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)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

How Did That Get on the Needles?

Turquoise Jewel jacket by Jean Frost in Summer 2005 KnittersMy next summer project was going to be Turquoise Jewel in KnitPicks sportweight Shine, 60% cotton, 40% model.

The pattern is designed by Jean Frost and published in the Summer 2005 Knitter's magazine.

Almost a year ago, July 30, 2005, I wrote: "Not only do I love the looks of this jacket, it is just the kind of knitting I love to do. As soon as a stitch pattern gets boring, it changes to another stitch pattern."

Turquoise Jewel has been on my mind ever since, even more so after I used Shine for the first time and discovered it would be perfect for this pattern except for the heavy lower border.

Swatch of new bottom for Turquoise JewelAfter swatching an alternate lower border in a variation of Feather and Fan, I was ready to cast on. Just needed to buy some yarn.

I couldn't decide which color Shine to order. Staring at the colors online and in the catalog wasn't helpful. Shine has bright, vivid colors. Laptop screens and printed catalogs don't do them justice. I was afraid to order enough for a jacket without seeing the actual color first.

I thought I wanted a purple/violet color but couldn't decide between orchid, violet, or hydrangea with occasional leanings toward cherry, grass, and cloud. Or I could pick turquoise and make it like the pattern picture. Indecision led to inaction. I needed a sample card.

Everyone knows that Knitpicks has free shipping for orders over $40, so I HAD to order some yarn with the Shine color card. Since I was planning to knit an alpaca sweater this fall and had all ready done some swatching with KnitPicks Andean Treasure, I ordered 15 skeins in Lagoon, a beautiful green heathered with yellow.

Sleeves for alpaca sweaterThe package was sitting in the mailbox Saturday, the day I got home from the wedding trip. I was tired. I wanted to sit. I wanted comfort. What's more comforting than knitting on soft, fluffy alpaca? What's more tempting than new yarn?

And that is why I'm knitting super warm alpaca in the summer instead of Shine. Makes sense to me. In fact, I'm totally happy about it. I love this yarn. It's a total pleasure to knit, especially after knitting with linen on my last project. (Yes, as soon as the temperature goes below 90 on a day it's not raining, there will be pictures of the shawl.)

Since I'm mostly making up the alpaca sweater pattern as I go along, I decided to start with the sleeves. I did play around with the lace border and frogged a few times, so I was glad to have fewer stitches on the needle. Once I got the first sleeve the way I wanted it, I cast on the second before forgetting what I did. The result: Two sleeves almost ready to start armhole shaping.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Taking a Short Break

I'm taking a week off blogging to do some other things including a trip to St. Paul Minnesota for nephew Mike's wedding to Trudy.

Barbara, the Faroese shawl is done. There will be pictures when I return.

Also Mom's birthday socks, CIC socks, the finish of FLAK, and new yarn for my next major knitting project.

For my US readers, have a great Memorial Day weekend. I wish you all nice weather, safe travel, and congenial companions.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

J is for Jade

ABC Along Button

Over a decade ago during a very intense period in my systems analyst career, I was project leader for a new order entry and customer service system for a major pharmaceutical company that has now been absorbed by Pfizer.

The project needed programmers which at the time were not easy to find. We were a little skeptical when our management decided to bring in several contractors from India to help.

The skepticism didn't last long. We were able to interview and select the best. The Indians were hard working and talented. Once I got the feel for their accent, there was no verbal communication problem. Their written communication was perfect King's English. Their technical skills were awesome.

Padmaja was my favorite. We worked together for several years and I know beyond a doubt she was the reason for the excellence of the project. When there was something impossible complicated to do, it went to Padmaja. She took a day or two to understand it, and then it was created. Perfectly.

Jade box from PamajaPadmaja brought me this jade box when she went back to India to visit.

It's about eight inches by five inches. It's stone. It's heavy.

She brought back heavy gifts for many of her US friends. I believe I received the most beautiful.

I can't imagine how she packed them and traveled with them. Just another example of Padmaja doing the difficult and making it look easy.

Open jade box from PadmajaGranddaughter Kimmy has been fascinated by this jade box since she was a toddler. Every time she comes to visit she fingers it, opens it, shuts it, admires it. It will be hers someday when the time is right.

Meanwhile I will treasure it and enjoy the memories it brings.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Race to the Finish

Unblocked Barbara Shawl with edging about one-third donePattern: Barbara from Stahman Shawls and Scarves

Yarn: Louet Euroflax linen, fingering weight

Color: Gray

Needles: #4 Inox Gray (teflon)

Will I be able to finish this shawl in time to pack it for the wedding trip next Thursday?

The edging is about one-third done. There have been several tinks and frogs and I'm not sure how many hours I have spent on it. Maybe now that I'm more experienced, it will go forward without any more ripping out.

I'm finding it's very difficult to read my knitting with the linen yarn. That is slowing me down some.

The border repeat is 20 stitches. I have marker pins every twenty stitches to aid in finding errors quickly.

Will there be enough yarn to finish the border?

I think so. If not, I have swatches I can frog and use but I'd rather not. The swatches have been washed and I'm not sure they will knit up to the same gauge as the unwashed linen.

Will I use the linen yarn again?

Yes, I think so. Final determination on that will come after I wear the shawl a few times. It's not the easiest yarn to knit with, but it doesn't hurt my hands. The lightweight beauty of the yarn and washability count for a lot.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday Miscellany

This post may read like I'm whining. I'm not. Having lived 61 years, I know when life is good and right now life is good. Still, even in the best of times there are those little things that happen . . .

Weather News
It's been raining or getting ready to rain or just finishing raining for the past six days. Also, it's chilly. My joints are wishing for some dry weather and sun.

The grass has grown so long it's getting the bottom of my jeans wet when I walk though it and all garden plants have had a large growth spurt - the weeds growing three times quicker than the intended species. The Lily of the Valley is in the weed column. It's currently blooming and smells lovely, but it's growing in way too many places I don't want it.

Nest Box Invasion
We had a beautiful tree swallow nest in one of the nest boxes. There were five pretty white eggs snuggled down in a bed of white chicken feathers. An English sparrow (also called House Sparrow) got into the nest box, pecked holes in all the eggs, and threw the feathers out onto the ground. I hope the sparrows decide to establish a nest of their own in that nestbox because I'll be watching and waiting to get revenge.

It's easy to tell the English sparrow nests because they incorporate garbage in with the dried grass. How appropriate.

If my threats against the "cute little sparrows" upsets you, please read this.

English Sparrows commonly kill adult Bluebirds and other native cavity nesters and their young and smash their eggs. The House Sparrow is partially responsible for the near extinction of Bluebirds in the US. Since they are not native to this country, they are one of the few birds not protected by law.

Status of Barbara Shawl
I only have four more very long rows to knit on the Barbara Shawl and then I can start the border lace. And maybe I can finish the border lace before running out of yarn. The amount of yarn left on the cone is starting to look worrysome.

This is the fourth shawl I've ever knit and possibly the third one to require more yarn than I started with. Even though I'm aware of my tendency to underestimate shawl yardage required, it appears I may have done so again. It's going to be close. Very close.

I think I'll use that as an excuse to ignore housework this afternoon and sit and knit.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tenth Annual Louise Lunch

Subtitle - Pictures of Mothers and Daughters I love.

Each year on a Saturday in the middle of May, four generations of Louises meet for lunch to celebrate our middle name (Louise), Mother's Day, and Heather's (the third Louise) birthday.

Yesterday was our day, a very special day. It was Heather's actual birthday and we hit the Mother's Day weekend.

Mom with her blog cloud teeshirtMarguerite Louise - the first Louise

Mom's birth certificate doesn't have a middle name. When she was a young woman she was fond of the opera Louise so she took Louise as a middle name.

Here she is opening one of her Mother's Day gifts, a blog word cloud teeshirt.

She blogs at Odysseuse on the Move.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Heather with her birthday socksHeather Louise - the third Louise

The first time I heard the name Heather was in church. The pastor mentioned his niece, Heather. Heather's dad-to-be liked the name, and I agreed it was perfect for our soon to be adopted baby daughter.

Once we had the first name, we started thinking of middle names. Heather Louise topped the list.

This is Heather Louise with her Opal Chameleon birthday socks. She likes them.

Happy Birthday and Happy Mother's Day Heather!

Kimmy with her siamese cat earringsKimberly Louise - the fourth Louise

Even with three generations of Louises, I didn't think of it as a tradition. I was very surprised and honored when Heather chose Louise as the middle name for her daughter - my first granddaughter.

When Kimmy was a baby, we started the Louise lunch tradition for our family Mother's Day celebration.

Ten year old Kimmy is not a mother and wasn't having a birthday, but in honor of our tenth Louise lunch she received a pair of Siamese cat earrings that resemble her pet.

Dave, Sydney, and AnneHappy Mother's Day Anne!

My Mother's Day picture post wouldn't be complete without a picture of my wonderful daughter-in-law Anne and granddaughter Sydney Anne.

Here they are with my brother Dave at his trumpet shop in Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Barbara Shawl Progress Pictures

Back of Barbara in progressPattern: Barbara from Stahman Shawls and Scarves

Yarn: Louet Euroflax linen, fingering weight

Color: Gray

Needles: #4 Inox Gray (teflon)

Taking shawl progress pictures with hundreds of scrunched up stitches on the needle is a challenge for me. For these pictures, I split the stitches up onto three needles. Then, because it's a Faroese shawl with shoulder shaping, I draped it over the corner of a padded chair.

The top picture shows the back panel. On the right, the shoulder shaping is on the shoulder of the chair. The left side is just bunched up on the top of the chair asking to be ignored for now.

Front side of Barbara in progressHere I've turned the shawl around for a front view.

I have hopes of getting Barbara done in time to wear to a wedding. In order for that to happen, it has to be suitcase ready by May 24.

Because I'm busy with other non-knitting, time consuming projects and I plan on knitting the scalloped lace border, it's going to be close. One major frog will make it hopeless, so I'm trying to stay relaxed and careful.

Since I dislike knitting under pressure, I have a few alternate wedding outfits in mind. If I don't get to wear Barbara, I'm the only one who will realize I'm not wearing what I wanted to wear.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sunny's Stairs, Pappy's Bravery

Sunny on the bed at the top of her new stairs

Background for why Sunny has stairs and why the mattress was on the floor is here and here.

When we first got the doggy stairs, I put them next to the loveseat where I sit with my laptop and the little dogs snuggle in next to me. I was right there to make sure Sunny used the steps. There wasn't an alternate way for her to get up and down because the steps were in the way. She quickly learned to use them but it took a few weeks for her to like using them.

Last week we put the mattress on the bed and moved the stairs into the bedroom. It took just a little bit of training for Sunny to understand we wanted her to use the stairs to get up and down from the bed.

I'm very pleased with the Ultralite Pet Stairs from Discount Ramps. They only weigh ten pounds so they're easy to move around, yet they're sturdy enough to stay in place. I ordered a second set for next to the loveseat.

Pappy with a hole in his head after being in a dog fight
Our neighbor has a goat. Glory, our big old dog, does not like the goat. We've been teaching her not to bark at the goat and she knows she's not supposed to bark at the goat, but when she thinks she can get away with it she sneaks in a bark or two (or three or four).

Yesterday I went out for a dog walk with Glory free and the two little dogs on their Flexi leashes. Glory barked at the goat. The goat came running to the fence that divides our property and Glory ran over to bark in the goat's face.

Lady, a large dog that lives with the goat, took exception and ran over to the fence growling to protect the goat. Glory and Lady had a dog fight through the fence. It is farm fence with squares about 4 inches by 4 inches, so they couldn't really do harm to each other, but it looked and sounded violent and I ran over to pull Glory away.

Twelve pound Pappy, who is little enough to get through the farm fence, did. He attacked Lady just like he was a big dog and got his head bitten. Fortunately, Lady's owner arrived on the scene just then - probably because I was screaming - and pulled Lady back.

It was an ugly, scary incident. Pappy is a gentle, calm dog, but he thought he needed to defend Glory. Now he has a hole in his head. You can see it over his left eye.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Opal Yarn in the Mail

I ordered some of the new Opal from Simply Socks Yarn Company on Thursday evening and it was in my mailbox today. Almost instant gratification. It was my first order from Allison, but with service like that it won't be my last.

Opal Petticoat 1291 in the skeinThe picture used to sell this yarn shows Petticoat 1291 with deeper colors than it actually has.

My skein is a pastel beauty. I'm going to enjoy picking a pretty pattern to go with the lovely colors and knitting it up.

It's going to be my next pair of socks, Mom's birthday socks, unless I change my mind or Mom tells me she doesn't like it.

Opal Hagebutte Rosehips in the skeinThis is Opal Hagebutte Rose Hips. Looking at the Opal picture, I never dreamed the actual yarn was going to be this gaudy colorful.

The colors are bright and the color repeats are very short. If I had seen this yarn in person, I probably would not have purchased it. But, now that I have it, I'm challenged to find a pattern that will show off the colors. Maybe something with a slip stitch.

Any pattern suggestions for multicolored yarn with short lengths of each color?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Botanical Invaders

Have you ever planted something in your garden and regretted it later as it turned into a pest?

One gardening friend claims she had to move in order to get away from the lemon balm she innocently planted one spring. Many of the mints like lemon balm are invasive, but at least they're easy to weed out.

I comfort myself with the knowledge that the most troublesome plants at Violet Acres were not purchased and planted by me. They were here when we moved in, looking tidy and pretty.

Invasive lily of the valleyMy number one pain in the garden butt is Lily of the Valley.

When we first moved in, I was delighted to see a large patch of Lily of the Valley. I'd unsuccessfully tried growing it several times in my previous urban yard with no success.

Unsuspecting the relentless and robust underground runners, I naively transplanted it to empty patches of other gardens. One of my worst gardening mistakes.

When Lily of the Valley is happy, and Lily of the Valley is very happy on my property, it travels underground and pops up where ever it feels like popping up. It sprouts leaves in the middle of whatever other plant happens to be where Lily wants to be, which happens to be everywhere and anywhere.

I can't use Roundup on it without killing plants I don't want to kill. When I dig it up by the roots, each little piece of root that breaks off considers itself the start of a new underground runner.

On bad days, I've considered letting the whole five acres be covered with Lily of the Valley. It would be very pretty and fragrant in the spring.

Invasive fernsCinnamon ferns are another plant I was thrilled to have growing so happily here when we moved in. And I still like them, even though they require stern control to keep them in bounds.

This garden was ignored for too long, and the ferns took over the hostas, hellebores, and an azalea bush.

I'm in the process of digging out the ferns that are in another plant's territory, but it's not a one day project. Once I get them under control, I will be much more vigilant about removing ferns that stray out of bounds.

What grows berserk in your yard?

Friday, May 05, 2006

I is For Idaho

ABC Along Button

Welcome to Idaho sign

Idaho Facts:
  • State Capital - Boise.
  • State Motto - "It is forever"
  • State Flower - Syringa
  • State Bird - Mountain Bluebird
  • State Tree - White Pine
  • State Gem - Star Garnet
  • State Nicknames - Spud State; Gem State; Panhandle State

A Few Famous People from Idaho:
  • Ernest Hemingway, author
  • Lana Turner, actress
  • Gutzon Borglum, Mt. Rushmore sculptor
  • Mariel Hemingway, actress
  • Myrna Stahman, scarf and shawl designer

Idaho from the airplaneLooking at Northern Idaho from the air, it's all mountains and evergreens. No deciduous forests like we have here in SW Michigan.

Map of Idaho showing Post Falls
See where it says "Post Falls" just south of the Canadian border?

Next month I'll be spending a week there visiting my Idaho girl.

Granddaughter Sydney Anne on the floor waiting to play in IdahoHere's a memory from my last visit to Idaho.

Come on, Grandma! Get down on the floor and let's play!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Life's Simple Pleasures

I've been tagged by A Cracked Pot.

Name ten of life's simple pleasures that you like most, then pick ten people to do the same. Try to be original and creative and not to use things that someone else has already used.

Having no idea what other people have used and not being very creative, I submit the following list.

I further revolt by not tagging anyone else to do this. It's a pleasant, easy post for a day when blogging seems like a lot of work. If you want to do it, it's all yours!

Life has many simple pleasures. These are the first ten that popped into my head today.

  1. Violets in the spring.
  2. Snuggling with my dogs while drinking my first cup of coffee in the morning.
  3. Playing "peek" with granddaughter Sydney and hearing her laugh.
  4. Lunch with a good friend.
  5. Singing my favorite hymn, And Can It Be, in church with the organ.
  6. Fresh Michigan strawberries in June with Bisquick shortcake.
  7. A freshly mowed lawn.
  8. Waking up without an alarm clock.
  9. Listening to a good book on CD while I knit.
  10. Being alive.

What's one of your simple pleasures?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Weekend Finished Objects

Opal Chameleon socks from Eagle's Flight pattern Pattern: Eagle's Flight by Megan Humphrey

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Rainforest Chameleon

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Heather's birthday socks done with two weeks to spare!

The color pattern almost overwhelms the stitch pattern, but somehow the total effect is rather chameleon like. Heather is the type of person who appreciates something unique. I predict that she will like these socks. Since she's a very thoughtful and kind person, I doubt I'll ever know if she doesn't.

Next birthday is Mom's in mid June. Plenty of time to knit her something nice. The ideas are churning around in my head. Round and round they go and when they stop, I'll cast on.

CIC Vest IPattern: What's In My Pocket Vest by Claudia Krisniski with a simple knit/purl pattern for interest.

Yarn:Knitpicks Sierra, 70% wool, 30% alpaca


Needles: Addi Turbo #10.5

Gauge: 3 stitches/inch, 4 rows/inch

April/May is CIC Vest and Sweater challenge time. Our CIC_Knit List goal is 400 and it was past time for me to start knitting on my personal goal of 4.

This vest sat partially done in my knitting basket for several months until Saturday when I fished it out and finished it up.

CIC Vest II Pattern: What's In My Pocket Vest by Claudia Krisniski using the Eagle's Flight stitch pattern instead of stockinette.

Yarn:Knitpicks Sierra, 70% wool, 30% alpaca


Needles: Addi Turbo #10.5

Gauge: 3 stitches/inch, 4 rows/inch

It was a rainy weekend, so after finishing the first vest, I cast on for a second one using the Eagle's flight stitch pattern on the front and back. This is the stitch pattern from the Opal Chameleon socks so I had it fresh on my brain. The vest knit up very quickly.

I've never measured and have no proof of this, but I think it's quicker to knit a CIC vest than a pair of CIC socks.