2013 ~ no socks & lots of garter stitch

CA1 front

Color Affection knit in Titus

Sometimes knitters want a simple knit on the needles. I needed simple a lot in 2013. Thank you, Veera Välimäki, for the pattern Color Affection. Who knew I could love knitting garter stitch so much? Usually I find garter stitch boring, e.g. Stephen West’s Daybreak (seemed to go on forever), Grace Anna Farrow’s Twinleaf (currently on the needles and I just want it finished), and yes, Veera’s Stripe Study (the border seemed endless). The shawls are lovely, but don’t have anything interesting going on during the knitting of them. Color Affection holds some excitement when a semi-mindless knit is required. It must be the ever-changing short rows combined with three colors that place a nagging question at the back of my mind: “Will these 3 colors look as good together as I think they will?” Then, like magic, they do! The colors really do look as good together as imagined: possibly even better than imagined. I knit two Color Affections in 2013: the first in baa ram ewe Titus and the second in String Theory Bluestocking; I thoroughly enjoyed both projects. Excellent comfort knitting to calm the stress life throws at us. Many knitters must agree: the count for completed Color Affections on Ravelry is at 7786 as of this writing. That’s a lot of Color Affections.

Angel

one angel

At one time I was a sockaholic knitting one pair of socks after another. A pair of socks was always on my needles. I slowed down in 2012 knitting only 8 pairs of socks. In late January of 2013, I cast on a pair of socks, completed the cuff, knit 20 or so rounds of the leg, then…. I simply couldn’t knit another pair of socks. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the pattern, Cookie A’s Gothic Spire. I knit Gothic Spire in 2012 intending the socks to be a gift for my sister, but they came out too small and ended up in my sock drawer instead of her’s. The pattern is beautiful, but a bit on the tedious side – wrapping stitches to make way too many angel heads, halos and wing tops placed so the angels look the same when turned on their heads. I couldn’t bring myself to continue and frogged the project. Am I never to cast on another pair of socks? Unlikely, but I have no desire to knit socks any time soon. Strange.

It’s time to get back into some serious knitting by picking up my Celtic Icon, a cardigan knit in pieces from the bottom-up. I set it aside when I decided to take a break from having to seriously think about the stitches on my needles. Knitting a garment that fits one’s body well is a challenge. Patterns as written typically require quite a bit of adjusting to fit my body. The project is about 50% complete. I only hope my notes make sense when I’m ready to calculate the increases and decreases for the remaining shaping to be done; i.e. the upper body, armholes and shoulders of the sleeves. Looks like the shaping so far is okay. Only some more time and knitting will tell.

Advice from Maya Angelou ~ no expectations

In an interview from years ago, Maya Angelou says she has no expectations from life so she is never disappointed. One might think, “How can I have no expectations?” But, Ms. Angelou’s outlook on life makes perfect sense: having expectations sets us up for disappointment. We often expect too much from ourselves. She is saying take the journey and delight in the wonders discovered along the way. It is a given that we will fail from time to time; otherwise we are playing it safe. So where is the knitting in all of this….

Knitting is a journey. Celtic Icon is in the planning stages and soon to be on my needles – this beautiful hooded zippered cardigan designed by Fiona Ellis shown in the photo below from Ellis’s book, Inspired Cable Knits – a book filled with patterns for gorgeous cardigans and pullovers.

Celtic Icon

Photography © by Lindsey Maier published in Inspired Cable Knits © 2006 by Fiona Ellis. Photograph is of page 127. Used with permission of the author.

I’ve chosen Cody, a sport-weight 100% merino yarn, from Mountain Meadow Wool in the colorway Pansy for this project. Cody Mt MeadowIt knits up like a dream. The yarn is dyed in batches of 12 skeins. Each label notes the ranch that is the source of the wool. My yarn is from The Cole Creek Ranch in Douglas, Wyoming. Pretty cool. I have knit the first swatch (stockinette) and am thrilled with it. Not so sure about the second swatch with the cable pattern, but I’m only on row 10.

stockinette swatch

Cody may have too much character to show the detailed knot work to its best. Keeping fingers crossed. I’m not overly concerned. If it turns out I don’t like Cody for this project, I have yarn in my stash that will work and, sadly, will look for a different pattern for Cody.

So with my knitting, rather than expect the perfect knit, I will make my best effort and hope for a lovely wearable cardigan. I will embark on this adventure and have no expectations. This doesn’t mean there won’t be frustration along the way. I won’t know until I take the challenge of this particular knit.

This morning I took Lemon, a design from Helga Isager, off the blocking board – actually the guest-room rug covered with a sheet. All that remains to do is mattress stitch a couple of inches under each arm and weave in the ends. As can be seen here, I will easily finish it today. Amazingly, I still have no expectations that I will love wearing it. However, the more I think about it the more anxious I become. Keeping fingers crossed that it will be a knit I will enjoy wearing. Okay, now I’m beginning to expect Lemon to fit perfectly when I try it on later today. Arrrgh!

A note on Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of my favorite autobiographies. She is one of our national treasures – an amazing, gifted, beautiful woman.

Missing Mr. Mantis ~ late summer joys

Found this guyBrown Mantis on my hummingbird feeder three mornings in a row. Each morning I moved him to one of the flowering plants that miraculously survives in my seriously neglected perennial garden. (Confessions of a knitaholic.) When Mr. Mantis didn’t appear on the fourth morning, I felt a bit sad. Did he find a mate and not survive, was he preyed upon by a bat, or did he simply relocate? I’ll never know, but at least I learned that the male praying mantis doesn’t always become a meal for his mate and that this mantis may have been a Ms., not a Mr. More surprisingly, I found that the Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) has been observed preying on hummingbirds. Next time, the mantis gets relocated as far away from the hummingbird feeder as possible. Don’t think he would have had much luck snaring a bird, though. His brown camouflage was of no help on the red-topped feeder and his stature was on the small side.

Late summer spiders are amazing – big spiders building big webs. One morning large webs spanned all three exit/entries to the house. I kept forgetting to duck when I stepped off the back porch ending up with spider silk in my hair.Fall spider

The New Dawn climbing rose is in its last bloom of 2011. If I feed the poor bush and weed around it, maybe it will show signs of its former glory. I must put the knitting aside to care for one of my favorite climbing roses.Rose

The cool evenings and mornings have been wonderful. Sunday was cool enough for me to wear my newly blocked Summer Solstice, a pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier, knit up in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. I finally finished it. Love the fit, but may shorten the sleeves. Sure is hard taking pictures of oneself. Us regular folk look so much better in motion.

SS fini

I love working with the Silky Wool – a fabulous choice for this cardi. I have two more sweater’s worth of the Silky Wool. Deciding if Sigrun should be knit in the green or burnt orange. Silky Wool lt green

Silky wool burnt orange

Leaning toward the green.

No starting other projects, though; I have to get a couple of projects (my Ravelry project page) off the needles first (just a couple, not all) – 2 pairs of socks, a scarf (hibernating since March), a second hat (should have been posted as my second pattern a month ago), a shawl, a shawlette (Catkin by Carina Spencer), and a tank top (Zigzag top by Marianne Isager). What I’m hoping to finish in the next two weeks are the Catkin (a birthday gift) and Zigzag top. Kinda looks impossible since I need to cast on a pair of mittens to match the Laura’s Spirals hat pattern, socks I promised my car mechanic for his wife and a sweater for my granddaughter.

When can I possibly get to Lemon by Helga Isager, Marianne’s daughter? After seeing Helga’s Camomille shawl up close and personal, I want to knit that too. So many fabulous designs and yarn to go with them. What’s a knitter to do, but welcome the cooler weather and bring out the hand-knit socks, sweaters, shawls…….

A foray into the blogosphere

I am an avid knitter expanding, like so many others, into knitwear design. Figure if I start blogging about it, patterns will evolve into print. My first design is this shawl, but it has yet to manifest itself completely to the written page. In other words, I started writing the pattern and it waits patiently to be finished. The pattern name is Winging It. Used Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn, ~650 yd.

My first written pattern (hope to post it to Ravelry by week’s end) is this hat – Laura’s Hat. Very simple. It’s okay to start with a simple pattern. In fact, that’s probably better. Get a little experience under my belt. Big yarn: ~90 yards of Debbie Bliss Como. Most of my knits are in fingering or DK weight, but big yarn seems to be popular and who doesn’t like a quick knit….

now a free Raverly download

I have taken quite a few knitting classes, but no classes focusing entirely on how to design knitwear. I hope to bring home several new skills after my trip to Manchester, New Hampshire in October for Interweave Knitting Lab.

For today, this is about it. Just one more photo to share. Found this lovely on a potted plant near my side door.

Orgyia definita – Definite Tussock Moth – Packard, 1864

This catepillar eats tree leaves; however, there has to be an infestation for it to cause significant damage. So glad I can simply enjoy the critter for its very brief lifespan.