Monthly Archives: January 2009

Luscious Lace Yarn Eye Candy Friday

Not my usual Eye Candy, but I think knitters and others may appreciate it.

This incredibly dreamy yarn, which arrived a week ago in the mail, has been intermittently seducing me away from some of my other projects:

Yes, surprise, it’s Twisted: a newer dyeing ‘invention’ of Meg’s called Evolutions, which is a very gradual color shift from beginning to end of one skein.  I’ve been trying for another Evolution skein (besides the Buxom that came with the Big Needle Club) for a couple updates now, and got lucky this time.  This is in the Lagoon colorway, which is fairly new (and which I love), and in the Kabam! base, a smooth, soft, lustrous merino/bamboo/nylon fingering weight yarn.  I’ve knit Kabam for socks and baby garments, but never for lace, and wow, is it wonderful in how it catches the light!  Especially in the Fir Cone stitch pattern used in the Shetland Triangle Shawl (Ravelry link, or here’s Wendy’s) (from the book, “Wrap Style“. 

Which is exactly what this is.

Though the sinuous swells here, especially in this colorway, remind me of shells or ripples rather than cones.  Along with the colorway being called Lagoon, that’s why I’m calling this my Shetland Seas Shawl (at least for now).

I deliberately chose to knit this lace at not too overly airy a gauge, because I wanted the emphasis to be on the stockinette swirls rather than the ‘holes’; and also because, with the nature of the yarn, I’ll be knitting to the end of the skein, thus a fair number more repeats than the original pattern called for, I’m sure — so wanted a shawl that was not gigantor.  One can always block a bit  (or a fair amount) bigger, but not smaller!  I was astounded at how easy this particular lace pattern is to knit; it’s almost (but not completely) mindless knitting (which is one reason it’s getting knit on; my two projects requiring chart knitting are languishing, because that kind of protected, mindful knitting time just hasn’t happened for, um, months….) Normally, then, I would have been a little bored by now, with the simple repetitive stitch pattern, given that I’m knitting it bigger than written (I’d be two rows away from the edging if I were knitting it as written).  But the very gradual color change is keeping me quite engaged knitting, just to see it continue to progress! Right now, I’ve progressed from the original pale muted green to a rich medium green which is just starting to darken further.

Tomorrow, plans are for a road trip with knitting friends to a city I haven’t visited since I was 18, and a yarn shop that I’ve never been to!  Driving time should be shared, so I expect to make some progress.  I wonder if I could be starting to knit blue waves soon?


Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

This is the Night Sky that greeted me on my way home late-ish from work last night.


Venus is at the top left, and the sliver of the new moon/waxing crescent between the tree and our neighbor’s house.

So, no, there is no real star in the above picture!  But wait, and you’ll find out the real reason for the post title.

I was only home briefly, as we were on our way to see Bobby McFerrin at our local fine arts college.  I had gotten tickets for the whole family, and one extra so that the Gothlet could bring a friend.

What an amazing concert and incredible performer.  Not just that voice (with its four-octave range) and the vocal innovations of his one-person a cappella arrangements, but the energy and the creativity that overflowed the stage, and the entire 1000-seat sold-out theater.

At one point, he asked for audience members to come down and sing with him — to sing a song of their choice and then he would sing along in accompaniment and counterpoint.  I nudged the RockStar (who really does have a voice that’s a gift).  No one came down right away (we’re a bunch of diffident German/Scandinavians, and the college students, who are less shy, were all in the upper balcony).  So my (13-year-old!) RockStar got up and walked to the stage first; hopped up and sat easily on the edge of the stage with Bobby McFerrin in front of a thousand people with a cordless mic in her hand.  She sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” a cappella (of course) with perfect pitch and perfect poise.  (It was the first thing that came to her head that she knew he’d know, and which I think was inspired: she had such a sweet, pure tone; started off singing it ‘straight’, and on the last repetition, played with the melody slightly; and because it was so familiar, he really had fun with playing with his counterpoint second part.)  Then she got a hug.


Later on, he asked for a small choir up on stage, and the Gothlet, not to be outdone, went up there with her friend (they have sung together in a city youth choir).  Also very cool, though they kind of got lost among the big people visually, but what they sang with each other and with Bobby was awesome (we got to sing with them too, at the end).

Wish I could have recorded these moments, but do you know what?  When I videotape or photograph something, I don’t see it quite the same way since I’m paying attention to framing the picture etc.  (I did have my camera with me, even.  But resisted the temptation — 1) not allowed, 2) see above, and 3) takes bad video!  Just wish you could have seen it too so you could know this wasn’t just a fond mother bragging.) In the end, perhaps this was better, since I was purely in the moment — 100%. 

Twinkle, twinkle, little — RockStar.

(I know, I know, not so little any more.)

Shine on!

And Amanda’s Another….

Another what?

Another hat!

I must have been feeling cold.  No wonder, with the arctic temps we had not long ago — and the less brutal but still quite cold January weather we’re having currently, below 0 F every night, highs in the teens.

Thus, just before Coronet, but after the Noro Striped Hat, I made another very nice hat, for warmth and for the joy of knitting it.  Next question: 

So who’s Amanda?

Why, the Amanda Hat (pdf link), of course!



This pattern and the marvelously soft and beautiful dark blue Malabrigo yarn to knit it, were sent by Gigi as an out of the blue (ha!  little joke there, she and I both like blue) ‘thank you’ for being an ‘angel’ for her, for last spring’s ISE 6 (International Scarf Exchange) swap.

I finally knit it up, and the entire Malabrigo experience was dreamy.  The hat is comfortable, cute, and stretchier than you’d think from the appearance of the stitch pattern:


Stitch patterns like this, where you pass one stitch over another, can lose lateral stretch, but with this stitch pattern, you make an extra yarnover to compensate, which you then drop on the next row.  It is not visible, but it makes a big difference in the feel and drape of the knitted fabric.

I love this hat!  Unfortunately, none of the winter coats I have are blue, nor are any of my knitted accessories.   (Plus, as above, I just made Coronet also, AND the Noro Striped Hat.)  I knit this mostly for fun; but what’s the good of a hat that is not worn?  I thought my daughter, who has a navy peacoat, should have it — but no, it’s apparently not her fashion idiom.

It’s special, though, coming from Gigi, who knows the pattern designer, and who sent along the wonderful yarn (the first time I’ve actually KNIT with Malabrigo, though I have it in my stash).  I didn’t want to give it to just anyone; I wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it.

So my mother just acquired a new hat — whether she wanted one or not!  Our heads are the same (generous) size (you know, to fit all the brains in), and it fits her wonderfully.  She tends to have sensitive skin, but this is so soft (single ply merino) and plus it doesn’t fit as tightly as a watchcap style, so I’m hopeful it will work for her.  At least for now, while I’m designing and knitting another hat for her, out of domestic cashmere which should by all rights not itch; but which may take a while given the nature of the design process and the fine yarn.  (More about that when there’s something to show you, down the road.)

Now the RockStar, teen daughter, wants to knit a hat too….

Watch for more on the hat front!


I finished Coronet a couple days after the Inauguration:

and it was just too big.  Too tall.  (Not too wide,  I had sized the braided brim to my big ol’ head before finishing it.)  My fault, not the pattern’s.

So I partially frogged and re-completed it today.

I have still to block it (and weave in the last two ends) but had to take pictures while I and the sun and the camera were all in the same plane of existence.

Here it is with its coordinating Moebius scarf.


Notice they don’t ‘match’; though the yarn is exactly the same for the main body of the hat and the scarf (with a coordinating colorway for the braid of the hat and the I-cord trim of the scarf), the different number of stitches in each row, and different stitch patterns, give a very different visual ‘read’ to the colorway, which is “Minstrel” by Meg at Twisted Fiber Art.  (Yarn base Duchess [Slow Repeat], DK weight superwash merino.)

But I’m happy with it (now!)

Here I am, admiring an out-of-frame contrail so you can see the back of the hat, as well as the lack of blocking (soon to be remedied).


And freezing my buns, but you can’t see that either.

A semi-side view:


And a detail shot, so I can blow my own horn a little.

Though the weaving got a touch funky right on the edges where I had been slipping stitches and couldn’t quite weave the same way, I still am very proud of the grafting I did on the cable.


You can tell by the edges where I grafted, but it would be fairly hard to tell by the cable alone, I flatter myself.  (It did take me a little quiet time with a good light, I must admit.  No TV watching during that part!)

I did modify the pattern slightly, as the yarn I used is DK weight rather than worsted/aran, so I knit 21 cable repeats, which was more than the original pattern.  (I fitted it to my head before grafting.)  I also chose not to pick up stitches on the wrong side/bottom of the brim to make a double thickness, which is what the pattern calls for, as I thought it was bulky enough already (I added in an extra purl stitch or two on each side of the braid, to balance the hat better, but it really just closed the braid/edge stitches up closer together due to stockinette curl; so it was already fairly thick).  If I knit it in the weight called for, I would follow the pattern, I believe.

All in all, I’m happy with my commemorative hat!  Warm, elegant, hand-dyed; just my style.  And particularly special.

Saturday Sky through Stained Glass (and mysteries solved)

Astrid asked about the stained glass window reflected in the TV in a recent post.  Here it is, up close and personal with yesterday’s Saturday Sky dimly seen through it, and yes, it’s original to our 1891 Victorian money sinkhole house (still under reconstruction).


This is south-facing in our living room, and casts a lovely warm light in the winter, as you might imagine. (In the summer, the trees are leafed out and the sun is higher and doesn’t shine in directly quite as much.) It’s one of three stained glass windows that remain in our house.  Our most beautiful one, I’ve shown you before, quite some time ago, on a cloudy winter day when the Saturday Sky was not so inspiring and was definitely prettier seen through the window:

The third stained glass window is at the landing of our front staircase (there used to be two stairways, which was a little silly for a house which is really fairly small, so in the dual interests of preventing our toddler daughters from tumbling down the narrow back stair and of enlarging the tiny second floor bathroom, we closed off the back stairs a decade ago).  Yesterday’s Sky again through the last window:


Someone felt it necessary to put up faux stained glass vinyl over the window below this; we’ve never gotten around to taking it off (too much else to do).

Why do I say, “three windows left”?

There used to be a nice window here.


But the man who used to own this house and rent it out to college boys (who still lives next door) had a window the same size, so took the stained glass window to put in his house.  Yes, it’s a nice window. I can see it in his house any time I walk by.  He didn’t think it was fair that this house had 4 windows and his house (not quite as old) had none. So why didn’t he live in our house?  It’s the one that needed a ton of work.  Used to be a college fraternity….

Anyway, yesterday’s Saturday Sky was worth seeing all by itself.  I went with daughter #1 to ballet class, as we did last Saturday, and both daughters’ plans for the day involved chauffeurage.  My husband was working.  I resisted spending all afternoon in the car, so negotiated one-way driving (both plans involved friends, so carpooling happened).  Here’s our landmark, Grandad’s Bluff, less than a mile from my house as I wait to turn my car towards the mall to pick up daughter #1 and her friend.



That wind almost looks southerly, but I think it was mostly west.  Not very warm, it’s been subzero F every night.

Other bluffs on the way to the mall (at least it’s a pretty drive if you ignore the highway and billboards); click to embiggen if desired.

drive-out-to-mall-jan-24 another-bluff-through-the-w

And one more bluff on the way back, with the afternoon sun highlighting it.


(The RockStar’s friend might think I’m a bit odd for taking photos at the stop light.  Who knows?)

Lastly, a brief glimpse of Saturday Sunset fire between the houses across the street.


A lovely day.


Wish I had taken a walk; instead I drove girls here and there after dance, cleaned a bit, knit and read, and went to a work party in the evening.  I did dance, then, also!  Not ballet,  granted.

By the way-

Apropos of last weekend’s Saturday Sky with Mystery Birds post, I do believe Manise has solved the mystery.  The birds that looked like robins but couldn’t be, were:


Robins HAVE been reported to overwinter occasionally in the north, upon further research, though I’ve never seen one before (their return to our neighborhood in April or so is one of those signs of spring, you know?).  I believe I didn’t recognize them as such, because:

1)  I’ve never really seen them from below: they’re usually hopping on the ground to find food.  Obviously not an option right now.

2)  They were in a flock, and I’ve never seen robins flock.  In the spring, I see them by ones and twos.

3)  They had their feathers all puffed against the cold, and that changed their shape (I have seen them like this once in the spring, when there was a sudden cold snap)

4)  I didn’t EXPECT to see them!  (the real kicker)

The ‘wing bar’ does seem to have been a fortuitously placed snowflake falling.

After Manise commented, I Googled using different search terms, and found a report that robins have been reported to be overwintering in unusually large numbers in SE Minnesota (right across the Mississippi from me), in places they’ve never been reported to overwinter.  (Bad winter to decide to spend up north, may I add, dear robins.)

So there’s a mystery solved, and knowledge gained!  Cool!  Thanks, Manise!

Tomorrow: actual knitting content.

Cow Candy

OK, it’s not really the usual Friday Eye Candy: but I thought I’d share with you some archetypal Wisconsin cows that were out one recent (cold) Saturday afternoon.


They were a little dubious about my motives in stopping the car and coming up to their pasture.


But look at their digs!  Not just anyone gets to stay at the Bossie Mootel, ya know.

(Soundtrack to this post if you have it or care to click to listen:

Cows” by Sandra Boynton, as performed by the Seldom Herd, from one of my favorite CDs, “Philadelphia Chickens”.)

Coronet update

So, I did finish the braid brim of Coronet on Inauguration Day, grafting the ends together at bedtime.  The only picture I managed to take, though, was a mid-afternoon shot showing the (almost done) semi-solid color braid, and the yarn I’m using for the hat, a slowly striping coordinating yarn; both of which I used for my Moebius scarf, but they’ll look quite different in this permutation.


And tonight I finished the hat, all but weaving in the ends!  I have yet to try it on in the mirror, but by itself, it’s lovely.  Photos this weekend (tomorrow will be almost as long a day at work as today was).

Guess I’m paying (as far as work) for staying home Tuesday and watching this:


(there’s my living room windows reflected by the TV screen)

and this:


SO worth it.

Even if it confused the cat.


Why are YOU home when it’s light out?   Huh?  You usually feed us and leave!

An Excellent Day for a Day Off

At least for an Indoors Day Off.  (It is above zero F, granted.)

I cut back a little at work as of the first of the year; meaning I have two days off each month.  Though I’ve already seen the results in my paycheck (dang!), this is the first day off I’ve enjoyed.  It was chosen related to work needs, so it was pure happenstance that it will allow me to watch the United States Presidential Inauguration: the first I will have ever seen.

Cleaning (a good thing to do on a day of a new start) is also on the agenda.  And a trip to the post office.  Of course, daughter things when they get home from school (it’s a big dance day).

But here’s the important decision of the day:

What to knit during the Inauguration?  Yesterday, I was working on my third Preemie hat, as a nod to a service project for Martin Luther King Day.  But today, I want to knit something I will keep myself and think, “I knit that then.”  Commemorative knitting:  doesn’t everyone do that?  

And I’ve just come to a decision, so I’ll share it with you all.

Remember my Moebius scarf of not long ago?

 moebius-self-portrait  moebius-warms-my-ears  

Do you remember the backstory?  After the election, Cat Bordhi cast on a Moebius for Transition, for healing and coming together.  I had been planning a Moebius scarf with this yarn, and the idea appealed to me.  I have been wearing it in different configurations; it’s one of my favorites.

I have leftover yarn, both the semi-solid burgundy yarn I used for the I-cord edging and the slowly striping yarn of the scarf itself.  And I have been plotting to make a coordinating (though not matching) hat.  In fact, I cast on last week in an ongoing attack of startitis.

It struck me that the pattern of the hat I picked is symbolically rich for a worthy project for today:


(Yes, I realize this is not a coronation, even though the tone today sounds a little like that!  And though the popular sentiment WAS to crown George Washington king, back in the infancy of our country.)

Oh, I suppose there’s a nod to the anointing of  a leader, but being more knitting-oriented than that, I’m thinking about the braid uniting several disparate elements together: not melded into a homogenous whole, but creating something more — more beautiful and strong, out of the single elements.  And the gorgeous colors that will happen on the hat itself:  again, bringing together, harmonizing, but not pureeing the colors.  All in the form of a practical project that will keep me warm and see plenty of use.  But Beauty and Utility are not mutually exclusive, thank goodness.

I just have a couple cable crossings of the braid done: and lots of laundry and cleaning to get going.  But later today, I will be sitting down with my needles and Twisted yarn and watching our next president be sworn in.  Tomorrow, I’ll show you the progress (aka commemorative knitting).  I’m sure many of you will have stories to share as well.

Saturday Sky with Birds AND Knitting in the Wild

The Saturday Sky itself was not so exciting: cloudy and warmer (they go together this time of year) and some snow (ditto).

But as I came home from errands yesterday with the Gothlet in the car, she said, “Mom, there was a robin!”

Well, any robin around here in January is highly confused or suicidal or both, so after parking the car, I walked down the alley to where a neighbor has feeders.  Sure enough — it sure LOOKED like robins high in the tree (they had flown up at my approach); at least, they had red breasts and a dark back, and seemed robin-sized and kind of robin-shaped, though they looked rounder (but chilly robins puff out).  So I walked back and got my camera; on my return, the small flock of 5 or 6 birds flew into a higher tree.  I took the best pictures I could from underneath.


(By the way, some of the white spots are snowflakes superimposed, but they did have a whitish area near their tail, and a dark back and tail.)

 They surely CAN’T be robins, but I’ve never seen birds like this here in the winter.  On cropping and enlarging on the computer, I found one pic with a wing detail, see top left of the pic below, and both photos can be embiggened if desired:


I did an internet search as best I could, and came up with possibly white-winged crossbills (though some of the photos don’t look like the above, a few did).  This would be plausible, since they’re an occasional visitor here per my digging around, though more father north.  But it seems like the avian visitors above have dark heads, and the wing bar in the second photo seems very defined (unless it’s just a well-placed snowflake — possible, I suppose).  

I dunno!  Any birders out there, or people with access to bird resources?  My Google-fu is failing me; I’m not putting the question correctly, and this is not a common winter bird here, since I do know the usual ones.

Cool, anyway.  

Here’s a red-plumaged Gothlet in the wild, a little later in the day, along with snowy evening Saturday Skies:


That is, if the mall is wild.  Preteen-ness is kicking in, as evidenced by the lack of hat, and by the presence of a hairstyle of sorts, so the mall is becoming more of a native habitat.  She’ll be 11 in less than a month.  Yep.  About that time that bizarre behavioral changes rear their heads.  But we were just at the mall for a birthday present for a friend’s party (at least the Gothlet knew what she wanted to get: ‘Twilight’ merchandise at Hot Topic, surgical strike and run, hooray!  I don’t care for the mall so much….).

The “Knitting in the Wild” part of the title?

Nothing warms a knitter’s heart so much as seeing her hand-knits being worn.  

And when they’re worn by an incredibly cute baby belonging to a friend — WELL!  The heart swells!

Look at Cece’s little guy with his new hat!  Go on, go look!  All together now….Awwwwww!

And the Ravbunny has been spotted in Massachusetts as well.  The Hulk won’t be interested at his age, but Cece can play with the bunny for now if she wants!

Speaking of knitting, and warming, and worn….I don’t think I showed you yet the Dadsock.  My poor father is getting used to receiving unfinished knitted presents.  This is maybe closer in some ways, as ONE sock is completely done, but still not useful.

So this is what he got for Christmas:

(And then I promptly snatched it back again, to be able to knit its mate accurately.)  A top down sock with a flap heel, with a waffly rib pattern stitch (a riff on a familiar stitch: 3 rounds k2 p2 rib alternating with 2 rounds knit), made from some of my beloved Twisted yarn, this time in Kabam!, an awesome, soft, seemingly durable bamboo/merino/nylon fingering weight blend; Netherfield colorway with heel and toe coordinate yarn.

Problem:  I don’t remember things so well any more (especially since I started this sock at a meeting last summer), or, more accurately, I THINK I remember things and maybe that’s always not the case.  I thought I’d knit the ribbing on size 0s.  After I’d knit an inch or so, I had to admit that that was probably wrong.  

You know, if I’d checked my pattern notes on Ravelry….I’d written down there what I’d used (2.5 mm needles for the leg, and 2.25 mm – US 1 – for the heel and toe).  Duh.  

And now I can’t find two pair of the needles I need (I usually knit on two circs).  Well, after I hit publish, off I go to search: I think I know where I might have stashed some.  Because there’s still plenty of winter, and my Dad needs some new handknit socks to wear!

Subzero Eye Candy Friday


Last summer’s weeds don’t care what the temperature is.

(They’re dead, after all, I suppose.)

It was colder this morning than yesterday, with more wind; -24 F when I left for work, with a -45 wind chill.  But today it got up to 2!  25 degrees F in 8 hours!  The beginning of the end of the deep freeze — for now.