Thursday, February 4, 2016

Puttering

 

It feels like this weird non-winter is really almost over. I know all the old farmers around here would laugh in my face for saying that, but I saw a fully-budded forsythia yesterday, and I'm taking that as a sign. I don't know if it's because of the mild winter, or because of the catdog [it's because of the catdog] but this season has been so lovely. I can't remember the last time I could say that. I have loved this winter, and nobody who knows me will believe it. The catdog and I are doing more training work, which is honestly the most fun thing in the world. She sits with her ears alert, tail scrubbing the floor, and studies me for information. She figures everything out immediately. She hops into position like a little bunny and earns extra points for style. When I go across the room and then call her, she barrels toward me like a runaway train, ears and lips flying, then skids to a stop just short of a crash. It's just wonderful.

Puttering and crafts: I have been making things, and as soon as there is some sunlight around here, I'll show you some of them. Lots of dresses, with ideas for more dresses. I feel a little bit like I've cracked a code on this whole making a dress thing. So much for any notions about minimalism or capsule wardrobes. I've got dress fever! In between cutting up my whole fabric stash to make clothes, the Nenna cardigan is growing (size 4 needles! Are small! I'ma try to get this done before summer!) and I found some Berroco Folio in a beautiful shade of blue/gray which means a lacy scarf is also on the needles. More covered lampshades--seriously, no lampshade is safe from me now. It takes an hour, some glue. Big, huge results. It looks completely professional, which is kinda not how anything I do ever looks, and is thus miraculous.

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Team Hats

Team hats! Too nerdy? I love these. These hats are what has become of the beloved tiny stash of Shelter that I bought at Loop last fall. I think there's enough left for one more, but since we are a team of two at the moment (Philly! Italy! Take care of my babies!) I think two team hats is enough. The matching hot pink pompoms really sell the whole thing, I think. Somebody chased us down the noodle aisle of the health food store on Saturday just to tell us how great the hats were, and I am convinced it is the matching hot pink pompominess that makes them so pursuable.

Doesn't he look great in it? He's really game for anything. This pattern (The Conversationalist by the Plucky Knitter) is all kinds of things I love: simple, adaptable, uses up the scraps, FREE--what more could you ask? The pattern has taken off like mad, and while simple, striped, worsted-weight hats and their patterns are abundant in the world, this one is for one thing actually slouchy-- (I'm looking at you, every single other hat I've ever made) and it is for another thing shown in the pattern photos in lots of bright colors, which makes you want to knit a whole bunch of them, and is why I dragged that hot pink Not Shelter yarn up out of the stash to use for the pompoms. It's a lightly spun single with very little twist, called something like "Bit O' Sheep" or " Full O' Wool" or something equally weird--I think it's discontinued and I don't have the label, so my recollections are old and vague, but it has survived many a stash purge, because I knew it would be perfect for something, and here is that something. I used my cardboard circles method (I talked about it here) for these, and they are plenty full and fluffy. Oh, and the Shelter colors, in case you're wondering, are Sap, Postcard, Foothills, and Thistle.

I'm so happy it's a little bit cold right now. That sounded weird to me, too. Also, someone else is pretty happy:
Catdog, in motion. You don't see that very often, do you?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Going Abroad

 

 

Last week we put our boy on a train bound for New York City, where he got on an airplane for Istanbul and then another for Italy. He will spend this semester learning Italian, traveling to Pompeii and Venice and Rome and Barcelona, studying beautiful ruins and temples and domes and naves and buttresses, walking in the footsteps of Pliny and Michelangelo. Eating gelato, discovering wine and olives, watching the volcanoes from his terrace by the sea. I watch the moon, thinking of it hanging low in the trees over Capri, glittering on the bay. I knit. Here in my kitchen in the country, looking out at the snowy orchards and fields, I make things; turn wool into a hat, cotton into quilt squares. It is deeply, vividly, crashingly quiet.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Quickie Cowl: an antidote for the sudden onset of Winter

 

Here's me looking skeptically out at the barren wasteland of our yard. Look at that face. That is the face of someone who is trying really hard to appreciate something bleak and colorless, and failing a little bit, but not giving up. Also, my neck got cold, and since a person can only have so many turtlenecks, I made this little cowl-ish thing last night--wow, crochet is such instant gratification. Using my usual metric, I'd calculate this cowl took me something like 1 1/2 episodes of Outlander, including having to rip back once and start over. I think it will be perfect over a little dress with a cardigan and tights--actually, it will probably go well over anything. It'll make all my warm weather clothes into cold weather clothes. How's that for results? Snap! What took me so long to make one of these? It's the accessory I needed the most, without knowing I needed it.

I started with this pattern, but had to modify it to accommodate my larger gauge and lack of yardage, and I used my leftovers from this--I had two balls of Ella Rae Latte in the stash, in the best, most pearly gray ever. This yarn is glossy and soft and pretty unbeatable. I want to wear this cowl every day, with everything. I think I will.

 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Granny Square, revisited

 

Winter is here. I'm still resisting a little, though I try not to. I want to love it, with it's sideways wind and little pellets of ice hitting me in the face like a thousand tiny knives. Winter, show me your appeal, truly! I will be your servant! Sigh. I light candles and imagine fair isle ski sweaters and hot cocoa with whipped cream...mmm....the catdog scoots up onto the sofa, and sprawls her whole toasty self on my feet, which is so nice of her, and wedges her nose behind my knee. Gives a long, rattly sigh and goes inert. No dog has ever been as happy to snuggle as this catdog is. I can't believe our luck that we've found each other.

I am crocheting, a giant granny square using up the scraps--and I mean to actually use them up, too, even those teensy leftovers, which is going to mean a million ends to weave in, but let's not think about that just now. Obviously, leftovers and scraps are continuously regenerating themselves, so it's lucky there can never be too many granny square blankets, am I right? What is it about the grannies, anyway, that make them so appealing in so many ways? They have the comforting repetition of simple dc stitches, and the bohemian virtues of thrift and color, so abundantly. Goodness, I love granny squares. I try to crochet other motifs, for the sake of variety, but none are as wonderful as the original, so I come back to it, again and again. Granny, you are the bomb. And so, another big blanket begins.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Quiet

 

January. Those end of the year holidays are such a fulsome thing, with houseguests and piles of food and friends and there is much joy, and the stress of keeping all the gifty secrets half kills me every year, because I am an open book and the doc is a very, very clever man who knows everything before I do, and trying to stay ahead of him in the surprise game is a losing battle. He tells me he was surprised, but it wouldn't be beyond him to say so, just to make me feel good. So January always feels like a reset button, and I am inclined to lie down for awhile when it gets here. There was actual sunshine this morning, streaming through my window, and I spent a long time being lazy there in it, waking and dozing again, under the warm, rumply quilts.

Winter is being so kind to me this year, and I can't even express my relief. The sky this morning was pink.

I started this hodgepodge triangular scarf thing a few weeks ago, using my four precious skeins of Shelter from Loop in Philadelphia, and was into the edging at the end of the whole thing when I decided I didn't like it very much and unraveled it. This lofty, fluffy, rustic yarn is so nice, but it didn't want to be this.

This project been consuming most of my quiet day--it is the Nenna Cardigan by Christina Korber-Reith, in Berroco Vintage DK, "Elderberry"; yarn and pattern both chosen by my lovely mama, who asked me if I would knit it for her. Well, of course! I made a pot of coffee, set my Pandora app to Frank Sinatra Radio (he slays me, ya'll) and began decoding the eighteen pages of pattern instructions. Friends, this thing is making me feel like a rookie.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Making and favorites

 

I've been making things. Crafting. Handpiecing.

And knitting. And napping. And drinking coffee.

My handsome boy built me this serving tray for christmas. I know, right? He told me he saw one in a fancy store, a wood tray with twig handles, and thought to himself, "I can make that." That thrills me to no end. He said, "Now you can have breakfast in bed." Well, yes please! I'll have toast with jam, and a side of bacon. And coffee. I can't even tell you how much I love this. My boy makes beautiful things.

I made a dress, but it didn't really work out for me. I'll try again. In the meantime, I went rogue and got out the big paper and drew my own pattern.

It fits better, and it seems like one of these days I'm going to learn that this is how I should do things. I know there are ways to modify sewing patterns to ensure a good fit--heck, I do that all the time in knitting--but I do not have the sewing skills to do it in fabric. I really want to know how. I hear people talking about making a muslin, and I have tried to do it, but I just don't get it. I think I'm just going to do it myself. There really must be a Craftsy class or something--I know I've talked about this before--and I'm putting that on my list of things to do this year. Figure out how to make clothes that fit me.

Also, this:

My beautiful girl gave me this. Listen, I can't even. Okay. This is my favorite book of all time, and I have a few copies, tattered and dog-eared--I have read and re-read this sweet, gorgeous, funny story so many times I can't remember not having read it, and it means so much to me--and I have over the years said that I wished I could have a really beautiful edition of this lovely book. How much I would love that. And she, when in her local bookstore in Philadelphia, remembered that I said that, and that I love this book like no other, and she, who has never read it herself [still working on that] and to whom it means nothing [again, working on it] bought it for me, with money she earns herself, to give to me for christmas. I know. I know! I felt understood. Which is the best gift in the world. What's your mom's favorite book? Do you know?