31 December 2011

The Tale of Two Yarns

Weeks ago, I decided that I was going to be part of the Girls in Sheep Clothing KAL for Bridgewater.  I could think of nothing else I would rather be doing on New Years Day!  The very next day I headed out to Borealis Yarns where my yarn guru, Abbie, wound up 2000 yards of the most luscious baby Alpaca from Plymouth Yarns.  It was called "Dye for me" and came in a natural color, but as the name implies, you can dye it to whatever color you desire.  Now, I was happy with this choice, it was affordable and it had been calling my name for over a year, so it seemed the logical yarn for this project.

Then, after Christmas, I had this nagging feeling that the yarn was all wrong.  Why?  I'm not sure.  Deep down I knew I wanted to make Bridgewater out of a merino blend, like my Beach Glass shawl that I love so much.  I knew that if I made it out of alpaca, it would sit untouched in a drawer, and what's the point of knitting something so beautiful if it doesn't get used at all?

Out came the stash, and I found an old skein of Jaggerspun Zephyr wool silk lace.  I bought it years ago at the Textile Center Weaving Guild.  It was as though it has been waiting patiently until now, like a faithful friend.  This morning, I called the original store that supplied it and 1200 more yards are on the way to me.  The color is Vanilla...and while it seems like an unadventurous choice, I looked through all the projects on Ravelry, and there weren't any that I liked better than the natural light shades.

As for the beautiful baby alpaca, I'll quote Robert Frost: "Oh, I kept the first for another day!"  I chose the one less traveled by, and I know that it will make all the difference.

Happy New Year!

Tick Tock

I see Kelli popped on earlier and posted her yarn choice (I've seen it...it's amazing!).  Is everyone as excited as I am to get started on Bridgewater?  I had a brainstorm this morning that I think will take my knit from gorgeous to spectacular!  Instead of my original choice of Madelinetosh Lace in Winter Wheat, I've decided to use Madelinetosh Prairie and do the center garter stitch section in Cove and all the lace borders in French Grey.  I'm afraid that my original choice is too close to the Jared Flood knit I did last year (Rock Island) and with this being twice as big, I decided I didn't want to work with such a similar colorway.  What do you think of the new yarns?
I can't wait to cast on tomorrow!  It feels like Christmas Eve as a kid!  Can't wait to see what yarns Kelly, Morgen and Jeff have chosen and to get this show on the road (don't forget to check for errata ~ there is some if you have the book and not the downloadable version).  What a great way to start 2012!  And if you haven't joined us yet and would still like to, just leave a comment and we'll get you added so you can kal with us.  Be safe tonight everyone and don't stay up too late ~ we've got some knitting to do!  Tick tock, tick tock....    ~ Melissa

A New Year

Here's my yarn for the Bridgewater knit-a-long for New Years Day 2012. I'm excited to see what yarns others will be knitting. Mine is Spinni, Wool 1, by Isager. It's a deep, dark purple,I've been on a 'blackberry'color kick. When I saw this I just HAD TOO knit with it. I'm iching to knit lace, am always interested in seeing where Jared will take this pattern.

Hoping everybody has a wonderful 2012, we're off to a great start.


26 December 2011

Santa Meets a Couple o' Dolls

What a lapful, eh?  I'm sure there's a grin under all that beard!  Jo and Zoe met Santa for the first time and got to share their elfish wishes for Christmas bounty on this, their first Christmas Eve.  And they must have been good little gals this year ~ not a lump of coal to be found in their gift boxes!

Miss Jo was oh, so surprised to discover that Zoe gave her a Mini Nancy Bush Triinu Shawl to match the one her mama was given:
And, little Rasta Zoe was so thrilled to receive some bright red holiday mittens from Jo:
What a pair of fashionistas!  I think they'll be the envy of all their little doll friends this season!

Happy holidays to all from The Peeps!       ~ Melissa

Growing Pirates

Before the littlest family member joined us 2 years ago, this Auntie made him his first skully sweater ~ size 6 month.  Can I get a little bitty 'aaaaargh':
As expected, he quickly grew out of it but this smart Auntie saved the leftover yarn and told his very smart mama that if she wanted me to try to up size it so he could get a little more wear out of it, I would surely try.  So, a few weeks ago, that very smart mama gave me a tracing of his best-fitting shirt and returned the wee pirate sweater to me for some modifications:
As I carefully unraveled the ribbing, the tiniest bits of crackers and such that had become embedded in the fibers fell out in my lap and I could picture the little guy happily munching away wearing his cute little hand knit.  Very sweet.  I picked up my stitches again and crossed my fingers that there would be just enough yarn left and........success!  He'll get one more winter from his gift from Auntie!

And just in case you're not completely burned out on this theme (I think this may be the last of the pirate posts.....maybe!) ~ Kelli and I have now officially made three generations of our husband's family skully caps to keep them warm this winter:
Can we get a great big, manly man, family sized 'AAAAAARRRRGHHHHH'!    ~ Melissa

23 December 2011

Happy Holidays, Friends

May they find you surrounded by friends and loved ones.   ~ Melissa

20 December 2011

The Pirates of Pass Lake

The Brothers took the drift boat out on Pass Lake yesterday and spent the entire day fly fishing and catching up.....
and showing off their newest skully hand knits (I think if you click on the photos they will enlarge so you can check out the hats and the fish)!

So cool!  This is Kelli's husband, JR on the left.

This is my husband, Jason, on the right.

Isn't that a pretty trout?

And an awesome hat (at least what you can see behind the head lamp, anyway!)?

How lucky are these brothers?  How lucky are we?!

~ Melissa

I should add (very importantly!) that Pass Lake is strictly 'catch and release' and that the 2 fish above were very quickly returned to the chilly water, as were all the rest that were unlucky enough to taste the flies, where they happily went about whatever business trout attend to when they're not being so rudely pulled from their homes!!

19 December 2011

Hvala, Maja!

My friend Maja in Croatia did a great post today about fiber inspired wreaths and she shared quite a few fantastic ideas that she found online and a very cute childhood memory as well ~ click here to check it out. You should take a peek and be inspired! Is everyone done with their holiday knits??? I have one more to go but luckily it's for someone that I won't see until after Christmas, so I'm feeling relieved that everyone else is crossed off my list with a few days left to spare! Hopefully, friends, you are feeling the hectic part of the holidays winding down and are gearing up to actually enjoy them! I finally am....whew! ~ Melissa

I found Maja's typo charming and pretty funny when she talks about her tradition of hanging 'decorative wrath' on the door every year ~ we should all learn how to decorate wrath....the world would be a happier place ;)

Also ~ there's still time to join our annual KAL which kicks off January 1st ~ we're up to 5 knitters so far ~ just let us know if you're interested!

17 December 2011

Clever Quote

Graniflora is now one of my favorite shops. It's in Lynden Washington. A dreamy housewares store new and used.(I did find a large cone of wool/alpaca mix). Anyways my point to this important information is a quote I saw:


Kinda like my lace knitting too~

Where would we be without our friends and knitting?

10 December 2011

Lesson Time

Maybe you already know this and maybe not... the linen stitch is one of my favorite stitches. It can be a bit tricky but well worth the time.

If you are knitting the linen stitch just back and forth

Cast on an EVEN number of stitches (I think it's smart to 'mark' your RS)

RS(right side) Row 1 : K1, yarn to front, slip the next stitch (as if to purl), reapeat till end of row.

WS(wrong side) Row 2 : P1, yarn in back,slip the next stitch(as if to purl), repeat till end of row.

Repeat these 2 rows. I do 'just knit' a row before my bind off (loose) row.

If you are knitting the linen stitch 'in the round', cast on an ODD number of stitches

Mark the beginning of 'the round'.

K1, slip1 (purlwise) with yarn in front.

When you reach your marker, slip it over and just knit whatever stitch is next.

Repeat till end. I do 'just knit' a row before my bind off(loose)row.

I recommend that if you've never tried the stitch before to try it first 'in the round' and get the rythm of the stitch.
It's a REALLY tight stitch and you'll be surpised how large a needle you can knit with for a medium fabric. This Chickadee Cowl pattern is a good one.

There you go, a wonderful woven look to add to your knits~ Kelli

08 December 2011

New Years Day KAL Revealed!

This year we decided to stray from the norm (how many Calendar Scarves does one girl need ~ 4 is plenty!) and we've chosen Jared Flood's Bridgewater, which can be purchased directly from his website, as a Ravelry download or as part of the booklet Classic Elite #9108 ~ Made in Brooklyn.  The pattern calls for 1800 yards of lace weight yarn (my yarn choice is pictured above ~ Madelinetosh Lace in Winter Wheat).  Neither Kelli or I have made a square shawl and we both are pretty enamored by all of Jared's patterns and thought this would be a great way to start 2012....knitting some lace with a few good friends.

So far we are 4 ~ Jeff in Pennsylvania (jmkorn on Ravelry), Morgen in Washington (she's joined us before ~ she's acoldwintersnight on Ravelry), Kelli and myself.  There's plenty of time between now and when we cast on New Years Day, so if you have Bridgewater on your wish list and you want to join in the fun this year, just let us know!  We'll add you to the blog as a guest contributor and we'll have a great time encouraging each other, helping when we get stuck and sharing photos as we go.

Looking forward to knitting with you guys ~ it will be fun as always!    ~ Melissa

05 December 2011

Holiday Fun at Churchmouse

We made it!
It was a blast.  Spent a couple hours shopping.  Ate lunch at the Blackbird Cafe.  Had some Whiskey Gingerbread.  A new favorite.  Better like whiskey if you ever try it.  There's a reason it's called that.  Drank some coffee, but not enough.  Here's how I feel after hanging with this crazy group all day:
All kidding aside, if you've got the blues and need a holiday pick-me-up, make the trip across the water to Churchmouse.  It's worth it ~ as usual, the staff was more than welcoming and gracious and patient with the bit of chaos that follows us wherever we go.  And the shop....boy, do they know how to decorate.  Zoe gladly posed with some of the displays, although sadly Jo decided to stay home today ~ long story, something about a late night, a little too much of the above mentioned whiskey maybe....hmmm.  Anywho, enjoy the pics and have a great week!    ~ Melissa


04 December 2011

Loose Ends

With the New Year around the corner and an ever-growing list of knitting goals for 2012 (including this year's KAL...stay tuned...I'll share more later this week if you're interested!), I've been hard at work finishing WIP's.

I'll start off with this little 1/2 skein of sweetness that I whipped out for Zoe to wear tomorrow on our girls day to Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.
This cute (free!) doll sweater pattern can be found on Petite Purls website and if you want to see any info on the sweater I made, here's the link.  I'm going to love building Zoe's wardrobe ~ it's a great way to use up those random single skeins that we all have buried in the bottom of our stash!

This weekend I also finished this project:
Juliet Scarf by Louisa Harding (pattern can be found free on Ravelry and it's also in her wonderful book, Knitting Little Luxuries).  I've made 2 of these now and I love this pattern and the yarn is perfect.  If you're tempted to try lace and want an easy project to practice on, this is the one.  It's simple, it has written instructions as well as charts, and the result is so worth the effort!  Give it a try!

I also finally finished this:

It's the Triinu Scarf from Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia.  It's another surprisingly simple lace pattern with amazing results (and that Madeline Tosh 'Byzantine' colorway merino light yarn is hands down the best red I've ever seen!!).  I love this lace pattern ~ I love everything about this knit.  I started this in July and put it down for far too long ~ I should have finished this a LONG time ago!

(One of my friends on Ravelry, as I was posting this project, went online and ordered the exact same yarn and colorway and she's going to make this scarf for herself ~ how's that for enabling!!!)

That's it for now.  I'll share our trip to Churchmouse after we go ~ there are 6 of us making the trek (plus Zoe and Jo) so it's certain to be loads of fun!  I'll also get some info up soon about our upcoming KAL that will start on January 1st so that there will be time to get patterns and yarns and people added to the blog that want to join us this year.  I'm looking forward to knitting with our ever growing little circle of friends across the states.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend ~  Melissa

28 November 2011

2 skull caps are better than 1

I think I've started and completed more projects in the last couple weeks than I've done in the whole last year.  A woman possessed....obsessed.  Call it what you will, but I'm getting things accomplished!
Skull Cap 1 on the left and Skull Cap 2 on the right I managed to eek out of 2 skeins of Peace Fleece (aran weight) yarn.  I'd forgotten how much I liked this yarn until I pulled what I had left from 2 felted messenger bags I made a few years ago out of my stash for these hats.  Skull Hat is a free pattern available on the Knit Two Together blog (thanks Gina for being so generous!).  One aspect of this hat that I LOVE is this folded up ear flap:
which not only provides another layer of warmth, but hides almost all the stranded colorwork floats!  If you know me at all, you know how happy that makes me ;).

The hat on the left is made with recommended needle sizes and will fit a larger than average head, so the one on the right was made with 1 size smaller needles and fits an average size head.  I love this pattern and I'm positive I'll be making it again, since neither of these is for my husband and he thinks it's keen!  ~ Melissa

25 November 2011

I'm thankful for....

A lesson learned ~ when things don't fit, maybe it's because they're meant for someone else:
He wore it all day and refused to take it off....if you ask him who made his hat, he'll tell you 'Lissa' - Sweet!

For an excuse to act like a kid again:

And for a father-in-law who is a great sport:

And, no, that's not Santa ~ he really is just my father-in-law!   ~ Melissa

Turkey Day Overdose~

Must have cooked something right~ my middle daughter M'lis and youngest Bella, after thanksgiving dinner. Napping away in the late afternoon.

Hope your day went just as well.

24 November 2011

Guest of Honor

I hope that everyone has as much to be thankful for today as I do.  Happy Thanksgiving ~ Melissa

22 November 2011

Pretty Pretty Peerie Flooers

So, I look like a major dork in knitted hats and it's dark and stormy outside and the lighting is horrible and I had to take a crummy self-portrait, but just look at this hat!!!!  Doesn't it make you smile?  It does me.  Thanks to Kate Davies for coming up with such an inspiring project ~ she's a genius.  This was a challenge from start (picking out 7 yarn colors and then having to decide what combinations worked) to finish (there has to be a trick to weaving in all those ends!).  My hat is so different from all the others that have been made that I'm a little leery that my colors don't completely work (my shades are so dark and rustic) but for a first multi-color stranded knit, I don't think it's too bad?  This is one of the few things that I've made where every time I look at it I think to myself....I can't believe I did that!!!

Details of my Peerie Flooers Hat can be found here, as well as some more dorky photos.  Hopefully my personal photographer (that would be my husband) and a sun break are both on hand this weekend so I can get some better pictures!     ~ Melissa

21 November 2011

The Fair(isle)est of them all....

I'm obsessed (again...) ~ between my new found love of stranded knitting, my 'finish-itis', the icy temps this weekend and hours and hours of me time, I have some new completed projects to share.

First, my crowning (ha!) achievement, Mary Scott Huff's 'Queen of Hearts' Selbuvotter mittens (details of my project including yarn and needle size can be found here on my Ravelry page.

I also started and completed a Christmas gift this weekend ~ I won't share who the recipient is since I don't want to spoil the surprise.  'Fingerless Gloves Musica' is a free pattern that can be found on Ravelry (and my project details can also be found here).

And, I'm just finishing up my Kate Davies 'Peerie Flooers' stranded hat.  I just have a few more rows of crown decreases and a few (or more) hours of weaving in all the loose ends and it will be done.  I'm so excited to share this hat ~ it's one of my favorite knits ever!  Hopefully, by this weekend I'll have some finished photos to post.  I can't wait to show you!

Have a great week, all!   ~ Melissa

09 November 2011

A Mitten and the Moon

Stranded colorwork.  It's been the thing I've struggled the most with since I picked up knitting needles 5 years ago.  I've done very little ~ mostly because of the frustration of knowing that I am not perfect at it.  I do realize this is a good thing.  The things we work the hardest to achieve are sometimes the most rewarding successes.  My troubles are the floats.  To leave yarn 'drooping' is displeasing to my eye, even on the back side of a piece, so my floats. don't. float.  Mine are 'stiff as a board' when they should be 'light as a feather' (I always stunk at that game).

So, this past weekend on a whim I signed up at the last minute for a class at The Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard.
The class was 'Sassy Selbu', taught by a Pacific Northwest local gal, Mary Scott Huff.  I learned a little history of Norway's Selbuvotter knitting tradition and started Mary's 'Queen of Hearts' Selbu mittens.  I have one nearly done ~ it's missing a thumb and the ends all need to be tied in, but I'm going to get the second done first and finish them at the same time.  And I am thrilled to be able to say that my mitten is stretchy!  My floats are floating, or 'smiling' as Mary would say.  Colorwork is something that I'm going to have to keep working at to get better so I was excited to hear during the class that after the first of the year, Mary will be back at the museum teaching a 4-part stranded sweater class.  I will be in it.  She is encouraging, entertaining, inspiring and a great teacher.  I was sold when it came time to help with something I was stuck on, rather than doing the mirror image method of teaching (which, being a lefty, used to leave me in tears of frustration as a kid), Mary stood behind me and threw her arms over my shoulders and her hands became my hands and voila, I got it!  Take a class from her if you haven't ~ you'll laugh alot and learn a little something, too.

And before I forget ~ here's a photo of my almost-finished mitten. Aren't you proud of me?  It's not perfect ~ I do see a few things wrong and I'm sure others see more but I'm smitten.

 I only got the back side before the light faded since I spent so much time taking pictures of the gorgeous moonrise we had this evening!  What a beautiful night.  ~ Melissa

01 November 2011

Of Spindles and Roving and Wagtail Yarn

That's the tale I have to share today!  A recent care package full of homemade jams and stashed yarn sent to a Ravelry friend in Pennsylvania got me this in return :
I'm quite certain I got the better end of the deal but I'll take it!  A skein of Wagtail Yarns sport weight Fine Kid Mohair (enough for a small shawl) in a rich shade of brown from The Tangled Web in Philly, my first bunch (bag, bundle, ????, I don't have the words in my vocabulary yet) of Pencil Roving in a heathered Mountain Laurel shade (4 ounces ~ enough for?) that he got at the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, a great card and this (also from Rhinebeck!):
It's made by Kundert Spindles in Wisconsin ~ the type of 'wood on whorl' is Butternut (so much to learn...my head is whorling!  what the heck is a 'whorl?' and what do those numbers '1.2' mean?).  Thanks Jeff for picking this out for me ~ I love it even more knowing that you went there with a mission to get this girl spinning!  It is gorgeous and after I've stared at it for a couple days and am not afraid of breaking it, I think we will become good friends!

My chaotic schedule and a freaking sore elbow have kept me from getting much knitting done (it's not a knitting related injury but I'm thinking I may have to lay down the needles for a bit or it won't get better ~ SHOOT!).  I've been working on my Cranberry Capelet ~ I'm just past the halfway mark (it's more like an oversized dickey right now ~ remember those from the 70's and 80's?....shudder).  I've had to modify it as I go since my gauge was spot on with swatching but tighter on the actual knit.  Not a big deal since it's top down and I can try it on as I go.  I'm loving the fit, and the yarn and color are perfect ~ the cables really pop!
Guess that's all I have to share for now.  Unless you want to hear more about my awesome spindle ;)
I'll spare you and just add one more picture of my new toy ~ I hear people name their wheels...I might have to find this thing a name!     ~ Melissa

30 October 2011

22 October 2011

Seasons Change

Mother Nature at her best ~ boy, she has a good eye for color
happy weekend, all