31 May 2010

This, that, and the other thing

7 Small Shawls: T - 215 days and counting down. Last day to purchase at lower price of $16! When I release Merope on June 1st, the price of the eBook will be re-set at $20. (There will still a few hours on June 1st morning day before I release the pattern, I'm sure, to purchase for $16).

We spent a quiet Memorial Day today, with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on our minds.

#1 Son made blueberry pancakes and then we finally got down to planting our tomatoes. I always try so hard to get them in the ground earlier! But April and May are full of activities: swim meets, last minute school work, the Fair.... And this year it rained and rained. So today we set about to getting them in the ground.
We're very lucky, I know, that the growing season lasts a long time in this area. Usually, we are still getting tomatoes into October. So I'm crossing all my fingers!

I've been talking and talking about the fair, I know, and haven't had any pics up at all. Well, here's #1 Son and his market rabbit project.
And Bear with his show rabbit, Pepper, a Himalayan.
#1 Son has a show rabbit (Dart - a Rhinelander), as well. They're great bunnies.

The market rabbits are auctioned off at the end of the fair, which I think has been more difficult for me than #1 Son, although he doesn't always show all his feelings on the matter. All I can say is this: at one point in my life, I was able to order rabbit in a restaurant and enjoy it. Now, the very thought of it makes me ill. Our show bunnies, Dart and Pepper, and Diva the house rabbit are permanent fixtures. Thankfully, the meat rabbit breeds do not tend to have as much personality and intelligence as the breeding (show) rabbits. But still....

No knitting has been done today at all. It was sacrificed for a much needed nap. But I do have some nice eye candy from Zen Yarn Garden. This is 14k
and this is Margarita.
YUM! I'm planning on using 14k in the eBook. Margarita is going to be a different design. Maybe I should do an ebook in green, eh?! ;) Roxanne calls this lace yarn, but it isn't lace weight yarn. It's really a light sock weight yarn - much heavier than her other lace yarn. Yummy and perfect for my book. :)

Well, I'm off to format the rest of my first pattern release for 7 Small Shawls. I'm excited for you all to have it. :)

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30 May 2010


7 Small Shawls: T - 216 days and counting down.

Remember those old Club Med ads? The antidote to civilization? I feel like I've had a little too much "civilization" these past few days. It was sooooooo nice to take a nap today and catch up on some knitting. The perfect antidote!
See? Progress has been made! More later. I'm going to go read in bed now. :)


29 May 2010

Popping in

7 Small Shawls: T - 217 days and counting down.

Whew. Long day today! We were at the animal auction late (but not as late as last year!). I did manage to get in some knitting though.
I used a mini light clipped to my pocket. People might have thought I was a little loony. But honestly? I didn't care. :)

Hope you're enjoying your weekend! I'm off to vegetate, read and sleep. Fair clean-up is early tomorrow. More on the fair later!

Keep those comments on yesterday's post coming to enter my contest!

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28 May 2010

Drive-by blogging + a contest

7 Small Shawls: T - 218 days and counting down.

It was a crazy day! The boys showed their rabbits at the fair this morning and did well! The garden barrel auction was this evening, and the concept #1 Son created - a gourmet pizza barrel - was the top earner for the kids' barrels. It was a great lesson in critical acclaim versus actual popularity. The barrel - with a centerpiece of a lovely olive tree, heirloom tomatoes, herbs, peppers and a gift basket with Chianti salami and other delicious tidbits - placed third behind two other barrels. We thought they were nice, but not as original or as substantial (maybe we were a little biased - but just a little). The boys had to endure the snide comments of a volunteer judge yesterday who said easily overheard things like "there are smoked oysters in the gift basket, and I hate smoked oysters. Give them a 4 instead of a 5 for creativity." They were feeling pretty low. But this evening at the auction, the barrel was so well received that you could see them glowing! The rabbit judges this morning were another thing altogether, lest you think this is the norm. They were kind, thoughtful and thorough. Just what judges should be, and what we have come to expect at this little fair. A thoroughly good experience, with tons to learn if one had a mind to do so. The auction this evening was another great experience, with the community coming out to bid on garden barrels and desserts to help the kids' scholarship funds. I won a cake. :) Pics soon!

Before moving on, I wanted to thank you all for your great comments on my shawl! You have me walking on air. :) I was actually able to knit on shawl #2 today, but there are no progress pics, I'm sorry to say. To atone for this sad lack of eye candy, I will answer questions and have a little contest!

scifiknitter asked: "Are you going to try to include a design or two that will work well with the more raucous hand-painted yarns?" Yes! I will try to include at least one. :) I know there are tons of you with variegated sock yarns in stash!

Adrienne said: "That green yarn is going to haunt me. What is it? I think I'd give a kidney for that color!" It's a "mistake" by Karen at Royale Hare. Isn't it incredible? I am obsessed by it! I am working on her to make more of it soon.

Several people have asked me if the new shawl I'm working on is part of the 7 Small Shawls eBook. Yes!!! You betcha. :)

So down to the contest. For which sister (of the Pleiades) do you think the new shawl should be named? Leave a blog comment for me by midnight PST on Tuesday, June 1st and be entered to win a nickel swirl shawl pin (below - or copper if you prefer)! Name to be drawn randomly.
Last, but definitely not least, look what came in the mail today! I had been talking with Kathy at WEBS about her yarns, and she sent me a giant box to swatch!
It was completely jam packed full of yarn, including my favorite: this alpaca/silk lace weight. Yowza.
And yes, I know. Another pink yarn on my blog! But can I just say that I have nothing against hot pink? In fact, I quite like it. The hotter, the better. This picture does not in the least do justice to its hotness.

Well, back to the fair tomorrow, but I'm going to take a few hours off to go to my knitting group so they too can fondle all of my goodies yarn. Have a great weekend!

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27 May 2010


7 Small Shawls: T - 219 days and counting down.

Green is one of my favorite colors. And after knitting a lot of pink and purple (most on a secret project due out in fall), it's so nice to be back to it! I'm really loving this new shawl design. It's simple but has a great texture. The pattern is super easy to remember, which makes it perfect for today, when I've been helping with fair and parade preparation and haven't had two brain cells to rub together. (The parade went off without a hitch and it was sunny! This after torrential rain in the morning.)

I was out almost all day, but I managed to snap a few pics of my progress while I was home this afternoon.
Even though this is proving to be a great travel pattern, I wasn't doing any knitting this morning at the fairgrounds. OMG, it was wet! There was a mini flash flood. But the sun finally came out in the early afternoon.
This shawl has a more semi-circular shape. I can't wait to finish it and see if it works as planned!
Tomorrow it's off to the fair bright and early for the boys' rabbit judging and showmanship. And it's going to be another loooooong day, with auctions in the afternoon and into the evening. I'll sneak back to my studio to get some pin orders in the mail, and then it's back again to the fair. But I think this time I'll get a little knitting time in the stands. :)

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26 May 2010


7 Small Shawls: T - 220 days and counting down.

Wow, the days are flying by! I enjoyed a bit of sun today - actually more sun than rain. :)

Today we assembled all the items for the 4-H kids' garden barrel for the FFA Fair this weekend. The idea behind it is completely awesome, and as such is very hushush. But I can tell you it involves an olive tree. This olive tree, in fact.
It was very very kindly donated to our 4-H club by the Olive Tree Company, a local (about a block away!) grower. It's a lovely little Maurino tree in full bloom and it will be the centerpiece. The nurseryman showed us the tiny fruit forming in the center of the blossoms. You can see it a little bit in this picture.
Not much swatching happened today. There were a lot of other things happening: gathering things for 4-H, sending out packages, making shawl pins, roasting almonds.
But I did find a moment to model my freshly blocked garter stitch Merope.
The Wolf Creek BFL sock yarn is amazing. Incredibly soft and bouncy. And it smells wonderful too, because I washed it in Kookaburra wool wash! Yummy.

Another thing about today: it was a Good Mail Day.
I'm in a thoughtful mood today. There are wonderful things about living in this small town and area: the cemetery is owned by the same man who owns the general store and the water department, everyone watches out for the kids, people trust each other and know one another. But there are other things, like this, that we are really trying wrap our heads around. Knowing your fellow townspeople means that when something happens, you have a greater chance of knowing the people it happened to. Sometimes it even means you've seen them every day walking by, and the anonymity of the newspaper article is broken, and you're left pondering and wondering how this could happen to such great people.

We're still getting ready for the Fair and the twilight parade tomorrow. I'll be able to knit some on my shawl, but not much on the swatches. And I'm just not feeling the love for them yet. Maybe after they're blocked....

Oh, and the almonds...to roast almonds, heat your oven to 350 F and spread the raw almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. I put them on aluminum foil to remove them easily. Bake for about ten minutes and then put them on a cooling rack immediately. If you like them salted, just sprinkle some salt on them while they cool. Yummy and easy.

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25 May 2010

Drip drip drip

7 Small Shawls: T - 221 days and counting down.

Amusement on a rainy day.
I know. For someone who professes not to like knitting with pink yarn, I've certainly had a lot of it on my blog lately, haven't I?! This one is for a secret project due yesterday, or maybe even last week. The yarn is from Scout. I think it's super pretty. :)

As promised, here is my progress so far on the second shawl in my 7 Small Shawls ebook.
I'm really liking the way this looks, which makes me wonder whether I should re-think the overall shawl.
The original concept is somewhat tailored, but I'm really loving the top with its leafy-ness, so I'm leaning toward more leaves. I'm re-thinking this one while dreaming up a chart for #3. There will be more sketching and some swatching going on in the near future.

On a personal note, I purchased a cemetery plot for my aunt, uncle and mother today. They'll be together under oak trees. I think they would have liked that.

Tomorrow I am contemplating building an ark if the rain doesn't stop soon. :glug:

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24 May 2010

Slow but steady

7 Small Shawls: T - 222 days and counting down.

Progress was slow today. It seemed that I was looking at this view a lot.
I have decided that the trouble really began when I tried to think out some technical issues with a foggy brain, instead of just winging it. Because, dear readers, I am apparently a knitiot savant. If I don't think about the technical side -numbers, stitch counts and the like - things just seem to come together correctly. So much for planning! :P Maybe I'll have a bit more brain tomorrow. I hope?

Shawl #2 starts with a provisional cast-on, from which both sides are knit out, and then stitches are picked up around the side. This is sort of the idea here.
And this is how far I got with it before I went to pick the boys up at swimming.
This isn't too terribly bad, considering the number of times I ripped it out because it wasn't quite right. I figured out how to disguise the half stitch offset when you pick up the stitches from the provisional cast-on and work the opposite way. Woot! I love little geeky details like that. :)

I'm farther along now, and I think it's going well. The construction of this one is a little different, and I'm not quite sure it's going to work out as envisioned, so I'm going to hedge my bets. I want to get another shawl to my test knitters as soon as possible, and if I have to rip this one out, there needs to be a back-up. So tomorrow I'm going to start swatching another design. The construction is simple, but the stitch pattern will need some serious tweaking. And it's a great excuse to use my Flamingo Pie Starry smooshy yarn.

In other news, I blocked my garter stitch Merope! First, I soaked it in my favorite wool wash, Kookaburra. I love love love the smell of the tea tree oil in it, and it almost makes blocking a pleasure!

When I block, I always soak for at least half an hour in cold water with wool wash and then squeeze as much water out as possible. Being careful to support the wet piece, I transfer it to a towel, wrap it up and walk on it to squeeze the excess water out. Works like a charm! (I admit that I love the smell of Kookaburra so much, I use the towel for showering afterwards).

I really don't enjoy blocking, in fact I avoid it for days after finishing a shawl, but I hadn't remembered how easy this one is until I actually got my blocking wires and t-pins out. This version has a reverse stockinette i-cord bind off like Brandywine, which I love for blocking!
I ran wires (mine are tig welding rod) through the tube the bind off creates and then down the sides through the points in the edging. I just placed it on a clean dry towel and pinned it to the carpet. A small shawl like this one can easily be eye-balled and tape measured for correct dimensions.
Presto! The whole process, including pinning it out, took less than 15 minutes.

The forecast for tomorrow: rain. I'm looking forward to some smooshy swatching.

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Monday's Musing

"Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong

Another quote for #1 Son, who is going through that pre-teen time of his life that is so difficult.

Have a great week , everyone! And remember, as my hubby says: "It doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down, only that you get up one more time." (figuratively speaking here)


23 May 2010

Sunday Sunday

7 Small Shawls: T - 223 days and counting down.

Today, I slept in. I would love to get more used to this. :) Especially when #1 son makes pancakes! I really did mean to photograph them before I had eaten them, but somehow I forgot until it was almost too late!
They were delicious: whole grain with blueberries we had bought fresh in season and frozen.

I had such great plans for this day, truly I did. But first I needed to take Bear to a 4-H meeting to work on the parade float for next week's fair. The leader had assured us that there would be food since the meeting ran through lunch time. I took along snacks for Bear anyway, because he might be allergic to what was offered. You know where this is going, right? No food. Only a few kids, none of whom wanted to paint the banners for the trailer. Three other parents and I ended up doing almost the whole thing. Bear and I got back at 4:30. But we saved the day (after eating "lunch!"). DH, Bear and I all piled in the car to pick #1 Son up from a birthday party and then we headed to Baskin Robbins. I do think that a hot fudge sundae can cure almost any imaginable ill, don't you?

Needless to say, though, only a little swatching on Shawl #2 was done today.
And some chart writing and pattern notes.
I tend to design things in my head and then write them down as I knit them. And if possible, my swatches are done so that, if they work out as planned, I can continue knitting them into the actual garment. So my little swatch above is the start of a shawl. I ripped it out several times, and I now have the envisioned start to my next small shawl. I'll show you more tomorrow!

I need to warn you though: shawl #2 doesn't include the wonderful pattern I showed you last post. After I wrote that, it occurred to me that I cannot do a top down shawl with that stitch pattern, which is what I had been thinking. :soundofhandhittingforehead: I need to do some serious experimenting and thinking on this one in order to make it look as imagined. I may shift my imagination a bit, too. Plus, I think it needs to be in Malabrigo sock yarn. :) So I went on to one I've been thinking about for some time.

I just realized today that I think about designing patterns or pins all the time, no matter what I'm doing. There's always a little extra dialogue and picture show going on in my brain. I told my husband this, and he said "this is news to you!?" He usually has me figured out before I do. Predictable? That's me.

I'm off to block my garter stitch Merope. Pics tomorrow!

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22 May 2010

Progress! + a mini tutorial

7 Small Shawls: T - 224 days and counting down.

Today I finished my test garter stitch Merope during my Saturday knitting group. It doesn't look like much, does it?!
It will be blocked this evening. Oops - just looked at the time. Maybe tomorrow! I'm feeling unmotivated lazy at the moment. :)

I didn't realize until I was finished that the yarn I was using - Wolf Creek Wools BFL sock yarn purchased at Stitches West - is 3 ply! It has a super tight twist, as you can imagine!

Anyway, here's where the mini tutorial comes in.... I always separate the plies before weaving in ends.
Initially it takes longer, but this way the ends really stay put! Even superwash.

After separating the plies, I thread the needle with each ply in succession and weave them in one by one.
I use a sharp needle and pass it through the center of the working yarn, making sure to stretch the knitting out so that I don't bind the stitches and make it difficult to block the piece.
After going through one way, I turn around and go right back through both the ply I am weaving and the yarn through which I wove it. This last step makes it virtually impossible to unravel the ends.
Trim the ends and you're set! The great thing about this method is that you really don't need to weave the plies in more than two to three inches to have them stay docilely where they have been placed.

In other news, one of my test knitters is a local friend of mine, and she brought her finished Merope to knitting this morning. We had a little photo shoot!
It turned out really beautifully.
I am quite envious of her incredibly even stitches!
Isn't it a lovely color?!
The photos really don't do it justice at all.
The rest of the day was spent doing yardwork (lots of pruning overgrown shrubbery!) and having a little 4-H rabbit meeting. The big event in the year for our local 4-H is next week: the Future Farmers of America Country Fair, and we are all rushing to get everything ready!

A question for the gardeners out there: what to do when my lemon tree's leaves are yellow? Does it need fertilizer? More acidic soil? It's blooming this year - last year I moved it and it took some time to recover - and I am so looking forward to a nice crop of lemons!

Have a great Sunday. :)

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21 May 2010

T - 225 {days}

Thank you, everyone, for the incredible response to my scheme! I have been flying high!

The first thing I did today was check the actual number of days until the new year. As of this morning, I had 225 full days to accomplish my goal. Merope is almost finished with testing, and I have yarn, sketches and ideas. I'm feeling good right now, but definitely not complacent!

Ironically, almost the moment I announced my quest, something else popped up. I had submitted a few designs to a magazine, and I found out yesterday that one was accepted. I will receive yarn next week, and the completed project is due July 5. One month to complete a secret project while designing and knitting small shawls, and your assignment, should you decide to accept it dear readers, is to keep me on the straight and narrow!

I've been working on my garter stitch Merope today, in between kid wrangling and making shawl pins. It's difficult to believe that this lump is going to block out beautifully, isn't it?
I always believe in some small part of my mind that this time, the magic won't happen and it will stay a lump forever.

I was flying along on my mortal Merope (having completed her nymph personality) and discovered, much to my annoyance, that I had done something stupid.

I hate it when I do something stupid.

I mean, really, who could knit half a row in pattern and then continue in stockinette the rest of the way? It seems that the answer is :drumroll: me. Sigh. You may be able to see in the photo below that the pin on the right goes through an eyelet and the pin on the left goes through...garter stitch. I fixed two of them and then Ms. Merope was put in time out.
Out came the yarn I have been obsessing over. Because really, even though I loved the pink yarn above in the skein, I get tired of looking at it on the needles. But I never get tired of Yuck Green.
This particular one was Karen's mistake. She hated it; I loved it. With a passion. She all but made me promise that I wouldn't design a pattern with it so she a) wouldn't have to figure out what she had done, and b) wouldn't have to look at it again. I don't know how to break the news to her. :/

This is the stitch pattern I have been obsessing over. Will they get along well? The next step - swatching - will tell.
In mid afternoon, the cloudy, rainy day began really wearing on me. One of the difficult things about what I do is the comparative solitude. I say comparative because the kids are around all day and I referee supervise them while they are doing their school work (we home school). So really, there are other people here, but sometimes I really miss going to an office every day and having to get out of the house.

Lucky for me, a dear friend of mine was having similar feelings, and we met for coffee and a treat.
I came back with a whole different attitude. :)

Home made split pea soup, home baked bread (courtesy of my fabulous husband) and salad for dinner tonight!

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20 May 2010

10 in 2010!

You all have seen that Ravelry group, right? Those brave and fearless souls who have signed on to knit 10 shawls in 2010? Well, it's been teasing at my brain for some time now. Ever since I first heard of it, my sane side has been trying to convince my crazy side that I shouldn't try to design 10 shawls in 2010. Guess who won? Hee.

I've already designed 3 shawls this year:
Brandywine, Fiori di Sole and an as yet secret shawl due out in fall. That leaves 7. And that leads us to my quest!

I've become addicted to designing small shawls made of sock yarn and my sock yarn stash is growing. And growing. So I'm jumping in! I’m starting late, and I have 7 shawls to go before the end of this year. Can I do it? We shall soon find out!

The patterns will all go into an ebook,
7 Small Shawls to Knit, which you can "subscribe" to now! For those of you who have not joined the amazing Ravelry site, you can also see the book on my site here.
As a subscriber, you will receive periodic notices that there is a new pattern ready. Just go to the link provided and download your next copy of the book. Each update will include the past patterns, as well, so there is no need to keep lots of files. The update file will completely replace any older files.

Each of the shawl patterns will also be sold separately, but when you buy the entire collection as an ebook, you will also get other small patterns sprinkled here and there–at least 3 extras! Those extra projects will not be available for purchase alone. And with an ebook purchase, you'll already be getting - at a minimum - 3 of the shawl patterns free, as well!

Another great bit of win? If you subscribe now, the ebook is only $16! When the first pattern (
Merope) is released on June 1st, 2010, the price of the book will go up to $20, (which isn't too shabby either). :)

Each of the 7 shawls in this book is named after one of the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters of Greek mythology–nymph companions of Artemis–turned into stars to save them from Orion’s pursuit.

Here's a little sneak peek at Merope.
This one is the stockinette version.
It's knit with one skein of Jade Sapphire's silk/cashmere.
There is a garter stitch version, as well, and it's being tested as I write this.
Just as the Merope of legend, a nymph who married a human, had different personalities, her namesake does as well.
You can knit a smooth stockinette version for your inner nymph, or a more mortal garter stitch version. :)

Follow along with me – I'll be blogging the progress I make through the design process: imagining, swatching, charting, testing and laying out the patterns while trying to live a normal life!

I can't tell you how excited I am about this project! I hope you will join me!

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