Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pressure's On

Earlier this week we scheduled our annual Louise Lunch for May 8, a week from Saturday. Immediately I realized I needed to get daughter Heather's birthday socks done by then and they weren't even started.

Luckily I did have the yarn and was able to cast on immediately.

There's a little bit of knitting time pressure stress, but I think I'm up to the challenge.

Pattern: Little Shell Rib stitch pattern
Multiple of 8 stitches, 4 rows
  • Row 1: k7, p1
  • Row 2: k7, p1
  • Row 3: k1, YO, p1, p3tog, p1, YO, k1, p1
  • Row 4: k7, p1

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Woodgrain.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

The tree tops are turning green.

It looks like we're going to get through spring without an April snow storm. I like that. A lot.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sprout Body Done

Spring is a busy time.

There has been some knitting getting done, but not as much as other times of the year.

Sprout's body is done, front and back. The shoulder seams are joined and now it's only waiting on some sleeves and a neckline finish.

Pattern: Cultivated Vines by Sara Louise Harper in the May, 2010 Creative Knitting

Pattern Modifications:
  • Knitting lower two-thirds of sweater in the round instead of separate front and back.
  • Pattern goes from size 38 (too small) to size 42 (too big). I'm knitting a between size, size 40 on 240 stitches.
  • Used neck shaping for size 38 and sleeve shaping for size 42.

Yarn: Knitpicks Cotlin, a DK weight 70% Tanguis cotton 30% linen yarn.

Color: Sprout, a summery green.

Needles: Options #4, 3.5mm.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in stockinette.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrating Spring

We're all loving spring so much I was even happy to have to mow the lawn yesterday.

I've been knitting in the evenings. There isn't enough progress on anything to bother with a knitting picture, so here are some apple blossoms instead.

Mom Bluebird has four eggs and has begun her two week stint of nest sitting.

I took this with the zoom lens so she wouldn't feel the need to leave the nest box.

She peeks out and watches us during dog walks, but she sits tight and we don't go too close. It's a little chilly yet and I want those eggs to stay warm.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blue Balls

The Featherweight Sweater is frogged and I've started a loosely knit pullover with the yarn. It looks a bit lumpy since the yarn has kinks from its previous life as a cardigan. A good wash and blocking will take care of that.

Two of the four skeins of Cote d'Azur Hedonist yarn are lighter than the skein I'm knitting now, so something needs to be done design wise to make it look like it's planned for the sweater to have two different colors of yarn.

I'm thinking of knitting the border pattern I was using for Featherweight as a lighter color yoke. Most of the sleeves will need to be light as well. I have many ideas on how to make that look intentional, but don't need to decide on one until I get to the arm split.

Meanwhile I'll soothe my nerves each evening by knitting an inch or so of soft, gentle, very blue, very pretty yarn.

Pattern: A pullover mystery sweater. I don't even know what it's going to be.

Yarn: Hedonist Sock from Slackford Studio, 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 4 Ply Fingering Weight

Color: Cote d'Azur

Needles: US #4, 3.5mm

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette.

More Blue Balls

A Bluebird egg a day for the last three mornings.

Mom Bluebird won't start sitting on them until she's done laying. We've been having frosts at night so I hope they're not freezing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chat Back for April 17

Answering questions from comments and email.

JakkiMitch asked . . .
Thanks for the info about CotLin. I've always wondered how it would hold up. What issue is the second sweater from?

This sweater, Vines and Leaves by E. J. Slayton, is from the May 2010 Creative Knits, the same issue as the Sprout sweater I'm currently knitting.

Sister Carrie commented on her Panda Cotton birthday socks from a year ago . . .
The blue pair has been washed many times...the color holds fast, and they still look like new!

I'm so happy to hear this. Now I can knit Panda Cotton gift socks with peace of mind.

Laurie asked . . .
Lots of purling in the round. Would you consider turning it inside out and knitting in the round?

I did consider it.

Knitting inside out would work if I did the homework to convert the vine pattern for the wrong side/knit side of the fabric. I was looking for an easy knit and decided to purl and go with the pattern chart.

I've been pleasantly surprised that the purling is more rhythmic and relaxing than I imagined. I did knit a purl gauge swatch in the round because I feared my gauge would be different than stockinette in the round, and it is. I had to go up a needle size to #4s from the #3s I usually use to get 6 stitches/inch with Cotlin.

Judy S. asked . . .
Have you converted many patterns to "in the round?"
I prefer knitting in the round and convert to that technique whenever practical for the pattern and style being knit.
Interesting! Do you alter the pattern?

It takes a little thought about how many stitches need to be cast on. Sometimes I do an underarm faux seam like the one in this gansey.

The underarm sleeve shaping also needs to be tweaked to accommodate however the sleeve is going to be knit - picked up stitches? Knit flat according to pattern and seamed? Knit in the round and sewn in? Underarm gusset?

If the sweater has a stitch pattern, the wrong side rows need to be converted to right side rows, easy if the pattern has charts. Easy if the wrong side rows are knit the knits and purl the purls. A little more challenging if there is wrong side row patterning and/or shaping.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Start of Sprout

I'm pretty sure it's not good form to hold down one corner of a knitted piece with a handy sock blocker in order to get a picture. Probably not what Kathy in Iowa is going to learn in the "Photographing Your Fiber" class, with Franklin Habit she's taking in Minneapolis this weekend.

I'm not pleased with the way the color is displaying, either. Sprout, the color of the yarn, is a bright summery green. Not as bright as Kelly green, but much prettier than what's showing on my screen.

The sweater has been named Sprout after the color of the yarn.

Sprout is turning out to be a relaxing knit purling round and round on the circular needle with six interruptions for the "vine" motif. I purl slower than I knit, a fact I considered when deciding to knit the lower two-thirds of the sweater in the round.

Pattern: Cultivated Vines by Sara Louise Harper in the May, 2010 Creative Knitting

Pattern Modifications:
  • Knitting lower two-thirds of sweater in the round instead of separate front and back.
  • Pattern goes from size 38 (too small) to size 42 (too big). I'm knitting a between size, size 40 on 240 stitches.
  • Plan to use neck shaping for size 38 and sleeve shaping for size 42, fudging if necessary.

Yarn: Knitpicks Cotlin, a DK weight 70% Tanguis cotton 30% linen yarn.

Color: Sprout, a summery green.

Needles: Options #4, 3.5mm.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in stockinette.

Marsh Marigolds are in bloom along the creek.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Panda Soy Socks Finished

This is a yarn experiment pair of socks I knit for sister Carrie's birthday.

She is also getting a nice pair of socks in a Panda Cotton, a yarn she likes, detailed here.
Carrie: We want to know how socks in this yarn wash and wear, even if the news is bad and you never wear or wash them more than once.

Happy Birthday Little Sister!!

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 56 stitches. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and instep. I tried several simple stitch patterns, but the yarn is too nubby to show good stitch definition.

Yarn: Crystal Palace Panda Soy, 49% bamboo, 33% Cotton, 18% elastic nylon.

Color: Hazelnuts.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

The phoebes are back.

This picture was taken several weeks ago when the first males arrived.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sprout Swatch

I received a subscription to Creative Knitting for Christmas. After receiving two issues, I give it a thumbs up for simple, wearable knit patterns. Most are in a gauge range I like to knit, 5 to 6 stitches/inch.

I'm ready to knit something simple and springy that is going to fit, so I ordered Knitpicks Cotlin, a DK weight 70% Tanguis cotton 30% linen yarn. The color is called Sprout, a summery green.

The swatch is done and washed. As soon as I finish Carrie's socks I'll be casting on this sweater. It could happen this evening if I stay up later than I should.

I have one Cotlin sweater I wear often. It was pleasant to knit, comfortable to wear, easy to wash, and it is not pilling.

Assuming I'm still in easy knitting mode when the green sweater is done, this pattern is next up. Also from Creative Knitting.

A wet robin. He just finished a bath in the creek.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chat Back for April 10

Answering questions from comments and email.

Judy S. requested . . .
Please tell your little goldfinch he needs to come back home.

I've always assumed my little goldfinches are year round residents. Dozens of them winter over here hanging out at the Niger feeder.

The males turn olive yuck color in the fall and brighten back up to yellow during a spring molt.

Nancy commented . . .
I love Eastern Bluebirds. Wish I had some in my yard but they don't like the city I guess. Thanks for sharing yours.

Sadly, they don't like the city. It's one of the things I think about when tempted to move back to civilization.

After almost 20 years of having bluebirds in my yard and nestboxes, it's still a thrill for me.

Marie asked . . .
So Marguerite, like cowbirds much? hehe

I like them so much I saved a picture of their eggs from the internet to make sure I can recognize them.

Kathleen C. asked . . .
Did/have you ever read the old comic Pogo? Two of the least pleasant characters in it were the cowbirds.

Well chosen.

Bet the artist, Walt Kelly, was a bird lover.

Judy S. asked . . .
I've never seen a cowbird and am wondering if they come this far west.

They're creating havoc in all 48 of the continental United States.

Carrie commented . . .
Hoping for ongoing SPRING for you Michiganders!

We had a minor set back late last week, but we're back on track today with a high in the upper sixties.

There's been frost the last two nights, but not bad enough to hurt anything. I keep hearing it takes 28 degrees F to do damage and we haven't gone that low.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Featherweight Fiasco

The border looks great down the front sides. That's where my happiness ends.

The border is four inches wide and comes up way to high on the back of my neck. In general, I don't like the way it hangs on me and the fit is not coordinating with my body build.

I've tried Featherweight on several times today, each time thinking maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought it was last time I tried it on. I also tried convincing myself a little blocking could make everything better.

I'm over it. There is a 95% probability it's going to be frogged before the weekend is over. Maybe before the evening is over.

If I pretend all is well and finish this sweater it will hang around unloved and unworn for years. The yarn is too soft and pretty to waste in a drawer. In fact, I'm looking forward to knitting it again and making something useful I will wear often.

No sympathy required. These things happen.

Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig

Yarn: Hedonist Sock from Slackford Studio, 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon, 4 Ply Fingering Weight

Color: Cote d'Azur

Needles: US #4, 3.5mm

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 9 rows/inch in stockinette.

There was a little snow on the roof his morning, but there's a new, snugly nest inside the box.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wednesday Wings - Brown-headed Cowbird

The Brown-headed Cowbirds are obnoxious in so many ways. They're strongly built, aggressive, and dominate all the smaller, gentler songbirds.

They don't bother to build a nest. Instead, they lay their eggs in the nest of any bird they can dominate. The host bird unknowing hatches the Cowbird egg(s) and raises the Cowbird chick(s).

The hatchling Cowbirds are large, demanding, and rude. They take over the nest getting most of the food. The unwitting host's hatchlings go hungry, sometimes to the point of death.

Even at the feeding board, this Cardinal knows it wants nothing to do with this horrid female Cowbird.

Yesterday there were three female Cowbirds at the feeder. Each one has two to three dozen eggs a summer to deposit in an unsuspecting nice bird's nest.

This picture was taken at the end of nesting season last summer.

The young Cowbird is still harassing its adoptive parents, a male and female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. It wants to be fed. NOW!!!! And again and again.

Mr. and Mrs. Rosy are trying hard to make the demanding Cowbird happy, but it's impossible.

This picture was also taken at the end of nesting season last summer.

A worn out female Towhee feeding her Cowbird parasite.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook for April 6

These writing prompts are available from Simple Woman's Daybook where each Tuesday we're invited to join in celebrating the beauty of everyday moments around us.

FOR TODAY April 6, 2010...

Outside my window...

The cowbirds are feeding.

The only good thing about this is that I have pictures for Wednesday Wings tomorrow. I'll explain then why these birds are not welcome.

I am thinking...
About what to put on the grocery list for tomorrow's trip to the store.

I am thankful for...


I love the way myrtle pops up green and fresh looking as soon as the snow melts off the top of it.

Because it has so many runners it's difficult to rake the leaves out. If I ignore raking it for another month, the myrtle will sprout up over the old tree leaves and look well tended even though it wasn't.

From the kitchen...
We are eating leftover rib roast from Sunday. So good.

I am wearing...
Jeans, a gray sweatshirt, and handknit socks with New Balance walking shoes.

I am creating...

The border band for my Featherweight Cardigan. There are 329 stitches on the needle and it's going slow. Maybe I can finish it tonight?

I am going...
To finish cleaning the bathroom as soon as I get up from here.

I am reading...
Lay Down My Sword and Shield by James Lee Burke.

I'm about a third of the way through and so far I am not enjoying the painful story of a drunk on his way to self-destruction.

The only reason I'm sticking with this book is because James Lee Burke's writing is excellent, as always, and I expect the story to get better soon as the drunk sobers up and gets busy setting the world right.

I am hoping...
For no more winter weather. SW Michigan is about three weeks ahead of normal for spring growth, and winter weather now would cause considerable damage to tender plants that are up and blooming, budding, putting out leaves.

I am hearing...
Bob's oxygen concentrator chugging away.

We had thunderstorms last night. Everytime the power went off for a few minutes the concentrator emitted a screeching wail to warn us it wasn't working. I'm a little tired today. Bob slept through all of it.

Around the house...
I'm sorting out and filing all the paperwork that was needed for the taxes.

The final paperwork is back from the CPA and the taxes are submitted - a super big checkoff on my list of things to do.

One of my favorite things...

Turtles, especially painted turtles.

These two were sunning themselves on the edge of the pond Easter Sunday.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Hepatica, an early spring wildflower that grows on our property.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Chat Back for April 3

Answering questions from comments and email.

Lee commented . . .
(In a whisper, to Mrs B.Bird) the box... pick the box...

Keep whispering.

There are two boxes with frequent bluebird sightings, but no nest building has started yet.

Kathy B asked . . .
If I knit sock yarn on 1s it is good. I don't like 1s. If I knit them on 3's do I need a pattern to make the gauge work? I'm confused. NOT by you. My math mind is trying to grow........

Sock fabric takes a lot of abrasion and needs to be tightly knit, so when knitting socks with sock weight/fingering weight yarn I would never go larger than #1, (2.5mm). I often use the smaller #1 (2.25mm). It's not unheard of to knit fingering weight socks on 0s (2.0mm).

If you want to knit socks with #3 needles, perfectly beautiful socks can be made with sport weight yarn.

Jan commented. . .
The daffodils must look a cheery splash of colour to you.

Yes indeed.

And the Goldfinches are making good progress with their molting.

Many of the Goldfinch bellies are all yellow now, but the backs still have a ways to go before the males are handsome enough to attract a mate.

Border for Featherweight

Knitting Pattern Book 250, a Japanese stitch pattern book, concludes with 29 fancy patterns for ribbing. This is Number 239.

I like it very much, but it's not right for the Featherweight Cardigan front border for several reasons.

Where the stitches are wrapped it pulls in. That would work fine for a horizontal ribbing on the bottom of a sweater, not so good for a vertical border.

It's only a little over two inches wide while the Featherweight border is 3.5 inches wide. I considered making it wider by doing more wrapping rows, but that would make it pull in even more.

The pattern is formed without any cabling. Every other row three stitches are worked, then put on a cable needle. The yarn is wrapped around their base two times and the stitches are returned to the right hand needle.

It's an awkward knitting process, but not difficult. The challenge is to get the wraps at the same tension so the pattern looks even.

I think this is the winner!

It's Pattern #177 from The New Knitting Stitch Library by Leslie Stanfield.

It is a four inches wide, a little wider than the pattern states. I think that's going to be OK, but right now with all the stockinette edges rolling up every direction possible, it's hard to be sure. I'm going into this with the knowledge I may end up frogging the border if a) I don't get the gauge right for it to lay smooth or b) It's too wide.

The band is over four feet long. It goes up both front pieces and across the back of the neck. I won't know if I like it until it's done. Who says I don't have an exciting life?

A week ago I was imagining I'd get Featherweight done in time to wear to church on Easter morning. That isn't going to happen and it's going to be too warm to wear wool even if it was done.

Today it hit 80 degrees F and Glory took her first dip in the creek to cool off after our evening walk.