Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Living Large

This is what a pizza delivery guy told DH and I one night after we had spent the day weeding, mowing, mucking chicken coops and all the other joys that come with living in the country and were too tired to cook dinner. We both looked at each other, thanked him and agreed. We were living large. Now I feel even larger. Thank you Vogue Knitting.

So, instead of the swatching I should be doing....I want to share this.

You may remember it from this stage.

Needless to say, I am very excited. It is in the newest issue of Vogue Knitting which just hit my mailbox this morning.

I have been having a nightmare of a time trying to get the official page to upload to blogger so this is the best I can do right now.

Here is hoping you all had a lovely holiday and wishing you a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Let the Merry Begin

Baby bird is home and the other little bird will soon be winging her way north and then the merry can truly begin.

The packages are wrapped and the house is decorated. The cookies will be baked and the cards will soon be sent. Now I just have some last minute gift knitting and sewing. I never thought I would be at this point so soon, so the merry really can begin.

Happy Holidays Everyone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Glamour Shot

Just to prove I actually do some knitting once in a while I thought I would show you some Finished Objects that were just waiting to come back from college for their close ups. (We have very smart sweaters here, we send them to college).

This is a lot of texture work for me. But it is what she asked for and I am all about the pleasing. Doesn't the vest look like perfect "teacher" clothes? She starts her student teaching in January, so we are trying to fill her wardrobe with appropriate clothes. I think this little vest with a cute skirt or slacks will fill the bill.

The Aran pullover is my version of a sweater from A Fine Fleece(love this book). I worked it top down and made it saddle shoulder as well as some other modifications.

I am working on a pattern for the vest so look for it soon on my Ravelry page.

Giving Thanks

There was much merriment here as the girls were home and the baby brought her great friends from school. Maria and Aurora fit right in to the festivities at Touchstone Farm. With very little coaxing they were knitting away. At one point my dear husband was the only one in the house without knitting needles clicking. They were so quick and efficient I let them know that if that whole college thing was a bust they could set up shop here as my assistants.

I am sorry, we have no foody shots. Thanks goodness DD#1, the photographer, remembered Mom would probably want some documentation before the hoards arrived. Doesn't she take beautiful pictures? Trust me the meal was fabo and was much appreciated even by the vegetarian in the crowd.

This was the post Thanksgiving Day activity. Maria began knitting a hat, which she finished that first evening.

My girls look very serious but trust me there was much laughing and giggling. Caty worked on a secret project, Macy whipped out a hat while she shepherded her friends. By the end of the three days Maria had finished a hat and a pair of mittens, which, I am sorry to say, I also didn't photograph. And Aurora finished a wonderful scarf for a good friend.

All in all a great holiday.

What happens when you knit your way out of the "Black Hole of Despair"

 Things have been a little exciting around here this morning. Check out the latest...

There is a slight mistake, I did not knit the sweaters the photographer included with my picture for the  movie. The movie sweaters are on location. These are sweaters I knit before and certainly not in three days.

Still a nice story and I was so grateful for the opportunity (and that I actually finished them on time)!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lacy Picot Cardigan

Another new design. This one is a freebie. I designed it for an employee of Knit One North In Pittsburgh, always planned to include more sizes but never got around to it so... if it fits you great, if not, but you can figure out the math, even better. Enjoy!
 Lacy Picot Cardigan

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tyrolean Teddy Bear

We have a new pattern up on Ravelry.

Tyrolean Teddy Bear is a little ditty for your knitting pleasure. A sweet little whiff of stranded color work for the holidays. This pattern is available in a size to fit a very handsome teddy and a lovely toddler (sizes 2, 4,and 6) How about a matching pair for the cutie on your Christmas list?

This little guy started out as a tutorial for a stranded color work class I will be teaching at the South Hills Knitting Guild meeting this Thursday. So if you are in Pittsburgh and a member of the South Hills Knitting Guild I hope you can make it. Should be lots of fun.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Whoo! Hoo!

I got me new MacBook and I am wasting extraordinary amounts of time playing when I should be knitting or baking,  or cleaning, or exercising, or almost anything else you can imagine,  oh the joy! I think my honey is jealous and I know at least one of my kiddos is. The other one just doesn't know what she is missing yet. I am planning big things for this computer and I this winter. That is all.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why Housework Should be Avoided at All Costs

This is the outcome when your beautiful cashmere and silk shawl meets the power nozzle of the vacuum cleaner. Luckily only a small part of the yarn was sucked into the vacuum and I was able to extract it, but the needle is a goner. Which is a shame because I love these Lace Addi's and they ain't cheap.

I have been sewing a dress to wear to the upcoming Art Gala at our High School. I always remember why I love knitting so much and sewing not so much when I am in the middle of a sewing project. I love the portability of knitting, the wonderful fibers slipping through your fingers, the joy of watching the garment grow before your eyes.

Sewing is a much more solitary task (at least at my house where my sewing room is in the basement and all the action takes place upstairs) and wraught with landmines of mistakes that can't be just be pulled out and reknit. It you mess up your sewing it involves another trip to the very distant fabric store and the waste of all the time and effort you have already invested. It just seems so much more anxiety inducing.

And then there is the whole fit issue. Knitting is sooo much more forgiving of a curvy figure than the sewing. So I am sewing this lovely dress in a very un-forgiving fabric with the almost certain belief I will not be thin enough to show it to it's best advantage. So that's kind of looming over everything as well as next Thursday's deadline.The vision of what you will look like and the reality are often very jarring. Maybe this is why I have been sewing so many drapes, slipcovers and bags over the last few years and not so many garments for myself.

Oh and just to make sure the time crunch is absolute. I decided I would need a lace stole to wear with this new dress to this fancy Art Gala, and of course only the new yarn I just bought would look right with the dark brown fabric I choose, not one of the other 6 shawls I have already knit. So there is that little added weight on my shoulders.
I am counting my blessings that the vacuum only ate my needle and not the actual knitting, then I might have thrown in the towel and called "Uncle."

But who can resist the allure of a cashmere stole?  (This is one I finished for a good friend a while ago.) Mine will be in Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere color Wasabi. It is about half done and I wish I could just work on it to the exclusion of all the other obligations in my life. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Foggy Fall morning in western Pennsylvania.

And  cute little teddy bears in sweaters.

And now I am off to do some knitting homework. Just got a call from Stacey at Knit One where I teach. Can I teach Melissa Morgan-Oakes 2-at-a-Time sock technique? Well, I have never knit 2-at-a-Time socks but I am pretty comfortable with sock knitting. I bought her book recently but haven't had the spare time to give it a test drive. Melissa's at Rhinebeck so I hope I can reach her on Facebook if I get lost along the way. Her directions look very clear and I am thrilled to curl up with a great knitting book and learn a new skill. It's cold, rainy and so, the prefect day for baking (pumpkin bread) and knitting tiny socks.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Just a Quicky

Before they head off to Stitches East 2009, I thought I would show you the little darlings. I am reveling in their cutness and color. But I feel it was a momentary fling.

Look at the colors I pulled out of stash this afternoon. Browns and grays, but all good.
The brown is Shetland Jumper weight and the grey is Alpaca.

This is the view I enjoyed while knitting this afternoon. Tough job, but someone had to do it.

These dahlias are still blooming like it's August. Evidence that flowers don't watch the Weather Channel.
Found this beauty hanging out on the leftovers from a previous post. These sunflowers have really earned their keep this summer.

And the is a little preview of a coming attraction. More on this later.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Knitting My Way Out of A Black Hole

Perhaps you remember this,

which I fondly refer to as the "Abysmal Black Hole of Despair". It has been converted to this.

Oh Happy Day!!!

Which means that I have successfully made 5 of these. (Shhh, these will be worn in a new movie being filmed as we speak, so that's a bit exciting, especially since they are finished.) Yes, I did in fact knit 5 sweaters in two and one half weeks. Remind me to tell you about my vacation at the FedEx offices on Nantucket. Does that make it a "Fedexation"?

And the antidote for 5 of those, is a little of this...

Jade Sapphire 2 ply Silk Cashmere(55% Silk, 45% Cashmere) in Wasabi
Lace Anyone???

and some of this...

Pretty in Pink
and in Praise of Periwinkle
Nashua Handknits "Julia"

Teddy Bear sweaters making their debut at Stitches East. Just a little more finishing and pretty buttons from SouptoKnits , some pattern writing and they will be headed to Connecticut.

Can you see what a joy it has been to design and knit these little guys after the bleakness. I designed and knit both of these in 1 day. The excitement of color was overwhelming. I could not stop. Oh, the joy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just a Peek...

These crazy sunflowers came from one plant in my garden. I'm not sure about the shaggy nature of these flowers but they sure are prolific.

See this huge box of black yarn?

This is what I will be working on until my hands fall off. I have a secret project that involves me knitting all this black yarn as quickly as possible. Did I mention it is black.

I have been counteracting all the darkness by surfing over to Mary Jane Mucklestone's blog. It is the brightest, cheeriest blog. She is a Fair Isle queen so of course I find everything she does inspirational, but especially when all I am working with is black. Did I mention it is black?

Also, did I mention it is Bulky weight wool. My last secret project was worked on size 1's and 2's in fingering weight. The button band had 430 stitches. You can see where I am going with this right? I am now main-lining Aleeve and sleeping with ice packs on my hands. I have my physical therapist on speed dial. (I actually do... but because she is one of my best friends. The physical therapist part is just a nice bonus.) But in the end this will all be worth it.

This is all a sneaky way to get you over to Mary Jane's blog, you won't regret it. The fact that she lives in my favorite place in the whole world makes for great eye candy. My dad and I traveled to Maine every fall from Nantucket, spending two weeks driving up the coast checking out boatyards and boat builders all along the coast. One of his best friends lived in a beautiful little Cape on the water in Owl's Head and I fell head over heels in love with the whole area. I am planning to spend my last years in a garret above Camden Harbor, rocking and knitting. I have had this dream since I was eight years old and I still hope to find that garret.

Thanks Mary Jane, you have made a very bleak and dark knitting day so much brighter.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ah, Paris!

"Lipstick on my belly, ah Paris!!" Without a doubt the best line I have read all summer. It was written by Paul Child in a letter to his brother while he and Julia were posted in Paris after WWII. Gives you a whole new perspective on Julia. My Life in France by Julia Child is a must read for anyone who loves great writing and amazing food.

Will be back soon with pretty pictures and knitting to share. Too many secret projects right now.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Close only counts in horseshoes, Right?

Just a quicky to share some knitting and prove that knitting is happening.

A sweet David Austin Rose. (I know I should have the name but that requires more organization than I am able to muster at the end of a long gardening day.)
Crazy, self-seeded columbine in the veggie garden. I love the hand of god in my gardening.

So, new baby in the neighborhood, means new sweater on the needles. A wonderful friend of ours just had their second grandchild, a little girl, Allison. I almost always design little one's sweaters out of Cotton Classic. I am running low on all my baby colors so this will be a bright odd ball sweater with a hat and socks to match.

I can start the baby sweater because I am stalled on this little gem. This is Mace's Aran sweater from a few posts ago. I don't know if you can see it, but the whole garment is finished...except for about 1 1/2" on the last cuff. This is a discontinued yarn and normally I would be pulling out my hair, telling my daughter a 3/4 sleeve will be so hip, and an other lame excuses I can manage to cover up the lack of yarn. But inspiration struck at midnight last night.

The second shot is closer to the actual color but it was a bugger to photograph this color. I love the chunky cables down the front. They remind me of all the big heavy rope coiled on the wharves in Nantucket.
Back in March I submitted a few designs with swatches to Vogue Knitting. I haven't heard a word from them so I am really hoping they received all my work. Anyway, one of the swatches was made out of exactly the same yarn. Now if they will just mail it back to me I can unravel it and Mace will have a new sweater. It's all good.

Pretty isn't it? It is a shame Devon from Classic Elite was discontinued. It is a very nice silk, wool blend that offers amazing stitch definition. I like this yarn but obviously have used up every last yard of this baby. Stash busting don't ya know.

Will have a proper photo shoot when she returns from her gadding about the country. I think making her wear heavy wool in July will be just the thing to remind her to take her momma on her next road trip.

Back to the dirty dishes. Happy knitting and Go Pens!!!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Done, Done and Half way Done...

The really big done was that our Caty received her BS in Architecture from Carnegie-Mellon University last weekend. She did this grueling 5 year program in 4 1/2 years and earned University Honors while she was doing it. At CMU University Honors means she made Deans List every semester. Because she graduated in December there was a little question whether she would even come back for the ceremony. We are all so glad she did and we all got to be the proud parents and grandparents of this amazing young woman. Way to go Cate!!!!

Drew ran track the whole 5 years while also studying architecture.
And Cate's best friend Jen double majored in Architecture and Business. My money is on this generation. Not a slacker in the bunch.

Don't you love girls with attitude?

A little done that I am personally dancing a happy jig about is this...

This is the pattern a friend asked me to help her with after a knitting class I taught in February.
She bought this pattern and the necessary yarn in Nova Scotia a few years back. She loves this design and wanted to make it to commemorate her trip. This is, I am not kidding, the directions for four rows of knitting.

She asked if there was any way to make this easier to understand. Short of a nuclear holocaust I don't know if there was anyway to make this easier. I finally gave up trying to decipher the written pattern and just looked at the picture.

Obviously so much easier. Anyway, I studied the picture, threw it down in frustration, came back with renewed vigor, only to scream again, until... I finally buckled down this weekend and did this.

So I am feeling quiet smug right now. I kicked some knitting a** this weekend. I think I might deserve University Honors too.

So I went on and did the math and got her pattern all straightened out, even knit the first four rows to make sure all the math worked and everything was set up correctly. So this baby is absolutely done. (Well, at least my little part of it).

Now the half way done...Macy is on her way across the country and is about half way. Last we heard she was headed to Yellowstone, but that was two days ago. This is a trip she has been talking about for while. When she calls to tell us about her big adventures I can't tell you how jealous I am. It didn't help that right before she left she handed me Frances Mayes travel book. Now I am jealous of her and Frances Mayes. Have a blast baby.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I need your help!!!

We are very happy here at Casa Touchstone. Our little bird has returned to the nest, temporarily. Macy just jetted back from 4 months in the Cloud Forest region of Costa Rica. She had a marvelous time and was sad to leave her Costa Rican family who made her feel so welcome and a part of their family. It is wonderful to have her back. Next week she leaves for a cross country camping and hiking trip with a college friend. Lots of wanderlust in this little girl. Hard to believe she was the child I always knew was holding tightly to my hem. Her older sister was the curious one who never would sit still long enough to let me catch up to her. The tables have certainly turned. Mace has big plans to travel the world and absolutely no fear. Exciting times in this young woman's life.

Thought you might enjoy some garden shots. The Pagoda Dogwood is looking especially bridal cake-like, I think. I love this tree and have a wonderful husband who is very conscientious about circling it with fencing every Fall to protect it from our marauding deer. Thanks honey.

The epimediums against the stones is very effective don't you think?

And the poppies are starting their show.
This tree peony is spectacular. Unfortunately, they only look good for a few days, but what beauty. Even after the flowers have faded the structure and leaves are really beautiful so it offers a lot to the garden.

Now to the reason for the title.

I consider myself a pretty decent gardener, not great at remembering all the Latin but comfortable enough I know what the pros are discussing most of the time. I have had my fair share of successes along with vast numbers of failures. But this new one has me stumped in a profound way. See this gorgeous wisteria. I am unduly proud of this shrub. It is ten years old and just started to bloom three years ago. It is one of a pair that have pride of place in our front yard, dead center on either side of the front walk. And they are stunning when in bloom.
As I said they are a pair and while the first is blousy and fragrant as a wisteria should be the second looks like this...

And I don't know what I have done. I don't fertilize either of them. I do of course prune them regularly to keep a vining plant as a standard. I edge their beds and occasionally mulch, which I don't think I even did last year and have not this year. The buds on this one looked like they were swelling up and ready to pop but then nothing. absolutely nothing has happened. I don't think the plant is dead as there is still green in the stems when I cut them. So I am at a loss as to what I have done to this poor shrub. Anyone have any ideas or experience anything similar?

In other sightings we did have an Indigo Bunting visit the farm last week. He was very busy stuffing as many dandelion seeds as he cold squash into his beak. He spent about 25 minutes inhaling the seeds on the worst patch of lawn we own. Now I don't feel so bad about that ugly weedy patch. The Indigos love it.

I have also finished the Lacy little Cardi for Knit One North in Pittsburgh.

I am happy with how it turned out. Now I just need to write up the pattern, my least favorite part of designing, and get it to the store. I am sure it will look much better when Dawne models it and we have a shot with a real person wearing it.

Now, back to the garden.