30 March 2009

A Pace Near Madness

Dear Mandella,

My Ravelry shop is open, they've got me set for uploading PDFs and actually charging for patterns now, and I'm crazy busy with all sorts of other things so I can't get to it all that fast!

I had a migraine all day on Saturday, so I was able to get only a few things accomplished at home. Then on Sunday I went to my mom's house and started the process of skeining up some washable merino (dk weight) to dye. I have 13 skeins, each about 8 oz. I will skein them up into 26 skeins @ 4 oz each, then dye them. After that I have 10 lbs (thats 20 skeins at 8 oz each) of the Purlie Fat Sock yarn to go after in the same way.

On top of that, I worked a bit on the simple quilt that is for one of my sisters. I'm about 1/3 of the way to having it all constructed. It will be queen size (not your queen, of course -- she's far too small -- but ours, which is about 86" square).

Oh, did I hear a mention of laundry? Well, I've got most of it clean and waiting in baskets until I can run a vacuum (Hoover, to you) to pick up all of the black hair from the dog that has made a thin coating over everything. (Note to self: Black dog + beige carpeting = Lots of vacuuming.) After the vacuuming I would have some room to sort and fold all of the clean and dry laundry. (Yes, I do it on the living room carpet as I watch television -- you have to do something to make a dreary task less so.)

I may not have to put in as much time at the stationery shop this week. It means less pay over all, but also more time when I'm needing it. I'm going to try to get the yarn dyed by the end of this month.

Oh, did I mention I've been given a new task at my full-time job? It's creative -- coming up with some logos/images for promotional materials. At last! Such a dearth of activity, then the big boss comes in with two Blue Suits and needs actual work done! I'm all a-flutter.

Which likely explains why I can't sleep. At all. I've had an impossibly long day (that included a 25-minute walk, a 60-minute workout, plus a meeting at the stationery shop) and I just can't sleep.


Did I mention that the new cotton top I'm knitting is coming along well? I'm calling it Sweet Honey because of the Flight-of-the-Bumblebee stitch used in the center panels and also because the color is a kind of honey-beige. Or beige-y honey. I don't know. I just like it. And I've got the pattern all worked out now, so all that's left is to finish the knitting. I'm at the part where I increase again from the waist up, so I've got about 1/3 of the body knit (it's being knit in the round -- can't have side seams on this one or it will be too bulky). I slogged away at it through four episodes of The Sopranos this past weekend. If I continue knitting as I watch that series, I should be done with the knitting by the time I'm done with the entire series (I'm through Season 6, Pt 1, episode 9 so far).

In the meantime, I've got at least four other projects going and two more in my head. I need more hands.



26 March 2009

My Ravelry Shop is Open

Ok, I admit that I’m late in coming to this, but I have a shop open on Ravelry now.  Here’s the link:


There are four free patterns available:  Dishcloth Socks, Garter Linen Scarf, Quill Lace Socks (from knitty.com), and Waffle Stocks.  The Summer Sunner is there as a place-holder (you can purchase the pattern from String of Purls) until we get the whole “paid patterns” part worked out.

Right now the patterns are linked to various places where they are available for free – just print them out from the online site.  But I’ll soon be able to upload PDFs of the patterns which will include my illustrations and my preferred layout (for easier reading).



23 March 2009

Garter Linen Scarf

This is done with two skeins of Manos silk blend yarn, one in a solid blue-grey and the other in a variegated that included the same blue-grey color. On a US 9 needle, I cast on an uneven number of stitches and knit back and forth as follows:

Row 1 (solid color): *K1, Sl 1 with yarn in front* across, end K1. Turn work.

Row 2 (solid color): Purl all sts. Turn work.

Row 3 (variegated color): *K1, Sl 1 with yarn in front* across, end K1. Turn work.

Row 4 (variegated color): Knit all sts. Turn work.

Gauge is pretty much unimportant, but with this I'm getting about 4 sts to the inch.

21 March 2009

Another One in the Family

Dear Mandella,

This is the sweetest picture of the day for me. It's my 10-year-old niece and she is showing me how she can do the knit stitch. She is taking a class at her school to learn to knit. I'm so pleased!

We all gathered at my mom's today to celebrate various milestone birthdays. My twin sisters celebrated their 60th (which is actually tomorrow), and that was doubly special (no pun intended) because one of the twins, K, emigrated to Canada. She arrived with her beau (E) this past Tuesday so that they could drive into Iowa and celebrate K's son's 40th birthday. Then they came back so that we all could descend upon them today at my mom's house. We even had Aunt Mary come over, which was a real treat for everyone because they don't get to see her as often as I do.

My niece's birthday was actually earlier in the week (same day as K's son, actually) and she was to have had a skating party today, but because K was visiting she gave it up so that they could visit us in Omaha. I made for her a little shirt and shorts, and then I made a stuffed animal for her (a dog) from the leftovers. I also made a set of Crane notes for her with her name on the front in 10 different styles/fonts. Honestly, I don't think she was crazy about them, but that's just how life is. (She was over the moon about a birthday card from one of my other sisters that contained CASH.)

Anyway, I'd gotten out some of my knitting to show my mom and that's when my niece reminded me that she'd learned knitting at school. So, we talked about circular needles and holding two strands of yarn together and all of that kind of thing. On the scarf where she's knitting a row, I'd shown her how to slip-with-yarn-in-front as a preliminary to showing her the purl stitch. It's all a bit clumsy in her hands yet, but you could tell she was feeling the magic of it, the absolute joy of knowing "the code."

Oh, and my Aunt Mary wore her scarf -- the one I'd knit for her -- so that everyone could see it. My little niece was in love with it. She loved the lace, she was intrigued by how I worked in the garter edging, and (get ready for it) she loved the colors. She loved all of those blues. She said they looked like the sky and mountains.

Oooooh. Another one in the family. I'm so proud!



Summer Sunner Pattern

Summer Sunner
Sleeveless pullover worked in King Tut mercerized cotton on US 7 needles.
The sample shown (size 36) is in three colors but you can certainly knit it all in one color if you like. It is written for sizes 36 through 60 (those are actual measurements).
Pattern is available at String of Purls . Visit their web site for a toll-free number to call. They can mail the pattern to you.

20 March 2009

Flight of the Bumblebee

Dear Mandella,

you have to click on this to see it larger. I've been having some issues with uploading and downloading photos and emailing them (they sometimes get stripped by overly suspicious mail servers). Anyway, this is my latest favorite stitch. It's from the Big Book of Knitting Stitches, but they had a bit of a mistake in the directions, so I worked it out and am putting it here along with my detailed photographs (never mind my short nails!) of how that long stitch is worked.

I'm using this for a summer top that I'm knitting with King Tut cotton on US 4 needles.



PS - Hugh Laurie is a GOD!

14 March 2009

Why We Block

Dear Mandella,
At left you can see a photo of a summer top that I'm in the midst of designing. The back is done. It is the one that is blocked and drying on the towel. The front is (obviously) the one that is in progress on the needles.
I don't quite know how it happened, but I had knit a gauge swatch with this yarn (King Tut mercerized cotton on US 7) and came up with 18 sts and 24 rows to 4" square in stockinette stitch (unblocked). However, in the course of knitting the simple lace pattern shown, I didn't get my gauge until I blocked it. Seriously.
I admit it: I am a fan of not blocking. I supposed that's why I mainly knit things like hats and socks that pretty much get blocked in the wearing, even if they're lace patterns. And I hate to have to find space to lay out the piece that's being blocked. Have you had much success in finding a place where neither the dog nor your spouse will disturb the item being blocked? I have found a rather unlikely place: the big sofa in my living room. OK, it probably helps that I've usually got it piled up with laundry that needs to be folded, but I think the main reason it works is because it is not facing the television. (Even the dog likes watching television!) Still, the cushions add a bit of roundness that I'm afraid will be much to my dismay at some point, and I dislike the idea of having a damp towel on the upholstery. Maybe I can figure out a way to rig the towel to rest above the sofa. (Yes, and maybe I'll win the Powerball Lottery, too!).
At any rate, the photo above is a perfect illustration of why blocking is necessary. I'm about halfway up the gold portion on the front. I'm looking forward to posting the photo of the finished product.

Kimono Scarf Done

Dear Mandella,

Here is a photo of my Aunt Mary in her new scarf. The "Kimono Scarf" (about half the width of the Kimono Shawl in Folk Shawls) was knit on US 7 straights with five balls of Mirasol Hacho (100% merino wool, 137 yds per hank) in color #306 Deep Blue Ocean. The scarf is about 8" wide and about 64" long. I worked it with 8 garter sts on each side of the main pattern.

The lovely lace pattern gets lost in the high constrast of this variegated yarn, but it's soft and it's my aunt's favorite color.

And it's another item I can cross off my list!

Aunt Mary is one of my favorites. She tells some of the best jokes, she sews and crochets, she can bring organization to any amount of chaos, and she's a hard worker. She's in her 80s and still lives on her own. About the only thing she can't do is drive.

When we visited Aunt Mary she always made us feel as if she'd like nothing better than to have all of us kids running around her house. Of course, she and her husband (Uncle Ed) mainly sat in the kitchen with my parents; they drank coffee and talked a lot while my brothers and sisters and I explored every inch of her home. Her bathroom had lavender walls, deep violet guest towels, and a mosaic tile that used violet in it. It was magnificently exotic to us!

After my dad died, Aunt Mary came to the little town where I grew up and helped my brothers and my sister Jodie get all of the accounts set up and on a computer with the family's telephone company. She helped to sort out a lot of stuff. She'd worked as a bookkeeper of some sort all of her life. In fact, I think she was working up until she was 82 or 83 years old.

Aunt Mary might be getting older, but there's not much stopping her!


02 March 2009

Winter's Last Hurrah

Dear Mandella,

We've had a fairly mild winter compare to other years. There have been some heavy snowfalls, but no blizzards (i.e., snow storms with wind speeds in excess of 35 mph and visibility of 500 ft or less and all of that lasting at least 3 hours), and none of the storms have caused massive power outages or road blocks. We just had another snowfall on Friday/Saturday which left about 4" of snow at my house. By the time I went out around Saturday noon the main roads were merely slushy, the Interstate highway was bone dry, and the sun was shining.

Still, I could have lived a full and complete life without this latest snowfall and without the attendant chilling temps. I seem to be fighting a cold or flu virus. I had a sinus migraine all day on Sunday (it went away around 10:00 p.m. and then only after another dose of Exedrin and my husband's chai), then today after lunch it started in again with a feeling of nausea as well as aches all over. Yes, I could have lived a full and complete life without all of that, too.

I'm knitting on several things, among them the Kimono Scarf, the Manos del Uruguay scarf, and a sleeveless cotton pullover that I haven't photographed yet. On top of that, I've been working on quilt tops at my mom's. The king-sized one has the binding on, my mom is hand-stitching the binding to the back of the queen-sized one, and that just leaves the fat quarter quilt and the "Jane Austen" quilt that need bindings.

I also started sewing a simple top and pair of shorts for my niece Marky who will be 10 in March. We are planning a big family party to celebrate the twins' 60th birthday as well as Marky's birthday. My sister Kathy will be coming down from Canada. Her son (my nephew) Mark, who lives in Iowa, celebrates his 40th birthday in March as well. It's a big year for milestone birthdays in my family.

So, I am waiting for the cold weather to give way to warmth and I'm waiting out this cold or flu or whatever virus that seems intent on taking up residence in my body. Sadly, I don't have much patience for hand work when I feel this poorly.

I hope spring is well on its way to your house. Thanks for the updates. I'm thinking about you and hoping you all are well.