Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - A Year In Shawls...

2013 was a helluva ride for me. It was the knitting that saved me I think. I separated from my husband in March of this year and moved in with my folks. Our divorce was finalized 5 days before Christmas and 2 days before what would have been our 7th Anniversary. 2013 saw the continuation of my disability claim and each month I hoped for a change, a hearing date, some kind of good news but alas...it all continues. Anyone else who has filed a disability claim and has had to wait forever knows exactly what this feels like. But it was the knitting that saved me from drowning in frustration and madness that was 2013. I found myself diving into the world of pattern design in a way I hadn't before and I loved it. Every stitch and every minute of it. I released/self-published 8 designs this year.

The first pattern I released was Cornwall Coast. I had actually completed Mannington first but released Cornwall Coast before Mannington as it was an easier pattern to write up. Cornwall was designed with one of the monthly Lorna's Laces colorways done for Jimmy Beans Wool. It was an homage to Brad Pitt and the colorway was called 'A River Runs Through It.' I had to have any yarn devoted to Brad Pitt and knew right away I wanted to design something special for it. The colors spoke of a misty ocean shoreline and Cornwall Coast was born...

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The body of the shawl was designed to look like ripples of water in the sea. The border I added is a wave pattern which was perfect for the overall design. To this day Cornwall remains my most popular shawl and highest selling shawl of my collection.

Next was Mannington...

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Mannington was a design collaboration I did with Brooks Farm Yarns. You can see all the wonderful things they do over here on their website. If you haven't looked at any of their yarns I highly recommend that you do. Mannington was done with their new, at the time, yarn line called Tenino which is a 50/50 merino and tencel blend. It was a DK weight yarn that was delicious to work with. It had the greatest shine to it. The shawl itself is rather large because of the yarn weight I worked with. The shawl is with Brooks Farm and travels with them to all of their shows and Fiber Festivals and I have been very thankful for the publicity they have given me. The shawl was designed with an English Garden in mind. The very manicured kind with knot gardens and topiaries, etc. The shawl was named after Mannington Gardens and can be read about here on their website.

Next up was the Persian Crescent Shawl...


I loved doing this shawl. I seem to be inspired by the yarn colorways I work with. This was the Malabrigo sock colorway called 'Persia' and it is beautiful. I designed the shawl around some historical and archaeological aspects of early Persia and the pottery design during that time period. It was a truly fun project.

The next shawl was Vintage Bordeaux, again inspired by the color I was working with. The name of this colorway from this Knit Picks Tonal Sock yarn was 'Wine Tasting.' The colors were gorgeous and I wanted to work the body of this shawl in garter to show off the colors and add a dramatic lace edging...

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I dedicated Vintage Bordeaux to my Aunt Betty because she drinks and thoroughly enjoys wine possibly more than anyone else I know. It was a fun project to work. I had a bit of added 'excitement' with this project on Ravelry. There was a French designer on Ravelry who had used a similar, but different, border on one of her shawls and thought I was stealing her design. She had even copied my photos from Ravelry and used them on her blog where she did nothing but trash me. Oh, it was great fun! It had gotten out of hand enough to the point where I had to get the administrators of Ravelry involved in helping to bring closure to the matter. The French designer finally relented and removed my material from her personal blog and ceased the harassing behavior. I won't forget this project because of that alone!

Next up was Quartzite...


This was another Knit Picks yarn...their Imagination Hand Painted Sock Yarn in a colorway called 'Castle Walls.' I designed this shawl with sandstone in mind. I worked the body of this shawl with purls rows indicating the layers of sandstone and with the border lending itself to gently moving layers of earth over time creating the sandstone. I have loved and worn this shawl often! Because of its pale colors it goes with a lot.

The next shawl I designed was Petit Jardin...


Petit Jardin was the 2nd collaboration project I did and it was with Wooly Wonka Fibers. You can see all of her wonderful things here. She has wonderful, wonderful yarns and I finally got her together with my LYS Village Wools and they now are carrying her yarns! Yay! Success! I loved working on this project. The yarn was a 50/50 merino and silk blend and was extra silky to work with. The sheen was incredibly beautiful. This is one of my most favorite shawls and I wear it as often as I can. The colorway was called 'Fig' and this photo doesn't do it a whole lot of justice. I think this pic was before I modified it a bit. It had the rose trellis pattern down the center back and the border was done incorporating the rose from the center into the border. I love this shawl.

Next up was Effortless...


It was sometime around the time I was doing Effortless when I bought Lucy and she arrived. Lucy is my dress form and I had wanted one since the beginning of the year when I had really started designing. I wanted a more professional look to my photos when shooting the finished product. I designed Effortless to be just that...effortless. If one knows how to knit, purl and yarn over, and knit 2 together, one can make this shawl. I wanted something that was so easy you didn't need to travel with a pattern, not even for the border. Those that have made it agree that it is as Effortless as I was aiming for it to be! Another Success! This yarn was Skein Sock Yarn in the colorway 'Bitterness' and I love the colors in it, rusts and browns and all the shades in between. Fabulous. 

The next one I designed was The Scottsdale Shawl...


I was in Scottsdale with my Mom in October of 2011 for treatment at the Mayo Clinic and I'll never forget how beautiful it was...in October! So green and lots of flowers and trees and cactus everywhere. Right along side of beauty of the floral aspects everywhere was the remarkable influence of Frank Lloyd Wright. His Taliesin West is there but his influence is seen all over the city. I designed this shawl as a nod to everything I saw in Scottsdale. The body of the shawl was done with alternating bands of garter and stockinette with a slipped center stitch. This was done to mimic the Prairie Style rooftops FLW is famous for. The leafy and picot border was added to note everything that was green there. The yarn was Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the colorway 'Jade.' Its one of my favorite colorways and definitely one of my favorite shawls. 

How can I pick a favorite of the shawls I have designed? Its impossible. They are each so personal to me for different reasons. From the crazy French chic after I released Vintage Bordeaux to remembering my time at the Mayo Clinic while doing The Scottsdale Shawl. I have 2 other designs on the needles now.....which could be looked at as #9 and #10 but they won't be released until 2014 so they kind of don't count as being done in 2013. The two they are...


This one which has a very Indian Spices feeling to it. I have not settled on a name for it yet but it will be something along those lines. The second one is my 3rd collaboration project with Phydeaux Designs....


This is the one that speaks to me of afternoon tea and Garden Parties. Also unnamed at the moment it will be something along those lines as well.

And a brief update on my Angora fingerless mitts...they're coming along pretty quickly...

 
So there you have it. This is what saved me from drowning in 2013 and giving into the frustration of everything that happened to me during the year. I am looking forward to 2014, more fresh, new knitting designs and a new life. I'm not sure what this new life will bring but nonetheless, it is a new fresh start. I'm looking forward to my knitting complimenting what is happening in my life rather than using it as an escape plan. I love the start of a New Year. It's like a dry erase board. All the stuff that's been scribbled onto the board over the past year can get wiped away to start over with a clean, fresh and new board. I like that. 

I hope your New Year is wonderful, prosperous, and 2014 brings much health and happiness!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Angora anyone ?!

When I wrote yesterdays post I had completely forgotten about one particular project that was near finished. It was in my purse for knitting while riding shotgun and when I stumbled across it today I decided to pull it out and just finish it already. Who doesn't like a little angora around their neck when its really cold outside? I bought this yarn from Shelley Loveless of Rio Fernando Farms at that Taos Wool Festival last fall. I don't believe they have their own website that I can find but you can read about them briefly here. I bought 2 skeins back in 2012 and fell in love with it. Its a 50/50 blend of angora and corridale lamb and its unlike anything else I have ever worked with. I made a slouchy beret which used 1 skein and the hat went to my Mom since it didn't fit me...or my hair (!). I had 1 skein left and knew I wanted to buy more when we went this past fall. Well, turns out I got the very last of it. It was a very special blend that their mill is no longer doing for them. I bought the last 2 available skeins. With 1 skein I made a simple seed stitch basket weave scarf that I designed. The last 2 skeins will be used to make fingerless mitts to go with the scarf. I need to block the scarf and take pics on Lucy but now it looks like this...


And I'm very happy with it. Truth be told, I love it. And look at the halo on this yarn...


Its really amazing stuff. As soon as I finished the scarf and bound it off I caked up another skein and cast on for the fingerless mitts. At the moment they look like this...

 
 The only fingerless mitts I've made so far have been with a heavy worsted weight yarn and this is light fingering. I am winging it on the stitch count to get what I want out of it. They will be simple. Ribbing at the cuff and tops and, hopefully a bit slouchy. The rest will be plain knitting, or stockinette since its being done in the round. I cast on 56 stitches and am starting with a 2 x 2 ribbing. We'll see how it works out. I will adjust and start over if I need to.

I happy the scarf is finally done and can be used if and when it gets really cold outside. I will block her and take pics of her on Lucy and will be sure to share those here in just a couple days. 

Hope all is well in your world and you are making nice knitting discoveries. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday Evening!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Projects Old And New...

Since the Christmas knitting is out of the way, for the most part anyway, I am back to working on other projects. I started a new shawl with yarn from Phydeaux Designs which is my next design collaboration. I am so excited about this yarn and design. I know exactly where I want to go with it. And the yarn? I cannot tell you enough how wonderful it is. I am working with the Soie line which is 50/50 merino and silk and it is luscious. I don't know where she gets her bases from but this particular blend is soft and silky with a beautiful sheen but also has just the right amount of bounce in it too. Its just wonderful to work with. Here is a pic of the latest...


Just look at how all those colors blend so beautifully! Though this piece remains unnamed it reminds me of an afternoon tea, or a garden party. Something light and airy and beautiful to wear. I specifically chose to knit the body of this shawl in garter to show off the colors and this yarn well. I think garter stitch has a special way of making some colorways just sing and this was an Opera being sung in the open theater of the Santa Fe Opera House. If you all have not gone to look at her yarns at Phydeaux, please do so. You'll be so happy you did!

I am also back to working on this again...


The yarn for this is not normally in a colorway that I work with but it screamed at me and leapt off the shelf and into my arms at the Taos Wool Festival this past fall. I have truly enjoyed working with this merino and alpaca blend from Hollywick Farms. I love their labels too, they have pictures of the alpacas where your yarn comes from! Like this...


 Its soft yet with a lot a body to it. I wanted to do something unique with it and cables was the thing. I had not worked in cables before and it was high time I learn how to do them. I thought I knew what I wanted to do with the border but now I'm not so sure. I thought I wanted to add a little cabling along the border but now I don't think so. The body is as big as I think I want it to be so its time to work out the border pattern.

Have you started any new projects since Christmas has come and gone? Are you still finishing up Christmas and Holiday Knitting? The New Year is upon us and I am really looking forward to doing more design work this year and expanding my knitting knowledge. What are you planning to do? Are you looking forward to doing anything specific? I'd love to hear what you're up to!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

And The Celebration Continues...

Three days ago was my parents actual anniversary date so there was more celebrating to do. We went out to dinner then came back to the house for, sigh, more cake and some special wine Mom had been holding onto for some time. She had a split of Anasazi Fields Nopalita wine she was saving to open on their 50th. Nopalita is make from prickly pear cactus, has a glorious pink color and is a bit sweet...

 
 Mom and Betty tried to convince Jim Fish, Anasazi's owner and vintner, to bottle it all up and sell it as a dessert wine the moment he shared it with us. But alas, he didn't. He put it back in the tanks to dry it out some more and it was completely ruined. We were pretty sure we had the only remaining Nopalita left from the original batch. We opened it up and split it between the four of us and enjoyed it tremendously. Enough so as we took pictures to email and share with Jim Fish...




Its also been cookie central around here lately. We saved almost all the baking until right at the last moment. There were about 5 dozen white chocolate macadamia nut cookies made, 4 dozen chocolate chip, and about 10-12 dozen of our family recipe for cookie cutter cookies made with nutmeg...


  It isn't Christmas around here until those are made and frosted...


The pantry room looks like this....cookies everywhere including the ones people are giving us...


I love this time on Christmas Eve. All is quiet with the exception of some Christmas carols playing on low. My parents have gone to church and I am the only one here now, taking in the tree and all its beauty and glory and this special time that is mine and mine alone. Its precious time...


I hope you all have a chance to have some quiet time this evening, what there is left of it. I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow celebrating whatever belief system you follow, and you enjoy the time with your family and friends and those who are important to you in your life. It really is a season of celebration...celebrating our family and friends, celebrating our individual faiths, celebrating each other and all the good that is left in the world. 

And as far as your knitting is concerned, either you'll wrap up those gifts with needles attached or there's always next year! I am happy to report that all mine got finished for this year but only because half of them lingered from last year!

Have a wonderful, peaceful and Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Its Crunch Time...

Its crunch time folks. I don't know about you but I have been knitting like a mad woman. The mitts are done and wrapped and I've started the toe decreases on Dads socks so those will be done tonight or tomorrow. Definitely before Christmas. Aunt Betty's Shawl has been done but it needed blocking. I finally got that done yesterday so I could get it wrapped today. It blocked beautifully if I do say so myself...

Pattern is Morlynn Shawl by Alexandra Weidmayer knit with Silky Wool on US size 8

I couldn't wait to get a nice shot of her on Lucy before wrapping her up...



I'm thrilled with the outcome and I think Betty will really like her. Its nice to have this one totally done and wrapped along with the mitts. 

Some people think I'm crazy because I love to block. I really do. Blocking can be what makes or breaks your piece if you're entering it into a competition. Blocking can "fix" your minor mistakes if you have any. But above all, blocking is the "Tah Dah!!!" moment for your knitting. Everything you worked towards, all those hours of clicking needles.....blocking is where you show it all off a bit! I have a couple people I block for regularly, Aunt Betty and Melanie. Once Melanie understands how to block and does a few herself and gets the hang of it, she will be doing her own. But for now, there are pieces I still do for her. Like this stunning scarf she made for her Mom for Christmas. I just had to shoot it on Lucy once it was done blocking!



I have no idea what the yarn is, or the colorway or anything but it sure is pretty. Melanie is a lot like my friend Lisa....fearless. She's just fearless. She's dong more and more complicated things and its so awesome to watch!

If you are still in crunch time yourself, keep at it, I know you'll make your deadlines. And well, if you don't, it wont be the first time a Christmas gift has been wrapped and gifted with the needles still attached! Good Luck in your finishing!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It Was A Golden Evening...

For many weeks now I had been working and planning, with the help of many key people, a Surprise 50th Anniversary Party for my parents who were so deserving of such an event. I would've loved to have blogged about it on the way but obviously that just wasn't possible! Planning and scheming while living under the same roof proved to have its own difficulties. I had to wait until both of them were out of the house before I could continue my scheming. First order of business was to contact my Aunt and Uncle in California and let them know about the party in hopes that they would be able to make it. It was a couple weeks of sitting on edge before getting the email letting me know that they would be able to come. I knew their being there would be icing on the entire cake. When my folks were out of the house I was either on the computer, the phone, texting or turning the house inside out looking for their original wedding items that I could have "showcased" at the party. I knew where my Moms wedding dress was, that was an easy one. It was hanging in her closet at the very end and she would never know it was missing. Along with her wedding dress was the petticoat she wore. I was safe knowing she would never know they were gone. I moved them to my bedroom and they hung on the back of my door for a good week, she never knew it was there! Finding her veil took a little work. After turning their closet inside out I decided to hit up the closet in my Dads study. Bingo! There I found her veil, a box of napkins from their wedding and the antique vintage bloomers that were originally worn by my great-grandmother but also worn by my Mom on her Big Day. I didn't really care about embarrassing her, these were cool things! I scoured through boxes of photos looking for their wedding photos and found them in the 5th box I went through. Along with their wedding pictures was one of their wedding invitations. Big score. It was going to be a grand night. The story was all planned. I was taking them to dinner and we would need to stop by Sidney and Gus's house to pick something up before going on to the restaurant. Even when we pulled up and saw all the cars they hadn't a clue. I was so worried throughout the planning they would know I was up to something. Certainly when we pulled up I would be found out. It wasn't until we got them into the house that they realized it was a party for them and in their honor...


The flowers were gifted by Aunt Betty and were gorgeous and perfect for the evening. I received this particular picture via text from Sidney when they arrived. Saturday afternoon I was a nervous wreck and was worried about details and things arriving, people arriving and specifically, my Aunt and Uncle arriving from California in time before we got there. I was in touch with Rachel who works for the bakery who did the cake and she was delivering it. I was so worried about all the little details but everything worked out perfectly. The cake arrived and was beautiful....


Here is another pic I took of the cake with the party favors in the glass bowl next to the cake. The favors were gold organza bags filled with Hershey Kisses and butter cream mints...


The serving set was lent to us by Sidney and Gus and was the set they used at their wedding reception. My Moms dress was displayed beautifully....


Sidney did an amazing job arranging my Moms veil and showcasing the photos and their wedding invitation. Along with Moms veil, I had discovered her gloves she wore and the lace hanky she carried too...


Next to this were photos of the young couple....


And on the other side was their wedding invitation....


The guests of honor were all smiles the entire evening. In fact, I cant remember the last time I saw my Mom smile quite so much...


A fabulous pic of Lori and my Mom...


They kept saying throughout the night that they couldn't believe its been 50 years and wondered where the time had gone. I think that's a good sign...


And a classic pic of my Dad talking to my Aunt Beverly...


One of the things my Aunt and Uncle gave my folks were two of their original wedding pics framed and with the color all 'remastered' so to speak. My Uncle is very good at remastering the color of old photos. These are pics of the pictures....




Aren't they wonderful! There are many more pics that were taken that I don't have yet. Sidney took a bunch with her camera and I will post those when I get them. All in all, it was fabulous. Mom cried. It was grand. It was perfect. I could not have pulled it off without the help of Sidney and Gus, Ariane, Rachel, Betty, and my Aunt and Uncle from California who were the icing on the cake. It was a good night.

Yesterday, I went total gangbusters on my knitting and made some mad progress...now I know for sure that it'll be done for Christmas. Here are the mitts....


These will be done in no time....then I can wrap them up. And the progress on Dads sock? Check this out...


I'm only 10 rounds from starting the toe decreases! When I said I went gangbusters I wasn't kidding. . It's nice to know for sure these things will be done for Christmas. I still need to block Betty's shawl but I'm in blocking mode right now. I've got a scarf soaking right now that I am blocking for Melanie. Then its on to Betty's shawl. I cant wait to take the final pics of her shawl on Lucy. She'll be awesome!

I hope you are all enjoying your time with your family this Holiday Season. Family is where its at!

Monday, December 16, 2013

O Tannenbaum !

The tree has been up for almost a week but this is the first time I've had a chance to blog about it or anything else. My next post will explain why I haven't been as consistent here as I'd like to have been! But the tree is up and the festivities are beginning. 

This is the time of year when tradition runs high. Now that I am back at my folks place I have been able to experience the start of the Holidays as I did when I was a kid which included going to get the family Christmas tree. From the time I was little until I was in my teens we always went as a family to get the tree. When I turned 14 or 15 Mom and I started a new tradition...we went to a local farm and cut the tree down ourselves. Mom and I have such fond memories of those years cutting down the tree and remembering all the landmarks that marked our path every year. But this year we went as a family and we figured it had to be at least 25 years or more (I'm aging myself here, I know) since we went as a family to get the tree and it was wonderful! 


The tree this year is about 9 ft and its gorgeous!



Every year we say its the best tree we've ever had, and it is. Kona seemed thoroughly unimpressed with the process...


We weren't sure exactly how he'd react to a big full size tree but as you can see, he could care less. We had to be careful not to step on him because he wasn't about to move. Decorating the tree also means getting out all the Christmas CD's and playing a few of our favorites while hanging ornaments. Top of the list for us are the Christmas Spirituals sung by Odetta. There's nothing like a little "Shout For Joy" to get you in the spirit! We know that whole CD from beginning to end, all the lyrics, all the riffs, its wonderful. And in the end...


I love how the lights reflect in the windows...so pretty. For years my folks put the Christmas tree in another part of the living room and ever since they moved it to the corner they cant figure out why it took them so long to put it there. It really is the best place for it to be, especially how it reflects in the windows. And when you wake up in the morning the sun shines on all the glass ornaments and makes little rainbows on the wall!

Now, onto the knitting....

Moms sock pattern knit with Fiesta Yarns Baby Boom Team Spirit or something like that on US size 2 circulars

Now, whats wrong with this picture? I'll tell you. It looks no different, or only slightly different, than the last picture I took of this sock. I need to get a move on with this...and fast. We are quickly running out of time to get Christmas stuff done if its not going to be attached to the needles when its wrapped. Which I've done before....we've all done that before. I did that last year. But 2 yrs to finish a pair of socks?? Uncalled for.

And this is not helping my cause....

Plain Jane mitts knit in Knit Picks City Tweed on US size 6 circulars

These are the fingerless mitts I cannot stop making. This is the third pair. These are for my Mom. She has to have figured this out...I already knit a pair for me, I knit a pair for my ex-husband, and now a third pair? She has to know they're for her....I'm knitting them right next to her. If anything, she may get one of them wrapped up so as I can finish Dads sock. Then I'll finish her mitts after Christmas.

How are you all doing with your Holiday Knitting? Are you making good progress and will your things be done on time? I cant possibly be the only one rushing my way to the finish line...