Athos, a shawl

I have been away so long, poor blog.  But I have not not been knitting, if you know what I mean.  I continue to knit — a lot.  And work — too much.  And ferry around teenagers (who both have had orthopedic problems since I was last here, thus even more ferrying).  But I am alive and kicking and knitting!

I wanted to show my latest project, as it’s been the result of a lot of plotting and paper and pencil and eraser and knitting (and tinking, occasionally).  After re-reading “The Three Musketeers” recently, a couple knitting friends and I decided that each main character needed a shawl to honor them.  One of my reader-friends made a gorgeous dark silk shawl to evoke Aramis.  My other friend has yet to make her shawl, being busy moving right now.  But I chose Athos, who in some ways is the main character as much as d’Artagnan, and whose story directs the larger story.  As those who have read the book (or seen one of the movies) may remember, a fleur-de-lis plays a significant role in the plot, so I felt that needed to be a presence. Additionally, Athos wore his Musketeers uniform like a shield, or a cloak, hiding his identity. Thus I designed the shawl to evoke images of a musketeer’s tabard.  I used a very old diamond lace stitch pattern, modified to make it work in a shawl, and then used an equally old French pattern of true knitted lace for the edging, one that evoked the mountain that the name Athos came from.

The result?

Athos on display

Gothlet, newly home from camp, graciously modeled it for me.

Athos shawl modeled 1

Athos shawl wingspan

I love it. It turned out almost exactly as I pictured, other than wider and bigger. That’s not a problem, though! I may reknit it in a slightly smaller size, however, to check the yardage and the look. I expect to be working on the pattern thereafter, by popular request….

Winning Team! And a new pattern to celebrate fall.

No, I’m not talking about the Brewers.  Or the Packers.  (Not that they’re not winning teams right now….)

First, though I have not been blogging, I have indeed been knitting.  Knitting a lot, actually.

One of the things I have been knitting, for a brief but intense time, was a dishrag, for DishRag Tag V!  Emily from YarnMiracle once again was kind enough to put this fun and amazing friendly knitting relay on.  On September 21st, the box came:

filled with treats and dishcloth cotton, and a finished dishrag!

These were from my teammate Kirsten in Michigan.  (Our team, number 9 on the list, was called the A-Nine-ilators!)

I picked up the cotton and my needles and began to knit, punctuated with a trip to the first meeting of the year (and my first meeting ever) of the local knitting guild, Three Rivers Knitting Guild.

Though I got it finished and the packaged mailed off via the Automated Postal Center that night, the USPS hijacked our package, holding it in Peoria two days past the promised delivery date.  Oh, no!

But despite this unforeseen delay: thanks to awesome teammates and speedy knitting all along the way,

Our team WON the DishRag Tag!

Woo-hoo!  We mostly won glory, but also very cool knitting bags. (The purple ones are coming to the A-Nine-ilators.)  Thank you, Emily!

Whew!   As the race just ended, to our glory, there is glory in the leaves around us also.  It’s probably peak color here right now, thanks to an early cold snap a couple weeks ago, though right now it’s incredibly warm for October in the midwest.  I haven’t had time for a proper photo shoot, but here are a few photos of trees within a half block of my house:

Maple putting on colors

See the leaves blowing off the trees, below?

(you may have to embiggen)

That was yesterday’s Saturday Sky, by the way.

Lastly, inspired by a ‘homework’ assignment for a Harry Potter-themed competitive knitting group (you would think I’m competitive or something), I just designed a fractal-inspired hat for fall. It’s not truly fractal, but Sierpinski triangles were hard to interpret in hat form. Instead, I modified a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker’s second treasury, frogged a few attempts at semi-clever decreases, and came up with this:

Pythagorean Triangles Hat.

It fits my lovely knit-model, the RockStar, it fits me

it even fits my husband.

Geometry is my daughter’s favorite area in math: maybe that’s why the hat seemed to make her so happy?

Pattern, Pythagorean Triangles Hat: download now

An American Institution

Nope, not my usual Eye Candy Friday.

A preview of tonight, with last week’s pictures: last week where I went to my first high school (American) football game in over thirty years.

But really?

I went to the game to see the BAND.  (Doesn’t everybody?)

In particular, there was a bass drummer I was anxious to see strut her stuff.  The smallest bass drummer, in fact.

She was FIERCE.  Drumline rules!

Last week was hot and muggy, and the mosquitoes came out for the halftime show, too. Tonight should be perfect football marching band weather, cool and clear.  No rain, no snow.

It’s early in the season, as school had just started last week, but here’s two of their pieces as recorded last week, the first one featuring the percussion section, and the second one showing their drill (the marching).  Chuck Mangione FTW!

Eye Candy Friday on a Rainy Day

It’s Devonderful…

OK, OK, terrible pun.  (Terrible.)  But Devon was wonderful!  Let me take you there….

I left you at Knit Nation Bingo. (Which, by the way, raised money for Refuge, a UK domestic violence charity.)  The next day was still Knit Nation, but I was less busy, having been wait-listed for a morning class that did not open up.  This was my day to visit the marketplace in a more leisurely fashion and carefully select a few fibery souvenirs, to sit and knit a bit, to have tea:

try on knitted things at Ysolda’s “Little Red in the City” booth

(the RockStar models Vivian, (Ravelry link) published in Twist Collective Winter ’08)

watched Carole winding laceweight (winding that was a bargain for the buyer at 1£, I’d say)

and ran through the marketplace another time.

I did NOT get these earrings at The Bothered Owl’s stall, though I was very tempted, but I did get a superb bag, which was one of the bags I showed you earlier this week, with a map of London on it (perfect size for socks, and so well made!).

After some more London frolics in the rain, which I will catch you up on later, we packed our suitcases that night, and left early in the morning, dragging suitcases and all on the Tube to Paddington station, and thence on a train  through the English countryside.

A pleasant  two plus hours later, watching the rain and wet sheep go by, we were in Exeter St. David’s, in Devon.

Very close now to our destination!

A change of train to a lovely and well-known train, the Riviera line, and so farewell to Exeter

(Yep, still raining) and hello to the SEA!

We were right on top of the water.

So lovely, even in the rain.

These meres, or what have you, reminded me very much of scenes from ‘Clouds of Witness’ (Lord Peter Wimsey), though that is set in Yorkshire, or perhaps “Hound of the Baskervilles”… I could easily imagine being deceived by the greenery.

Very soon, we were in Teignmouth, and my friends Esther and Sally were there to meet us, and help with luggage! (Hooray!)

Off to eat at the ‘posh’ fish and chips shop on The Street With No Name

and the BEST fish ever.

(The RockStar and Sally.  Very happy!)

After a little walking around before and after (it had stopped raining),

we proceeded to our afternoon destination, Seashore Ceramics Pottery Painting Studio, the shop of my friend Esther and her husband.  SO COOL!

Oh, my, we had so much fun!  There was a huge selection of things to paint (rather hard to decide).

But the RockStar painted a colorful dinosaur and a bowl; Sally an adorable little Welsh dragon; and I painted a banal yet satisfying cupcake (it opens up to be able to store trinkets) and an artsy vaguely Oriental vase.

DSC04140

(Totally stealing Esther’s photo of the fresh-out-of-the-kiln pieces.)

Again:  SO MUCH FUN!

After Sally headed back to her home a ways away (she had driven down just to meet us, so awesome), we went home with Esther & her husband (who is especially awesome, as she invited us into her house to stay the night.  The generosity of knitters astounds me).  After a delicious mac & cheese & nom dinner, their dogs hopped into the car

as, despite the recurrent rain, Esther knew I wanted to see THE MOOR.

(By the way, this was arrived at by rocketing down one-lane roads surrounded by high hedgerows.  Eep!)

A bit of a climb, and:

oh, my.

(Spot the dog.)

RockStar, Queen of the Tor.

(Spot the dog.)

(Dogs for scale.  Yep. Right.)

It was amazing.

And there were moor ponies, and moor sheep, and everything. Including slightly deluded scramblers leaping about on the wet tor.

After a last good-bye to the tors

and a last stick thrown for the dogs

we headed home, via the same narrow hedgy roads (a little unnerving from the perspective of the back seat, but all was well)

to our guest bedroom with the lovely view

where the RockStar actually was tired and wanted to go to bed when I did (rare, at her age).  (I have a sleeping teen picture from this night, but she would kill me if I posted it, so you will just have to imagine.)

Then, in the morning, up the hills and to downtown Bovey to start our trek back to London (and the next day, back home to the United States).

Whew! Still with me?

My daughter (and I) totally want to go back to Devon.  It was gorgeous, and we had such a good time, especially thanks to my friends, to whom I am eternally grateful.

Besides, I never had Devon clotted cream.

I definitely have to go back!

My Trip In Bags

Once before, I showed you My Trip In T-Shirts.

While I’m preparing my Devon post (hint: lots of photos), here’s a quick synopsis of my trip to England (except I have no bags from Devon!  Silly me.)

(Click to embiggen for detail if desired.) You’ve already heard about Knit Nation and Bingo (center front and center back).  More info to come!

Edited to add:

Oops, forgot a couple!  I love the Tate bag…

OK, the second one is plastic, but it’s very cool!

Two sides of the Atlantic, the same Saturday Sky over all

Today:

Sunny, hot, humid.

Last Saturday:

I realize you can’t tell from that picture, but sunset of an even hotter, more humid July day.

(Albeit with interesting clouds.)

In between, thunderstorms which only served to put even more humidity in the air, I swear.

The Saturday before, a little different.  While friends and family back home were sweltering and sweating, this is what I and my elder daughter the RockStar were experiencing:

Rain most of the day, with a high temperature about 21 C (70 F for us Americans), with lows in the low teens (50s F):

(These grey skies are over Holy Trinity Church, next to the Imperial College Union on Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, London, England.)

But I didn’t mind the rainy out-of-doors, as Saturday was a Knit Nation day!  Knit Nation was held at the site above, Imperial College, a great venue to stay, learn, knit, bond, and shop.

That day, while my teenager who was with me in London (or, more accurately, I should say that I was with her) was off with her English friend, I took a class from Merike Saarniit called “Spinning to Knit”, in which I officially learned how to use my drop spindle (essentially self-taught spinner here), and most especially learned how to ply, which I’d never done, ever.  Very appropriate for the Tour de Fleece (spin-a-long) which was going on concurrent with the Tour de France!

Look!

First plied spindle-spun handspun, and it’s knittable!  It’s a sampler of different types of fiber, so I wouldn’t really knit it, but still….YARN!  And I made it!

Speaking of yarn, I subsequently ran through the marketplace (and didn’t even buy anything — well, not then) — it was amazing, but I was there to scope it out given limited suitcase space, and to see the lovely Emmms!  Some of you knitters have loved her socks, but she is herself just as lovely.

She was there with her partner in crime craftiness and creativity, Lou, with their super bags, Made by Loumms, and in the shop of an amazing dyer, Pippa of Sweet Clement.

I disrupted business for a bit as we chatted, and I gave her a mustache mug that I thought she would like (I was right), but then I did have to let her get back to work (after taking advantage, granted, of the opportunity to buy some lovely yarn and bags, but I don’t have pictures of those all yet, so perhaps I will show you at some future date).  We didn’t have the chance to get together outside Knit Nation, as we kept missing each other.  Guess I’ll have to come back….

The day before, I had taken a Knit Nation class with Franklin Habit about introduction to lace knitting techniques and history.  Though I am not a lace beginner, I am fascinating by the history of knitting, and don’t pretend to know everything about techniques, so I thought it would be interesting.  Which it was, naturally.  Franklin is a wonderful speaker.  Plus, as a bonus, we were able to fondle some of his lace.

The Anna Shawl, hot off the needles. It’s lovely, delicate but sturdy-feeling.  So cool to see it, and other Franklin lace, in person!

Back to Saturday: the RockStar being off for the day meant that I could hang out in the Knit Tea salon, where I ran into my old friend Carole whom I had met at  Sock Camp (she had a short break from her duties as Knit Nation crew), and she introduced me to her friends Alison & Claire who lived in England, who were awesome.

The rain had stopped by dinnertime

The Queen's Tower, Imperial College, London

and we walked to the student pub, where we ordered a variety of starters (appetizers) for a light meal, and I was introduced to the joys of Pimm’s.

There are cucumbers and strawberries in there. It’s awesome.  I loved it. No, it’s not beer; it’s a gin-based liquor, which in this incarnation is mixed with fizzy lemonade.  And strawberries and cucumbers, and orange, and mint, if I recall correctly.  I might have been getting a trifle fizzy myself after a couple. Plus, when our food was greatly delayed, the bar gave us a round of drinks: more Pimm’s!

Then we went and played bingo with knitters for charity.

BTW, British bingo is different from American bingo. And we missed the announcement of the rules since we were late because our food was so late.  Thus, picture me trying to figure out what constitutes bingo (hint: it’s not five in a row), under the influence of several Pimm’s, with the additional factor of delightful but confusing traditional British bingo slang.

Funny, I didn’t win anything.

Still, it was serious business for some of us.


 

(ignore the wine bottle.  Srs.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, maybe not so much.

The amazingly talented (and also charming and adorable, not entirely fair) Ysolda with Carole, listening to a story which I shall not repeat.

Alice/Socktopus, fearless leader of Knit Nation hearing the same story from Claire, I think.

At the end o’ bingo, Cameron, the intrepid young bingo caller (15! and quite self-assured), Cookie A on the left, Alice, and – I think – Cameron’s mother, on the Knit Nation crew, whose name I never caught (I can almost make it out when I enlarge the photo, but not quite).  She and all the crew were awesome, and seemed to be having a good time even as they worked hard to keep things running smoothly, as they did.

Thus, at the end of a lovely evening, replete with Pimm’s and giggles, I toddled back to my home away from home (the Imperial College dorms, a great place to stay in pricey London, and such a great location) to meet up with my daughter and her friend who had had their own wonderful day in Covent Garden and Camden.

Next blog post: The moors which followed the above…(and the sea!).