Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Beautiful State is Crying

Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs
Not all of Colorado is on fire, but it does feel that way. Colorado is my home state by choice. I moved here after college because I wanted to be in the mountains. I have lived here my entire adult life and I am crying for it. Although none of the fires are close enough to be us in danger personally, it is very smokey and very, very hot. It has been over 100 degrees for five days. It used to be rare to get one day in the 100's, and only a handful of days in the 90's. Now 90's seems to be the norm. 

Apparently, there are about 12 fires currently burning in Colorado right now. 32,000 people were evacuated from Colorado Springs because the fire is coming into the city itself. It is no longer just the mountain homes in danger. Colorado Springs is about 60 miles south of us and Boulder is 40 miles north of us. Both have fires, and the fire in Ft. Collins has been burning for over two weeks now.

We live in an area similar to this. In fact, in previous years, we have been evacuated twice, so we are very nervous. One lightning strike and this could be us too. We have a 'go bag' ready because of the fire that was close to us in the spring.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sweater Update

I haven't had a lot of time to knit lately because of my work -- which I love, so I am not complaining. But I was hoping to have more of my sweater done by now.

Anyway, this is the bottom part of my sweater so far. I am trying to decide if I really want to stop when I have finished the front, or continue on to also do the back. There are pros and cons to the one piece knitting approach.

I don't like sewing seams, and continuing around prevents that.
It is summer and who wants a big long piece of knitting on your lap?
I can just keep knitting and knitting without have to bind off and cast on again.
The pattern actually calls for a front and back and the designer probably know what she was doing.
I have already altered the pattern by adding the short rows, so it won't look too much like the pattern anyway.
The idea of seeing the final piece as a long, long piece, knowing that is me slayed out in a straight line is truly a frightening thought.

I don't have to decide tonight, so I will just get back to knitting. This will give me the opportunity to come up with more pros and cons.

Back to the needles.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

When I grow up, I want to be a Lion

"I am sure this is my dad." --Neko
That's right -- I'm bad.

Hear me roar

Neko never really accepted the idea that he is just a cat. He always thought he was headed for bigger and better things. He is the picture of "Cattitude." If the lion is the king of the jungle, Neko is definitely the king of all he sees. That includes the outside, because he spends most of this day watching his domain out the windows.

The black lion is altered, but believe me, Neko is the real thing. 
Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, because frankly, I don't care

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Winding Up and Swatching

The color of this yarn is truly wonderful. I can't tell if it is lavender or light blue, but what I like about it is that it almost matches my eye color. That's me peeking through the skein. You have no idea how hard it is to hold the yarn and take a picture at the same time. Being of Swedish heritage, it is no surprise that my eyes are blue and my hair used to be blonde. Apparently, the hair in my Swedish family gets darker as we get older, but I have no problem fixing that. Besides, this color will really show the little black hairs that Neko plans to put on it.

So here is the pattern. It is called the V-neck Pullover from KnitSimple's Knits Plus. Yes, I am a plus woman. I've learned to live with it. I used to be hot, but now, that just comes in flashes. One of these days, I will make peace with my figure and have a better body image. But for now, I will use yards and yards of yarn to cover up.

So the bottom part of this sweater is knitted vertically in a rib of 10 x 1, if that can be called a rib at all. Then the bodice is done by picking up stitches along the edge in garter stitch. Although I am going to show you by progress, copyright rules won't allow me to tell you all the details and numbers. However, I can tell you some of the modifications that I am making. I am making a bit longer than the picture shows so I can cover the biggest part of my bottom. And since I am being honest, I will probably need a little more room there, so I am going to add a short row on the side of the rib to give me a little more room. Besides, this cotton/rayon mix has no give or elasticity at all, so I will have to built in my own ease and depend on the yarn.

So I threaded up my swift to wind this wonderful yarn into a ball, or rather a 'cake.' I love my spinner, but I have a feeling this cake will collapse as I work with it. I have three skeins of this cotton/rayon mix, but I am only going to wind one ball at a time.
Zoom Zoom

And a super big cake of yarn
I always make fun of my husband's tools, calling them his 'toys' but I have to admit that we knitters also have our fun little tools -- or toys -- as well. These skeins contain about 700 yards, so it wound this into a cake all the way to the maximum. I thought about dividing it, but I find joining cotton in a garment is difficult so I wanted to work with the larger skeins. Seconds later, the entire skein is done.

So I pulled out my needles to do a swatch. I plan to do an entire rant about swatching at another time, but here is the swatch that I completed for this yarn. The good news is that my swatch matched exactly the gauge listed in the pattern, so my calculations are easy to do. Like I said before, I want the sweater to be longer which I figured to be about 5 inches longer. Since the body of the sweater is done vertically, I had to cast on those 5 inches now. So I cast on my stitches and began my knitting. Unfortunately, I got word from my work of another project they needed done immediately, so I will have to work on this later. I work at home, so I don't have far to commute. I love the work, but it certainly does get in the way of my knitting.

Oh well, back to the needles -- or rather back to work.

Starting my sweater

I am starting today. I have a pattern and am about wind the first skein.  Yes, I am about to do a swatch, and rework the pattern to my size. I am going to track the progress on my sweater through this blog, so check back often to see how it is going.

I work on several projects at once, but I hope to work on this a little every day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Estes Park Wool Market

It is Sunday and I am recovering in woolly bliss from the Estes Park Wool Market. It's an explosion of color and fiber surrounding by an estrogen-raving environment of knitters, crocheters, spinners, and just basic lovers of all things wool, cotton, silk, bamboo, cashmere, etc.

A felted helicopter -- ingenious! 
Yes, I bought stuff even though my finances shouldn't really allow it, but it's only once a year, right? I prefer to look at it at what I didn't purchase, okay? I resisted the ultra-soft vicuna skein in cream which was $99.00, lace-weight brown buffalo yarn at $60.00, not to mention the small tiny cake-like ball of tan qiviut which is like holding a pre-heated cloud about the size of a golf ball. I read once the qiviut yarn is 8 times warmer than wool, and all you have to do is hold onto it to realize that might be true. I think that golf ball was $55.00.  It didn't buy any of those, so I 'done good.'
100% Baby Alpaca from Bliss Ranch Wool
in red, navy blue and pink

I find that I have color moods, which is usually purple, but this year, I found myself drawn to pinks and reds. Maybe that's because every time I picked up a skein of purple yarn, I thought "I have this already at home." I used to think "I better buy this now because I'll never see it again." I guess I have hit the tipping point that I have more in my stash than I need to purchase. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Lace weight yarn 50% wool, 50% silk
from Skaska Design in coral
It also gave me chance to visit one of my favorite vendors, Skaska Designs. They have the most wonderful lace yarn and I always seem to buy something from them and talk to Galina Khmeleva (author of Gossamer Webs) who makes these wonderful lace shawls and scarves. I told her that instead of buying more lace yarn, I should just knit the lace I purchased from them five years ago ...  or four years ago ... three year, ... well, you get the picture. She said "I am so thankful that knitters don't think way!" I purchased the coral lace yarn.

52% cotton / 48% rayon from
Textiles a Manos in either
light blue or lavender,
depending on the light.
So I purchased yarn for three projects. The coral lace from Skaska will be used to make either a shawl or lace scarf, depending on what I feel at the time I finally wind it. The blue/lavender cotton rayon will be used to make a sweater. I have the pattern picked out and it will probably be on of the first projects I start with once I finished some UFOs (unfinished projects), hopefully this week. I think I purchased enough of the baby alpaca to mix and match to make five or six hats.

My Wool Market Buddies:
Amber and Zane Beach
I designed and re-designed several hats, scarves, and sweaters in my head while walking through all those aisles of fibers being bumped and jostled by bulging bags, overweight backpacks, strollers of sleeping children and full-hipped women, all with that glossy look on their faces of total bliss and anticipation. Yarn shoppers are wonderful people because as our bags knock each other slightly off balance as we pass, we laugh at each other, and then open the bags to show total strangers our newly purchased treasures as well as the detailed plans for their final endeavor.

Back to the needles.

Angora Bunny

Paco Vicuna - the softest wool ever!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Off to the Estes Park Wool Festival

Tomorrow is World Wide Knit In Public Day, and I am celebrating by going to the Estes Park Wool Festival. This wool festival is like Christmas and the Super Bowl all in one day! I am going with my friend Amber and her little boy Zane (who is the cutest little boy since my boys were little).

I think this is the 5th or 6th time I have attended in Estes Park festival and I never get tired of it. In fact, I have also been to the wool festival in Taos NM, and the one in Frederick, MD. The Maryland Wool Festival was my Mecca, you know, that once in a lifetime trip. Aw...

This year, I am doing some planning. Usually I just go there and buy yarn I like with no idea of what I am going to make with it.  Then I find out I either have too much to justify using it for a simple hat, or not enough to make a sweater, even though it is the perfect yarn for that raglan sleeve swing sweater. Sure, I could contact the website on the label, but I never get around to it.  So, I will do it right.

More once I make my purchases! I must get a good night's sleep.  So much to plan, so much to do, so much to knit ...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I Want to be an Outside Cat

"Why Can't I Go Outside?"
"What this? An open window?"
Neko so wants to be an outside cat. That is just not an option out here in Roxborough. We have bears and mountain lions, but the bigger dangers to cats are coyotes and foxes. I understand that, though, the biggest threat of all are owls. Apparently we lose more pets to owls than any other predatory. Now, we have explained this time and time to Neko, but he still doesn't get it.

"Is this for me?"
We have a raised deck with no steps down. We let Neko out on the deck, but if we don't watch him, he will take off on the cat walk. Yes, we actually have a cat walk surrounding our house. It was built before we had a cat. Then we have to track Neko through the woods, hoping he doesn't get bitten by some raccoon or squirrel, or encounter a skunk. 

"Could this mean freedom? So close?"
This is where being married to a home designer helps. He blocked off the south end of the deck. He started small to keep Neko on the deck putting up a barrier of a trash can or barbecue. However, cats are tenacious, especially Neko. So the barrier became bigger and bigger. 

"What the '&%*! 'is this? A barricade?"
I think we have finally achieved peace. He now will sit on the deck for hours watching the birds and squirrels, maybe yearning to be able to fly, or jump from limb to limb, but at least he has stopped howling at the deck door.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

When Pattern and Yarn Comes Together

I am so LOVING this project.

This scarf is on the cover of the Jane Austen Knits 2011.  If you let it flow, it is a gorgeous fluffy scarf, and if you wrap it around your neck, it looks like a ruffled cowl. The magazine is filled with very feminine patterns and this is not the only pattern I will be making from it.

The scarf uses short rows to create the flowing ruffles and is only done in garter stitch. I love doing short rows for some reason, so I just keep knitting and knitting.

I am using a 50% alpaca/50% wool lace yarn called in AlpacaWare in a light lavender. I got about ten skeins on this yarn on eBay a few years ago for a really cheap price and still have four skeins left. I made a shawl with four skeins that I still need to block. I better get on that.

The new Jane Austen Knit magazine is out now and I picked it up at my local yarn store (A Knitted Peace in Littleton, CO) last week. I have already marked several projects to do.