Wednesday, February 29, 2012

That little pink hat

It's wet and chilly here in Northern California this evening, but I'm sitting in my apartment with all of the doors and windows open trying to rid the place of the lovely odor of burned chocolate croissant. I meant to put it in the microwave for 12 seconds, but accidentally set it for minutes. No chocolate for me tonight.

Last week I took my niece Lily to a park for the first time. My sister Hil, Lily's mom, told me that Lily loves the toddler swings, and she wasn't kidding. I was overwhelmed with emotion watching the happy look on her face as I pushed her back and forth.

I knit that pink hat before Lily was born, about a year ago, and never cared for it. In fact, I deleted it from my Ravelry project page so I wouldn't have to see it again (forgot to delete it from my blog). But I happened to find it in the pocket of her stroller when we were at the park and lo and behold, it's actually kind of cute.

I finally came to a decision on what to knit for Lily with the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino I bought at the Stitches market last weekend-- this matinee jacket from one of my favorite knitting books, Vintage Knits for Modern Babies. I've completed a few inches of the back, and so far so good.

Another project I'm working on is this silk scarf for myself. I first wrote about it back in January, but have since frogged it and changed to a drop stitch pattern. It's slow going, but I'm plugging away. I thought that stitch on the holder was dropped and wasn't sure how I was going to fix it, but it was just loose, thank goodness. Must have caught on something.

I'm so sad that is going away in April. I use it to edit all of my photos before posting them and love how easy it is to use. It's great for reducing the size of your photos and brightening them up. I guess I'll have to learn how to use Picasa.

If you are a Downton Abbey fan and are having withdrawals, Anna at Thimbleanna has posted a list of suggestions from her readers that might help fill the void until season three begins. I want to suggest one more that isn't on the list-- Masterpiece's Sense and Sensibility from 2009. I like it better than the older version with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant because the cast is younger and fit their parts better. In the new one Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey) plays Edward Ferrars, and he is yummy with those gorgeous blue eyes.

Hope you are having a good week. We completed a big project at work this week, so I am taking Friday off to celebrate recover.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stitches West 2012 Report (cute stuff inside!)

I had an absolute blast at Stitches West on Saturday. And to think I almost didn't go! Fortunately my friend Cathy suggested we go together and that worked out extremely well. We both love yarn and chocolate, don't mind a five dollar hot dog for lunch, and are quickly overwhelmed when surrounded by thousands of skeins of yarn and mobs of eager knitters.

The above photo is the yarn I bought at the market. The red Debbie Bliss is for a dress or sweater for Lily (can't decide which), the Marble Chunky is for a hat for my sister, and the Malabrigo was an impulse buy. Cathy bought a couple skeins of it, causing me to come down with a case of yarn envy, so I  had to have some too.

 I went crazy at the Ribbon Street booth. These are just some of the things I bought. I have a weakness for small bags and loved the typewriter and colors on this cross-body bag. 

Cloth napkins, my new obsession. I didn't even notice the owl stealing a pair of polka-dotted undies until I got home. No wonder I was attracted to that fabric.

There's the little thief.

An iPhone cover with the same thieving owl.

This is a Yarn Pop bag.  The yarn goes inside the bag and comes out the little hole, keeping it tidy and clean as you knit with it. I tried it last night and was disappointed because the yarn didn't smoothly flow from the bag, but that was probably because I was pulling from the outside of the ball. It was also a bit cumbersome when I frogged the project and tried to rewind the ball, basically ending up with a big heap of ripped yarn on my lap. But it is a very well-made bag and probably works well when you pull from the middle of the ball and see the project through to the end without frogging.

All in all, my only regret is that I didn't splurge on the gorgeous Fiesta variegated cotton that I saw. The colors were out of this world and I cannot find it anywhere on the Internet. I might write to Fiesta and ask them about it, but I have a feeling it was some sort of special stock they don't normally carry.

Usually there is one main overall theme at the show, like lace or socks. We couldn't figure out this year's theme until a lady we met pointed out that there were several: knitting with beads, the return of novelty yarn, and yarn with metallic strands incorporated in to it. Interesting.

So, that's my report. I am most definitely going back in 2013, and hopefully this post will remind me not to pass up any yarn that catches my eye and my heart the way that Fiesta yarn did.

Friday, February 24, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Joining with Soule Mama.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ribbed Scarf

I've decided to go to Stitches West next weekend, which has motivated me to use up the last few skeins of luxury yarn I bought there last year. Yesterday I began knitting the above ribbed scarf using Ellie, a thick/thin slub yarn made of silk and wool.  I'm still undecided about whether I like the scarf or not, but the yarn itself is lovely to work with. Below is a photo of how it looks in a skein-- I never dreamed it would knit up the way it does, with such an extreme texture.

It's been a sweatpants, take-out food, restful kind of holiday weekend. I went out of my way to finish all my household chores last week so I wouldn't have to spend any time cleaning (or feeling guilty about not cleaning) over the weekend. Instead I used my time to do something far more enjoyable-- I finally watched Downton Abbey. Oh. my. goodness. I am hooked! And I still have two more episodes of season one to watch and then all of season two. Now I know what all the fuss is about. I just don't want it to end.

I'm off now to scrounge up some dinner and then watch one of my other favorite shows, The Voice. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This Moment

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from my life. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

The idea for "This Moment" is from the beautiful blogger Tracey at Clover.
Update: Oops, Tracey informs me that this orginates from Amanda at Soule Mama.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The return of the mini-drawstring bag

About five years ago I went through a mini-drawstring bag phase. Only five inches in height and knit in the round on tiny circular needles, they were addictive.  I gave them to family and friends as gifts. I sold them at the flea market (or at least tried to). I knit them in funky colors, like green and yellow tweed, and stuffed them in my dresser drawer. I didn't have a job at the time but wasn't too concerned about money because I sensed a MacArthur's genius grant was right around the corner for brilliancy in mini-drawstring bags.

Eventually I grew so tired of them that I couldn't bear the thought of knitting another one ... until recently. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, the urge to knit a mini-drawstring bag returned, a bright pink one that I could fill with candy.

Unfortunately, I ate all the candy before I could get a picture, so I filled it with a soft bunny instead.

I'm having a sweet Valentine's weekend. Lots of chocolate (dark with almonds and sea salt is my favorite), naps, crafting, and a viewing of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

Happy Valentine's Day to you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Knit Mitts

Last Saturday I woke up with an unexpected yearning to go yarn shop hopping. I guess my resolve not to buy more yarn until I made a substantial dent in my stash had run its course and it was time to resume shopping.

On weekends I move slowly, so there was only time to visit two of my local yarn shops. One of my purchases was a skein of gorgeous cotton variegated yarn called Pima Fresca from the Queensland Collection. I love the teal blue with the shades of brown, but I have to admit it looks better wound in a ball than it does knit up. I was hoping it would stripe nicely, but it was not to be.

The mitt pattern is an improvisation that only took a few hours to knit on size 9 needles. They are a bit loose and uneven, but the cotton feels warm and comforting, especially on my achy wrists. I didn't realize how chilly my hands get in my apartment at night until I put these babies on.

Speaking of babies, some day I will knit a pair for these little hands.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Athena the Eurasian Eagle Owl

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is Athena, a Eurasian Eagle Owl. I met her over the holidays when Hil, Lily and I visited the San Francisco Zoo. She is from Austria and was smuggled in to this country back in 2005 by a man who dyed 12 Eurasian Owl eggs to look like Easter eggs in order to get them past customs. It didn't work and the man went to Federal prison. Only three of the owlets survived, and Athena is one of them. She is huge and absolutely beautiful.

I can't explain why I am so drawn to owls, but I do know that it started over a decade ago when I used to see Great Horned Owls in the treetops on hikes near my home, which I wrote about here.

My obsession hasn't diminished over the years, and the recent popularity of owls is definitely helping to feed it. I love buying my niece Lily owl-themed toys and clothes, like this cute little shirt I just ordered for her from Cafe Press.

I really am still knitting and will write about that soon.