Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blogger Meet Up, Blog Prize and Shopping!

After I won Kristen's blog contest in August, we arranged to meet up so I could collect my goodies and we could have lunch together and peruse a knitting shop too. It's always best to have company in a knitting shop, don't you think?

We met up at the Wickford Diner which is near this pretty view of the harbor boats. I had a good, traditional diner meal: BLT on wheat with fries.

Kristen surprised me with Louisa Harding Hand Dyed Grace yarn--she reads my blog and knows just what I like =)

Also, some very interesting things to taste! I haven't had any of them before, but they are all flavors I really enjoy, so I'm looking forward to using them in the kitchen!

After lunch, we went to The Mermaid's Purl where I (at last) found a button for my Noro shrug. It will be nice not to have to pin it from now on. We had a sample of the same colorway at the store for reference, but I couldn't remember what size button I needed. Thankfully Kristen encouraged me to get it anyway and I think it turned out just right! And that's one great reason to have company at a knitting shop =)

The rain mostly held off but for a little drizzle, until the very end of our visit when we arrived back at our cars. Then, it started to pour!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just Stranding...

I took along some car/travel knitting over the weekend, the most serious fair isle I've tackled to date. It is another Louisa Harding pattern called Flamingo.

When I swatched, I tried stranding, then stranding with weaving. Weaving seemed fussy for the runs of 6 sts at most, so I went with just stranding.

I'm not going to frog back at this point, but I really would like opinions on this. The longest floats are about 1.25 inches. Would you have caught the floats? How often?

I would like to get to a point where I am comfortable with fair isle knitting! I am an English style knitter, but I am working on my Continental for holding the second color. I am getting the hang of it, I think.

This is a learning process. I know my stitches may not be the most even I can do since I am making myself hold the yarns with two hands. I may also learn some tricks as I go, so I am not sure the entire thing will be 100% consistent, but any inconsistencies are most likely to be hidden in a seam anyway. Any advice is most welcome!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maine Pictures

Here are a bunch of pictures from our weekend trip to Maine. We walked the dogs all over the farm. They had so much fun exploring. They got to smell and see turkeys.

They had a very close encounter with a porcupine! We are very lucky they did not get stuck with quills. I shouted "No!" at them SO loudly and they listened and backed away from the porcupine. I was so glad we did not have to spend the weekend pulling quills out of the dogs!

There was mud to play in.

There are lots of interesting things to see in the woods. There is a face in this tree. Do you see it? A pileated woodpecker made holes that look like eyes and a mouth!

This big rock has iron wedges stuck in it from long ago. Someone broke off part of the rock and then didn't finish breaking this part. I wonder what happened? Perhaps they had a heart attack from the hard work?!

Here is a close up of the iron wedges.

Here is the end of the stonewall at the 'crossroads'. The right side of the stone wall is the old lane. The left side used to be a field.

This is a ghost tree! Do you see where the rocks were arranged around the base of a tree at one time to get them out of the field? The tree is long gone, but you can tell it used to be there.

There is some amazing moss and lichen in the woods.

The rest of the pictures can be seen in an album: click here.

Dog Videos

We went to Maine over the weekend and I took a lot of pictures and some videos. I'll post the videos for now and try to post some pictures soon.

Saffy and Silas love to splash in the stream and explore the trees in the woods.

Silas had the chance to howl along with fiddles. He would wag his tail and look so excited every time someone even walked near where the fiddle was kept. He sounds a bit distressed in the video, but I'm pretty sure he's having a really good time!

It was Jeff's first time playing a fiddle. He did a good job playing the 'drone' to make it sound like a Scottish bagpipe!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Good Find

I ordered a fabric on Etsy, for lining March Hare. It will be fun to carry the Alice In Wonderland theme to the lining!

(Picture copied from Etsy.)

I'm still on the lookout for handles...any suggestions? They should be 16" in length and I'm thinking of some kind of brown leather similar to the ones in the book.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Autumnal Colors

There are still a few summer blooms in the garden, like pink geraniums, pink impatiens and two kinds of morning glories: blue and a ruffled pink. But there are now fall looking purple asters and a few different varieties of sunflowers. I picked a few to display in the house today.

I like the little hearts in the center of the sunflowers.

Do you see them in this detail? Sometimes they show up better, but this is what I happened to get a photo of.

Another view of the sunflower arrangement.

Uh Oh, is that more knitting? Yes, it's March Hare, a pretty bag knitted up the last couple of nights. Another item that needs finishing (and I have to find a handle/lining/buttons for it too). I have to do a major amount of blocking so I can get to some FO's! The trouble is, with new TV viewing (like the fantastic Inspector Lewis) I want to sit and watch while knitting something, not fussing over finishing details. Still, I should have some nice new finished things in October =)

Saffy got a new bed this week. It is a cushy mat with egg crate foam inside and fluffy fabric outside. She kicked away the towel so she could be directly on the soft fluff! She spun around with happiness at first.

Then settled down, but was still attentive in case there were more surprises. Eventually, she got arranged on her side and looked very comfortable.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Marmalade Progress

Sewing on trims is so trying for me, but this one I'm feeling pretty good about! The main problem is just not feeling confident that I'm doing it right.

I ended up sewing on the trim as I went along to be sure it would match up. I am not sure if the blocking should have happened first, but I think after will be ok in this case. The edges weren't really curling.

It took an excruciating number of tries for me to get the back stitching to look nice around the back of the neck, connecting the side edge of the trim to the cast off edge of the neck.

In the next picture, you are looking down at the shoulder seam, the fabric is in a lopsided position, but you get the idea.

I have a lot of ends to weave in even though I carried the yarns up the sides. Also, I will block before attaching the sleeves, so finishing is still a ways off, but I'm getting there! Oh! I almost forgot, there is still the duplicate stitching to do as well!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


We see many little goldfinches hanging around the garden. They have been particularly active lately, noisily flitting around and feeding on all the flowers that have gone to seed. They really seem to like the coneflowers. I have quite a few coneflower seed heads around the patio and was able to snap these two pictures out the window next to my computer.

The still lush leaves of morning glories are in the foreground, but there was enough of a gap in the leaves for me to see the goldfinch on the seed head just beyond. The yellowy leaves are the remains of the lilies.

The garden looks so messy this time of year, but I like to let things go by naturally so the birds have lots of treats.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quick Marmalade Update

Both sleeves are done. Even with the color work they seemed to go fast. Maybe it's because the last sleeves I did were men's and seemed endless!

I have a lot of blocking to do right now: all the pieces of Ross and Marmalade.

Sorry for the dark picture on the coffee table, but I just wanted to show that the trim is started. It's pretty easy to remember which row I'm on, so I don't think it will take too long to finish.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marmalade Progress Update

Several days ago, I jumped into a new project called Marmalade and since I didn't really introduce it in my previous posts, I will let you know now that it is a Louisa Harding pattern from the Queen of Hearts book. Hopefully this is just the first of several patterns I'll be making from that book!

I've made loads of progress, due to some late night knitting binges because I was enjoying the yarn and pattern so much. I could not put it down! Here is the front view. Not blocked. I know it will lengthen some with blocking and just from hanging. Note that the sides are straight in real life--the camera angle makes them look a bit tapered.

The back view.

I had to knit the front shoulders two different ways and see what I liked best when they were seamed. For the fronts, I stopped knitting the stripe pattern and worked in just the main blue. I had to make the seam on one shoulder a row thicker than the other to make them match. I don't know how else to do it and my head hurts from thinking about it! The ends are all loose so I can still change my mind...but I am hoping I can live with this ;)

There was one hiccup. After dividing for the arms, completing the right front and the back sections, I started in on the left front only to discover I had 2 extra stitches. Yipe!!! What happened? I was being super diligent about following the pattern and counting stitches constantly. It had appeared to be working out perfectly and I was stunned when I found out I was off. I got the calculator, a pencil and paper, the pattern and the knitting and worked and worked over it trying to find where I'd gone wrong. After a bunch of angst, I just could not figure it out. So, I knitted those extra two stitches into the armhole seam with P2togs on alt rows (between the K2togs on alt rows I was doing as part of the pattern). Not really a big deal, but I thought I'd mention it!

"Keep Calm and Carry On!" right?!

So, next up, I'll cast on for the arms. Hooray for more color work!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Still Picking

Honestly, I'm enjoying knitting Marmalade so much, that I'm having a hard time tearing myself away from working on it! The yarn and the colors are just scrumptious! I am starting the shaping for the front/neck and will post an update soon.

The garden is dry and tired and the inevitable bacterial speck and spot are ruining a lot of tomatoes at this point, so I'm nearing the end of the picking. But, here's today's haul of tomatoes!

I've only been to Ikea one time and got some lovely things there, but the most used item other than a full length mirror, is the blue shopping bag! Really, I wish I'd bought several! It is just a great tool for carrying a large amount of produce in from the garden to the kitchen. It can be washed out which is really important when picking tomatoes that leave a yellow residue on everything. You can see it in the above picture.

I do reuse a few shopping bags over and over, but want to do away with them completely. Besides, I don't have many coming into the house anymore as I'm using my cloth bags at the store. A couple more of those Ikea bags would be great.

Lots of cherry tomatoes too.

I have to pick more peppers and start picking tomatillos. I'm hoping to can my favorite Tomatillo Salsa soon!

The zinnias seem to have revived for another big flourish of blooms and each time I'm out in the yard lately I see at least 4 Monarchs and numerous other butterflies too. The big sunflowers are developing seeds and I expect to see the birds attacking them as soon as they are ripe. I have a couple varieties of smaller sunflowers blooming, so they are cheerful to look at.

Saffy and Silas were outside in the kennel today, guarding the yard napping, when they alerted me to the sound of hooves on the pavement and the approach of the mules. There is much spastic barking and excitement over the mules passing by.

Although I'm in a suburban area, there is still a lot of open farmland and the nursery/shrub farms use the mules for some of the work. They pull plows between the rows of shrubs.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Opinions, Please!

Next time, I will start with the sleeves. When I got Louisa's suggestion, I'd already knit the body section to the start of the hearts, so I just carried on...with 15 bobbins!!!

With some blocking, and the argyle duplicate stitches, I think these will look great! But the outside seems to look nice each time I've swatched regardless of how I've carried the stitches on the back.

Here's the back...I certainly was consistent...but is it done right?

I'd love your opinions and/or reassurance before I weave in those ends and continue!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Please Advise...

Once again, I am wishing that knitting patterns included 'wrong side' pictures of the FO's! I am trying to combine intarsia and fair isle, as the pattern calls for. I have never done this before.

Is this more or less right???

Any help you can offer is most welcome! I really want to get on with this project! Thanks!

Edited to add:
Louisa herself =) commented on my Ravelry query about this and wrote:

Hi Sarah

I had a look at your blog pictures and it looks like you have the technique almost mastered (we are our own harshest critics). I would suggest weaving in the blue yarn stranded across the back of the hearts every 3 sts and ensure that you stretch the stitches on the needle opposed to bunching them up tightly. This should give you an even tension.
As a little tip, knit the sleeves first, this will allow you to get into the pattern/technique without having lots of stitches to contend with on the needles. Let me know how it goes….

I will weave in every 3 sts and try it on the real sweater now!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Brunch

We cooked up a batch of blueberry pancakes to celebrate being lazy on a Monday.

And ate them with lots of maple syrup!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Hurricane Hot Peppers

When the first bands of rain passed overhead around mid-day, the cool drops felt good.

Before the rain arrived, I went out in the heat and humidity to pick peppers. They are jalapenos and cherry hots.

I washed, cored and sliced them.

And I felt like my left hand was on fire from the pepper juice getting on it while I held the peppers for cutting!!!

Jeff came home from work and we pickled them in a mixture of cider vinegar, pickling spice and honey from a book called Small Batch Preserving. We had to triple the recipe...twice! They really do mean "small batch". We ended up with 10 half pints of jalapenos and 2 half pints of cherry hots. There are a couple of halves of garlic cloves in each jar. Here are the hot jars cooling on racks.

I think they are going to be "wicked" hot. We'll let them cure a bit and then try them on some quesadillas, fajitas or nachos.

Saffy, 100% lab, is perfectly content to lounge in the rain for a picture. Silas, with his bit of shepherd parentage, is not so sure it's such a great idea.

We expect Hurricane Earl to pass by out at sea tonight, bringing us rain and wind, but we are hoping it won't be too bad. I don't expect to get much sleep, but I am working on knitting Jeff's sleeves, so I will have plenty to do.