flowergirl knits

flowers, cats and knitting

Category: Flowers

It’s not George Clooney’s Fault

Hello my knitting peeps! (heh – I always wanted to use that phrase) I bet all three of you were beginning to wonder what had happened to me. A romantic European tour with George Clooney? Piloting the space shuttle? On the run from the Mob? No! I’ll tell you what happened to me – May! May happened to me! And to a gardener (and the “flowergirl” in the name of the blog has nothing to do with weddings and everything to do with flowers), May is the Ultimate Month. So much to do! Finally! Outside! Warmth! Snow-free! Sunshine! FLOWERS! See:

now that's how you do pink

That’s a peony by the way; I have dozens of them crammed into my tiny yard and they’re my pride and joy. Along with about a zillion other plants and flowers and a few vegies. So, knitting and the English Rug have taken a backseat lately – I haven’t touched the English Rug all month (but I will get back to it!) and knitting time is limited to bits and pieces.

Those bits and pieces (and a couple sustained hours this afternoon) add up though and socks have been completed.

mirrors

Pattern: Kai-Mei by Cookie A

Yarn: Madelinetosh Sock, colorway “Gilded”

Notes: This is the first pattern I’ve done from Cookie’s new book, Sock Innovation and, typical of Cookie A patterns, it’s great fun and a little out of the ordinary. I love how the lace panel wraps from the side to the top, and that the right and left sock mirror each other. I did have some problems wrapping my head around the gusset (where the lace pattern begins) but that was this knitters inexperience rather than a problem with the pattern. I also got frustrated with the errata for this pattern – I think some of the errata needs an errata! It is disappointing that a book from a respected publisher would have so many mistakes; I’ve read that the first edition has sold out and that these mistakes will be corrected in the 2nd printing but that still leaves me with a flawed book (and I plan to make every pattern) Be sure to check the errata page!

wrapped in lace

I finished this sock as part of the May KAL for the Ravelry group Sock Innovation; there are other groups doing KALs for Cookie’s socks, but I decided to stick with this one because it is much more low-key than the others. With so much on my plate right now, I decided to go with clear and simple. The KAL – and Ravelry – were incredibly valuable since there is a lot of discussion about the pattern (and the errata) and many explanations on interpreting it. I might have thrown in the towel otherwise. What did we do before Ravelry?! (Oh Ravelry, how I love you!)

sidewinder

Because of all the straight ribbing on this sock, I decided this would be a good time to teach myself the Norwegian Purl (sounds like a beer hall dance, doesn’t it?) This is a way for continental knitters (pickers) to purl without stopping to move the yarn to the front of your knitting. Basically, you scoop up the yarn from the back (while holding it in the back like you do for a knit stitch) and the swoop it forward and the loop it under and twist your wrist¬† and wiggle your nose and viola! a purl stitch. (For a better – real – explanation and videos, check out YouTube) It’s supposed to help you knit faster since you don’t have to move the yarn back and forth but I’m not sure I ever got noticeably quicker. Also, I believe it made my gauge looser. Looser! Like I need to knit looser – I’m already too loosey-goosey in the knitting department as it is! It was a lot of fun to learn though – an interesting challenge – but I’ll probably stick with my “regular” purl.

love

And finally, the yarn? Madelinetosh? It just might be the most beautiful sock yarn ever. Silky soft yet substantial and with deep, gorgeous, subtly variegated color. It has a bit of sheen to it that makes it especially luxurious. A joy to knit with, a delight to wear. I think this might be true love.

I just hope George won’t be too heartbroken.

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Sunshine on a Winter’s Day

Spring officially arrives in a few days but winter is not really paying much attention to the calendar. And although we’ve got lovely temperatures in the 60s today (for a couple days), it’s still very brown and drab outside. Time to knit up some color.

no one else in the house has opposable thumbs, so no modeled shots!

Pattern: Breathe Deep mittens by Kirsten Kapur

Yarn: Malabrigo worsted, colorway “Sauterne”

Notes: This is a great project – surprisingly quick and lots of fun. The pattern is clear and easy to follow and comes with two size options. The Malabrigo makes an especially soft and cozy mitten and that color – wow! Eye-popping! Just the thing for March to get you through those last chilly days until the daffodils arrive.

brave fellow

This is my third finished project for Malabrigo March 2009. I’m going to try to finish one more yet this month, but may not meet the deadline. Inspite of not getting as much down as I’d hoped, I’ve really enjoyed this knitting focus – I’ve discovered lots of patterns that are ideal for Malabrigo and picked up lots of tips for the patterns I’ve been working on. It’s been fun – and very colorful – to see everyone’s progress.

One last bit of sunshine – the first flower to bloom this year in my garden! This is a species crocus, very tiny (about 2 inches tall) in a lovely creamy yellow. Such a brave fellow! We’re very happy to see you!

Flower Power

At last – at last – the world is filled with spring flowers. After the long, snowy winter we’ve had here, and after the nightmare late freeze last year (which was particularly hard on the daffodils) I’m enjoying the miracle of spring doubly. Or triply.

The day was so glorious today that Twisted Tulip Sock had to get out and enjoy it too.

Here is is consorting with the “Ice Follies” daffodils.

And here it is checking out another group of “Ice Follies”.

Then it cozied up to some “Tarda” tulips, which just opened for the first time this afternoon.

And finally, here it is getting friendly with a very early bouquet of red and creamy yellow tulips. Looks right at home doesn’t it?

You’ll notice that there is only one sock appearing. That’s because only one is done (a very slow if interesting knit for me) I’m afraid I am now forced into an artificial Second Sock Syndrome as I have some looming knitting deadlines approaching. Plus, it doesn’t help that the garden season is beginning to heat up and is taking a lot more of my time. I usually avoid SSS by casting on for the second sock immediately on finishing the first and I hate to postpone starting the second Twisted Tulip – after all, I don’t have much use for just one sock! But I should be able to pick it up again relatively soon…..so long as I don’t get distracted by something else!

Now get out there and enjoy some of those spring beauties (flowers or socks, your choice)!

Knitting progress

About this time of year I begin looking for new clothes for the spring and summer. I’m pretty tired of my winter browns and blacks, and looking forward to lighter clothes and colors. Browsing through the stores and catalogs I see an awful lot of the sweaters seem to be very similar to knitting patterns that are currently available. I keep thinking “I could knit that!” which, maybe I could (still building my skills so not all would be possible) The real question is, would I? I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have 36 hours every day to do whatever I want (you’d think that would be a no-brainer…..) Besides, sometimes it’s nice to buy something.

There’s been lots of knittery stuff going on, but no exciting FO reveals. Cotton Ariann is proceeding nicely; one sleeve is done and the second about a third done. This would be more impressive if I had knit the pieces in the order they appear in the pattern, that is, if I had knit the body first. But I didn’t. Still, it’s coming along. I picked up a 16″ circular needle with metal tips which has greatly speeded things up; the wooden double points, which I usually love, were causing the yarn to drag and were awkward to arrange with the pattern. Much better now. The Cable Twist socks are also moving along; the first sock is past the gusset decreases and on the homestretch.

I also found a copy of the highly coveted “Street Smart” booklet of patterns from Pattons. This contains the very popular “Must Have Cardi” that everyone on Ravelry is talking about. The booklet is fairly difficult to find, but I was at Jo-Ann Fabrics to pick up yet another knitting needle (I’m going to have them all someday, I just know it) and there it was! Score! Last one in the rack. There are patterns for four sweaters and a scarf and I like three of the patterns very much. Classic Aran patterning with more modern sweater shaping. Of course, I won’t be knitting anything from it until fall at the earliest (and no, I didn’t buy any yarn for it yet!), but my hoarding instinct was appeased.

I also knit a swatch for CeCe using my recently acquired “melon” Rowan Calmer. This is the first time I’ve used Calmer and wow, it’s lovely stuff. Can’t wait to get started, but my old-fashioned Midwestern upbringing says I need to finish Ariann first.

Also, a new catalog from Webs showed up with lots of pretty cotton and linen yarns to drool over. And did you see the new spring Knitty? Great issue with lots of lovely patterns. So much knitting, so little time.

(Sadly, the daffodils are from the grocery store not my garden. It’ll be 2-3 weeks before mine can shake off the icy grip of winter and bloom, but soon!)

Easter Colors

It was like Easter-in-a-Box the other day when I opened my order from Webs (This is not a violation of my Knitting Resolutions which made an exception for buying yarn for summer sweaters. It is, however, a violation of all reason since this represents yarn for four sweaters and come on, who are we kidding? Four sweaters! Ha!) Aren’t they beautiful? I could wallow in them.

The lavender and melon yarns (The official name of this color is “tangerine” but I insist on calling it melon!) are both Rowan Calmer. They are discontinued colors and were half price, so an excellent deal. The lavender is for Lacey Edged Pullover, a simple three-quarter sleeve sweater with lace edging and the melon is for CeCe from ChicKnits, (I’m planning on doing the three-quarter sleeve) I’ve never used Calmer but have heard fabulous things about it, so I’m anxious to get started with it.

The light blue is Tahki Cotton Classic and destined to be a Green Gables sweater. It was very difficult to choose a color; Cotton Classic comes in dozens of choices each more beautiful than the last. The bright pink is Queensland Cotolino; it is the recommended yarn for the Cables and O’s sweater from No Sheep for Me. I hadn’t planned on buying yarn for this sweater yet, but Webs indicates that the yarn is being discontinued and had it marked half price so I jumped on it.

Oh, and that dark purple yarn in the corner? Um….well….that’s, you know, sock yarn. It leaped into my online shopping basket and refused to leave. Persistent little devils, sock yarn. So I said it could come too. It’s ShiBui superwash merino in a lovely semi-solid that should look great in cabled socks.

All these lovelies remind me of my spring flowers which – if it ever warms up! – should be appearing soon. Lavender for iris reticulata, melon for Darwin tulips, blue for chionidoxia, bright pink for species tulips “Persian Pearl” and the dark purple for fritilleria melegreis. Hurry flowers, I can hardly wait!

Bits and Bobs

There’s a bit of this and a bit of that going on knitting-wise around here – halfway through a pair of socks, swatching for the next sweater and some follow-up on my Central Park Hoodie.

First of all, since it’s been so cold and snowy here, I’m starting off with some eye candy – a lacy sock and flowers. The sock is the first from my latest sock project – Embossed Leaves – and the flowers are hyacinths; sadly, these are forced bulbs from the grocery store and not from my garden but beautiful and welcome none the less.

The swatch is for a cotton, three-quarter length sleeve version of Ariann. I think this will make a wonderful, light summer sweater to throw over a t-shirt or dress, especially in over-air-conditioned situations. This sweater already has a long history with me; I actually started it last June, struggled with the pattern, set it aside, then picked up the pattern for a wool version. Wool is more forgiving than cotton and so even though I still struggled with the pattern, I was able to figure it out. One really big thing I learned while knitting the wool version was that knitting a swatch is a good idea (Note to Self: Learn from and believe in the hundreds of years of knitting wisdom that has been handed down to today’s knitters. They are smarter than you and they are always right) The wool Ariann is nice enough, but sloppy-big (the victim no swatching for gauge and picking a too-big size) I still wanted a cotton version. I had knit two sleeves and started the body on my first attempt; now the question was whether cotton yarn could be frogged and reused. There was an excellent article in Knitting Daily a couple months ago about recovering wool yarn, but no mention of cotton. One way to find out is to plunge right in; I unraveled a sleeve and knit a gauge swatch and the yarn knit up just fine. This yarn (Lion Brand Cotton Ease) has some acrylic (eek!) in it which probably gives it some memory and made this work. Not surprisingly, I had to drop two needle sizes (loose woman that I am haha), but I’m getting gauge now. Also, I had originally bought extra yarn so I’ll really only have to reclaim a small amount. Wow – knitting from the stash and finishing off a long-hibernating WIP! Amazing.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka yarnharlot) had a fascinating post a couple days ago about reinforcing knitting with crochet. She talked about how useful this little technique was, especially in some sweater designs and specifically the Central Park Hoodie. A row of single crochet across the back of the neck can stabilize a knitted fabric that may sag (Stephanie explains it beautifully; check out her blog and if you’re not reading her blog, you should – educational, inspiring and fun – don’t miss it) Of course I ran home after work and dug out a crochet hook and added the crochet row across the back where the hood meets the back of the sweater (I imagined dozens and dozens of CPH’s getting the same treatment across the knitting world!) It took mere moments and looks neat and inconspicuous. I have never done much sewing and don’t know much about finer dressmaking details so I’m very sponge-like when it comes to any tips that help make a garment wearable. I am always happy/grateful to learn from the masters. Thanks Stephanie!

Next time, will I be able to fend off the siren call of more yarn? Or will I be able to rationalize a purchase as smart and even thrifty? Be sure to tune in!