May 29, 2014

In Knitting News ...

May has been a cycle of lace knitting.  It's almost over and I still have a bit to do.  It's lace submission time for the 2015 ebook, pattern book, and magazine Spring editions, you know, and I've been quite inspired.

So, let's start with a Hooray! because was notified last week, after a particularly trying day, that I will have a lacey little number in the Knit Picks 2015 Spring Accessories Collection (ebook and published), and that absolutely thrills me!  Of course, all I can say is that it is an accessory and that it is lacey. No pics allowed until after publication. It wasn't originally knit with Knit Picks yarn, so the second run-through for me will be an interesting shift from silk/wool to superwash fingering.  The Knit Picks label Hawthorne, their new "hand paint" sock yarn is the company's choice for this pattern.  Works for me.  I get a nice little royalty and free yarn.  It's a win-win in my book!

And then I am also working on another project that I can only offer a peek of and it is a lacey cardigan.

I've elected to give this one just enough Estonian lace to make it interesting but not too difficult for the average Jane to knit.  I'm working this one up in a fingering cotton.  I still have 2 weeks to the deadline, which is great because, for the last 24 hours, I've been on the fence about whether or not to tear the yoke back about 6 inches to fix the extra row I knit into the chart when I tried--apparently a bit unsuccessfully--to fix the unraveled mess that a certain beagle made of it at some point in the middle of the night.  Bella, the culprit, is willing to sleep on top of whatever is in the way of her curling up in my knitting chair, and if that means unraveling an entire chart repeat, well she's fine with that. (sigh)  But I can't just let an error that is quite obvious to me just sit there for all the world to see, so the dilemma is really (because my knitting conscience was going to make me rip it anyway) whether to just rip the knit section back and try to re-work it with the existing yoke around it or rip the entire yoke back and make it easier on myself.

In sock news ... I finally sat down last night and ripped back the heel of Mr. Pitt's, I mean Honey's sock.  What I did was take it back to a 12-stitches-remaining short row heel instead of the prescribed 4-stitches-remaining short row heel, and then I started the partridge stitch heel flap/gussets.  It actually turned out better in two ways:  the heel doesn't have this funky bulge where it turns for the flap and the slip 1, knit 1 pattern of the flap actually comes out evenly on every row, which it was not when I followed the pattern due to extra stitches that alternated from side-to-side somehow.  I've completely re-knit the heel and now it'll be try-on time when Honey gets back from his business trip tomorrow. I tried the sock on, myself, and it fits my skinny heel, so surely it will fit his size 11 man heel.

And just one last thing.  About a month ago, I snagged a sweater's worth of Lopi Lettlopi Icelandic Wool for a steal.  It's been sitting there, thinking about what kind of cabled masterpiece it wants to become, and then yesterday I saw it!  A man's sweater though it may be, I am in LOVE with the Drops Kildare pattern.  IN LOVE.

Rocket said, in her best you-are-so-weird-mother! tone: "Mom, you are not a man.  You can't wear a man's sweater." Pshaw!  I checked and it turns out that the small size is exactly the size I knit for my bust size so there we have it. Maybe I get a stunning sweater and no one gets knitted Christmas gifts this year, but that is a sacrifice that I might just have to make. The only drawback is that it is designed by Drops.  They have a whole different system of measurement in Scandinavia, and the last men's sweater that I tried to knit not only had a considerable amount of mathematical mistakes, but it called for about 1000 yards less yarn that was actually needed and I ended up frogging the whole darned thing because I couldn't get more yarn in the dye lot.  But this one is published in the latest edition of the British magazine, The Knitter, so maybe it will all work out correctly.  By the by, this is the only knitting magazine to which I actually subscribe.

Well, now it seems the humidity has finally dropped below the 90% mark, so it's off to chores and gardening (and thinking the entire time about how much I would rather be knitting!). 

May 19, 2014

New Stuff

Who likes yarn?  Anybody?

I like yarn.  Sometimes I think I like yarn a little too much to be considered sane, and my husband and children OFTEN think I like it too much to be considered sane, but I am addicted, especially becauseI can do this:

Van Gogh (Rocket Sock Medium)

and this:
Salt Marsh (Rocket Sock)
and this:

Tango (Gypsy)
and this:

Queen of Hearts (Gypsy)
and this:

Mad Hatter (Rocket Sock)

and this:

Sun Spots (Rocket Sock)
and I can make things with it like this little gem that I am working on right now (yarn is East Street in Lichen). This is the Nairi pattern by Amanda Muscha.

It's a side-ways knit triangular shawl.  The pattern is so simple that I often get to thinking about other things and deviate from the pattern and have to rip back.  I don't know what it is about this pattern, but if my mind begins to wander, I tend to reverse the order of the 2 whole rows that I have to repeat 75 times and the next thing you know it's backward.  This has been my go-to doctor's appointment take-along project in the last 6 weeks.  It doesn't look like I've made much progress, though there have been an extra-ordinary amount of doctor's appointments for this family in that period of time.  Really, just look at it and imagine it with about 25 more rows than it actually has because I got to repeat #49 and had to rip back 25 rows because, well, obviously I had a moment of distraction and knit a few rows backward.

This hank, which has been wound into 2 center-pull balls, was inspired by my 10 year-old, and is called Pop Star.

Pop Star (Rocket Sock)
It is on it's way to becoming a pair of boot socks for her.  That is, just as soon as I can will myself to cast on because I've been working on the same pair of socks for my husband--I wish I had known that I actually married Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld before I volunteered to make socks for him--since about February.  I've re-knit the feet 7 times.

Re-knit #7
A few weeks ago, I knit the first heel, and it turns out that he would like that to be about an inch smaller, which makes me ever so proud of myself that I put in that life line just in case that he would very predictably tell me that the fit wasn't what he had in mind.  So they've just kind of been sitting there, making me hate them and all sock knitting in general, since April.  There should be no question that, on the off chance that I ever finish this pair of socks, there will NEVER be another pair of socks for my husband on my needles.

So if you are drooling over these bits of yarn, you'll find it in my Etsy shop.  You should drop in, virtually, of course.

May 15, 2014


Let's be honest. I've gotten a bit behind with my blogging.  Oh, I have intended to write a post every day of these last months, don't get me wrong.  It's just that this pesky thing called Life that has kept me prisoner on a roller coaster of drama and I just haven't been able to get off. Seriously. It's not that anyone has gone to prison, or died, or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. It's just been the daily grind of kids and their lives--there's an amazing amount of drama in the 4th and 11th grades, come to find out--and life changes and family relocations and unexpectedly time-consuming events, and much of the events of these days have been so personal and emotionally taxing that I won't discuss it here.

But, the garden is mostly in--where the heck did all those weeds come from!?--and the hole for the pool has been dug so there will be swimming in a few days, and it's only 7 school days to summer vacation. Things are getting back on track, finally.

And now I I have things to share.

This is Lottie,

the extremely patient sales lady at The Fibre Works in Oxford, England.  There is also, apparently, a shop in the Cotswold market town of Chipping Norton (England) by the same name.

who helped my husband and me pick out skeins of Jamieson & Smith shetland jumper weight by colorway #.

You wouldn't think that's any big deal except I was here in my studio looking at the yarn online and Honey was in the shop in Oxford and we were making our selections via a lengthy text messaging session and he was in a rush to make a train. Honey was in England on business and I was at home, tending to family business. It was a stressful 30 minutes, and Lottie was just plain heroic on the yarn front!  I hope to meet her in person in the coming weeks with a little jaunt to England, myself, and maybe get a chance to visit both shops. It would be wonderful if the Postal Service could get their act together with my passport by the end of next week, but I seriously doubt that it will happen.  I am told that there will be a Fibre Festival event on May 24th in Chipping Norton and wouldn't it be fun to attend! 

There's also the Saxony flax spinning wheel that I won at a local auction for $90. If you follow me on FB (cedar hill farm company), then you've already seen this treasure. It has all of the original parts, except for the footman, and clearly only a few repairs have ever been made to it. For example, some of the original wooden pegs holding the treadle pedal together were replaced with handmade black-smithed nails. After much research, I've narrowed it's original time period down to some time between 1810 and 1840.  That makes it valuable, and old, and I wish it could talk, but it doesn't really matter to me, as I love this wheel so much for spinning alpaca lace that I have no plans to sell it.

I'm actually working with Galloway Woodworks in Texas (click on the name to go to their Etsy shop) to duplicate the one original bobbin so that I can get serious about using this wheel. It's a trial and error process by long distance, but they're doing a great job. The original bobbin maker used molten lead to balance it, which is very cool but also very difficult to duplicate in this modern era, so they are trying to duplicate it using their very talented lathe skills.

Let's not forget about the Alabama Festival of Fiber Arts in Montgomery at the end of April! Here are a few snaps of the market place.  I made some new friends and acquaintances, hung out with some old friends, and I sold some drool-worthy yarn, I taught some Magic Loop how-to classes to some very stalwart ladies (it was about 95 degrees F. in a poorly circulated room). We were hot and sticky, but determined.

My mom came to the show to help out while I taught classes, which is always great, and she picked up a new hobby: weaving. The fabulous Denise Prince of HanDen Studios convinced her to give it a try, so she bought a 15" Cricket Loom, and she's hooked!

This is also where I picked up the 2 English Angora rabbits that I thought I was buying from a breeder but was apparently rescuing from a lunatic who should be locked up tight in a coffin-sized cell.

This is Oscar (top pic) and Elmo.  Elmo, despite my best efforts, has since died, apparently having been malnourished for too long to come back from it. The appearance is deceiving because of the fur, but his little body was really just skin and bones and he was terrified of human contact. Oscar, who we discovered is actually a Scarlett after a 1.5 weeks of trying to remove a baseball-sized mat of fur from around her genitals, is hanging in there. She is recovering from the worst ear mite infection I think any animal caretaker has ever seen, a yeast infection, a deformation of her tail vertebrae (caused by the perpetual matting of her under-belly), extreme malnutrition, and semi-paralyzed hind legs due to having, apparently, been confined to a cage no bigger than the rabbit, herself, for most of her life.  I hope there's a special place in Hell for people like this one. And I hope she reads this because after abusing these animals and cheating me out of a good bit of money, she literally disappeared like any good villain does. Scarlet is, however, in much better condition now and is getting very spoiled, very quickly!

As for my other animals ... We lost a few baby chicks as one always does, but I'm still going into the summer +18 new chickens.  The lavender Orpingtons are my favorite!

This brings me to 25 yard birds, so after the pool goes in we'll be building a mobile chicken coop so they can graze and fertilize my pasture at the same time. And we are rich in dwarf rabbits, too.  Apparently, I have a female rabbit that gets pregnant by divine conception so we're housing 8 new additions to the rabbit clan this year.  If anyone wants a pet rabbit ...

The garden (round 1) is finally in.  I put in almost 300 plants just yesterday morning.  I already had the okra, a few different types of beans, peas, hot peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, rhubarb, onions, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and potatoes in.

Yesterday, I put in 75 tomato plants.  That's about 70 more than I have ever planted in my life, but my neighbor, one of a looooong line of farmers, said to me "Girl, you ain't growin' tomatuhs if you ain't put you at least 70 in the ground!"  (I LOVE listening to the vernacular of my neighbors! Pretty soon, it will rub off and NO ONE will believe that I was ever an English teacher for a minute, let alone 15 years!) I'm hoping to actually end up with a few tomatoes this year.

(The mud track in the foreground is from putting in the new water line from the well so that I can fill in for Mother Nature when she forgets about us this summer.)

There are 2 things that I am especially good at doing in the garden: growing Bermuda and killing tomatoes. Something new this year, besides the fact that I've planted 3 and 4 times the number of everything I planted last year, is purple carrots.  I'm totally excited about growing purple carrots. I'm even more excited about the fact that last night we got a little rain.  We were promised a flood and got a sprinkle 2 weeks ago and that's the last rain we've seen since, so hallelujah!

And that's all I have for today.  Pictures of projects and new yarn will be forthcoming in my next few posts.  Now go knit something!


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