Monthly Archives: March 2008

What I Knit Over My (Imaginary) Spring Break

The kids go back to school tomorrow. We didn’t go anywhere this year; I worked both weekends (and the week in between). But, though work was busy, I did get some knitting done.



If you are among the 5 club members worldwide who haven’t received their March kit for the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Sock Club, look no further. And if you happen to be Femke and don’t want to preview your Wee Tiny Sock, stop right here!

In the meantime, however, I’ll distract you with yarn and other knitting before getting to the spoilers.

First of all, here’s a very nice prize that I meant to show you earlier.  This prize — surprised me! But first the story (say it with me — “there’s always a story!”). Sarah-Hope, who among other connections was a fellow Cotton Commando from the DishRag Tag last summer (we wuz gypped by the post office, though we had lightning fast needles, especially Ms. S-H!), had a contest on her blog to guess what she was going to make with some lovely yarn. Well, I was reading her blog at (shhh!) work, where some photos are not viewable; instead, what I *could* see was the label of the photo (not titled by her), which happened to say, “yarn ready for the slipstitch scarf”. Well, I ‘fessed up in the comments simultaneously with ‘guessing’, as to the source of my clairvoyance, but she decided I won the contest anyway; and sent me two skeins of this yarn:


which I had ooh’d and ah’d over upon seeing her first sock, only to find the yarn was discontinued. Sarah-Hope had a pink and purple colorway of that yarn, too, which she expressed willingness to part with, but no one I knew was a pink and purple kind of person. Well, even though Sarah-Hope likes this yarn a lot (it’s wool with stretch), and the colors, and it’s discontinued — she still chose to send me some, knowing how I had liked it! So I will have to make some special socks with it.

So, while we’re speaking of S-H, she had a Blogiversary Raffle recently, to raise money for animal rescue of various sorts. I donated, and ended up winning a raffle prize of two skeins of this lovely springlike yarn:


Socks that Rock mediumweight, in the Undertoe colorway (now discontinued, it seems).

I decided to use that to cast on to Knit Along with Nora! Here’s the beginning of my Forest Canopy Shawl, started tonight:


This might be good travel knitting for on the way to Sock Camp. I will probably make it bigger than the pattern size, given that I have two skeins to play with. (Love my Addi Laces, by the way.)

Here’s an FO, and then the Spoilage.

There was a call for Washcloth Help at Mossy Cottage Knits (oops, I really didn’t link to that post just because my silly parody happened to be in it; it helps to have heard “Charlie and the MTA” and to have read the preceding few posts to “get” it). As a former Cotton Commando (speaking of) how could I hear the call unmoved? So here’s my washcloth:


The washcloths could be any color, but Ryan included a link to ribbon colors for various types of cancers if desired. Given the field I work in, I thought the mix of pink (for breast cancer) and lavender (for gynecologic cancer) seemed very apropos.

Plus it was in my stash.

So this will go off this week, once I block it (I’m actually showing you the ‘wrong’ side because the edge kept flipping up in that way that they do when I put it down the right way.)

OK, spoiler time!

Second FO:

weetiny2008lg.jpg It’s Wee and Tiny!


All together now: Awwwww!

Why is tiny just about always cute?

This is being mailed to Femke in the Netherlands tomorrow.

And then here’s March’s club kit for the BMFA Rockin’ Sock Club, which I thoroughly approve of, both yarn and pattern. I can’t get a decent yarn picture today; we’ll try it again on a less dreary day; it’s shades of warm/bright and cool/gray greens, called “Lucky”. I usually wouldn’t order the mediumweight yarn, it’ll make heavier socks, but it WILL knit up fast, and I’m loving the pattern! More pictures to come as I make progress; hoping to finish it before camp so I can pretend I’m a real sock knitter (though Sam assures me I’m not the only one who likes sock yarn more than actually knitting socks with it, and she’ll be at camp too, so I feel better).


The pattern on the left is repeated mirror image, to form the center front of the sock. I’ll have better pictures when it’s a little further along.  I am loving this yarn and pattern.  Oops, I said that already. Well, it bears repeating.  I really love them.

Whoof! I guess I have been doing something! I’m just glad I don’t have to write an essay about it.

No, wait. I practically did.

Well, at least I didn’t have to do an OUTLINE. I hated those. They were antithetical to my very being. (Perhaps you could have guessed that.)


Moon and Geese in the Saturday Sky

This morning as I left to go to work:


See the geese in the branches of the tree? I didn’t see them until just after I took the picture.

I was at work most of the day, and I am realizing I am falling down on my knitblogger responsibilities. I did some stealth knitting this week; and some yet-to-be-documented knitting, done except for weaving in the ends; and I am about to cast on for the low-key Wee Tiny Sock Swap (international partners, such fun!)


And I am also about to cast on for the Forest Canopy shawl for Nora‘s Herding Cats Accidental Lace Knitalong.

And I just started the March kit for the Rockin’ Sock Club! First year member, and since I’m NOT much of a sock knitter, though once again I do love sock yarn, I joined for the yarn, for some exclusive colors and interesting patterns, and for the chance to possibly go to SOCK CAMP! Which, as you have heard, I am. Sigh. Two weeks from now, I’ll be in Seattle; in two weeks and two days, I’ll be on Orcas Island with a passel of Notorious Sock Knitters, Tina and her Sockateers, Cat Bordhi and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. Lots to do before then, including homework (more stealth knitting! Which I haven’t started yet, though I have it all plotted out in my head) and work work. Anyway, the March yarn and pattern are wonderful from my point of view.

And last Monday I sent off some hand-dyed yarn for The, yes, Hand-Dyed Yarn Swap. But I can’t show you that yet either until it arrives. And it’s going to Norway (Hi, Heidi Kim!) so it’ll be a bit yet before it gets there.

Tell you what, tomorrow I’ll work on photodocumentation and show you a little of my knitting, what I can.

I have good news on the family front; my mother got a walking cast yesterday, and thoughtfully picked out a black fiberglass cast which doesn’t clash with her toe sock (the prior purple one was a little too much). She is delighted to be able to (legally) put weight on her foot again. Six weeks is a long time….

Also, I want to thank Lynne in yesterday’s comments for the invaluable information as to why my Schlumbergera is happy despite its sporadic attention from me. It’s the grow light! And the fact that the information I found on the ‘net is deceptive — it would rather be dry than wet, and overfertilizing it will promote leaf growth and not flowering. (Yes, it’s watered with tap water, which is artesian well water around here, very tasty and pretty ‘hard’, meaning, naturally, mineral-rich. I never thought of that as being better for plants, just not so good for coffee-makers!)

I will freely admit that I owned one prior plant like this, I think in my college dorm where it did NOT get enough light, and it never flowered again, and (like kmkat), I killed it within a couple years. So for others’ benefit, and since I spent most of the day at work with the Office Plant today (another blossom too!), here’s the plant light:


Notice the Water Me light. (There’s a sensor you can plug in to the soil to the desired depth for the degree of moistness the plant should have.) (To tell the truth, it was unplugged when I turned the system to take the picture.) I think I got this from a bonsai supply place, after finding out about it somewhere, but I can’t remember for sure. It’s been years. I love it, though. See the bud on the right? That might bloom for April Fool’s Day itself!

The bud that’s just opening looks like Audrey III, younger sister of Audrey II.


Little Shop, Little Shop of Horrors….

As I took & double-checked the picture above, I saw the frame in the background and thought maybe you’d like to see it too; it reminded me of Margene’s Frames post recently.

Here’s Audrey III doing a Vanna to show you the frame.


My husband and I when we were not long married; a picture taken by our crazy Basque friend Jon-Kar, on a rural road in Michigan. The ‘shoot’ was actually to take a few pictures of my husband, for a solo CD which he was considering putting together, and this was a candid Jon-Kar snapped when I was chilly, and my husband gave me his coat and a hug. We loved the picture and used it for our holiday cards. This was one of the ‘duds’ from the basement closet darkroom developing, giving it an antique look which both my husband and I really liked better than the ‘good’ photographs.  So we kept this one for ourselves.

My husband and I were friends for a few years before dating (both of us were in other relationships when we met) and dated for years before we married. When we did get married and he moved out to Ann Arbor to be with me, it was like falling in love all over again. I love this picture which reminds me of that time.

Well, from moon and geese to plant care advice and back to honeymoons — what a rambling little post! Welcome to my world.

Tomorrow — actual knitting.

Eye Candy Friday, Office Plant Edition

Here’s my one and only office plant, as it looked today.


My office is windowless, but this Schlumbergera bridgesii (Christmas cactus), given to me by a coworker (whose favorite plant it is) thrives in the little timed grow light system I found. I love my outdoor garden, but most house plants don’t do well with me due to their unfortunate predilection for being watered regularly.

And you would think a houseplant that needed the following to bloom would be doomed chez moi, especially au bureau:

Schlumbergera bridgessii need an average to warm climate with a minimum of 62° F at night. We use a soil mix consisting of 3 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The soil should be kept moist during the spring and summer with high diffused light. Fertilize every 2 weeks during this period. For bud formation, they require full sun with a drier, cooler conditions, plus the shorter days of fall. In the fall, reduce watering and keep the plant cooler with a minimum of 55° F at night. Increase watering when the flower buds appear and fertilize every 2 weeks with a houseplant fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label until the flowers open. Then resume the normal water and fertilizer treatments.**

Umm, none of the above are happening. It’s still in the original container (4 years now). I water every so often, which is not very, though there is a reservoir. I fertilized once in four years. There *is* a seasonal timer on the grow light.

And yet it grows, and in fact did bloom a lot in December! It also seems to throw off a bud or two any time of year for no apparent reason; like now. I don’t know what it likes about the relative neglect, the awful office conditions and the grow light; but it’s happy! And if it’s happy, I’m happy. Especially when it blooms, and I get to figure out what holiday it’s blooming for this time. Last one was Groundhog’s Day.

What do you suppose the occasion is this time?
**ETA Note; if anyone is searching for care tips for this plant, see the comment #5 below, which seems more accurate than the above blurb gleaned from the internet, based on my experience!

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

While in Minneapolis the other weekend, I saw these actual street signs:


What to do?  I’m so confused!

Read any good knitting books lately?

I have!

First, here’s a NEW new book — just published last week.


Knitalong: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together.

This book explores the history and tradition of knitalongs (no, not just an internet phenomenon — wartime Red Cross sock knitting drives, anyone?) as well as today’s explosion of knitting together all over the world; and shares 20 patterns to boot!

As a part of the book, the authors, Larissa Brown and Martin John Brown created knitalongs and a forum for discussion; which I ran into one day while messing around on the knitter-net.


That white arrow is pointing to my square!

I sent in two squares for this knitalong, one exciting and one plain-Jane cocoa-brown, but there were obviously lots of other exciting squares, and my dull neutral square was one of those picked for the blanket for the book (extra squares were put together into blankets for charity).

There’s a little blanket anecdote. Upon reading Larissa’s blog a couple months ago, she had a post about how “it’s a very good friend who hides your bingo wings with a blanket when photographing you” and a link to another blog. The link proved to have a photo of Larissa at TNNA with the above blanket, with my square on one end peeking out at me. Color me surprised! I didn’t know it was THAT blanket. So I left a breathless ohmigosh comment about being blindsided by this sight, as I wasn’t expecting it, with some other blathering. Well, the blogger answered my comment; it was Shannon Okey,

Well, now color me REALLY surprised!

Anyhoo, the authors graciously acknowledged all those who knit or otherwise contributed to the book; there’s my name, on the inside cover:


Which is exciting, true. But I’ve been waiting for this book to come out, not only for the thrill of seeing my knitted square in print (my name, I have seen it in print before, but my knitting as part of a gorgeous photo — awesome!!) —

but also this pattern is in the book, which I saw pre-release on Ravelry and have been waiting for ever since.


Entomological Mittens (& Hat). Design by Adrian Bizilia. Photo copyright Michael Crouser for the book KNITALONG

I know a little Gothlet girl who might like bug-themed accessories.

Do check out the book, there are more great patterns. It’s well-written, interesting and beautifully photographed.


The rest of my reading list perhaps is not quite as thrilling.

But exciting enough, being new to me!

I mentioned that I bought books at Bonnie’s yarn shop in St. Cloud, being on a yarn fast (now over! Some charities have definitely benefited.).

Here they are (click to embiggen, not everyone will care so much):

The Harmony Guides: harmony-guides.jpg (I purely love stitch dictionaries.)

A Lopi and a Dale pattern book: lopi-dale.jpg

Here’s a pattern in the Lopi book which reminds me a lot of my first colorwork sweater, but certainly not quite: britt-pattern.jpg

It’s very possible that it was modified, as a number of the older Lopi patterns were ‘updated’ (by Norah Gaughan & Susan Mills) for the book.

An Elsebeth Lavold book (my second, because someday I’m going to knit a sweater like Chell’s*), and the Dale book open for Citrus’ perusal. elsebeth-lavold-dale-and-citrus.jpg

*Hers is Ragna, from Elsebeth’s Lavold’s Viking Knits, the other Elsebeth Lavold book I have.

So far, I’m liking all the books I bought. Should keep me busy for a bit. I love reading books about knitting almost as much as I like knitting!

Easter Sunday musings

Things I didn’t think I’d ever see or hear:

  • Our pastor playing euphonium at Easter Sunday services today (not in the usual job description; brass emergency, apparently?)
  • Our esteemed choir director saying, when rehearsal time ran out early this morning, “I guess we’ll just have to wing ‘The Hallelujah Chorus’!” umm, which we did.
  • This on my doorstep: I believe it has something to do with Yarn Passover.


When I came back from church the other day, this piece of yarn was on my threshold. Is this simply marking the house of a knitter, or will this protect me from the forthcoming yarn famine?

“Supposed to be Spring but Isn’t” Saturday Sky

Granted, if you just looked at the Saturday Sky this afternoon, it could pass for spring:


But here was that same shrubbery and sky just last night when I got home from work:


Remember my little daffodils from last week?

Luckily, they don’t mind a little snow, either (say, five inches or so, as it turned out):


Even though I hated the idea of snow, and grumbled about it, I have to say it was beautiful. As I was brushing off my car after work, I looked down and saw this on my coat:


(and had my camera in my pocket, ta-da!)

And I acquired some hair decorations at the same time.



(Picture, if you will, me standing in the parking lot pointing the camera at myself. Fortunately, it was late and [almost] deserted.)

One more crazy-lady-in-the-parking-lot photo: Helen’s crabapple tree under a blanket.


And when I drove home, it looked like this, magical:


Pretty as it was, however, enough is enough. It’s supposed to be spring!


So, this morning, I had to get out the big guns. You see, the weekend of the knitting retreat, I vowed to finish my thrummed mittens; because if I finished them, then spring would come and I wouldn’t get to wear them! That weekend was January weather; within three days, it was up to 50 degrees. It worked!

But I hadn’t had the mittens out since then. So I wore them this morning, and even put them to good use:


Here they are before being be-snowed:


So, having worn them, I firmly expect spring-like weather soon.

(These are thrummed mittens from a Fleece Artist kit, purchased at Loopy Yarns in Chicago, and I l-o-o-v-e them. Neither of my daughters ever wears mittens, so I made these for me, especially after my hands got so cold cross-country skiing this winter. Both daughters wandered over as I was working on the second mitten, tried on the finished one, and said, “Are these for me? No? Will you make me a pair too?” Love at first hand hug. They are so warm and soft.

See Deb’s blog for a photo of ‘air thrumming’ — you know, like air guitar, only different! — and a picture of the inside-out mittens looking like Mutant Muppets. Here, in this thumbnail, the mitten insides just look like some sort of vermin. vermin-or-thrummed-mittens.jpg Click if you really want to see them bigger. They’re next to what I fondly called my thrum bucket.)

So that’s one (or two, rather, especially since I reknit/rethrummed one mitten) of my retreat FOs, as I promised to show you. The second FO was the springy bling I showed off yesterday, from a beaded knitting kit called “Jewels”, by Swallow Hill Creations. (Purchased at Bonnie’s in St. Cloud, Minnesota, on the way to the LAST knitting retreat.) The kit makes a necklace and a bracelet (or three bracelets); this is just the bracelet, obviously, though I’ve already threaded ALL of the gazillion beads so now I have to decide — matching necklace, or two bracelets? Could be three bracelets for me and my two daughters, all of whom like green!

When I was at Bonnie’s I bought these incredibly cute (and short) size 0000 needles for this project:


(Shown with notepad and pen, for scale and amusement.)

However, on getting to the retreat and reading the pattern, this particular project is knit side to side in garter stitch, placing a bead between stitches, alternating one row beaded and one row plain. 45 (bracelet) or 90 (necklace) stitches with beads between, won’t fit on those teeny little needles! Fortunately, I had a 000 circular Addi Turbo with me which was way long, but usable. So I could make my sparkles. I also found that threading the beads takes longer than knitting them. (Next time, I am conning bribing persuading the Gothlet to do it; she loves that kind of thing!) Lastly, I found that no matter how much you try to mix and assort the beads, the small ones go to the bottom and take up less space; so that there are more small ones at the end. Ah, well.

The third (and last) FO?

Well, I fell down on my blogging responsibilities. My brother’s belated Christmas present, the fingerless mitts made from Yarn Nerd yarn in the Printed Circuitboard colorway. (Yes, there was a definite reason I picked that yarn and that colorway, besides the fact that he likes green too!) I finished them, stopped in Minneapolis and gave them to him. Didn’t take the camera in the house when I stopped by. Here’s what they looked like the last time I photographed them:


So imagine those finished, and on guy hands. If he wears them down here sometime, I’ll see if I can get an action shot.

Whew! And I’ve even knit since then! But not documented progress or FOs.


Well, I’ll leave you with signs of hope for spring, at least.

The same daffodils, first spotted last weekend and virtually buried in snow last night and this morning?

Here they were late this afternoon:

march-snows-melt-quickly.jpg ; last night again, for comparison: daffodils-dont-mind-the-snow.jpg

and six days ago when I first spotted them: first-daffodils.jpg
And if you look hard, the trees and bushes know it’s spring. The buds I showed you way back at the beginning are the neighbors’ lilacs, due to bloom in six, seven weeks.


Time’s a-wasting!

Sparkly Knitting Eye Candy Friday

I just realized I showed you what other knitters were working on, at the recent knitting retreat, but forgot about my own projects. I was truly knitting, not just drinking wine and taking pictures!

Well, here’s one project, and an FO now at that:


A pretty green for the beginning of Spring! And sparkly too; I do love the bling.


I’ll show you the rest this weekend.

F is for Frost


Which is lovely above; but which is getting wearisome when scraped off the windshield.  (However, now that the days are getting longer and the roads are getting less icy, the bike can come out soon, and that needs no scraping!)

I didn’t realize this would be a weather blog at times, but in the Frozen North, the weather dictates our lives often enough.  Certainly the frost dates dictate our all-too-short growing season.  Average (actually, median, for the statisticians) last frost date in the small city where I live is April 30th, though it can be quite a bit later some years; it’s also later in the surrounding areas, compared to in the city itself, where I live. 

The January frost flowers above do truly remind me of Barbara Walker’s Frost Flowers lace pattern, though, (link as seen on the Barbara Walker Treasury Project blog).  As I recall, this was an antique pattern with no name, so she christened it.

And the pattern stitch formed the inspiration for Eugen Beugler’s gorgeous shawl, Frost Flowers and Leaves, from Meg Swansen’s book “A Gathering of Lace“, which I own. I definitely want to knit this some day.


(The photo of which, by the way, reminds me of this frost swirl, see the visual echo?)


Wouldn’t this be the perfect yarn for it?


Chewy Spaghetti, Capellini (laceweight yarn, 50% merino/50% tussah silk, 100% pettable), colorway Sullen (mostly grays, some frosty blue-grays, some warm pinky-grays).  I purchased this from The Loopy Ewe last year, and as soon as I saw it in person, it reminded me of Frost Flowers.  It’s not enough yardage for Frost Flowers & Leaves, which is a good-sized square shawl; but I’m considering adapting the pattern to a stole or scarf.  Or I could knit just half the square; that would be lovely, and be close to the correct yardage if I took out a repeat or two of the Frost Flowers, I think.

The icy color is not right for me, I think; it would look stunning on a blue-eyed blonde, or maybe me when my hair goes all gray (don’t hold your breath).  But I love this yarn and this pattern stitch.  So, someone I know, some time just may be getting Frost Flowers & Leaves to keep their shoulders (paradoxically) warm!

Don’t hold your breath for that either, though; there’s a Dragone to knit first.  (I’m waiting to cast that on until I have some uninterrupted time.  Perhaps that will be in another lifetime.  Or another dimension at least.) 

So, in the meantime, here are a few more Real Frost Flowers as a bonus for you (click to embiggen as wished).  Because soon it will be spring by the calendar, and then we in the Frozen North are hoping that the only Frost Flowers we see, are Barbara Walker’s.

hexagonal-frost.jpg  sun-on-frost.jpg  violent-frost.jpg 

Almost a Shamrock


Happy St. Patrick’s Day

from someone with more than a drop of Irish blood in her veins!

No shamrocks around here, true.

I was sad yesterday morning, because I thought a long-time tradition on my part was not going to come to fruition this year. Always on St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve been able to find a three-leaf something (sorrel, as above, or clover) despite the fact that the middle of March is the earliest of spring here. But this year, the ground was still frozen hard and I had not seen anything green yet, except that which was still green when the snow fell (due to our mild October & early November before the big freeze).

But yesterday afternoon, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles:

not only was the sorrel above tucked up close to the foundation (sorrel being nominally a weed where it is in my garden, and probably falling into that “went under the snow still green” category), but I found




I’ve been looking for my crocuses, usually the first flowers up, but perhaps due to some vagary of the snowmelt in my garden, these are up first this year.

And Saturday, I saw my first robins. It’s true — spring really is arriving!


We will blithely ignore the fact that there was a dusting of snow on my car this morning, and the dreaded “wintry mix” predicted for today. Hey, I’m good at denial, you know that.  The current weather doesn’t change the fact that I have real live Daffodils coming up!