flowergirl knits

flowers, cats and knitting

Category: Blogging

Happy 2nd Blog-o-versary

Another year has slipped by, another knitting year filled with ups and downs.

The year included:

  • 11 pairs of socks
  • 3 sweaters
  • 5 cowls
  • 2 hats
  • 2 pairs of mittens
  • 4 fingerless mitts
  • 1 blanket
  • and 2 lace shawls

Whew! Well, that’s what happens when you embrace the hermit lifestyle! Some goals for next year include knitting down the stash (probably good for several years!), finishing more sweaters and improving my rudimentary color-work skills. No doubt I will be tempted by many gorgeous yarns and beautiful patterns that I can’t even imagine yet – the craft of knitting seems to be constantly renewing itself and yet remains grounded in basic principles that have stood the test of time.

It’s an exciting time to be a knitter – I can’t wait to start the next year!

Changes in the Air

There have been a number of changes around here lately.

Weather – a heavy frost Friday and hard freezes on Saturday and Sunday have brought the growing season to a screeching halt. And to add insult to injury, it snowed on Saturday.

A lingering UFO becomes an FO – I finally finished the Spring Forward socks which I’ve been dragging around as my travel project for months.

Death of a computer – my computer crashed, completely and irrevocably, taking most of my files with it for good measure.

new kid on the block

Say hi to my new friend – an Apple MacBook Pro. Going from PC to Apple, desktop to laptop, wired to wireless – well, the learning curve has been a bit sharp at times (for instance, it took me an hour and a half to figure out how to get pictures from my camera to the computer to Flickr. I got it now I think, but it was excruciating.) Exciting, terrifying, frustrating, fun. Change is good – keeps the old brain cells from getting too rusty. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself!

Amongst all the computer stress (good and bad) I did manage to finish some socks, part of my Socktoberfest goal this year.

Pattern: Spring Forward

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, “Cool Fire” colorway

Notes: This is a delightfully simple pattern with very satisfying results. It makes a great travel project because it’s easy to pick up and put down again and not lose your place. The only reason it took me several months to complete is that I set it aside several times to work on other projects.

I’ve switched from my beloved Lantern Moon Rosewood needles, size 1 and gone down to size 0 in less luxurious but still lovely bamboo. (The Lantern Moons don’t go smaller than 1) I’m just too loose of a knitter – I was finding socks knit on 1s were a little too sloppy (though wearable)

The DIC yarn, as always, was a delight to knit with. I was a little surprised that this colorway came out more variegated than I’d expected; usually the DIC sock yarns have more subtle variegation. I think the pattern is somewhat obscured by this colorway, but still acceptable.

I’ve moved on to the TTL Mystery Sock 09 now, using ShiBui Sock. I’m woefully behind with the clues and probably won’t get the finished in October, but I’m ok with that.

As mentioned in the last post, I was knitting a Tangled Yoke cardigan and loving it. Since then, disaster has struck; I shed a few tears, then put it in time-out for a while. I think I am about ready to pick it up and try again; I’ll let you know how that goes next time.

Long Time No See

Hello Blog!

How have you been?

Yes, it’s been awhile, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about you. You’ve actually been in my thoughts quite a bit.

What’s that? Oh. Yes – I’ve been busy. Very busy.

You see, it’s Gardening Season here and from about mid-April to mid-or-late-June it’s just crazy/insane/frantic out in the yard. I drag myself inside only when darkness or biting bugs force me to. And then I’m often so tired, I just sit and stare into space.

Haha – yes, sitting and staring into space is one of my more finely honed talents. Very funny.

Knitting? Yes, of course I’ve been knitting – you haven’t read about anybody being strangled around here lately, have you? Knitting keeps me (relatively) sane and out of jail.

Sadly, knitting has taken a hit during the Gardening Season too. Currently I’m knitting Sunshine for the June Cookie A Sock Innovation KAL, but I’ve been struggling a bit with yarn and needle choices. I’m on my second yarn choice (Araucania Itata) which is a gorgeous mostly solid dusty pink with the seductive name of #2006 and so far it seems to be ok; I’m a bit gun shy since the previous yarn kept splitting like a mad thing so I’m reserving a final judgement. Whatever the verdict, it sure is pretty.

Having to start over well over a week into the month has put me behind, so I’m concentrating just on the socks. All 20 minutes of my daily knitting time goes exclusively to Sunshine.

As noted in the last post (haha, I’m sure your memory is good enough to remember – it’s not like it was decades or centuries ago!), I finished up the May KAL sock (Kai-Mei) before the end of the month. Since I had some time before I could start the June sock, I quick knitted another Thermis for my friend Carol as a hostess gift. She lives in Wisconsin, so it should come in handy although she wasn’t really sure what it was and I had to demonstrate how it worked. Her enthusiasm seemed a bit tempered – maybe I should stick to gift certificates after this… What do you think?

I also attempted to do some more work on my first toe-up socks but finally had to admit that that Monster of Evil had returned. Yes, that’s right – gauge reared it’s ugly, disagreeable head and laughed at me. Why can’t it just leave me alone – I ask you – what have I ever done to it?

Apparently I’m knitting looser and looser in my old age. The pattern calls for a #0 needle for a 66 stitch sock; my basic sock is a #1 needle on 64 stitches. What? No, of course I didn’t do any math – what a silly thought! I just figured – intuitively – that’d I’d be ok. Of course, thanks to Evil Gauge, it wasn’t ok and I went on a search for teeny tiny needles.

It took quite a bit of searching, but I finally found HiyaHiya needles in #00 and #000 double points. Addi and Inox also have needles this small, but they’re 8 inches long (used by lace knitters); the HiyaHiya’s are 5 inches, much better for sock knitting. Interestingly, I also had to buy a new needle sizer since your regular sizers don’t go smaller than #0. (Well, I thought that was interesting!) Ravelry doesn’t even include needles smaller than #00 on their inventory chart. The needles were very reasonably priced and arrived almost instantly; I’m anxious to take them for a spin but they’ll have to wait their turn.

Well, Blog, it’s been fun catching up, but it’s getting late. Have to go put something on my bug bites and crawl into bed. I promise not to be away so long next time – maybe even bring along a finished knit or two. Until then, be good!

March Round-Up

March is nearly over and, I gotta tell you, I’ll be glad to see the last of it. It’s been dull, drab and chilly with only a few glimpses of Spring. April is bound to be better, even if Winter does try to horn in a bit.

Project Spectrum – March

Here is a mosaic I put together for the first month Project Spectrum; I chose to focus on ” green” and “rocks” from the North elements. I’m not overly thrilled with this (see “dull, drab and chilly” from above) – March in this part of the country just doesn’t lend itself to a lot of excitement. Also, while green is a perfectly fine color (especially when it’s new green leaves), it’s not my all-time favorite [break out those garish Easter colors!]  I would characterize the mood of these pictures as contemplative, anticipatory, waiting.

Malabrigo March

This has been a fun event that introduced me to interesting new patterns, and knitting with Malabrigo is always a treat. I finished three of the four KALs I signed up for (Thermis, Meret Beret and Breathe Deep mittens) and enjoyed them immensely. I didn’t finish Ishbel; I’m thinking I should simply admire other people’s lace rather than knit my own, at least for now. It’s been put in hibernation. In the grand tradition of biting off more than you can chew, I had two more non-KAL Malabrigo projects I had hoped to get done but didn’t; I’ll continue to work on Totally Autumn (which I’m liking very much) and should finish up the Birthday Cowl very soon (maybe even yet tonight, just under the wire!)

Makin’ Cookies March KAL

This went quite well, with lovely finished Hedera socks which I’ve already worn a couple of times.

Secret Knitting Project

Sadly, the Secret Knitting Project I mentioned earlier this month has not panned out. It was no ones fault, I Just. Couldn’t. Get. Gauge. which was absolutely critical for this project. (As an aside, I find it completely ironic that ME, one of the finest World Class Worriers ever, the one that makes lists and schedules and charts and plans out everything – even spontaneity (really) – is a loopy loose knitter! You’d think it would be just the opposite. It’s. Just. Not. Fair.) The project is still secret, so I’m not going to say any more except that I’m beyond disappointed and my knitting confidence is a little shaken. Guess it’s just the Knitting Gods, keeping me in my place.

Spring is Almost Here

Thankfully, April is almost here – my Favorite Month (not the Perfect Month – that would be May – but my Favorite Month)  I’m going to knit up a pair of Monkeys in a light, spring color for some Cookie KALs that are going on in April (amazingly, even though I’ve knit this pattern 2 or 3 times, I don’t have a pair for myself) These will be great for travel knitting. And I’ll be working a bit on finishing some UFOs. But I’m going to be easing up on the knitting a bit – March has been fun but intense. My friend Chris and I are going to do a Members Only KAL (we’re the only members!) for finishing up non-knitting handwork; my project is Quite Large and will take a lot longer than a month, but the encouragement to start up again will be great. I’ll tell you more about it soon.

Now, I’m going to go knit on that Birthday Cowl – see if I can get it done before midnight tonight!

Ivy League

Flying Needles here has another FO and just in time for the first day of  Spring (my favorite season) – Hedera Socks!

climbing the walls

Pattern: Hedera by Cookie A

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway “Spring Tickle”

Notes: Another winning pattern from Cookie A. I really like the lace pattern on these – very pretty. And an open lace like this makes the socks wearable even in warmer months (especially when you work in an air conditioned building) The gusset is very long in this pattern – much longer than other socks I’ve made, but they seem to fit fine.

At first I was a little unsure of this color but have grown to love it. It reminds me of the unique, fleeting greens of this time of year – grass beginning to green up and push through the last browns of winter. I love looking at the names of yarns – how do people come up with some of them? This color fits it’s name perfectly and somehow it feels right to do this pattern in green (Hedera is the Latin name for ivy)  It’s also beautifully, subtly variegated which makes it interesting but doesn’t fight with the pattern. DIC I heart you!

artsy toe shot

This project is another multi-tasker – it’s part of the current “Makin’ Cookies” March KAL on Ravelry and also fits in nicely with Project Spectrum’s  focus on greens.

In other news, I’ve started up my garden blog again (which helps explains the “flowergirl” part of this blog title); there’s not a lot on it yet (I just set it up yesterday!) but if you’re interested in flowers and growing things, by all means stop by.

And, my Secret Knitting Project is about to begin – the yarn should arrive any day – so things may go pretty quiet here until I’m finished. Until then, enjoy your knitting and the new season!

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

OK, it’s not an Oscar. It’s better actually, especially since I’ve never worked in the movie industry beyond buying a ticket to see a movie, and because this award is from someone I know. The lovely and talented Jen has nominated flowergirl knits for a Lemonade Stand Award. The award is for demonstrating a positive attitude and/or gratitude (obviously, Jen has not seen me at some of my less-stellar moments!) I am very touched and honored and, wow – that really made my day! Thanks Jen!

Part of the award is to nominate 10 other blogs that show positive attitude and/or gratitude and link to them. (I’m also supposed to let them know by commenting on their blog but, because I am a Shy Commenter – although a Loyal Lurker! – I’m going to let that slide for the most part) Here’s my list of Lemonade Stand Award-worthy blogs – I highly recommend that you check them out!

McSmithleyville – right back at ya Jen! Follow the adventures of the world’s happiest, sweetest baby and his talented and creative parents. (Love the overhead shot of the dogs on your banner, Jen!)

Posie Gets Cozy – Talk about positive! In 1998, newly married and just arrived in a new city, Alicia was hit by a truck and nearly lost her foot. Everything about her life changed that day, but she focused on new directions, not the past. Charming, beautiful crafts, lovely photography and excellent writing.

Itty Bitty Kitty Committee – Cute title, fantastic blog. Laurie lives in the Seattle area where she fosters litters of kittens for the local Humane Society. Writing with humor and heart about her tiny charges, the photography will astound you and the sweet kitten faces will melt your heart!

Yarn Harlot – Every knitter knows the Yarn Harlot (or they should) Great knitting delivered with wit and humor, great insight into family life and a real commitment to helping others (she spearheads the Knitter’s Without Borders organization that donates money to Doctors without Borders)

Lolly Knitting Around – Knitting, yoga and an incredibly generous spirit mark Lolly’s blog as well as excellent writing and photography. Lolly is the mastermind behind Socktoberfest and Project Spectrum.

Miss Effie’s Diary – Kathy has a cut-your-own flower farm, raises ducks and chickens (and sells beautiful organic eggs) and has a boundless enthusiasm for life and all it’s muddy beauty. And she knits too!

That’s a good start. You can’t go wrong with any of these strong, inspiring, talented women, each making the world a little better.

In other news, I’m still knitting furiously. At some point I’m going to have several FOs appearing bing bang boom! all at once like I’m some kind of crazy speed knitter but for now there’s progress (the Noro Striped scarf is at the halfway point, the Hemlock Ring blanket has been waiting for a needle which finally arrived Friday and Tang could be done in a day or two) but nothing to show for it. Yet.

Now, back to knitting — as soon as I finish polishing my award! 😉

Happy 1 Year Blog-o-versary to Me!

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been writing this blog for one year now! (Except – why oh why did I start a blog in the midst of Christmas craziness? Probably as a procrastination technique)

a fond look back at Blog Year 2008

Whew! That’s a lot of knitting! And it doesn’t count  several ripped or languishing projects or the current WIPs. It’s been a great year knitting-wise – I’ve added several skills to my repertoire and improved on others, I’ve tried projects that pushed and challenged me and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about yarns and colors and making modifications to patterns. I still have loads to learn and try – I look forward to more knitting every day.

I’ve also really enjoyed the writing of the blog; I don’t claim to be any kind of writer other than ordinary, but the regular practice of writing leads to improvement. Keeping a written record of each project keeps the details of each fresh and has helped my development as a knitter – a greater understanding of yarns, needles, stitches and techniques that I’ve used.

And, as a classic introvert, the blog has been ideal place to me speak.  I’m very quiet and rarely speak up in a group. Unlike most people, I don’t do well in loud situations, where people interrupt and talk over each other. When I do speak, it’s slowly – introverts like to think about each word that they say and often are searching for the perfect word – so I’m constantly interrupted, at which point I clam up. But the blog allows me to think about each sentence and phrase, to go back and fix something that didn’t come out right, to “speak” uninterrupted. For an introvert, it’s been lovely.

Next time, the first FO of Blog Year 2009! Alert the media!

A Legacy of Craft

the sewing basket

My Aunt Harriett loved to do handwork, especially crochet and embroidery. She lived at a time (the first half of the last century) when every dresser had a scarf, every sideboard a runner, every table a doily or tablecloth, every chair an antimacassar.

a treasury of vintage patterns

When my Uncle Carl died recently (Aunt Harriett died four years ago) family members stopped by their house to pick out any dishes or pictures that we might want as a remembrance (and to help clear out the house for selling) There were no valuable antiques, no legacy of monetary riches, just the remnants of a modestly lived life – serviceable dinnerware, tchoktes picked up traveling, pictures and scrapbooks from their long ago youth.

I already have plenty of “stuff” in my house and there wasn’t much that interested me until I came across the handwork – stacks and stacks of my aunt’s handwork, from colorful embroidery to delicate lace, made with tiny, endless stitches, a lifetime of care and skill distilled into gentle works of art. And, amazingly, I found my aunt’s sewing basket and pattern box.

some of the beautiful work of a lifetime

The sewing basket (actually a large tin painted to look like wicker) contains cotton crochet thread in several colors, some patterns, and swatches of lace and motifs. The pattern box is overflowing with booklets, dating back to the 30s and 40s and 50s, usually costing a whopping 10 cents each. Sprinkled throughout are magazine clippings of more patterns, typed patterns from friends, the occasional baby announcement (my aunt made a lot of baby afghans) and even a recipe or two scratched on the back of envelopes in my aunt’s spidery handwriting.

I picked out a few doilies and several embroidered table runners; I worry that I’ll regret not taking more, but doilies aren’t really my “thing” and I don’t need more “stuff”. I choose the ones I did in appreciation for their craftsmanship and with an understanding of the work and love that went into each one. And, because they are beautiful.

crocheted edgings and embroidered flowers

With blessings from the family, I also brought home the sewing basket and pattern collection. I only know the most basic of crochet, but I may yet someday take it up. I think my aunt, seeing her legacy passed on to the only niece that does handwork, would have been pleased.

crocheted pansies in every color of the rainbow

My Aunt Harriett contracted multiple sclerosis when she was 17; except for a few years in her early twenties when the disease was in remission and she could walk with a cane, she spent the rest of her 80 plus years in a wheelchair. She and my uncle never had children of their own; their nieces and nephews were their children. By the time I came along, the youngest cousin by many years, her health and eyesight had curtailed her crafting. I remember her as always interested in us children, in what we were doing in our lives, always patient, always a good listener – gifts I appreciate more now in hindsight. I never heard her complain, even though life had dealt her a fair share of blows and disappointments.

In many ways I’m saddened by the fading of this generation (not gone – my Mother and aunts are still going strong) – so many experiences and stories lost. It’s the way of the world though, each generation making way for the next. It’s better to appreciate and be grateful for the gifts of the past generations, and to honor them by remembering.

I’ll find some special uses for the items I brought home and remember. And be grateful.

Aaaaannddd…….we’re back!

Whew! That took a long time. Much longer than I expected. What is it about computer guys anyway? I know several through work and while many of them are very nice and charming individuals, start asking them about computer problems/issues and they become nearly incomprehensible, with an almost-phobic regard to giving finish dates. It sets my teeth on edge.

Anyway. Happy happy joy joy! I am almost ridiculously happy to have my computer back and working again. I did lose some pictures (my hard drive died), but overall the outcome isn’t too awful. Besides, what’s gone is gone. Let this be a lesson to us all – back-up your documents!

It will take me awhile to sort through my pictures (I had over 400 on my camera to download – vacation, cats, flowers and yarn) but I will be blogging about knitting very soon – several FOs, visits to yarn shops, and WIPs. I hope you can stand the excitement.

We Interrupt this Blog….

Flowergirl Knits is going on a (hopefully) brief hiatus – Technical Difficulties (my computer crashed yesterday) and a long-standing Family Obligation will keep me away from my home computer for the next couple of weeks. This is very frustrating – I’m quite enjoying my little blog and I was finally going to be able to reveal the Secret Project I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks. It will have to wait until June now. 😦 For a sneak peak at this FO, be sure to check out Jen’s blog as well as pictures of Mr Cutie Pie, the star of the show.

I’ll check in once in awhile, using a friend’s computer and internet cafes, but I won’t be able to upload pictures which, in my opinion, is half the fun of blogging. In the meantime, I’ll keep knitting, the computer will get fixed (keep your fingers crossed) and I’ll be back in early June. Have a great end-of-May, beginning-of-June!