Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Truly Tasha Shawl is Truly Fun!

We had a quiet Easter: Church followed by Sunday School and a simple lunch for the two of us. A friend stopped by and we invited him to come back for a hot sandwich and lager in the evening. He brought us a beautiful hydrangea. I hope I can keep it going. I love houseplants, especially those that thrive on benevolent neglect.

My Truly Tasha shawl, which I began about March 10, is coming along nicely. I do love garter stitch but after so much of it, I was ready for the lace border. The border is easily memorized, with only 6 rows. Before even starting on the border, I began to get nervous about the yardage for the edging--and who doesn't want an extra skein of Cascade 220 hanging about? So I made a trip to my local yarn shop, Ewe-Nique Yarns, in Morton IL yesterday, not at all influenced by their 20% off Anniversary Sale. Happy 3 year Anniversary! That is a great milestone for a small business. We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful selection of yarns and such friendly people. I bought my skein of Cascade and Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments: 350 Appliques, Borders, Cords and more! Plus I ordered yarn that was not in stock and the owner applied the 20% off to that also. Totally overwhelmed by the choices, I made my way home and will probably head back there in a day or two with a better idea of what I want to purchase. I really like to have a plan in mind when I make a yarn purchase. If I change my mind later on at least I generally have enough yarn to have many choices. I found that random purchases do not suit me well at all.

At the yarn shop I struck up a conversation with a very nice knitter who invited me to an area meeting of knitters Thursday morning. I'm looking forward to that! It has been a while since I've been a part of a knitting group.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Signs of Spring

  1. Robins, flocks of them.
  2. Redwing Blackbirds on fenceposts
  3. Goldfinches (males) moulting into their summer feathers of bright yellow
  4. Snow?

Yesterday we had several snow showers and woke up this morning to a dusting of snow on the ground.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Visit with The Folks

Last weekend we went to visit my parents, which is always a fun time. Mom and Dad are exceptionally sharp and active for their ages and they both have a great sense of humor. We laugh a lot! Dad is an accomplished woodworker specializing in turning wood on a lathe. He has been giving my husband lessons each time we visit. Now Bob is ready for his own lathe and we are going out this afternoon to start looking. On Saturday morning Bob turned a bowl. Meanwhile, I was knitting bowls (One Skein by Leigh Radford) to be felted and Mom was in the kitchen. Last September on our trip to California I helped Mom resurrect her knitting skills from years ago. Since then she has knitted scarves for nearly everyone she knows (and probably some she doesn't know.) So it was time she learned a new technique. When I could get her to settle down from the kitchen we got started on a hat for Dad, knitted in the round with Cascade 220.

I also started felting my slippers which took at least a half a dozen trips through Mom's washing machine. Since coming home I have also used my machine, which works better than I thought it would. I didn't think it would agitate the wool enough. I knitted 3 bowls, using bits and pieces of wool I had one hand. Last week I catalogued my stash on Ravelry (my name is PrairiePiper) and round some wool that would be perfect for felting. I also made a green bowl similar to the blue one. My favorite bowl is the Saw-Tooth Companion Bowl from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders. I changed the pattern to avoid sewing the saw-tooth border. After knitting the border I picked up the stitches on the straight edge and knit downward instead of knitting upwards. The Saw-Tooth Edge can be displayed up or down. I used Kureyon for the saw-tooth border and a handspun given to me by a friend. (She purchased it while traveling.) The handspun was a scratchy yarn and I've been wondering what to do with it. I felted it in the machine and also by hand. I like the saw-tooth green bowl the best.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Folk Shawls and Felting

I have two new books in my Knitting Library. Knitting for Two has two or three patterns that I might use or adapt and that's ok. (Sorry, the photo disappeared.) Folk Shawls is fantastic! Instead of finding one or two patterns I would like to make it is easier to find the two or three that I don't want to make. The background behind each shawl and the country it comes from is fascinating. The patterns are at all levels of difficulty, mostly easy to medium range, which is fine by me. If you don't have this book and you like shawls and/or lace, get it now and you won't be disappointed.

The felting craze is beginning to hit me. Ok, I'm a late bloomer. The only successful felting/fulling I've done is by accident. When the boys were young some of their mittens made it into the laundry by accident and we liked them even more when they were thicker and fuller. Other felting projects I've tried do not felt enough or perhaps I gave up too soon. My latest attempt are the felted clogs by Bev Galeskas. My washing machine is a front loader, which for obvious reasons, does not allow one to open the door while the cycle is in progress. We're paying a visit to my parents this weekend so I figure this is a good project for Mom and me. These clogs have a lot of felting to do before they will fit my little foot!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Live Easter Grass

I just had to show my little crop of rye grass for spring. Yesterday I gave the basket grass a clipping and enjoyed the aroma. My little crazy lady looks quite fashionable, don't you think? Her hair grew about 2 inches in two days! I have a squirt bottle to dampen the soil once or twice daily.
I have a few Easter decorations tucked away. My grandmother used to make fancy eggs for an Easter tree. I'll add some eggs to the basket soon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Another Baby Sweater

I finished the baby sweater for Madeline over the weekend and put the finishing touches on the sweater Monday evening. I like the look of the non-matching buttons from my button jar on the border. They are the same size and all are white, but there are slight differences. It is a folksy look. In the button jar there were a lot of very small white buttons that look like the kind used on button-down collars. I used some of these on the back of the border to stabilize the "working button". Sewing on buttons is not my favorite thing to do; however having this little detail helped immensely because I felt proud of the end result.

The booties are from the same book (Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight) and although they look cute, I'm just sure they would not stay on the feet of a moving baby. To be quite frank, I started on this pattern only because I was too tired/lazy to look for another pattern and this one was in the same book as the sweater. After knitting one bootie I looked up the pattern on Ravelry and decided to follow the path of several knitters and add ribbons for securing around the ankle. I don't know yet whether I will knit a bonnet to go with the sweater and booties. While I will not make these booties again I will definitely be making the sweater again. It is an easy, quick, adorable knit.

We're hearing sounds of birds staking out their territories and calling for mates. Spring is coming!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Book and Buttons

Last night I finished reading Year of Wonders: A novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks. At times during the reading of this I had mixed feelings about the book but the more I read it the more the story drew me in. The subject is unpleasant and you know right from the get-go that the outcome isn't going to be great. A lot of people are going to die in a most unpleasant way. The story is based in fact. The people of Eyam, a village in Derbyshire, England voluntarily quarantined themselves from all surrounding towns in 1665 when they were beset with plague after an intinerant tailor brought in a tainted bolt of cloth. No one was allowed to leave or come into the town. At great personal sacrifice these people prevented plague from spreading to neighboring villages and kept the death toll down outside of their village. Provisions from the outside world were left at "the Boundary Stone" on the outskirts of the village. What happens to the villagers during this year of tragedy, mainly how they react to one another, death, and life is what draws one into the story. I highly recommend this book and thank Rowan for her posting on the real town. Comments from that posting led me to put this book on my reading list. Two weeks ago I went to a used book sale at our local nature center and picked it up for $1.

I absolutely love a Saturday when I have no place to be at a certain time. The phone is not ringing. My husband is at work, doing research at the university. I putter around in the house watering my African Violets and other plants, perusing a few catalogs and magazines, tidying up the house, and going into town on two errands. I needed to post a package at the post office and amazingly it was not crowded on this Saturday morning. My next stop was our town square which is surrounded by very interesting shops. My goal was to visit the antique shops to see if I could find old buttons to use on knitting projects. I hit the jackpot immediately by finding an antique Ball Jar filled with buttons for just $12. I am in the process of sorting by color and size. There are mother-of-pearl buttons and shirt buttons that will be perfect for baby sweaters. I don't think they would have to match completely on a sweater as long as the size works with the buttonhole.
The red corkscrew-like button is the most unusual I have found so far. I've only delved into the first 1/4 of the jar. There were actually two jars at the shop but this one had the button card with 11 mother of pearl buttons so I chose it.

It is about lunchtime now. I'm going to heat up the cauliflower soup I made for dinner last night. We ate it with freshly made whole wheat bread. It was delicious and the kind of soup that will taste even better today.

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