the day (true story). Out came the credit card and this yarn was mine!

In a booth nearby I met Chris Switzer and learned that she was teaching a class on how to spin camelid fibers this July. I had to wait until Monday to sign up for the class, but I did. The class is July 18th, so I still have time to make sure my spinning wheel (which was sadly dropped last year) is in working order again.

Other yarn acquisitions included:

Yarn
The perfect yarn to make the Red Rock Canyon shawl. This is merino, silk and cashmere yarn from Western Sky Knits located in Montana. Beautiful yarn!
Yarn
This Japanese yarn looks like paper but is made of cotton. It knits up crisp and crunchy. I had to get it!
Ombre yarn.
The cutest sparkly ombre yarn was obtained from Wolly Wonka.
Yarn
The perfect scarf/shawl to make for a Christmas present. There’s purple in that Kauni yarn too.

After hours of gabbing, playing with fiber and catching up with friends we called it a day. I didn’t get much more yarn, but there were some other great finds. These included:

  • I met the owner of Jefferson Farms, which is the home of Gulliver, the paco-vicuna that I have fiber from. She is happy for me to visit him and to facilitate our meeting she is transporting him up to the Denver farm this week. Look forward to a post about paco-vicunas and Gulliver!
  • I never did find a great yarn gradient, but boy did I find a great pattern to use color gradients with. The pattern is called Beyond the Pale, and it is from Wolly Wonka. I saw it knitted in three different color combinations, and it is stunning. I already have it in the Ravelry shopping cart, and I’ll be buying it tomorrow.
  • I love to knit cables. Really, I do! There was a booth with the most wonderful patterns with Celtic cable work from Black Water Abbey, which is located in (gasp) Aurora, Colorado not far from my house. I bought several patterns. The most wonderfully soft tweed yarn (Brooklyn Tweed) that I have ever handled was in another booth. I’ll be buying some of that down the road to knit the patterns that I bought from Black Water Abbey.

You know, I did meet all of my goals for the trip. I didn’t get as much yarn as I wanted, but I made lots of connections and am inspired to get going on on many, many different projects.  How fun it was to be in a place where everyone was wearing a hand knit or woven shawl/scarf and carrying a knitting project. It was great! I was with my peeps!!

I can’t wait to go back to this event next year!! Continue reading “Yarn Fest Report”

FO: The April 2015 Socks are Done!

What a weekend I had! I spent all day Saturday hanging out at the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado (only a 90 minute drive for me, so of course I went!) with some of my best knitting/spinning buddies. Wow! What a great time that was, but I have so much to talk about I think it needs to be its own post. Exhausted, I arrived at my younger son’s apartment for dinner and ended up spending the night there (OK, I fell asleep clutching some of the unbelievable yarn that I scored…). Yesterday we hung out, made lasagna, and I watched him play the video game of the month (it is still Destiny!). Last night I came home to my house and the cats, crawled dizzy and still exhausted into bed (with my bag of goodies from Yarn Fest) and remembered that I do have a chronic condition as the cats feel asleep on top of my aching legs. Whatever, it was totally a great weekend. 🙂

This morning I discovered that the Pulitzer Prizes winners had been announced. Wow! All the Light We Cannot See won the prize for fiction. I loved this book! I was consumed by the story and thought about it for days after finishing it. I finally wrote a post about it. I am so happy that it won!!

I was a happy knitter as I settled in to finish the April 2015 socks. Some mistakes were made (OK, I forgot to change to smaller needles when I made the second sock’s toe. This is a mistake that I can live with. If it wears out too soon I’ll cut the toe off and knit a new one with the correct needles. Fearless knitting goes a long way!), but I’m happy with how they look. Here they are.

Socks
Look at the fun garter stitch detail on the heel and the way the decreases make that grey line down the side of the feet. Fun, huh! Oh yeah: see how one toe is bigger than the other? That was the needle change mistake.
Socks
Here they are from the front. The pink yarn still pooled, but things were controlled a little by the grey yarn. It’s kind of interesting how the pooling changed in the part of the sock where I was knitting the gusset (top of foot in the picture).
Sock pattern and yarns.
Here’s the yarn that I used and the pattern. This is the Spot Check Sock pattern from the book Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol J. Sulcoski. Here is the project page on Ravelry for the socks if you want more details.

Tomorrow I am going to starting winding all of my new yarn and it will be time to cast on for the next project. Woohoo! Knitting paradise here I come!