Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the view from my window

We've gotten a little snow here in Madison. I woke up this morning to this:

The whole world beyond my window is covered in snow. The University was closed, the buses weren't running, and it was quite an adventure getting in to work this morning. Fortunately, I got a little help from my sweetie and his truck!

And now I'm home again, safe inside and warm with a new pair of socks. The Twinkleberries are done! Better photos later; it's too cold to take off my lap blanket, slippers and socks, even to put on an exciting new pair.

Stay warm!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

stash happiness

When I went on my happy little shopping spree Black Friday, it finally gave me the courage to dive into my previously small stash of high-end sock yarn. Totally worth it. Look at my beautiful Dream in Color Smooshy (Deep Seaflower) and my happy, lovely, upside-down (toe-up) Twinkleberry socks!

I'm so very glad I finally dove into this gorgeous yarn that I've been saving. I have a pair of beautiful green socks knit from Smooshy that I've been wearing weekly for months (my first-ever venture into the wonderful wide world of nice sock yarn I'd been hearing about on all my favorite podcasts), and they are wearing really well and I still love looking at them every time I put them on.

I'm still not crazy about knitting cables in sock yarn, but I'm getting much more comfortable with doing small cables without a cable needle, and I think the beautiful results are definitely worth it. I was able to memorize the Twinkleberry pattern after a few repeats, and now the socks are speeding right along. I think I'm in love (again). Am I shallow or just very lucky to find such happiness knitting beautiful things?

Monday, November 30, 2009

stash enhancement

I do love Eat.Sleep.Knit's surprise sales. They're not my LYS, but I love that they are dedicated to selling hand-dyed yarns, and I love the homey community feel they give online. And even though they were probably swamped during their Black Friday Surprise Sale, they still managed to send out my orders very quickly and everything arrived on Monday! Here's the whole lovely collection:And some better individual portraits. I've fallen in love with Madeleinetosh's Tosh Sock, and I scored several colorways during the sale, including:

Nikko Blue,





and Violin!

I've always wanted to try some Lorna's Laces yarn, and acquired some Shepherd Sock! In
Bittersweet and


as well as



I was also lucky enough to pick up some Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Semisolid in Iris

and a couple of skeins of Dream in Color Smooshy (Blue Lagoon and Visual Purple).

I feel like a very rich woman. It's pretty amazing just how much happiness I can derive from a lap full of wool. Beautiful, luxury works of art that will provide hours of entertainment as I knit and then many more months of pleasure as I wear them. I'm incredibly grateful that something so seemingly simple can make me so happy. No matter what happens in life, beautiful yarn can always make me smile! That's riches.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

why not to block

I'm afraid two of my lovely sweaters have gone to time-out after I foolishly went on a blocking spree without my measuring tape. I was so excited to wear the lovely things and didn't pay enough attention.

The lovely green sweater is ready to have the zipper installed, and I was very careful to ensure that the fronts were the same, correct length...but the sleeves, which fit perfectly pre-blocking, have taken on a gorilla-ish aspect and are a good two or three inches too long.

(OK, it is entirely possible it's only an inch or two of excess length, but it felt like a lot.)

My beautiful purple Rogue hoodie, on the other hand, has the opposite problem. The whole thing fit very nicely, and then I went and blocked it all to make the sleeves go in more easily, and now body and sleeves are each about an inch too short. Bother.

That'll teach me to be conscientious and always block my knitting!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

still cold...

As I still haven't gotten around to sewing up my purple sweater, I naturally cast on another one -- after all, I'm still cold! I had one more sweater quantity of Northampton in the stash, this time in Ocean Heather, and I was sufficiently impatient and cold that rather than take the time to do my own math and knit an original sweater, I grabbed for another pattern, this time the Olive Branch Yoga Hoodie from Valley Yarns.

I do like Webs in general, and the Valley Yarns products in particular. I'm a Smith grad (class of '06!), so for four lovely years Webs was my LYS, and even though I now live in Wisconsin, I still think of Webs as a bit of a spiritual home. They were always very kind to and tolerant of students with lots of yarn lust and not much money, or at least they were to me. I spent plenty of happy hours browsing around the store and warehouse during the less busy times of the semester. I also scored my copy of Tudor Roses there before I'd even heard of Alice Starmore.

Northampton is such a wonderful yarn. Northampton was a lovely crunchy place to live, and having its namesake be such a practical 100% wool just feels so fitting. I do wish it came in more colors, but the 100g skeins and the price are excellent. Much as I love the endless colors of Cascade 220, I find Northampton to be springier and more elastic and generally nicer to work with, not to mention how much I appreciate not having to ball the yarn myself. Hanks of Cascade 220 are pretty, but don't have the same instant gratification.

Anyhow, I've already made it 80% of the way through the sleeves; top-down sweater construction is a wonderful thing and this one is just cruising along! There's almost no sewing up to do, but I expect this sweater will stall when it comes to installing the zipper. It's always something, with me.

Still, who knows how many other wonderful sweaters will get within spitting distance of completion before I get warm?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

necessity as the anti-procrastinator

In 2007, I knit a wonderful grey alpaca hoodie from the fantastic Girl From Auntie Rogue Hooded Pullover pattern. I'm not normally a big pattern knitter, but it was such a gorgeous and well-written one that I succumbed with good cheer. The resulting sweater is lovely and soft, and oh so warm, but I've always wanted to knit it again in wool. (Knitting from a pattern once is a lot, and to do it twice should be an indication of just how great this pattern is.)

Last winter, I pulled some lovely purple Northampton (a favorite workhorse wool of mine) out of the stash and cast on. I got as far as the kangaroo pocket before it got warm out and I set it aside. Now, though, it's gotten chilly again and I started looking around for something warm to wear and decided it was time to get a move on!

It probably only took me a week or two of knitting in the evenings to get the pieces finished, and then I only procrastinated for a couple of days before blocking. I didn't block the grey sweater, and have regretted that decision ever since (not enough to actually wash and block it, of course -- every time I look at it and wish I had, I'm cold enough that I put it on instead!).

So, now I have a very beautiful, warm sweater that'll be ready to wear just as soon as I get around to doing the sewing up...that's the great downfall of an otherwise divine pattern. If it were only knit from the top down, it would be perfect. Hmm....


Thursday, October 1, 2009

quilt blocks, all grown up

Well, the octagons have finally begun turning into squares. At first I was only using very light colored fabrics (white backgrounds with small patterns) for the corners, but I decided that was too boring, so I decided to spice things up a little.

I am rather fond of the way the blocks look once the corners have been added, but before they've been ironed flat. They make such interesting patterns!

And I think they'll look quite interesting once they're all assembled. Too bad I've been dragging my feet on this one; it's gotten cold out and I've been more motivated to knit.
Keep warm!

Monday, September 7, 2009

new beginnings

Now that Button's quilt is done, it is of course time for a new project. I didn't realize it at the time, but when I started a new quilt earlier this week, it coincided nicely with the beginning of the new semester.

On campus, it is once again possible to tell time without a clock simply by watching the floods of undergrads who pour out onto the sidewalk at regular intervals. At the moment, many of them are still confused, bobbing around with little direction. A labmate referred to them rather unkindly as "a bunch of cows," but to me they're reminiscent not of lemmings, but of the hundreds or thousands of individual pieces for a patchwork project.
They may be lost now, but it's amazing how quickly the gridlocked hoards of gaping teens get their stride and aimless wandering becomes a pattern.
And in no time at all, they'll know where they're going and head there with a vengeance.
It's real-life alchemy, if you ask me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

a spate of finishing

Now that Button's quilt is done and the summer is drawing to a close, Brad asked that I finish his lap blanket. It's a knitted behemoth based on a quilting pattern; it's a modified log cabin pattern called Curve of Pursuit from Woolly Thoughts.

Normally, I'm not really a pattern knitter; I like to take ideas from various places, but seldom knit things exactly as written. The Woolly Thoughts folks are a notable exception to that rule. Their designs are mostly geometrical shapes formed into patterns based on mathematical concepts.

I need to figure out how to get better pictures of this thing, as it is quite large. It's actually two versions of the same pattern (with the colors re-arranged) joined back-to-back with a common border, so it's quite thick, extremely heavy and very warm. I hope it will keep Brad warm this winter. He's a very long guy, but when he tried it out in his chair it seemed to cover his feet and the rest of him pretty well.

Of course, now that I've taken up quilting, I probably could have whipped up a quilt much faster; I've been working on this on-and-off since November of 2007. Still. I had fun, and it will be warm! I'm a knitter at heart, and, like most knitters I know, I am secretly convinced that covering my loved ones with woolly goodness is an absolute necessity. How else will they keep warm?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

a new home

Well, Button and her quilt are settled down in their new dorm room. The 'rents and I traveled with her to NY and helped get her moved in this weekend. She's such a people person that I know Button won't have room in her life to be lonely -- she was already fast friends with a couple of her suitemates hours after they met -- but it still makes me feel good to know she has a quilt to keep her company.

It looks like a nice place to live, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"binding off"

Well, Button's quilt is finally assembled and quilted! There are a few wrinkles in the back, but I'm hoping that once the quilt is washed and crinkled they won't be quite so apparent. Actually, I'm really crossing my fingers, as I've found that, for the moment at least, I'm liking the back even better than the front:
I bought fabric for the quilt top with no plan for a quilt back, and then remembered that one of the half-dozen pieces of fabric I owned before I got into quilting was a piece of robin's egg blue cotton. I probably bought it in high school to make a skirt or something, but this is a much better use.

Now that the quilt is assembled, it's ready for the binding! I trimmed it up this weekend, machine stitched the binding to the front and have been working on hand stitching to the back. Since I'm a knitter, and that's the fiber craft with which my boyfriend is most familiar, he has taken to calling this process "binding off."
It's more like binding on, really, but I think his term is sweet. I'm really enjoying the fabric that I'm using, and it goes very well with the solid fabric in the back, too.I just can't wait to give it to Button when we take her to college this weekend. Yay!

Friday, August 21, 2009

a bounty of tomatoes

My "tomato trees" (they're just tomatoes in pots that have grown completely out of control and are more than six feet tall) are fruiting with a vengeance, and we have more tomatoes than I can figure out how to use. I love fresh tomatoes, but I can't quite figure out how a two-person household can eat the 1-2 dozen tomatoes that ripen every day. So, we're giving plenty away, but they're still all over the kitchen:


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recently, Thousands of Bolts had an end-of-bolt sale, and among the blue fabrics I found these sweet little owls:
I'm not normally big on cutesie, but I'm simply enamored with them. I don't know quite what it is about them, but I just love these owls. So, I dug through the stash and came up with this stack of fabrics:
I'm going for mostly the greens and brown plus a little of the yellow from the owl print plus some purple. I've been wanting to try some wonky log cabin blocks, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to try some out!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

a completed quilt

I have now completed an entire quilt! Very cool.
It's just a small one, but it has binding and everything.
The boyfriend laughed at me the first time I felt it and exclaimed, "it feels like a real quilt!" And now it's a real, completed quilt!Is it wrong to be so ridiculously pleased? It's done, and I love it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

it's actually a quilt!

My little lap quilt is actually quilted! It is no longer just patchwork. Isn't she beautiful?

I used the same green thread for the quilting as I had the piecing. I know many people piece with white thread, but the colors make me happy and green thread is the same price as white, so I might as well get that extra little bit of enjoyment, no?
I know a solid-colored backing was probably not the best choice for my first foray into quilting, but I really liked how it felt, I thought the color went well with the top, and (most importantly) I had it on hand. I have my sister's quilt all pinned together; the living room floor was just large enough to lay out the twin-sized pieces, so I have no idea what I'll do if I ever make anything larger, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. The quilting on that quilt will probably have to wait until this weekend, but in the meantime the lap quilt needs to be trimmed and I need to figure out that binding thing. I love learning as I go!

Monday, August 10, 2009

the view from campus

No quilting today (yet, anyhow), but I still think about it all the time, and see lovely patterns wherever I go.

Next to a parking lot...

(Please disregard the background; it's the railing that I find beautiful, and it can't help where it lives.)

And on the floor of the cold room...

Wouldn't those big squares made up of the smaller shapes make an interesting quilt pattern?

(Sorry about the water; condensation!)