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An Icy Day

2 Jan

After a few unusual days of warmth we’ve had quite a thaw in Madison.  Most of the snow is gone from our streets and yards, so it was quite an experience to feel the chill come back in full force and to visit a frozen lake.

It was amazing to see such a big body of water frozen, and to see ATVs and people out in the middle of it!  But I am glad to be safe at home and back in the warm.  Which is always a pleasant experience when you have plenty of wool around.

This is Cascade Eco + in Lichen for the first of my IntSweMoDo2011 challenge, a seamless saddle shoulder sweater (a la Elizabeth Zimmerman) for my Dad.  It is a popular one on Ravelry and I totally understand why, this is probably one of the best work horse yarns around.  With nearly 500 yards per skein it is super economical and knitting with bulky yarn means this will be a speedy project.  Knitting up a sleeve in a day means I don’t feel bad casting on another very small project before starting the body.

Stonehedge Shepherd’s Wool is a yarn I stumbled across when looking for something for my sister-in-law.  It is made by a small mill in Michigan and is a wonderfully soft worsted wool.  Perfect for the Thermis cowl I’ve had my eye on for some time.  The colour should go nicely with my Ringwood gloves, finished just in time for the return of the cold.



An Early Solstice Present

11 Dec

Even though it comes year after year I am always amazed how overwhelming the holidays can feel.  Thanksgiving week included both Dougie’s 2nd birthday and a trip to Chicago to see David’s sister and her family.  Despite us all being sick with cold we had a wonderful time.  The knitted gifts went down a treat, and I even managed to squeeze in a quick Turn a Square for my dearest nephew.

My only complaint would be that it was too brief a visit, though I suppose that is always true with people whom you love and never see enough of.  Coming back home took a lot of adjusting.  Dougie gets quite attatched to people and is affected by separation as much as us adults.  With any luck we hope to be seeing them all again very soon.

November was a surprisingly productive month (though you’d never tell from this blog *cough cough*) and I managed to finish Cobblestone for NaSweKniMo.  It was a spur of the moment decision to make it a goal, but it really kept me going through all those rows of garter stitch in the round!  An early solstice present that was finished just in time for the snow.

I loved knitting this, but then again I don’t mind endless stocking stitch as long as it’s in the round.  I even made sure to do several swatches, which was good because I had to knit this on 3mm needles to get gauge.  The Harrisville Highland is a remarkable yarn, it bloomed and softened up a lot after a good soak.  I’ve read that it’s a yarn that won’t pill and I’m hoping it lasts for many years to come.

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for this jumper.  I hope it will be worn when we get our first chickens.  When he chops down his first tree.  That it will last through rainstorms and winters.  It’s a jumper knit with a different lifestyle in mind, and one I hope will hold a lot of memories.

For now we will keep dreaming of that life and that place, and it will keep him warm while the snow falls.

Little Red Idlewood

6 Nov

Thank you so much for the get well wishes, after a bit of rest I feel back to my normal self and projects have been flying off the needles.

With barely a yard to spare I managed to finish Idlewood with only 760 yards of Rowan Cashsoft Aran.  Thank goodness for blocking because it was very nearly a crop top.  It’s still a little on the short side and I am sad that it doesn’t have the pocket, but all the more reason to knit another one.

It was such a surprisingly quick knit, about a week from start to finish.  The Cashsoft yarn is warm and soft as a kitten,  I’ve even survived our first freezing wintery days wearing it with my autumn jacket.  While knitting I found it funny that the cowl is almost bigger than the rest of the garment, but I love snuggling up under it.  Plus, it looks cool.

I declare it the ultimate autumn layering garment, and will still be wearing it long after the snow falls.

October Round-up

31 Oct

With only days left in the month I completed Habitat, my fifth finished object of the month.

The finished project is fantastic, I love the cables and the polished look the decreases give, but my hands really suffered from this one.  I’m not sure if it was simply the tension of all those cables but I felt wrist pain near the end of this.  David’s already requested one for himself, but it’ll have to wait until I’ve done a few mindless knits in softer yarn to recooperate.  I think the colour and pattern will look great on my brother-in-law.

Overall, it’s been a very productive month.  I have finished:

  1. Andrea’s Shawl for my mother-in-law
  2. Drive-Thru for Dougie
  3. Scrap-happy Celebration for David
  4. Lovisa Armwarmers for sister-in-law
  5. Habitat for brother-in-law

I didn’t manage to finish my Socktoberfest socks, but I did learn something valuable: I hate knitting socks.  I love wearing handknit socks, but I get so bored after the first one.  To save myself time and anguish I will never knit socks again (watch me forget in another month).

We also managed to visit some awesome places this month, and I feel we made the best of the Indian summer we had.  It’ll be sad to go back to our “normal” routine.

For November I am going on a yarn diet.  My stash is not huge, but I definitely have more than I can get through at the moment and feel I treated myself more than enough in October.  I hope to knit some more gifts before December, but also something for myself for a change.  If I can manage to go a whole month without buying ANY yarn (even sale and sock yarn) I will consider it a great triumph.

Lovisa Armwarmers

25 Oct

I love that after two days of very leisurely movie knitting I end up with something as lovely as these.

These Lovisa armwarmers should be just the thing for my gardening sister-in-law.  While I think they turn out to be drapey and rather elegant knit in a sportweight yarn as intended I really like the snug warmth when knit in Cascade 220.  The brown and cream colouring reminds me of traditional nordic ski sweaters and hot chocolate with marshmallows.  All that’s left is to find the perfect pair of buttons to finish them off.

Mitts are so nice in that they gives you total freedom of movement in the fingers (great for knitting or planting fiddly seeds) but keep your hands warm at the same time.  I am very tempted to knit everyone in the family a pair of these.

And just what is it that I’m knitting?  The next in my line of holiday gifts, something for my brother-in-law.

Jared Flood’s Habitat hat using Blackberry Ridge medium weight silk blend in forest green.  Blackberry Ridge is a fairly local mill that prides itself on sourcing wool from the midwest.  I bought this at the Woodland Studio in Stoughton and couldn’t pass up such a  local yarn, with plenty of yardage.  With any luck I should be able to knit this hat and a cowl from one skein.

The pattern is one that I’ve been coveting since it’s come out.  I am a sucker for cables, despite the extra work involved.  Unlike the mitts this is not a project for mindless movie watching, as I found out after having to start over twice.  Now that I’ve got the cables started properly it’s going very smoothly and am feeling like a gift knitting machine.

Modeled Drive Thru

19 Oct

I am pleased to say that the temperature has finally dropped enough here in Wisconsin to pull out the sweaters again.  With a choice of either fair trade cardigan or the drive thru my little boy proudly chose “Mama knit jumper!”

It still takes a little sleeve rolling but otherwise it fits like a charm and should last him through the winter into spring.  We’ve already received a few nice comments on it, but what I love most of all is how he runs around shouting “Mama knit!”.  What more could a mother ask for?

If I made this again I’d love to use something a bit softer against the skin, like Rowan Cashsoft Aran since he does complain a bit about the itchy collar.  Not annoying enough to stop him running around, playing in leaves and having toddler fun.  I am so looking forward to many cooler days to come, just so we can put this on.

An Anniversary Hat

17 Oct

While many of you may be enjoying yourselves at Rhinebeck (and of course, I’m not the least bit jealous) we are having a tiny celebration of our own.  Today is our fourth wedding anniversary which we have dubbed the “wool and sheet music” anniversary.  With a little one it’s hard for us to make any grand plans, but we have been indulging in a few of our favourite things.  Delicious dripping poached eggs, good coffee, and pizza and beer at our favourite local pizza place.

We aren’t exactly the most romantic couple in the world.  And if the length of marriages correlated with the size of the wedding then ours would have only lasted about a half an hour, based on our thirty second long union in the basement of the Cook County Courthouse (which we found so amusing).  But I did want to show my appreciation to the man who puts up with my yarn buying and crazy ideas on a daily basis.

This is the appropriately named Scrap-happy Celebration Hat, using the generous leftovers from Drive Thru and also Andrea’s Shawl.  I loved the simplicity of design, but it made an incredibly cool hat with all the different colours.  The last light blue is a bit whimsical since I only needed a few rows to finish it.  I could have used the yellow, but thought it a shame not to squeeze a little bit of that beautiful blue.

The best part is he loves it, and says he can “feel the love in every stitch”.  I feel very lucky to be married to such a man, and hope to be knitting for him for many years to come.  Happy Anniversary, D!

Drive Thru and a Sock Solution

15 Oct

Things have been a little upside down at our house the last few days.  Dougie has been unusually grumpy and unable to get to sleep until very late.  My initial thought was to blame teething, but it could also be his way of telling us to slow down.  We’ve been on the go practically all month, and to be honest, it was nice to do nothing but sit at home for a change, reading books, making soup and just enjoy being together.

There’s nothing like an upset or sick toddler to kill productivity so I’ve been even more thankful for those little moments during the day that I can smuggle in a row or two.  I even managed to finish Drive Thru.

I absolutely adore this little jumper and am so grateful that the weather is cooling down enough for it to go out very soon.  The pattern was a breeze to follow, a very basic bottom up garment (either cardi or pullover) that will never go out of fashion.  I don’t know how many times I will realistically get this thing over my child’s head.  Even with the very loose and lacy cast off it’s a fight to get on, but I will cherish it as an heirloom for many years to come.

In retrospect I might have chosen a darker contrasting colour for the middle stripe, but I’m happy with the overall look and am pleased with how much of this sunny yellow and orange I have left in my stash for matching hats, scarf and mittens.

I also started my Socktoberfest socks the other night, in low light conditions, and in the morning I was a little bit shocked.

It is hard to get an accurate photo but they are definitely more Camo than I had imagined from the ball.  Now, I have nothing against the camouflage look, but it’s not really one I want to inflict on a friend.  Plus, being a loose knitter even going down to toothpick size 0 needles they are still way too big for size 7 feet.

There was this terrible sinking feeling of buyers remorse as I knit every stitch.  I couldn’t return the yarn now but hate wasting.  But I couldn’t think of any way of using the yarn that would make it attractive to my eyes at this point.  I was about to give up the ghost when I half jokingly asked the husband “Who would wear these?” and he replied “Hey, I would”.  Lo, and behold they fit him too.  A remarkably simple solution.  Amazing how quickly knitting goes by when you have a new sense of purpose.

The Mother-in-Law Shawl

3 Oct

I think this one project at a time rule is really starting to pay off, I’ve just finished Andrea, or, the mother-in-law shawl.

Considering the lace it was a very quick knit, and I enjoyed all those mindless rows of stripes.  I still run my hand over it, feeling all those rifts and valleys left by the K, P, K, K, pattern.  Hubby says that it’s what really makes it stand out.

I have a couple of quibbles with it: one is that the size is maybe a bit too small.  Loads of people commented on it in Ravelry but when I was knitting it I didn’t really notice until the end that, really?  That’s all?  It can still close at the front with a shawl pin, which I plan to buy off Etsy to complete the fully handmade gift experience.  The other is my choice of yarn, whose fuzziness from the angora really competes and drowns out the lace pattern.  But it so nice on the hand and neck that I don’t think she’ll really mind.

What I’ve learned from it is that gift knitting really is a joyful thing.  These little things would probably irritate me to no end if I kept the shawl for myself, despite the fact that I really love the pattern and the garment as a whole.  But giving it to someone else I know they won’t be analysing my yarn choices or eyeballing the little mistakes.  All I hope she sees is a lot of love and effort put into something for her to enjoy.  I can’t wait to make some more gifts.

Shalom – The Mama Cardi

29 Sep

If I could live in a climate that was a perpetual autumn I would, particularly for days like this.  Sunny, warm with a cool breeze, with the sunlight hitting at just the right angle to make for interesting shadows.  Perfect picnic and park weather.

Days like this are made for a short sleeved Shalom.  I am dubbing it the Mama Cardi, which is what my boy affectionally calls it.  Light but warm to throw on for a cooler day, no sleeves to dirty, and of course a breeze to knit, I deem mothers everywhere should have one or two.

Shalom was perfect as a back-to-the-needles knit because it was so speedy, bulky yarn and seamless knitting always helps.  The pattern is well written, though I did follow some other mods.  I shortened the twisted rib repeats and did some extra back rows, but kept the waist shaping.  It was really touch an go at the finish.  I did three rows of twisted rib for the sleeves and two rows garter.  I had about one yard of yarn leftover, yikes!  If I knit it again I would definitely go with another ball.

If I could I would knit a whole fleet of these in all different colours.  Some with long sleeves, some with short, it is a fabulous little garment.  I am so proud to have it as my first handknit sweater as a mama.