Ammons II

Look, I made another skein of Ammons yarn! It’s the one one the right. I tried to make it thinner and more tightly spun than the first skein, so it would be more similar to the red yarn I spun earlier that I plan to stripe it with, and it looks like I succeeded! By accident, the colors lined up pretty well in plying, so there’s less of the barber-pole effect and more runs of solid color — which I wasn’t particularly trying for, but it looks nice! I was wrong earlier when I thought that I’d spun half of the Targhee — each of these is about 1/3 of it, and there’s another 1/3 of it left unspun. But this new skein is probably enough for what I have in mind, and I’ll figure something else out for the worsted-weight skein. So I’ve gone back to spinning the red Corriedale fiber, until I have enough of that for the project I have in mind. Unfortunately, it’s become clear to me that I won’t be able to start on this knitting-with-my-handspun project until the new year; I have a couple of holiday knitting commitments as well as some smaller projects I intend to travel with, and it seems senseless to plan to cast on for this in the middle of all that while also on vacation. (And of course, before I leave, I will finish my cardigan! Mark my words.)

The other photo I have for you today is of one of my plants on the back porch; they have been flowering gloriously this autumn:

Oh southern California, sometimes I mourn your lack of traditional seasons — and sometimes I love having flowers and sunshine all year round.


Hey, look! A new location! For once in our lives, Pat & I traveled to a slightly different place in our apartment complex to take these photos. And frankly, I like this spot better– it’s greener, and there are no cars passing by silently judging me for posing like a fashion model in elaborate knitwear.

This is Suzanna IC’s Abrazo, from the most recent issue of Twist Collective, which is jam-packed with amazingness — I urge you to check it out if you haven’t already. These sorts of scarf-shawl hybrids seem to be all the rage at the moment, and Suzanna IC herself is “so hot right now,” with two scarf-shawls in Twist, one in Knitty, one in Interweave, two in Knitcircus, and one in Yarn Forward — all in this season alone! Suzanna’s patterns are basically all for laceweight yarn, whereas most of the examples of this trend that I see are patterns written for sock yarn that’s too precious to make into socks: Corrina Ferguson has a ton of them, for example. As a person who loves to knit lace but who has been having trouble fitting proper shawls into her youthful wardrobe, I welcome this trend with open arms.

This is the only picture where you can see the beads, so look hard — they’re especially visible on the parts of the shawl that are over my arms. I used size 8/0 clear glass seed beads — the ones I had initially bought for my Aeolian Shawl before I had a fit of the crazies and decided to use even tinier 11/0 beads.  The yarn I used is Squoosh Fiberarts‘ Sublime Lace in the “Cedar” colorway. You may remember it from my ill-fated attempt to knit Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight Cardigan. That was a stupid idea in the first place, given how tedious I found knitting her much smaller Whisper Cardigan, and the final nail in the coffin of that project was that this is superwash yarn, which means it wasn’t going to fuzz up and fill in the holes that knitting laceweight at such a large gauge would create. So I decided to knit this Abrazo right away as a preventative measure — if I used up enough of the yarn on something else, I couldn’t return to that stupid idea even if I wanted to. I had, like, 1800 yards of this yarn to begin with, and this shawl used up maybe 450, so I still have tons leftover — I figure I’ll use it for a big fancy wrap one of these days.

For this picture, Pat urged me to “be a dinosaur.”

All in all, I really enjoyed this project — it went lightning-fast, especially once the lace part was over. The rows are of course very long, but there really aren’t that many of them in the final analysis. And it’s a very versatile piece — it’s lacy, it’s shawly, it’s scarfy, and it stays put in a wrapped-up position much better than triangular shawls do. I’ll probably be making some more of these!

And now for some more miscellaneous pictures I didn’t get to show you yesterday:

This pretty little thing is a circular needle case that Pat got me for my birthday. Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s from this Etsy seller, if you’re interested. Here’s the inside view:

This is something I’d been needing for a long time — my circular needles had just been a big bundle of chaos in my craft bureau for years. Here, I’ve organized them by size, so it’s easy for me to tell at a glance whether I have the needle I need or not!

Aaaand one last gratuitous shot of my plants:

Look at all those flowers! I’m astonished at how early they’ve come out; this plant was still flowering when I bought it in September or October of last year, so I’m looking forward to a long summer of pretty purple flowers. My other plant hasn’t started flowering yet, but I’m hoping it will soon!

Spring Resurrection

Bet you never thought you’d see this again, did you? I bought the yarn LAST March, at Article Pract in Oakland on last year’s spring break, started knitting this in June, finished knitting it in July and experienced a soul-crushing grafting fail, shelved it for August while I worked on a shawl for my friends’ wedding, picked it back up in September and almost finished all the damn grafting and seaming, but once colder weather came here to stay I just couldn’t make myself care about it anymore. It sat on the “naughty” pile all winter, and just about a week ago I picked it up again. All I had left was one small seam and a million billion ends to weave in, so I resolved to spend about 20 minutes a day on it, and like magic, this morning I found myself finished!

This is the sort of garment that makes you want to prance around; it’s pretty woodsprite-core. But then again, so am I. One of the things I try to do with my knitting is make things that I couldn’t possibly find in a store, and this project — Nadine, from French Girl Knits — fits that bill perfectly. The yarn and texture are just fantastic:

Most people on Ravelry who have made this have flipped the leaf-lace panels you see here so that the knit side is facing out, but I decided I liked the bumpy texture of the purl side and the contrast it makes with the knit front and back panels, so I followed the pattern the way it was written. My one modification was shortening the straps; when I pinned the straps in place I found that they were too long, so I ripped out about two inches off the top of each of them before seaming them to the back panel. The yarn, Bee Sweet Bambino, is a loosely-plied mix of soft cotton strands and bamboo strands, which gives it a really rustic look.

Here’s a long shot where you can see the whole thing pretty well:

What you perhaps can’t see here is the fear in my eyes — I’m doing my best to smile, but that picturesque bush next to me is swarming with bees, which I am allergic to. 😦

Ultimately I am very happy with the finished product — it fits perfectly (I made the 40″ size, for zero ease), and it looks cute, and I can wear it to all my music festivals & Burning Man events. But if you want my completely honest opinion, you probably shouldn’t bother with this. The knitting was easy enough, but the finishing was seriously, SERIOUSLY horrifying. There are FOUR 80+ stitch kitchener-stitch grafts, each of which took me at least an hour and a half to complete, and for most of them you have to pick up 80+ stitches on one side or the other before you can even begin. At the very end of the pattern, after you’ve done all your grafting and seaming and crochet-edging (and incidentally, the pattern doesn’t tell you to edge the neck and back in crochet, but in the pictures in the book you can clearly see that this has been done), Kristeen expects you to pick up 200 stitches around the bottom and purl 1 round and then bind off, as a tiny little hem. Here’s how I felt about that:

Aww, who can stay mad at a pattern that comes out so cute? I just ignored that instruction and crocheted around the bottom too; there was no way I was going through ANY more hassle with this thing.

Fortunately, my Audrey in Unst cardigan falls on the complete opposite side of the hassle-spectrum:

Knit bottom-up all in one piece — no seaming at all! One whole arm is done; now I just have to knit the other one. And the button bands, and the neck edging. This should be done pretty soon!

In further spring news, I got my plants little stands this week so that they can get more sun — here is the whole happy family:

See? I told you that you wouldn’t be able to see any flowers on these things in a longer shot. But soon, soon there ought to be more. I’m hoping that the creeping plant will creep up and over the edge of the balcony; I think that would be pretty cool.


My plectranthus plants have made it through the winter, and lo and behold: they are starting to flower! Well, this one is. A little bit. If I were to show you a longer shot of the plant, you wouldn’t actually be able to see any flowers, because the three you can see here (two in the foreground, one in the back on the upper right) are literally 100% of them so far. But I think this is a solid sign that after six damn years in southern California, I have finally learned how to keep plants happy in this climate. In my first year of grad school, I bought a whole bunch of plants that died of neglect within four months — because I just couldn’t remember to water them often enough, and in more humid areas that’s less of a problem — and I was so wracked with guilt (yes, plant-death guilt) that I didn’t try to grow anything else for years. At the end of my third year of grad school, I inherited a peace lily from my ex, who had received it as a gift at his office and was leaving it behind when he was moving away, and I’ve managed to keep that alive just because it refuses to die. I think of that plant a lot like Holly Golightly thinks of her cat: we don’t belong to each other, I just water it occasionally as long as it deigns to stick around. These plectranthus plants that I bought last fall represent the first time I’ve been particularly invested in any plants in awhile, and I’m really pleased that they’re doing so well.

I’ve finally come to my senses (read: changed my mind a third time) about that Hedgehog Fibres cashmere, and realized that I don’t need another raspberry-red rectangular scarf. So instead, I have begun knitting it into an Ishbel:

Ishbel, as you know unless you have been living under a rock and/or are not yourself a knitter (and bless your hearts, you non-knitter readers), is a wildly popular scarf/shawl pattern that Ysolda released about a year ago. I love Ysolda and her designs dearly, but I was a snob about this particular pattern when it came out: I was a real lace knitter, a lace-knitting ninja capable of executing complex charted patterns without a lifeline while pounding shots of tequila. This pattern, by contrast, is cited by zillions of Ravelers as their first foray into lace knitting and is eminently non-intimidating. But simple is exactly what I needed with this highly-variegated yarn, and when I realized that a little triangle scarf might be just the thing to distinguish this project from the one I just finished, I found myself thinking of Ishbel again. It’s zipping along, providing a break when I get bored of all the stockinette involved in my Audrey cardigan, and it’s delightfully weightless.

My Audrey cardigan is coming along, but it’s not much to look at just yet. I’ve finished the fronts and the back, done the shoulder join, and knitted one of the sleeve caps. I’ll show it to you again next time, I promise. I have, however, gotten started on yet another a new project:

This is the very beginning of what will be a sort of modernist log-cabin blanket that I am knitting for some friends who are getting married later this month. The blanket will NOT be completed by then, but I figure I’ll send them a nice card and an IOU, and by the time it starts getting chilly again they’ll have a brand-new stylish blanket to keep them warm. I’ve been wanting to knit one of these since I stumbled across the basic recipe a few months ago, and I think it’s going to be fun, but the finishing is clearly going to drive me batty. There will be a zillion ends to weave in (I’ll do them for each block separately as I finish it, I suppose), and ultimately I’ll have to sew together a million of these squares. Expect melodramatic cursing of self, friends, marriage, God, etc. Fun for the whole family!

Olympic Knitting & Balcony Gardening

I’m not officially participating in any version of the Knitting Olympics, in that I did not cast on these socks during the opening ceremonies nor do I plan to finish them in time for the closing ceremonies, but the Olympic spirit did move me to choose this particular snowflake motif at this particular time. These are Anne Hanson’s Rimefrost socks, knit in MacKintosh Yarns’ Celtic Sock Yarn, in the Aubergine colorway. I was powerless to resist this purple/gray colorway when I discovered it, and in addition to buying a skein of it I immediately notified Hirophasic, who shares my love of purple/gray and gray/purple. I rather like the idea of having color-buddies — people with whom to swap pictures of particularly stunning examples of the colors we love, whether in yarn form or otherwise. So purple/gray is covered, but if anybody out there wanted to be my very-dark-blue/turquoise buddy, or my deep red/brown buddy, or my range-of-dark-greens buddy, I would be pretty thrilled.

As you can see in the picture, I’m done with one sock and am through the cuff on the other. This pattern is great; it goes fast, looks complicated, but is pretty easy to follow and it’s easy to tell if you made a mistake before things get too drastic. And the yarn is great, too; it’s a lighter-weight sock yarn, and combined with the lacy pattern it’s knitting into something that I wouldn’t necessarily call a winter sock, but that’s just fine for California.

I’ve also been making some pretty decent progress on my Fernfrost scarf, which is about 2/3 of the way done:

It’s a great pattern too, but the chart can be a little intense, and I’m grateful to have the easier Rimefrost sock to zip through as a break from it. I feel a little silly knitting all these patterns with “frost” in the name, while my friends & family on the east coast battle through Snowpocalypsemaggeddon 2010 and I put on a sweater when it gets down to 65 degrees, but we have been having one of the wettest, coldest winters that I’ve ever seen since I moved to California. And my plants have been loving it! Remember when I brought these guys home?

That was them in November, out on our balcony right after I transplanted them into those big pots. After all the rain this winter, this is them now:

They’ve lost their flowers, but that’s normal for winter — the flowers should be back in the spring or summer. I’m so pleased; after a disastrous try at balcony gardening when I first moved to California & didn’t quite understand how often plants need to be watered in such a dry climate, I was worried that I had lost my green thumb. But I haven’t even had to water these guys in about a month; I check their soil every week, but it’s always moist from the rains. I keep meaning to get them a bench or something so they can get more of the sun that comes in over the edge of our balcony, but they look to be doing pretty well without it. Hooray!

Botanic Prophecies Fulfilled


I finished my brother’s hat at least a week ago — I think it was the day after my last post — but it’s taken me awhile to get around to weaving in the ends & photographing it. The Botanic Hat is reversible, and this is the side I prefer, since the ribs offer visual interest. I’m pretty happy with how it came out! My brother is the variety of 25-year-old male who started his own company with his friends because he hated working in an office and who goes rock climbing in his spare time, so I think this hat will be right up his alley. Here’s the other side:


Overall I definitely recommend this pattern; it’s easy, and it’s cleverly designed. I didn’t have a 16″ circular needle in the right size, so I knit the whole thing on double-pointed needles, and that turned out to be a great choice. The stitch count is evenly divisible by 4, and there are ribs right at the ends of the needles which prevents laddering. Plus the crown decreases are spaced out so that they happen at the beginning and the end of your DPNs, so there’s no need to use stitch markers. Brilliant!

You may recall that last time, I showed you my sunflower sprouts and said that I was thinking about getting some more plants. Well, that prophecy has been fulfilled.  I was driving home from work on Saturday, and a little miffed about having to go to work on a Saturday in the first place (for one lousy appointment!), when I saw a sign for a plant sale at my university’s arboretum. It’s funny how putting an idea in writing can turn it into a reality — I don’t think I would have instantly decided to go to the sale if I hadn’t written that blog entry last week. I came home with these:


A Plectranthus verticillatus, and


A “Dark Dancer” Plectranthus hybrid. They’re both hardy plants and well-suited to the dry weather here, so hopefully I won’t kill them quite as quickly as I did my last batch of leafy friends. Here they’re in the little pots they came from the arboretum in, but I’ve since transplanted them into some of the large ceramic pots that my last roommate left here when she moved — you can see one of those in the background of this second picture. But I don’t have any good pictures of these plants in their new pots, and I’m scheming to get little stands for them so they’re not quite as shaded by the sides of the balcony, so I’ll show you them again when they’re in a more permanent arrangement.

Just one more Christmas present to go! Stay tuned.