Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Falling in Love with Silk

Meadow Flowers Shawl is finished and drying on the bed in the guest room. I'm glad I finished it although I still think the wool is a bit busy for the pattern. The actual color is something between that depicted in these two photos.
The yarn I am using for Lace Ribbon Scarf is by Oasis and is aptly named "Seduction". The 100% silk (colorway Ruby) feels so good it could be x-rated. This one silly and extravagant skein is surely going to spoil me for a long time. I cast on only 35 stitches and the scarf seems wide enough to me. (It is being modeled on the sofa arm, which I suppose is a good stand in for my neck.) Although I haven't measured it (the scarf, not my neck) lately, I am guessing it is about 3/4 finished. The finished length is supposed to be 80 inches.
I took a computer vacation over the 3 day weekend and it felt good. The band played a parade on Saturday and a few of us played a gig yesterday at a posh country club on the river. That scenario looked like a vignette from Europe or another era, with men wearing navy blazers and white pants. Other than those two events and church on Sunday morning we had no commitments. I sat on the deck with my knitting and an occasional cup of tea, watching the birds flit about the feeders and in the treetops. The wild turkeys come up from the woods to eat the seed that has fallen on the ground. A nuthatch flew within two feet of me to grab a rather large insect and carry it off. I suppose that big bug would be like a steak dinner for a nuthatch.
Another project for the weekend was cleaning my closet and shifting my winter/summer clothing. Instead of tackling that project all at once I did it in spurts with knitting as reward. We took a load to Goodwill this morning. A lot of woolen items are in the process of being washed and put away until the weather turns again in the fall. True to our area of the country we had temperatures about 81 yesterday and in the 40's this morning.
If you didn't read the comments on my last post, check them out. Mrs H and I have an interesting connection.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Changing of the Guard

I finished the Meadows Flowers Shawl last night. I still have to sew in a few ends and block it so when that is done there will be photos. I can't say I'm 100% thrilled with the result at this point but I know that blocking will improve the drape of the fabric. I had 1+ skeins left over from the 4 I purchased. I would just can't stand that feeling that you might run out of yarn while knitting a lace border. My new motto is "Beware Mohair". I fell in love with the colors of the yarn and I guess I'm not crazy about mohair. The word "hair" isn't in there for nothing. It has that furry scratchy feeling to it, even though this blend is 60% mohair and 40% wool.

Although Meadow Flowers is still hot off the needles I have already cast on the Ribbon Lace Scarf by Veronik Avery on knitty.com. While I should have been working in my office today i sat on my porch with skein and needles in hand and a cup of tea on the table. The skein of silk yarn I bought at my local yarn shop, Ewe-nique Yarns, didn't even make it into my stash. It went straight from yarn shop to needles in just a few days. The scarf pattern is so fun and the silk yarn is luscious to work with. I cast on 35 stitches instead of 53 because the yarn was rather expensive and I wanted to avoid purchasing an extra skein. I would rather have plenty of length and not as wide.

I practiced my pipes today while walking through the woods and admiring the wildflowers and new spring leaves. It doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Meadow Flowers and Mothers

Last week I nearly ripped out my Meadow Flowers Shawl just because I wasn't thrilled with it. I decided to give it another day and somehow it began to grow on me. So now I'm committed. I am starting skein #3 out of 4 skeins so there really isn't much more knitting until I start the lace border.

We had a great Mother's Day weekend. On Saturday I went to tai chi in the morning and then puttered around the house. I love puttering around on a Saturday: tidying up, watering my plants, doing a little laundry... Bob was at the university all day. I took a long walk with my I-pod. I've really gotten into audio books. My latest book is "A Seaside Practice" by Dr. Tom Smith. If you have ever read or seen the Jame's Herriott series, this is very similar except it is in Scotland and the doctor is a general practitioner, not a vet. The author himself reads the book so just listening to his Scottish accent is great. He practiced family medicine in Scotland in Ayrshire, which is an area where I have visited several times since I have a friend who lives there. When he mentions "Ailsa Craig" I know exactly what it looks like from the road looking out to sea.

Mom and Dad arrived on Sunday, on their way home from visiting my nephew in Des Moines. Dad helped Bob get his lathe up and running. Then we had an impromptu wine and cheese party in the sunroom followed by a simple dinner of soup and garlic bread. The weather was windy and rainy, so we were pretty much confined to the indoors.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Musings on Books, Denmark, and my Knitting History

When we planned our home library we underestimated the amount of shelf space. Not all of our books are shelved in our new library/music room. We might be able to squeeze them in if we eliminated everything but books on the shelves, which was probably what we were thinking. We still have bookshelves in the basement with my husband's math and engineering books, Bible Study texts, etc. I still have some boxes of Danish books that smell rather musty but I have trouble parting with because the represent my year at the university there. That year was probably the most memorable single year of my life and fulfilled a dream. I always think about Denmark a lot in May because I arrived there for the first time on May 17--that is the Norwegian national holiday. (Norwegians being close relatives of the Danes, everyone in Denmark knew this and commented on it.) There was a transportation strike the day I arrived so it wasn't easy to make my way from the airport in Copenhagen to the town of Odense, located to the east and on the island of Fyn. Nearly everywhere I went people were knitting and I was immediately drawn to the Continental method, which I recognized as being much faster than the way my grandmother had taught me at the age of about 8. (I hadn't done any knitting since then either.) I asked my Danish mother, Annie, to teach me to knit. Immediately I embarked on a sweater in Lopi cream wool with a green color pattern. I was hooked and have been knitting ever since! The only time I took a respite from knitting was when I was learning to play the bagpipes. I needed to concentrate my spare time on one or the other. Once I got the bagpipes under control, I came back to knitting and found that my piping actually got better. Was it improved dexterity or was I just happier?

When you are a knitter who LOVES knitting you want to pass it on. For all new knitters out there, keep a list of all the people you teach, just for the fun of it. The knitting class that I gave for young moms at my church in January and February was particularly rewarding because out of that class came several excellent knitters. Sarah is already knitting socks and felting boxes. Melodee has made hats and has plans for Christmas Stockings for her whole family. Nicole has made hats for her son and husband and socks for her daughter and herself. Melodee and Nicole already knew how to knit the American/English method but were willing to learn the Continental method also. Sarah is left-handed and took to Continental like a duck to water. Heather, my helper in the class, learned to knit when we went to Scotland together several years ago to play a wedding. She is a fearless knitter. I taught Nancy to knit when she was in high school and she is reviving her knitting skills. Monica didn't get to all the classes but she is my neighbor so we can work on knitting this summer. It is so much fun seeing how these young moms are knitting for their families and enjoying our beloved craft.

Between projects about two weeks ago I made a pair of Perfect Baby Booties. The pattern is on Ravelry by someone named Ruth B. The pattern is very similar to one I used earlier in the year from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms by Louisa Harding. Ruth makes no bones about taking the parts she liked best from various bootie patterns to come up with this design. I don't know whether they are perfect, but I do like the pattern. I added a mock cable rib for the cuff. The cuff seems a little long to me. Babies don't have a lot of length from the top of the foot to the knee.
A week ago Monday I awoke with a rash on the inside of my forearm. It didn't get much worse and didn't bother me much. Although it was itchy, it was not poison ivy (bumps too small and did not spread). About 4 days ago it started getting worse and it became obvious that there was a "center" to it. None of the over-the-counter medications seemed to help. A friend of mine suggested it might be a spider bite. That seemed reasonable. Yesterday I finally realized it was time to call the doctor. The itching was driving me nuts and the bite was getting swollen, hot, and hard. The physician's assistant agreed that it was an insect bite that had become infected. He mentioned some scary bacteria and said not to worry which I obviously have not been since I waited 10 days to do anything about it. Now I have a steroid creme and oral antibiotics. That got me wondering how long it was been since I've had an antibiotic. I believe it is about 24 years. I am very fortunate that I am rarely ill.
I carry on with the Meadow Flowers Shawl although I am not all that thrilled with it. I think the wool and the pattern are not perfectly suited. Perhaps its just too soon to knit another triangular shawl after the very fun "Truly Tasha's Shawl".

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