Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This and That (Gardening and Knitting)

I have been a “really bad rose momma,” as I told my sister lately. I have about 90 roses in the ground, and another 15 (I hope!) in pots. Knitting has just about consumed me, and I haven’t pruned, fertilized, or watered (well, I DO water the ones in the pots) for two years. You can get away with that here (coast of southern Oregon) for just so long.


This is “Princess Louise”, a sempervirens from “Jacques” France, 1829. It is a once bloomer, right about NOW. The plant itself is about 10 years old, and was actively cultivated for 5 of those years. It is on a fence on the property, bordered by very tall firs trees, limiting it’s sun after about 2 PM. I no longer do anything for it, it covers about 30 feet of the fence and is about 5 feet high. My mother’s name was Louise, my sister and thought this would be a suitable memorial. Apparently so.

And I am doing just fine with the blanket. Funny how doing a lot of knitting frees one to “just do it”. I wasn’t pleased with the resultant difference in width and length, with the inner doily as a starter pattern, it ended up just 12 sts difference.

I just spent some time elongating two sides of the blanket in a lovely lace pattern from Barbara Walker “Madeira Lace” from the first treasury, but added an additional K1 in the pattern . Worked swell.


And the vegetable garden, which I started in an area that had been a garden two years ago, is doing just fine. I simply could not get behind rototilling, so I have done this “modified” lasagne method. I dug holes just big enough for the plants and then mulched like crazy . I did do some real weed pulling for planting carrots, radishes and the like, but it was a small enough area I could handle it. (And actually DID it!). For a dog guard, I found this cool “insulation netting” at the hardware store, if they WANTED to run thru it and break it, they could, but it is a real visual border.

Of course ALL the zucchini plants I started came up, and I could not kill any of them. Watch out for me on your doorstep at night!


Monday, June 29, 2009

Pastaza “Doily” Blanket


I fell in love with this color of Pastaza, a aran weight single of llama/wool from Cascade shade #065.  While it is lovely and has a sumptuous hand, I find it far too heavy for a garment.  I have tried two different sweaters, a pullover and a cardigan, and made pretty good progress both times before realizing the stitch definition just wasn’t what I wanted and the the final sweater would just be too heavy, and far too warm, for use by me.


Brooklyn Tweed has his circular blanket pattern “Girasole” for sale, and is suitable for this weight yarn .  In looking around this lace library I have been acquiring, I decided I could design my own.  But I don’t want a circular blanket, I want a rectangular one.


I began with a free knitted doily pattern I found online, with a center spiral motif  “Egeblad”.


And I followed the progression of the central “X” in the square shawl “Galveston”.  (thank you “bumblebeeBaby” from Ravelry!)


But instead, I am making more of an elongated X, each leg of the x consisting of an extension of one of the ten center spiral motifs, like this:


For the lace pattern in the plain sections between the “legs”  I am scattering some “Cat’s Paw” variants:


I think you can see One of the  legs with the repeating center spiral motif going off the the right, and the Cat’s Paw inserted in the plain knitting to the left. 

On skein down, 14 more to go.  I am enjoying this knitting, big size 10 needles, pretty mindless once you get the rhythm, and a lovely feel to the knitting.  I am especially looking forward to picking the lace border and edging.  Less is more with this weight yarn.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley and the “America’s Pharmaceutical Research Companies and FamiliesUSA”

I sit in front of the TV and knit, a lot more recently since I have been trying to finish some WIP’s that have been on the back burner for months. With more frequency than I can tell you, this ad has been popping up asking me to call each of these Oregon Senators to tell them “thanks for standing up for us – Oregon’s working families”.

Now yesterday this comes in the mail:


What is up with this? Don’t politicians KNOW that voters wonder who pays for political ads?

“FamiliesUSA’ Weren’t they smack dab in the MIDDLE of the Clinton healthcare reform debacle?

And “PhRMA”?? Who is kidding who?

And Gordon Smith, who Merkley defeated, now works HERE

As a taxpayer and voter, I am more than just a bit skeptical, I don’t understand the reasoning behind the ads.

Rather than being comforted by this information that my two Senators “have been there for us”, I want to know who thinks it is so important to tell me this, and WHY?

I am alerted, I am watching, I am more than a bit curious about what is REALLY going on.

Off my chest, feel better already.

Seemingly Endless Last Rows of Top Down Shawls.


I just finished the "Wings of Horus" mystery shawl from Kalinumba. It is always tricky doing a mystery shawl, one never knows quite how it will turn out. But this particular designer has a nice collection of designs, all with quite clear and precise charts, so I knew it wouldn't be too risky. What I didn't count on was having to solve a riddle relating to Egyptian mythology in order to obtain each of the six clues. Suffice to say - this was one aspect of my education that is sorely lacking. I didn't have a "clue" so to speak. I never DREAMED Egyptian mythology was so complex. I actually ended up reading the Kalinumba forum on Ravelry, searching for hints, and finally (for some clues) just typing in random names willy-nilly. (That can shoot an entire afternoon!)

I used the 2008 California Variegated Mutant fleece by "Tattoo" which I bought from the White Barn Farm in Michigan. I separated out about 200 grams of what appears to be all the same shade of grey, lock washed and combed it. I was religious about spinning from the cut end of the locks.

I wanted a fine single, I spun it on my electric wheel from Alden Amos and spun as I knit. I have never been able to spin all the yarn for a project ahead of time very successfully, I lose interest. This worked swell, and there was some variation in the shade of grey which added to the design features of the shawl.

The shawl took 1560 yards and ended up weighing 130 grams, it is quite light, it fits thru my engagement ring (well not MY engagement ring, really some dead woman from Yountville's engagement ring, but that is another story . . . ). My choice of beads was spot on in terms of their color, just about two sizes too small, they really only add weight to the bottom of the shawl, they are lost in the design.

Was just cooking with the knitting until the last clue. One always forgets with top down shawls just how L. . O. . N. . G the knitting takes for the last 10-20 rows. And stopping to put on beads with the tiniest crochet hook ever slows one down as well.

Quite happy with how this turned out, I think I am going for one of those "Cast on 486 Stitches" shawls next!

Oh - about Raggs, the Standard Poodle, if you have ever owned a poodle you will understand the "product" placement aspect of the picture. It was all I could do to keep him out of the other pics!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Margaret's Llama Estonian Lace Scarf

While I was in No. Calif. last fall to pick up my Alden Amos electric wheel, I stopped to visit my long-time friend, Margaret, in Vacaville. She raises llamas, especially for the fleece and for use as pack animals. She had a particularly lovely skein of two ply, lovely dark red color, about sport weight, and only about 400-500 yards. Not enough for a shawl from Nancy Bush's new book, "Knitted Lace of Estonia" .
But there was PLENTY for a scarf designed from patterns from the book. Using my Open Office Spreadsheet and the Aire River Knitting Font, I chose patterns that pleased me, and that would be fun to knit. I designed the scarf to narrow around the neck, and knit from the lace edge, thru all the three-st cross center stitches, and then knit the corresponding lace portion of the other end. I always seem to graft WAAY too tightly, so I grafted the seam over a wooden knitting needle a size smaller than the Addi's the scarf was knitted on.

Seam is NOT perfect, but much better than usual. I am very happy with the finished product, and think that Margaret, a new bride, will be as well. Here are pictures of Melody, another of my friends, wearing the scarf and a blocking picture.I loved the math of the gradual decreases around the neckline, weighing the remaining skein of yarn to make sure I used the MOST of the yardage I could.I

And here is the jpeg of my pattern: