Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday Success

After a successful holiday yesterday, I'm ready to take the weekend off.  Or, at the very least, not do any cooking.  We had an enjoyable, relaxing day with all the kids and a couple friends thrown in for good measure.  

Our gathering included a mix of teens and young adults, and at one point I sat back and listened to their conversations.  They discussed everything from video games to movies to books to the correct use of who and whom.  I admit I was lost during the gaming discussion, but my ears perked up when the conversation shifted to grammar.  

This was a discussion that English majors relish, and I was not about to miss an opportunity to stress the important distinction between these two misunderstood words.  It was a hard sell to a generation that substitutes the letter z for s with reckless abandon.  My argument was lost on most of them, but I was encouraged by one young adult who sided with me.  There is hope for the English language.

We had plenty of food, and then there was pie.  I always bake a crazy number of pies, but this year I added one more to the mix.

Rustic Caramel Apple Tart.  While my pie wasn't nearly as pretty as the recipe pictures, I'd venture a guess that it tasted just as good. This pie was a hit, and gave the blueberry cream stiff competition for Most Favorite Pie status.  This apple, caramel, cream cheese concoction has definitely earned a permanent spot in the holiday pie lineup.

This morning I lingered over coffee.

After a couple false starts, the birthday cowl is up and running.  I played with the numbers and made adjustments several times, so the rest should be easy . . . until I get to the end, realize my math was off and run out of yarn.  Until that happens, I'm going to bask in success, even if it is only temporary.

I'm off to settle in with more coffee and my knitting but leave you with my color inspiration for the week.

Simple shades.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Zephyr Cove

Last week I finished my Zephyr Cove.  After a quick bath and blocking, it was ready for the weekend trip to Vermont.

This design has three sections and is finished with a lace border.  

Zephyr Cove moved right along.  As soon as I tired of one section, it was time to shift gears and move on to the next one - from solid garter to stripes to short rows.

Throw in a picot edge and you have an entertaining project.

This asymmetrical shawl has an overall crescent shape, so it stays in place without a lot of fuss.  

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Bertha, colorways Bee Hive and Slate.  Both of these have been available only at shows but will be posted to the website soon.

This shawl is substantially long from tip to tip.  Bertha is a soft yarn with plenty of drape, so it doesn't feel heavy or cumbersome.

I made one slight modification.

I added the whimsical owl bead to the tip of the Bee Hive section.

Monday, November 25, 2013

It's a Wrap

I spent the weekend at Green Mountain Fiber Festival, and for me, the fall fiber festival season is now officially over.  Not only did I completely empty my suitcase, I packed it away.  It needs a rest.

This event was held at the Wilder Center, an old church that's been restored and converted into a multi-purpose facility.

The main auditorium space used to be the sanctuary and still has a beautiful pipe organ.  I would have been delighted to listen to organ music, but I don't think we had an organist among us.

The weekend market included an eclectic mix of fiber artists.

There were beautiful buttons made with embroidery cotton and yarn.

Handsome baskets.

Colorful hooked rugs.

Mix in a healthy dose of yarn and fiber, and you have a well-rounded fiber festival.

To top it off, I stayed at the Hotel Coolidge.

This historic hotel dates back to the booming railroad days.

The hallways are wide, the railings are substantial, and there's a real fireplace in the lobby.  

Even the creaky floors are charming.  

After staying in numerous cookie-cutter hotels, this was a real treat.  If you ever need a place to stay in White River Junction, be sure to check out the Hotel Coolidge.

And now it's time to shift gears.  To help with the transition, I think I'll do a little dyeing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

In Between

I'm lingering over my morning coffee before I hit the road a little later. I've been contemplating my weekend knitting.  I still haven't sorted out my daughter's cowl - see previous blog post.  I'm taking it with me, but it needs more tweaking before it's up and running.  The reality is I may not have much tweaking time this weekend.  

Zephyr Cove is finished and blocking as I write this, and I don't have many other projects already in progress.  I've been longing to start a sweater, but yesterday I came to my senses.  Since I hadn't settled on a pattern, it wasn't feasible to get that project going before I travel. Anyway, I probably should focus on other things before I tackle a sweater for myself.

So to keep me busy this weekend, I started a new sock.

Just a plain sock.  Around and around without much thought.  Enough to keep me entertained between bigger projects.

My color inspiration this week goes hand in hand with the new sock.

Mustard yellow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Task at Hand

My teenagers have no sense of time.  They are ready to leave for an event 10 minutes before it starts even though I've told them we need to allow at least 30 minutes for traffic and parking.  For some reason, they think I can miraculously whisk them away and get them to their destination on time.  It never happens.  By the end of the drive, I've turned into a crabby cab driver.

Last weekend my daughter handed me this skein with instructions that she wanted me to make her a cowl.  She was even kind enough to point me in the direction of the pattern.

I explained that she chose lovely yarn, but the pattern calls for a different weight.  She gave me her vote of confidence with, "I'm sure you can figure it out."

So that's what I'm doing today . . . calculating and recalculating the gauge and stitch count to make it all work.  The time frame for this little project?  Just over two weeks because, of course, my daughter wants this cowl for her birthday.  I definitely need more coffee.

Monday, November 18, 2013

From Trash to Treasures

I've been catching up on domestic duties.  It seems that I let a few things slide this fall.  The fact that I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner next week is a strong motivator to get my house in order.  

This past weekend I found myself sifting and sorting through a bin of miscellaneous items that had accumulated over time . . . a random collection of this and that.  Each and every item had to either find a new home or end up in the trash.  I was determined to empty the bin.

I threw away a fair amount, rescued a couple useful items and gathered clothes to give away.  Tossing unwanted things always feels so liberating.  I should probably do it more often.  In the process I discovered a couple treasures.  

I salvaged these adorable little buttons from a sweater that couldn't be saved.  I don't have anything in mind for them right now, so they'll go into my button box.  Some day these will come in handy.

At the very bottom of the bin I found this little bead.

My daughter says I bought the owl at a fiber festival, but I don't know how he landed in the bin.  He seems quite content on my Zephyr Cove.  I might have to find a way to make him a permanent fixture on the shawl.

If you're in the Boston area, on Wednesday night I'll be at Bead + Fiber in the South End for a yarn tasting.  It promises to be a fun evening.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Break in the Action

I've been enjoying a little break in my travel schedule.  It's given me time to catch up on a few things . . . not everything, but I'll take what I can get.  And it's given me a terrible case of startitis.  This little lull has tricked me into thinking I have endless hours to fill and that I should occupy them with at least five new projects.

So far I've resisted the urge to actually cast on, but that doesn't mean I haven't entertained some project possibilities.  A couple of them require color combinations.

I've allowed myself just enough time to consider several options.

I'm sure there will be more color play before I settle on anything. Maybe by then I'll have some time to go with these ideas.  In the meantime, I have plenty of work to focus on.

Last weekend I was at a craft fair and found several fun, interesting things.  I even put a dent in my holiday gift list.  Don't panic.  There's still plenty of time.  I also managed to find a little something for myself.  Candles are part of my daily ritual this time of year, so I was delighted when I found these beeswax tea lights.  My color inspiration for the week.

Warm light.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

While Waiting . . .

The other day I had several hours of waiting at the hospital.  I left the house prepared with a couple knitting projects in tow.  Even the simplest procedure can take longer than expected, and I wasn't going to take any chances.

Once I was situated in a comfy waiting area at the hospital, I pulled out my knitting.  It didn't take long for one of the nurses to comment. "Those are tiny stitches," she said.  She went on to explain that it was going to take me a long time to finish.  I was working with US 5 needles.  As someone who knits socks on small needles, US 5 seemed almost hefty.  It all depends on your perspective, I guess. The nurse was very friendly, and I didn't debate the point.  We had a nice chat about knitting.

Later in the day I found myself in a different waiting area.  Again, one of the nurses commented - pretty colors, looks soft.  "The yarn has a bit of cashmere," I explained.  She went on to tell me that she had recently taken up crochet.  We continued to discuss the personal satisfaction that comes from making something with your own hands. She even pulled out her phone to show me pictures of things she had made - fruit, animals, all sorts of 3-D objects.  She uses them as gift items.  It was a delightful conversation.

I always enjoy unexpected conversations that spring up around knitting.  People are so willing to share information about what they make and why they make it.  I especially enjoyed these two because they broke up the monotony of a long wait.

A quick progress update on Zephyr Cove.

I finished the striped section and have done a few rows of the short row section.  The beauty of this design is the variety.  I enjoyed knitting the stripes and just when I had had my fill, it was time to move on to the next section.  This project wasn't a priority, but now I'm hooked.  Like a good book, I have to keep going to see how it ends.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Saved by Stripes

Over the weekend I was reminded of the benefit of having more than one knitting project under construction.  The project I had planned to work on hit a snag . . . a snag that doesn't have a quick and easy fix. In fact the only solution might be a completely different yarn base, but that requires time to order and dye the yarn.  

Instead of fretting, I let go of that project and turned my attention to one where I could easily make forward progress.

Zephyr Cove to the rescue.  This project isn't too taxing.  I've moved from solid garter to striped garter.  Back and forth, back and forth . . . creating stripes while I ponder my problem project.

Friday, November 8, 2013

When I Have Time . . .

I have a little wiggle room in my schedule, and it's given me time to work on a couple ideas that have been percolating.  It's one thing to have an idea for a project.  It's another thing to find time to work on it. Coming up with an idea is often the easy part.  Finding time to make it happen is the challenge.

I keep a running list of projects under the When I Have Time heading. This week I took three things off that list and took steps to make them a reality.

I've had this idea since late summer / early fall, so it hasn't been marinating for long.  I came back to it a couple times this fall with different colors in mind.  After a little more debate this week, I've settled on this - Mavis Lace, colorway Purple Rain.  No more dithering. This project is headed for the needles.

Some plants are just as beautiful in the fall as they are in the spring and summer . . . but in a different way.  My color inspiration for the week.

Mother Nature's lace.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

All Natural

Since I have a couple weeks before I hit the road again, I've taken a little time to sift and sort through some of the fiber festival chaos. There are bins and bags and boxes.  Some of them are organized, some are a random mix of this and that.

I was happy to discover a couple bags with my purchases from the fall tour.  This time of year I'm surrounded by wool week in and week out. There are some gorgeous yarns out there on the fiber festival circuit, but the reality is I don't actually buy that much.  I try to take a quick walk through at each event, but sometimes even that isn't possible.  If nothing else, it helps keep my spending in check.

I did manage to pick up a few skeins along the way, and I noticed a pattern.

All of them are natural colored.  Nothing flashy.  Pure, simple wool.  I consider it a good balance to all the color I'm bombarded with.  

I have a little breather between shows.  That can only mean it's time to start a new project or three.  I've had a request for mittens, and some of this yarn is designated for that.  Now that I think of it, I could use a new pair myself.  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Close To Home

It's Monday morning, and I'm catching my breath.  My inbox is full, the dirty laundry is piled high and the refrigerator is empty.  Before I get to work, I'm going to indulge and savor the weekend for just a little longer. 

On Friday I drove out to Western Massachusetts and Fiber Festival of New England.  This fall I've logged so many miles on the Mass Pike that my truck should know the way by now.  Of all the events, this one is closest to home.  It was nice to see so many locals come out.  

The market was busy, but the pace was relaxed.  There was enough time to talk with people - answer questions, discuss knitting techniques, consider color combinations, catch up with friends.  And yes, there was even some baseball chatter.

For today . . . a picture postcard of some of the fun.

Memories of a delightful fiber weekend to carry me through the busy week ahead.

Friday, November 1, 2013


November.  It's hard to believe.  Just last week I finally flipped the calendar page to October.

I'm hitting the road later this morning, or at least that's the plan.  The truck is loaded, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to leave.  My personal packing is easy.  I got back from Toronto on Monday.  I didn't completely unpack my suitcase from that trip, so now I have a jump start on packing for this trip.  Sometimes procrastination can turn into a bonus.

There are always a few last minute, lingering details before a road trip. The skeins I recently dyed need labels.  

I've known this all week long, yet somehow I didn't manage to get them ready until this morning.  No matter how much planning and preparation, I'm always working until I walk out the door.  Sometimes procrastination comes back to bite me.

I'm off to pull it all together but leave you with my color inspiration for the week.

Brown in many shades.