Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vintage Hand Towel

My vintage hand towel is done.

I wish I hadn't used variegated yarn at the top.

I don't much care for it, but I did learn how to knit a mitered square.

It was my new technique for February for the New Technique Knit-Along. Turns out there isn't much to it.

Next month I'll pick something more challenging.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The view from the back steps

A few weeks ago it seemed as though spring was here.

Trees were blooming, birds were singing and the sun was shining.

And then winter returned. This was the view from the back steps after days and days of torrential rain and cold. It's always a treat to see snow on the mountain tops because it doesn't happen very often.

And look at what might be coming:

With apologies to my friends in the mid-west, east coast, Canada and other countries who are sick to death of cold and snow, I have to say ...


(We almost never get sea level snow here.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A little bit of luxury (yarn, that is)

Stitches West 2011 was as fun and exhausting as it is every year. Usually within the first five minutes of entering the marketplace I retreat to a quiet corner to try and get acclimated to the noise and crowds, but this year I was surprised at my ability to jump right in and start shopping. After attending this event for so many years, I felt like an old pro at navigating the chaos ... for at least ten minutes. Then I scurried off to a corner.

But eventually I emerged. After all, you can't feel too uncomfortable in a place that offers a display of crocheted bacon and eggs.

I let myself indulge in several skeins of luxury yarn, buying whatever I felt drawn to without having a specific pattern in mind. This first one is 50% wool and 50% silk slub. The knit sample was gorgeous-- I love how it looks with the variations in the thickness of the yarn. The yarn is called Ellie and is from Brooks Farm Yarn.

This next one is hand-dyed, 100% silk. It's called Avalanche and is from The Village Spinning & Weaving Shop. The second year I attended stitches I bought a skein of white organic cotton from them and have such fond memories of it that I like to buy a little something from their booth each year.

This last skein is also 100% handpainted silk. It's fingering weight, so I will probably use it for a lace shawl. I wasn't sure if I liked the color until I held it next to my spotted, weather beaten hands and saw how nicely it compliments my skin tone. That doesn't happen very often. It is from Urban Fauna Studio.

The lace workshop I took was pretty interesting, but I will save that for another day.

Heather at Implausible Yarn is starting a new venture and kicking it off by giving away a retro design Big Ben clock from LL Bean. Stop by and check it out!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A manageable mountain of knitting

I've gotten in the habit of frogging knitting projects that I doubt I will ever finish instead of letting them languish at the bottom of the knitting basket for months and months.

(For non-knitters, "frogging" is ripping out the rows. Rip it. Ribbit. Cute, huh?)

It feels pretty good to know I can finish all of my current projects in a reasonable amount of time. Now I just need to actually sit down and do it.

This scarf is pretty long already, but I want to finish using up as much of that yarn as possible (kind of like feeling like you need to clean your plate even though you're no longer hungry). It's made of bamboo and is really soft. Unfortunately I threw out the ball band and can't remember what it is.

The cabled baby bib is almost done. Just need to finish the neck strap and sew on a button.

I made lots of progress on the hand towel last weekend. It was hard to stop knitting it, even thought my hand got really sore. I ended up having to take a few days off from knitting to give it a rest.

The baby blanket is halfway done. I'm still amazed at how much I am enjoying this project after avoiding blankets for so many years. I might have to knit one for myself next.

I'll be back this weekend with pics and details from Stitches West. If you're in the states, hope you enjoy the long holiday weekend. (And if you're not in the states, hope you enjoy your regular weekend.)

PS. Check out the giveaway at GerryART!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On the needles and some goodies

I wanted to learn a fairly easy technique for the New Technique Knit-Along this month, so I chose to learn to knit mitered squares by starting with this Mitered Hanging Towel.

I've seen lots of gorgeous mitered patterns over the years, like this shawl, and always planned to learn how. The dish towel is a little too easy-peasy, but I have so many other projects going on this month I didn't want to take on anything too overwhelming. Next month I hope to learn something a little more challenging.

Lots of goodies have been arriving in the mail lately. Today I received this floral clutch that I purchased from Annie of Pink Paintbrush, who is the daughter of Jane of Maiden Jane.

The clutch is so pretty and the quality is exceptional.

Also in the mailbox today was this skein of hand-dyed yarn that came all the way from South Africa. I won it in a giveaway at Natural Suburbia. Thank you, Linda!

Yesterday brought this skein of Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit, made from a blend of rabbit, wool and nylon, which I won in a giveaway from Kate Creates. Thank you, Kate!

Only five more days till Stitches West. Yeah!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crazy Bird Lady

As many of you know, last autumn I moved to a new apartment and was eager to see the types of birds that would come to my feeder. Although I live in the heart of a big city, I’m tucked away in a tiny little corner of wilderness with a flowing creek and tall, mature trees.

he bird life has been okay, but not as exciting as expected, until a couple weeks ago. We had our first warm day in a very long time, and when I opened my eyes and gazed out the window that morning, I saw a bright yellow bird hopping from branch to branch in the redwood tree. (I think that might have been the fastest I’ve ever jumped out of bed.)  It was a Townsend's Warbler, a bird I've only caught quick glimpses of in the past.

That morning an amazing variety of birds stopped by. Not all of them fed at the feeders, but they were kind enough to forage in  the trees and on the ground at the edge of the creek. There were woodpeckers, finches, warblers, sparrows, robins, and more. It was like they all got the memo to come on out and play.

I can hardly describe my excitement at seeing all of those birds outside my window. That afternoon I paid a visit to the Wild Bird Store, eager to purchase a few more feeders. I won’t tell you how much money I spent, but I can tell you the number of bird feeders now hanging on my small patio: seven. Seven! I am officially a Crazy Bird Lady. My kitchen cabinet is bursting with seeds.

Not only did I buy feeders and seed, but I bought Alpaca roving to drape in the trees so the birds can use it for their nests. It was fun decorating the tree with it, but I had my doubts it would actually be useful until I saw a hummingbird pull a strand off the tree and fly away with it.

I don't mind being a Crazy Bird Lady at all. I love offering the birds a variety of food; it brings me great joy to watch them nibble on sunflower seeds and suet. I like the excitement each morning of anticipating the types of bird that will come to visit. And I love knowing I'm helping to support bird life in this time of shrinking habitats, climate change, and other challenges our winged friends face.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bunny Love Blanket

It's warmed up here to the point where I can comfortably knit outside on the patio. I'm working on my first baby blanket in this soft organic cotton. It's for my sister's baby, also known as "the bun" (hence the name of the blanket), also known as my future niece, due to arrive in June.

I usually avoid knitting blankets because I don't like to work with such a large number of stitches, plus I'm in to the whole instant gratification thing (or as instant as you can get with knitting) and blankets take forever. But this one is gratifying in a different way because I get to sit and think about the bun as I knit and send her my love with every stitch.

(photo from The Purl Bee )

Speaking of blankets, I don't sew, but I'm a big fan of quilts and love these Courthouse Steps mini-quilts from The Purl Bee. The shades of orange, blue and grey look so nice together-- who'd have thought? I never would have put those colors together.

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I found this coaching tip from Carolyn Foster, A Truth That Knocked Me Flat, very insightful. Food for thought.

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If you are a Pride & Prejudice fan, you must check out Elizabeth Bennet's Inbox -- it is SO funny.

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For those of you experiencing blizzards and freezing temperatures and endless amounts of snow, stay safe and warm. You are in my thoughts.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sacred Space

Last weekend I picked up this green chair at the Goodwill for a song. I'd been wanting to find a chair to place by my bedroom window so I can enjoy the view of the eucalyptus trees and keep an eye out for feathered friends.

It was lovely to sit by the window and listen to the sound of the creek burbling below, but it felt like something was missing.

So I wrapped myself in this quilt that I also found last weekend at an antique store. It is soft and faded with perfect hand-stitching and flowered fabric in shades of pink and blue.

But it still kinda felt like something wasn't quite right.

It didn't take long to find the missing ingredient ... my knitting. Ah, bliss. My little piece of upholstered heaven.

Charlie supervised all sacred space activities from the comfort of the bed.