Back to Tahoe

This weekend I got back in the mood to work on my Tahoe cardigan…
The sweater’s back and right front are complete, and I cast on last night for the left front. After this, it’s just sleeves and finishing–and I’m going to make a few changes at this point. First, the sleeves will be knit from top down, circularly. Seaming is OK, but not my favorite way to spend an evening.

Also, instead of the turned under picot edges knit with Koigu, I may knit or crochet a less bulky alternative. Sundara’s Bittersweet remains my yarn of choice for the edging…the colors just work so well with my mauvey-violet Heirloom Breeze from OzeYarn (a GREAT and affordable site to order from, no matter where you live!).

I haven’t used my spinning wheel or wrote about spinning in a while, so I thought I’d show you my latest. Actually, I spun this hank in February or March (I don’t remember!), and then it sat…and sat…and sat on the spool. But this weekend my yarn was liberated! I wound it onto the two-yard niddy-noddy and set the spin by soaking and hanging to dry.

I am very pleased with this, as I’m still a beginner and am totally self-taught. What you’re looking at is a 300-yard skein of sport-weight yarn spun from Finn top.

Best of all, to a newbie like me, is that I managed to spin a soft yarn that doesn’t twist back on itself or kink up…This was my goal. I tried really hard not to overspin, but to spin enough so it won’t fall to pieces when knitted.

So…what’s this yarn’s destiny? Well, last fall I began a VERY simple shawl for my husband’s grandma–who’s been like a grandma to me, too. She’s so sweet and smart and beautiful. I really do love her. Unfortunately, she has Parkinson’s disease and is in a nursing home in Pennsylvania, so we don’t see her too often :-(

Anyway, I knew I’d run out of yarn in the midst of the shawl, and when I did I had the wonderful luxury of sitting down at my Kromski Sonata (Yay!!! Love it!!!) and spinning up the rest of the Finn so I can complete the project. The first batch of yarn I used was spun when I was even more of a beginner, so it’s a bit slubby. This yarn is much, much nicer. But I know that grandma will love it all the same…perhaps even more…because it’s made from scratch, just for her.

I know some of you are spinners, too. Tell me, what kind of wheels do you use? What fibers do you like to spin? I’d LOVE to see some of your yarn! Nothing’s more exciting than making something from yarn and needles EXCEPT making something from a pile of hair that you spin yourself, then knit or crochet into a lovely piece that comes from the heart.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! Cheers!


I knit, too…

I’ve been posting photos lately, and written about what yarn I want, but today I thought I’d write about what I’ve actually been knitting…in case you think I just look, buy, and read about it!

Tahoe still owns the honor of being “main project.” I’m enjoying the way the Heirloom Breeze looks when knitted up in large-scale stockinette stitch…almost like French terry, with its nubbly, squeezable texture. And the color’s all right, too. When the light hits it, there’s a mauve-ish sheen that deflects the sheer purple-ness of it:

My plan, if I can find the right yarn, is to end the sleeves a little early and crochet a lace edging on them to make up the last two or three inches. The problem I’m running into, though, is that I can’t find a Louet Gems Pearl-type yarn (like Koigu) in the color I’ve imagined: a dark, dark plummy purple, so deep it’s almost black…but not black.

The closest I’ve seen is Sundara Yarns’s delicious Bittersweet colorway. In fact, I’m pretty sure that will be my choice, unless I unearth exactly what I’ve imagined at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival (or, as we call it, the Meat & Wool Festival…Last year, Chris consumed more lamb in one day than any human being should eat in a year!).

I’ve also been spinning, with the end result being a bobbin of natural colored fingering-weight wool yarn. It’s actually a bit finer than I’d anticipated, so I need to decide what to do with it. My initial plan was to spin up some more yarn to use in a shawl I’m making for Chris’ grandmother. But the yarn didn’t want to be as thick as what I’d previously made, so I just listened to the wool and let my fingers play…

The smokey lavender yarn (color is truer in the photo below) is Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed (DK). I knitted the swatch with three needle sizes: 5, 6, and 7. Amazingly, the gauge didn’t change very much between needle sizes! The row count was the primary difference. Must have been me…relaxed with the 5s and stressed with the 7s, or something like that.

I absolutely adore this yarn! It’s scrumptious. My hands can’t get enough. I was swatching with a sweater in mind, though a bit worried about the hot and itchy factor. But when I washed the swatch it relaxed to a drapey, felty, mouth-watering softness. I’ve never been able to wear wool next to my skin, but this yarn may change all that.

Sometime soon, I predict, a slew of Silkroad DK Tweed is going to land–PLOP!–right in my stash!

Other projects on the needles:
1) Lace Sock #2 in the orchid-colored Koigu
2) Argyle tea cozy in Blue Sky Alpacas (regular and melange – burgundy, pesto green, and mustard yellow)
3) Ribbed hat required for Level 1 of the Master Handknitter course (brown, mauve/rose, and sage green Ella Rae)
4) Tubular Scarf from AlterKnits…I’m determined to finish it, but it is one BORING knit (deep pink KidSilk Haze)
(I just realized that, without meaning to, I typed those in a specific order: from most to least interesting…)

One more thing: Looking back at all my projects, it’s become obvious to me that I need to break my pink and purple habit. Perhaps a lightweight green or espresso colored sweater? Maybe I’ll buy a different color of that Silkroad Tweed. Hmmm…


I take so much inspiration from our trips to the shore. Cape May in particular. The moody colors of the sea, sand, sky, and the brilliant hues of the Victorian houses (mostly B&Bs now). And when I look more closely, I find inspiration in the lines and shapes around me: the way the grasses lie on the dunes, the windblown beach fences, the slants and curves and layers of the Victorians’ architectural elements. Honestly, I could live there and never tire of it. Maybe some day…

My knitting has slowed a bit this week–as has my writing & blogging–due to indescribable back spasms in my upper back. The muscles by my left shoulderblade seem to have fused into a single, cement-hard system of knots. Like having golf balls wedged against your bones…Lovely for the nerves, as you can imagine. I can feel it all the way down to my palm. Ugh.

So, while I can’t NOT knit, I’ve been trying to take it easy. Early in the week I played around with this:
Although I was familiar with all the techniques already, Nona’s excellent improvisational knitting tutorialreally got my creative juices flowing. The swatch remains in this condition, due to my laziness about digging through my stash to pull out other bits and pieces. But it’s still on the needles, so one day soon it may begin to grow again.

I also started working on Tahoe, using my purple Heirloom Breeze(ordered from Ozeyarn…they’re wonderful!). Last week I said that I didn’t want to look like a giant Easter egg, wearing all purple (egg comment courtesy of a rude coworker from my distant past). Then I figured out my problem with the yarn: I don’t want to make something that’s 100% purple Heirloom Breeze. It’s wonderful yarn, but for me it needs some embellishment to de-purple it a little.

Then Tahoe came along and inspired me to cast on. I will probably use a dark shade of fingering-weight yarn (Koigu or something similar) to tone down the overall color a bit. And I may end the sleeves at 3/4 length and finish them with a few inches of lace edging in the contrasting color. No photos yet–it’s in the boring inches-and-inches-of-stockinette phase. But someday soon, pictures will be taken and posted.

This weeekend, by the way, is not only mon cheri’s birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRIS! I LOVE YOU!!!!!), but also our 4th anniversary–on the same day–so we both took a long weekend off.

Hope you all have a great weekend, too.

Spring! Light! Warmth!

I have utterly succombed to Spring Fever…
That’s OK, though. Our winter wasn’t long, but it was frigid, so I feel like we’ve earned some nice weather.

Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not the warmest place on the planet, but it was mild. I remember sitting out on the lawn in front of Tamalpais High School in March, wearing a blousy camisole top (’70s style) and admiring how tan I’d already become! It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in California, but I still miss those lovely spring days.

I’ve been really tired lately, so the knitting and spinning has slowed down a bit. I keep starting projects (pullovers and cardigans) with my stash of plummy-purple Heirloom Breeze (bought 12 balls on sale from Ozeyarns last year). I love the yarn’s elasticity and texture, but the color doesn’t thrill me the way it used to. Maybe it will look better in a tank top. I mean, really, do I want to wear a purple cardigan?

This whole issue probably stems from the time when I was a corporate travel agent in Philly. (I’m a Penn grad. Even “Ivy League” English majors don’t easily find jobs right out of school…But I’m glad I didn’t go to Wharton! Business…Blech.) Anyway, I needed a warm coat to wear on my commute from Northeast Philly, and fell in love with an expensive deep purple parka that was kind of iridescent (it was black from one angle, purple from another…not rainbowy). And it had cool toggle closures.

I loved that coat. It was an extravagance. But shortly after I bought it, one of the girls in my department–she was slim and chic and a bit too nice–walked by me and said: Oh, what a pretty coat! You look like an Easter Egg!

How catty is that? Well, so much for the coat. I tried to wear it after that, but just couldn’t do it. Obviously, my distaste for purple-y outerwear (including sweaters) has its roots firmly planted right there. It’s a shame, though, because I love purples and plums, and admire them on others. But a little voice in my head still says: Easter Egg.

Oh, well. Perhaps this is a good reason to go yarn shopping and pick up something less “eggy” with which I can knit myself a killer spring sweater. A silver lining, to be sure.

PS. Photo taken by my hubby in Cape May (NJ) last year. Pretty, huh?