Sunday, May 31, 2009

Knitting in the great outdoors

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend 3 days camping at California's Eagle Lake. We're talking towering pine trees, quaking aspens, breathtaking sunsets, and the occasional kangaroo mouse. Of course, I didn't want to take my Gayle jacket into the wilderness (it's about the size of a lap blanket, all of the pieces now sewn together in one place or another. So, I had an excuse to start a new project and try my new Fibersphere.

Here's Marcus Aurelius testing it out before the trip. I think they all thought it was a really BIG cat toy, but my yarn was safe as promised!

I got to start my Eyelet Halter from Knit So Fine
It has a really cool hem, a picot edge that is created by knitting a row of eyelets and then folding the piece over and knitting the two sides together.

It was a relaxing, beautiful weekend (only one quick thunderstorm--last year it snowed while we were there!) and the sunsets were breathtaking. Sure makes it hard to leave when the weekend is over...but we had our work cut out for us this weekend. It was time (or maybe a little late) to get our garden started and put our starts in the ground. If I listed everything we planted you'd either think I'm nuts or that I'm a little over-paranoid about buying commercially grown produce (maybe a little of both, but really it's just an ambitious attempt at expanding our hobby!). Let's just say everything from artichokes to zucchini. ;-)

Oh, and we acquired another cat. I've been told that I'm not eligible for crazy cat lady status because a) I'm too young, and b) we'll be married in August--so I think that makes us the crazy cat couple. We didn't adopt this one though, he came to us by way of a family member who's no longer able to take care of him (how can you say no when you have the space?)...his name is Chicken, rightfully so--he hid under the bed for quite awhile before coming out to check out the house. I'm sure he'll find his way into blog pictures soon enough!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What does an egg timer have to do with knitting anyway??

I previously blogged about my unintended hiatus from knitting, crocheting, beading, and well anything the involves fine motor control in general. Well, this has clearly become more than one day off of what I love so much, it is rapidly moving toward a week, 2 weeks, heaven forbid a month without the wonderful feel of a beautiful yarn being pulled through my fingers as a stitch is created. I have definitely knit too much and while you may say, is there really such a thing as too much knitting, I will say yes apparently there is.

I even had to come home today and put ice on my shoulder, neck and hands. As I type this I have my elbows propped up on pillows and my laptop in my lap, so no strain is being exerted on my hands. Yes Sandy my posture is good and I stretched before I sat down. Sandy loaned me a terrific book by Frederikka T. Payne, published by the Ogier Trading Company which I think has saved my knitting life. I am looking into getting my own copy and have found a few helpful links (I will let you know if I find it and how you can get it if you are interested).

It is geared specifically to us knitters, crocheters and so on, that sometimes over do our art and how we can keep those hands, elbows, shoulders and fingers moving smoothly for years to come. I have taken it to heart and realize that sitting and knitting for hours on end is not healthy and that is where the egg timer comes in (see it sitting along with my ice pack on my computer). It is clicking along right now and when it goes off it will be time for me to get up and stretch and move a bit. Once I am back with my needles clicking away one stitch at a time, I am going to put my timer on for every 20 minutes and get up and stretch without fail. I wanted to share my trials with all of you in case you may be like me and just knit, knit, knit, knit, knit with no breaks, because this new regime should keep me on track for years to come and help me to knit for a long, long time. I hope you all are not as silly as I am and get up and stretch during your knitting sessions.

(hang on just a second the timer just went off gotta stretch :) (ok I am back now what was I saying? oh yea how to keep knitting)

While it is really hard for me not to pick up needles, hmmm just one little stitch won't hurt, WRONG!! I was doing pretty well with the hot/cold packs, anti inflammatory meds and exercises, then Sandy and I got together on Sunday and had a good ol' time. Bam, that night I was in pain, pain, pain!! What had I done, oh yea, knit. Ok I get the hint I need to NOT do even one stitch and let this get better, so I am being good!

Of course my anticipation at being able to knit again has caused me to add to my to do project list (Sandy doesn't help either, she just shows me all these great patterns and yarns all day long :) and I bought yarn for three projects today. I bought 4 hanks of the Cascade Pastaza Yarn (which is on sale), 3 balls of the Sublime in both the merino/angora and the mohair. I couldn't resist the Noro Kocohran Yarn, so added 3 hanks to my order. Maybe a hat and some mittens with that and as far as the Sublime, I am feeling Entrelac leg warmers, alternating between the angora and mohair each row. Luscious!

I also picked up the Fall 2006, Vogue Knit.1 magazine for cabled leg warmers (Sandy and I are going to cast on together) on page 34! Ok, ok, I know I can't knit right now, but what do you want to do when you are told don't do it (?) of course you want to do what you shouldn't and in this case it's knit!

I am also using my timer around the shop to remind me to stretch and to the left you see my little 'Eggy', sitting on a knit sample of a pattern from Rebecca 32, using the GGH Alexis and GGh Soft Kid yarns, yummmmy! It's a terrific over sized pullover that uses both of the yarns stranded together.

Below you can see my little 'Eggy' sitting on a new book just in, called Feminine Knits by Lene Holme Samsoe. I can't wait to work something up out of it.

Well as you can tell I am having a hard time NOT knitting, but nothing says I can't read about knitting, think about knitting, and plan future projects, right??

So remember to get up and stretch and now I am going to take my doggies for a walk and get the blood flowing.

As always, happy knitting and stretching! Jeanne

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back to the "real world" or at least the knitting world....

So, i've been off on a bit of a hiatus lately and i'm really excited to be back! I teach outdoor education in the spring and the fall with a local non-profit here in Reno and i've had the privilege of being up at outdoor school for the past few weeks molding the minds of America's youth. Sounds like a lot of pressure huh? Well actually, I just take kids out in the woods and teach them about science and stuff. You know, the usual. It's been a fun few weeks but I am so happy to be home where I am called by my actual name and not my "nature" name (which is Sequoia by the way) and where I can knit like crazy again.

Anyway, I have found some time to knit a bit and a lot of time to think about knitting so I have all kinds of fun new things to show you! First, my mom's Mother's Day gift was the Ishbel Shawl I talked about in my previous post. I just love the way the Noro Kureyon Sock is knitting up in this pattern. So bright and beautiful! I am thisclose to having it finished and although I know it's a bit late, she has already seen it and can't wait to wear it. I'll have it done soon mom, I promise!

A while back, Laura gave me a skein of a new Noro yarn we might start carrying and I whipped up this cute little slouchy hat that I am modeling in these somewhat terrible photos. It's gotten such rave reviews in the shop though that i'm currently working on the pattern for it. It should be ready soon along with a few more original Marinade designs patterns. Stay tuned...

So, I have decided that it is about time I to start knitting socks already!!! Everyone else is, so I might as well join the club. I picked up the new book by knit blogger Wendy Johnson from called Socks from the Toe Up. I know it's an unusual way to begin knitting socks but I really love the concept of knitting a sock this way. That way I can try it on as I go! I love it! I cast on this afternoon using the Figure 8 cast on as illustrated in the book and am knitting the Van Dyke Socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in last month's limited edition color "Robin's Eggs." (There are still a few left so get it while you can!) I think I am going to rip this out though and start over on a slightly smaller needle. I guess I am a looser knitter than I thought and I feel like a 1.5 would give me a better gauge. Oh Jeanne how you've made me such a perfectionist! Thank you. :) So far I am pleased with the pattern and I love this colorway of the Lorna's. I think it might even be my favorite so far...

I am so excited about these new little pendants in the shop. They are the Needle Gauge Pendants by Debra's Garden. They come in a bunch of colors and are super cute. I got a Wine colored one (so did Sandy and Jeanne) and I've been wearing it non-stop ever since. I love that one side has the needle sizes printed on it (0-17 US) and the other is blank so it kind of just looks like a cool little nautilus design. These are going to be great gifts for all of my knitter friends...

So now that things are calming down, I am looking forward to summer, getting my garden planted, lots of live music, swimming in Lake Tahoe, knitting a ton (of course) and meeting Baby Z who is due very soon.... We are playing the name game right now... Come out soon so we can meet you mystery boy!

Peace, Love and Knitting,

Kristen (aka. Sequoia) :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An ode to too much knitting...

Ok so maybe not quite an Ode, but a bit of a whine; I am sore and knitting is part of the problem. I am also sleeping on my shoulder in a way that is causing it to get worse. I am trying to sleep in a new way with pillows supporting the shoulder, on the other side, but alas, I fall asleep and seem to end up in the wrong position again. So I am having to curb my knitting and knit big yarn with big needles. It does help, but I have had to put my love for socks completely aside for the moment and even my Shoalwater Shawl is on hold. Boo Hoo poor me! Ok enough whinning!

I decided to do some stash diving and came up with some (discontinued) Rowan yarn, Chunky Print, for the Court House Steps, log cabin blanket from the first Mason Dixon Knitting. I am using a US 11, but don't despair if you don't have some Chunky Print hanging around, I highly recommend a look at the Lamb's Pride bulky for this one. I decided that I wanted to add a little color to the beige steps and grabbed some bulky in color, Prairie Fire.

How about really doing a soft snuggly Log Cabin in the Misti Alpaca Chunky, multi and solid? I love the patterns in the book and this is so fun and easy. I am going to just knit it until my stash is gone and then if it isn't the size I want, I will just add more Prairie Fire and do a mitered border.

Well back to the Advil for my hands and shoulder and off the help with your knitting projects.

As always happy knitting! Jeanne

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oh, frogging.

Have you ever gotten a solid 12 rows into a piece only to realize you've begun on the wrong side, or right side, as the case may be, when you needed to begin on the opposite? And what's worse--found there's no salvageable way around frogging the whole thing and starting over?

That's the tragedy of my Gayle this weekend--Saturday evening, while knitting the collar, and after having torn out 4 rows of cabling before it thinking I could still salvage the collar without starting it entirely over again, I discovered that I could not in fact work a yarn miracle. So, if you are like me and are not in fact capable of spinning fleece into gold or walking on water--be VERY, VERY sure that you know which side is the 'Wrong Side' and which side is the 'Right Side' before beginning any section that say, instructs you to pick up stitches along the Right Side of jacket, Wrong Side of collar. Sure, it sounds simple enough....

...after tearing out the entirety of the collar, and beginning again I'm happy to report it nearly finished!

I took a break in the knitting for a little day trip to celebrate our three-year anniversary (yeah, the dating anniversary of course--the wedding is still *gasp* three months away!). We took a drive through Carson City and stopped at the Nevada History Museum, then on up to Virginia City (round trip about 70 miles from our house) for The Way it Was Museum (see photo below--I'm a sucker for cheesy photo ops), ice cream cones, and an old time photo from one of those shops that has the costumes all ready to go. Tourist-y activities aside, it is pretty cool to have a historical site like that so close to home...


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May I toot my own horn?

Why yes I think I will toot my own horn! I have to thank Laura so much for all of her support for my designs from my company 2 Askew Designs. I am in partnership with my knitting mentor and friend Allison Judge and at long last I have 2 more patterns ready to add to our list. I have 2 more that I should have ready in the next couple of weeks, just a little more tweeking on those :) You know it is so hard to get what I have in my head and a pile of notes, out onto a piece of paper so that you can get it into your head, but it's worth it!

The first pattern (that a wonderful customer just nudged me about the other day) is a Picot Lace Scarf and uses the Picot Cast On and Picot Cast off which we did these instructional videos for. In the picture you can see my lovely models, Kate & Ali, wearing the scarf in a scarf style and a neck wrap style. I love the thrift stores and one of the pins came from a great one here in Reno that I frequent looking for treasures. You can also check it out on our project log here.

Thanks to Kate & Ali for helping me out and posing, aren't they so good together. I just love the contrast and I had just taught Ali how to knit and helped Kate with some fingerless mitts she is making. They are friends of my daughter, who is the primary model in most of my patterns and which you can see here on our site. Allison uses her beautiful daughters to model for her and boy are we lucky, as all of our kids had a great dip in the gene pool :)

I used the Lorna's Laces Greenline Worsted and Artyarns Supermerino for these yummy scarves. I can't say enough about both of these yarns and can't wait to work something else up in them soon.

The other pattern is a pair of socks and for any of you who know me that is not unusual. I have been dubbed the sock queen at work and while I don't feel I deserve the honor it has stuck. I am ALWAYS knitting socks, sheesh give it a rest will ya?

These are called Picot Ribbed Socks and were so much fun to work on. I used Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Yarn in one of our Limited Edition colors. Thanks again to Kate for loaning me her feet :)

They should be available for sale real soon and I thank all of you who have supported our budding design company! I happen to know that Allison is working on a vest that is soooooooo neat and a set of lace wash cloths too!

As always, Happy Knitting! Jeanne :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A brief break...

The epic Gayle jacket saga continues...this weekend with the blocking of the back and front pieces, seaming of the shoulders, and the knitting of the collar! I used the recommended Back Stitch for the shoulder seams (I learned how using my trusty Vogue Ultimate Knitting Book--thanks, Mom!).

This project has really reinforced my belief that with enough patience and perseverance anyone really can knit anything. It sounds ridiculous, but before this project my knitting experience included five scarves, three beanies, two baby blankets, two sets of wrist warmers, a pullover, a cardigan....and um, a partridge in a pear tree...all of which were more or less in garter stitch with an eyelet here or there, and here's this gargantuan thing that, given, has taken me months to complete (knock on wood, haha...) but is waaaaaaaay more advanced than anything I could have dreamed up. I mean really, could I have picked a more complex knit? Ok, probably yes...but still, my point is that I just took a deep breath and dove in...asked a question here and there and broke open my knitting manual more than once...and here it is, well, almost!

Anyway, I just have to say...don't be afraid to tackle a project that's a bit outside your comfort zone. Just be patient with yourself and don't be afraid to make a frog-worthy mistake!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring is in the air and things from Down Under

Spring is finally in the air here in Reno (I love all weather) and I must admit that it is nice to be warm. I can start to think about my garden, hiking in the hills and just enjoying the outdoors.

Amber is back from Australia and New Zealand and I hate to admit it (because it goes to her head :) but she was sorely missed! She brought back goodies for all of us, thanks Amber, and here is a pic of my Roo that will hop around my desk at home. He is holding onto our May Limited Edition Yarn by Lorna's Laces, African Violet, in Lion and Lamb.

Chocolate was included and boy was it YUMMY (no picture that is already gone)! Those Aussies know what they are up to when it comes to treats!

Of course we are all getting ready for our newest little bean, 'Rock', who will be making an appearance sometime at the end of this month.

I think both Laura and Doug are ready to move forward and of course all of us parents know about this wait. I am always thinking about knitting for the little stinker and maybe will work on the Noni pattern, Froggie Towel & Scrubby. I think I'll use the Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton yarn for this one. Shhhhh don't tell them haha!

I had a wonderful surprise today when one of my regular customers, Linda, came in to show off her AMAZING Noro Kureyon yarn sweater! She used a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern, 9724, and shortened it up at the bottom a bit. Way to go Linda and thanks for the Show-n-tell!

Of course I am knitting too and since I finished my Offset Raglan from Simple Style, I picked up my Shoalwater Shawl again which I am doing in Noro Silk Garden sock yarn. I just can't say how much I love the pattern and the yarn! I know this will be one of my favorite shawls.

Well, I better get back to work and make sure you all have what you need for your projects, knit on!

Jeanne :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Drumroll please....

OK not really, the Gayle is (sighhhhhh) still under construction. BUT I have taken the sleeves off of the circulars and gone to five double points to complete the shaping. It's almost there...PROMISE! You know how much faster it goes when you get to the top of the sleeve and get to start casting off at each side! Luckily, one lesson I had the forethought to learn before using the trial-and-error method was to do just that--take one sleeve off of the circulars onto double points and start knitting back and forth rather than in the round beginning with the first cast-off rows. Although with a little creativity it might be possible without going to DPNs, I really don't have the ingenuity for all of that right now!!

The last couple of weeks have been a little crazy in the shop...Amber was lucky enough to have spent the last two weeks in Australia/New Zealand visiting family and let me tell you, the shop just wasn't the same without her. It sure was nice to have reign over the radio ;-) but I'm glad she's back!

It rained most of the weekend, but we did manage to plant a few bushes in the front yard to replace the dead ones we dug out (between torrential downpours). Though we'd planned to go with what was there before, a purple sage or something along those lines, a trip to Costco this weekend and a bargain on 5 gallon shrubs landed us with three Spirea bushes. They're really pretty, I can't wait until the 'Princess' (pink) one blooms! It should look like this:


Friday, May 1, 2009

1 Kureyon Sock Finished, 1 to go... Knitting/Diaper Bag?

I finished a sock! Notice that i said "a sock" and not "a pair of socks"... LOL. Don't know if i'll ever finish the 2nd one, to be quite honest. I used 1/2 hank of the Kureyon Sock (on sale) in color 164 - and have included more pattern details here. To be perfectly honest, this one didn't take me nearly as long as i had expected - and i really enjoyed knitting it. I had been searching for a pattern that was interesting, yet didn't require too much brain power (since i'm currently at a loss in that area). And this pattern turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. Now i just need to figure out what i'm going to knit next.

I am about 1/2 way done with my Mission Falls 1824 Cotton Bob Blanket, but now i'm not sure if i still like it... sigh. why do i always do this? I get about halfway through a project and then start to second guess myself... "are these colors right? do i like the texture? Does it look nice or too handmade?" Anyway, I knit 4 rows on it last night (even though it's just garter stitch, it takes me a little while because i have to cut the yarn at the end of each row and then do the braid work)... and figured that i'd probably just buck up and finish it. :)

On a separate (but still knitting) note, I recently took photos of all of the great knitted gifts we received for the baby. I'm going to try and gradually post them all on the blog, so you can see what a treat this baby is in for! First up is the absolutely ADORABLE Baby Bobbi Bear & Seaside Sweater knit by one of our most fun customers, Sandy. Isn't he just the best?? And I love the top down sweater (and the hooded jacket in the background). I have a feeling that kid is going to be carrying little Bobbi around every day! Speaking of babies, I'm due to have mine in just 28 days... and I am sooo excited to get my body back. My comfort level definitely goes up and down - and i realize that it could be much worse, but sometimes it's a real pain! I guess that's why i haven't been knitting as much - sitting on the couch at the end of the day just isn't as relaxing as it used to be. Not much longer, though. So, since the kid is arriving soon, I've been thinking (and thinking) about whether or not I need to get a diaper bag. As of today, we're having a weeklong Offhand Designs Mother's Day Bag Sale (at 25-30% off, we're trying to move some older colors/styles to make room for new ones) and i've been eyeing the Aquavite colorway for quite a few weeks now - it's blue and brown and complements the nursery, etc. I'm thinking that the Sabrina style might make the best diaper bag, since it has 2 different compartments (shown below) .... but i can't decide between that one (on sale) and the smaller Audrey bag. Too many decisions!

Thoughts?? Suggestions?

--Laura (Jimmy)