All New WIPs and a Plan

First, WordPress offered an update to my theme, so M had me install it, and then I couldn’t find the yarn picture, so I put in the pretty photo of blooming Ceanothus¬†you see above, as it is one of my favorite native California plants. It’s called California lilac, but it isn’t related to real lilacs at all; the flowers are just blue and purple. We put a small shrub of Ceanothus in our yard. It’s about 10 inches tall and wide. It’ll be a while until I get blooms like the photo.

In knitting news, after months of mostly monogamous knitting, I finished the Manaan cowl (still waiting to be blocked and photographed), and then I went a little berserk casting on. Back in November, Kym, of Stepping Away from the Edge, showed off her progress on her Tinder cardigan, and I was smitten. Jared Flood designed Tinder, and I’ve knit a couple of his other patterns with great enjoyment and success, so I took a look at it on Ravelry. When I saw it had a stand-up collar (my hair is very short, so my neck is bare), I knew I had to knit it. Much as I want to do some knitting with Shelter, Jared’s yarn and the yarn the pattern calls for, I want even more to use up some of my stash. So I cast on in some midnight blue Cascade 220 heather, after getting gauge, and I’m almost done with the back.
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Part of my plan, to keep the WIPs from getting out of hand, is to have this sweater, at least the knitting of the five main pieces, done by the end of April. That sounds like a long time, but I seldom have time to get more than three large projects done a year, so 4 months is about right.

Another part of my plan is to knit quite a few hats this year for myself, my brother Thomas and M. I thought I had 1-2 skeins of Lamb’s Pride Bulky left over in raspberry from knitting a vest. So I thought I’d knit a hat. I have 8 skeins left. More than a hat. A chill in the room, a determination to use up some yarn that has been sitting around for ages, and the opportunity to start right in without a swatch, had me casting on for a Unique Melody wrap by Rose Beck.
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It’s knit on the bias, and I stopped expanding the candle flame motif at four. Now I can knit until I have a little over one skein left and then decrease back down to a point. It’s an easy knit, the single ply yarn works well in the candle flame pattern, and it will be snuggly. We’ll see how long it gets, but I should at least be able to wrap it around my shoulders and pin it in front.

Then, when going out, I put on a loden green Geiger (Austrian boiled wool) jacket my mom had given me. Her mom had given it to her years ago, and my mom didn’t really wear it. It appears new. For our winter climate here, it is the perfect weight for a sunny, winter day. And I happened to have some very old, beautiful, but hard to knit with, multi-colored, single-ply, thick-and-thin yarn (basically all the characteristics of yarn that attract a newbie knitter but drive an experienced knitter crazy). The green in the yarn was a good match with the jacket, being just a shade lighter “on the paint chip.” I cast on a feather and fan scarf using the recipe by Jo Sharp in Scarf Style for Misty Garden. It’s going to be a keeper because I refuse to rip this yarn ever again. I have 300 yd, and then I’m done. And I shall never buy a multi-colored, thick-and-thin, single-ply yarn again. You can quote me on that.
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Finally, I cast on a failure. I love the Pinctada cowl by Angela Button of stringkitty, but it absolutely does not work in this Wagtail 100% mohair yarn (the green is part of a provisional cast-on).
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The yarn has NO bounce or elasticity–not surprising being mohair. It’s so soft and pretty-shiny even-but hell to knit with. But I’m determined I’ll find a way to use it. I have an idea, but that will be another post.
So there you have it. Three new WIPs to become FOs, and one to be ripped. But I do plan to knit at least three large projects this year, AND to use up some of my smaller amounts of stashed yarn, especially knitting hats.

Stay tuned and happy knitting.

Before and After with Steps

When M and I bought our home this summer, there was a nook off one side of the kitchen (the kitchen is in the center of the house and open on three sides).
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The area on the left would really only hold a small bistro table and two chairs, and since the kitchen has a bar-eating area and there is a dining room, we thought more cabinets and counter space would be the way to go. On the right we have the glass-fronted cabinets full of all our barware, and I do mean full.
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When we moved in, we used some super cheap cabinets and counter I had in my craft room at the old place to provide more storage in the nook. Even the periodic table of wine grapes on the wall, which we love, couldn’t make this temporary solution look good. So, we hired a cabinet maker, and he designed and built us some lovely cabinets. Follow the installation progress below:
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This is one of the two guys who did the installation. I thought M knew his name, but he doesn’t. But he was a very nice guy, and he and his partner did a great job.
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All set up in the morning sunshine (the Gaggia espresso machine is a must in this house). There is even bread rising in the bowl on the counter. And I love the butcher block counter top.
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I really like these open shelves to keep dry goods accessible but up off the counter. It’s also nice to display the tea sets.
We’re very happy all round with this project! And there is even still some room in the cabinets.

The End of 2012 Knitting

The last few months of 2012 were difficult on many levels that I won’t go into here. Things are still in a state of flux, but there is reason to think that better times are coming, but keep your fingers crossed for me for a bit, at least while you aren’t knitting or spinning. The last knitting project of the year was a resounding success, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but I did also have two flops.

I had started a blue cowl in the round on two circs to go with my new red coat. I thought the needles were the same size; I had checked them on my needle gauge. But they were two different sizes, so things weren’t turning out very well. Also turned out that I don’t have two circs of the right size. Frog.

Then I finished my vodka lemonade cardigan in the star sapphire BFL sport. I tried it on several times while knitting it top-down. All seemed to be going well. I even had a washed swatch for stitch and row gauge, and that looked good. Well, the finished sweater fits terribly; the sweater blocked oppositely to the swatch, growing rather than tightening up in gauge.

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I haven’t woven in the ends because I think I may rip the whole thing some day and knit a different pattern. I’ve knit top-down before with success, but here, nothing lay or hung right.

But I did have success knitting my brother a hat for Christmas!
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Mom is wearing the shawl-collared cowl I knit for her last year, which I never photographed or blogged about, and Thomas is wearing his new hat. The pattern is The Natural by Homero Luna. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. I knit it out of some Wool of the Andes. I did one extra repeat because I tried it on M, and it wouldn’t have fit M as a beanie as written. Apparently, it would have fit Thomas, because the extra repeat adds a bit of slouch for him, which he likes.
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There was a lot of snow in Wisconsin over the holidays!
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He even wears the hat in public. Here Thomas is making sure Mom buys the right kind of OJ.
2013 is looking better on the knitting front so far.
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I’m 90% done with a Manaan cowl in some Vintage Madelinetosh. The color is fathom, and it is a great semi-solid mix of royal and navy. Let’s hope it behaves!