Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Knits in the wild

Corvin and his parents came for a visit on the weekend, so I got to see my knits in action.
He, of course, is wearing my Corvin cardigan, and I'm so happy to see how well it fits. I don't have a lot of experience with babies, and when I was designing, I didn't have one on hand. I just tried to design it off "standard measurements"
He's almost three months old and he's wearing the smallest (3-6 mos) size. He's still got a little room in it, so it should last him the rest of the winter.
He certainly looks nice and cozy in it. And blue is definitely his colour!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sowing the seeds of love

So far, we've had a ridiculously mild winter. Most days above freezing and barely any snow.

Just how mild is it?
Mild enough that the daisies have started sprouting.

I'm sure we'll get hammered with cold and snow through February and March, but all this mild weather just gets me over excited for spring. I'm trying to curb my enthusiasm... and failing. The other day we were out running errands and I made Dave stop at the hardware store so I could check out their seed display.
 Like KathyB, I am trying out winter sowing. Also like her, I've opted for Hollyhocks and Lupins.  I started some Lupins last year, and only a few made it, so it won't hurt to try some more. Hollyhocks have always been one of my favourites. We had a stand of them at the house I grew up in - deep dark red and growing up in front of the diningroom window.
 I've tried and failed with both Chives and Sweet Peas, so maybe winter sowing will give me better luck.
The Butterfly mix contains:  Alyssum, Daisies, Bachelor Buttons, Milkweed, Candytuft, Columbine, Coneflowers, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Scarlet Flax, Marigolds, Poppies,and Wallflowers. Some of those I have already, of course, but it never hurts to have more. 

And the iceland poppies.... I've had mixed results with poppies. The first ones I planted from seed didn't make it. I got some from the garden cnetre two years ago, but they didn't survive being moved. The ones I bought last year seem more robust, but they didn't bloom. I hope they make it, but we'll see if the winter sow method works for this batch.
And you know how I love sunflowers. Last year was disappointing, so maybe winter sowing will give me some sturdier plants. I went for the mammoth yellow, as well as some Teddy Bear, and Indian Blanket versions, because they are just so pretty!

Of course, none of this provides me with actual blooms right now... so for instant gratification, I picked up a few things from the grocery store
 It may be cloudy and dreary outside, but these sunny tulips cheer up indoors!
I don't have a lot of luck with African Violet, but a coworker has a beautiful one at work. So that's where this one is going... to my office... and hopefully, my coworker can give me some tips on keeping it alive!

And this.... this is something I've wanted for a very long time!!!
A Pussy Willow. Mom and I tried to root some cuttings last year, but they didn't take.  And this Pussy Willow isn't just any Pussy Willow...
It's a Weeping Pussy Willow! I'll share pictures as all the little catkins bloom because it's going to look quite spectacular.  It can be planted in the garden, though I think I'm going to keep this one in a pot (albeit bigger than it has now). While we have no plans to move  anytime soon, this is a rental property and I'd hate to have to leave it behind.

I've got lots more planned.... and it's very hard to keep it all in check until spring!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Resistance

With the lace tunic finally off the needles, I was going to reward myself and give into startitis...
But then I reminded myself that I still had this pile of green goodness on the the go
It's the lace cardigan I'm designing, and as you can see, it's well underway. In fact, I'm only a few inches from finishing the body.

So...I'd like to see if I can resist startitis a little longer. Should we take bets? Can I finish this before I give in?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

FO: Lace Tunic with Fancy Edge

I am pleased to say, I finished it up before a year was out... and with a day to spare
Sadly, you will not see modelled shots of it... at least not by me. As I suspected as I neared the end... it doesn't fit me. Well.. it does... but not the way it was suppose to. It's suppose to be over-sized, loose and flowy, but instead it clings to every curve... and not in a very flattering way. I should have knit a bigger size.
So, as pretty as it is, it's going into the gift box. Luckily, I have a few people on my "knit-worthy" list who it will suit, so the time and effort for not wasted.
The pattern is Lace Tunic with Fancy Edge, by Wendy D. Johnson. As complicated as it looks, it's a straight forward pattern and the lace is pretty simple. With the exception of the front neckline, it's all just rectangles with no shaping (though I did shaping on the sleeves to make them narrower).
For each piece, the lace edge is knit first.  I made some slight mods there too. In the original, it's all garter lace. But I prefer the look of stocknit lace, so I changed up the centre part.
From there you pick up the stitches and knit the main lace pattern - a simple 8-row repeat that's easily memorized
And then it's just miles and miles of lace. I used two skeins of our Twisted Slinky Cat (colourway is Bordeaux) and it has just enough silk to give this the perfect amount of drape.
The semi-solid colour allows the lacework to shine.

And even though I won't be the one to enjoy wearing it, I'm glad I finished it. Now... onto the next...

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Felines

Just a few weeks back, we were having a discussion in our Ravelry group about bathing pets. Because of his issues, Tux got bathed a lot, but I mentioned that Peno has never given me a reason to bath her, and I sincerely hoped she never would...

Famous last words...
While her fur is short, it's really dense... and she had a bit of a messy bathroom incident that just matted right into all that fur. So into the tub she went.

It went surprisingly well. I figured she'd be full on chainsaw, but she mostly just stood there and cried, while Rupert stood outside the door and cried back (a bit of a role reversal for her - when it was Tux in the tub, she was the one on the other side of the door.)

After the bath, I was able to coax her onto the couch on a pile of warm towels
 But she continued to give me the stink-eye while she worked at getting her fur dry.
 I have a feeling I'm going to be paying for this indignity for weeks to come...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Baby rockstar quilt

You may remember, back when I bought the fabric for the cat quilt, I bought this pack of fat quarters too
It was intended to make a quilt for little Corvin. But as time went on, I got to feeling overwhelmed with projects and deadlines, and I decided Corvin's quilt was going to have to be cut from the to-do list if I want to stay sane.

But then Christmas flew by, and Mom and I finished up the cat quilt with relative ease. And I got to thinking about Corvin's quilt again. My experience with the cat quilt told me one fat quarter pack wasn't going to be enough, so I went on the hunt and found this:
 It arrived this week and I'm hoping to find some time to get cutting this weekend. I'm thinking a simple nine patch for this one, but you'll have to wait and see.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

One down, one underway

That, my friends, is one completed, blocked sleeve for the lace tunic. By the time you read this, the other should be well underway (maybe even close to being finished!)

Once the sleeves are done, there's seams to sew and a neckline to finish. That said, at the moment, I am on track (barely) for my self-imposed deadline of January 27th. It's going to be a photo finish, I think!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Curse broken...

... or so I hope.
The second Nutkin is well underway, and I'm very happy. I'm itching to cast on for a new sock. I don't like to have more than one pair on the needles at once.

I have discovered that I can knit about two full pattern repeats on the train portion of my commute. That should mean - barring tangles, forgotten DPNs and other hiccups - I could have these off the needles and on my feet by the end of the month! Here's hoping!

Monday, January 23, 2017

FO: Agatha

I'm so happy - my first cardigan of 2017 is finished!
The pattern is Agatha, by Andi Satterland. It was knit as part of her Selfish Sweater KAL and this is the second year I've participated.

Last year, I made Mary Mead. And while I'm pleased with Mary, I'm much happier with Agatha as she fits better. (I learned a thing or two from that first KAL).

I love Andi's designs. Their retro style is the perfect compliment to my dress collection, and my curvy figure. I only wish she'd design more in lighter yarns. Most of her designs are in Worsted/Aran, and I generally prefer sport to fingering knits. But... I love the designs so much, it's worth knitting the odd heavier sweater. They do knit up nice and fast. This one was cast on December 26, and cast off January 19. And that wasn't steady knitting.
As you can see, Agatha is a nice mix of lace leaves (my favourite!) and sharp ribbing. And the back is just as pretty as the front
There's even lace down the sleeves
But can you see the mistake I made on that sleeve? Look closer
The leaf stems are suppose to alternate direction, but those two go the same way. I was a few leaves beyond when I noticed. It was the second sleeve, I was keen to get it done, and I figure unless I point it out - no one is going to notice. I don't regret it!

While I thought I'd knit 3/4 sleeves (the pattern calls for full length with a folded cuff), mine actually blocked out to perfect wrist length. Not what I planned, but I won't complain.

For buttons, I went nice and simple
Aunt Jess' button stash yielded up the perfect number of these subtle, tortoiseshell buttons. The yarn used.

The yarn used is Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in a soft, sage green. It was nice to knit with, but I have to admit, I've gotten to used to wearing superwash and silkblend yarns. It's a nice soft yarn, but it does have a little more itch than I'm used to, but it's not unwearable.

In fact, I think this one will get a lot of wear. While we are experience slightly warmer than normal weather lately, my office is ice cold! The heavier weight should keep my nice and warm while I'm working.

I'll try to get modeled shots of this one soon, but I can't make any promises. Without a car, getting to my favourite photographer isn't as easy as it use to be!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Slinky sleeves

With Agatha blocking, I decided it was time to finally get the lace tunic out of my face. It was cast on January 26, 2016... and we're fast approaching that anniversary. I'd love to have it done before a year is up.
To that end, I've spent the last little while working on the sleeves (all that's left!). I'm trying to resist startitis while I get this done... but I've never been great at that...

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ah, nuts!

I'm starting to think the second Nutkin sock is cursed. This is what it currently looks like:
"But Valerie," you say, "That doesn't look any different than the last time you showed it to us a week and a half ago."

That right... because while I remembered to put the missing DPN in my knitting bag last Wednesday, I decided to leave the WHOLE bag on my desk at work. I got to the train station that night, opened up my purse and discovered I had no knitting back. GRumbling, I played Candy Crush the whole way home and resigned myself to having to wait until Monday to work on it.

But then Monday I didn't go into the office. In fact,  I didn't go in until yesterday (and were not going to talk about the minor panic attack I had when I finally got there and couldn't see where it was hiding on he back corner of my desk) . I intended to at least get the ribbing done on the train last night, but when I'd pulled it out of the bag, it was all tangled up. I'd already had a trying day, and just was not up to untangling fine yarn on a bumpy train while trying not to lose stitches. Maybe I'll work on it this weekend to make up for some of the lost commuting time.

In good news... I finished Agatha WAAAAAAAAAAYYY ahead of schedule. She's on the blocking board (and should be dry by now). I'm going to raid the button stash this weekend and see if I have something suitable. If I do, you should see an FO post sometime this week.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Felines

Back before Christmas, I found a few long decorative pillows at the dollar store. I thought they'd be ideal for blocking some of the draft that comes in around the sliding door.
Someone else thinks they make bird watching soooooooooooo much more comfortable. And no.. he's not packing on the pounds... it's just the angle of that pic.
 He's still a lean mean bird-watching machine.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Now to add a splash of colour...

Like most people, I'm not really a fan of this time of year. It's not so much the cold, I've got plenty of warm woolies to keep my warm. And cold weather is a really good reason for me to stay inside and knit.

No... it's the lack of colour and light. The landscape is dull, the days are grey, and the nights are long.

So imagine my delight when I woke up yesterday morning and Hibiscus tree was in bloom.
Especially considering I was sure I'd lost it last spring. I bring it inside for the winter, and it got a horrible infestation of white fly. I tried insecticidal soap, but it wasn't even making a dent. Finally, in an act of desperation - I put it outside. It was late March. While the days were warm, the nights were still cold and frosty. Within a matter of days, it lost all its leaves (which at least meant there was no food left for the white flies).

I left it outside with only a faint hope it would come back. As the weather warmed up, it started to bud. As summer waned, it was full leafed out, but not nearly as big as it had been. It didn't bloom, and when I brought it back in for the winter (after an preventative spray of insecticidal soap), I figured I'd have to wait until summer again to see blooms
They don't last long - just a day or two - but they are big and beautiful. This particular tree is actually three separate trees, braided together, with Red, Yellow and Peach flowers.

Of course, flowers in January get me extra excited for garden season. A few weeks back, KathyB shared her experimentation with Winter Sowing. It's ideal for me, because we don't have a lot of room indoors, and it means I can start earlier. I'm currently collecting supplies, so while I'm waiting to sow, I've been perusing my flower catalogues.

If only I had infinite money and a larger yard... I can't go crazy this year, we're almost at capacity, but there a a few things I REALLY want to get.

Sea Holly
 It's suppose to be an absolute butterfly magnet. And it's just cool looking. I actually planted some last year, but the bulb rotted before it could grow. I'd really like to try again.

Pink Lily-of-the-Valley
Because whynot?

Ostrich Plume Astibile
I'm not a huge fan of Astibile as a rule, but I love the droopiness and peachy hue of the Ostrich Plume!

Of course, once gardening season comes along, I'll lose my wits and BUY ALL THE FLOWERS!!!!

Is there anything you really want to plant this year?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sleeve slog

Yep... I'm still slogging away on the second sleeve. Does anyone else have the same issue with second sleeves as second socks?


That said, I'm only a few inches from decreasing after the elbow, and then there's just a few more inches on after that. Then bands and buttons.

As it stands now, I have a very quiet weekend ahead of me. Could she be blocking by Sunday?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fat cats and warm hats

Way back before Christmas, and before I got the sick, I was up at Mom's dyeing up a batch of Fat Cat. It's now available in the shop!
Fat Cat is our DK superwash merino. It is so soft, and just lovely to knit with. Over the years I've knit quite a few projects with it. The superwash makes it perfect for baby/kid knits

I've used leftovers to make some adorable toys

And of course, it's fabulous for hats!
Including Love Monkey (which is still on sale for $1... but only until Feb 14th!)