Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mail from Norway and an EZ Baby Sweater

Look what arrived unexpectedly yesterday (on what I thought was a postal holiday)!

It's a wonderful package from the lovely Theresa, full of Norwegian goodies! The yarn is Evilla, from Estonia. It's unspun and will make a really cozy shawl. I have plans for it (this, if you must know, assuming I have enough). We have already devoured half the chocolate bar and 2 of the Kinder eggs, and the two licorice candies are for my mom. Thanks so much, Theresa!

During a phone call with my mom last week, she reminded me that a good friend I grew up with is expecting her first baby (a girl) next month, and the shower is this weekend. So, what did I do? This:

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmermann's Best Baby Sweater (aka February Baby Sweater), from Vogue Knitting: American Collection
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Baby DK, 2 balls, Chicory (Note: I really ran out of yarn before the bottom garter band was finished. You could easily get 2 sweaters out of 5 balls of yarn, but it is a squeeze to get a sweater out of 2 balls of this yarn.)
Needles: US 5

I really love the results of this pattern. It was extremely quick; I started Thursday night and finished on Saturday. It is really an adorable sweater, and the yarn knits up nicely.

Finally, I finished plying the 4 oz. of alpaca silk that Sarah sent me in our east/west fiber festival trade. Mine is on the right, and the 2 oz. skein she sent me long ago is on the left. There are noticeable differences in the two skeins, but I think they will work together. This is really a beautiful fiber, and it spun really well.

Thank you all for the kind comments on Ariann. I do like it unbuttoned, but it isn't quite what I expected. Live and learn, I guess.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Pattern: ChicKnits Ariann
Yarn: KnitPicks Andean Silk (approx. 12 skeins, Chocolate)
Buttons: 4 wooden buttons from MJ Trim

I really liked this pattern; it was well-written and easy to follow. I'm a bit less happy with the sweater than I thought I would be. I was a bit between sizes on this one and opted for the smaller size, so I like it unbuttoned better than buttoned. I opted not to make the belt, because I don't really need or want the waist cinching. At some point in the future, I may make it. I'm also a little disappointed in the sleeve length, but that could be a row gauge issue. They are longer than 3/4 length and just slightly too short for long sleeves.

As for the yarn, it's very soft, but sheds like crazy and is definitely somewhat fuzzy. I ran into a number of knots while knitting, which was disappointing. I'm also a bit skeptical of how this yarn will wear. In all, I'm not sure I will use this again for a sweater, although it would make a lovely scarf. I do like the drape, which was a big factor in buying a blend rather than a 100% wool yarn.

Overall, I think it's a success, even if I hoped it would turn out a little differently.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Little Spinning and Dyeing

Way back in the fall, I spun two pounds of Bluefaced Leicester that I purchased from Haltwhistle Fibers at Maryland Sheep and Wool. My intention was always to dye the yarn and knit a sweater, and I finally got around to it. I started the sweater last night, which will be a simple crewneck raglan.

I used Jacquard Acid Dyes, in Sapphire, I believe. I have to admit that the color isn't exactly what I wanted, but I think I'll like it once it's knit up. I have a block against royal blue after many years of wearing it in elementary and high school, mainly in the form of cheerleading and band uniforms. I have a similar block against orange, although I seem to be getting over it.

I also spun up the 4 oz. of merino tencel top I bought from The Sheepshed at Mountain View Farm at Rhinebeck this fall. I love this fiber; it spins very easily, and it produces the most beautiful yarn. This skein is around 500 yards of fingering weight 2-ply. It's destined to become a shawl, I think. Icarus, perhaps?

Ariann is finished and blocking. I'll have photos soon--and a sidebar update. Life has been busy.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


I really have finished things lately, and I'm on the second sleeve of my Ariann sweater. I often have to decide between photographing things for the blog and actually doing things, so the blog falls by the wayside.

This is a pair of socks knit and given to me by Tamara. They are my first gift socks and my first Koigu socks. I really love them! I think they're better knit than most of the socks I knit for myself, as well.
This is Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket, knit in Socks That Rock medium weight, Farmhouse colorway. This is a really interesting and quick pattern, and it shows off variegated colors really well. The jacket is a gift for a friend from law school, who is expecting later this month.

I have taken some photos of my latest handspun, and they will be up soon. (I have to save something so I don't wait another 2 weeks or more before posting!)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Back on Track

I'm always amazed how two weeks back home, combined with the inherent insanity of the holiday season, tends to get me off track. I got off track in my weight loss plan (ate too much bad food and didn't go to the gym), I got off track with my spinning, and everything just felt out of whack. After a couple of weeks back, I'm finally getting into a routine again.

Sadly, the blogging has not become routine. Most of this is the fault of New Blogger. New Blogger seduced me with its ease of use and click and drag photos (as well as the fact that it's an inevitable switch I'll have to make if I want to stay on Blogger). But New Blogger and my work computer apparently don't get along for some strange reason. At any rate, this has put blogging at a standstill for the time being.

I have finished some things, however.
First, here is a 2-ply Shetland/mohair blend, spun from a batt. It's approximately fingering weight, 400 or so yards, 4 oz. I received the batt from Lauren, in the Knitty Spin swap. Thanks, Lauren!

Next up, an unblocked Tiffany mitten, from the latest Knitty. I changed a few things about the pattern. I used ribbing at the cuffs instead of a picot edging and left out one of the repeats between the thumb and the top of the mitten (actually, a happy accident, since it fits my hand better this way). Since I took this photo, of course, I finished the second mitten and have been wearing them all week. I like them, but I think I'm ready to do a more traditional folk mitten. The yarn is Jamieson's DK, and if anyone wants the colors, I can look them up.

Finally, how could I usher in 2007 without taking up a new hobby? My mom took me to a great quilting shop (Mammaw's Thimble), and I somehow bought fabric and a quilting book. This is the center part of a lap quilt; the turquoise will be the inner border, then the dark brown the middle border, then the floral fabric (pictured next to the quilt) the outer border and binding. The backing is a lovely cream paisley fabric. I will use a wool batting and hand quilt it. The pattern is "Don't Fence Me In," from Eleanor Burns's Still Stripping After 25 Years. If all goes well, I'll be finishing the borders this weekend and quilting next weekend.

There are a lot of other projects in the queue right now. I've frogged and restarted the Handmaiden Sea Silk, and I'll be starting a Baby Surprise Jacket this weekend for a friend who is due at the end of February. I also finished a pair of baby booties for a coworker. It seems like there's too much to do and too little time right now!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Who knits 5 pairs of socks, a We Call Them Pirates hat, a (second) sweater (in 7 days!), 2 pairs of Fuzzyfeet, a drop stitch wrap, and a French Market Bag and forgets to take photos? You guessed it. Lots of finished knitted items, no photos. C'est la vie.

The second sweater saga began about two weeks before Christmas, when I realized that Bristow was hopelessly too big. I plan to do some work to salvage it, but it wasn't something I could or would tackle that close to the deadline. I examined the stash and remembered that I had enough Cotton Ease for Sitcom Chic. On Saturday, 12/17, I began knitting. (Did I mention I also needed to finish the We Call Them Pirates hat and a pair of socks before the big day?) Well, on 12/24, it was finished. It's odd how one pattern or yarn can cause so much grief, when another goes off without a hitch. Sitcom Chic is lovely, and it was a really pleasant knit, even under a tight deadline. The Cotton Ease was nice to work with, as well, and I plan to get more at some point to make the same sweater for me. (If you didn't know, Lion Brand has come to its senses and brought back Cotton Ease in some nice colors.)

All in all, it was a good two week vacation in Tennessee. I received some very nice gifts, many of which were knitting/spinning/weaving related, and I got to spend a lot of time with family and friends.

Of course, I decided to pick up a new/old hobby. It all started with a phone call from my mom, telling me about a lovely quilting shop in Knoxville (Mammaw's Thimble) she'd discovered. Now, I've completed most of the top of a lap quilt. (Photos to come.)

And, since I'm sure you want to see something interesting from my trip, here is a photo of my sister and me on New Year's Eve.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Christmas Meme (because all the cool kids are doing it)

(Or at least one cool kid--Maryann--is doing it.)

NAME: Valerie

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate, as long as it's the good stuff. But I do like both.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We've done both, at various times. Usually wrapped, unless it's especially difficult or awkward to wrap.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White. I have a strong preference for white or single-color bulbs. But the Rockefeller Center tree has multicolored bulbs and is all right.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually the week or next weekend after Thanksgiving (usually the first weekend in December). We don't take the tree down until Epiphany Sunday.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Hmm...dessert has always been my favorite. I'll have to say my grandmother's chicken and noodles, though. They're amazing, and I don't get them any other time of year anymore. One consequence of not living near my family.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Probably the Christmas Eve program at church. It's a kids program, which is always interesting. When I was 5, I beat out all the older girls to play Mary. I was very proud of myself. Of course, we didn't do the live nativity scene after that year, so I wonder what I did.... (I was also a sheep when I was a toddler, for what it's worth.)

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I really don't remember.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We go to my grandparents' after the program on Christmas Eve and open gifts from them and from my aunt and uncle. Other than that, nada.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I have a hodgepodge of ornaments that both Dustin and I stole from our respective families. My mom is a little Christmas nuts (she decorates about 10 trees of varying sizes), so there are plenty of ornaments around. Plus, we always shop on 12/26 and buy decorations. There's a photo in my last entry.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I still have a soft spot in my heart for it, because I grew up basically without it. But 3 years in Vermont did start curing me of it. I guess the best answer is that I like it until March.

12. Can you ice skate? No. Anything that requires balance and coordination seems to be beyond my capabilities.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a kid? I don't think so. But I was insanely excited about getting my Schacht last year.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Going home to see our families and friends. And all the tradition involved.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? I have a hard time with this one, but probably my grandmother's Japanese Fruitcake, which is totally not fruitcake. (The link is close to what she makes, I think.) I'm pretty sure Dustin decided to marry me after eating this cake.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? It's still the Christmas Eve program at church, I think, plus going to my grandparents'.

17. What tops your tree? An angel crocheted by Dustin's great-grandmother that needs to be re-starched.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both. I like shopping for great gifts as much as getting them.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? I'm going to be lame and say "O Holy Night," but I really love the entire Boston Camerata Renaissance Christmas cantata. It's wonderful.

20. Candy Canes… Yuck or Yum? I don't really eat them, but I don't hate them.