Sunday, January 30, 2011

long time no post

So, I got my cast off on Thursday and discovered that getting the arm freed was more unsettling than being in a cast.  I lost 2 days of work more or less (I did show up to do some necessary things, but had no stamina at all) and have been laying down contemplating that old chestnut "be careful what you wish for." 

When you get a cast removed, the underlying muscles and tendons that usually do a bunch of work holding your limb up and making it go have generally shriveled into unhappy immobility.  Plus, the skin underneath is used to being protected so there's a huge amount of sensitivity.  It translates into I lost 2 days of work because I couldn't move the arm without curling up and whimpering.

Lots of warm water/compresses/gentle stretching exercises later, I'm starting to feel a little more human.  Thank goodness.

Meanwhile, not a lot has been happening on the knitting front.  I'd feel bad, but the first 2 days not a lot happened on the being able to get dressed front...  it's good to remember.

Since the current knitting looks like this:
vine and ivy pattern test-knit in dye for yarn's tussah laceweight
and my Mom and Dad went through all the gyrations of setting up some of these beauties so I could store the stash without weeping, cursing, or forgetting what I've got, I thought I'd show you how stash organization is coming.

For now, the newly christened wall o yarn is sitting in front of the (functionally useless) hearth in my 'yellow room.'  Once I get a bit more mobility and a bit more wherewithal, the stash will be moved to the newly enclosed porch where it will trouble no-one, and I can sneak out and bask in it when things are frustrating.

Here's the left side:
currently, our not-yet-unpacked cds are in the bottom providing ballast
So here, we have mainly lace weight/fingering weight yarns.  The basket at the top has enough worsted weight yarn (cotton fleece) for 2 sweaters and (bartlett wool) one vest.  Top shelf are my mohair yarns and some jojoland lace weight in a clear glass bottle.  Next shelf down gets looted a lot.  It's my natural colored yarns, used to test patterns.  Plus a sweater-worth of yarn I plan on making myself a festival sweater out of... by May... hahahahaha.  Yeah, sometimes the delusions are too fast and fancy for even me.  Next shelf is cobweb weight yarn on cones, and a buncha fingering weight.  Current bottom shelf has a bag of still unsorted yarn and a basket for 'land of lost socks.'  Those are sock weight yarns that I had originally thought of making into shawls, but am likely going to make socks out of instead.  90% of this wall came from the Woolery, now that I look at it. 

That being explained, here is the right wall o wool.
mmm yarn
So, here we see a  testament to the fact that I apparently want sweaters in no small way.  Top shelf, 3 sweaters worth of yarn.  Middle shelf 5 sweaters worth of yarn.  Next shelf, random fingering weights.  Last shelf, one bag with single skein of sock yarn and an unsorted bag of yarn.

Three years of hoarding, but I could knit all of this within 18 months if yarn stores suddenly went away.

This is where I'm keeping the expensive stuff:
silk, silk, silkedy-silk
The majority of what is in this shorty glass-front bookcase (total cost 78 USD @ IKEA) is silk, silk blend, or one of a kind dyes from fiber artists.  That bottom shelf is ... another sweater's worth of lace-weight yarn.  Ahem.

superwash fingering weight
This matching bookcase has my alpaca teddy bear and about 7 shawls worth of fingering-weight madelinetosh yarn.  The bottom shelf is natural malabrigo yarn that I got for 2 USD per skein. 

Looking at all this stash, I probably should feel guilty instead of gleeful.  But, I don't smoke, drink, invest heavily in makeup or clothes (unless I'm knittin' 'em), or travel much.  Yarn is my extravagance, my therapist, a friend who doesn't mind if I come downstairs and pet it at 3 in the morning, and a way for me to tell the people around me that I love them even though I'm a complete social klutz.  (Not many people can get their foot as far down their throat in a lifetime as I can in 10 unguarded minutes.)

Also, I'm putting this up for posterity.  The counters aren't as uncluttered as they were last night (still have coffee making things on them), but they're cleaner than they have been since I broke my radius and ulna at the wrist.
lest I forget it can be done
And I organized the spices that my husband must have by the stove at all times because I got tired of being dive-bombed.  Getting whacked on the head by coriander does not count as an "exotic culinary experience."

the rolling island, and my antique 1852 keys,
Anyway, the shorty is asking me to play with him so I'm going to stop here.  Thanks to everyone who makes it to the bottom of this long-winded post.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

picture less post

I have made some small progress on the new shawl design in purple.  I have the second section of leaves knit, and must now think to a center and border.  I'm doing this modular style as my cast gets exchanged in 2 days, and while I'm thrilled about the change, it also means that my tension will change as well.  Modular knitting lets me continue to make progress without putting pressure on me to get the whole thing done in the next 2 days.  That way lies madness.

I'm also picking my way through a couple of shawlettes for the spring show in March.  I don't know any more details around it, but if it materializes I'll be ready.  If it does not, then I can put up the 'ettes' as well.  Either way, it's a good thing to do and it keeps me from going stir crazy in the meantime.

I also am entering the final planning stages for the next serious scarf.  This one will be as wide, but less long per my Dad's request.  I've got the yarn and needles at the ready, and am chomping at the bit to make it happen.

What's on your needles/to-do list?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

squeeeee, thank you!!

Look at what came in the mail today!!

sweet surprise!
Aren't they cute??

Look, there's a little box with note cards
so cute!
and a project bag
can never have enough project bags
This was a totally unexpected surprise, and it really brightened my week.  I've been having trouble with the cast, it's been making my thumb numb when I try to use the hand.  So this package really gave me something fun to be excited about.

The package came from Graywolfie, who has a definite eye for the cheerful.  Thank you so much for the presents, they totally made my day!  I might have already started using them... ;-)

perfect traveling size!
I'm going to go play with them now.  Thank you again!

Friday, January 21, 2011

never let it be said

that being snowed in leaves you with nothing to do

more to come, as time allows today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2 week countdown

 Let me lead off by saying that I look a lot younger than I am.  The bone doctor was a little concerned about the speed that my arm is healing last week.  He said it wasn't as rapid as he thought it should be, and that I am in this cast for another 2 weeks before he'll replace it with one that will allow me to shower without acrobatics. 

Part of my youthful appearance is the fact that my naturally round face has very few wrinkles thanks to the extra weight I carry.  Part of it is in my genetics;  all the women from my Mom's side of the family look 10-15 years younger than they are.  Part of it is that I dye my hair.  No shame there, it's my nod to vanity. 

When appraised of exactly what portion of my 30s I'm in, and how many children I've had suddenly my arm is healing at a reasonable rate. I wonder if I explain that I'm going through early menopause and that my nerves (which were severed 3 years ago now) have come back alive, if he'd realize exactly how amazing the recovery is.

So, two more weeks in the cast.  I can live with it.  Since the cast completely changes my knitting tension, anything I start now must be able to be finished within 2 weeks.  HAHAHA.  Yeah, right?  I did finish the silk shawl I posted about earlier.  It now looks something like this:
working on the increases in the leaves to make them more graceful in the pattern
Noodles.  But it will block out beautifully.  I have faith.

I've also been working on these:

These are to be felted.  They are a fast project which I can finish quickly.  The local coffee shop is planning on a spring craft show of some kind in the not too distant future.  These will look like pretty water colors once finished, and I hope they're something I can put in.

I have 3 spring patterns in the works:  2 stoles and another triangle.  I know, I just like working triangles.  They're flattering to wear, and I find being able to see visible progress very satisfying when knitting.  I'm tentatively planning them in these yarns:
silk, kid mohair and silk, cotton and silk...  hmmm tend?
We'll see.  The red one is from the Dye For Yarn shop.  I look forward to doing a review of their yarn, their sister shop and its yarn, and my experience with them.  It's always good to find someone who makes a quality product with good service, so I will be happy to review them once I have a sample in their yarn to share.

Finally, I leave you with one of my favorite projects being appreciated by one of my other favorite projects.

shorty cowl, in kids size, fresh from the outdoors

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday morning drive-by

Monday, I got all of the prizes packed and labeled.  It took a lot longer than I thought it would, and I'm very grateful that the broken wrist wasn't something more serious or debilitating.  I am very grateful for the mobility I do still have.

Yesterday, as I loaded the bean's little red wagon to walk the packages to the post office (during my lunch break from work), my phone rang.  It was my largest client with a serious issue.  I did not make it to the post office, and it was an 11 hour work day with no breaks.  Given that this job allows me to work from home, I'll take the occasional tough days.  The 11-16 hour days only happen every few weeks.

Today, there is at least 8 inches of snow and falling.  I resume con-calls at noon, although today I should be able to sneak out for 1/2 hour and get the stuff mailed off.  If I take the all terrain red wagon (purchased to drag 2 year old through blueberry picking hills), and use a hand-warmer pack in my sling I should make it ok.  Just need to call the post office and make sure someone is there before I leave.

Here's hoping this blustery day brings you warm drinks and knitting joy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

When you win, so do I!

Okay, so first I want to thank everyone who left a comment about their favorite way to beat the winter blues!  I read every comment & thought the range of things we do was just amazing and occasionally truly inspired.

I also want to thank the fine people at Ravelry and Wiknit for making it possible for this little contest to get so many great entries!

Here's what everyone's been waiting for:

Our first winner!
The great random voice said that Skaro964 is our first winner.  Here's the comment that won:
hot cocoa definitely doesn't hurt :)
You get the Ella Rae!  And I'll send as well my recipe for a shorty cowl, which takes one ball of this for an adult, feel free to ignore it or use it.


Our second winner is:
Entry 61!
This entry is by Affiknitty, and here's the comment
Planning a spring garden sounds really good.
You get the Cascade 220 handpaints.  And I'm tossing in a set of felted bag patterns which would be lovely in these colors.  Again, they are for fun and are not mandatory.

Congrats to you too!

Our third winner was also randomly generated

Comment 26!
Comment 26 is by Knittingdancer from Ravelry.  Here's the winning comment:
Bright colors work well for me too :)
You win the skein of scarlet fleece sock yarn!  I'll also be sending a recipe for a great winter scarf.  Ignore, use, trade, or trash as it amuses you.

cool colors

Thanks again to everyone who entered!  As I get my stash organized I'll likely be doing more giveaways.  I know I have yarn that I love but will never reach for because it's a color I like to look at but maybe not so much work with...  and it all deserves a place where someone will love it AND use it.  I'll also be doing a giveaway after the NH Sheep and Wool Festival in May.  We have a lot of great folk in fiber here, and I will be sharing the love.

Emails will go out shortly to our winners (typing takes me a little right now), and the packages will be on their way!

Thanks to all the folks who wished me a speedy recovery on the broken wrist!  I appreciate it so much!

@Sara  That version of Kisses Sweeter than Wine is one that my husband introduced me to.  We both loved the song, but he found it on a CD that was a tribute to Pete Seeger.  Lots of great artists on it.  I'm really glad you like it!

So, for the moment, that's all she's got to write.  Thanks to everyone, and everyone who made it to the bottom of the post!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Not so much knitting related, about trials and tribulations (real or imagined)

So, for those who are following along, broken wrist + zipper = unintentional hilarity trying to wear conventional pants..  Cast + shower = will freeze if you go outside before it dries.  Drying time = recommended 5 hour minimum. 

I will be able to take a shower sometime after jellybean goes to bed tonight;  as I'm the one who marches him to and from school on Fridays I must wait to shower until I know I won't end up accidentally giving myself frostbite by needing to go outside.

Today, I had the distinct ... experience ... of finding out that the cast will freeze and radiate cold even when not wet.  If it were possible to take it this early in the day, I'd be taking a ball-peen hammer to the Vicodin bottle right now (yep, can't get it open by myself).  Oh yeah, it's not possible to operate a zipper, so I was stuck wearing jammy pants to and from the walk to my son's school.  Plus, since that zipper thing goes on a lot of things, I got the joy of an unzipped coat too.  The frostbite possibility made me thrilled to be a knitter, so I could at least hide my unwashed hair in a pretty hat.

Ah humiliation and discomfort, without you how would I know when I have it good?

I share an office with my husband on the off days when he doesn't use his library as a mobile office.  He assured me yesterday that he would clean off the couch in the office for the bean to stay on and we'd work in the same room to lighten the load on watching the beast while I work.... yes ME, while on con-calls.  Not so much him.  No ability to multi-task.  Sometimes it gets real hairy, and with the single hand it's even uglier for me.

So, after cleaning off the couch one-handed (broken wrist, still there) by myself, and setting boy up with craft stuff and a book and a game (also by myself... also in the room..... yep, by myself) I may have lost it.  A little.

marking territory, or kicking sand?  my husband's space repurposed
That photo is of my husband's former space.  It has officially and crankily been annexed to my hoarde of yarn warriors.  Unfortunately, if he wants the space back I'll be stuck rearranging (one handed, by myself...) as he cannot be trusted to treat fiber with the love it needs.  But for now, it's behind me.  A bright and cheerfully colored tower of knitterly power.

For the record, I never did get any minions to type for me.  All of these slow, little entries are by me.  Not that my Mom wasn't willing, but she did things like dishes(!!!!) which I'm VERY grateful for.  Plus, she lives an hour away and is a teacher.  Woman works hard (grotesque hours, the good ones do), and although she's the reliable one I cannot and will not ask that of her.  So, knitterly powers activate!  Form of: one handed typing!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Knitter Intervention, necessary

Okay, this is the project that was inspired by Twinkle Twinkle.  I may have lost my mind for about a week...  I apparently had weddings on my mind, and decided to use some antique glass beads and pearls to do another Mary Mary Quite Contrary, only replacing the nuups with 6mm pearls this time.  Anyone who has played with freshwater pearls and has seen the original shawl will likely be questioning what the heck I was thinking.  All I can say is, "Thinking?  Isn't that for SMART people?"  Heh.

Let me show you....
notice, only 2 rows of lily of the valley?  3 would have put this over 5 lbs
On dark, this shows the pearl detail well
you can almost see the pale shine of the different colored antique beads hidden in the leaves

 Yeah, can't really see where I was going?  Let me show you on white.

now THAT is my vision
this too!
on white and cream
And just for giggles
on green
another view
This ended up using over 250 freshwater pearls.  Also hundreds of antique glass beads that glimmer and gleam with subtle, diamond like flashes of color.  Being a complete twit, I managed to strain the muscles in my forearms from the sheer weight of the added beads.  On the other hand, the weight of this is not uncomfortable to wear, and you will know immediately if you drop it for any reason.

I love this shawl.  I imagined this over a pure white dress, and lovely skin.  This, for me, is the quintessential wedding shawl.  It's pretty, it's sturdy, well-made, and opulent without being over-showy.  This is made to grace many generations of lovely and well loved brides.  As long as it's taken care of, your great-granddaughter could share it with her great-granddaughter.

I would love to make another.  The freshwater pearls have luster, color, and beautiful natural shapes.  The antique beads bring understated beauty and a wonderful history.  According to the woman who sold them to me, these were extra beads from her grandmother's wedding dress and veil.  The marriage these were purchased for lasted for over 50 very happy years.  The beads, to me, represent a something old with a history of contentment.  So, they are well suited for a new and happy beginning.

What's not to love?

I did get asked whether the weight of the pearls would stretch out the shawl.  Before I was willing to accept this as a finished object, I blocked it and put it on my dress form to hang for 5 days.  This is an old seamstress' trick.  Before hemming something that is cut on a bias, it's good to hang the object from a hanger for 24 hours to allow the fabric to settle out.  Then you can be reasonably sure the hem will not wander.

After 5 days, I took the shawl down and re-measured it.  It had not stretched at all.  I believe (although I do not have firm proof) that the act of blocking is what set the size.  I did a hard block, not a severe block, and went to the comfortable edge of what the merino's natural stretch combined with the silk content's lack of stretch would allow.  The only thing that I can forsee as an issue is that the pearls could block creases into the finished fabric if the shawl were to get wet.  On the other hand, they could be easily steam blocked out, so I'm confident this will last for many years to come.

Shawl 13, Twinkle Twinkle

This is my first foray into beading for the project.  This was the first, lesser insanity.  I say insanity because I beaded under the nuups in the pattern instead of replacing them.  Beading takes up a bunch of time;  beading the nuups takes 1/3 as long again as the original knit.

On the other hand, it is a pretty effect...

click to see the color combo of yarn and beads.  It's stunning (even if it is me saying it)
not bad on white
not bad on red
awesome on green
detail shot
and again on a body (cream and white)
The beauty of this shawl is in the combination of the colors of blue.  I used 2 skeins of Madelinetosh Merino Light in colorway Ink.  The yarn is the almost black blues of a midnight sky.  The twinkling blue beads are from a vintage stash I keep.  The blue is more vibrant than the comparable shades available to me today;  I have attempted to match them for other projects, but the 9 samples I got couldn't compete with the originals (even though the samples were pretty on their own).

The fun in this shawl would be in knowing that the beautiful, clear blue twinkles out at unexpected times.  A subtle contrast, if you will, possible because the beads show like tiny stars when hit by light... and hide when in any shadow.  Wearing this is like floating around in the ever-changing, mysterious mantle of a night sky.

Until this was blocked, I considered naming it "Midnight in the Garden."  Seeing the finished shawl, it could only be Twinkle Twinkle.

Shawl 12, Morning Mist

Ah, a non-blogged project.  I should be deeply ashamed, but it was made with Handmaiden's Double SeaSilk in Salt Spray.  I love dk-weight shawls, and these colors are so pretty that I can't castigate myself too much for being enraptured with the knitting instead of the picture taking.  Bad blogger, you're stuck with only light knitting for 6 weeks more.  That'll learn ya.

blue, green, silver leaves over cream and white
my favorite picture:  shows the drape well
a detail shot on green (I don't have a lot of black)
detail shot showing tail construction, and the beautiful variegation
I think Handmaiden is incapable of putting out a bad product.  And I seem to have a weakness for her stunning colorways.  The Autumn Glow version of this shawl was purchased and gifted recently;  I hope that the recipient loves it as much as I loved knitting it.  This cool color shawl would be equally stunning on white, black, blues....  the subtle twists of color combined with the gorgeous silk sheen make this one of my top 3 favorite finished objects from this project.

The name for this shawl was inspired by an early morning drive I took while knitting it.  The colors of the frost, the cool pale sky, and the frozen lichen on the trees glimmering in the weak sunlight;  the mystery and beauty of the morning... they all seemed perfect for each other.

Shawl 11, Whisper. Finished

This is the shawl I started knitting when we got the last of the family related unhappy news.  I went to my simplest pattern in pure silk single spun yarn.  With everything that went on, this got far less blog-time than knit time.  I did mention it here, but shamefully didn't blog it much more than that.  On the other hand, I did have other important knitting that needed to get done (which you can see at that link as well), and which my Mom is mailing for me because the wrist slows me down... a lot.

Anyway, enough of my blah-blah-blah.  Time for pictures!

I may be biased, but I love the way these patterns work together.
top lace detail
how it drapes & looks on white.  Summer bride would be so pretty and comfy in this....
I even like it on deep black/red.
Knitting with silk single-spun is like nothing else.  The finished fabric of silk lace has a graceful drape that I've never seen any other fiber manage.  It is cooler than the wool/hair based yarns, but it holds just enough body warmth to make it feel like a perfectly smooth second skin.  So, in honor of the feel of this shawl, I name the finished object Whisper.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

the power of wool compels you

Wow, I hadn't anticipated the response to the giveaway when I posted it on ravelry! I guess that was pretty silly of me. I mean, they've got over 1 million user accounts now.... and none of us joined because we dislike yarn and the many things yarn can do.

Actually, I'm excited to have so many interesting and often quirky and fun suggestions for the winter blues. All of the entries so far are fabulous. I'm enjoying hearing about what folk do, and what they sometimes avoid doing in the winter months.

The giveaway is ongoing until midnight January 9, and winners will be drawn and announced on the 10th.  I'm really looking forward to it!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been fighting one handed typing up my patterns and doing sneaky knitting.  I can't knit for long with the cast, and having only my off hand as my primary knitting engine has changed my tension.  It has made me something of a tight knitter so I am not/cannot work on the projects I started before the fall.  It occurred to me that, given the nature of lace, even if I post what I'm working on it is unlikely anyone will be able to identify it.  That frustrating thought in tow, I've snapped this:

look, ma, no hands ;-)
While I'm thinking about good things, I wanna thank my little band of loyal readers.  You know who you are, and so do I.  Even though I'm too much of a pleeb to figure out how to respond to comments, I do read every single one.  And they mean a lot. 

This afternoon, I'm editing pictures to do the finished object posts I've been meaning to do.  I have 4 FOs that I need to get documented;  I will answer the questions that were asked about my INSANE FO in its post.  I haven't forgotten, I promise.  :)

I just want to say thank you again for the encouragement.  Knitters on the web, you rock!

Monday, January 3, 2011

lady sings the blues, giveaway 2

ETA:  Contest now closed, please enjoy the comments!  And thank you to all who entered!

The end of 2010 went out with a bang.  Given all that happened last year, it's with mixed feelings that we bid it good-bye.  It's kind of like the song "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."  There was a lot of sad, bad, and just plain confusing.  But there was also good company, fine friends, laughter, love, and the joy of life.

Good-bye 2010, you won't be forgotten.

With a new year to try to remember to put on random paperwork, I figure let's start on the right note!

It's Monday, the sky is the kind of blue poets can't seem to do justice to, there's turkey soup simmering in the kitchen (thank you Mommy!), and I've been feeling creative.  So, here's a new giveaway in the new year to celebrate all of our creativity.

Sorting through the stash, I found these beauties:

2 Skeins of Cascade 220 handpaint (worsted)
blues, greys, purples
One skein of Ella Rae Latte (Chunky)
Royal blue, made with milk
And finally one skein Scarlet Fleece It's Tubular (Sock weight)
purples, blues, blacks
There will be 3 winners for this giveaway, and I'll toss in a set of free instructions for a winter project for each in case the winners want a little inspiration.  The winners can use said instructions to make something, to light a fire, or even to line pet cages.   *Insert knit-eating grin here*

So, here's the details:
Leave a comment on this post letting me know what your favorite way to beat winter blues is.  On January 10, I'll use the lovely random number generator to pick some winners, and then ship the loot post-haste.  I will announce here, and email winners (leave an email where I can contact ya?  I really do want to get prizes out so folk can enjoy them!!) to let them know as well.

Without further ado, 2010, here's your (non-traditional version of this) song