Happy Darwin Day!

Today is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. Whether or not you believe in evolution (in the interest of full disclosure: I do, and I have never found anything about it that contradicts my religious beliefs), you can't deny that Darwin forever changed the dialogue about the history of life on earth (not to mention making the Galapagos Islands a hot vacation destination). So Happy Birthday, Darwin!

A Bog JacketRecognize it? The same friend who gave me her extensive collection of Knitter's Magazines a while back has decided it's time to divest herself of her wool as well. Yesterday, M came home with a couple of bags of yarn and this nearly completed item. I knew immediately what it was when I pulled it out of the bag: garter stitch, false seam stitches about 1/4 of the way in on each side, stitches held on waste yarn after about 18", more stitches cast on on either side after the waste yarn.... Yep, it's a bog jacket. She had it nearly finished when they moved here to to Tucson and she knew she'd never wear it (it IS heavy). I'm planning on finishing it, though, and sending it off to someone in the north who is often cold. I like nearly-instant FOs.

[Chris (the friend) is from the midwest and has been to many retreats with Meg and Elizabeth (knitters who need no last names, n'est-ce pas?). I am soooo jealous.]

DSCN0792On the not-so-instant, but still sailing along quite quickly front, the Shetland Triangle is growing. Here it is in all its lumpy-bumpy, hot pink glory (if you can believe it, it's even hotter pink than it looks in the pic). In this picture, I've done about 90 of the 100 rows the pattern calls for before working the edging chart. I plan on doing probably at least 150 rows before the edging, however, because I want this one to be a nice, big wrappable shawl rather than the tiny little shawl shown in the book -- and I've got plenty of yarn.

Been fighting a cold most of this week which has had me a little blue. It has, however, given me great opportunity to snuggle under my new blankie, and that's been quite fab.

*1816 photo of Charles Darwin is in the public domain, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

I Believe in Stocks

No, not the kind they trade on Wall Street (in that case, I would have to call it hope more than faith). I believe in the kind of stocks that used to sit in the public square. You know, the criminal would be captured by the hands and/or feet, and the townspeople would be free to tell said person exactly what they thought of his/her crimes? And if that "telling" involved rotten fruits and vegetables, well, so be it. Yeah, those kind of stocks.

Why? This has a lot to do with it. Stealing money from Wall St fat cats (while still illegal) is one thing, but this man has stolen from charities, schools, churches, hospitals, and at least one 91-year-old retired machinist. G*d may forgive, but my human heart wonders if there's earthly punishment equal to this crime.

Lace Garland ShawlBut we mustn't dwell, so on to happier things. There has been knitting (and a whole lot of pinning) going on here at the not-a-parsonage. First up is the completed -- and already beloved -- Lace Garland Shawl.

Pattern: Lace Garland Shawl from Knitter's Winter 1987 and Shawls and Scarves: Best of Knitter's Magazine. [rav links]
Yarn: 2-ply Shetland in lilac that has been marinating in the stash
Needles: an assortment of Inox #6 (started out with 2 circs, switched to magic loop, and finished on one 36")

It blocked (after using every blocking and straight pin I could find -- hope for the sake of our next guest that I got them all out of the futon) to around 54", and it is so light and airy and yet still quite warm. I have a plan for its eventual disposition, but that's still a ways away.

The chart for this pattern (at least the one in the magazine from which I worked) took a little getting used to as it is recreated directly from the old doily pattern the shawl is based on and the symbols and layout do not match the standard ones used by today's patterns (in the magazine, at least, there is no text, just the chart). Once I got used to the "new language," though, it was fairly smooth sailing.

A DoilyNext up in the lace-and-blocking fest is a little doily that I promised the round table in the living room. After much exploring over at Yarnover, I settled on Laura, because she is fairly small, and I liked the swirling pattern (which I noticed while pinning is very similar to the center pattern on the Lace Garland shawl). The yarn is an 8/2 unmercerized cotton millend I bought at WEBS originally to make towels with (I have a different thought in the back of my mind now, though), and I knit it on a size 4 needle. The fabric is perhaps a little denser than I would ideally like, but it works okay with this pattern. I also did my own edging because I could not figure out the edging directions in the pattern. I wound up just double-crocheting two stitches together, chaining 2, then repeating all the way around (doing two double crochets in the stiches above the points in the lace), ending with a slip stitch at the top of the first dc.

Here it is "at work":
A Doily
shown off by some of our collection of Willow Tree angels -- a friend got us a couple as wedding presents and it's just kinda taken off from there. You can see more of the collection playing the heavenly host in our manger scene (scroll down).

A Shetland SwatchLast, but not least, is "Something Hot Pink". I wanted to see if this hot pink 4/10 wool we had would work for the Shetland Triangle in Wrap Style. I was curious both about the weight of the yarn (it's sport and the pattern calls for fingering) and how well it will drape (it is, after all, a fairly basic, heavily processed wool). So I cast on and did one repeat of each of the three charts then blocked the heck out of it. Not only do I love the fabric density, but the soaking and blocking gave it the perfect drape for a shawl.

Will probably cast on for the shawl tonight, and -- since the cat seems unimpressed with it -- will send the sample to my niece as a shawl or blanket for her dolls.

And one final note, for John McCain: You lost the election last November in large part because we didn't trust you to get us safely out of this economic mess your compatriots got us into; do you really think we're anxious to hear your opinions about the stimulus plan?

* Stocks photo © Austen Redman, via Wikimedia Commons

"You Must Knit Me a Hat ... With Ears"

Some of you know that by training I am a librarian, and I worked as a librarian for years until marriage and a few moves and other stuff got me out of the library field and into a job just to have a job. Wasn't very good at that other job; didn't particularly enjoy that other field; found an opportunity to return to a library into a job I loved right before M was offered the church here in Tucson.

Caitlin's HatSo, I left the library job I loved and moved here. What with the economy and the difficulty of finding a job here unless you know people, and the dog who really needs to be watched during the day and all that, I didn't find a library job when we moved down here, so I found something close, something that allows me to work from home and use my information science background. Perfect -- at least the dog, who gets to "go to work" with Mommy every day thinks so.

In order to a) get to know people in the library system; b) keep my library chops somewhat oiled; and c) get out of the house and interacting with creatures on two legs once in a while, I volunteer one night a week for three hours at the local library branch. Since I'm a librarian, I actually get to do a lot of stuff as a volunteer that others don't (yeah, so I do the work of a library clerk and don't get paid).

One of the clerks at the branch where I work is a 20-something college student who has been working in the library system since she was 15, wants to be a librarian when she grows up, and is just all-round fun to talk to. One slow night, I found a copy of One Skein Wonders on the shelves where I was weeding and showed the pattern for the Jamaica Pouch to Caitlin with an oddly proud, "I designed this."

I swear, the next words out of her mouth were, "You knit? Then you must knit me a hat ... with ears." Okay, there might have been other words in there, but that was the gist of the conversation. In return she promised me the vegan baked good of my choice.

So, this is that hat. The hat itself is the Adults-Only Devil Hat by Kitty Schmidt from Stitch 'n Bitch; the ears are of my own devising; yarn is Madil Merino Mix 100 in white.

Tonight I deliver it to Caitlin. I do hope she likes it.

PS. Why is it that some vegans don't wear animal fibers? I mean, I can understand fine silks whose creation requires the killing of silkworms, but wool? I grew up around sheep ranches -- those creatures are pretty well cared for.

Okay, so I have my own aversion to using food or feed crops for anything but food or feed, so we all have our hangups, right.

Not Louie

NOT LouieFor some reason that only she understands, B has this attraction to the dog's bed. She has her very own smooshy bed (you can see the bit of blue next to the dog's bed in the picture), but she never sleeps on it. Instead, she spends at least some part of every day napping on the poor dog's bed. Sometimes he walks into the bedroom and sighs heavily then lays down on the floor next to the bed. Get that: 11-pound cat has 60-pound dog wrapped around her paw.

The biggest confusion is this arrangement comes from the fact that B is a very fastidious cat. She is clean and proper and otherwise just the complete cat. And the dog's bed, well, it smells like a dog. And it smells like a dog with spaniel skin. Yet there she is snoozing away every chance she gets.

NOT LouieShe also has this weird habit of crawling BETWEEN the folds of the comforter I keep in the corner of the office for the dog to sleep on while I'm working. Some day I'm not going to be able to stop him before he lays on her, I just know it.

B's other favorite places to hang include a basket full of towels in the corner of the office, the back of M's chair in the family room, on top of the large stuffed alligator on the bed, M's desk chair. She likes smooshy, obviously.

Lace Garland ShawlSo, after knitting the blankie, I must have caught some circular lace bug because I immediately cast on for this Lace Garland Shawl from Knitter's #9 (also published in Shawls & Scarves: the best of Knitter's Magazine). I have been attracted to this shawl since a friend gave me her collection of Knitter's Magazines a few months ago. I even had a 2-ply Shetland in just about the same color as the shawl in the magazine. Currently, I am working on round 115 of 142. It's going quite quickly, and I am thoroughly enjoying the knitting. It's just interesting enough not to get bored, but simple and repetitive enough that I could knit it while watching the U of A gymnastics meet last Friday (we have season tickets).

I think the Hemlock Ring Blanket started something because now I've become slightly obsessed with vintage doily patterns. In fact, I have lost quite a few hours perusing Yarnover. To show how obsessed I have become: when I was putting the living room back together after finally getting the last of the Christmas decorations out of it, I looked at a small round table that sits between two chairs and said to myself, "that table needs a doily". And dontcha know, I'm going to make it one. Heaven knows there's enough fine cotton around here and enough doily patterns on the Internet.

Tonks SockBut first I will finish my shawl. I'm kinda liking this project monogamy thing.

Well, okay, socks don't count anymore than sock yarn does, and Tonks was calling to me. Simple stockinette, toe-up, short-row heel, great for knitting during conference calls and other situations that would otherwise inspire fidgeting.

M and the Gauge Monster

Nihon Kimono JacketM really wants to make herself a sweater. She did a rather basic and boxy jacket/sweater out of kochoran (yeah, I know, that's practical here in Tucson), but she wants to make herself a nice cardigan to wear when it gets chilly here. But the gauge monster hates her.

We find a nice pattern, she dutifully makes a gauge swatch, washes and measures the swatch, sees that her gauge is a little off and so goes down a needle size and repeats. This time the gauge is just right after washing. So, she casts on for the sweater (using the same needle with which she made the gauge swatch). After a couple of inches of knitting it becomes painfully apparent that the sweater she is now knitting would fit, well, both of us at the same time.

This is the second time this has happened to her, on only the second time she's attempted to care about gauge when knitting a sweater. Two different patterns, two different yarns (though both were cotton blends which might have something to do with it). So, I get gauge swatches waived at me and my partner asking, "why, why, when she does what she's supposed to, does she still wind up with issues." I think her problem may be cotton (she's a loose knitter), so now begins the work to convince her that finer wools WILL work here in Tucson.

Nihon Kimono JacketSpeaking of finer wools, as you can see from the above picture the Nihon Kimono is done. And I LOVE it. It fits nicely, and the shadow stripes are perfect. I even found just the right thing to keep it closed.

Back when I had long hair, a friend bought be this very nice sterling silver hair pin with a marble captured in a cage. Now that I have short hair, it has just sat there without a purpose. Well, I have given it a purpose, and it works beautifully (and no, I am not in danger of stabbing myself -- it's rather blunt).

Pattern: Nihon Japanese Kimono from Shadow Knitting
Yarn: Harrisville Designs New England Shetland in Aubergine (MC), Periwinkle and Lilac.
Mods: Well... there were no deliberate modifications, but I realized when I was almost done with side #1 that I was doing an extra row of the lilac every repeat (6 instead of 5), and that made for a squeak-y finish (I had about 2 yards of the lilac left when I finished).

Hemlock Ring BlankieWith the jacket and the unbloggable sample knit done, it was time to move on to other projects, and (as I mentioned in my last post) I chose Jared's Hemlock Ring Blanket -- a project I thought I would enjoy and that would keep me busy for a while.

I was right about the enjoy part, but very mistaken about the keeping me busy part. Oh, but first the yarn. I hit the stash and found a cone of a bulky Shetland wool -- a few years ago, WEBS had this fabulous Shetland called "Brora" as a millend. It came in some great colors, was delightfully greasy (I like greasy wools), and I bought many, many cones of it. From the same mill also came a slightly heavier wool in smaller quantities and a smaller selection of colors. I bought one cone of that in a dark sage color originally to make a jacket I never finished. It goes perfectly with my chair in the family room, so it was just right.

Icky Grease in the WaterBut it didn't last that long. I started the blanket on Friday and finished it on Sunday. It may have been a heavier than usual knitting weekend for me, but still, it was a fast knit. Of course, the blocking then took nearly a week because I actually blocked it in sections since I did not have enough t-pins to pin out all those loops in the edging.

Pattern: Hemlock Ring Blanket by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed
Yarn: Brora Chunky, sage
Mods: I went up a needle size since the yarn is a little heavier than Eco Wool, but other than that I followed the pattern and stopped where Jared stopped his
Size: After blocking, it's just over 4' wide -- perfect lap blanket size.

That icky sink picture is just to show how greasy the yarn really was -- and that was the SECOND soak.

Okay, enough for now. Will get to my next circular lace pattern and the lovely pink sock at a later (hopefully not too much later) date.