Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guaran-tweed an Awesome Blanket

I've been doing some work lately for my favorite LYS, My Sister Knits. Mostly I've been handling their social media (check out their blog! It's all me!), Facebook, Ravelry and the like. I've volunteered to do a couple of store samples, too ... one was a pair of slippers that I ran out of yarn halfway through the second slipper and was dismayed to learn they weren't carrying the color anymore. So that's sitting in a WiP bag somewhere ... but then. Then.

To help support their Christmas in July with Brooklyn Tweed promotion, they needed store samples. I was looking for something easy and mindless to take with on our honeymoon to Hawaii, and the perfect project came up. The Tweed Baby Blanket.

This blanket is knit with a garter stitch center panel knit on a bias. Then the edges are picked up and the border is knit in-the-round with a feather-and-fan pattern. This is the smaller version (still slightly larger than 3x3), and the larger version has a three-color border. I absolutely love this in the tweed yarn, and the bright red and smokey grey make for a very striking baby blanket.

Personally, I would not normally knit an actual baby gift in this yarn ... it's not machine washable, and that just seems a cruel thing to give to a new mother. However, I get to keep this after a couple months when the shop is finished with it, and I plan to send it to my Nana who is ALWAYS cold (even though she lives in Phoenix). It will be a lovely lap blanket for her, and will make an awesome couch throw after that.

The I-Cord bind-off was fun to learn ... it makes a really nice wide border on something like this, but I learned the hard way that it's a time-consuming bind off. Granted, the blanket had about 540 stitches by the time it was done ... but that meant this bind-off took me about three hours. Definitely worth it in the end, but a late night for sure.

EZ Back from the Dead

I've stated here before how much I love Elizabeth Zimmermann. She was a pioneer of modern knitting, and her newsletters taught so much to so many. She really inspired thousands (millions?) to knit without tears or fears. Try something new! You never know what you'll learn. Her designs are simple and innovative, and her construction methods are unconventional and bloody brilliant. I adore reading her writings and old newsletters, her dry wit is apparent and I just ... sigh ... I just love her. About a year ago, I knit her Baby Surprise Sweater for my dear friend Paula's handsome baby boy ... this is what it looks like before you seam up the shoulders.
And here is what it looks like after.
WHO THINKS OF THAT?? A knitting genius, that's who. So imagine how excited I was when I heard that she had a new book coming out (despite having passed away in 1999) entirely based on her garter stitch designs. So as a birthday present to myself, I ordered up a copy of Knit One Knit All.
I ordered this book without having seen any of the inside, but wasn't worried ... and was not disappointed. I want to knit just about every pattern in this book, and the wonderful thing about it is that Elizabeth writes so that you can easily substitute something about the pattern that you don't care for. You can truly make them your own, using her base as a starting point. I don't want to bog you down with photos of what I want to knit from it, but suffice to say that there's PLENTY from this book coming up. If you're a knitter (beginner or not), you should purchase this book. Here's a link to the Schoolhouse Press page, but Knit Picks, Amazon, probably your Local Yarn Shop ... just go buy it. Totally worth the money.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Back to Spinning

I'm so glad I've been feeling the itch to spin lately. I didn't really feel the urge for several months, so my wheel sat mostly idle while we've been here in Fort Collins. Then I decided to spin our hand fast yarn for our ceremony, and I caught the bug again.

The hand fast yarn turned out great, but there are no current photos ... I'm a bad blogger. I had spun up some merino/alpaca blend a few months ago in one of my attempts at getting back into the spin of things (har dee har har), and liked spinning the pure alpaca so much for the hand fast that I had an idea.

That's about 250 yards (total) of 60% alpaca and 40% merino. It's super soft and dreamy, and will be really toasty warm when knit up. It's the thinnest I've ever been able to spin successfully -- it came out to a worsted-ish weight (sometimes lighter, sometimes heavier). I am really really thrilled with it, I think it's a lovely color combination and it shouldn't be itchy to anyone who's not allergic to sheep or alpacas.

My current plan is to eventually make a hat-and-mitten set, but if anyone is interested in purchasing I might be able to part with it. Send me a note and we'll tawlk.

My Poor Garden

I can't believe almost two months has gone by since my last post. I claim wedding mania and lack of projects to blog. When all this began, I had every intention of taking photos of the whole process and posting about it at least once a week ... and then, in the middle of all that process, it just seemed like too much to handle. I beg your forgiveness, kind readers, and hope you will bear with my through my waxing and waning attention span.

Which brings me to my container garden. I know I posted pictures a while ago of my little seedlings as they were coming up. Because of the lack of posting, there are only these very early photos of my little sprouts. I was going to take photos of my thriving plants to update you and share the excitement of the yumminess that was sure to come.

Around the beginning of May, I added two tomato plants (a German Queen and Mr. Stripey), a yellow bell pepper plant, and a cucumber plant to the basil, fennel, lavender, chives and snapdragons. Everything was doing amazingly well ... the dry Colorado sunshine combined with a healthy watering every day meant I had five tomatoes already coming in on each plant, a TON of baby cucumbers hanging down, and a fair few peppers beginning. The basil was looking lush (and smelled great), and we had been snipping fennel and adding it to just about everything for the past few weeks.

Then ... a Colorado summer hail storm happened.

It started innocently enough as a decent-sounding thunderstorm. Before we knew it there was golf-ball-sized hail coming down so fast and so hard it looked like it was snowing ice balls outside. It came about so quickly that I couldn't run out to cover the plants for fear of a concussion. To put this into perspective: both side mirrors on Dear's Ford F150 work truck were broken in several places. There were piles of ice still in place the next morning, making it look like we had wasted perfectly good Sno-Cones in our yard.

Now this is all that remains of my vegetables.
The German Queen Tomato

The Yellow Bell Pepper

Mr. Stripey Tomato

Sad Little Cucumber


The basil is still looking fairly hearty ... it's the chip taken out of the planter I wanted to share. The tomatoes just might make it because they were so big in the first place and the fruits are still there and looking okay (a little bruised, but hopefully will be edible). The bell pepper was a little runty because of an earlier, less-dramatic hail storm ... but my cucumber. My cucumber breaks my heart. It was so lush and the leaves were big and fuzzy-prickly, and we had a sizable cuke coming down that had a massive chunk taken out of it. I'm hoping with a little TLC and some extra water and *HOPEFULLY* no more hail storms, we might be able to salvage a few pieces out of these.

This was my first actual gardening attempt and it was going very well. I was truly excited for fresh tomatoes in my salad and cucumbers warm from the sun .... Does anyone know how to bring a fledgling garden back from the dead?