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)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Blogiversary Contest

Everyday I am blessed by comments and emails from readers of this blog. Even those of you who quietly lurk are a blessing and encouragement as I marvel over my blog stats. Thank you all for stopping by.

I'd like this contest to be for readers only, although I have no way of insuring that. Please don't link to it or mention it on lists and groups. But, if you stop by Stitches of Violet once in a while for a quick peek into my life, help me celebrate three years of blogging by leaving a comment. I wish I was so rich you all could win.

Tomorrow morning before most of you are awake I'll be on my way to the airport and off to Idaho.

While I'm gone, it's Blogiversary contest time. Three years, three prizes, three winners!

To enter leave a comment on this post telling
  1. Which book you'd like to win (please pick only one).
  2. Why you picked it.
  3. Be sure and leave an email address with your comment.

Winners will be picked by random number generator.

Deadline to enter: Tuesday, November 6, 2007, Midnight EST.

Winners will be announced Wednesday, November 7, assuming Northwest Airline gets me home as scheduled.

Here's a closer look at the books if you need help deciding.

Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel.

This is a wonderful book. It was first published in 1993, and there are good reasons it's still selling fourteen years later.

It's written just like Beth is teaching a class, including a small, doll size gansey to practice the techniques as they are presented.

There are many pictures to show just what she's talking about and charts to help design your own gansey.

Six patterns are presented, three adult and three for kids. All seamless. When it's done, it's done.

My Red White Gansey is a pattern from this book. You can see it here.

Stahman's Shawls and Scarves by Myrna Stahman.

This book has three parts.

Part 1 explains the techniques used in the patterns.
Part 2 has patterns for 14 Faroese shawls knit top down with matching Seamen's scarves. The shawls range from simple to very lacy.

Part 3 is an additional 28 Seamen scarf patterns.

There isn't anything in this book I wouldn't knit. It's all lovely and the patterns are very clearly written.

There are pictures of my Stahman Barbara Shawl here.

Aran Sweater Design by Janet Szabo is for knitters who want to design their own Aran sweaters.

It's mostly about design, method, and construction. It is not a stitch dictionary.

The book concludes with four patterns: an Aran vest, Aran pullover, dressy Aran with set-in sleeves, and an Aran raglan cardigan.

The Aran with set-in sleeves is high on my list of next possible sweater projects.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pre-trip Knitting Update

Anyone remember my knitting New Year's resolution for 2007?
In 2007 I half-heartedly resolve to have no more than three unfinished knitting projects at one time.

Here it is almost November and I'm still on track to keep the resolution and make it a permanent habit. At first controlling my project count was a challenge, but it's become second nature now. My knitting life is much more enjoyable since I've learned to finish before starting something new.

Three projects is a good number for me. Occasionally it goes to four if one project is a pair of CIC socks by the kitchen table. I've achieved knitting peace.

Now for a pre-trip (leaving for Idaho next Tuesday) knitting inventory and status.

Mystery Stole 3
The knitting on the stole has been done for six weeks.

I had to force myself to finish the last clue as it slowly dawned on me that I was never going to wear this stole. It's just "not me".

The project was fun until the very end. I loved getting a clue a week and seeing the stole grow without knowing what was going to happen next. I'm not sorry I knit it.

Now it's back in balls and is going to be something else someday. I have some project ideas for enjoying this Regia silk second time around the needles.

Autumn Song Socks
I'm on the foot of both socks, but don't want to finish until I get home so they'll count as November Sock A Month KAL 4 socks.

Picture of the cuffs here.

Autumn Song
The Autumn Song sleeve is blocked. I'd like to get the sweater basted together with one sleeve before I leave so I'll know if the sleeve is going to work or not.

After a short break, I'm ready to get this project done. There is (hopefully) only one more sleeve, the neck, the sleeve cuffs, and the sewing left to do.

Contest Alert

While I'm gone (October 30 - November 6), it's Blogiversary contest time! Three years, three prizes, and three winners - one winner for each book.

It will be easy to enter. Details on Monday.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Save the Fish for Glory

The past month we've noticed various government vehicles driving up and down our newly remodeled road. Sometimes the men got out and peered into the creek, gesturing with their hands, hitting their foreheads and shrugging their shoulders. Then they drove away.

This morning I was in the back room when Bob called out, "They're doing something!"

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality - Water told the county the run off of the new road needed to be kept out of the trout stream. So they erected this totally ugly silt barrier (the black thing) along some of our frontage.

The water in the top picture is a spring fed pond, not the creek. I keep telling myself I'm happy not to have run off into the pond. And I am. But I'm not happy to have this ugly silt barrier.

At least we fared better than our neighbor. He ended up with a silt barrier on both sides of his driveway because the creek runs under it.

Does that thing look like it's going to stand up through winter snowplowing? No, it isn't. Then what?

Glory, our big dog, is happy the trout are going to be safe and have clear water so she can see them better.

She considers the trout vermin and likes to jump in the cold creek and chase them away. I think she might be part Newfie.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Up the Creek

Since I'm up the blogging creek with no knitting updates to share, I'll share some creek pictures.

Thanks to the County Road Commission, the trout traveling upstream to spawn have a new, larger culvert under the road this autumn.

This big fellow is poking his head in to check it out. When he spotted me and camera, he disappeared inside.

These three beauties are having a fishy get together before moving on. They're about three long.

The trout are old, beat up, and tired by the time they get to our property. It's not uncommon for them to hang around for several days before moving on upstream.

Looking upstream across the road. This is where the fish are headed.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It Might As Well Be Spring

The year of weird SW Michigan weather continues on in this late October.

We've had very few cold, crisp days so the autumn leaf color show is mediocre. Usually by this time of the month, many trees are leafless. This tulip tree is normally one of the first to drop its leaves on the yard.

The Woman Who Worries About Everything at doggy school says when the snow comes down and settles on the leaves still on the trees there will be many big branches and even trees that can't handle the weight. They will break or fall over leaving us without power for days.

Plants, both wild and cultivated, also seem to be confused about the season.

This is a Marsh Marigold currently blooming along the creek bed.

Normally they bloom in the early spring and then go dormant, leaves and all, until the next spring. It's as surprising to see the leaves as the flowers.

Spiderwort is a garden plant. Not one of my favorites, but it volunteers in random places. If nothing else important is growing where it pops up, I let it bloom.

It's another spring bloomer that's putting on a fall show a week after it normally is frosted to the ground.

This pretty day lily is one of the first to bloom in very early summer. I love seeing it put on a second, smaller show in the fall. Most years it doesn't get the chance.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Irruption Year at the Feeder

Michigan suffered a drought this summer and seeds are not as plentiful as usual for the birds.

In years such as this some birds who normally winter over in the northern part of the state move south and we get to enjoy seeing them at our feeders.

These movements outside their normal range are called irruptions.

The little Red-breasted Nuthatch is only four inches long, but it's four inches of pure energy. Getting him to hold still long enough for a picture is a challenge.

They're extremely people friendly and will stay at the feeder even when we're outside in the area.

Like their larger cousins, the White-breasted Nuthatch, they think all food tastes better when eaten upside down.

Even when they eat from the sunflower seed feeder which requires them to be head up to get a seed, they approach it after walking upside down the side of the house.

We bought this peanut bag just for them. It's a favorite food and it doesn't require them to be right side up to eat from it.

Another irruptive visitor is the Purple Finch.

It's easy to confuse the Purple Finch with the ever present and numerous House Finches, but there are differences noticeable to the serious bird watcher.

A female Purple Finch (on the right) has a "cleaner" look than a female House Finch. They have a white eye line and wide, white breast streaks. The female House Finches have no distinct eye line and dirty looking breast streaks.

Purple Finches are larger than House Finches.

The male Purple Finch sports a rich raspberry color. House Finches are more dingy, reddish, or even orangey.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sock Break and Cheeky Chipmunk

Time for a sock break from Autumn Song, although it's not much of a break since I'm using one of the stitch patterns in the sweater.

The yarn is the same color as the sweater, so I figured the stitch patterns should match as well.

Is it too nerdy to wear socks and sweater that match?

Pattern: Stitch pattern B from Herbstlied (Autumn Song) in New Style of Heirloom Knitting.

Yarn: Araucania Ranco fingering weight yarn, 75% wool 25% polyamide, hand dyed in Chile.

Color: Deep, warm rusty red. In the sunlight it looks like a carnelian stone.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars

Gauge: 8 stitches/10 rows per inch

One of the many reasons our bird seed disappears so fast.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Old Socks and Fat Toad

Monday night at Sunny's new doggy school class someone came up to me and asked if I had knit my socks. And could she see them.

I had on seven (?) year old baggy, pilly, Opal Tiger socks. They were knit before I learned how to fit my feet. I wear them for cool weather gardening and lawn mowing and other occasions where I don't expect anyone to notice my socks. Like doggy school.

We didn't have much time to talk, but she admitted to being a sock knitter and nodded toward another woman with a golden retriever who also knits socks.

Next Monday I have to wear some socks that are a bit more impressive. My pride is on the line.

Maybe I can find a few more bugs to scarf down before I have to hibernate for the winter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Autumn Song Sleeve - First Attempt

Here's a close up of the Autumn Song sleeve filler pattern. It doesn't match anything in the body of the sweater.

The gorgeous stitch patterns are what make this sweater special. I couldn't wimp out by replacing it with seed stitch.

After last weeks whining about keeping track of a 26 stitch lace pattern while doing sleeve increases, I settled in with a couple pieces of graph paper and charted out both sides of the sleeve. Once it was done, the knitting was almost mindless, and this unblocked sleeve is the result.

Looks like it's going to be too short, doesn't it? I'm almost afraid to baste it in and check it out.

It is a drop saddle sleeve. I do have short arms. I am prepared to knit a long cuff. It could be OK. If not, I'm almost prepared to knit two more sleeves when this one doesn't work.

Pattern: Herbstlied (Autumn Song) from New Style of Heirloom Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, 100% wool.

Color: Firecracker heather

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8.4 rows/inch in pattern

Click on the label Herbstlied at the end of this post to see all posts on this blog mentioning Herbstlied.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Autumn Song on October 11

First, hop on over to Flint Knits and admire the Autumn Aran Sock Pamela is knitting using the oak leaf pattern from Autumn Song.

My Autumn Song front and back are finished to the point where it's time to sew the sleeves in and knit circular style up the neck.

I washed, blocked, measured, re-measured, calculated, sketched, made a few decisions, and have a tentative plan for knitting the sleeves.

The sleeves require an even number of oak leaves. Eight, as the patterns calls for, will make the sleeves too long. Six may make the sleeves too short. I'm going to do a provisional cast on instead of a cuff and save the cuff until last to make sure the sleeves are a good length for me. The cuffs will be longer than the pattern shows, but the lacy ribbing is pretty, so I don't care.

One more decision to make before I can start knitting. The filler pattern is a 26 stitch lace pattern with single and double decreases. Are they crazy? Right away on the first row there are only nine stitches of the filler pattern on each side of the underarm seam. If I just follow the chart the stitch count is going to be off and the pattern is going to look wonky.

I'm capable of calculating yarn overs and decreases and using the given filler pattern. But is it worth the effort? I may decide to try it or I may use seed stitch until I have enough stitches to do the complete lace pattern.

I don't think seed stitch will make the sweater any less attractive and it will make the knitting less challenging but more enjoyable.

I need to do some more sketching and calculating before I decide.

Pattern: Herbstlied (Autumn Song) from New Style of Heirloom Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, 100% wool.

Color: Firecracker heather

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8.4 rows/inch in pattern

Click on the label Herbstlied at the end of this post to see all posts on this blog mentioning Herbstlied.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Sydney, Sunny, and Seed

A quick update on non-knitting topics. . .

My next trip to Idaho to visit Granddaughter Sydney and her parents is booked for October 30.

She can talk and ask questions now. This is going to be a fun fun trip.

Little sixteen pound Sunny takes her name seriously. She's the only dog of our three who likes to sit still outside and soak up the sun.

It's always amusing when a rabbit the other two dogs are chasing dashes out of the weeds right in front of Sunny, the dog who doesn't care.

(Animal lovers: Don't freak out. The rabbits are much smarter than my dogs and never get caught.)

Yesterday the powerrake came and got the right of way in our front yard ready for grass seed.

The man who looks idle had the nasty job of hand raking the powerrake tire tracks after the machine backed out. It was a hot day. I hope they pay him well.

Today the hydroseed truck blew on the grass seed. It was a bit breezy so this was the only picture I got before I had to close the window.

There's a man standing in the back of the truck spraying the seed on with a hose. They did several passes by our yard.. I think we're well seeded.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Empty Nest and Other Signs of Autumn

This past week has been hot, day temps in the 80s, making it difficult to believe that it's October and we could have snow any day. Michiganders know where their boots are, just in case tomorrow is the day.

Right now it feels like summer is going to go on forever, but there are signs that suggest otherwise.

Deserted nest in a leafless tree.

Foggy mornings.

Color in the hedgerow.

Goldenrod gone to seed.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Electric Slides Finished, Acorn Progress

I enjoyed everything about knitting these socks.

The 2.25 mm Harmony needles were a pleasure. The resulting socks fit and the fabric is nice and firm, but not too stiff.

Opal yarn is my all time favorite. The Neon colors are attractive and the color bursts are short enough so I didn't get unattractive pooling.

The pattern was interesting but not mind boggling. It's my very favorite type of sock stitch pattern - something pretty with a ribbing base. (Sorry to mention that since the pattern is not available right now.)

Pattern: Electric Slide by Megan Humphrey.

This pattern is not available for distribution yet. I'll be sure and blog about it when the pattern is ready for everyone.

Yarn: Opal

Color: Neon 1931

Needles: Knitpicks Harmony 2.25 mm

If this is the sweater back, then this picture is the sweater front.

The front and back are identical and six oak leaves in length. I'm at the beginning of oak leaf five on both pieces.

Now the pattern gets very confusing (at least to me). The neck decreases are graphed in chart pieces that are supposed to replace pieces of the main chart. It's desk, highlighter, scissors, and tape time before I continue knitting.

Pattern: Herbstlied (Autumn Song) from New Style of Heirloom Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, 100% wool.

Color: Firecracker heather

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8.4 rows/inch in pattern

Click on the label Herbstlied at the end of this post to see all posts on this blog mentioning Herbstlied.

Tentative plans are to knit the front and back to the point where they start to funnel up the neckline with the saddles, knit the sleeves to the same point, join the sleeves and finish off the neckline in the round.

As written, the pattern has 8 oak leaves up one sleeve. I think eight will make the sleeves too long for me. I'll block the front and back, carefully measure row gauge, and recalculate the sleeves before casting on.

If anyone reads Japanese and knows how the pattern intends the neck to be knit, I'm curious to know. But I'd probably do it my way even if I could read the pattern notes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Two Prettys and a Frump

Pretty One
This Burridge Lake Aran Afghan is beautiful. And the pattern is free on Magknits.

I've never knit an afghan. I've never wanted to knit an afghan. The nature of my household (totally informal with dogs allowed on furniture) dictates blankets and coverings that don't snag and can be thrown in the washer and dryer.

But, if I ever do knit an afghan, it's very likely to be this one.

Pretty Two
The Summer Shawlette was just begging for a shawl pin from Designs by Romi. I bought this simple but elegant sterling pin from her Elements collection. It's just perfect to hold the front flaps together.

Romi has many beautiful styles, some with beads and natural stones. I'm going to need self discipline to limit myself to one pin purchase per shawl/stole.

Looks like the Cardinals had a late summer nesting. This young female started showing up at the feeder a few days ago to amuse us with her awkward seed eating and frumpy, straight out of the nest, appearance.

I'm guessing this is her brother. He has about the same amount of juvenile abilities and ungainly new feathers.

Birds grow up fast. They'll both be looking polished and adult in a few weeks.

And, they won't forget where the feeder is located.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Happy Birthday Bob

Today is the 25th time DH Bob has turned 39!

His birthday is 10-2, mine is 1-20. Same digits, same heart, just arranged a little differently.

Happy birthday with lots of love and a pair of socks!

The color was his request - autumn colors with lots of yellow and/or orange. I'm not sure he really wanted this much yellow, but he did ask for it.

Bob likes heavy socks, so I used Bretton, a DK weight 70% superwash wool/25% nylon/5% alpaca yarn knit along with a strand of Opal in autumn colors.

I love the Bretton yarn and was surprised not to find it in the Ravelry database. Did I miss it somehow?

Pattern: Basic sock, p1, k3 ribbing on 48 stitches.

Yarn: Patternworks Bretton in gold along with Opal Herbstmelodie, a handpainted Opal.

Needles: #5 Addi Turbos.

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch.