Rainy Day Story

I have been knitting on mitts like crazy, but for some reason I have shifted my interest to shawls. Seriously, I am dreaming about lacy shawls and the yarns in the stash. Must. Have. A. New. Shawl. It is a serious case of shawl longing for sure. It is less than a month from the Interweave Yarn Fest and I need to be flashing a new shawl when I go. It’s a matter of pride.

And besides, it is raining outside today. Gloomy. Cold. I can’t be expected to knit in these conditions. I need to go on a pattern hunt and then it is time for some serious stash shopping.

Yarn
Lydia Sock Yarn in the colorways “Garden Party” and “Forbidden Fruit”

I think that the whole “I need to knit a shawl” thing started when I saw this yarn at the local yarn shop. Doesn’t it look like a great warm weather shawl? I want the body of the shawl to be in the light color and the bright yarn will be used for some type of color pop. Maybe knitted lace at the bottom of the shawl can be in the bright color. I have some shawls in my shopping cart at Ravelry (OK. There are 58 items in the shopping cart. Some of those must be shawls, right?), so I headed on over there to see what I could find buy.

 Image credit: Softsweater

 

We have a winner! This is Waiting for Rain by Sylvia Bo Bilvia. I’ll be adding lace to the bottom and maybe some other pops of the bright color yarn. I bought several other shawl patterns that were in my cart while I was there with a smoking PayPal account. Here they are:

Well, once I had all of those patterns printed out I headed up to the stash to dig around and match yarns with the patterns. My stash is in the walk-in closet in the spare bedroom, so I took my laptop and a latte up with me and dived in.

Computer and yarns
As I  matched yarns with the patterns I entered them into my queue on Ravelry. How organized is that?! I was digging through lots of yarn as I made my decisions so I just gave up and…
working on the floor of the stash room
worked on the floor of the stash room surrounded by little tubs of yarn as I made decisions and assembled the kits for the shawls.
Yarn in kit
This is one of the shawl kits. I have the yarn for “Waiting for Rain” together with the pattern and the needles that I am going to use. This is the shawl that I plan on starting as soon as I’m done with the current projects. (I may even be able to stick to this plan… mostly. I can cast on a few more projects this week too, right?) I have the yarn and patterns for “Exploration Station” and “Solaris” also in this kit, but am still deciding on the final yarns that I will use. “Exploration Station” is the one that is the hardest for me to make a decision on: a new yarn color may need to acquired.
Yarn and pattern
The other shawl that I am dying to cast on is this Best Friends Shawl that I plan to get done in time for a friend’s birthday. The pattern is for two shawls with the colors reversed. My friend will get one one and I get to keep the other. It will be great!! I can’t wait to see how these two colors play together. I put this shawl in the number 2 slot in the queue.

I am so fired up and energized to get knitting on the new shawl projects. Check out my Ravelry queue; it is now really shawl intensive. This afternoon the sun came out and I spent some time knitting on the current projects. I do believe that I will have some FOs to show off by the end of the week.

About stinking time I got something finished.

 

 

 

The Start of August: Garden Swing, Socks, Butterfly

My exceptionally annoying rib pain has improved (love those pain killers!) and I have gotten a lot of knitting done this week. The July socks are finished!

Finished Socks
The Lacy Cable socks (by Veronik Avery) fit well and the MJ Yarns Opulent Fingering is soft and cushy. The pattern was a little hard for me to memorize, but by the second sock I was doing much better and knitting faster. 
Finished socks
The twisted garter stitch heels were really slow to knit. I’m hoping that they wear well. The toes are normal garter; the decreases are worked in the knit row so they are hidden. Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

The other progress that I’ve been making is with the new seat for the garden swing. I got the crocheting finished last week and headed right outside to get it sewn onto the frame of the  garden chair.

Seat on Garden Swing
I’m just tying the crocheted seat to the frame right now to kind of stretch it into place. I’m working out an idea for a permanent crocheted attachment to the side frames. I also need to sew the tube that covers the bar at the bottom of the chair back. 
Cat on swing.
MacKenzie is not waiting for me to finish. He’s ready to sleep in his swing again now. Yep. I need to get that bottom stretched tighter, huh.

It is a little smaller than I wanted it to be but it is growing in size as I get it stretched to the frame. I’m still thinking about how to attached it to the sides; in my mind I have an idea of how to crochet the attachment. I have a few more days to think about this because my ribs are still too sore to take on the task right now.

Butterfly
I do need to get the chair done soon. Look at what I’m missing by not being able to read outside in the garden. 

August is starting out right. Woohoo, August!

 

Berry Time: July Socks and Mom’s Cobbler Recipe

I’ve been knitting like crazy on my July socks since the end of the month is almost upon us. Last night I finished up the first sock. Cute. Way cute!

Sock
The first sock is done. Look at the cute garter stitch heel and toe!
Close-up of sock.
The lace opens up when the sock is on my foot. I really like this one! The pattern is called Lacy Cable Socks by Veronik Avery. Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

The colorway of this yarn is called “Fire Dragon”, but they sure do look berry colored, don’t they. I had berries on my mind when I went to the grocery store and ended up with some yummy blackberries and raspberries in my basket. Time to make my favorite berry cobbler!!

My mom always grew berries. When I was a child there was a row of Boysenberries in the yard. All summer long mom sent us out with buckets to pick the berries which she turned into pies, cobblers and cases of jam that became Christmas presents for all her friends and co-workers later on. We loved those berries; we ate a lot of them while we were picking and they have become one of the flavors of summer for me.  Here is the recipe that mom adapted for her berries.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup soft butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt (optional – I never include it!)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups freshly washed berries
  • ¼ cup sugar
Cobbler
Mom’s Berry Cobbler: I mixed two small packages of berries to make this cobbler. The total weight was 12 ounces; about 2 cups.

Heat oven to 375 oF (350 oF in altitude above 5,000 feet)

  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the flour, baking powder (and salt) to the bowl on top of the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the milk.
  • Mix everything together well. There will be some tiny lumps but don’t worry about them.
Batter in the pan.
The batter will need to be spread in the bottom of the pan. I use a spatula to get the job done. Don’t forget to grease the pan ahead of time!
  • Spread the mixture in the bottom of a greased loaf pan.
  • Rinse and clean the berries. (If the berries are large like strawberries cut them into smaller pieces.) While still wet put them into the pan on top of the batter.
Berries on top of the batter.
The berries need to be wet when placed on top of the batter. They shouldn’t be dripping wet, but if a little water comes with them when you pour them onto the batter it will be OK.
  • Sprinkle the sugar on top of the berries in the pan.
Sugar on the berries.
I used a 1/4 up of sugar to make this cobbler as the berries are pretty sweet. If you are using tart fruit/berries add a little more.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes. (batter should brown across the cobbler)
Baking cobbler.
Here’s the fun part of this recipe. While baking in the oven the batter bubbles up past the berries and forms a crust on top.
Browned cobbler.
Here is the cobbler almost done. I let it go a little longer in the over to make sure that it was completely cooked in the middle. This cobbler baked almost 50 minutes in my mile high oven (at 350 degrees)
  • Enjoy!
Finished cobbler
I ate my cobbler with a side of vanilla Greek-style yogurt. Yumm!!

Time to get another serving of cobbler (for a late breakfast!) to munch on while casting on the second sock. Gosh, I just love July. 🙂

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: Shawl, Sock, and a Rant

What a beautiful morning! My backyard filled with birdsong early and the cats began clamoring to be let out, so I got up, made a latte, and joined everyone in the early sunshine. It’s too soon for flowers (except dandelions which are now in full bloom!), but the promise of summer is there for the taking. My trees are blooming and there are little buds where the leaves are getting ready to burst out. It’s hard to not get a little excited.

I took advantage of the light to get knitting pictures. I finished a shawl over the weekend. Here it is:

Shawl.
I made a simple garter stitch and eyelet shawl from a skein of wildly painted yarn. You can visit my Ravelry project page for more info on the shawl here.
Close up of shawl.
Here’s a close-up of the tip. There was a lot of color in the yarn!
Shawl on denim.
Here’s the shawl on denim. The colors look great combined with several things in my wardrobe. Yeah!!
Amazing yarn.
The original skein of yarn. It was a little intimidating with that “becoming art” label, but I’m happy with the product.

Now that I have one of the two shawls that I am working on finished I felt that it was OK to cast on the April 2015 sock. Here she is!

Sock
I am so happy with the way the grey is calming down the extreme wildness of the hot pink painted yarn. The pattern is great for television knitting, too, so I made a lot of progress last night.

It was a really great week for me knitting-wise. I even coated myself with the best sunscreen on the market (SPF 60!!) and went out and planted my new roses. There were a lot of positives for the week except for… my scleroderma decided to kick my butt. My leg muscles now hurt, my knees have become swollen, red and warm to the touch, and I’m dizzy in the mornings. I have edema in my arms and legs. What is up with that!! My rheumatologist gave me some drug information to read (I get to pick which drug I prefer of two possibilities. This sounds pretty good, but during the week I realized that these are chemo drugs that I will be taking at a lower dose than cancer patients get. Bummer!) Still, I was having a happy week and being positive until one of my neighbors stopped by to talk to me while I was planting the roses, and he mentioned that if I would get out more often to exercise and get sunshine I would “get well”.

He meant to be encouraging. He’s really not all that bright; he doesn’t get “chronic”. I was polite, but once I got back into the house I was ready to rant. Don’t tell chronically ill people that they can “get well” if they just change their diet, get more exercise, meditate, get off gluten, take vitamins, or whatever else occurs to you. It’s almost like suggesting that it is their fault that they are sick. I know that while it is human nature to want people to “get well”; it is insensitive to suggest that this is within the power of the person who is dealing with a disabling, progressive and incurable disease.

On the other hand, I need to pick a drug. Once I calmed down I e-mailed the doctor to let him know that CellCept sounded pretty good. Some scleroderma patients in forums are claiming to be in remission. That sounds pretty good to me. The downside? No more sunshine for me until I’m off again.

Midnight gardening? I can do it!!

 

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.