31 May 2007

Seventeen-Year Locusts

Yick. I can't even bring myself to take a picture of them. I'm sure you can find some if you look around. They have arrived in Chicagoland, and every day there is a bit in the paper and on the news about people eating them and other such nonsense. I'm not big on bugs, aside from butterflies and non-wool-eating moths and spiders (in the abstract), so all these cicadas and their shells give me the heebie-jeebies. I even bought some little tennies to walk to the park in, since I can't bear the idea of walking around in flip-flops just now.

Anyway, I was just about Isobel's age the first time the came around during my time on this earth, and I don't remember them at all from that visit. But I was home from college the last time they appeared and remember them. Walking to the train every morning to work downtown was an adventure, thank goodness it was the late 80s/early 90s and I could wear sneakers with my little girl-power outfits until I got to the office.

And the sound! I guess enough of them are out of the ground now to put together a pretty good chorus. Yesterday I thought I heard them, but today I know for certain.

The return of the locusts highlights the passage of time for me and how strange it is to be back where I grew up. Seventeen years ago I was in the midst of transferring from school in Washington, D.C., to St. Louis, changing from an International Studies major to majoring in English with a minor in Ancient Greek. And I was dating the man who would lead me to Boston, though I had no idea that is where I would go.

It's strange how life can bring you full circle, though it's true "you can never go home again." My room isn't even used as a bedroom anymore, so I sleep in the guest room. Isobel is in my sister's room, so it's still the "baby's room". We even found ourselves calling Isobel "Mary Beth" by accident, though that hasn't happened lately.

I feel so conflicted being here, enjoying Isobel, and spending time with my family yet missing my husband (well, the man he was once, anyway), my friends, my pets and home, my career. My New England.

I've always called Wilmette "home", even once I owned a home, but Boston/Gloucester/New England became my home, too, over the past fourteen years. "Pop" is "soda" for me, now. I can drop my R's with the Kennedys. And I still keep tabs on my Boston Red Sox, though I'm a lifelong (and a fourth generation) Cubs fan.

Guess that's where I am right now, feeling unheimlich, though I'm at home. Things will get better, I know.

The sweater sleeve continues, and I'm still ruminating on the mobile project.

30 May 2007

Adventurous Knitting

This is how much yarn I had left from knitting Isobel's shawl. About 15 yds. We live on the edge here at chez Purly.

And here's my girl in action in her shawl/apron. She's "cooking" up at the lake. Astute multi-crafters may appreciate the vintage Amish Tumbling Block quilt on the wall. Another of Mom and Dad's lovely bed toppers. This one used to hang on my brother's wall. Can you believe it? Some time I'll have to photograph some of the other pieces we have, including an amazing "white work" (it's actually a buff/peach toned fabric) hand quilted beauty by Bertha Meckstroft (not sure I've typed her name correctly).

I've started the first sleeve of my top-down raglan and am pretty sure I'm going to have to go back and add to the bottom of the body. Once the sleeves are complete, I think I'll know for certain.

And I'm on the hunt for a smaller project I can take to the park with Isobel, now that the sweater is, well, sweater sized. I don't think socks, so perhaps another shawl or a baby sweater, since my BFF is on the nest.

As for Tanya's question about wearing my shawl, I haven't worn this one yet, since it's been almost 90° F here lately. I think I may give away the Flower Basket Shawl, but I do plan to wear more shawls as I knit them up. And I'll try to do so casually, just wrapping them about me. I may need a shawl pin some day, though.

29 May 2007

FO: Flower Basket Shawl



Do you see the flower basket?

Girls modeling their shawls.

Remember when I started this one? Well, I finished it up last week and still have about half a skein of yarn. It was a nice knit. I had some problems with the repeats, though that was my problem not the pattern's. And it was pretty easy to find mistakes (usually I forgot to PSSO), and I couldn't go further if I'd made a mistake, so I never had to tink back more than two rows (it's a stockinette pattern, so every other row is purl). The BMFA Seduction yarn is very nice, though I can't imagine making socks with it! I'm sure they would be lovely, though.

I'm working on a top-down raglan sweater now with some 100purewool merino in Sky Blue (or something - it looks like they've gone to a number-based name system). I've just finished the body (I think - not completely sure it's long enough). Now it's sleeve city, sister. The yarn is so soft. I'll try to take a pic tomorrow, perhaps while it's still in the sleeveless tunic stage for fun.

Isobel and I are doing well, though it's not easy.

24 May 2007

Shepherd's Market, Door County, WI

A good time was had by all at the Shepherd's Market at Whitefish Bay Farm last weekend. The weather cleared up before we arrived, which was nice. And the sheep baa'ed back when Isobel baa'ed at them. Unfortunately, I was fiddling with the camera and didn't capture the look on her face. Feel free to use your imaginations. She was stunned!

And the market was nice. Mom was surprised at how crowded it was. Isn't she a funny muggle! Lots of roving, some drop spindles, yarn, and finished pieces. I stayed away from the roving, since I'm not ready to start spinning yet. But I did come home with two hanks of surprisingly heavy adult mohair that will make a gorgeous shawl (about 600 yds). I couldn't resist the colorway, and I would say the 3/4 lb. worth of yarn is about fingering weight and 2-ply. It just glows with its mohairiness. And it's heavy. Odd and pleasing, I have to say.

There are more posts rattling around in my head, and I will do my best to catch up here. Life has been challenging, and I've just needed some "veg out" time. There is a finished shawl to share, a sweater on the needles, and, of course, dreams and plans for more projects than you can shake a stick at, including a Venezia, if I can decide upon a yarn.

19 May 2007

Pretty Things to Make

Look at this variation on Eunny's Venezia from IK Winter 2006 (near the bottom). I have been thinking about trying my hand at colorwork lately and stumbled across this while down the google-hole looking for Starmore Elizabeth I photos. I plan to get my hands on an interlibrary loan copy of Tudor Roses this summer, though I'm also thinking of working up my own idea based on Elizabeth I. I think what people react to is the shaping. At least that does it for me. Here's where I found it. Now, what yarn would you use for Venezia? We'd need a nice fingering weight wool in good colors... Get your knitting caps on!

15 May 2007

FO: Isobel's Shawl

Some cuteness for Tuesday. I made this for Isobel with the rest of the skein of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock used to finish the edge of Mom's Old Shale Shawl. I used US6 (4mm) and did a basic from the neck down shawl in garter stitch, increasing every other row. You can check out Clara's tutorial on basic shawl construction at Knitter's Review. When I had done 100 rows (50 YO pairs at the center), I added a frill by doing K1, YO across the row, knitting back, and repeating once. Then I did a crochet castoff, chaining five, then casting off three all the way across. I ended up with just 16 yards of yarn left over (there's a pic still on the camera - next time, perhaps).

Isobel really likes the shawl and was very excited about it the entire time I was knitting: "You make a shawl for meeee?!" She has it in her crib right now while she's napping.

In personal news, Peter has gone into a detox program. His mother is staying with Spenser and Riley (who keeps taking himself for walks outside, even though he's supposed to be an inside cat), and she is looking for a rehab program for him. I am so grateful that she is there and hope that this will help Peter. It's so hard to be here, so far away, but it was what I had to do.

09 May 2007

FO: Kate's Shawl

As modeled by Isobel. More deets to come in the next post, but thought you might enjoy the cuteness, now that Kate's Shawl has been delivered (thank you, UPS!).

05 May 2007

I'm in love

And it's not with yarn. Well, I'm always in love with some yarn and am very keen on O-Wool at the moment having just ordered some (last two skeins of sky, sorry, and six skeins of oatmeal for I know not what) from Webs (closeout, people!). But I'm in love with a person this time...

Elizabeth Zimmerman is so great! I just finished Knitter's Almanac, She combines darling Anglicisms with Midwestern common sense. And I started reading Knitting Without Tears last night. More EZ goodness.

There are many knitters who want to make exactly what they see on the page, down to color of yarn. But from the moment I picked up the needles, I've been wanting to do my own thing. I still remember going to a certain yarn shop near the Green in a historic town (you locals will know which one) with my spiffing copy of Weekend Knitting and telling the woman who was trying to help me that I wanted to make the poncho but didn't want to use the yarn called for (wanted to use Manos instead, my first yarn love) and didn't want to do the baby cable, just 2x2 ribbing. Well, I think I broke her brain. She just could not understand why I didn't want to follow directions.

It's been the same ever since for me, and so far (knock wood or click bamboos) I haven't made too many absolute disasters.

Well, I have one at the moment. Not really a disaster, but I'm not feeling the love for the cardigan I just knit up for Isobel. Finishing isn't going well. What do you think of the frog pond? I was thinking of doing a February cardigan from the Almanac in a kid size on larger needles, since the Mission Falls is worsted, and I believe the February sweater calls for DK or fingering.

As for the Double Wedding Ring quilt (my blocking surface du jour), Sandra, I did not make it, my mother acquired it at some point. She has a passion for antique quilts and my parents have quite a few in their home. I haven't taken up quilting yet. Somehow it seems to much like my graphic design/art direction day job. Just like Pilates seemed too much like ballet class, so I stuck to yoga. And good eyes, Sandra, for seeing the quilt between the drying sweater pieces! BTW, I love that you raise sheep! At a previous art directorship I always said that I was going to quit and go raise sheep.

04 May 2007

Seduction Shawl

Here is the beginning of my Flower Basket Shawl. I think this was after only one repeat of the flower baskets, and I'm now on the fourth (of ten). This is another Evelyn A. Clark pattern, which appeared in Interweave Knits. I didn't do the crochet cast-on for two stitches but did a backwards loop cast-on as she recommended in the Old Shale Shawl, which I find a bit less fiddly. Away from my full stash I don't have any smooth, waste cotton handy for the provisional version.

BMFA's Seduction yarn is very slinky and lovely. Perhaps slinky isn't the mot juste, since it doesn't slide right off the needles or anything. It's very nice, but I'm glad I'm using a Bryspun needle as I've caught one or two of the three plies (plys?) a few times and think it would be worse with other needles.

You can't find the pattern on IK's website anymore, but if you Google it, you just might find the PDF... Desperate times call for desperate measures, and my new library (Wilmette Public Library - "we have so much money, we have to renovate or add on every two years!") seems to have only subscribe to IK last year. I'm sure another local library has back issues, or I could buy my own, but I only had a minute the other day to explore my WPL options before Isobel ran wild through the stacks. She has no patience for Mommy's library time. Thank goodness she's almost old enough for the Storytime that allows you to drop off and pick up your child. An entire half hour in the library on my own!

02 May 2007


Just found a great lace blocking tutorial of Stephanie's via an old post of Eunny's. So clever to use some thread. Why didn't I think of that?

I've started a Flower Basket Shawl from an old issue of IK with the BMFA Seduction yarn. Just started the Lower Flower Basket chart, and it's going well so far. Only one tinking episode, which I attribute to my parents' watching of CSI: NY. I am not an hour-long drama girl as a general rule, but when in Rome (and without my Tivo)...

Anyway, I'll try to snap some pics tomorrow, though we all know lace looks like a lump until it's blocked. And now I have some additional ideas about blocking. Yay!

Where does the time go?

How did it get to be May? Ugh. Sorry to go quiet there for a little while, but we went up Nort' to Door County, Wisconsin, for the weekend with my parents. This meant I got quite a bit of knitting done en route, since it's over four hours each way, and Isobel slept for some of it. Can't show you what I worked up, since it hasn't been sent to the intended yet, but suffice it to say it's pretty and soft and light as a feather (and blue). I bought the yarn at Montoya and the woman who helped me pointed out a piece in the window that she'd done using the yarn (suspiciously Kidsilk Haze-like, though it has no silk, just man-made fibers - sorry! I couldn't resist the color) as a carry-along fiber. She seemed surprised that I would use it on its own.

Anyway, I'm now working on some opera gloves in leftover Alpaca Silk from the Mermaid Sweater but seem to have lost the mojo there for a moment. I would my skein of BMFA Seduction Siren Song into a big ball yesterday and am waiting for it to tell me what it wants to be (of the shawl variety).

And my Rockin' Sock Club yarn arrived yesterday. Very nice. It's interesting that the BMFA ladies don't reskein the yarn, and cool that they include a reskeined "emergency" yarn, so you do get to see it all variegated up. Wish they'd show those on the website. Even those of us with advanced imaginations and color understanding sometimes have difficulty seeing the yarn as it will be.

Anyway, personal life is stinky. But Isobel is great. We bought her a potty today. Very exciting. Oh, and she does her own knitting now! Well, not really, but she loves to have her own skein and some needles to play around with and has been "making shawls for you" for me and my parents for the past few days. What a hoot!