Sunday, September 30, 2007

Kimono Shawl

Here are some less than stellar pictures of my interpretation of the Kimono Shawl. Before I go any further, I should just apologize now for the quality of all pictures that will appear on this blog between now and some time next Spring, say around May. This week the rainy season arrived here in the beautiful Northwest - an entire month early, but who's counting? Every time I watch the weather on the news it's all rain, as far as the eye can see... So, we now begin many, many months of dark, overcast days that result in photo's like these.

Pattern: Kimono Shawl from Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle
Yarn: Berger Du Nord, Bella - 5 skeins
Needles: size 8
Finished Size (blocked): 22"x75"

This project has been a delight from the beginning. The yarn is so gorgeous and soft, the pattern easy but interesting and because the gauge was on the large side for lace, it flew right along. My modifications are explained in this post.

Don't you just love my model? He is so great about things like this!

As I mentioned in that previous post, this is to be a Christmas gift for my sister. She knits things all the time for me, but I have never knit anything for her. She is 6' tall, so I think the larger lace motif's will work well on her. I hope she likes it!

I am actually a little sad to finish this one. Lucky thing I have enough of this yarn left in the stash to make something for myself. Now, I'm off to work on the sample knitting and to think about which "simple" Christmas gift to cast on next - simple being relative and meaning a project I can work on with my kids in the room. Funny how that beautiful delicate lace yarn and little fingers don't work well together.

Friday, September 28, 2007

How did it get to be Friday already?

Where did the week go? I can't believe its Friday already!!

This has been a great week, full of lots of knitterly fun. On Tuesday I had the pleasure of getting to hang out with some of my favorite knitters. For once, I was the obnoxious one with the camera. That's Chrissy, Katrina and Amanda knitting at Twisted.

We got together to celebrate Chrissy's birthday (which was back in August, so we're just a little behind on these things). We also celebrated Amanda's birthday, which is coming up soon. Good company, good knitting, good yarn and good food = a very lovely evening.

That knitting time, along with a lot of time waiting for my kids and on phone meetings this week, has allowed me to finish another knitting project. I hope to report on it soon - perhaps some time over the weekend. It's still on the blocking wires and, last I checked was still pretty wet. The picture below contains a clue as to what it is:

I have also recently completed a dishcloth or two for my "Fall into Autumn" exchange partner. However, since I accidentally let her know my identity I am not going to post pictures here of the final products until after she receives them in the mail. I am planning to wait a little longer before shipping them, so that FO report will have to wait.

That leaves exactly one project on the needles, but boy it is a doosey. I am doing a "knit for hire" project for a friend of mine that has been an excellent learning experience for me. I can't show you any pictures, but I can tell you that it takes a lot of concentration for me. The pattern is not very hard, but the yarn is really small. See the picture below to get an idea:

I know there are lots of you folks out there who knit with lace yarn all the time, but this is the finest gauge I have ever used. Now that I have figured out how to manage the tension and how to use lifelines, I am well on my way. Since I can't work on this in a social setting at this point because it requires too much concentration, I will likely cast on for another small, easy project soon. However, this thin pink yarn is going to be my companion for the near future. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 24, 2007

OFFF Goodies

As promised, here are some of the lovelies that followed me home from Oregon Flock and Fiber this weekend. First up, some Ecological Wool from Cascade. I know I can get this anytime, but not at the price I paid for it - which was unbelievable. This has actually been on my list to pick up because I want to make a Hemlock Throw like the ones Susan has been making over at The Rainey Sisters Blog. She has basically taken a doily pattern and knit it with this eco wool and huge needles to make a throw. I love this idea and have now officially added it to my never ending "to knit" list.

Next are two skeins of gorgeous rayon yarn from Interlacements. Each skein has 1200 yards and is really soft! In the booth they had several projects that had each been made with just one skein, including a summer sweater, a long button up vest and a gorgeous shawl. The knitted fabric in all cases had a really lovely drape. I am leaning toward the shawl idea myself.

By the way, these are not both for me. My mom asked me to pick one up for my sister too so she can give it to her for Christmas. Now the question is "Which one do I want to keep?" Sigh. I bought the one on the left for myself originally, but then decided I liked the one on the right better, then changed my mind again. They are really similar, but enough different that I am having a hard time deciding. I may just let my mom pick the one she likes best for my sister and make it easy on myself.

This lovely pink skein is from Trish over at Tanglewood Fiber Creations. Any of you who were at the show and are saying "I didn't see a Tanglewood Booth" are correct. When I ran into Trish we started talking and she reminded me of something I had done for her that turned out to be a really great thing. Next thing I know, Trish is saying "You need some yarn, let me go get my basket and you can pick one". How cool is that? This pink is not necessarily a color I would normally pick, but I love it! It's sort of a thistle color that is a bit darker and richer than it looks in this picture. Thanks again Trish!

Finally, the last two I am going to share with you - because I assure you, these are not the last two that came home with me - are these gorgeous skeins of Mama-E's Cyber Fiber. Both of these came from Chrissy's shop and were payment for the work I did there on Saturday.

The one on top is called "Gardiner Yarn Works" and I have been lusting after it for months. Chrissy has been sold out on her site for a long time and I have been kicking myself for not getting some when it was in stock. When she announced she was not going to be selling sock kits anymore, I thought I might have missed my opportunity for good. So, imagine my delight when we started to unpack the yarn on Saturday and there was one lone skein mixed in with the rest of the yarn. Needless to say, it did not even make it onto the table, but went right back into the box! I am suspicious that Chrissy may have brought it knowing I would want it right away...I may have mentioned a few hundred times how much I loved it.

The other skein is called "Margene" and it was actually available for sale most of the day Saturday. From the beginning, it was also an only skein, with no brothers or sisters. As the day wore on, I would get up and visit it occasionally, patting it. I liked it too, right away, but I knew there was lots of other yarn at the Festival and other folks who might like it. I needed to make sure no one else needed it before it came home with me at the end of the day.

By the way, as of now, I still have only knit the one baby sock, yet I probably have sock yarn for at least 15 pairs of socks! I guess I am just preparing for the inevitable. I had so much fun making that baby sock, I know I am going to be hooked when I start knitting them. I need to be prepared, right?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oregon Flock and Fiber

I've been sitting here at my computer for 20 minutes trying to figure out where to start with this blog posting. OK, here goes - this past weekend I spent all day Saturday and part of Sunday at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby Oregon. I helped my friend Chrissy in her booth where we sold her patterns and a lot of sock yarn left over from when she was selling sock kits. Here is a picture of Chrissy in the booth just as we were finishing setting up on Saturday:

We had a really great time. Working in a booth, or just sitting in one, is the way to go if you can manage it. We had a place to leave our stuff when we needed to wander off and place to sit when there were no other seats to be had. Best of all though, everyone came to us - s0 there were lots of opportunities to chat with friends, make new ones and generally network.

I'm sure I won't remember everyone I saw or met, but here are a few of the folks I had the pleasure of interacting with this weekend: Cindy, Amanda, Judy, Trish, Chrispy and Yvonne. Additionally, I got to meet Patsy and Mims, the lovely ladies behind the new Oregon Live Knitting blog, as well as the woman who is the brains behind Moirae Knitting. Unfortunately I can't remember her name - I'm so sorry. It was great meeting you in person though and welcome to Oregon!

Really, the people made this a great weekend for me, as well as the fact that this was definitely a successful event for Chrissy. Yeah Chrissy!

Today however, I finally got a chance to wander into the animal barns and saw some very unusual things. Of course, there were lots of beautiful Alpacas, like this one, as well as sheep, goats and bunnies. All lovely and fluffy.

After visiting the little guy above, I went around a corner and saw this.

It is a young yak. There was an adult standing near it and I was surprised at how small they are - I think the adults looked smaller than a Shetland pony. Anyway, as if that wasn't enough of a surprise, I then practically ran into this:

Yes, that is a camel! How crazy is that? Apparently this one was only 7 months old and about 1/3 of the way grown. It was very friendly and quiet soft.

They kind of make this guy look normal. Tomorrow, if I get a chance, I will tell you about some of the yarny goodness that followed me home. I doubt I'll tell you about all of it because some secrets are better left between me and my bank account...the husband knows and didn't freak out. Yet another reason why I love him!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Super speedy drive-by post

I don't have much to say today but didn't want the day to go by without thanking my dishcloth swap partner for the beautiful postcard. It brightened my day considerably! While I love my email, there is nothing like a little snail mail, especially when it has a gorgeous picture.

It actually caused a bit of a stir around here. My husband kept asking me "Who is that from again? Is that the one in X place you are sending stuff to?" I had to explain to him again that no, this was someone else entirely, that the person I am sending things to is not the person who is sending things to me. He seems baffled by the entire process, bless him. I'm sure he'll have it all figured out just in time for it to be over.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Life's a beach, when you're lucky

After our separate "vacations" earlier in the week, Friday it was time for the big family get-away. The hubby and I packed everyone up and headed off to the Oregon Coast and had a really fantastic time. Even sleep wasn't as hard as it has been on past trips. Not sure how much of that was due to the girls being a little older and how much was due to the fact that we worked hard at wearing them out each day.

This picture is at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It is a really nice little aquarium that specializes in the wildlife found in and around the ocean in the Northwest. I highly recommend it if you are ever in Newport, Oregon. The jellyfish and shark exhibits are particularly memorable.

Here the girls are checking out the touch tank. There were sea stars, urchins, abalone and sea cucumbers, among other cool things. I'd never seen a sea cucumber in a touch tank before. They really do feel as squishy as you would imagine.

This is how the girls spent most of the weekend. I must have at least a dozen pictures of the tops of their heads taken while they dug in the sand. Think we need a sandbox?

The weather was amazing - sunny, warm and NO WIND. Anyone who has ever been to the Oregon Coast knows this is very rare indeed.

Here's another view of A. digging. The sunset was beautiful. We went out for a walk at sunset along the road and it was A.'s idea to walk back on the beach. I am so glad we did as it was my favorite part of the trip. One of those beautiful times I hope to always remember.

See that little dot? That's me, carrying V. and walking into the edge of the waves. What this picture doesn't capture is her little voice giggling and saying "Mommy - look, there's another wave, quick run into it". Sigh. It was so hard to go back to work today!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Recent Shopping Finds

As promised yesterday, today's posting is going to be all about some of the great finds I made while on my "mini-vacation" earlier this week.

On Monday evening, as I was walking back from dinner, I just "happened" to walk by Knit-Purl. I really thought they would be closed, but it turns out they are open until 7 on Monday's. So, I popped in, with just a few minutes to spare, and wandered around in my typical yarn store haze. This is a particularly beautiful yarn store that is well organized by yarn weight, which is my favorite way for a yarn store to be organized.

They also happen to be the same business that produces the ShiBui yarn line. If I didn't already have quiet a bit of that in my stash from previous visits to the store, that would be a no-brainer acquisition. It is so beautiful! They also have a wall of Koigu. If you've never seen a wall of Koigu, just use your imagination and know that it is just a beautiful as you think.

I found something else though, tucked in a bottom shelf that I have been thinking about for quiet some time. Yes, that is Malabrigo Lace Weight in the color "Blue Surf". It looks just like the sky, with puffy white clouds and feels like a dream - so soft! I can not wait to make something special with it.

The next day I went to another wonderful Portland yarn shop called Dublin Bay. This is such a beautiful store that I always want to curl up on one of their couches and hang out for hours. I did not this time, but only because in order to do so I would have had to fight with a parking meter. I did, however, find the above book. This is one of those books reissued by Dover Publications. It was originally published in England in 1953.

It was less than $10 and is full of really interesting lace patterns. One of my favorites is above. Many of the patterns are for household items, like curtains, bedspreads and doilies. While I don't see myself knitting anything like that anytime soon, I could imagine adapting some of these patterns for shawls or other wearable items. Since it contained several stitches I had not seen anywhere else, I thought it was a worthwhile purchase.

Believe it or not, other than a couple of very small items, these were all of the "yarny" type items I bought. However, I did take a trip to one of the big Goodwill Stores in East Portland to look at books. At one point I had found a pretty nice pile of children's book and was feeling pretty happy about it, when I decided to thumb through the "Little Golden Books". When I was a kid, these were a central part of my library so I have a soft spot in my heart for them.

Well, my heart nearly skipped a beat when I flipped this one over:

This was, bar none, by very favorite book when I was small. I have lost track of my childhood copy and didn't realize how much I missed it until I found this one.
I can not tell you how many hours I spent looking at these pictures, imagining myself in each of them. So much color, so much adventure!
I grew up on a farm and did have a horse. I always loved looking at all of these other horses and knowing that my simple little farm horse was the same as all of these gorgeous horses, someone just needed to paint a good picture of her...:)

One more, just for fun. There is nothing like finding a very fond piece of your past. Best $.49 I've spent in a long time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mini-vacation update and a FO

I have had quiet the adventure over the last day and a half!

As anyone who has ever had small children knows, vacation is not really a vacation when you take it with the kids. Ours never sleep well when away from their beds and routines and get cranky in the car, etc. So, my husband and I decided to each take a mini-vacation alone this year, then we will end the week with a long weekend as a family. Is that weird? My sister thinks it's weird, but I think it is healthy, at least for us.

My husband took last weekend and went out of town to visit some friends. Since they are friends I am not too excited to spend time with, it worked out great.

Then I took Monday night off and stayed in downtown Portland. I am very fortunate to have a friend who works for the Heathman Hotel, so he was able to get a super, incredible rate on a room. What a treat! The room was very nice, with a very comfortable bed. It's right in the middle of downtown, so I was able to spend lots of time walking around and engaging in some retail therapy. I estimate that I spent about 4 of my 24 hours downtown walking - a great thing to do if you're ever in Portland. Of course, I forgot my camera so no pictures.

After I checked out of my hotel I hung around various coffee shops and yarn stores in the greater Portland area. How luxurious to spend an afternoon going where I wanted and spending as much time as I wanted, with no agenda and no responsibilities!

Then I picked up my friend Katrina and we went out for a fantastic dinner. All in all, a really great mini-vacation! I feel rested and refreshed, like I've been away for a week. Funny how everything gets more concentrated and intense when you have kids. At least this time it worked in my favor!

I know, lots of words, no pictures. How's this:

Pattern: Blue Sky Alpacas Baby Hoodie, Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton

This is V. in her new sweater, finished by me while on my mini-vacation. The Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton yarn is SOOOO nice to work with. It is so soft. I loved this project. Between the stripes, which kept it from getting too boring, the great yarn and the small size, this one was a winner for me.

In that picture above it looks pretty big, but she just had her hands pulled in. I knit the largest size and I think it fits pretty well. She should be able to wear it all Winter, if we can manage to not shrink it in the dryer. One note to anyone who might knit this, I followed the pattern exactly, had correct gauge, etc. but felt like I was going to run out of the rust colored yarn if I tried to make the hood striped too. Also, the front, is a little short. I would probably add an inch or two to the length of the entire body if I were to knit this again.

This morning A. said "V looks like a gnome with her hood up". I have to say, I agree! So cute.

Just for fun, here is a bonus picture. This is the outfit A. picked out for herself for school today. That girls loves color!

The dress is one grandma made. The sweater I finished earlier this year for her, before I started this blog. I made it using Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and Inspire from Wisdom Yarns. Inspire is a self patterning yarn, similar to many sock yarns, but in worsted weight. Lots of fun! I highly recommend the book too, by the way. With this book, you would never need to buy another sweater pattern, if you didn't want to.

This blogging in the middle of the day is really fun. So much easier than at the end of the day, after a full day of work and evening with the kids. This post has gone on way too long though. Tomorrow I will share some of the marvelous things I found while shopping yesterday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

First day of school

Today was the first day of school for A. I've been seeing so many beautiful, heart felt blog entries about the first day of school from other mothers. Let's just say it was hard. She had a little trouble with the idea that we were "dropping her off", but she didn't cry. When her friend arrived though, she was fine.

Mommy's doing OK too.

I actually took the week off because I am way over-due for a vacation. After I check in with my little one to see how the first day went, I am taking off for some alone time. It will be a first, since V. was born 2 years ago. I'll let you know how it goes when I get back.

By the way, that backpack is mostly empty. It sure looks huge on my sweet small person...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

New Clothes

I am a truly blessed person with more than my fair share to be thankful for in my life. However, one of the things I am most thankful for is my mother. She has always been a great mother - very loving, very loyal, generous to a fault. It's been amazing to see her positive qualities magnified even more with my children.

My mom also is extremely talented in many ways, but especially in the arena of domestic arts. When I was a kid, she made all of our clothes, ran our small farm, canned and froze all of our food, baked bread every week, ran my 4-H group and made wedding cakes and custom clothes on the side for a little cash! I still don't know how she did it, although I can tell you keeping house was not one of her priorities. :)

So, combine this generous spirit with her love of all things domestic and crafty and you end up with an amazing "back to school" wardrobe for my 4 year old. Yes, that's right, she decided A. needed back to school clothes for her 3 day a week pre-school gig. Her justification "Well, it's important to A., so it's important to me and it made me happy." OK mom, thanks!

I only snapped pictures of my two favorite outfits. Above is A. wearing the dress my mom made with fabric she let A. pick out. It is really sweet!

I just love this one. You can sort of see from this picture that it has inset panels of the trim fabric. My niece, who is 12 now, used to also have a couple of grandma-made dresses like this one when she was small. She called them her "magic dresses" because when she twirled, the panels opened up and the dresses looked really different.

All together she made A. 5 dresses with coordinating "monkey bar shorts" - all thoughtfully designed with my little one's needs and desires in mind. Amazing.

In addition, she didn't want little V. to feel left out, so she made her a couple of things too. As with most 2 year olds, V. is not much into modeling. So, I snuck up on her while she was playing in the dirt in her favorite new elephant dress. So cute!

Can't wait to see what mom comes up with when the girls head off to full time school!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I can't believe it's Wednesday already. How did that happen?

We had a great holiday weekend. One of my best friends from LA came up for a visit. While I rarely miss much about Los Angeles, his visit reminded me how much I miss some of the great people I met there.

Knitting is happening, but isn't very interesting to show. I'm plugging away on a sweater for my youngest daughter and have picked up the Kimono Wrap again. I'm racing to see if I can get either of them done before my next project comes in. I have agreed to do some "knitting for hire". I have never done this before so I'll be interested to see how it goes. The project I am taking on is probably going to take a lot of time and will not be something I can blog about.

Oh well, I can at least entertain you with pictures like this one:

Aren't they beautiful? Our raspberries did indeed start producing a profusion of fruit again. I'm not sure if this is normal, but I can tell you it did not happen the last 2 summers. This crop of berries are huge and delicious! This is what the girls and I are having for breakfast tomorrow. Mmmm!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

"Fall Into Autumn" Swap Questionnaire

1. Do you knit or crochet? How long have you been doing it?

I knit, haven’t tried my hand at crochet since I was about 10 years old. I have been knitting for about 2 years.

2. Have you made dischloths before? Do you use them yourself, give them as gifts, or both?

I actually have not made dishcloths before, but have been thinking about it and am looking forward to giving it a go. I do use them myself. My sister, who is also a knitter, has given me several nice ones.

3. What's your favorite cotton to make cloths from? What cotton would you like to try that you haven't before ?

I really like Peaches and Crème cotton, it’s really soft. I would be open to trying any cotton that was suitable for dishcloths.

4. If you knit, do you prefer circular or straight needles? For all, do you prefer wooden, metal, or plastic needles?

I am really flexible and I actually use both circular and straight needles, made of wood, metal and plastic. It just depends on what I’m making, what fiber I’m using and what’s not in use for another project.

5. What are your favorite colors? Any colors you don't like much?

Beyond a doubt, my favorite colors are blue, purple, green and red in jewel tones. Interestingly enough, I have not decorated any of my house with those colors though.

I am generally not a big fan of pastels, although there are occasional exceptions.

6. What do you like best about Autumn?

Do I have to pick one thing? Autumn is my favorite season. I love the crisp air, the leaves turning color, fresh apple cider, going to the pumpkin patch with my kids…

7. Pies: Pumpkin? Apple? Pecan? All of em? or No Thanks!

Pumpkin and apple. I am allergic to tree nuts, so pecan is not appealing to me.

8. When you were a kid, were you the one who couldn't wait to get started with school , or the one who overslept on the 1st day?

I could not wait for school to start. I still miss it.

9. Do you celebrate Halloween? (The real key here guys is especially knowing if you have an aversion to the holiday or little goodies/decorations associated with it, given the timeframe of the swap)

Love Halloween, although I am not much of a Halloween decorator.

10. If you had to choose just 3 edible 'goodies' to eat for a full year, what 3 would you choose?

Chocolate, Peanut butter (the one “nut” I can eat), fresh berries.

11. Do you have any pets? Kids? Husbands who seem like kids? ;)

Two daughters, ages 4 and 2, one husband who stays at home with them while I work. We also have 2 cats that are both white and “fluffy”. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about the cats…weird.

12. If you were to describe a particular yarn that shares traits of your personality, what would it be and why?

I would probably say plain old wool because it is dependable, warm and is more flexible than might at first appear.

13. Do you use your cloths mostly for dishcloths, or as facecloths?


14. Favorite Fall Holiday: Halloween or Thanksgiving and why? (Feel free to share another fall memory if you do not celebrate either of these holidays)

I love them both.

Halloween is great because what other day of the year are you encouraged to be someone completely different? It’s also a lot more fun since I’ve had kids – they get so excited!

Thanksgiving has always been a big deal in my family. I started cooking the big meal and hosting dinner when I was in college. With rare exception, I still host dinner every year for at least a few extended family members and various friends. I love to cook and I love to spend time with people I care about, so it is one of my favorite days of the year.

15. Do you have any allergies or aversions your pal should know about?

As I’ve already mentioned, I am allergic to tree nuts. I also loathe beets with a passion I reserve for few things, but I suppose that might not be very useful for my swap partner... Otherwise, I can’t think of anything else to mention.

Finished Object - Lace Scarf

It feels like it's been ages since I've finished anything. Thursday night I stayed up late and finally finished the lace scarf for the class I'll be teaching in October.

Snowdrop Lace Scarf, pattern my own. Yarn: JoJoLand Melody, color Y-20, not quiet 2 balls Finished size: 10"x70"

I am really pretty pleased with how this one came out. None of the pictures I took show the color very well. It looks so washed out. Oh well, this is all I could manage with the girls running around.

I ended up deciding to just knit the entire thing in one direction, rather than stopping at half way, knitting the second half from the beginning and then grafting them together. For me personally, it just doesn't matter. I will include instructions for that technique though when I write this up for my class.

By the way, did you notice the nice straight edge on the scarf? Well that is thanks to these beauties:

I'm not sure how clear the picture is, but those are "dressing wires" or "blocking wires". These are from Handworks Northwest, which is a local company. You can buy them direct from the company through the link above or from All About Yarn.

I had never used blocking wires before but decided to take the plunge since I seem to be knitting a lot of lace these days. Wow, what a difference they make! In the past, I would run a waste yarn along the edges of my knitted item, then tack it out in a straight line. I would then pull the knitted item into shape on the taught line and pin at various intervals when I had it where I wanted it.

With these blocking wires, I will admit it was a bit of a pain to thread the wet scarf onto the wires, but once that was done, it was so easy to get it stretched out and pinned. And, I have never had such straight lines before - seems like I would always end up with little "blips" here and there. So, I can say that this was an excellent purchase and I highly recommend them for anyone who is planning to do more than occasional lace knitting.