Friday, June 15, 2012

Still a bit stalled

Look!  Another post!  Looking ahead at my weekend, I realize it's probably now or never.  Younger Daughter turns eleven today, which means a small slumber party - we're taking what Older Daughter used to call a "giggle of girls" out to the movies, then pizza, then sleeping over (four in total, including Younger Daughter, so not too bad at all).  Tomorrow will be recovery time, and then on Sunday, there's a feis in Orange County.

I can't believe it's been eleven years since Younger Daughter was born.  I lay in bed this morning, at 7:30, thinking that eleven years ago at that time, I had just gotten to the hospital, and the nurse had just called my doctor, and I was just hearing her say, "If you want to see this baby arrive, you need to get here now."  She did (barely), and Rick caught the baby, and we had our second daughter.  She was late, and when she decided it was time, she came fast and crazy and she made us all happy, and come to think of it, that pretty much sums her up.
She's my girl with the grin, and I just don't have the words to say how much I love her.  It's a big couple of weeks for her - she turns eleven today, and then next Friday, she's done with fifth grade, and leaving the little Montessori school where she's been for the last ten years (and yes, this is a huge change for us, too!).  She's ready for the change, but a bit scared, too, and that seems exactly right.
(That's her, with her sister, as Cheshire Cat #3 in this year's school play.)  She's going to do just fine.

I'm still plugging away on the last of the really big hanging projects for work.  I'm making progress, but all of the writing that I'm doing seems to be totally sapping any creativity or decision-making ability that I might possess, so while I'm dying to cast on for something new, I can't seem to commit to anything.

So I did what any knitter might do in a moment of ditheringness; I cast on for a washcloth.  I should note that I have never in my life knitted a washcloth.  I wung it.  It's a miracle that I even had cotton in my stash, but I'd seen some tempting little cakes of yarn when I was in Santa Rosa a few weeks ago, and decided to buy a couple, so I used one of those.
Not even marginally exciting.  But satisfying.  This yarn is actually something I'd read about and wanted to both try and support, which is why I grabbed it when I saw it.  It's Be Sweet Bambino Taffy (in the French Revolution colorway); it's a cotton/bamboo blend (70/30), 100 yards to the cake, and I used almost all of it.  I cast on 90 stitches, then mitered away, decreasing on either side of the center until I had nothing.  I left the last stitch live, then picked up stitches all around the edge and knitted a row before casting off to get the red border.  I then cast off all but the last three stitches, and knitted a length of i-cord.  When I'd had enough of that, I looped the i-cord over and knitted it to the washcloth, then knitted those three stitches together, and pulled the end through, and bob's your uncle - washcloth! 

The yarn comes from a women's cooperative in South Africa (that's the link to their site above), and it's a really lovely soft yarn, with some thick and thin that adds an interesting texture.  I didn't block the washcloth (which could also be used as a small kitchen hand towel - and might be), figuring it's going to get wet soon enough, so I'm not sure how much the stitch texture might even out once it's been through the washer.  The one thing that surprised me, and that I'm still not sure what I think about, is that the color changes do not come about because of the dyeing, but because one color of yarn is knotted to the next.  I chose to just knit along and incorporate the knot, but I suppose, if one didn't mind dealing with ends, one could also unknot the yarn and start a new color.  As I said, I'm not sure what I think about that - I think that, if I'd known, it wouldn't feel like a big deal, but it somehow came as a surprise. 

So, that's my project for the week.  I'm still plugging away sporadically at the sweater about which I cannot yet post.  The yarn for that one (Mary Lou asked last time) is Fibranatura Flax, in the Wild Lime colorway.  I say again that I think it'll be a really wearable sweater, once I get through it.  It's just the yarn that's killing me.  I'm seriously tempted to cast on for another little sweater, something summery and short-sleeved, like this one, just to take the edge off.   I may even have bought the pattern.  And I do have the yarn.  I have eight balls of the off-white Plymouth Yarns Vita that I used to knit this hat, which I think would work well.  It's finer than the yarn used in the pattern (the pattern yarn says to get five stitches to the inch on size five needles, while the Vita gets five stitches to the inch on size sevens; so I could just use size sevens, in theory, and get a more open fabric).  I'm dithering.  In the meantime, I may cast on for a pair of these socks, from the latest Knitscene Accessories.  I'm not sure that I'll like the slouchy thing as much on my legs as I do on the model's, but they're appealing to me, and right now that's more than I can say for many other projects.

I guess we'll know by next time whether I succumbed.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


You would think that, now that the semester is over, I'd have more time for things like blogging and knitting, but somehow it hasn't worked out that way.  I have, in fact, still been knitting (although less than you'd think), but I've been spending so much time at the computer trying to get through several really big jobs that have been waiting for my summer "free" time, that whenever I am not working, I'm avoiding the computer like the plague.

I am done with two of those tasks (or at least, they're in someone else's hands for now), so I'm hoping the computer allergy will abate.

It also doesn't help that I tend to think of Sunday as my blogging day, but I've been travelling the last several weekends (lots and lots of driving up and down the state involved), so Sundays have involved cars, more than anything.  Basically, I'm in transition from a spring schedule to a summer one, and in the same way that, once one has taken everything out of the trunk on a road trip, it doesn't all seem to want to fit back in the same way, I am trying to get everything to fit.

The travelling not only included the language revitalization work that always makes me happy, but took me to parts of the state that I love.  The rolling hills north of the Bay Area just seem to tug at my heart.
No wonder the cows look so content (see them there?).
The grass was just starting to turn from a lovely spring green into what will become a tawny lion brown.
And the oaks...
I have a tendency to take a rather inordinately large number of pictures of oaks.
But I really do love their shapes.

All of the meeting time meant that I needed something that required very little concentration.  Luckily, I had just the thing.  A few weeks ago, I cast on for the Indigo Ripples Skirt, which I've been wanting to knit since I first saw it in IK ages ago.  You may remember that I bought some Rowan denim on sale when I was in Sacramento over the holidays, so as part of my plan to knit down some of the stash, I paired the two up, and off I went.

(Not the best picture, but I figure I'd better post while I'm willing to sit at the computer.)

I knitted this very much as the pattern said, except that I made the stockinette portion longer, and knitted fewer repeats of the lace at the bottom, to make this more into something that I might actually wear to work.  I'd been wondering how well the yarn would wash, and whether it would tighten up into something un-see-through enough for public wear; the swatch seemed to suggest that it would.  And I think it did. 
It's very comfortable.  It's a bit darker than it appears in these photos, but much lighter than the yarn was in the ball.  (In fact, the yarn released dye on my hands every time I knit, so that my fingers and palms were blue, and it was possible to see the way I wind the yarn around the fingers of my right hand by following the blue lines it left.  However, it hasn't left any dye on my skin since I washed it.)  When I was done, I threw it into the washer and the dryer, which seems to have taken care of the extra dye and faded it out some.  It also shrank by several inches lengthwise, which was exactly what the swatch predicted, so I'd planned for it.

All in all, this turned out well.  I knitted a skirt a few years back, which did not (it's so huge on me that I only wear it to the beach as a cover-up - it's knitted from Elsbeth Lavold Hempathy - and it didn't wash up as un-see-through as this one did), so I'd kind of worried.  It's not something that is necessarily fun to knit, either, although it was very easy.  I find cotton to be hard on the hands, although to be fair, the Rowan Denim isn't nearly as bad as some others I've worked with.  I would use it again, but I think it'll be good to give my hands a break.

Especially since the other big project that I'm currently working on (momentarily unbloggable) is knitted from a linen yarn that's a real bear to work with.  It's stiff, so it feels like it's constantly springing away from me.  It takes a lot of work, and my hands can't deal with it for too long. 

So in the meantime, I'm on the hunt for something that'll be a good antidote for that one.  I've been carrying around the pattern for the Color Affection Shawl for months; maybe the time has come to find some yarn for that one?