Sunday, May 29, 2011


"They" always call Memorial Day the "unofficial start of summer." I know there are a lot of places where school's out by Memorial Day, so for those kids, it really is their summer break. My kids have another month of school before they're out, however. The pool opens for weekends, but during the week they're trapped in school. By this point in the year they're not doing too much learning, either. Standardized testing ends and the remainder of the year is for easygoing review, fun projects, parties, and other end of the year stuff. They pack it full of stuff for parents to attend, too, just when we're frantically trying to get in all the appointments, errands, and other things we need or want to accomplish before the kids are out of school.

I suppose we'll hit the pool tomorrow, grill tomorrow night, and wonder where this whole year went. It's almost time for me to start crying about how I have a son going to high school next year.

Just in time for summer, I finished up Mary Jane, and had a chance to get Mr. T to take some pictures. I really like how this turned out. I modified the pattern a bit, eliminating the puff sleeves and elongating them until they hit just below the elbows. I also eliminated the line of yarnovers at the raglan increase lines, because I didn't want holes there. I raised the neckline about an inch and a half or so, put in a little waist shaping (which I don't think anyone can see, honestly), and cast on 4 stitches at each underarm for a little more movement in that area.

And now I have to put it away for a few months, damn it!

Specs: Pattern: Mary Jane, by Sarah Moore, available through Twist Collective. The yarn is Squoosh Fiberarts' Merino Cashmere Sport, in Oil Slick. For the locals, I hear that Fibre Space is now carrying Squoosh yarns. And I have a GC... hmmm... Anyway -- I think I used just over 4 skeins of yarn for this, including swatches. I knew it would grow, being a superwash yarn, so I accounted for that in my swatching, making sure to wash my swatches to get an accurate gauge. In the end, however, I threw the wet sweater in the dryer for a few minutes on low heat to keep it from growing too much. When it was mostly dry but still slightly damp, I laid it flat, patted it gently to shape, and let it dry. Perfect.

It's been busy here, so there really hasn't been any new knitting or spinning to share. I was hoping that there would be some time for that this weekend, but so far, no.

What I have been doing is summerizing -- getting the handknits washed and packed away for the summer. This is what my bathroom looks like right now:

You can't see it in that last pic, but there's a sweater soaking in a bin in the tub, too.

Yes, this is what I do with my holiday weekends, sigh.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Doo Dah Dipity

(For some reason, that stupid car commercial with the rapping hamsters cracks me up.)

Serendipity: desirable discoveries made by accident.

Serendipity 3: restaurant in NYC that serves amazing ice cream concoctions. My parents used to take us there as a treat when we were kids. I still remember my shock when I heard my mother describe their frozen hot chocolate as "orgasmic." (A friend of mine once said of my mother, "Beneath her conservative exterior is a very uptight woman," so that will give you some idea of why I was so shocked, besides the fact that I was a teenager and this was my mother...)

I've been spinning up a new braid, slowly. There hasn't been that much time this week to do anything. But this one's very pretty. It's called Leafeater, a very pretty mixture of purples, greens, and grellows. It's merino and it's from FatCatKnits, whose braids I am rapidly becoming addicted to.

The standard bobbin shot. In this picture, you can see more of the colors in the braid:

I'm hoping to spin a nice stripey chain ply for socks.

Then I got my other spinner back from its tune-up, so I grabbed something to test it out and see if it was still doing the things that were annoying me (it is, not as bad, but it is). I went to my Collections Club from last month, because the one ounce braids are perfect for this kind of thing. There was a black and blue mixture that I liked, but I want to take care with it, so I passed on that one. Kelly green? Nah. Don't want that. The third one was a nice purple called "Thistle." I started spinning it.

I spun and spun and then realized that it's a very nice match for the Leafeater:

It matches the darkest purples perfectly. At first I thought I could ply them together, but I only have one ounce of the Thistle, compared to the 4 of Leafeater. So for now, I'm going to have one little purple skein to use for heels & toes with the Leafeater.

Doo. Dah. 'Dipity.

Look -- strawberry harvest:

The bunnies and chipmunks have been spending way too much time near my veggie/strawberry garden. They're cute and all, but they need to stay away from my goodies!

Mary Jane is finished, but I haven't had a chance to get anyone to take pictures for me, so that will come next. I've started a new sweater, Drifting, a summery cardi, but I don't have any good pics of that yet, either. So that's what's coming soon.

Hopefully, Memorial Day weekend will be relaxing for me, with time to knit and spin :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


"How are you?"


"How are things going?"


Fine. I'm fine. Except when I'm not. I'm fine when I'm at Maryland Sheep and Wool, hanging out with friends. I'm fine when I'm with the family (mostly). I'm not fine when I'm at baseball games. I won't be fine at Colonial Day. Because those are times I spent with Mary. It's hard to be out there and not think of all the times we chatted our way through baseball games. It will be hard to go to Colonial Day and remember how we danced with our boys together, while her husband took video of us. I'm kind of glad that we won't be going to Sr. Jr.'s middle school graduation this year, because it would be very, very hard to watch her son go through this without her.

I think I will start to be fine after this season ends. But right now, it's memories and a whole whack of baseball games and bike races and errands and all sorts of stuff that's keeping me busy.

And not knitting so much. I'm finishing the sleeves on Mary Jane. I started and then frogged the new Cookie A club pattern, because I decided it needed a bigger needle. While I've cast on for that, I've only knit one row. Lame. There just hasn't been too much time.

I did ply up some yarn that I spun a little while back, and then I also spun up some quick singles, just to feel like I was accomplishing something.

This is the Spin A Long yarn from the CTA rav group:

It's Falkland wool from Fat Cat Knits, in the Henry colorway. I spun it up in one long single and chain plied it on itself for a nice, bouncy three ply yarn. It's extremely squishable. I love the Falkland from this dyer, but this particular skein doesn't please me too much. The single broke a couple of times while I was plying it, which is a real pain in the butt. But it's done and it's pretty.

This next skein is a combination of three different mini braids from the dyer Bee Mice Elf, coincidentally, also Falkland wool:

I took the three mini braids and spun them into one long single and chain-plied it up, intending to cut the finished hank into three smaller skeins, one of each colorway. I haven't done that yet, because it looks too cute as it is.

Then yesterday I took one of the Bullseye Bumps that I got at Maryland Sheep and Wool and spin a skein of rustic looking singles. It's a self-striping batt, with dark grey, lilac, silver, a darker lilac toned grey, a dark blue and a slightly lighter blue. I love how it turned out! Can't wait to find a good pattern for it.

And today I started spinning another Fat Cat Knits braid for a spin along in her Rav group. Hopefully I'll get Mary Jane finished soon, too. Knitting and spinning time is looking pretty scarce, however, so no promises.

Monday, May 9, 2011


The past few months have been tough. A lot of stuff going on, not a lot of down time. Even weekends and school vacations haven't been relaxing. The weather sucked, too. Where was my Spring? Where was the sun? It was getting pretty depressing.

So this weekend was a big aaaaaah. The sun came out. The temps were lovely, in the low 70s. My garden is growing.

Look at how cute those strawberries are! The one little strawberry plant I put in last year has spread like mad, and we're going to have a ton of strawberries. Well, if the little critters don't eat them before we can get to them, that is. There's a chipmunk who hangs out in the garden and scampers away from me every morning when I go out to water. He's cute, but the little bugger better stay away from my fresh food!

On Saturday I took off and went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Last year, it was 95 degrees and unbearable for the Festival. We gave up shopping pretty quickly and just sat in the shade, chatting and knitting. This year, the weather was so beautiful that we didn't give up. While I bought some stuff from Sanguine Gryphon's booth (yay! I hope she gets to come back again), and Loop!, I really didn't buy much. I was happier hanging out with old knitting friends and new ones, too.

I got these cool Bullseye Batts from Loop!:

You spin them from the center out, and they make stripy yarn. I can't wait to give them a try.

I also got some of Sanguine Gryphon's new lace yarn, Mithril. It reminds me very much of Wollmeise lace, construction-wise, but in Gryphon's beautiful colorways.

So pretty. I have slightly too many things on the needles right now, otherwise, I'd be casting on to test out this yarn right away.

I did finish some socks. Not matching socks, mind you, but socks nonetheless.

Finished the first sock with my handspun. I love how this feels on my foot! I started the second sock and got through the heel turn over the weekend, so now it's smooth sailing until the end. Will work on it tomorrow at knitting group.

I finished the long-coming first sock in Yarntini's Don stripe:

I wanted to get this one finished not so I could start the second sock, but so I could free up the needles to start the second installment of Cookie A's sock club. The cuff of that is finished, but I'll wait until I have more knit to show pictures.

In spinning news, I have two bobbins of singles ready to be chain plied, but I haven't had the necessary block of time to sit down and do that. I'm NOT starting another new spinning project until all that plying is finished. I don't know when I'll be able to do that -- Wednesday maybe, or Thursday.


After a nice day wandering around the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and a lovely dinner with the family, I didn't expect too much for Mother's Day itself. I couldn't decide whether to celebrate by spending time with the family, or by sending them all away so I could have time to myself. Ultimately, the wonderful weather did me in, and I made them take me to the National Botanic Gardens downtown. I thought for sure that two young boys would hate every moment walking through gardens and greenhouses, but they had fun!

We started out in the Rose garden out front and wandered around outside for a bit.

The roses were amazing. We then spent quite a bit of time in the main pavilion. We saw some incredible orchids:

And a mother duck and her ducklings (say it with me: awwwwwwww)

And a happy mom (no makeup, hair up, but happy mom):

And if ever there was a year to appreciate being here with my two boys, this is it.