Can’t go back

Dave and I spent most of the month of June helping Mom move out of the house that she and Dad bought back in 1963 when I was three years old. It’s the house I grew up in, the house Dad remodeled over the years, putting so much of his heart into, the house we loved in and fought in and made up in, the house that was our home for more than 50 years. Dad left us in 2006, so isn’t here for this next step in Mom’s life, the step where strangers move in to our house, because we have sold it, and moved on (strangers, but a young couple with a three-year-old daughter—kismet?). It’s a very strange thing. I haven’t lived full time in that house since I was 18 years old, and stopped living there even part time a few years later. But Mom has lived there most of her life. It’s been… well, it’s been gut wrenching. No bones about it.

For several months now I’ve wanted to blog about the home that isn’t ours any more, growing up there, living there, knowing where my roots were, knowing my parents were still there, even when I was far away. Every time I try I get stuck, sometimes cry, then give it up. Finally I realized that photographs were going to have to paint this picture for me, and that a slideshow was the way to go. These 25 images will display in a random order, because… well, because that’s how I think of them: randomly. I wish I had more than one old photo in the group, but if I want to release this blog post today, which I do, then the one will have to suffice. It’s a good one, though. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s a photograph that my uncle took not long after we moved into the house. I was three, and was sitting on Dad’s knee, while we both looked out the living room window into the front yard. The rest of the photographs I took either in January or June of this year.

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And the pattern goes to…

Huge thanks to all who participated. Though quite a few people visited, not all that many actually participated in the contest, making the odds extremely good for those who did. Your answers were all terrific. I found that I loved them all, so couldn’t actually pick one that shone above the others, so I used a random number generator to choose the winner, who is…

Drum roll, please…

Sandy!

Sandy, I’ll be dropping the pattern into your Ravelry library in the next few minutes. I hope you enjoy it!

Here’s a little teaser for you. I hope to get the pattern for this simple little tank to my tech editor this week. Fingers crossed. In case you’re wondering, the yarn is Baah! Sonoma, a DK weight yarn that I knit up with US 8 needles.

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.
Margaret Fuller

Tantalus

I wore a lot of loosely cowl-necked sweaters back in the 1980s. A lot of them. Loved them. They were in style, so easy to find in the stores, which was important as I hadn’t started knitting all my own sweaters yet. Since I can’t wear turtlenecks or scarves (long and boring history), the attached cowls helped to keep me warm in winter. Later, when I lived in southern California, I rarely thought about scarves. For the most part, it just doesn’t get cold enough there to need them. Then my husband and I moved up to the Pacific Northwest. It gets a lot colder here, so I’ve been thinking about the sweaters I used to have with the nice warm, loose cowls attached. Add that to all the lace cowls I’ve designed that can be worn with anything, and poof! a sweater idea is born: a simple stockinette sweater with a lace cowl neckline.

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When I got the call from Louet I dug through various stitch dictionaries looking for just the right lace pattern for the cowl. One of my all-time favorite lace stitches is the lovely Japanese feather stitch. I’d tried at various times in the past to use the stitch on something, anything, but it always denied me. Until now. When knit flat, the stitches sway back and forth, making a lovely scalloped edge that is difficult to block unless it’s done just so. It turns out that when this tantalus-1simple lace stitch is knit in the round, the undulating edges aren’t a problem—since there are no edges.

The majority of Tantalus is knit with Louet GEMS Sport, and is designed to fit snugly to the body. It fits best with zero to negative two inches of ease. This means that the finished size of the sweater should match your bust (bra size plus cup size, for instance a 36B would be 38 inches), or be up to two inches smaller than your bust. The cowl is knit with larger needles, but with the finer GEMS Fingering yarn. After the simple stockinette sweater is knit, and the shoulders seamed, stitches are picked up around the neckline, and the cowl is knit in the round right onto the sweater. The rest of the sweater is seamed after the cowl is knit on.

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When I designed Tantalus to closely fit the body, I was thinking that this would make the sweater more versatile, as close-fitting tops fit more easily under blazers and other jackets. This expands the wear-ability of the garment. When worn with a blazer and neat slacks or skirt, this sweater easily can go from boardroom to luncheon out, to an evening on the town. For different looks it could also be paired with a fun floral skirt, jeans, a skinny pair of leggings, or whatever suits your fancy.

To celebrate the official release of the Fall 2014 Collection from Louet, I’m going to give away a pdf of Tantalus to one lucky winner. To enter, leave a comment to this blog post before I get out of bed on Monday morning, August 18, 2014. When you do, tell me what you will want to wear Tantalus with. I will put a copy of the pattern in the winner’s Ravelry library. To recap, winning entries will:

  • Reply to this blog post
  • Tell me what you would wear with Tantalus
  • Include your Ravelry ID, so I can give the pattern to you, if you win
  • Be posted before I get up in the morning on August 18, 2014

Photographs of Tantalus taken by Caro Sheridan in Boston, Massachusetts, © Louet North America 2014. Used with permission.

Don’t forget to visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour!

Aug 13: Kathy Owens, guest post on the Louet Blog
Aug 15: Laura Patterson, Fiber Dreams
Aug 18: Mari Chiba, Mari Knits
Aug 20: Rohn Strong, Rohn Strong Designs
Aug 25: Ruth Gargia-Alcantud, Rock+Purl
Aug 27: Varian Brandon, Brandon Knitting Designs
Sept 1: Handmade by Stefanie
Sept 3: Susanna IC, guest post on the Louet Blog

The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.
Jessica Hische

We have a pattern name!

Wow. You guys were all fabulous. Absolutely amazing. I loved all your ideas, your thoughts behind them. With so many fabulous entries, it was difficult to choose. It was also a lot of fun watching all your wonderful ideas magically appear on my blog.

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I finally managed it, though. Dave even added his opinions of the ideas that were shared. We finally winnowed it down to just a few that were on the top of both our lists. The final decision was mine alone, and after waffling for a bit I chose Niccy’s idea, River’s Edge, which she suggested because, “The pattern reminds me of standing besides a flowing river, and watching the current run over the rocks on the bottom of it.” I can just see such a place. Several of them in fact, from various travels and day trips I’ve taken over the years. I’ve let Niccy know that she won, and I’ll be putting the pattern in her Ravelry library as soon as it has been finalized. I’m also going to give a prize pattern to Leslie, who absolutely blew me away with the sheer quantity of suggestions, the ebb and flow of her mind as it was taken by first one theme then another, and because she likened one name idea to Neil Diamond’s Song, Sung, Blue, which was always one of my favorites back in the dark ages when it was a top 40 hit.

Huge thanks go out to you, one and all, for helping to name this pattern!

What was he doing, the great god Pan
   Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
   With the dragon-fly on the river.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Name, name, name… Name?

I designed and knit up this crescent-shaped shawl with the lovely Kilimanjaro (85% superwash Bluefaced Leicester wool, 15% nylon) yarn from Miss Babs, a light fingering weight yarn that’s offered in a huge 14 ounce, 1750 yard hank—that’s 500 grams and 1600 meters, to those of you who measure that other way.

blue shawl 1

I’ve written up the shawl in a total of ten sizes. Yes, ten of them. There are five different lengths, and I’ve done the math to give yardage for two different heights for each size. The largest size uses up the entire hank of yarn.

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The pattern is with my tech editor, and she promises its return soon. I have pictures. The layout has been finalized. It’s basically all done. I just don’t have a clue what to call it. I’ve wracked my brain for the last couple of months, and I get nothing. Nothing!

This is where you come in. Reply to this blog post with your idea for a name for my pattern. This next part is very important: in addition to the name, I want to know why you thought of it, why this design made you think of the name you are suggesting, what inspired you. Here’s another little bit: your name and reason must be left as a comment to this blog post by the time I get up in the morning on August 11, 2014. I live in the Pacific time zone, so that should give most of you the entire weekend, plus Monday morning, or so, maybe, I do sometimes get up at 5 am, so to be certain get your idea(s) posted as a comment to this blog post sooner rather than later. Ideas left on Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else will not be eligible to win. To recap: winning entries will…

  • Reply to this blog post
  • Include a name suggestion
  • Include a reason for the name suggestion
  • Be posted before I get up in the morning on August 11, 2014

What do you get out of this? Well, the winning entry gets a free pdf of the pattern. If you’re on Ravelry, I’ll drop it into your Ravelry library. If not, then I’ll email a copy of it to you. Make sure your email address is correct when you make your suggestion. If I love your idea, and can’t get hold of you, you won’t get your free pattern.

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
   It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
At first you may think I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you a cat must have three different names.
George Eliot

I miss my mind

My brain feels like it’s spinning out of control. Ideas are pouring in faster than I can knit. Such an array of yarn arrived on my doorstep last week that I can’t sort it out. It’s all wonderful. Twenty balls of yarn, each different from its brothers, each a different blend of yarns, all that contain at least some alpaca. I’ve been swatching. Some balls are more wonderful than others. One swatch has already turned into the beginnings of a light and airy scarf, yet others are pulling me into thoughts of cozy winter sweaters. The weather warms as we approach summer, and I find myself once again wanting to knit something thick and warm and heavy, something to really cuddle up in. I think I must be mad. Why does this happen to me every year when other knitters start reaching for the fine lace weights, or give up knitting altogether until the fall?

Here are the small swatch that I used as a proof of concept, and a truly horrible photo of the beginnings of the actual scarf. It has cables and faggoting, and is truly and completely reversible. There is no wrong side, so it will make a perfect gift for anyone on your list who invariably wears your hard work wrong-side out.

I’m still working on the neckline layout for the fun little top I knit with the lovely Sonoma from Baah Yarn, the one of the right. It’s more complicated than it looks, since the stitch count changes on every single row. It was much easier to knit than it is to describe.

The little cropped number on the left got itself finished, blocked, and its ends woven in within the last few days. It’s a little too small for Nicole. When I get the other sweater off of Rose, I’ll put this cropped green one on her. The green yarn will show off better on Rose’s lighter covering, and it will fit her better. This sweater is knit with yarn given to me by Teresa Ruch Designs. It’s a light fingering weight yarn, hand dyed, Tencel 5/2 held double. I tried knitting it up with just one strand of yarn, in the usual way, but didn’t like the results.

Heading back to the chalk mines… if I can figure out where I was before I diverted myself by writing this post. Gads.

Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.
Mark Twain

Tank view

I’m still plugging away at my most recent secret project, so there isn’t much knitting-related stuff that I can share with you at the moment. I can share this, though: why on earth does it seem faster to knit a single, complicated 350-stitch row, than it does to knit 35 simple ten-stitch rows? Why? I ask you. Although, perhaps it’s different for you, and I’m the odd one out. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Let’s see… I knit a sock! Earlier this year I knit the first sock in ages. Not only did I knit a sock , but it’s someone else’s pattern! It’s Glynis by Cookie A. Knitting something someone else designed is a huge treat. Here’s the first sock.

Glynis by Cookie A.

Sock one: Glynis by Cookie A. with STR

The sock is knit with Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in Raven-Rooky. I worked on the first sock when I was traveling earlier this year. I’m hoping to work on the second one when I’m traveling again in early summer. I was really hoping that the trip would be in May (so I could cast on for the sock sooner), but it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out that way. Drat.

Dave and I went to a local tulip festival on Easter Sunday. The flowers were incredible. I took more than 100 pictures, and I think Dave took about the same number. Here are a few of my better ones. (You’re right. There is a picture of lilacs there, too. The lilac trees are just starting to come into bloom. Hooray!)

Last, but not least, I’d like to make the official blog announcement of my latest pattern, Crocosmia. Crocosmia is a sweet little tank top with cabled sides and shoulders, and waist shaping. It’s knit in the round to the armholes, then back and forth to the shoulders. Best of all it’s on sale through midnight GMT April 24, 2014—which just happens to be my mother’s birthday! Enter the coupon code SUMMERISCOMING at checkout on Ravelry to save 15%.

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
John Muir

Spring!

It’s spring! The birds are singing, flowers blooming, trees greening up, grass is growing. Wow. Is the grass ever growing.

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The one tiny patch of lawn daisies is blooming like mad.

Lawn daisies

And with very little help from me, most of my paper whites are blooming, and sharing their glorious fragrance.

Paper whites

In fact, I completely forgot to plant these precious bulbs when I was supposed to, and only popped them into a pot on the deck a month or two ago. I really didn’t expect them to do much of anything. Only about half of them are blooming, but what a show.

On the knitting front, I’ve been constantly busy, but at times it doesn’t feel like I’ve done a thing. Take yesterday for example. Worked at my desk all day long, most of the time spent cranking away on a spreadsheet—a sheet that started out quite complicated and confusing, and was widdled down to something simpler, much easier to understand, and that actually provided me with the correct numbers. What a concept. In the evening I knit about three rows. Both are secret projects, so I have no photos. Naturally.

Also this week, I blocked this little sweater that I knit with Sage Sonoma from Mira at Baah Yarn. Mira gave this yarn to me when I saw her at Stitches West in February, and it’s already a sweater. With luck, I’ll get the pattern to my tech editor this week. Keep your fingers crossed.

Lace-topped shell

I have another top pattern knit up with Sonoma from Baah Yarn. That pattern is with my TE, and waiting to float to the top of her queue. The other one is a little something I knit up last fall. Instead of lace, it has cables—cables on the sides, and on the shoulders, but is otherwise worked in stockinette stitch.

Orange tank 3/4 view

With luck both patterns will be available soon. There’s also a lacy little cowl that I designed in January or something, and completely forgot about. I had it tech edited, took final pictures, did everything except edit the photos, name the pattern, do the final layout, and actually publish it. When listed out that way it sounds like there’s a ton left to do, but in actuality it’s probably about a day’s worth of work is all.

On top of all of this stuff going on, we’ve been unpacking. Did we move, you ask? Yes. We did. We moved one thousand miles north from California to Washington about 19 months ago, but most of our stuff was still in storage until the very end of February. It’s a long, boring story. Don’t ask. Having our stuff back is a bit like Christmas. Each box that gets opened contains old friends, some that we haven’t seen since before we staged our house for selling nearly two years ago. The house we’re in now doesn’t have anywhere near the storage capacity of the previous one, and so we’re struggling to get things unpacked and into new homes. Right now my dining room table (it’s here—yea!) is buried in stemware. The library is full, and some of the dishes have new homes. It’s so nice to see my depression glass again, and my collection of fish dishes, and the books, and…

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And then there are my grandmother’s dishes, and Dave’s grandmother’s bowls, and… I could go on, but I’m sure you’re already bored to death, so I will end this now with hopes, again, of blogging more regularly. Keep your fingers crossed on that one, but at the same time, don’t hold your breath.

Oh gift from God, oh perfect day
Wherein no man shall work, but play
Wherein it is enough for me
Not to be doing, but to be.
Longfellow

Name the green crescent

First off, pardon my dust. At least for a bit here, hopefully mostly today, the look of my blog will change periodically—either by drips and drabs or a lot at a go. The theme I had been using, which I’d labored over last summer to make look just so, updated—irrevocably reverting a large percentage of my changes to what the theme designer wanted, not what I wanted. So, I’m starting over with a brand new theme base. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Now for the good stuff…

Back in January I designed and knit up this bright green crescent with Aran weight Shanghai yarn from Teresa Ruch Designs and US 8 needles. I came up with the concept before going to visit my mother, took the yarn and needles along, and knit the whole thing in the evenings after dinner at her house in less than a week. Getting the time to get the pattern ready to be tech edited took longer than that. Getting around to blocking it even longer. I finally got it all done though, and have had it back from my TE for a while now. I finally took photos of it today.

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Since I knit this lovely green crescent in January I’ve been wondering what to call it. It has both cables and lace in it, which I love. It has some lovely semi-circular things going on, columns from the cables, points from the lace, and plenty of garter stitch to balance it all out and shape it into a crescent. I’ve been wondering and wondering, thinking and pondering, and have absolutely no ideas whatsoever. I need a name for the pattern before I can release it.

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This is where you come in. Leave a comment to this post with your idea (or ideas, if you have more than one), along with the reason you think this is the perfect name for this crescent. The reason is just as important to me as the name, so don’t leave that out.

The winning entry will receive a free copy of the pattern when it’s released. If you win, and you’re on Ravelry, let me know your Ravelry name so I can drop the pattern in your library. I will release the pattern as soon as I get a good name for it.

Naming contest runs from now through midnight Saturday, March 15, 2014.

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”
Ernest Hemingway

Sheyenne

If you know me at all, you’ll already know that I love lace, and I have a passion for crescent-shaped shawls. When I thought about my submission to Louet North America for their Spring 2014 Collection, I drew on an idea that had been floating around in my brain for some time. I designed a rectangular shawl years ago, In the Woods, that has this particularly lovely old fern lace stitch in it that I thought would make a beautiful crescent. Evidently, Louet thought so, too.

When I web-res-16244-640was told that they wanted it big, I was delighted to give them BIG. The inside edge of this crescent is a full 6½ feet, and the outside edge is 8¼ feet. The length gives this shawl a lot of wearing options. It can be draped gracefully over your arms, wrapped around your neck, the garter stitch portion can be folded over for extra warmth… the list goes on.

When putting the collection together, Louet decided not to include written stitch instructions… at least not for my design. If you haven’t knit lace from charts before, this is a good place to start. The chart for this is relatively simple to knit: there are only four different stitches in it, and it’s knit from the bottom of the chart straight up to the top, one row at a time, repeating the section that is outlined over and over until you get all the way across each row. Another thing that adds to the simple beauty of this lace is the wrong-side rows: they’re all the same, and go like this: knit two stitches, purl to two before the other end, then knit two more stitches. See? Easy! To shape the lace into a crescent, I use the same method of short rows often found in a top-down sock with a heel flap. If you’ve ever knit that style sock, the shaping will be second nature to you. If not, never fear, it’s easy to learn, and since in this section of the shawl every row is knit, it is simple to do. Honest!

I first saw all the designs when the Louet’s Spring 2014 Collection look book was released. Each design is showed to perfection with Caro Sheridan‘s beautiful photography. All patterns will be available in print at your LYS. If they don’t have the patterns at your LYS yet, have them contact Louet North America to get them. Patterns are all also available online on Ravelry. My pattern, Sheyenne, is also available on Craftsy and Patternfish.

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
 Among the river sallows, borne aloft
  Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies.
Keats