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El

On of the most embarrassing aspects of my bogging hiatus was not posting the birth of my second child. I had lots of reasons at the time, but still. You blog a baby.

A very newborn Elliot J. R. C. Yes, he has two middle names, like his brother and his father.

Elliot was born on his due date, June 21. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy that he was born on Midsummer. As a side note, Tamara won my due date contest. Must get yarn for her.

I’ve said for a while that Emerson is my heart. I think most mothers feel like their hearts have been taken out of their chests, and placed in their children. I love Em with everything I have in me. But, Elliot. What about him? Elliot is my soul. He was a big surprise, a crying-in-the-shower kind of surprise, but he’s the soul in me I thought had died.  Look at his face and tell me you can’t see it.

My sweet Elliot, 9 months, in hand-me-down longies

I was surprised with Elliot at how very different two children of the same parents can be, especially from birth. Em was a big, solid baby. Never more than 50th to 70th percentile, but just a solid core.  Elliot, on the other hand, is a tiny thing.  At his nine month appointment a few weeks ago I literally danced when he reached the 12th percentile. He’s just a long skinny thing.  And when I say long, I mean long.  Em wore these longies to Rhinebeck ’08, at 15 months old.

Although the length is spot-on, the waists was drastically too big. El “helped” me crochet a chain for a drawstring.

I thought I blogged about these when I knit them for Em, but I can’t seem to find a post. Here’s Em in them at around 15 months:

Blurry again, this time due to a hyper-moving toddler. I dont' think I got a single focused shot for six months

And here they are on El at NINE months. At seven months he was taller than Em was at 12.

Hard to see, but they reach to a hair's breath of the same length as they did on Em.

So, there you have him. My smallest man, both in and out of handknits. Never fear, you’ll see him again soon, I’m sure, as the poor child needs a blanket from mama.

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Pink scarf

Somehow I got sucked into a really great deal. When my friend Lisa came to visit after Elliot’s birth we did the usual yarn crawl. At this avalanche-prone yarn store, The Yarn Barn, she surfaced with something like six balls of the Jo Sharp Rare Comfort.  Her deal? She buys the yarn and gives half to me. Her half becomes whatever lacy thing I want, my half becomes an Ice Queen for her. Who wouldn’t take that deal??

Em modeling my scarf from Lisa. Clearly, no detail can be seen, but it is quite fetching, regardless.

and more

An attempt at some pattern detail.

As far as I know, it’s a simple Feather and Fan stitch. “Simple” here translates to “gorgeous.”  I HAD to put Ice Queen at the top of my queue and knit it up fast. The mohair-related guilt would just be too much, otherwise.

PS My laptop is now in working condition AND I have internet access. Real pictures to come in the near future!

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Pink

With two boys I see very little pink. Orange, yes. Brown, certainly. Blue, in profusion. Pink? Notsomuch. It’s no wonder I’ve been choosing pink yarns and fibers the last few years.

My current (and only) WIP is Ice Queen from the Winter 07 Knitty. I’m doing the 60 bead version, instead of the insane 300 bead one. I picked up the beads from the Twisted Sisters booth at Stitches back in October, without having the yarn on hand. I’m pretty happy with the way the pink foil-y insides work with the yarn.

Somewhere around row 40 of chart A. Again, forgive the camera phone pic

The yarn is Jo Sharp Rare Comfort Infusion Kid Mohair in #617 Rosehip (I’m pretty sure.) I’m fascinated with watching the stripes appear, as I never expected that to happen. The three colors are about 18-20″ long each (23-26 stitches?) so they may lay just right with the gauge to make happy little stripes. It IS mohair, though, which renders it utterly evil, regardless of it’s looks. I, of course, forgot that mohair will only frog if frozen first, and cursed it mightily during a failed cast on. We’ve mended our ways since, and seem to be getting on nicely.

A bit of detail. The beads in the top corner are my stitch markers, not part of the knitting.

Yes, it IS an early spring and too warm already for cowls and neckwarmers, especially when the recipient lives in Florida.  That is the way of knitting, isn’t it?

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Ping…

Ping…are you out there? Am I?

I went to a Spin-In at Jessalu’s on Saturday, childless, which is a rare and wonderful thing. I’d been thinking of picking up blogging again (on a small scale) and I had ample time on my drive home to think about it again. 

Things have been 10 kinds of chaos in my world for the last year, and blogging fell to the bottom of the list. I can’t guarantee it will move up much, but since I *can* take pictures and write posts on my phone, I hardly have much of an excuse anymore.

Some pictures of the fibery things in my life:

Some unknown wool, gifted to me years ago, and finally plied off the wheel in anticipation of the Spin-In

I have no idea the yardage of it, though, as I had to wind it to my mom’s dresser knobs from the bobbin, as my swift and ball winder are in storage.

[The babies and I are living with my mom. That’s one bit of what’s going on]

The morning of the S-I I sat with two fibers in front of me. The first was some gorgeous 100% bamboo I picked up at Rhinebeck a few years ago. I’d spun half a bobbin of it already, though the cat broke that bobbin and I’d have to start another. The second was some lovely pink merino/silk I’d picked up from an unknown vendor at an unknown show. I just knew it was pink and I get precious little of that with two boys.

[I think I neglected to blog that I have a second little boy. Baby Elliot was born last June, on the Solstice.]

I chose the bamboo. I chose unwisely.

Bamboo is lovely to spin, and tricky enough to keep things interesting, I have a list somewhere of 8 or 10 tips to spinning it without going insane. It has no scale, and no desire to hold onto itself. Fine for home, not at all fine for spinning outside in a breeze.  I foolishly started anyway, at Jess’, only find my drive band snapped a few minutes in. 

Jess patiently provided cotton twine (as I left my poly band at home, assuming I wouldn’t need it) and a little snark, and I was off again. Several guests suggested I ask Jess if she was willing to part with something from her stash. As time went on, it seemed like a better and better idea. She parted with the below for an incredibly low price.

8 oz of frabjous fibers BFL in "Cottage Garden" colorway.

About five minutes into spinning this gorgeous stuff, the leather thong on one of my footmen snapped. *sigh* After several tries at knots I was going again. My yardage spun for the day was pretty small, but the conversation more than made up for it.

cell phone cameras cann't ever do hand dyed fiber justice.

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A new bag

I’ve been knitting wee things like crazy the last few weeks, but nothing has really moved me to blog.  How things have changed from a few years ago!  Anyway, it wasn’t until I got my mail today that I thought “I MUST blog this!”

Isn’t it lovely?  It is a box bag from Stitched By Jessalu, the etsy store of my friend Jess.  I have admired her bags for a while now, but have been good at talking myself out of them.  Recently, she posted this bag, but it sold before I could get to it.  I commented an innocent remark on her blog…only to find she’d ordered more of the fabric and was getting it in a few days later.  I had no choice.  I HAD to get it.  Lucky me, though, I was sale number fifty (50!) and got an extra little bit of joy in my package:

I suspect that the zipper bag will become a home to all the notions that wander about my bag.  Not a bad future for it.  Between the two, I’m in a much better spot for small projects.  Consider what I was using for this sock before:

It was a good bag–bought in Honduras from a women’s collective–but it just didn’t work for socks.  Especially with a toddler fond of pulling needles out of live stitches and poking them wherever they may fit (no joke, I’ve found these sock needles in heating vents, cookbooks and the cat food container).  I think the sock is safer (and more likely to get finished) when it is safely secured.

And because I *really* like this bag and couldn’t photograph it enough, the end:

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So much going on…

so little to say.  I’m in one of those odd sort-it-out places where nothing quite makes sense–yet.  I’m telling myself that my subconscious is busy at work on things and will let me know when they are sorted out.  Surely I can’t be the only one that tells myself things like that?

I have a number of things in the works to blog about, but each is a step or two away from being ready.  Since it is a Wednesday and so many do a WIP flash today, here’s what IS ready to be shown:

noah's longies

Yep, that’s another pair of longies.  These are a newborn sized pair for a friend’s soon-to-be-here little guy. The color is off, it is somewhere between that and the picture below.  The first was taken with no light (we haven’t seen sun for three days) and the second with too much light.  I think I need to master the photo editing software I just bought.

ravelry

Oh, and I should disclose this is another foray into the world of acrylic.  Lest you worry I’ve lost all love for wool, know that I’ll be back next post with a ton of newly-dyed wool.  I promise.

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Sammy

We just got back from a 10 day trip to Sunny Florida. While I would never ever in my life want to live there again (ever), I love visiting in January. I don’t need to tell anyone in the midst of a snowy winter WHY Florida is a great place to go. However, those of you IN Florida know that January beats the pants off visiting in August.

While we were there I finished the packed lunch for my little relative turning two:

What you are looking at is 2 1/2 slices of “pumpernickel” bread, two tomatoes, a slice of cheese (folded in half) and two pieces of meat (corned beef or bacon depending on who saw it), all accompanied by three cookies.   Most of the items were made with my own patterns, inspired buy the ones here, under the “novelty” section.

I wish I’d taken pictures of the individual pieces, but I was dressed for a wedding and heading out the door, hence the not-fabulous picture.  If you are interested, here’s how I knit the pieces:

Bread for a 1/2 sandwich
yarn:  worsted
needles:  size 6/4mm
CO 23
K1 row
K2tog, k to last 2 st, SSK for 2 rows
Each row fol:  k2tog then K to end
BO last stitch

Knit 2

Choc Chip Cookies
yarn: worsted, cream or tan; scraps of brown
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 20
knit 2 rows in garter st
K2tog all the way across row for 2 rows
break yarn, thread needle and slide through rem sts, pulling tight
sew short ends together
weave brown yarn through for chips, periodically knotting yarn for appearance of chips sitting higher on the cookie

Tomato slice- Large
yarn: worsted, red ; scraps of yellow
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 25
Follow directions for choc chip cookies, weaving in yellow for “seeds”

Tomato slice – Small
yarn: worsted, red ; scraps of yellow
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 20
Follow directions for choc chip cookies, weaving in yellow for “seeds”

Bacon/Corned beef slices
yarn: worsted, red or red variegated
needles: size 6/4mm
CO 25
K even in garter st until you have 5 ridges
BO

The cheese wasn’t a fabulous on-the-fly pattern.  I CO 25, k in st st until it looked good, then BO.  I knit it on the Florida Turnpike while on the way to our destination, so I didn’t have any sort of inspiration.  The yellow yarn was Lite Lopi, so when I was dissatisfied with the size and openness of it, I took it into the shower with me and hand felted it. You do what you have to do, right?  The felting also helped with the natural curl of stockinette, which was handy. I just couldn’t bear the thought of lumpy-looking garter stitch cheese.

Anyway, as you can see these aren’t difficult patterns by any means.  I hardly dare call them that, thinking of the more like suggestions.  The cookies and bread were inspired by someone else’s work that I tweaked when I didn’t like how the item turned out, while the chese, meat and tomato came from expereince making the other items.  Feel free to tweak to your heart’s content.

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Quick, quick!

Quick post about quick knitting.  I’m working nights at a temp job, which is messing with my internal schedule.  I leave in a few, but wanted to share a quick knit:

Nope, not for me. We aren’t planning on finding out the gender of this babe.

The story?   I received an email from my sister the other day, asking urgently if I could knit a hat and booties for her soon-to-arrive little girl.  She has had a very difficult pregnancy and has been on modified bedrest.  It has been killing her, apparently, that she can’t shop for a hand knit set locally, and she turned to me for help.  What else was I going to say but yes?

Pattern: Ripple Eyelet Baby Hat

Size knit: Newborn

Yarn: stash-diving produced Lion Brand Wool-Ease in colorway Blush Heather.  Surprisingly soft.

Needles: size 6 & 9 Knitpicks Harmony

Started: January 13

Finished: January 14

Modifications: I altered the pattern to be knit in the round.  What baby wants a seam upside their head?

Knit it again? Not sure.

Notes: The pattern was an extremely quick knit.  I am not a fast knitter by any means, and this took me maybe 3 hours.  I would have finished it in one day morning and afternoon, knitting lace *while taking care of my 19 mo old child* but I had to leave for work 2 rows before the BO.  So, a normal human could get one done in a TV show or two.

Not sure how I feel about the stacking K2tog S Psso.  It looks messy to me.  Here, blocking the crown, you can see it (and my *ahem* “helper).

I already have one One Hour Baby Bootie (Rav link here) done and blocked and am casting on the other as soon as I hit “post”.  Update soon.

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Why yes, I am alive

The last few weeks have been crazy. I’ve been working! It is only temporary, but I’ve been loving the library I’ve been working for. I heartily wish they had a position for me. I’ve missed Em tremendously the last few weeks, but being competent at a job has been a real ego boost for me. As much as being a stay-at-home mom/student has been enjoyable, it always seems to call into question my sanity and judgment. They joys of toddlers.

Oh yeah, and during that time I completed all the requirements for my Master of Library and Information Science. 🙂

I am so far behind with what I have been up to that I won’t be able to catch up in just one post. Would you like to start with some spinning?

I spent the Fourth of July weekend plying. Surprisingly, it actually occurred to me to take notes while spinning so I’d have something blog about.

So, the amazing thing is that I plied yarn that’s been on the bobbin for nearly two years. Can you believe it? I could nearly faint from the shock of it, myself. You may remember when I blogged about it in May, though I didn’t even post a new picture, just recycled the original one. From back in October of 2006. This begs the question of why. Why has this fiber, lovely as it is, been on bobbins for so freakin’ long?

I don’t know if I have an answer for this. It is easy to spin, is grabby enough that I could (and did) spin it quite fine. The colors are lovely and change at an interesting pace, therefore it isn’t boring.

For some reason spinning it felt like a life’s work. As I was plying I felt like it was taking forever. Really, this couldn’t have been more than 4oz, but I suppose the fineness and the long color repeats explains the angst. However, the fiber itself was pleasurable enough. Does that make sense?

One of my goals (and problems) while spinning this over such a long period was spinning a balanced yarn. I didn’t want it over plied only to be relaxed in finishing. Yet, this was the fiber I had trouble spinning about 18 months ago, because it was falling apart. I was lucky to be at a spin-in in February of ’07 and have a bevy of experienced spinners at hand to help with wheel tuning and spinning advice. Turns out I was not adding enough twist and the fibers were not holding together. Although that was a great revelation, I had to be very careful not to have too great a change in the rest of the single on the bobbin. I am not sure how or why that it would be a bad thing, I just figured things would not turn out right.

Over time I also questioned the reliance on finishing to cover spinning sins. Does it really help, or will things revert to chaos when the final knitting good is blocked? Will make the under plied sections fall completely apart? As I let this sit in the back of my mind I saw some similar thoughts on a number of blogs. This from here:

When dried with blocking, the yarn is temporarily ‘set’, like putting your wet hair on rollers to make a temporary curl. As soon as the yarn is exposed to water again–even in the form of a very humid day, just like with human hair–the original twist, or lack of, will reassert itself, even if it’s been woven or knit in the meantime.

Sounds like bad news, right?

Some other thoughts:

I had a ridiculous time getting the wheel set up to ply. I emailed/plurked/IMed Jess, my personal guide to spinning, but I was still obviously doing something wrong, until I somehow got it settled.

I could have preserved the color changes with a chain ply, but really wanted a marled look. Scratch that, wanted a look totally my own. In spinning I’ve done since then I’ve done some playing around with making color repeats longer or shorter than the roving was dyed. This stuff, though, was started at a time when I was exceptionally new at spinning, and finished at a time I had much more confidence. I finally figured out my yarn has a right to be exactly what I make it to be.

Of course, I immediatly starting spinning something:

I freaked out because I had no fiber handy to spin. I dug through some as-yet-unpacked-boxes and found some lovely fiber gifted to me nearly two years ago by The Gabby Knitter. My photography skills do not do it justice.

Finally, with school behind me and a roomy home, I’m ready to do what I’ve wanted to for ages: Have a spin-in at my barn house. I’m working up a flier at the moment, so let me know if you want me to email it to you. I’ll have it in a post in the next few days, too.

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On a jag

I can’t be the only one who goes on a jag, either a spinning or a knitting one.

After I made the second mistake reading the ballband swiffer cover pattern, a wicked easy one to read, I realized what I really needed was some spinning. First, I finished spinning some fiber that’s been on the bobbin for at least 18 months. It looked like this for a long time:

Cherry Tree Hill roving

In fact, I think that’s the only photo of it for the 19 months of it’s life. Now, there are two bobbin’s full that are just waiting for me to look at the how-to-Navajo-ply video.

That didn’t satisfy me, so I pulled out a bag of Foxfire Fiber’s cashmere/tussah silk blend in lilac (you have to scroll down to see it, but it is SO worth it) . I think this is what Jess bought for me at Cummington last year, but I was hugely pregnant (37 weeks) and can’t remember if she bought this or my other acquisition from their booth. Either way, it was luxury and I am glad for it.

I admit some trouble drafting the silk. It didn’t talke long for me to realize there was no way I could spin this as smooth and even as commercially spun yarn. For the first time, I decided I didn’t mind that. Some sections, yards and yards of it even, were nearly perfect. Then, I’d get into a funk and couldn’t spin straight to save my life. It didn’t matter, though. This stuff was wonderful to spin– I nearly typed that it was “like silk” to spin, then realized it was.

To keep too-thin spots away I spun it to be about fingering weight (14ish wpi). At some point I realized a few things. One, I wanted this 2oz bump to go as far as possible. Two, I didn’t want to Navajo ply and cut my yardage in third. Finally, I wanted to preserve the color changes as closely as possible. The colors are fantastic, transitioning from a light lilac to a deep one, and a pale silvery shade in between. I wanted that in whatever lacy thing this was meant to be. So, I got brave and decided it would be a single.

This scared me a little:

cashmere/silk single

It was freshly off the swift and oh-so-overspun in too many places. Here’s a closer look:

overspun single

Scary, isn’t it?

Then, it took a nice hot bath. It was still a little over-spun but not too terribly bad. It was (despite my fear) strong enough to take a spin on the ball winder:

cashmere/silk single

I was pleased.

For the first time in my 20 months of (off and on) spinning, I cast on right away. I couldn’t help myself, I wanted luxury now.

I am doing two repeats of the Ostrich Lace pattern. It is in both the Vogue Stitchonairy Vol. 1 (no. one oh eight-to defeat the auto-smiley) and the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. The Walker Treasury Project has a swatch here.

We’ll see how far I get.

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