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Knits for Girls

Sarah’s birthday was on St. Patrick’s Day, and I made a scarf for her – a simple little piece with a fabulously colorful yarn.

The Typha scarf is supposed to be about 2-times this size. I actually saw the modeled sample that was sent to Knitscene at Christa’s (the designer) house when I stayed with her in Vancouver in 2010. She was blocking it on the living room floor. Loved the pattern and vowed to make it.  The one I made for my sister is a mini version. I really wanted to use this unique yarn (Creatively Dyed Yarns Woodbrook in “Flash”). It was only 250 yards though, so there was no more yarn for the pretty crochet border in the original pattern. Probably for the best considering that my crochet skills are sub-par.

I have had a lot of starts and stops in knitting lately. Start something new, and then rip it out. I just couldn’t find something that was simple enough to do while unwinding and enjoying my down time. My creative stores are going to my writing, cooking, and gardening. So, knitting garter and stockinette is just the kind of thing I crave right now. I cast on for a lace shawl this past weekend, and didn’t even make it 2 rows… luckily, I love the look of simplicity.

Kris and I went down to Virginia this weekend to visit my sisters – Mimi moved here at the beginning of the year from California, and I take every opportunity I can to get down to see her and the nieces.  Baby V is now Toddler V at 2.5, and Baby Lulu turns 5 months tomorrow:

Vi

Sarah and Lulu

Sarah and I are probably the craziest aunties ever. All we want to do is play and kiss these cuties! (We need these t-shirts, eh?)

…and of course, I want to clothe them in knits too…

Since Lulu is 2 years younger than V (and born in the same season), I am concentrating on knits for V now – that means that they will get double the wear. This little stripey pattern is a simple tunic tank for the summer.  I am using Debbie Bliss EcoBaby Fairtrade Cotton that I found at a new yarn shop in my area.

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Knits: Playing Catch Up

Not only am I thrilled that you still read this blog, but you actually take the time to write heart-warming notes too. Many thanks.

As noted earlier, this mild winter was not as full of knits as previous years, but I did manage to keep up my tradition of Kris’s anniversary sweater. I finished it 4 days after said anniversary (and if you recall – this was a big one – Kris and I celebrated 10 years in January.)

RAVELRY NOTEBOOK PAGE


You will recall that the pattern was completely in Japanese – a language I cannot read, unfortunately – although there were charts and schematics. I used my knitty senses to the nth degree on this one! When I finished it and sewed it all up, I was disappointed to see that I had a tunic… for an orangutan. Long sleeves – past the fingers, and a hemline that went way past the waist. I was upset, butI re-grouped quickly, sought some advice on Twitter, and decided to do a hot water bath and an air dry. What a difference – It fit him perfectly!

I used Patons Wool in Burgundy – a good “work horse” yarn. I like the way the color turned out, and so does Kris. In fact, he said this may be his favorite sweater yet. High praise. Too bad he didn’t get to wear it much – but here’s hoping we get some cold temps and big snowstorms NEXT winter!

A cowl was just the right amount of layer for this weather -I finished my Madelinetosh Brick Road Cowl in late December:

Brick Road Cowl

RAVELRY NOTEBOOK PAGE

I wore this many times. I love the colors and the reversible sides. The Tosh Merino Light was a dream to work with… no surprises there. I look forward to adding some more to my stash… the yarn shop near my mom’s house in PA had a nice stock… will have to check it out again on my next trip.

Hats and baby knits were also on the needles this winter…

Spring knits are in my mind now, and I am drawn to all of the light shawl patterns. Maryland gets pretty steamy, so realistically, shawls will have to wait for next fall, but there are so many that I have my eye on – and a lot of yarn in the stash to make them many times over…

 

 

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Coming out of Hibernation

*rubs eyes*

Since this blog has been dormant for the entirety of the winter season (as mild as it was), I guess I can say that it was hibernating… and now that the VERNAL EQUINOX is here, she wakes up!

*blink blink*

In short, the last few months have been great. 2011 threw me for a loop with unexpected changes and a long adjustment period; I welcomed 2012 with open arms and a renewed sense of purpose… and things are working out quite well!

What have I been up to all this time? I like infographics, so I’ll use one to show you:

If you follow me on Goodreads or Twitter, then none of these things will come as a surprise – I have been reading and writing like a fiend. Unfortunately, the writing did not translate to blog writing (yeah, I know, doesn’t make sense – but no time like the present, right?) More on that later…

I have been traveling and road tripping.  Eastside coasting right up and down Interstate 95 and beyond: many trips to Pennsylvania – both the far west to Pittsburgh for a anniversary / hockey-filled weekend and Philly in the east to visit my parents and most recently, the Philadelphia Flower Show (also stopped by several PA spots in between: Gettysburg and Hershey), many times to northern Virginia to see my sister and my nieces who moved in  January, and a long weekend fun trip to North Carolina over the President’s Day holiday). Next month, we’re off to Wisconsin, and then I’m planning a super big + super fun road trip for May…

Gardening and hiking are picking up with the unseasonably warm weather, and I plan to share more of what we’re up to there too. …and my cooking? well, I am enjoying it now more than ever before – I love every bit of the process, and now with the beginning of the season, I look forward to many months of fresh produce and creativity in the kitchen. I will share some of what I have cooking with photos and recipes.

Note Taking

The biggest project – the one that has picked me up and helped me wake up with a smile on my face – is actually a return to something that I have always loved. I am writing a novel. I started preliminary work in January, and really dug into research in February. The process is teaching me a lot about personal discipline and commitment – it is hard work! I joined a local writer’s group, and last week I shared an excerpt in front of the whole group. I was nervous, but it turned out really great. This whole process of writing and researching is the kind of stuff that really makes me tick (always a librarian, I guess!) and while I have loads of work to do, I am so excited about this project. (Teaser: it is a historical piece inspired by real events in the early 1900s).

…and the knitting will just have to wait for the next post… while the writing and research have been my #1 in the attention department, I have managed to knit several things too! Stay tuned.

Oh, and by the way – Thanks for reading my blog! 

(and if you would like to leave a comment, it is easy: click on the title above “Coming Out of Hiberation” in this case, and the comment form will be at the bottom of the post) This new blog format has prompted several questions about commenting.

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Year of the Books

I’ve read a lot of books this year. With an unemployment period spanning nearly 8 months (*sigh*), I have found a lot of companionship in between the pages, and the Kindle buttons.

Bookshelf

Books and reading are my favorite conversation topics. With yarn and knitting as a very close second. Perhaps because reading has been a passion of mine since childhood, while knitting just came on scene in the past decade… I get a lot of requests for book recommendations, and this is one of my favorite things to do. I usually point people to my Good Reads account because I write pretty detailed reviews there and use their star-rating system (though I wish had .5 stars! or even .25 or .75 stars!).

In these days before 2012, I look back at all the books I’ve read this year (and the one that remains on my nightstand – still time to finish before the new year!)

Notes:  ** Best of 2011 – my recommended favorites for the year.  All links point to my GoodReads reviews.  You can see all the book covers here.

Non-Fiction

The Wordy Shipmates
Kingdom Coming
The Murder of the Century
Fire
The Rights of the Reader **
In the Garden of Beasts
Unfamiliar Fishes
World Without Fish
The Ragged Edge of the World **
Man Ray in Paris
Earth Then and Now
Spilling Ink
Hope for Animals and Their World
The Tree
Lost City of Z
Architecture of Happiness
Emperor of All Maladies **
Medium Raw

Fiction

The Submission **
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
When She Woke
The Lake
Ready Player One **
Robopocalypse
When God Was a Rabbit
I am the Messenger
Centuries of June
Vampire of Ropraz
A Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
The Lover’s Dictionary
Dead Reckoning
Across the Universe
One Day
Matched

Graphic Novels / Sequential Art (Fiction and NF)

Nat Turner
Empire State: A Love Story (or Not)
Dawn Land
The Influencing Machine **
Petrograd **
Anya’s Ghost
The Homeland Directive
American Vampire
People’s History of the American Empire
Embroideries
Aya
AD: New Orleans after the Deluge **
Life with Mr. Dangerous
Postcards: True Stories that Never Happened
Dark Entries
To Timbuktu
A Study in Scarlet
Hound of the Baskervilles
Waltz with Bashir
Stitches
American Born Chinese
Night Fisher

Cookbooks

The Hundred Best Vegan Baking Recipes
The Vegan Slow Cooker
Vegan Soul Kitchen

Miscellany (How-tos, Reference)

Scaling Down: Living Large in a Small Space
Nonfiction Readers’ Advisory
The Compassionate Diet
100 Countries 5000 Ideas
Crazy Sexy Diet

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Winging It

After writing a post a few weeks ago about my plans for winter sweaters, I went and completely changed my mind about one of them.  I decided to go with a completely different pattern for this year’s anniversary sweater – a true challenge.

First some background: You may recall that my last two trips to New York City have included stops at Kinokuniya Book Store, the well-stocked Japanese language book store in Manhattan. I don’t know a lick of Japanese, but I do know that their crafting books are phenomenal, and I figured that one day I would have the knitting confidence to take on. the challenge of “winging it” through one of the patterns. Japanese knitting pattern writing is different than American or European styles, but even without a word of English, it is possible to decipher the charts and the schematics and construct the garment.  This is what I am trying to do…

Simple enough... right?

The Japanese gansey pattern from the Let’s Knit Series – Men’s Knits. I talked myself in to the challenge when I saw that it is essentially a box construction: drop shoulders, no shaping in the body.  The stitch pattern is fully charted… simple enough, right?  Luckily, I have a good friend who knows some Japanese and is also a knitter.  She sent over some tips for knitting, and I was able to get a rough idea about gauge and sizing based on swatches.

Beginnings

Kris choose this deep red wool in the stash and I cast on for the sleeve. I decided to start with the sleeve to measure the gauge and make my calculations from there. I am past the elbow now and have started the gansey chart for the sleeve.  I am trying the length and width on Kris’s arm and so far it seems to be working well.  Maybe “cutting my teeth” on this pattern will allow me the confidence to try some of the other beautiful patterns in the books?