Monthly Archives: January 2011


Not just a song (YouTube link)….

It’s a mitten!

Yes, not typically for me, I am

a) making mittens

b) doing colorwork!

But in such a good cause.  The RockStar has actually been asking for knitted mittens for quite a while. As in, a couple years.  Yet, I didn’t really believe her.  I haven’t seen her wear mittens otherwise.  And she’s lost handknits before. (Usually under her bed, granted.)

She saw these mittens, however, and fell in love.  You haven’t even seen the best parts yet.  These are the Winter of Love (and Peace) Mittens by  Johanne Ländin.  (Link is to The Loopy Ewe‘s page for these, where I bought the pattern, which is what comes up when I Google it – you can click to a bigger picture of the completed mittens there.  So cool!)

And even on the official picture, you don’t see the most squee-worthy part (in my mind).  Look at the palm.

And there’s a little heart on the thumb (which is my next step). And on the PEACE mitten?  You guessed it — tiny peace signs!  Squeee!

The teenager is very excited about these mittens, and I’m happy with the way they are knitting up, despite the fact that I have not done colorwork for a while to any significant degree.  I have made some modifications to the pattern:

One, the original pattern starts with corrugated ribbing (ribbing in colorwork).  Mostly, I hate doing this, but also, it doesn’t draw in worth a darn, though it looks lovely.  So, for a mitten, where you do not want cold winds to blow in the wrist, I think something that hugs the wrist is essential. I could have knit it as written and then knit a second, tighter, normally ribbed cuff on the inside….but instead, opted to knit a single thickness 2×2 ribbed cuff. 

(This photo is fairly true to the yarn color.)

Second, speaking of yarns and color: the yarns are also part of the modification, and picking the right yarns led to some delay.  After stash diving and looking at the pattern with a careful eye, and listening to the RockStar (she wanted the contrast color to be a color-changing yarn or a reddish-orange); I decided I didn’t have the right contrast color.  (I don’t have a lot of orange-ish.  I do have a lot of red, but it’s true red or wine color.)  Additionally, the pattern is written for fingering (sock) weight yarn: but the measurement of the mitten was 7.5 inches around, and my hand is that measurement (my daughter’s hand is at least as wide as mine).  My strong feeling is that mittens need a little wiggle room, both for insulation and for comfort; they are not supposed to fit (literally) like gloves.  The pattern suggested knitting on bigger needles to get bigger mittens, but that would tend to make them more airy and less windproof (again).  This is winter in the upper Midwest, so I’m all about the warm….

Anyway, I decided to make the mittens out of thicker yarn (sport weight) to make them bigger.  The dark blue yarn I had in stash: nicer than I would make my own mittens out of, but the teen is not a toddler, and it was cheaper than buying new, so the background yarn is delicious Pashmina from MadelineTosh, in Ink.  Then the teen picked out the contrast color: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport in Satsuma colorway.

(Both of these from The Loopy Ewe, as it happens, bought at different times.) So, a week ago last Friday, when the moon was setting,

the Satsuma yarn was wending its way to me, and shortly thereafter I was casting on!

So that by this Saturday’s gray and snowy sky,

I had made great strides on mitten number 1

(yesterday’s OVE mitten)

and then today am decreasing at the top; then just the thumb to go.  Then on to the Peace mitten!

Though color work is a little slower, I’m getting in a groove (heh, these are indeed groove-y) and they’re going reasonably quickly.  I need to get them done while they’re still useful, after all.

Sadly, around here, there is indeed plenty of winter left.

Gothlet Warmth and Appreciation Month

So, I have a younger daughter, as you know, nicknamed the Gothlet in these electronic pages.

She recently received a cool cream, blue and brown crocheted scarf from one of the nice ladies at church (given to the confirmands). She was very appreciative (she crochets as well as knits, and knows the time that goes into such a gift).

Shortly thereafter, I received some lovely squooshy Dream in Color Groovy (chunky) yarn from The Loopy Ewe (part of DiC’s montly ‘club’ with exclusive colors, through yarn shops).  The colorway is called “Alpine Flurry” and is … cream, blue and brown, though a bit paler than the crocheted scarf.  (See it here on Sheri from The Loopy Ewe’s blog post.) Still, I thought there was a chance that the Gothlet might wear this very soft yarn, as a hat. She’d outgrown most of her hats, both by reason of size and taste.  So I asked her about the pattern included with the hat, “Pigtail” (Ravelry link), and got what seemed to be approval.

The hat knitted up in a flash, and do you know what?

I think she likes it!

At least, she wouldn’t take it off for some time.  And declined to let me block it. Claiming it didn’t need it…

I didn’t put the tassel on the top that the pattern called for, as the wearer nixed that.  Otherwise, no modifications.  Easy and fun.

Gothlet needs a little fun — poor thing just got braces on, right as I finished the hat.  (It’s a miracle I got her to laugh for this picture.)

I didn’t think her teeth were THAT bad, but oh, my, when you hear it all written out from the orthodontist, it sounds like the most horrible jaw ever, combined with a dash of child neglect.  Eep!  I know it’s not all that, but Gothlet does have about two years before she can look forward to a brace-free smile:

like this one of two short weeks ago.

(As you can see, the RockStar’s not the only one in show choir.  The Gothlet is in 8th grade, and in middle school show choir; non-competitive, thank heavens.)

Hopefully she’ll still remember to smile the way she did the other weekend!  She was awesome.

Performing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.  One of my favorites.

Anastasia in the mail!

So, there was this thread on Ravelry….

A fearless knitter was planning to challenge herself to knit 52 pairs of socks in 2011.  Yes, a pair a week. For non-knitter, a pair of socks has tens of thousands of stitches….

She invited other Ravelers (yes, that’s what we call ourselves) to ‘help’ her in her quest: by sending her sock yarn, and our foot sizes, and pattern suggestions: she would knit us socks!  Of course, for all her time, we would send her extras too, above and beyond the sock yarn, which after all was being returned to us.

I had the good fortunate to see the thread at the right time, and took advantage of Ajay, ‘KnitterOrdinaire’ (no, she’s not an ordinary knitter!)’s generosity.  I sent her some of my Twisted yarn, in the Ankh colorway and Playful base.  Plus some Handmaiden Casbah yarn in one of our mutual favorite colors, and a couple other tidbits.

By random luck, I happened to be first up.  Together, we picked Anastasia Socks as the pattern.

And look what I got two days ago (and was able to photograph yesterday, finally).

Look how the spirals go the opposite directions on these socks! Cool, huh?


Thanks, Ajay!  You are the BEST!

I thank you, and my feet thank you!

With a Little Help from my Friend…

…. my Aestlight Shawl is done!

My little end of yarn  went farther than I thought, as you heard, with a modified knitted-on edging. But not quite far enough.

Tuesday, I received a second skein of this lovely, lovely silver-threaded yarn from Astrid’s etsy shop, so I could bind off at last.

I blocked it last night, to the accompaniment of some lovely jazz. My helper visible in the picture there

had to be shut in the bathroom at the time because she would not be dissuaded from sitting on the wet shawl, biting my wooden yardstick, and eyeing the blocking pins speculatively.

However, this morning her partner in crime was helping with the shawl blocking, just to make sure there was the proper feline assistance.

After shooing off the ‘help’, I unpinned the shawl and tried it on.

It’s everything I hoped!

I am very, very happy.

I love the pattern (Aestlight), and I love the yarn (Silver Sheep from Damselfly Yarns, in colorway Prospero’s Sea), and I love them together.

Life is good!

Amaryllis Eye Candy Friday

Spring is two months away by the calendar. But, really, farther away than that, here in the Frozen North.  (March is our snowiest month.)

So after the holidays, I started watering these amaryllis bulbs.  With glorious results as of the last week.

Happy sigh.

Wonder of Wonders

Astrid asked yesterday about whether I was going to rip out the edging of my shawl-in-progress (again) or not, given that the yarn was running out. Well, I psychologically couldn’t stand to do it again after already doing it twice — unless I clearly had to.  Plus, I really liked this edging that I unvented, as it turned out.  (If anyone finds it in a book, by the way, I’d be fascinated to know.)  So I decided to keep knitting until I ran out of yarn, as I knew I would.  If I were lucky and got close to the end of the edging, and the new yarn was not too different despite being a hand-dyed work of art, maybe I could sneak it in without it being glaringly obvious, since the yarn is variegated and since the edging is in sections.   I could even pull out the yarn  that matched the best, from the new skein that’s coming.

Well, would you look at this?  Sometimes stubborn optimism (or denial) is rewarded!

Here’s how much yarn is left after finishing the edging: less than two yards, looks like.

Now, I still do need the yarn that is on its way to the rescue.  If you look hard, you can see that the original stitches are on waste yarn as a provisional cast-on.  The final step is to knit across and bind off the stitches, and I don’t have enough yarn for that, definitely.  However, visually the new yarn won’t clash used in that way (and I will have a whole new skein of lovely yarn, too…).  So it will all work out very well!  The yarn would have arrived today, except for the Federal holiday.  Ah, well, it’s not a work holiday for me, so I’ll be busy today and can wait a bit anyway. Very soon, though, Aestlight will be cast off, blocked and done!

Bonus view of the sparkles:

Which reminds me…

Astrid also asked about what the RockStar is singing in the pictures I posted last weekend.  Since show choir will be taking up a good part of my life, I saved some details to share with you later; but it seems somehow fitting, with the sparkles above, to share that the first song the ensemble sings is ‘City Lights’, as sung by Liza Minnelli. (YouTube link)

I love those City Lights! The color of city sights, that shine under City Lights tinting the skies…

Blue-ish Skies, Bright Lights, Blue Shawl

Today’s Saturday Sky (Skies) I actually got to see, before and after work:

Cloudy, snowy morning.

Glimmers of blue around the high clouds later.

As the flurries came and went,  chased by a north wind.

However, last weekend, I only saw the sky in the early morning.

That’s because after work, I spent the rest of the day indoors, watching this:

Yes, the show choir competition season has begun!  The RockStar is in the varsity high school show choir this year, as a sophomore.  Rehearsals started late July, believe it or not.  Competitions run through March.  Weekends are going to be a different proposition from now until then…

She loves it, though.

And, as an excellent dancer, she is in the front most of the time, and has two dance solos as well.  Brava!

I spent the rest of my day after work at the competition, which was local; the show choir performed in the early afternoon, finalists were announced at dinnertime, the choir performed again in the finals in the early evening, and then the results weren’t announced till after my bedtime.  (Their choir did well overall, placing fourth among 16 or so (I forget exactly).  Plus one of their vocalists was selected ‘best female vocalist in show’.)  Long day for everyone.  But I hung in there…. aided by knitting.

I worked on my Aestlight Shawl, my third iteration of the border, trying for smaller borders taking up less and less yarn since I am running short.  This border, I ‘unvented’, in the words of Elizabeth Zimmermann, though I am sure it’s published somewhere.

This is as small as I think I can get the edging and still have it balance the body of the shawl.

And I really like knitted-on edgings, which is what the shawl calls for in any case.

So do you think I’m going to make it?

Nah.  Me neither.

More yarn is coming from the dyer!

Eye Candy Friday

A Once and Future Flower.

First Saturday Sky of the year

In my philosophical rambling yesterday, I forgot to show you Saturday’s Sky from New Year’s Day.

It was a cold and cloudy sky, as seen from our Riverside Park next to the Mississippi River.

(Cell phone pics, as I didn’t have my camera with me.)

The tiny specks in the upper left of this picture  (you WILL have to embiggen to see)  are eagles; I saw one closer as we were leaving.

There’s still some open water for them and the ducks,

though I don’t know quite what fish (or what else) the eagles eat this time of year.

We were at the park to take down lights from the annual Rotary Lights display, as part of a show choir fundraiser.  See the string of lights below: one of many many that we collected and wound on giant spools, while others dismantled the other parts of the display.

We were quite chilly in the -16 F (-27 C) wind chill

(a gentle zephyr from the south)

but the poor guys in the cherry pickers taking the lights down from the trees had the coldest job.

The Rock Star and I were glad to come home and warm up.

And Citrus was happy to help with that.

New Year, New Self

Warning to the phobic: lots of (pretty) snake pictures!

The post title refers to our gentle corn snake Trinity…who shed her old skin on New Year’s Eve night, apparently, as this is what I found New Year’s Day morning.

What a great metaphor, though, hmm? I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, but just as the old year is shed, and Trinity sheds her old skin so she can grow, we are constantly growing and reinventing ourselves and shedding our old skins.

When we do so, we are even more vibrant, and our beautiful selves shine through.

Fear not, I am not planning any monumental life changes, nor am I becoming enigmatically philosophical.  (Well, any more than usual.)

But as my daughters grow and turn into young women, I realize that growing up (and perhaps, growing old) is becoming more yourself.  Learning to discard all the societal messages and the peer pressure and the irrelevancies that cloud our view.

(Did you know that a few days before shedding, a snake’s eyes turn bluish, as the layer over them starts to separate?  Snakes can be a little skittish then, because they can’t see well. I know that if I am not seeing clearly, I get more anxious, and cranky.  Which makes it harder to see clearly…)

Speaking of daughters, today I gave the final incarnation of the Rock Star’s Christmas present.  She had asked for a Chevron Scarf (Ravelry link) made from two skeins of Socks That Rock mediumweight yarn, which I had bought at Sock Camp.  I made it to a length that I thought was almost long enough, then wrapped it and gave it to her on the needles, so she could tell me how long she wanted it.  (This kid, if it’s not fairly perfect, it won’t get worn.)

She said, “Oh, about twice that long!”

Eep!  It’s not very thick yarn!  Even regular scarves take a while, and this is made from sock yarn.

But by dint of steady knitting since, and freed of the need to knit in secret (yes, she’d asked for it, but she asks for a lot of things, and had forgotten about this), I finished New Year’s Eve before midnight, and blocked it during the Rose Bowl.

She liked it.

All 94 inches of it.

Now, only a bit more owed on another slightly late Christmas present (I needed this one tried on as well; and I hardly did any Christmas knitting this year), and then I can finish up a couple  UFOs and start a new project or two (or three….).

I suppose I am constantly reinventing my knitting self too, with every project.

One last philosophical musing:

When I fed Trinity today (corn snakes eat mice, mostly, if you’re wondering; we get frozen ones from the pet store), I noticed that the very tip of her tail hadn’t shed.  In our climate and in this extremely dry time of the year, it’s not uncommon to have a bad shed.  (Corn snakes are native to the southeastern United States where it never gets as dry as it does here, now that the outside air can be 0 F.) If not treated, this unshed skin could eventually amputate the tail tip.

So, with water and a glycerin shedding aid solution, I helped her get the tail tip shed too.

Sometimes we all need a little help to reinvent ourselves, too.

Happy New Year!  Here’s to a vibrant me and you in 2011!