Friday, October 22, 2010

Knitting through Anxiety

 To paraphrase Elizabeth Zimmermen just a tad, I have been knitting like crazy and for a very good reason...
The Yarn Harlot recently posted about her daughter Sam going away for a while, where it was cold and so she, The Harlot, is knitting lots of warm woolies to wrap her loved one. Our youngest, Macy, has joined the Peace Corps and has been posted to Paraquay. Unfortunately with a climate very similar to Florida she won't be needing any knits from mom, but that doesn't mean I won't knit to get ME through her service. It is a 27 month commitment, so she won't be home until Dec. 2012. And yes, that is a very long time to be away from her family.

Here she is with everything she will need for the next 2 years!!! Now this girl knows how to pack light. She is in training in Paraquay and chomping at the bit to get posted to her final location which will happen in early December. The Peace Corps keeps them in training for three months, covering things like safety and security, working with the local culture and how to take a bucket bath, all important information. She is staying with a family outside of Ascencion, the capital city. They are very good to her and she promises me her "mom" worries that she eat enough, just like I do. Yes, mom's are universal in their belief that the amount you are loved is directly proportional to the amount of food prepared for you.

To help me cope with her being out of phone range, I have been knitting up a storm. The two pieces featured above are mittens for a class I am teaching at Knit One in Pittsburgh. "Latvian Mittens". The pink is Malabrigo Magenta and peach is something from my stash. The blue and coppery colors are Madelin Tosh Sock in color Afternoon and Malabrigo Sock in Primavera. Both were knit in the round on #1 and 2 DPNS. They both include Latvian braids. There are no thumbs because we are going to cut open the thumbs during class. I think it is a perfect use for those of us with too much sock yarn in our stashes. They are warm and silky and feel great on your hands. I'm also planning a pair of gloves to make out of Malbrigo Tiziano Red and some old kettle died sock yarn I found on my stash. These will be based on Selbuvotter  designs and techniques.

I'll keep you posted on the Peace Corps volunteer and the knitting I complete while she is saving the world.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another one to check off the list

Last weekend was a very big weekend for our family. Our baby, Macy, graduated from Swarthmore College. Not only did she graduate she also was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She doesn't realize what an accomplishment this is, but I am inordinately proud of all the hard work and effort she put in to her education. She also received her certification in Biology, so she achieved quite a bit with this graduation.

Macy was fortunate to meet some fantastic young women as a freshman and they are still her best friends, supporting and loving each others as sisters. The girls traveled to the far reaches of the world their junior year and brought back all their amazing experiences to share. They will now be flung out in to the world, Maria to Korea, Apolline to NYC, Aurora to Philadelphia, and Caitlin to Vermont, and Macy to the Peace Corps(in south America, she hopes). Their futures are bright and fresh and so full of promise. It was a joy to spend time with them and their families. I was bursting with love and pride for all of them.

The girls scheduled a get together for all the families the night before graduation. They then took time to thank us for our support and let us know where they were all headed and their immediate plans. It was a lovely evening with an international flair, as Mace is the only one with American roots.

There was also time for pictures in the Big Chair, a Swarthmore icon. It sits on Parrish Beach in front of the original building and every senior takes time for photos in the Big Chair.

Another tradition at Swat is that the seniors choose a rose from the Rose Garden to wear on their gown the morning of graduation. Normally no one is allowed to pick the roses in the rose garden but the morning of graduation the volunteer staff cut mountains of roses and the seniors pick their favorite. We made a point of checking out the options the night before.

One of my favorite things about Swarthmore is that the whole campus is an arboretum so the gardener in me was always happy to make a run out to pick up the little one. I loved arriving early and just wandering the campus and learning new cultivars. The Scott Arboretum staff gives all incoming freshmen a bulb and asks them to plant it anywhere on campus and to look for it in the spring. When they graduate they are all handed a small potted shrub, Itea, along with their diplomas. Obviously, this is my kind of college.
This is part of the small Scott Arboritum garden near their offices.

Graduation is always held in the amphitheater, rain or shine. We were very fortunate to have beautiful weather.

Before Graduation...


Amazing, right?

  Patiently waiting her turn.

 Yes, the moment we have all waited for.

The Graduate

The proud parents

Macy is leaving Swarthmore with a well earned degree, an incomparable education, a lifetime of memories, the best of friends and the confidence to go into the world to make her mark. Her journey has just begun.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

We had a lovely afternoon. Unfortunately, my little ones were away living life large, but we did the best we could. There were pretty flowers from my garden, steaks, mashed new potatoes, asparagus, beans and broccoli with shallots and a salad made with lettuce also from the garden.

The grande finale was this yummy glazed chocolate tart with graham cracker crust. I also made homemade strawberry ice cream which was a wonderful side dish to the very chocolatey tart. No pictures of the ice cream as it disappeared before documentation.

Missed you girls!!!!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

I just returned from a two day getaway with a friend to the Virginia Historic Garden Week.  If you love gardens and can get away the third week in April you should make the time. The whole state opens their gardens and homes to welcome one and all. It is put on by the Virginia Garden Club as the largest fundraiser of the year. They in turn use the funds to restore historic gardens around Virginia. I have been going since 2001 and it is one if my favorite rites of Spring. So one with the tour...

The house pictured above was near Middleburg,VA. Jackie O was known to jump a fence or two in this part of the world. (OK, that didn't come out the way I intended. It is horse country and she lived here for a time.)

This is the back of the same house, crazy dormer, anyone?

and this is the porch.

I loved these espaliered pear trees in one of my favorite gardens. Must copy this at home, although I wonder if our snow loads would destroy a free standing espalier.

A magnificent Japanese Maple in the same garden.
Beautiful container gardens...and the floral displays inside were gorgeous. The women of the various garden clubs create the floral arrangements and they are stunning, but no one is allowed to photograph the interiors.

Wouldn't you just love to spend an afternoon under this pergola?

A glorious tree peony near Charlottesville.

And because there has been new Print of the Wave shawl. Eunny Jang's pattern made out of Jade Sapphire Cashmere Silk and yes, it is that soft!!! (although the color is a little off here. It is called Wasabi and that's exactly the color.)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Thus is especially cluttered because I was in the midst of moving when I decided to photograph it! 

Apparently I will do anything to avoid sketching. Knitting swatches for design submissions I am all over that, the sketches to accompany the swatches, not so much. So this is what I am pondering this morning. In our old house I always had this bulletin board above my work space. I considered it an inspiration board. I would cover it with postcards from museums, photos of gardens, tear pages from magazines, as well as the swatches I was contemplating.

When we moved into our new house, 10 years ago, I thought the inspiration board was too messy and hung it over my sewing table. I hung a favorite Jamie Wyeth print of the coast of Maine over my desk. Now here is the rub. My back is to that inspiration board 90 % of the time I am in my office. I love the Wyeth print with a deep abiding passion, the ocean, the colors, the solitude, they all speak to me.

But without my inspiration board I don't think I feel the push to create at the same level. My swatches are OK. The ideas are being published. But I think I need to stir things up a bit. So rather than get to the sketching I spent thirty minutes changing up the board and print. We will see if this changes the quality of my work. Can't hurt.

Now I feel a little overwhelmed with all the visual clutter in my line of sight. Maybe this wasn't the best idea.

The other ideas I have to increase creativity around here involve moving my office up two flights of stairs and avoiding Facebook. The move needs to happen. I am going quite squirrelly in my basement office without windows. Facebook will have to happen, I just have to wean myself.

As proof of the sock knitting I talked about earlier I am on my second pair of simple socks. They are pretty boring but oh so warm and cuddily.

And I have been working on a new design for a stole for the DD#2 to replace a very pretty shawl I knit for her a few years ago which was unceremoniously stolen in college. It is a delight to knit. The yarn is from Creatively Dyed Yarn, her cashmere and merino, yummy. If it turns out well I will publish the pattern. I am very happy with the design and the yarn so can't wait to finish.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010 Ravelympics

I finished my own personal Ravelympics project on Sunday night while watching the hockey game. I love to knit the Norwegian Ski Team's Olympic sweaters for the games or as close to the games as I can. I am not being unpatriotic. I would knit the American Ski teams sweater and probably will now that I have seen a glimpse. It is just that the Norwegian Ski Team sweater is usually a real knitting challenge.

See, I did Nagano...

I also did Lillehammer, but gave it away to the American Red Cross for a fund raiser that year. So I don't have a picture.

I didn't join any of the official Ravlympic teams because I started my project before the Olympics began. My intention was to have this sweater finished in time to wear it while I cheered on the athletes, from my living room.

I took the Norwegian Ski Team sweater and did my own thing. I wanted a cardigan because I am a woman of a certain age and find cardigans more flexible for my lifestyle. I also changed the wool. Now before the big reveal I want to prove that I can knit with the yarn I chose and the garments have turned out lovely in the past.

For example


I knit this beauty for a good friend and she loves it. It looked exactly like I imagined it would and all was right with the world.

Here is another I knit for myself out of the same yarn. It is again a very nice sweater, extremely warm and cozy.

And here is one I wear at least twice a week in the winter and have for years and it is wearing quite well.

This is all to say I have never had a problem with this yarn, in fact I have always been  more than pleased with the outcome.

 This time, not so much. I think the problem is the incredible amount of plain stockinette stitch with no color work until the yoke area. All the plain, one color stockinette looks sloppy and every stitch shows in an unflattering light. I don't know if I had gone down another needle size if that would have made a significant difference. I just don't know what the issue is but I am not pleased.

I didn't use the Dale yarn that was called for and I am not regretting that decision but I am not happy with the fabric I created for this sweater.

That being said, I love how this fits me, so there is an up side. Oh, and the color looks good on me too.

So here is the big reveal...

and look at how well the fronts match, always important, so visible.

Kinda blah don't you think? I will wear it, because it fits so well, but I am disappointed.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


This is what greeted me this morning when I went to feed the chickens...


Now I am not a squeamish girl, snakes, spiders, bugs, bring 'em on. I am a gardener, you can't gross me out. But, Rodents of Unusual Size, yeah, not so much. I have a thing about  rats,(don't even like to say their name) so their cousins are not my favorites either. I know some will think he is kinda cute and looks a little scared. Well, he scared the day lights out of me this morning and if he didn't want to have his normal sleep time interrupted he should have stayed out of my chicken coop. I think he was looking for a free egg breakfast so I have another reason not too be thrilled by his appearance. Those are my eggs, damn it.

I have dispatched the cabana boy, alias DH, to solve this little problem of country life. In our house this comes under the "boy" job description. I do stinky, athletic laundry, he does rodents. It works.

And don't even talk to me about using the fiber, ick!

The girls are fine, they didn't even seem to be aware of their house guest. Just like the uppity princesses they are, my chickens are terrible hostesses.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A new way of looking at socks...

This is a small portion of the vast mountain of sock yarn at Embraceable Ewe

I have a new philosophy on hand knit socks. Previously, I collected all manner of beautiful yarns and dreamed up gorgeous lace patterns to go with said beautiful yarns or found amazing patterns on the web. Thank you Cookie A, Ann Hanson, Nancy Bush and Charlene Schurch, to name a few.

But here's the thing...while all these patterns and yarns are amazing they are not being knit by me. And we have 3 feet of snow on the ground. So right now I just want socks, mindless, vanilla socks. You know the kind, you cast on 64 stitches, work a little rib, some stockinette, get a little thrill turning a heel, cruise on down to the toe and Wam, Bam, Thank you, you have a pair of socks.

I have too many deadlines and gotta have done knitting to indulge in beautiful sock production. My kids have drawers full of all my intricate lace work. Me, I just want to be warm the rest of the winter. So for the immediate future this is what my socks will look like...pretty yarn, boring pattern, but oh so warm.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where's it Gonna Go????

We already have this much snow on the ground...

 and they are calling for up to 24 more inches of the white stuff, tell me where is it going to go? We don't have any more room to push it in to piles, the deck looks like it will collapse at any moment, the dog doesn't have  a clue where to go. I hear they could use it in Vancouver though.

Just for scale I thought Duncan could give you an idea of what DH has to deal with. He hasn't even cleaned the driveway today and already there is about 4".

 School is going to June 14th according to the updated calendar we approved at a school board meeting last night. Poor kids, bet they never pray for snow again.

On an up note I have finished knitting the Vancouver sweater now there will be steek cutting and button bands, sewing and blocking before the final reveal.

Back to work...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snowmageddon 2010

I know I have been ignoring the blog, but Facebook and Ravelry are so absorbing. I will try to be better. I have been told by one of my two readers to get a post up, so here goes...

Western Pa has definitely been slammed with the same snowmageddon that is hitting the rest of the mid-Atlantic.

I don't think we will be dining on the deck anytime soon.

Or grilling for that matter. Funny thing is, DH grilled a hamburger on this very grill just last Friday... before the snow arrived.

While walking out to feed the chickens today Duncan decided he couldn't be more than 6 inches behind me. This is all well and good when we are just walking, not so great when we are trudging through thigh high snow. He went down while I brought my foot up and off came my boot, to be buried in the 2 1/2 feet of virgin snow. The chickens are in a part of the garden that doesn't see the plow so the snow is very deep and fluffy. Needless to say my boot was lost in the abyss. So now I am down on my hands knees searching for the the blasted boot. Duncan thinks mom is playing a wonderful new game and wants to help. Pouncing, pouncing, pouncing is fun, mom. Found the boot and of course it is full of snow. Bang the boot on the feed bucket and try to squeeze my snow encased foot into the boot. Thank goodness for handknit wool socks. My foot never got cold or even a little wet. Got to make me some more of these socks.

In the build up to the Olympics I got the hair brained idea to knit myself the Norwegian Ski Team's Olympic sweater before the Vancouver games begin. So I could wear it for the opening ceremonies. Crazy, I know...

I didn't want to use the Dale yarn so I have substituted some gorgeous Rauma Finnulgarn in colors that are close to the original.

The body is finished and the sleeves are almost ready for the color work. Doesn't look like I will be making the opening ceremonies but I hope to be wearing this little gem during the games. I also made it a cardigan. Finding cardigans more to my liking these days. So will have to think about how I would like the front bands to look. Maybe some more X's and O's.

I will be demonstrating crochet steeks and cutting your steeks at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival this Saturday. I thought I would leave the neck steek closed until the festival. It is short and will be easy to crochet and then cut open on an actual sweater. I have also been knitting lots of plain swatches for attendees to crochet and cut on their own.

Not too thrilled with how uneven the stitches are on this sweater. The color work is OK but the plain stockinette looks for yuck. I am hopeful a trip through some warm water will make the yarn bloom and all will be right with the world.

I have a long queue of knitting to start but have some secret knitting that has priority right now, so the knitting will be a little spotty for a while.

Hope there won't be anymore snow pictures to share either.

If you are in the Pittsburgh area and can dig yourself out try to make it to the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival. I will be near the Knit One booth on Saturday afternoon. Stop by and say hi.