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, March 31, 2011

Carrie's Black Birthday Socks Finished

It's always good to have birthday socks done three weeks before the actual birthday.

I used an LED flashlight for picking up gusset stitches all the while muttering to myself that if I couldn't see to pick them up neatly, who was going to see well enough to criticise if they weren't neat.

Perfectionism won out. The stitches are neat. And I challenge anyone who thinks they're not to bring a flashlight and take a look.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 56 stitches. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: Panda Soy. 49% Bamboo, 33% Soy, 18% Elastic Nylon.

Color: 3202, Jet Black.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Late Spring - End of March

This has been the coldest March I can remember.

Last week we had six days in a row when it never hit 40. Even when the sun comes out, the temperatures are staying around 40 and nighttime temperatures fall into the teens.

Some geese stopped by to see if the pond might be a good nesting spot. Fourteen, almost fifteen, year old dog Glory earned a "good girl" by chasing them off.

After goose chasing, it was time for a polar plunge.

The deer stop by daily to check if the hostas are up and ready to eat.

Hostas can't take freezing and know enough to stay in the ground for now.

Daffodils are just the opposite. They grow under snow, they grow when frozen, and they're determined to bloom in the middle of April even if warm weather hasn't arrived by then.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Red X Sweater Finished

This sweater has been done for a few weeks but since it's still cold here the wool sweater season has been extended through March and I haven't been in a hurry to wash/block it to be wearable.

Also, I've had the income tax papers spread out all over the table where I do my drying/blocking. Yesterday I picked up all the paperwork, declared the tax stuff ready to go to the accountant, and celebrated by washing/blocking the Red X Sweater.

The background stitch pattern is a little busier than usual for a Gansey type sweater, but I don't regret using it. The Red X Sweater goes its name when I started out with this stitch pattern.

Here's an underarm view of the faux seam and the little gusset.

Pattern: Basic gansey template. Picked stitch patterns selected from various stitch collections.

Yarn: Knitpicks Cotlin. 70% Tanguis Cotton, 30% Linen. DK weight.

Color: Moroccan Red.

Needles: Options #3.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch, 8.5 rows/inch in pattern.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Chat Back for March 26

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Kathy B. asked . . .
Did you knit the purple gansey shown? IT is a marvel.
Thanks Kathy. It's one of the last things I knit for Children in Common before they stopped taking handknits. It's a Toddler size 4 knit with some left over project yarn.

Details here.

Dorothy asked . . .
What are you going to do with that lovely rainbow yarn?

Good question.

I've been tempted to buy some Zauberball several times because of the beautiful colors and color transitions, but I always talked myself out of it because it's single ply and I didn't think it would wear well for socks.

Now that I've won a skein (thank you Linda Jo) I can either give it a try for socks or knit a very colorful scarf or ???.

It does have a 25% nylon content and is machine washable, so maybe socks would be OK.

All that is the long way of saying I don't know what I'm going to knit with it. But, I'm having fun thinking about it. Any suggestions?

Susanne asked . . .
I know you have knit with several Knit Picks' yarns and I am wondering if you have knit with the "Wool of the Andes". My question is, do you or any of your readers know if it pills? I am thinking of using it to embark on a substantial garment, and certainly don't want any obvious pilling with such an undertaking!

I used Wool of the Andes for Autumn Song, details here. I've worn it occasionally for three winters now, and there has been no pilling. Stitch definition is good, knitting is pleasant, and after washing in baby shampoo I can wear it next to my somewhat sensitive skin with no irritation.

It was knit at a firm gauge, 5.5 stitches/inch, on #5US needles which helps to prevent pilling and promote stitch definition.

You didn't say what your project is or what gauge you want/need to knit. If you want to talk more about it let me know and be sure to leave your email in the comment or email me direct.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Early Spring, Late March

It's been colder than normal for March. Still, the signs of spring can't be ignored now.

The Phoebes are back.

Some of the Goldfinches have started their molt from winter drab olive to spring bright gold.

Sandhill Cranes are flying over on the way to their nesting sites.

Their constant trilling is so loud it can't be missed.

Many nights are still below freezing. Wednesday night we had some snow and the roads were icy enough to cause a few accidents on Thursday morning.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vest Knitting Update

There hasn't been much time for knitting the past several weeks. I do manage to get in a few hours each evening and more on the weekends, so the two vests I'm working on are making good progress.

The silver lace vest is ready to have the shoulders joined with a three needle bind off. Then the ribbing around the neck and sleeves will finish it up.

Pattern: Oversize Lace Top by Deborah Newton, published in Spring/Summer 2007 Vogue Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss. 70% Merino wool, 30% silk. DK weight.

Color: Robot. (Silver gray)

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in pattern.

When I'm tired and don't feel like reading lace charts for the silver vest, I pick up this vest and knit round and round. The stitch patterns are easy to follow without looking at a chart and the yarn slides smoothly on and off the needles until I fall asleep.

I've been tired a lot lately, so I'm only an inch and a half from the front-back split. Then I'll have to decide what kind of arm opening and what kind of neckline I want and I'll have to stay awake while I shape them.

Pattern: Basic V neck (probably, unless I change my mind when I get there) vest. Making it up as I go along.

Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll. 75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon. Sport weight.

Color: Cocoa.

Needles: Options #5.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Wings - Song Sparrow

Each year seems to bring a different mix of small birds to the feeders. This past winter the feeders were full of Song Sparrows and I ended the season with many unpublished Song Sparrow pictures waiting for a post.

Since the forecast calls for snow tonight, it seems like the perfect Wednesday to publish a few of them before spring takes over.

Now that it's the end of March, I'm hoping once this week is over there will be no more snow pictures on this blog until next winter.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Black Monday

Moving on to the next family birthday and pair of birthday socks. Little Sister Carrie asked for Vegan acceptable socks in black or navy. I bought some of each color and am tackling the black ones first.

Notice I didn't pick out an intricate stitch pattern.

The cuffs were pretty easy. I knit slow because the yarn is splitty and the splits aren't easy to spot in the black. Now it's time for the heels. The gusset pickups are going to require some intense lighting, but then it should get easier again.
Dear Carrie, When you read this, take it with a smile. The fun part of knitting black socks is complaining about it. Love you. :-)

I want to knit these socks or I'd take the "out" you so kindly offered when you remembered I said I was never going to knit black socks again.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 56 stitches. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: Panda Soy. 49% Bamboo, 33% Soy, 18% Elastic Nylon.

Color: 3202, Jet Black.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Just because this post needs some color.

Friday, March 18, 2011

John's Birthday Socks

Happy Birthday John!

The socks were mailed to Idaho on Monday, so hopefully John will get them on his birthday today.

Pattern: BFF by Cookie A. 72 stitch size.

Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll.

Color: Buckskin.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Early Spring, Mid March

We don't have much color yet in SW Michigan.

Instead of hanging around the feeding station, the birds are spread out claiming their nesting territories.

I've heard that Chickadees will use nest boxes, but I've never had a Chickadee nest in one of mine. Maybe this will be the year.

The Hellebore plants are evergreen, but after they've been buried under the snow for several months the leaves look totally beat up. Still, they put out the earliest blooms in the garden.

I think everyone in the Midwest has Snowdrops. They bloom before the Crocus, the rodents don't like to eat their bulbs, and they're always a welcome sight to see on the first sunny day after the snow melts off them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mouse Removal, Contest Winnings, and First Robin

This week's schedule is full of things that need to be done. None of them involve fun. Some weeks are like that.

I had tasks listed out by day. I knew I probably wouldn't get all of them accomplished, but had high hopes of eliminating most of them. The perfect recipe for an expensive, time consuming, unpleasant surprise.

Yesterday morning I got in the car to go to Bible study, turned on the heater, and pieces of car foam and shredded Kleenex blew out every vent.

So today I spent the afternoon sitting at the Toyota dealership while they dismantled my dash and cleaned out the mouse nest. No rodents were found.

People have been telling me Irish Spring soap in the car works well to keep the rodents away. I've got the car loaded with bright green bars of the stuff. Unfortunately Irish Spring smells so awful it makes me want to stay away as well. Happy St. Patricks Day!

On a more pleasant note - a much more pleasant note - I won Linda Jo's Blogiversary contest.

Yesterday while I was pondering how much it was going to cost to get the car cleaned out, a package of wonderful things arrived in the mail for distraction.

It's that delicious North Idaho Huckleberry Jam. (John and Anne, remember this for Christmas next year.) Also a skein of Zauberball and a lovely bracelet.

Linda Jo makes beautiful beaded things when she's not busy knitting. That's why her blog is called Beadknitter.

She lives in the country in Northern Idaho and has moose come into her yard, doing much more damage than a mouse ever could. She takes their picture and then shoots them with a paintball to encourage them to move on.

Thank you Linda! The package made my day on a day when I really needed something nice to happen.

Last Wednesday, March 9, I heard and spotted the first Robin of the year.

It was a cold, gray, cloudy day and the poor Robin looks like it could use a warm place to take shelter.

It's warmer this week. I saw a flock of Robins fly off this morning when I went out the door. Spring will be here soon.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chat Back for March 12

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Shirley asked . . .
Which cotton yarn would you recommend? I have never used cotton but do like the Swish DK. I am working on "Metro" but may try a gansey pullover next.

Swish DK would make a nice gansey.

I've knit several Ganseys with Knitpicks Cotlin, a cotton linen blend. Cotlin softens with washing and holds its shape. Heavy cables don't work with any cotton blends, but the knit/purl Gansey stitch patterns have adequate stitch definition. The best yarn I know of for hot weather Ganseys.

Any cotton yarn, including the blends, are going to be hard on the hands and shoulders when the stitches are knit snug enough to be Gansey worthy. Wool is much nicer and gives the best results.

Don't buy the Knitpicks Comfy, a cotton acrylic blend. It's too soft for decent stitch definition and it pills without provocation.

The cotton/wool blends would probably work well and someday I plan to try one.

Kathy B. asked . . .
I love brown on grey haired people....are you sure?

Yep, I'm sure. I have very light skin coloring.

Laurie asked . . .
No crimson and gold for John this year? I hope he hasn't given up on our Redskins.

John never gives up on the crimson and gold and is training his daughter in Redskin ways. (This picture is two years old. Sydney is over four feet tall now and finishing up Kindergarten.)

John has been a Redskin fan since he was a young boy. No idea why. He was born and raised in Michigan. He even wore a Redskin coat one winter when he was (I'm guessing) about ten.

Judy S. asked . . .
Did you make the sampler in the Gansey book? It's quite an intriguing book; thanks for suggesting it!

Judy is talking about Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel, a tutorial and pattern reference for knitting gansey sweaters.

When I first got the book I was knitting wool toddler sweaters for Children in Common, so I jumped right into the kids ganseys. I've knit those three patterns or a variation multiple times each.

I always thought it would be fun to knit the little sampler sweater, but it wasn't needed to understand the toddler sweater patterns and I'll probably never get around to doing it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Silver Lace Top Progress

I'm having fun knitting this vest just knowing that there aren't going to be any sleeves. Changing stitch patterns seem to make the knitting go faster. Just as I start to get bored, it's time to do something else.

This is the front. Everything below the armhole was knit in the round (deviation from the pattern), so the back is almost as long as the front. It will be done soon. After I take a break to finish John's birthday socks.

Since I overbought yarn yardage, I was thinking of making it a sweater. The final decision has been made. This will be a vest following the pattern as written except for knitting things in the round whenever possible.

Pattern: Oversize Lace Top by Deborah Newton, published in Spring/Summer 2007 Vogue Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss. 70% Merino wool, 30% silk. DK weight.

Color: Robot. (Silver gray)

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in pattern.

Do you get the impression the neckline of this cover sweater may have a few problems that couldn't be fixed long enough for a picture to be taken?

Or is the model doing a breast self-exam on the cover of Vogue Knitting?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wednesday Wings - Yellow-Shafted Flicker

The Yellow Shafted Flicker is a rare guest at the feeding station.

It's always a lone female and she doesn't appear until late February.

I imagine her dreaming of eating her favorite food, ants, while she has some suet to make do until spring.

This picture is reposted from last year when I was lucky enough to get a good shot of her yellow shaft.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Very Early Signs of Spring

March is a transition month. Some days are very wintry, other days give us a hint of spring. After a low of 12F last night, today warmed up for some thawing. Over the weekend we're forecast to be frozen again.

March is a colorless month. But it is March and that means spring is coming, so we look for little signs that it's on the way.

The John Deere dealership picked up the tractor for its spring maintenance this afternoon. In a little over a month from now, the grass will need mowing.

Before I can mow, I'll be spending several hours picking up sticks. Lots of wind and ice this winter has resulted in a yard full, same as every other winter.

The newspaper delivery guy put up a new pole for the paper box today. The old pole lost its battle with the snow plow.

He wasn't able to sink the pole very deep because the ground is still frozen. There's more snow in the forecast and I think this early effort is overly optimistic, but I give him credit for taking the chance.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Silver Lace Vest Started

I've been enjoying the changing patterns in this sleeveless top, and it's been getting most of my knitting attention for the past few days. That's going to end Saturday when John's birthday socks get top priority so they aren't late.

One of the reasons I picked this project is because I wanted a break from knitting sleeves. Now I'm starting to think there might be enough yarn for some sleeves. Right now I'm knitting the body in the round. I'll evaluate and make the sleeve decision when I get to the underarm split.

If I don't use up this yarn a few skeins will sit in my stash for years with no project in mind.

So far I haven't deviated from the pattern except to knit the body in the round with faux side seams.

Pattern: Oversize Lace Top by Deborah Newton, published in Spring/Summer 2007 Vogue Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss. 70% Merino wool, 30% silk. DK weight.

Color: Robot. (Silver gray)

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in pattern.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook for March 1

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 March 1, 2011...

Outside my window...

A Blue Heron is walking down the creek looking for food.

Are those icicles dangling from its tail?

I am thinking...
How happy I am to have lost ten pounds. Now I need to lose ten more.

I am thankful for...
The power staying on during last week's ice storm. Very thankful!

Thousands of homes, businesses, and schools around us lost their power for days. The storm hit Sunday night and it was Friday before the last people got their power restored.

From the kitchen...
Mac and cheese in the oven. Not good diet food. I will be careful about how much I eat.

I am wearing...
Size 10 brown corduroy pants and they're not tight. This is so exciting. Time to search the drawers and closet for other clothing I haven't been able to wear for a while.

I am creating...

Son John's birthday socks.

Yes, it's the BFF pattern by Cookie A. again. I seem to be stuck on it because it's perfect in so many ways. This pair of socks demonstrates a new reason to love this pattern - it has a 72 stitch version and it knows how to be manly.

The yarn is Knitpicks Stroll in Buckskin.

I am going...
To sit and knit when I'm done with this blog post.

I am reading...
Just finished Kittyhawk Down by Garry Disher, the second Detective Inspector Hal Challis mystery.

I'm enjoying these Australian books very much. So much that I'll be willing to buy the paperbacks of the rest of the series if I can't find them at the library.

I am hoping...
To see the wild turkeys when they come into the yard. I see their footprints so I know they've been here.

I am hearing...
Many more bird songs when we go outdoors. The birds are claiming and guarding their nesting spots and looking for a mate if they don't have one.

Around the house...
Many things need dusting.

One of my favorite things...

A few weeks ago I bought a pair of Stabilicers Lite and attached them to an old pair of New Balance shoes. We've had a lot of ice since then and I've been able to take the dogs out for walks without worrying about falling. Without the Stabilizers I wouldn't have gone far from the porch.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Get to the warm pool to stretch out my sore joints, grocery shopping, listening to the next Garry Disher book, starting the taxes, finishing John's socks, and maybe doing some of that dusting that needs to be done.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

The day after the ice storm this mourning dove appearing at the feeders looking like this. Its tail must have frozen to its perch while it slept. Ouch.