Checking in

April 9, 2013

Goodness, I’d no idea it had been so terribly long since I posted here.  I suppose a life-altering career change will have that unanticipated effect.  Fact is, now that I am no longer in an office, I find myself zooming through days and wondering how they could possibly have ended so fast, before I nod off over my knitting.

In part, this latter bit is directly related to no longer receiving scathing emails at home at night, nor directives demanding I log on and handle some matter from home.  I can say definitively that I am infinitely more relaxed than I have ever been.  There is no way I could have managed rebuilding a house, raising a child and working a full-time job simultaneously.  Period.

And thanks to a friend (I have momentarily wondered whether this was a blessing or not ~ momentarily), I was unexpectedly presented with the opportunity to tick something off my unofficial mental knitting bucket list. I can’t say more than that it involves

So much yarn, so little time ...

So much yarn, so little time …

these massive cones of cobweb yarn, toothpicks to knit on and a tight deadline.  Ach!  At times, it has kicked me in the tailfeathers.  But I will finish it ahead of the deadline.

Then there was the family visit that required frenzied house-cleaning and decluttering.  A good thing, but a time suck.  The upside:  I have a bed to block a half-dozen waiting FOs.  Stay tuned if you haven’t forgotten me.

In between, there will be 247 phone calls to contractors, vendors, inspectors and other assorted folk at Owl Manor.  Because though I no longer have a paying day job, I have something more than a day job at stake.  Feel free to hop over to Owl Manor and follow along.

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Windward

February 22, 2013

The blocking backlog chez Owl is rapidly reaching epic proportions.  So while away (we somehow managed to narrowly escape in the wake of the blizzard for a week in a much warmer clime), I figured it was at least time to try to photograph a project that refuses to be photographed easily.  Or well.

Windward, all points and angles

Windward, all points and angles

However, Heidi Kirrmaier’s Windward is an incredibly easy ~ and fun ~ little knit.  Is it a scarf or a shawl?  Either.  Both.  Whichever you want.  It starts with a garter triangle at one

Cast-on corner

Cast-on corner

end and using increases, decreases, cast-ons and bind-offs (but no picking up stitches or breaking your yarn), produces modular triangles and rectangles in garter, stockinette and reverse stockinette.  Really, it’s hard to know which is the right side.

Pure simplicity

Pure simplicity

The knit is so simple that it deserves a really yummy yarn ~ and one without distracting color changes that would detract from the shaping of the piece.  I used one of my all-time go-tos, Spirit Trail Fiberworks Sunna, a fingering-weight blend of merino, cashmere and bombyx silk that is positively delicious and wearable year-round.  The unnamed blue-violet colorway was the 2010 Holiday Yarn Club selection.  Because of the unique construction of the piece, and because my skeins were extremely well-matched, I did not alternate skeins.

Wrap it and go

Wrap it and go

Windward is extremely wearable.  Its unusual points give it a ton of visual interest no matter how you wear it.  Initially, I thought I might want to whip a quick I-cord edge across the top to keep it from rolling, but that would create a front and back side, and it really isn’t necessary.  Why complicate something that works?

So here are the deets:

Pattern:  Windward from the “Come Sail Away” ebook by Heidi Kirrmaier, aka PiPiBird.  I would recommend this to a new knitter who has mastered the basic stitches and is ready for a little challenge.  For an experienced knitter, this is pure amusement.

Yarn: Spirit Trail Sunna.  Sunna has wonderful drape that fits this pattern wonderfully.  Total yarn used: 490 yards ~ 65 g remain from second skein.

Needles: US 4

Mods: none

Project marriage score: 9.5.  This was a no-brainer.  I’ve given up trying to get a good image of it and will just wear it instead.

Yikes!

February 4, 2013

How did that happen?  A month without a post?  It wasn’t intentional.  January whizzed by in a swirl of meetings, work insanity, un-decorating, volunteer commitments and more.  Happily, there was a fair amount of knitting, in part because of an injury that has kept me somewhat immobile.  (Yeah, I know you find that hard to believe.  It’s all relative.  But closing in on 7 weeks now … I have had enough!)  No FOs to show off.  But you’ve been waiting to hear from me so long, I may as well show you what I’ve been up to.

Birte - Lamb's Ear

Birte – Lamb’s Ear

I’m just short of the finish line on this absolutely wonderful, textural (and reversible) cowl in Spirit Trail Fiberworks Birte.  Only a slightly complex bit of gymnastics ~ hands and brain must perform together ~ is preventing me from calling the Winding River Cowl done.  As written, the pattern has a thoroughly clumsy three-needle bind-off.  That’s just silly on an otherwise reversible piece of knitting.  I have set it up to kitchener it, but in K2P2 rib, there is the need to idiot-proof before I actually sit down to do it or mayhem will ensue.  The weather is right for it, now to find the RAM.

I absolutely love my Hawthorne from STF Lyra.  I wanted to do something fun with the skein I have from the club in the colorway I got to name (Santorini).  Lyra just cries out to be cuddled, so Rose Beck’s Cocoon Me called.  The texture is nice and

Cocoon Me in Lyra - please!

Cocoon Me in Lyra – please!

scrunchy and I know it is going to be toasty.  I put this on smaller needles than I would have liked, because in my experience, Lyra tends to relax quite a bit when it meets water, and I do not want to lose the “bubbles” entirely.  The pattern gives you a crescent shawl, infinity loop or standard cowl.  This is the former, just a couple of rows shy of bind-off (and a little over-exposed).  I worked some extra repeats to use every yard possible ~ details to follow.

Gemma shawl, the first mile

Gemma shawl, the first mile

Then there is this hubba-hubba number.  My office-mate commissioned it, so I couldn’t exactly say no.  The pattern is Gemma from Quince & Co.  The pattern pictures made it look awfully stiff and perhaps too tightly knit.  I went a different direction with Cascade Heritage Silk to give it a bit of drape, and a larger needle for a slightly looser gauge than written.  It will be made bigger than written, too.  Right now, it suits the need for totally mindless knitting ~ no pattern necessary.

With all of these near completion and a trip on the near horizon, I have the most wicked, itchy start-itis EVER.  I am showing great discipline in taking two small projects with me.  I know what they are.  I know I will not finish them.  I know I will get very little knitted on them at all.  But I still find  myself endlessly surfing around Ravelry looking for more patterns to go with the yarn shop upstairs!  Sheesh.

Queue ’em up!

*Yes, there is something wrong with my header. It should be nutmeg.  Some days it is.  WordPress has been asked for help.  Sigh.

Reset

January 4, 2013

Man proposes, God disposes.

So fitting an epigram for 2012.  I thought 2011 was a roller-coaster ~ I had no idea what 2012 had in store.  I always love the ritual of hanging a new calendar; never more so than to start 2013.  But part of that ritual is taking stock of the months before.  I always learn something about myself, usually unexpected.

For example, I just couldn’t relate to my fellow knitters when they talked about “losing their knitting mojo” until it happened to me after Owl Manor went up in flames.  For weeks, I just could not take up needles without wrecking what I touched.  Every bit of inner stillness and rhythm had evaporated.  It took good advice and some special yarn to get me kick-started, and I hope to never, ever experience it again.

The last months of the year were full of overwhelming sadness, too, as a good friend unexpectedly faced life-altering illness; a co-worker died suddenly after being hit by a car (doubling my workload on top of the emotional toll); then the events at Sandy Hook that still hold us in their grip.  These, too, are balanced against the onrush of joyful moments that come spending the holidays with a small child.

It all serves to make me more grateful every day for those I love, and the minutes I have to be with them and to do things for them.

Yarn used in 2012:  4511 yards, or .85 miles …  significantly less than most years.

Finished Objects: 15 ~ 4 shawls, 4 hats, 2 pairs of mitts, 1.5 pairs of mittens, 1 cowl, 1 scarf, 1 pair of socks

One-skein projects: 11

Fibers used for the first time this year:  Polwarth (wool) blended

Spirit Trail Brigantia in a special over-dyed colorway

Spirit Trail Brigantia in a special over-dyed colorway

with silk in Spirit Trail Fiberworks Brigantia.  It is lovely.  It has a hand very much like my beloved BFL and I could knit with it for days without tiring of it.  No wonder spinners hoard all the fiber.

WIPs/UFOs remaining:  shudder  The same ones as last year, plus a couple more.  Oops.

Projects waiting to be blocked: at least 5

Projects never cataloged on ravelry but worked on: at least 3

Interesting people met in 2012:  Sivia Harding, Amy Herzog, Mary Scott Huff

Things I wanted to do in 2012 – Progress:

  • Play with beads:  Check!  2 beaded shawls and one set of beaded mitts completed.  Another shawl on the needles.  Too many beads purchased and ready to use.  (Oops.)
  • Attack old WIPs:  Nope.  Not even close.  And now they are locked up in storage.
  • Woodruff Mittens and Bristol’s Cowl:  Both would be good quick projects to put OTN sooner rather than later.

Ideas for 2013:

  • Colorwork mittens:  Yes, you read that right.  I want to make some colorwork mittens for myself,  I have the yarn and pattern ready to go.  I thought I would do them during the
    Enough "pop" for colorwork?

    Enough “pop” for colorwork?

    Summer-Games-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named but things went all sideways right about then.  I had fun working up one for STF and want to do it again.  Really.  You just wait.

But I am going to leave the goals list off right there.  There are a good many changes in the works this year, starting with the demolition of our behemoth pile of charred timber and the reconstruction of Owl Manor.  That will beget other changes.  It promises to be an interesting journey, and I will not weigh myself down with the baggage of expectations before I set foot out the door.

Not when what we have right now is a shiny new year, still unspoiled.

Joy

December 31, 2012

This, my dear friends, is what knitting is all about: making one

Sock Joy!

Sock Joy!

Darling Girl happy.  Of course, she asked Nutmeg Owl to make her new “sleeping socks” the day her mommy returned from the Knitter’s Review Retreat in 2011.  Darling Girl had pushed her little toesies right through her beloved orange pair.

And so she asked mommy to please make her some purple ones.

How embarrassed should I be that it took me a year to complete them?  Is someone going to revoke my knitting credentials?

Because … it’s just … I’m just not a sock knitter.  Thanks to Melissa Morgan-Oakes, at least I can knit

RIbbed for a nice fit

RIbbed for a nice fit

them two-at-a-time when I must, but socks just don’t do it for me.  It’s not the ‘pair’ thing, either.  I like mitts, mittens, gloves … but something about socks just slays my desire to stitch.

So to knit these – on US 0 needles, no less, was a labor of love that lasted longer than a pregnancy.

The 411:

Pattern:  Emily’s socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes

Sweet soles

Sweet soles

Yarn:  Yarn Love Juliet in Blackberry Jam – the old formula, 25% nylon

Mods:  Size was a hybrid between small and medium.  I found that the special Emily’s Stitch absolutely kicked me in the tailfeathers.  So these became ribbed socks instead, with ribbing continuing all the way to the toe to make them nice and stretchy.

Project marriage score:  I don’t know.  It was sock yarn for making socks.  It was fine.  Didn’t knock mine off.  But I could blame the project as easily as the yarn.  Pass.

What’s important:  The Darling Girl loves them!

Unimaginable

December 15, 2012

 

To the many of you who have asked and wondered of our welfare in the wake of the Newtown massacre, we are fine. In a state so small, there are far fewer than six degrees of separation between us and too many victims.

Suffice it to say I hugged Darling Bebe fiercely tonight and did not want to let go. Ever.

We weep. We will live with Sandy Hook, forever changed because of it. I cannot imagine the raw pain of being one of twenty mothers who packed a lunch, zipped a coat and tousled a head before school, not knowing it would be the last time.

I pray for every one of those moms and dads, sisters, brothers, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles. May they find strength somehow, somewhere.

Updated:  It was only a matter of time.  One of the murdered teachers is the daughter of a friend.  Every few hours, new details emerge that make the horror worse.  When the chief medical examiner, a man I’ve known and respected for years, uncharacteristically steps in front of a bank of microphones and says it’s the worst he’s ever seen, that’s all I need to know.

Mittens!

November 30, 2012

Happy Friday from your long-absent Owl.  Unhappy circumstances have conspired to keep me away.

On this otherwise dreary day, time to issue yet another “Merci!” to Goldybear, who delighted Darling Bebe with mittens in the perfect color and size.  Heaven knows her online aunties have been pining for a glimpse of her …

Little Miss Mittens

Little Miss Mittens

May your weekend be merry and bright!

Embraced

November 14, 2012

In the afterglow of the Knitter’s Review Retreat, I sometimes find it difficult to write; never more so than this year.  I’ve said that this four-day respite is my Christmas.  To stretch the metaphor farther, this time I felt mostly like George Bailey, simply overwhelmed by the tidal wave of kindness that swept me through the weekend.  It seemed every time I was alone for a moment, another friend sat down beside me with a thoughtful memento or hug to say that Nutmeg Owl would never really be flying alone.

The shawl-clad snowy owl – he hoots, for real!

From stitch markers to fancy soaps; handmade bags to mittens for Darling Bebe, you showered me until I was nearly speechless and certainly misty-eyed.  It’s no wonder that wherever this group convenes, when it is together, I am home.

Whoooo needs hexi-puffs?

And, for the record, the trendy “hexi-puffs” have NOTHING on these little guys ~ who are part of a complete ju-ju kit for Owl Manor.  (It would have taken me longer to sew on the eyes than to knit them ALL.)

But on to the weekend …

Ann Budd and a magic formula

The teaching draw featured the best battery of instructors we have every had in tandem at KRR:  Ann Budd, who always has a trick to share; Sivia Harding, patroness of lace and beading; Amy Herzog, who helped every person there see the value of the right cut for the right body, and Mary Scott Huff, who left us

Sivia Harding demystifies lace design

laughing so hard we gasped for air and wiped away tears (and I was incapable of taking a single picture without shaking violently).  Whichever teachers you had, you wished you’d had them all.  And every one was generous with her time in and out of the classroom.  This is not a gathering where teachers hide out at special tables away from the plebes.  We are all knitters; we mix and mingle throughout the weekend.

It seemed that the 361 days since we were last together have brought sad times for so many ~ the loss of mothers, spouses and

How many knitters does it take … ?

other close family members.  Perhaps that is what made for the most cohesive gathering anyone can remember.  Time crept rather than sped as we reconnected, updated and helped each other through entanglement.

And helped each other treat ourselves to a bit (or more) of fiber luxury at our

All the pretties …

on-site marketplace with Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Briar Rose, String Theory and newcomers Three Bags Full and longtime Retreat-goer turned vendor PeaceLoveYarn.  The line in the hallway outside looked a lot like Black Friday at midnight ~ or whatever they are now going to call it since the holiday season must now start the day after Halloween, but I digress.

2012 swag bag

I have not even mentioned the swag bag for 2012, including one of the sweetest of children’s books, Extra Yarn, the very useful color grid (that I will use at Owl Manor more than for knitting) and yarn, stitch markers and more.  I do use my KRR coffee mugs judiciously, when I want a special reminder of being with people I love who share something special.

Somehow, in the midst of her constant personal reinvention and multiple projects, Clara Parkes manages to put the right people together, sprinkle yarn-fairy dust and make magic.  Never more so than in 2012.  I am endlessly grateful that she and the others who help behind the scenes do so, and allow me to be a guest at the party.

I am strengthened and humbled and ready to face the next chapter, whatever it might bring.

Unstoppable

November 8, 2012

Neither rain nor sleet … nor a forecast my usually reliable meteorologist completely blew will keep me from the road today.

Unexpected adornment

“Frost on the pumpkin” indeed.  More like 12 hours of snow from a nor’easter that was not supposed to require a visit from the plow driver.  Schools closed early; offices, too.

It is the owl hours and I am still working as seems to happen every time I have a trip scheduled.  As for packing, well, I have a pretty good list.  The clothes and toiletries are always the easy part.  For the Knitter’s Review Retreat it’s the knitting stuff that sometimes makes my hair hurt, only because I’m hundreds of miles from home and might not have the tools or stuff I need.

Then again, it is also the one weekend a year I accomplish less knitting than any other weekend.

Because it is my time to reconnect in person with the friends who are connected to me through wires the rest of the year.  The ones who have kept me afloat these past few months when I really came unglued.

I need this trip, and I’m even happy about 7 hours of driving since it’s the most time I’ll have been able to spend with KnittingKittens in ~ well, too darn long (and we live just minutes apart, how sad is THAT?!?)!

Off now to pack some more, lest I not have that one set of needles I wished I had when I wanted it.  The work can wait a few more minutes.

Remnants

November 2, 2012

At the end of most projects, I am left with a small ball of yarn.  Sometimes there’s enough left to be seriously useful.  Other times, it’s hard to tell.  That’s why I was intrigued by the Knitspot pattern Plain Jhaynes, part of a generous birthday present from KnittingKittens.  Anne Hanson wrote the pattern for some light fingerless mitts made from a tiny bit of laceweight yarn.  I saw major possibilities for using up the remnants left from all of those shawls.

But first, I’d need to see just how much little yarn I needed to make a pair.  I had 41 grams of Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona in

Looking plain … for now

Seaweed from making the Phoenix Rising shawl.  Conveniently, it was already divided into two pretty-much equal balls.  I would have been comfortable working from both ends of the same yarn cake if that were not the case.   As you can see, I worked them up two-at-a-time on a US 1 circular using the magic loop method, as I do anytime I am making “two of a kind.”

Nona in Seaweed with beads

Of course, not being content to leave well enough alone, I couldn’t really leave them to be “plain.”  Since there were extra beads from the  shawl, I wanted to use those, too.  I decided to apply them to the pattern after each of the “crossed” stitches was worked.

Then Owl’s little disaster struck and every subsequent piece of knitting I picked up went to hell for weeks.

Harrumph.  Lest you think me a human knitting machine, somehow, I simultaneously picked up an errant stitch on one side of the left mitt, then on the right one I made the beaded pattern go wonky.  Seriously and undeniably OFF.  RIP-it.  RIP-it. RIP-it.  Back about 12 rounds.

Photography requiring contortions and a timer

I know Anne Hanson had a reason for making the two lace panels different on the two hands ~ presumably for mirroring.  However, for beading purposes, the beads just sit better on the right-hand panel (Panel B if you are keeping score at home), which features crossed stitches.  The beads lean nicely and pick up the light.

Ergo, with mistakes to fix anyway, I seized the opportunity to rip all the way back to the beginning of the lace panel on the left hand and use the Panel B chart for both.  I don’t think it makes one whit of difference whether they are “mirrored.”  What they are is soft, lightweight and oh-so-cozy.  Cashmere, silk and merino will do that.

Project marriage score:  9.5  (Nona is a recommended yarn for the pattern.)

Needles:  US 1 Addi Turbo, .5mm crochet hook for beading

Modifications:

  • Used Panel B chart for both hands
  • Placed each 8/0 bead after working the “crossing over” stitch of the sequence
  • Worked 9 1/2 repeats of Panel B chart, then added an extra .75 inches to length at top before ribbing
  • On thumbs, worked 10 rounds stockinette before ribbing

Total yarn usage:  31 grams

Nice little thumb gussets

Of course, you need not bead yours.  You don’t even have to bother with a patterned panel.  Just go round and round with that stockinette and some luscious laceweight leftovers.

I am toying with bringing the needle size down one more because the Nona really relaxed after a bath.  I think it would be very easy to tweak these for fingering/sock yarn, too.  Finally, a way to use up all of those little balls of laceweight I am too stingy to get rid of.

Nothing plain about these Jhaynes.

 


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