Thursday, December 11, 2008

Droning about what Pipers wear

Bagpipes are the only instrument I can think of that have a specific dress code. Of course we wear ordinary clothing when we practice, but for all performances or gigs most pipers wear a kilt. Our band uniform is composed of pieces of traditional Scottish dress.

Our band tartan is "The Flower of Scotland". There is a tune by that name which is considered by many to be the unofficial national anthem of Scotland. With its medley of blues and greens and hint of orange/red, I believe The Flower of Scotland tartan is indeed one of the loveliest tartans. It is a new tartan, not associated with a clan/family. Our woolen kilt hose are in a color called "Blue Lovat" and we wear Ancient Red flashes at the top of the hose. (I knitted a pair of kilt hose in cream wool but I only wear them when I am playing solo.) We wear a purse-like bag in the front which is called a sporran. It is secured with a chain that wraps behind us like a belt. The sporran is very handy for carrying bits and bobs we might need for our pipes, cash, and car keys. Our cap/bonnet is called a Glengarry and the lace up shoes are ghillie brogues. Ghillie brogues have no tongue and were designed so that water could drain out while the wearer tramped through the bogs. I'm not sure that actually works but it sounds logical. (The word "ghillie" comes from a word meaning "lad" or "servant".) The ghillies have special shoestrings that lace around the ankles, cross in back, twist and are tied on the front or side of the calf. Other uniform components are a white shirt, band tie, and belt. This dress is fairly typical of modern day pipers and I, for one, am glad that most pipe bands do not wear the military dress with tall fur hats and spats. I really believe the tall bonnet would cause me to topple over!

Heather and I traveled to Scotland a few years ago to play a wedding at Dundonald Castle. It isn't that they couldn't find pipers in Scotland, though. My Scottish friend was helping an American who was getting married in Scotland. They wanted a piper for their September castle wedding and we volunteered to do the job for free. How many American pipers have the opportunity to play a REAL wedding in a castle? It was an amazing trip. In the first photo we are practicing at the castle a day or two before the wedding. Our pipes sounded fantastic. It was as if the pipes knew they had come home.

At this time our band wore white hose with lovat blue flashes.
In the second photo we are inside the castle on the day of the wedding. That is Heather on the left and me, leaning for some weird reason, on the right.

The photographer asked us to climb up on a narrow stone wall that was part of the castle ruin. In my leather soled ghillies this was not an easy task! (I don't think he realized that I was over 50 at the time!) I named this photo "Mountain Goats" because we felt like goats climbing up a mountainside, only not as surefooted.

Then the photographer asked "the lassies" to play a tune! I really thought getting up on the wall was sufficient effort but I wasn't going to stand there idle while Heather played. In the last photo we are striking in our pipes to play a tune for the lovely bride and her groom. He is English but wore the kilt for the wedding. Her gown was a medieval style.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Two Pipers and Their Knittin'

This photo was taken by Kevin as we waited to tune for A Grace Family Christmas last week. Heather is starting a pair of mittens for her wee boy. I am about half way finished with a Fisherman's sweater for my youngest son. (Unfortunately I have used more than half the wool! )We have downtime at the performances, between stints of warming up and tuning our pipes.

I frogged the body of the sweater, which was nearly to the armpits. There was about 2 inches extra ease that could be eliminated and since I am cutting it close on yardage, that could make a difference. It only took me 3 days to get back to where I was.

Product review: A few months ago I bought the Knit Picks nickle Plated Options Set. These are sets where you get the needles tips and cords/wires/cables with various lengths. The tips screw into the cables. I wanted to have this set of needles for the occasions when I suddenly need a needle size that I don't commonly use. My usual sizes are #1, #2, #3, and #5. On this sweater I am using #7 so I used the Knit Picks Options for the body of the sweater. The first cable I used had a rough spot in it near where it joined the metal screw piece. On top of that I kept unscrewing the tip as I knit. I used the tiny tool to screw it in but the way I knit must have an effect on the torque, if that is the right word. Stopping quite frequently to screw the tip back in slowed me down considerably. I decided to use the second long cable that came with the kit. After knitting just a few rounds it broke out of the screw end. Sigh. So back to the faulty, rough cable. That one broke last night. My husband used epoxy to glue it in the hole so we will see how that goes. I cannot endorse this product. Apart from needles I bought in Denmark eons ago, Knit Picks are my favorite needles. So while I heartedly recommend their needles, I do not recommend the options sets.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Aye, Caledonia!

I have a yearning for Scotland. Perhaps that is obvious since I play the pipes. The last time I was in Scotland was in August 2005 when our band competed in the World Pipe Band Championship Games. I would love to go back soon but I don't think that will happen in the near future. Watching this short clip makes me want to book a flight right now! Scotland is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns.

These photos were taken on the west coast of Scotland in Ayrshire when we visited in 2005. The land formation on the horizon is called "The Sleeping Warrior".

"Caledonia" is an ancient term, used by the Roman Empire for the northern part of Great Britain. It is used today as a poetic name for Scotland. You will hear it in songs about Scotland where it conjures up images of those misty mountains and shady glens.

It is a busy, busy week. The band is playing in a concert at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria. They ask us to play about every other year. It is a huge commitment. We have dress rehearsal tonight (Wednesday) and evening performances on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and a Sunday afternoon performance. The good news is that when we aren't tuning our pipes I can knit! Isn't it wonderful that knitting is so portable? On Sunday night we have our Small Group from church. On Saturday I'm having my annual Holiday Open House for my business. Time to get back to the rock pile.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Bainbridge Scarf

The Bainbridge Scarf is now one of my favorite quick gift ideas. It can be worn as an accessory either indoors or out. I gave one to my son's girlfriend when they arrived for Thanksgiving. Isn't she adorable, with or without the scarf?
The yarn is Cascade Indulgence and it took less than one ball. This is a wonderful project for trying out those luxury fibers without spending too much. The pattern is free, too!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Pinwheel Blankie

Ah-h-h-h-, The Pinwheel Blankie was such a fun project that I feel like casting on for another one already. It was so much like knitting yoga (unlike the Lacy Ribbon Skirt) that I half expected to fall asleep and wake up with my hands still knitting rhythmically. Talk about the chi flowing! I made it in 8 days. The knitting just flew by as the segments became larger. Like Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi shawl, the design is very organic. A mathematician could probably tell us why the design is so pleasing to the eye. Perhaps the whorls follow the Golden Mean. From a knitter's perspective, it is easy, quick, fun, and satisfying. I will be sending this blanket off to Iowa soon. The baby is of unknown gender (although they know it is either a boy or a girl, thanks to the marvels of modern medicine) hence the buttercup color. This is my new favorite baby gift, after the pumpkin hats, of course.

I was very pleased with the seed stitch border I chose. I then cast off in i-cord.

To cast off in i-cord: Knit 2, slip one, knit one, psso. Slip the 3 remaining stitches back onto left needle. Repeat 500 times.

That's right. I had over 500 stitches on the needle by the time I reached the width I wanted, which is about 32" in diameter. A little less than 3 feet in diameter seemed to be a good size to me. Those young mamas have enough weight to carry with those mammoth arm-breaking baby carriers so I wanted it to be big enough but not too big.
I started a 4th skein of yarn just before I started the seed stitch border, thinking that would be a generous estimate. I was sweating it out at the end when I realized the i-cord was sucking up the yarn. There was just a little bit left in the skein. I believe the i-cord border is the icing on the cake, don't you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Contest Announcement and Weekend Highlight

The winner of my drawing for the Mitred Hanging Towel is jgerst on Ravelry! Congratulations! I hope you like chocolate, too! I will be contacting you through Ravelry for your address. The yellow button won by a landslide!
The weekend was great. On Friday I baked cookies for the Consecration Service for the new Sanctuary and addition to our church. I had actually made the dough on Thursday and I finished them up on Saturday morning. The cookie recipe was not one I chose myself, nor will I make it again. I was asked to recruit a team of 5 people to make 3 dozen cookies each. Other teams, about 8 of them, were making other recipes. The original recipe had not been tested and when one of my friends tried it out she said that (1) it was very labor intensive, and (2) the recipe only made 20 cookies. She found an alternative recipe that looked similar but did not entail cutting the rolled dough out by hand with a template. Instead the small balls of dough were rolled and pressed with a glass dipped in sugar. After baking they were made into sandwich cookies with a filling made of heavy cream and chocolate. The final step was dipping the ends in melted chocolate. I made over 6 doz of these little darlings and I sure hope people enjoyed them.

The consecration service on Sunday evening was amazing and I will never forget it. Everyone was waiting in the large foyer and the doors to the sanctuary were closed. We all began singing "Lord, prepare me" as the doors opened and everyone filed in. Our praise band, Acts 29, was playing and singing in front. Among us were children and older persons. Some folks we have known for over 25 years and others are new to us. The stained glass window behind the cross was so beautiful, too! You can see a photo of it here but it was more beautiful that night. Perhaps that was due to the faces of everyone there. During the service a dozen or so people spoke briefly. Each one blessed a particular part of the sanctuary. They all did a fantastic job. Afterwards we had a reception with the cookies, punch, and coffee. Our first Sunday in the new sanctuary is November 23.

I am finishing up a few knitting projects and will write about them soon.
I read a quote yesterday that I find helpful when a task seems overwhelming and I want to procrastinate...
We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.
--Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Back to Normalcy

Thanks to everyone for your kind thoughts and prayers. It was a very rough several days. Our boys are going to miss their friend so much. I am very proud of my sons for the sacrifices they made to come to the funeral. They both had to take several vacation days from work, which are precious to both. It was definitely important for their healing process, to be with their peers and grieve together. They are going to try to spend time with the deceased boy's older brother when they come home. Those brothers were very close also and I think my sons empathize with him particularly.

Our youngest son decided to drive straight through to NM instead of staying the night Wed at his brother's place in KC. That worries me but I am trusting they are almost home by now--and safe.

I'm grateful that I work at home with my own business and can take time off when needed. Even though my sons are grown I wanted to be here with them. I had a productive morning here in the office so I'm taking a break with my blog.

On the knitting front, I'm zipping right through the Pinwheel Blanket. It will be done in less than a week. That is a quick baby gift! I have an idea for a small project to go with it. The baby is due around Dec 1.

Sneaky, sneaky me. While the kids were here I washed some clothing, including a pair of corduroy trousers for L, the future recipient of the Lacy Ribbon Skirt. When I took the trousers out of the dryer I tip-toed back to our bedroom where I had hidden the skirt. I laid the trousers on top of the skirt and it looks like a perfect fit! So I'm going to sew it up and start seriously looking for that special ribbon.
If you don't like fringe you can stop reading this right now. (I am not a big fan myself but many in my prayer shawl group are.) When I wrote about Nicky Epstein's Knitted Garter Fringe I forgot to mention something I did to refine it a bit. You have 16 Stitches on your needle. If you twist the 8th stitch every other row then you get a tidier result when you drop the stitches for the fringe. That 8th stitch will be the last stitch in the binding off process.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Knitting is a Comfort

Our two younger sons came home today for a sad occasion. A close friend of theirs died unexpectedly on Saturday, just a few weeks after his 26th birthday. We're all so much in shock that this young, wonderful life is gone from us. Our youngest son and his girlfriend (and two dogs) drove all the way from NM, spent the night at his brother's place in KC, and then drove the rest of the way today. It was about 22 hours of driving. After the funeral tomorrow, they will reverse the process. Both boys will be pallbearers at the funeral. I'm going to play the pipes at the cemetery. I've played many funerals and I've always managed to keep it together even when I know the person; but I haven't had to do it when my boys are broken-hearted. It is hard to believe that they were home several weeks ago to be groomsmen in a wedding and now they are both pallbearers in a funeral.

Over the weekend I finished the Lacy Ribbon skirt and blocked it. I basted it together and will just leave it that way until she tries it on. Now I need to find some quality ribbon that has a vintage look. If you know a source, please let me know. I took this photo after blocking it and pinning it out on the bed in the guest room.

I also whipped up some sweet booties in Queensland Bebe Cotsoy. It is so soft. Cute, cute, cute. The pattern is from an issue of Knit Simple that I checked out of the library. I just happened to have this yarn in my stash and it is very close in color to the sample booties in the pattern. Beware if you knit this pattern. Read my notes on Ravelry. I'll get buttons sewn on soon.

On Sunday I started knitting a Pinwheel Blanket in a very soft cotton the color of butter. It is coming along nicely. After knitting that skirt where I had to be continually vigilant with the double strand, this is a piece of cake. The boys are currently visiting with their friends. It is raining. I am going to knit.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Ain't so Dumb After All!

This is a note regarding a question I posed a few weeks ago regarding reading patterns. One reason for confusion was that the pattern for the lacy ribbon skirt confuses the WS and RS rows in several places. A nice person on Ravelry pointed that out in her notes. So I'm not as dense as I thought I was. Whew!

Maybe someone can help with two issues regarding blogs. I know that at least one person has left a comment on my blog regarding the contest and the comment does not show. (I do not moderate the comments.) We went through the steps together and as far as I can tell she did everything correctly. I have had this same problem with at least two blogs. I have left comments and the comments do not show up, even though I am logged in and type in the weird letters. So if you can shed any light on this issue, please do.

The second issue is specifically with blogspot. Has anyone using blogspot noticed that when you add a post, the tally for the number of posts doesn't always change? I paid particular attention to this lately and am absolutely certain that my most recent post should have changed the number from 103 to 104. That isn't a big deal, just a bit annoying.

I didn't think to leave a closing date for my contest when I impulsively decided to do it. I guess I will wait to see how many hundred more add their comments. Sound good? Awww. We'll give it another week or so. And if you are reading and do not know how to leave a comment or if your comment does not appear, don't be shy...just send me an email or send me a message on Ravelry.

Disclaimer: Family members of this blogger are not eligible to win the contest, but they may still express an opinion about the button. :)

I don't have much knitting to show because I started over on the lacy ribbon skirt. The medium size seemed way too large. There is a considerable difference between a small and a medium, at least with my gauge--about 8". Getting the sizing correct is tricky. Knitting sweaters for my men folk is a lot easier because their bodies are just a bunch of cylinders. We of the gentler sex have complicated curves. On Thursday Sarah invited me over for lunch and a few hours of knitting to celebrate her birthday. I made considerable progress on the skirt front that day and have since finished it. My knitting instinct is pulling me towards starting another project but I am trying to resist temptation. If I make another skirt it has to be knitted in a yarn that does not need to be doubled. Doubling the yarn really a pain in the patoo-ee, if you get my drift.

Last night was Halloween and since we live at the end of a cul-de-sac we don't get many ghosts or goblins down here. The weather is unseasonably warm. We haven't even had a hard frost yet and I'm still seeing the occasional butterfly. I played my pipes outside as I watched the sun set through the trees in our woods. The candy was at the ready in a basket on the front porch. What a perfect evening! I got my practice time in and all the little trick or treaters got their goodies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It is a Celebration Giveaway!

At this time of the year I get pumpkin-on-the-brain. It is very closely aligned with apples-on-the-brain. Everything with pumpkin in it sounds good to me. I found a recipe for pumpkin spice muffins on a very creative blog "flipflops and applesauce". I tweaked it a bit and came up with this version which I think is very good.


One box yellow cake mix

1 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1/4 cup water

1 egg
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, etc. Whatever you like seems to work. (No garlic though.;)) Penzey's Cake Spice or Baking Spice work great also.

I also mix up a little topping with brown sugar, cinnamon and oats. Press into the top of each muffin. They look prettier and taste better.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 min. I like using paper liners and fill them a bit more than 2/3's full. Makes 18 regular size muffins.

Without the egg these muffins are supposed to be 1 pt on the Weight Watchers scale. I don't think one egg distributed over 18 muffins makes that much difference but it does lighten the batter. In the last batch I added ground flax seed and ground oats and they were still quite good and a bit more healthful.

This morning I'm meeting with my prayer shawl group, Knit One Pray Too, at the local coffee shop, The Blend. It is really fun to go to The Blend and I wish I got there more often. It feels like a big city coffee shop in our medium sized town. Most of the ladies do not like attaching fringe to the prayer shawls. I'm not a big fan of fringe but I have to admit the shawls look somewhat plain without anything. I've been knitting a lace border on mine but that is too complicated for most them, at least for now. I found a garter stitch fringe in Nicky Epstein's Knitting on The Edge, p 99. The fringe is essentially knitted in garter stitch horizontally and then stitches are dropped to make the fringe. It is brilliant! I expanded the directions to explain every single thing that might trip them up. We'll go over it this morning with practice yarn. This little green bit is just my sample swatch. If you would like my handout for the garter stitch fringe, send me an email and I will send it as an attachment. What I especially like is that there is no waste at all with the yarn. If you weigh the first fringe segment at the beginning of the shawl and set aside the same amount of yarn, plus a tad for good measure, you can knit up nearly every bit. Plus I would much rather knit than wind, cut, and use a crochet hook to attach stringy bits.

I still haven't attached a button to my Mitered Kitchen Towel from the new Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. Both buttons look nice. Which is your favorite?

In celebration of my 104th blog entry I just decided to have a contest. Vote on your favorite button for the mitered towel, yellow or green. I will draw a name out of all the entries and mail the towel (with your chosen button, of course!) to the winner. Spread the word to your friends over here, too! And yes, I will gladly mail overseas! Remember to vote for "yellow" or "green".

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Books, My Pet Coyote, and a Question

A few new knitting books have mysteriously made their way into my home. I have no idea how that happened.

Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines lives up to all expectations from the first book. Even a non-knitter would enjoy reading this book because Ann and Kay are hilarious. There are so many favorites in here, I don't even know where to begin. The mitered kitchen towel was my jury duty knitting. It is just ok and I'm not sure I'll make more. I can't put my finger on why I feel that way but it may have something to do with the fact that at the end of the knitting you need to sew on a button. Sewing on a button entails putting a thread through the eye of a needle. Yes, I know about those little wire threaders and I broke mine the last time I tried to put button thread through it. So the project is technically unfinished though I can photograph it with the button lying on top. I have a two Mason jars full of old buttons. My grandmother used to cut buttons off of clothing before giving it away. (I'm sure the people at Goodwill appreciate that.) I have to brag that the button I chose is outstanding and very vintage for the towel.

It was just too pitiful to be looking at my bookshelves and not see Barbara Walkers Knitting from the Top. This is a classic knitting book and HAS to be in every respectable knitter's library. It is a good thing that book finally found my house.

Ten years of Interweave Knits. Sigh. Look at that shawl on the cover. Seriously, how can a knitter resist that? Not that I had anything to do with the book getting in my home, you understand. There are a couple of projects in this book that I might try. The man's brioche vest would look great on my husband.

Digression: The little furry thing underneath our oak tree is one of our local coyote. He/she would not look at the camera. Sometimes he suns himself in front of the house and watches me get the morning paper. I'm sure he keeps the rodent population under control in the woods and fields around us.

Finally, Here is my question:

Until fairly recently I was almost exclusively an Elizabeth Zimmermann/Meg Swansen knitter. Reading knitting blogs and being on Ravelry has tainted me somewhat and I now venture out into some line by line patterns although I rarely knit them exactly the way they are written. The Lace Ribbon Skirt is one of them. One puzzlement that comes up too frequently involves a line like this: "Stop with a wrong side row." I never know exactly what the designer means by this. Does this mean that (1) you should knit the wrong side row and then stop or (2)stop at the beginning of a wrong side row. I think it usually means (1). Usually I can figure it out by reading further in the pattern notes but it is not always clear even after doing that. It would just be so much simpler if the directions read: "Stop after completing a wrong side row". I figure if this puzzles a knitter like me who has 30 years or so of knitting (though not pattern reading) under my belt, what is it going to do to the new knitters? They must be baffled. Or maybe I'm just being obtuse. Let me know.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Double Strand is a Slippery Slope

Over the weekend I began knitting the Lacy Ribbon Skirt by Kat Coyle, from Greetings from Knit Cafe. After several attempts to find a yarn substitute the owner of my local LYS showed me Flake Cotton. The cotton yarn as a lot of variation in thickness and I am using a double strand. Double strand means double trouble for me. I keep ending up with extra stitches now and then when the strands separate and I turn one stitch for two. I am sure this happens on the purl rows. I am also debating whether I will knit this in the round or not when I join the lace panels. Sizing is critical and this is my first attempt at a skirt. I do like the look of the textured cotton.

I set up my knitting nest on the back porch where I can look at the birds and the changing colors in the trees. Since I had jury duty this week I took a simpler project with me along with a number of other activities to keep me busy:

  • yarn and needles for several easy projects
  • my iPod
  • crossword puzzles and word games
  • PDA with solitaire (last resort)
  • magazines
  • my new Mason Dixon knitting book
  • new cell phone and manual to study
  • snacks

When I was packing my bag of tricks my husband asked, "Are you taking your knitting?" I was momentarily stunned. "Surely you know me better than to ask that question. I'd go stark raving mad in that room without my knitting."

Fortunately I only had to go in for two mornings and was not called for a jury. Whew! Civic duty accomplished.

Last night we had the pleasure of seeing The African Children's Choir in concert at our church. This is the third time our church has brought them to our town. I volunteered to be a host family as soon as I heard they were coming but the organizer already had enough homes. With jury duty this week it would have been difficult so it probably worked out for the best. If you ever have the opportunity to see this choir make every attempt to go. They are truly a blessing and you won't forget them.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Guernsey

My husband is modeling the guernsey I knitted for our son, Torben. I used wool called "Botanica" from Halcyon in Bath, Maine. This wool has an extremely tight twist. I couldn't break a strand with my hands without doing bodily harm to myself (I know because I tried.) The stitch definition is just fantastic. This sweater doesn't even need blocking!

I used Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' Knitting in the Old Way and Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Gaffer's Gansey" as my guides. I totally forgot that Meg Swansen had an updated version, which I will use on the next guernsey because I do like the neckline. This one seems to hit right at the Adam's apple and beards and men's necks being what they are, it wears the edge down. My son is an inch or two shorter than my husband so I think the sizing is perfect. This was such a joy to knit. I used the crochet steek method for the sleeves which I prefer to getting a sewing machine out and struggling with tension, etc. It worked nicely.

It is rather embarrassing to be so crazy about knitting dishcloths lately when it wasn't that long ago that I was too snobby to knit them. Right now they are so relaxing and I complete one in about an hour with very little effort. I guess Mason-Dixon Knitting was the turning point in my dish cloth career although I haven't knit a ballband dishcloth in a while. Finding so many interesting color combinations in the cotton yarn is also a great deal of fun and I like the pattern stitch swatches.

You can find my notes on sweaters and all my projects on Ravelry where I am "PrairiePiper".

This is the waffle stitch that I used on revamping my husband's gray saddle shoulder sweater that I wrote about in yesterday's post.

The dishcloth "group photo" was actually taken after several were given away.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn Butterflies and a Darling Punkin'

I made this classic saddle shoulder (the EZ way) for my husband about 6 years ago. I don't know why the body turned out short but whenever he wears it he reminds me of a schoolboy who has outgrown his clothing. I had two balls of yarn in reserve but knew that adding several inches of plain stockinette stitch would not be a good idea. The new yarn would look different. I added a welt and used a waffle stitch pattern that I've used on dishcloths lately. Then I finished it off in one of my favorite rib patterns, which is the same used on the cuff. I can be proud when he wears it now instead of mildly annoyed with myself.

I have given away pumpkin hats--to infant twins, along with pumpkin muffins for the rest of the family. Are you impressed with my theme? The hats were better than the muffins. Boy Twin had awakened from his nap when I arrived. He wasn't even crying. He was just content to wait until his mom realized he might be awake. What a little doll! Little Sis was still sleeping sweetly on her back. I'm sure she looks just as adorable in her cap.
My dad was tickled pink with the ribbed hat I knit for his birthday. Since he doesn't have much hair "up there", he needs all the help he can get to keep his noggin warm.

Butterflies have been thick on the lavender and basil in our front garden. Regarding butterfly gardens, I've read that it is better to have multiples of the same plant rather than a smattering of many butterfly attracting plants. My former garden was pretty much a bit of everything. I was going for the English cottage garden look and think I achieved it. You might find a green pepper plant amidst the larkspur. I gardened in a serendipitous mode. Wherever seedlings came up I tried to leave them. This made for a rather eclectic, though pleasing and hardy mixture, as I think plants will thrive best where they choose to sprout. I did attract butterflies but not to the degree that I have at this house and I now have fewer plants overall. Often there were 4 to 5 Painted Ladies on a lavender or basil plant plus a gray hairstreak and silver spotted skipper. Amongst all the Painted Ladies I have seen over past weeks I have not seen a single American Painted Lady. I always hope to see at least several each season since they are particularly beautiful.

See the little gray hairstreak in the 9 0'clock position in the photo?

A Painted Lady is showing off her colors on the basil.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mostly about My Boys--and some knitting

We had a very special weekend. Our two younger sons came home to be groomsmen in a wedding. Since they both live out of state we only get to see them about twice a year. It is a big event for us to see them, especially together because they are such good friends and we love the interaction. They are friends of both the bride and the groom. Their "ladies" came also and I am fervently praying they will someday be daughter-in-laws. (It's looking pretty good for both at the moment but don't tell anyone!)

I think they are all adorable. The day of the wedding the boys left the girls at the house while they went to the winery to help set things up and have the photo shoot. Being a mother of all boys, it was fun for me to observe the feminine activities, with them painting their nails, doing hair, etc. I had a blast and it was great to get to know them better.

The wedding was held at a local winery, a lovely setting. After the dinner reception the guests moved from the tent to the lawn and patio for dancing. We were first blessed by a gorgeous sunset followed by a clear sky studded with stars.

On the Knitting Front:

Last September my mom, dad and I visited my brother in West Hollywood, home of Knit Cafe. I've been holding off on buying the book, Greetings from Knit Cafe, because I didn't think there was much in there that I would actually make. When my LYS had a 20% off sale I finally broke down and bought it because there was one pattern for a baby sweater that I thought was quite unique. Anyway, after brunch on Saturday the girls were looking at Greetings from Knit Cafe and they both loved the lace skirt that is on the cover. They both said it reminds them of clothing from a store called "anthropologie". (Again, a new world with these young women.) I have since joined a group on Ravelry of people who like that clothing line and there are well over 3,000 of them in the group. The more I thought of it, the more I liked the idea of knitting the skirt. I've since added several more skirt patterns to my Ravelry queue. I'm going to knit one for the more petite of the girls because (1) she was the one who first saw the skirt and commented on it (2) plus she is smaller by at least 5" of skirt length, and (3) she's more likely to be a DIL at this point. Well, that seems to be as good a criteria as any.

This is the little sweater that is knit from side to side. I hope I'm not breaking any copyright laws here. I do recommend buying the book.

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