Side Effects

OK, so I can see that I’ve been away from the blog for longer than I like. It’s summer, which is the Season Of Not Knitting As Much, at least it is for me. I tend to have lots more non-knitting gotta-do’s in the summer than at any other time of year, and this year is no exception. I’ve been blanching and freezing greens, making and freezing pesto, and enjoying summertime pursuits.

Last weekend, though, I was feeling under the weather, so I managed to knit more than I usually do this time of year. The side effects of feeling not-so-great?  Two projects came off the needles.

First, this scarf, destined as a Christmas present for my niece:

Maddie's scarf finished

The pattern is Midwest Moonlight and the yarn is Sylvan Spirit from Green Mountain Spinnery in Blue Opal.

The pattern was simple without being boring. The yarn was different from anything else I’ve knitted. It’s a Tencel/wool blend. The Tencel gave it an interesting, sort of papery feeling as it was knitted up. It softened like linen in the wash and will be great for next-to-skin softness. Nice drape, too.

Second, this cowl, which is for me:

Fir Trees circle

 

Fir Trees flat

Fir Trees model

 

The yarn is a viscose-wrapped angora called Seraphim by Bijou Basin Ranch. It isn’t the sneezy, floofy-doofy angora I expected. While it blooms nicely, it isn’t overly fuzzy. The project is a one-skein cowl called Fir Trees by Marly Bird. The effect is sort of like a knitted necklace — it may be light enough to wear indoors as an accessory. I’ll have to see how cool my office is come autumn.

Today, I watched the World Cup final and made a decent amount of progress on a baby blanket for a colleague.

baby blanket 50 percent

The yarn is Butterfly Super 10 mercerized cotton in cream, and the pattern is Welcome Home Baby Blanket. I’ve reached that critical halfway mark on the blanket, so I’m hoping that finish-it-up-itis will take over, never mind all of the other summer activities that are competing for my attention.

 

 

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Midsummer: Casting on for the Next Solstice

So, the title of this post pretty much shows that I’m nuts. I’m OK with that, I suppose. On Midsummer Day, when most sane people are having cookouts or going to the pool or enjoying an outdoor festival, I spent a good deal of my free time casting on knitting projects that are due a half-turn of the Wheel from now.

It’s not like I wasn’t aware that it’s Midsummer — I knew. I’m certainly aware and happy that we’re entering the darker half of the year. The Holly King defeats the Oak King once more. We’ll slowly drift to cooler, shorter days of rest, reflection, and knitting. There’s plenty left to enjoy of summer, to be sure. My CSA veggie share begins this week, and the fruit share is yet to come. I’ve got weeks and weeks of food preservation ahead of me. That, and our end-of-summer beach trip still awaits. So, there’s no denying that it’s high summer, and I’ll enjoy it, for sure.

High summer notwithstanding, I had a chance to think about fall and winter knitting projects while I was on a business trip this week. Well, to be more precise, when I was on the long plane rides to and from the trip. I took along this cowl as my travel project:

Fir Trees Cowl 50 percent

That’s Fir Trees Cowl in Bijou Basin Ranch Seraphim, in purple. I cast this on just before the trip, promising myself that I would not, would not cast on anything else until at least one or two WIPs came off the needles. I have about eleventy-two projects going right now, and it’s become rather unmanageable. I don’t want to put any of them in hibernation, either, but would like to keep rotating them.

Sitting on the plane, knitting away, I thought about knitting tasks ahead. I had recently found out that newest addition to my office is going to have her own new addition, and is expecting to welcome a baby boy in late autumn. I’d like to make her a baby blanket. That’s one project.

Then, I mentally ticked off the finished projects and those that would be finished by Christmas. I had a gift for every female member of my family save one. Now, I tend to just give out knitted gifts as I have them. Some people receive knitted gifts, others don’t, and that’s just the way it goes at Christmas. But to have knitted gifts for all the women except one who’d be left out? Not a good plan. I needed to queue up one more project. That’s two.

Finally, I considered the sweater for my older son. That’s been on the planning board for some time. I had already ordered some yarn to play with, and tagged some stitch patterns to swatch and consider for the sweater front, which will be cabled. The next task is to make up the swatches, make final decisions about which patterns to use, and then do the math so the sweater is ready to cast on once summer’s heat relents and I can stomach holding heavy yarn again. That’s three.

So, yesterday, I rummaged around my stash and pattern books. I almost always save casting on for the weekends, as I’m generally too tired to do all the up-front work required of a new project (pattern markups and adjustments, yarn selection, and so forth) during the week.

For the baby blanket, I chose Butterfly Super 10 in cream. I used this yarn for another baby blanket and loved the way it knitted up. It has a silk-like glow and is easy to care for with a lovely drape. I don’t have quite as much yarn as I had for the first blanket, so this one will be a bit smaller. The pattern will be Welcome Home Baby Blanket, which should be a pretty straightforward knit. I put that on the needles:

Welcome Baby Blanket started

For one of my sisters-in-law, I decided on a simple shawlette. The pattern is Cedar Leaf Shawlette and the yarn is Green Mountain Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair in Balsam. This, too, will be a simple knit.

Cedar Leaf started

For my son’s sweater, I started swatching with the simplest of swatches, stockinette. It’s an important swatch, though, as the sleeves and back of the sweater will all be stockinette, with a cabled front.

Camping Sweater stockinette swatch

The yarn is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Soot. The swatch hasn’t been blocked yet.

Another priority project is this Midwest Moonlight scarf for my niece, in Green Mountain Spinnery’s Sylvan Spirit, colorway Blue Opal. I’m about to join the final skein.

Winter Windows 50 percent

Although I’m glad to have made the time to plan out and cast on these projects, I know that I will probably not make huge amounts of progress on them, at least not right away. After a week on travel, work beckons. The house needs tidying. The garden needs attention. But if I don’t start projects, I’ll never finish them. Come Yule, I don’t want to be stressed because I didn’t plan well. The Wheel has turned. Yule will come, and I’ll be ready.

 

 

 

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Knitterly Souvenirs

When my husband and I went to London for our 25th anniversary, I hoped we’d be able to visit some yarn stores. I researched yarn stores near the touristy areas we’d be frequenting, and saw that, for the most part, they were just enough out of the way that I’d probably be pushing my luck with my husband’s goodwill if I asked for too many woolly side trips.

While I didn’t visit any yarn stores in London proper, I did have some luck on our excursions out of the city. Before we went on a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath, I looked up a yarn store in Bath called Wool , so we stopped in on our too-short afternoon there.

Bath 8

I picked up a skein of undyed yarn from a “rescued” Cotswold/Dorset sheep, whose photo was on the ball band (!), that was made right there in Bath.
Bath yarn

I don’t know what the sheep was rescued from, as I took lots of photos of very contented looking sheep grazing in pastures around there.

Stonehenge 1

Perhaps she was rescued from being Sunday roast.  I also picked up a skein of merino/silk sparkly laceweight from a company called Bluefaced.com.

Bluefaced.com

It’ll make a nice shawl to remind me of my trip.

On our day trip to Windsor, we walked by a craft shop that had a sign in the window boasting that it had “Windsor’s Largest Yarn Department,” so I had to go in.

Windsor 93

We were killing time, anyway, waiting for the nearby pub to start its dinner service.  I ended up with three skeins of Debbie Bliss Bluefaced Leicester, It’s only 300-odd yards, but will be enough for a small project.

Debbie Bliss BFL

Another day, we stopped in at a grocery store near the hotel, which was sort of a fun field trip in and of itself.  An aunt had asked for a UK celebrity gossip magazine, so I picked one up.  While on that errand, I saw their knitting magazines.  UK knitting magazines (at least, the ones I saw) are packaged with freebies, like a little kit to knit a toy bear, a tape measure, little llama bobbins, and pattern booklets.  Figuring these would be relatively cheap souvenirs, I bought all three current issues.  The magazines made interesting reading on the long plane ride home.

IMG_1311 IMG_1312

So, that’s it for blog posts about London.  Tomorrow, I head to the Estes Park Wool Market, and I’ll write about that just as soon as I can.

 

 

 

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