Monday, April 30, 2007

Another beginning

Well you didn't think I'd go long before I cast on again did you?

With yarn on order for several other Fitted Knits sweaters (and not yet seen in the mail), I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Then I noticed that Stephanie had successfully done the cropped cardi with cotton and decided this would be my next knit.

A cotton cardigan should be perfect for summer here. Cool nights and air conditioned buildings make for need for an extra layer often. I didn't think I could quite do alpaca though.

With no further ado, the beginnings of sweater number 3. Very exciting you know!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bold and bulky mini cardi done

A personal record... a piece of clothing in less than a week's time. I'm so impressed with myself.

Wow, the side view makes me look skinny.

The front, buttoned view... not so much.

This was another great, easy knit. Started last Sunday night, finished early this morning (Saturday). I used the yarn recommended by the pattern and just barely had enough of the green trim color (I didn't actually have enough to finish the sweater as written; I had to leave off the last purl row and had less than 4 yards left with that modification!).

I made the small size (advertised as 38" through the bust). This should be large on me (at a dimuntive 34") and considered trying to size down. I decided to take my chances, and even getting gauge, the sweater is actually a bit small on me. I probably should have knit something between the 38" and 44". If you're going to knit this, don't be thrown off by what looks like big bust sizes. My only other tip to people is to bind off very, very loosely. Even having bound off loose, I can feel where the bind-off is tight. That might contribute to the small feel around the very bottom of the sweater. I probably will try to block this out a bit later to see if I can get the neckline to lay down a little more and maybe that will help the size a bit as well.

All in all, a fun little project. Definitely something to boost the sweater confidence (this still is only my second sweater) and a project that you can finish quickly. It was also fun to knit as my first project in the Fitted Knit Along.

For a small little cardi, I think this guy will be warm too. Good for a cool evening for sure.

Bold and Bulky Mini Cardi from Fitted Knits
by Stephanie Japel
Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick & Quick
2 skeins Denim 114 (lot 60575A), 1 skein Grass 131 (lot 60596)
US size 13 (9 mm), 10 1/2 (6.5 mm) and 9 (5.5mm) circular needles
started April 22, 2007
finished April 28, 2007

Friday, April 27, 2007

Arbor day

Today we celebrate trees. Arbor day is a nice follow-up to earth day, I think.

Honoring our tall green friends, a display of comrads from around my office.

... the eucalyptus

... the olive

... the mighty palm

Trees are fabulous. Don't you want to pull up a blanket a have a sit?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The mini cartigan grows

It's hard for me to believe that I just started this bulky mini cartigan (from Fitted Knits) on Sunday. Look at her now!

All I have left is to finish up one sleeve, to pick up stiches along the side to create the green edging that goes along the sides of the sweater, and then do the finishing work.


Yesterday I went shopping for buttons and found some that I think will work just fine. I'm looking forward to finishing this up over the next few days and having my second completed sweater. Definitely a pattern to try when you need some instant gratification!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Next up ... bulky mini cardi

After the rush of excitement finishing the forest canopy shawl, I felt a great need to cast on again (all this swatching has been quite unsatisfying).

Inspired by Fitted Knits, I joined the Fitted Knit Along and cast on for the bulky mini cardi. I can tell this is going to be a sweet knit... fast!

Looking at the past posts on the KAL, I've been very impressed with the projects people have completed.

I have lofty ambitions when it comes to the patterns. On the tip from Carrie, I ordered my yarn for the Elizabeth Bennett cabled cartigan. I'm also searching out the yarn for the textured tunic and think I've found a place in Maryland that may do the trick (funny I live in LA and can't find Lana Grossa locally!). Now that I've seen Shannon O.'s puff-sleeve cartigan and Adrienne's (modified) turtleneck tube neck I've also added those to my list (ok there are a few others on the list too but maybe I don't need to list every project in the book here).

So I'm off and running on my second sweater... very exciting!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The finished product

As I mentioned in my last post, forest canopy shawl is finished.

I loved this little project and would strongly recommend it to anyone starting lace. Very straight forward, lovely product.

I like the pointy little edges...

and the overall body design. Definitely a pattern I'd consider knitting again.

Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl
by Susan Pierce Lawrence
Koigu KPM (100% merino wool), color 2343 (sage green) dye lot 114
1 1/2 skeins
US size 7 (4.5 mm) circular needle
unstretched off the needles: 30 in x 17 in x 17 in
stretched and pinned: 48 in x 32 in x 32 in
final size: 47 in x 30 in x 30 in
started April 5, 2007
finished April 18, 2007

Yesterday I visited my LYSs, in part, to look for a shawl pin for the modeling and for the wearing (which I plan for work tomorrow). I realized I know nothing about shawl pins (laugh). I ended up purchasing a simple, 7" stick pin that will do the job but I think is a bit long. Perhaps I need to research this a bit more.

My visits also focused on my next projects. Over the past several days I've accumulated quite a stack of swatches, but still haven't found gauge for the somewhat cowl or the bamboo green tea raglan in the Spring Interweave Knits. But... since then I purchased Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel. I love the sweaters in this book and have picked out several that I'd like to try. (I have my heart set on joining the Fitted Knit Along too). I set out on a search yesterday for a local source for project supplies. Unfortunately I found none and ended up ordering online for a couple of projects. I'm still on the lookout for others and may have my LYS order for me.

The agenda for the rest of today... celebrating earth of course! I've talked about our commitment to sustainable living before, but it's always good to have a day to reflect and consider what else we could do. With the death of bees, I worry more and more about the future of the planet (not to mention the survival of humans). Time for me to renew my commitment to a more sustainable lifestyle and to appreciate what the earth provides.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Forest canopy... she is off the needles!

Last night I finished the border of the forest canopy shawl and allowed for a little expert supervision time.

[Issac (left) and Dylan (right) take note of the finished product.]

Tonight she took a bath and is now reclining on the guest bed (not resting though, as she's stretched to the last inch of her life!).

I love the color and the lace design I've gotten. Most of all, I love that the pattern was do-able, quick, and didn't cause me to pull my hair once. In fact I'd say this was quite the enjoyable knit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Where has the time gone?

I can't believe it's already tuesday!! Where have my days gone?

Here's an update.

On Sunday we drove here...

[downtown LA]

to go see this...

which featured these 2 guys...

Even if you're not a big fan of theatre, I'd really recommend this play. The acting was superb!

On the way, we drove around and looked at the sights.

City hall.

Disney concert hall (funkadelic hmm?)

and this bizzaro water fountain outside the theatre complex. I thought it looked like the harbinger of death with dying people writhing around. S says it's supposed to be about peace. Hmm....

Monday and today... we'll I guess I'm at least working on one of my new year's resolutions, to get more work done.

The good news... only 4 rows left on the shawl. Of course I've only had 4 rows left for about 4 days... not very good progress [laugh].

The other good news... I have the company of these two. Yep that's S blowing a raspberry at Sterling. You can see how well that went over!

What a face (both of them)!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Succulent crazy

Yesterday S and I thought we should go buy the last spring veggie additions for our garden: zucchini and cucumbers. Turns out we found a few extra plants.

Yucca whipplai... this guy should grow up to be about 2-3 foot tall.

This amazing plant is Aloe Vera but look at that bloom... it's about 3 1/2 foot tall. Just in front and to the left of the aloe is aeonium catlin 'bronze tea cup.' And did you notice all the blooms on our iris just in the background?!

Ok... this plant isn't new but the dirt in the pot is. He has doubled in size and had to be repotted (all that lighter green growth on the top half of the plant is new in the last 3 weeks).

And look at this bevy of babies. A whole selection of little succulents, agave, and cacti.

The big guy on the left here is also new... Kalonchoe Thyrsiflora, better known as flapjacks (I think that's too cute a name).

We also had to do some damage control in the back yard. Some new agapanthus to fil in a hole near the bird bath...

and a new camelia, swan lake, to replace one that was exposed to a bit too much Sterling.

Spring... what a great time of year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Aren't new skills fun?

Since my last post I've gone back to work officially (unlike the official "vacation" I was taking before). Work's been busy, but productive. The conference program is up and the class schedule for the summer and fall turned in. I even managed to fit in a bit of important stuff (research, writing)

In the evenings I've fit in a row or two on forest canopy. I even practiced a new skill... joining. I've never really worried about weaving in ends when I've joined a new ball of yarn into a project. With lace though? I thought it would be preferable to not weave-in mid shawl. Previously two ends.... now one continuous yarn.

What can't see the join (I'm so proud!)?

There it is, bottom left hand corner. Just a little bit of felting action where the ends met. Love it!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy holiday of your choice

Hope everyone is having a hoppy holiday!

Forest canopy is springing along. I'm very pleased with the progress and still think this is a fantastic first lace project!

In other spring news, our garden continues to grow. See those runners coming off the pole beans... they are ready to climb on that trellis.

Also, despite a few cool, overcast days recently, our seedlings have arrived.




S's mom, Garden Genie, has been dealing with snow as have many people across the country apparently. I'm not one to grouse about clouds here! Oh the joy of southern California.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Finding gauge

My not-so-much-of-a-break has been continuing. The good news is that I now have a good draft of the program which will hopefully go up on the web later today (I've passed the baton).

In a few captured moments ,I have continued to play with my gauge for the forest canopy shawl.

As I mentioned in comments in one of my last posts, the attempts I'd been making ended up with fabric that was too dense so the lace just wasn't showing well.

The pattern called for a US 8 needle with a DK weight (24 stiches per, with US 6 or 7 according to the ball band) yarn.

My first attempt was to use some Malabrigo wool that I purchased recently. No suprise here, the worsted weight just wasn't a good choice.

Next I decided to try some koigu that I purchased for the shawl awhile back. Koigu is a finer yarn (fingering, 28 stuches per on US 3 according to the ball band).

Given that the pattern used a needle about 1-2 sizes larger than recommended on the ball band, I thought I'd try that with the koigu (so I started with a US 5). Doing that still seems to have given me less lace, and more dense fabric.

[this is the US 5 swatch... it's also upper left in the first photo]

Hence, the need to try an even larger needle to get more of a lace effect. I've swatched now using a US 7 and am getting a better effect.

I find it very strange that even though I'm using fingering versus DK I'm going to end up using needles only 1 size different. Some things are still a mystery to me!

Nevertheless, the knit is on and I'm off and running with the shawl.

By the way, have people been watching the new Knitty Gritty episodes airing on DIY? I've been pretty impressed with the new episodes so far. The editing I'm not so fond of, but the designers (Cookie A., Glampyre Knits) and projects have been great! Since it's break, I've also been catching up on the new-to-me 600 series showing on HGTV... some good stuff there too.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring break?

Want to see what I've been doing with my "break"?

This is my living room wall... covered in many, many slips of paper in a grid like fashion. Sounds like fun hmm?

I'm in charge of the program for a national conference that's happening here in Southern California in June. I had "help" with organizing the sessions within the conference. Over the last two days though I've realized my help was a little less than helpful.

(Have I ever mentioned I have a few control issues? I don't delegate well. This time though, arrangements for delegation had been made before I took on the job. Well I have to say that once again I've been"taught" not to delegate. I hate that old saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself.")

Hence, the grid. We've accepted over 170 different presentations for the conference and they all need to be scheduled into 14 different rooms over 11 time slots such that they are in the right kind of room (rows of chairs versus tables and chairs), with non-overlapping topics, with each person in only one room at a time (imagine that, we aren't going to ask people to be in two places at once), and scheduled knowing that some papers need to be scheduled in the large rooms we have whereas others will be presented in much smaller rooms.

My wall contains sheets of paper, each with the title and authors of each presentation. Yesterday was puzzle day. I'm pleased to report that I think I now have fixed all the problems and have a working schedule. Today I need to transcribe my "wall" into a typed list of sessions that can be put into the program.

So much for "break."

On the cute and furry front, we saw once of our babies again yesterday. He came out a little early, just before dusk and wandered around the yard looking for dinner.

Yeah, I know he can't live in the garage (eviction is scheduled for this weekend) but boy is he cute.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Forest Canopy swatches

So I've decided to call all my progress thus far on the Forest Canopy shawl "swatching."

Yesterday I cast on in my Koigu which is a beautiful, pale, sagey green. I blog surfed a bit and found another woman who had done a lace shawl in Koigu on US 5s and started there. It's definitely an improvement but I'm not 100% committed to the needle size. I might do a couple repeats in 7s or 6s to see how that looks.

So is there a trick to this? Do you really just have to try, try again or am I just missing something (like common sense)?

Fortunately, the pattern is easy so it won't be a tremendous sacrifice if I do start over again. I'm looking at this as knitting to enjoy knitting, not knitting to have a finished project.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Baby opossums are tooooooo cute!

Yep... we have baby opossums. At least 2 of them.

I suspect there may be more.

We've seen opossums in the yard before. Last week, S noticed that an opossum had gone into our garage. He tried to block the entrance hole into the garage but we realized that we had just trapped the animal inside the garage and opened the hole back up.

Well now we know, she was a mama opossum and must have a nest in the garage somewhere. I've been reading a bit this morning and my guess is that these guys are actually a number of months old now since they aren't riding on mom's back anymore.

While I think they are just too cute for words, I don't think we want them to live in the garage. In the yard, yes; in the garage, not so much. I think we'll have to wait for them to leave at night and see if we can get them to move to another location.

I just wonder how many we actually have?!

On the knitting front, I finished up a repeat of the forest canopy shawl last night. Love the pattern. Don't think the worsted weight is going to work though... I can't say I'm suprised.

You can definitely see the shapes within the knitting (they look like leaves to me) but with this gauge I just can't get any separation (no holes). I've tried stretching quite a bit to no avail. I suppose I could try going up a few needle sizes. Alternatively I think I should just look for a DK weight yarn, as called for by the pattern. So for now, frogged. I'll have to think more about a pattern for this yarn.

I am looking forward to knitting up this shawl now... it's going to be a keeper.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's growing!

All of it... my yarn stash, my forest canopy shawl, my mileage, and the garden.

Even though I just posted yesterday, I have lots of pictures to share again today. Why don't we work chronologically?

The yarn stash

So as I've mentioned in my last couple of post, I'm working towards starting another project. I have cast on a pair of socks in Trekking but wanted to start something else as well. Yesterday was a day to go yarn shopping!

My stich and b*tch meets at several different locations. Once a month it meets at a LYS called Unravelled which is in Monrovia. Now in the big scheme of things, Monrovia isn't really all that far from where I live. But compared to the other places I shop for yarn and the other places the SnB meets, it's far (about a 30 minute drive).

Nevertheless, I decided to take the trip as I knew they carried the yarn called for in the Somewhat Cowl sweater pattern and I wanted to see it in person. To my delight, S agreed to come with me for the drive and we found a neighborhood cafe for him to sit in and have coffee while I loitered shopped.

Don't you just love looking at different yarns? Unravelled is a great little store (actually large by the standards of many stores I've seen). It's in the old downtown part of Monrovia in a building with exposed brick walls which, imho, just adds character. They have a good selection of different yarns, a number of which I hadn't seen in person before.

One that I saw I just had to purchase: Malabrigo kettle dyed pure merino wool, worsted weight, in this beautiful color called Sunset.

I really got the concept of buying yarn just to keep it in the skein and look at it when I saw this yarn. It has great subtle shade shifts and is soft. With no purpose in mind, I decided I needed to splurge.

I was also able to pick up a skein of Blue Sky Alpaca & Silk, the yarn that spurred the trip (in slate here). Given the somewhat odd combination of alpaca and a summer sweater, I also explored alternative fibers. I didn't see anything perfect, but I did pick up some Tahki Cotton Classic to give a spin (it's a rich chocolate brown that didn't photograph very well).

These purchases satisfied my need to explore new yarns and I came home with needles in hand ready to try, try again.

Of course, when we arrived home we couldn't help but notice that it was another phenomenal day in Southern California. Since you can't let good weather go to waste, we decided to go sit outside for awhile.

As we did so, I was pleased to see that we have a recent bloomer in the yard.

The fragrance outside was also just amazing... the citrus is in bloom right now. We have a teeny, tiny valencia orange in our yard, but the majority of the perfume came from the tangerine tree in our neighbor's yard. See....

While you don't normally have fruit and flowers on the tree together (I think), most of the tangerines didn't get harvested this year. The freeze didn't do them good and they are just still hanging on the tree. Still, the contrast between the orange fruit and the white blossoms is just breathtaking.

The forest canopy shawl

After a lovely time outdoors, we eventually returned to the indoors. This gave me a chance to plot and swatch. It occurs to me that I could knit my Forest Canopy shawl out of the new malabrigo I just purchased. It's definitely thicker than the sport weight recommended in the pattern but, hey, aren't patterns just a jumping off point? Maybe I'll just get a bigger shawl. Won't know til we try, right? So off to swatch land I went again.

After selecting a needle to start with I cast on for the shawl. I've only completed the starter rows so far.

I'm going to knit through at least the first repeat to see how the lace pattern does with this yarn and then decide if I should stick with this or go back to the koigu I initially purchased for this project. So far, so good. By the way, can I tell you how much easier this pattern is than swallowtail? I know the comparison's not even fair... worsted weight versus lace weight... still. This should be E.A.S.Y. by comparison.

My mileage

This morning was again beautiful. Today's April 1st, no fooling, really! That means that it's time to take stock on my Runagogo 100 miles by April 1st goal and set new goals. I'm pleased to report that over the 3 months I covered just over 115 miles. Yeah!

Now S thinks I should set my goal for the next three months at 150 miles. Hmm... that would definitely be a goal wouldn't it? His logic, "it just means walking an extra mile once every three days" [laugh]. After consideration, I think I've settled on 125. That's 25% more than last time but still seems to be within the do-able camp.

Of course S and I are hoping to expand our healthy behaviors even beyond the walking goal. This morning S got out his weights, which are set up outside to take advantage of the weather and the views, and started to exercise. You'll never guess, but I actually joined him. It's been some time since I've lifted weights. Probably 3 years! For quite some time I went through a very healthy phase... gym at least every day, sometimes every other day, but a walk daily (and on my crazy days sometimes I'd walk twice in a day). Of course, then I met S and I turned into a slug.

Laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh!

OK, that's a total exaggeration. A number of things happened to coincide around the same time as I met S which resulted in a decline in gym attendance. Recently though both he and I have been talking about increasing our exercise and eating more healthy foods. Which leads to...

How the garden grows

Having put in the garden yesterday, this morning S and I had to go around and tidy things up and putter in the garden. Look how pretty she looks.

We've planted six tomato plants this year, almost all heirloom varieties. You might be able to make them out in a circle around the pot (which is filled with sage and dill). This year we have Black from Tula, Omar's Lebonese, Juliette, and Aunt Gennie's Purple. We had the Aunt Gennie's Purple last year and they were phenomenal!

In the raised rows we've planted artichokes (the pointy looking guys in the front row), japanese eggplants and red bell peppers (middle row), and broccoli and pole beans (in the back, beans to grow on the green trellis).

If you look really hard (or just squint and pretend) you can also see that in front of the tomatoes we've got basil and chives. What you can't see yet is the lettuce and spinach. Give us a couple of weeks and I'll show you some lovelies once they sprout.

My other joy, the strawberry patch we planted last year. See those little red spots near the bottom of the photo... yep those are early strawberries! Non-organic strawberries are a bit scary so I'm hoping we are going to get a good crop this year.

So surely with all this bounty to come, we will eat healthier, right?