Lace Knitting

You know I don’t do a lot of fancy knitting.  I designed and started knitting an Aran pullover in 2004 – 2004! – and got the front and part of the back done, and put it on a shelf because I couldn’t be bothered to do all that chart checking and stitch counting.  It’s still up in the sewing room.  Maybe someday I’ll go back to it.  Bleah. 
But then I recently knit that little doily thing for the top of the Bunnyfox hat, and that was easy and quick.  Of course, it was much smaller than an Aran pullover Sarcastic smile  So… I’ve got a lot of cashmere odds and ends in my stash and was wondering what to do with it.  Not enough of anything to do a sizeable project on its own, but by stranding a few of them together it makes a nice DK-weight yarn (like the Bunnyfox hat was) and makes the yardage last longer.  So I decided to knit a lace shawl.  Why a shawl?  Don’t know!  I don’t wear them and have never knit one before, but I think it was from searching Ravelry for free lace patterns that use DK weight, and this shawl pattern from Knitting Daily came up.  It’s cute, it looks easy, and it matched my criteria.  I may end up buying a ball of yarn to complete it (ha, buying more yarn in order to use up existing stash!), but it looks like it’ll be a good one. It’s really, really easy!
The show so far:  eight repeats of the pattern.  Yarns used are Filatura di Crosa Superior (my all-time favorite yarn, a brushed cashmere/silk blend, ball shown in the pic) in pale blue, Jade Sapphire cashmere/silk in Curacao (leftovers from the empire dress), and Jojoland cashmere in sage green (leftovers from the Bunnyfox hat).  It looks like an ocean wave pattern to me (in this color) so that’s what I’m calling it, the Ocean Wave, although it looks vaguely peacocky, too (cough).

I have to do 60 repeats of the pattern before finishing.  Check back in a month or so.

Landscaping Begins!

For about six months (ever since we learned of the city’s plan to chop up our backyard and put the walls, etc., in) we have been planning to hire a landscape company to fill in the planting beds afterwards.  Mainly this is because our soil is hard, clayey, and full of rocks, very difficult for us to dig by hand.  However, after consulting with our firm last week and learning that $15,000 was the planned estimate (ow, ow, ow), we decided to do it ourselves. 
We had previously pulled all our satisfactory plants from the rose garden before construction began, and had temporarily planted them in a mulch/soil bed on the north side of the house.  So, starting with those, and working from there, we figured out what to do with these.  Yesterday we transplanted these.
Here is a pic of the back.  Right now it contains (L-R) ceanothus, euonymus ‘burning bush,’ a ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ rose, another euonymus, a holly tree, another euonymus, and the ‘Marmalade Skies’ rose that Granddad had chosen at the nursery several years ago.  I really don’t know how Marmalade Skies is one that we ended up saving!  We saved ‘Duchesse de Brabant’ because she’s disease-resistant, but nobody has any memory of Marmalade Skies being particularly disease-resistant.  Ah well, it should be OK.

Our next project is moving the big rocks that we salvaged from the old garden.  These are called by landscapers "Three-man rocks" because it takes three men to lift them.  We obviously don’t have three men; probably between us, Alex and I have the strength of one man!  I am going to find out whether the landscapers can place these for us.
We have to dig up the neighbor fence area for our next bit of planting.  This will take some doing; we’d considered renting a tiller or trencher, but Chris feels that he would rather dig it all up by hand than do that.  I’m not so sure.  I also am going to ask the landscapers how much it would cost just to have them dig it up.
Lastly, we want to put a lavender bed across the back wall of the house.  There are some lavender plants there already, but not all the way across.  We ordered a raised bed kit that will be allegedly easy to assemble and will allow us to put small lavender plants into its soil.  The plant roots can eventually go down into the regular soil.  So that will be centered under the big window and a few of our unused nice plant containers will go next to it, perhaps with Russian Sage in them.
If the planting bed really is easy and looks good, we may just do the same thing along the neighbor fence.
Stay tuned for more!

Some People are Born to Be Designers…

…and I’m not one of them.  At least, not with the use of my own brain as the only creative tool.
For years I’ve been using Sweater Wizard to generate patterns customized to my size and shape.  This works out well for me, because I tend to prefer simple stitch patterns with interesting yarns, rather than cable work or lace type of things.  With my size being what it is, a lot of those more girly designs don’t look right anyway.  So I’ve made some of the classics (cough) you’ve seen on the blog over the years using Sweater Wizard as a base for the design.  Everything was great.
Recently I decided to use up some sock yarn knitting a shrug.  So, at this point, I’ve knit enough to have a feel for sleeve shaping, for example, and construction processes.  I designed this shrug without Sweater Wizard, knit it, and it turned out fine.  These are the yarns I polled many of you about, a few months ago.

OK!  So I was really excited about having done this one without Sweater Wizard.  I posted it on Ravelry for free and so far 20 people call it a "Favorite" and three people have queued it to knit someday.  That’s good enough for me.

Next I turned to my big stash of all those Shetland-style yarns from the blog posts a few weeks ago.  Clearly they had potential for interesting designs, but my mind had to swirl them around for a while to figure out what to do with them.  There’s only one skein of the rainbow color in my stash so I decided the first project would be something to use that up.

This project was going to be a wholly-self-designed thing.  No Sweater Wizard.  After a while my ideas coalesced into a cropped pullover that would begin across the bottom back, knit up and over the shoulders (adding sleeves at the time) and then going down the front.  This seemed like a good way to maintain the rainbow progression of the yarn without breaking it up adding sleeve seams or shoulder seams.  I did my gauge swatch, wrote down the numbers, measured myself, calculated the pattern and knit the sweater. 

Now, admittedly, this was supposed to be cropped.  My plan was to wear it while driving the Miata with the top down.  My shoulders and arms do get a little chilly, even on the warmest days.  The design was supposed to end up just under the bust.

Nice, huh?

The whole time I was working on it, the combo of the rainbow yarn and black was really making me very happy.

Unfortunately, which I didn’t figure out until the body was done – it’s much too short for me.  Much too cropped.  It comes down to about mid-bust!  There’s just no way to wear it.  Donna’s mental process:  OK, I’ll seam the sides, get rid of the black hem, and lengthen it by knitting more stripes in the round, then adding a new hem.  Sounds good, right?  Ha.

This morning I knit the sleeve cuffs and then seamed the sleeves and underarms in preparation to lengthen it.  Before ripping out the existing black hem, I tried it on again in order to figure out just how much further it had to be knit.  Imagine my complete dismay when the sleeves turned out to be too tight for my arms.  AUGH!

Of course, I am nothing if not adaptable, and within minutes dismay had turned to happiness.  Alex can always use a new sweater, and that means I won’t have to lengthen it! 

Yes, he’ll have to wear a t-shirt underneath (when he puts his arms down, it’s just about waist-length on him), but he’s happy to do so because the Kauni is a bit scratchy.  Whee!

So, my designing efforts are going on the back burner for a while, and I am turning my attention to completing a Hanne Falkenberg design.

Today’s Rant

Why must people have websites where the background is black and the text is white?  I have been to three or four sites like that this week (just browsing around, movie reviews, personal blogs, stuff like that).  I can read for about 20 lines and then my eyes start to feel like they’re going to shut down.  Yes, I see that my current background on this page is dark blue, and I’m going to change it immediately after this post, but…at least my text is black on a white background.

The Sketchbook Project Begins

It actually wasn’t until this evening, when Alex and I began work on our sketchbooks, that I realized that a "sketchbook" is not necessarily going to work well for all media.  We all dabble in all sorts of art here:  watercolors, marker, calligraphy, acrylics, oil pastels, colored pencils, egg tempera, and pen & ink (I think that’s about the extent of it – not counting 3-D media like metal clay, glass, knitting and painting miniatures).  The wet media aren’t doing so well on this.  Alex is using watercolor colored pencils and they’re bleeding not only through the page he’s working on, but onto the next clean page as well.  I have given him a thick piece of cardboard to use as a separator, but the first couple of pages are a bit iffy at this point.
I haven’t figured out what to do about the front cover yet (besides the greasy fingerprints) but I started the first page of the book as if the entire book is going to be a final exam project.  Here is my first page.  The spilled ink is still wet in the photo, but generally this gives the entire idea.  I didn’t bother too much with the intricacies of calligraphy, mainly because I couldn’t find my nib holder.  I ended up doing it with a magic marker.  Crying face

An interesting side note will be to look at the "mistakes" and see if they appear to be anything.  Rorschach-like.  This one above looks like a big horse-legged demon standing on 2 legs.

Family Art Project

Dad (Grandpop, not Chris-Dad, as Alex would say) suggested the family take part in the 2011 Sketchbook Project from the Art House Co-op.  Chris, Alex and I were all game for it; Dad, of course, is doing it, and according to his blog Diane is apparently taking part also, though she didn’t mention it to me.  A theme for the sketchbook had to be chosen before ordering.  My theme is "Nightmare."  I chose this because most of my artwork turns out to be a nightmare anyway.  Sarcastic smile  Alex chose "Things that were changed by other things" (at the time of choosing, he was thinking about how his life has changed because of his friend Dylan moving away), and Chris chose "Dirigibles and Submersibles."
So far I’m the only one who has worked on it.  Serendipity struck as I picked up my blank sketchbook with greasy fingers; now I have fingerprints all over the cover, so I have decided that "good art gone bad" is going to be my nightmarish theme.  I’ll post some pictures when I have something other than a fingerprinty cover to show you.
In other art, Alex has decided to make origami frogs for every kid in his class as an "end of school year" thing.  He is also making them for his teachers.  We are up to our clavicles in frogs!