Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Dear Blog-

Well, as usual I have a ton of photos for you today, and I can think of at least three more that I want to show you. Those will have to wait. As usual, I have been knitting like a madwoman and not getting a heck of a lot of anything else done. April may be the cruelest month elsewhere, but it Tucson it is June. Lots of heat, no rain in sight. Until the monsoons come in early (usually) July. We can normally see the monsoons getting ready to arrive - about a month before they actually start the skies towards the south will look as though thunderheads are building up, but no rain comes. So we can typically predict when they might start by when the 'stormy' afternoons begin. No sign of the stormy afternoons yet.

And of course, once the monsoons hit, lots of things that normally live underground are up and out. Like tarantulas. Yuck. We have had one the past couple of years that loves to sit on the wall next to the outside light in the evenings. Which means you have to go past it to get in the door at night. My friend Diane who always drives to book group thinks I am ridiculous, but nonetheless she will kindly get out of the car, unlock my front door and have it all ready for me to dash past the creature and go in. They are harmless, but they seriously creep me out.

But a couple of weeks ago I was outside in one of our carports repotting one of my plants, and I must have been sending enough vibrations through the ground by walking back and forth, because half an hour later I was looking out the front window to see this in our garden. This is a king snake, and the reason that we like them is that they eat pack rats and rattlesnakes. This was one very large snake, about 5 ft. long. Later he crossed the front yard to disappear into the cactus on the other side, with several quail harassing him by nipping at his tail.

the proverbial snake in the garden

But ok, we are really here to talk about knitting, and boy, do I have a lot to say! As mentioned previously, I have finished my Algonquin cardi, and here it is in the flesh. Two of my favorite students saw it in progress, so I am helping them through their own Algonquins. We meet for the last time tomorrow afternoon. I know I have shared with you my button process with this project, and have also shared it with pretty much anyone else I have clapped eyes on in the last few months. Well, lo and behold, last week when I met with them to help them start their collars, Anna, one of my students, presented me with a bag of vintage rhinestone buttons she had cleared out of her stash. You know, blog, that the first thing I did when I got home that afternoon was to put those on my sweater, and OMG, they are perfect. Finally the perfect button. I can't wait to show Anna tomorrow how nice they look, and I will post pics to you asap.

I took this as my button karma, as another favorite student and I had been talking about buttons just the day before. About a year ago I was sitting and waiting at the doctor's office when a woman sat down next to me and told me that a friend of hers had died, leaving behind an enormous stash of old knitting patterns and buttons. Would I like to have them? Heck yes! So DH went and picked them up, I took most of the patterns to the guild for people there to take if they wanted, and the buttons stayed with me. At the time I put them into two plastic bins that are shaped like really tall shoeboxes, and have not done a thing with them since. Well, after telling Monica this story, she went on and on for the rest of our class about all the things I could be doing with those buttons. While I certainly got some inspiration from many of her ideas, I could also see that Monica needed to have some of those buttons. So that afternoon when I got home I sorted through one bin into two piles - buttons that I liked, and buttons that were clearly meant for Monica. The next morning I sorted through the other bin. So now I have one bin of buttons that I really love, and in the back of my car is a big paper shopping bag (Trader Joe's, to those of you who know) full of buttons for Monica. Also in the bag is a failed felted purse that I am giving to her as she is amazingly talented with embellishments. When DH gets home from work today, I will have to take a pic of that bag so that I can tell you next time about felting and different yarns.

But you know that I think that heaven looks a lot like Morehouse Farm's store, Sheep's Clothing. In fact, if you subscribe to the notion that heaven is whatever each person wants it to be, well then heck, I've already been there. But in heaven I'll get to stay on the couch knitting with Morehouse yarn forever, eating cookies and talking to whoever passes by. When the time comes that we move back to the Hudson Valley, I plan on working there. I don't know if they plan on having me, but I know what my half of the plan is! In fact, if I should happen to get any b-day $$, I'm going to get enough of their 2-ply to make another sweater in a pattern I have been eyeing for months now.

beloved Algonquin, now former buttons

And here is Super Grandpa! You may remember (that is, if I remembered to tell you) that I was showing my sister how to needle-felt dolls while she was here, and this is the doll that I made that day. Somehow when it came time to dress him he really wanted a red cape, and so Super Grandpa is what he became. Someone asked me a while back where I got all my roving from - it came from a website called A Child's Dream Come True. I have been very pleased with it and plan on ordering from them again when the time comes.

Super Grandpa

So now that brings us pretty much up to date. Or will do in a second. When my LYSO and I talked in mid-April about classes for the upcoming quarter, one of the ideas we had was for a summer top that was knitted from side-to-side. I confessed that I really didn't have any budget at the moment for yarns, and so we went on an Easter egg hunt through the shop for several yarns of different textures that worked well together, but pretty much all cottons. I'll confess here that the only side-to-side garment I have made was the #*(@$&(# Blues Band Vest that the TKGA had in Cast-On. (Which I can't find in my archives. Did I not take a photo of that thing when it was finally finished? I will have to rectify that.) So designing this puppy was quite a lesson for me, as well. And yet, after all, once you know your gauge and you know what you want to have happen, it all just works, doesn't it? Anyway, I swatched for a bit with the yarns until they finally told me what they wanted to be, and then dove into the knitting of it, writing down my pattern as I went. And this is the result.

May's Summer Jacket

This is meant to be a little something that you would throw on over a tank top, for example, or with a different yarn choice it would be lovely over a dress for summer evenings. As I got closer to the end I realized that it really wanted a crocheted edging. In the past I have shied away from this as so many knitters don't know how to crochet. This time I said to myself that it was about time they learned, so I did incorporate a very simple edging for them to wet their feet with. I have to confess, this is not my personal style, and yet I can appreciate it. But even though I liked the fabric and the original swatch, I was so not feeling the love for this thing. Finally, just after starting the second sleeve and in deep need for inspiration to carry me through to the end, I started working some of the finishing, and that did the trick. As soon as I saw the ribbon yarn pulled through the eyelets and the trim starting to go on, I could feel it and finished the top with enthusiasm. And then found one of my vintage buttons to crown it with. Which seems to have lost its rhinestone in this photo, but never fear, I found the rhinestone in the dryer and have it ready to glue back in when I go to the shop tomorrow afternoon.

It was difficult to photograph as it looks like poo on a hanger - it just hangs like a dead thing. And to lay it out on a table means that it is too wide for my camera to take all in. So here I am, standing on a dining chair and taking its picture. Try not to notice my bust in the way at the bottom of the photo.

Like any knitter worth her salt, I have several knitting baskets. Lately I have gotten into the habit of lining the ones not in current use up on the yarn table and filling them with the next project in queue. So that when I finish one thing, the next is all ready and waiting for me. So one morning last week, when I could see the light at the end of the cotton top tunnel, I was making the bed and realized that I have never knitted anything for our house. Yes, decorations, but no afghans. This needs fixing. I had a great time sorting through my stash of worsted wools and finding colors that would work for a blanket for our bed. Here is the start of my 12" garter stitch squares. I had high hopes of making each one different, until yesterday when I sat down and looked up the standard sizes of blankets and realized that I will need 72 squares. SEVENTY-TWO! Ok, so this is going to take me a while. Then as I was telling my Mom about my new project on the phone I found myself telling her I would knit an afghan for their RV that they take up to Montana every summer (but this one). What the hell was I thinking? Mom loves the store-bought afghan someone gave her because it is lightweight. This means a big project with dk yarn and tiny needles. I love my mother, I really do. But she would be just as happy with something bought. Which is what she will get.

So here is my first square, not blocked. Side A...

Side A

Side B

...or Side B? You decide. I kinda like Side B because it reminds me of ticking fabric. And here is the start of the second square, done in a pseudo-Log Cabin.

Last but not least, blog, I have this idea for a jacket that I hope to turn into classes for either fall or winter. For once I thought I would start my pattern early instead of freaking out in a panic at the last moment, as I usually do. I started playing around with it yesterday afternoon and am not perfectly happy with it. Love the fabric, but with all the yo's it is impractical for a jacket. Today I will play with other ideas for it.

Ok, blog, have to go. Next time I will show you the new Algonquin buttons (I know you will agree that they are perfect), the #*(!@)&$)$& Blues Band Vest, and the difference in felting with two bags, same pattern, different yarns.

Til then, keep knitting-


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