Friday, April 23, 2010

Migratory Patterns of the American Snowbird

Tax Day (April 15) usually marks the high point of the northward migration of the American Snowbirds. For those not familiar with the migratory patterns of the American Senior Citizens, retirees living in the North states (and many Canadians too) escape the gelid winter snows by flocking south to the lovely warm weather of Florida, Arizona and Nevada, to name a few. Come Spring, when the weather becomes too hot or humid, they flock back north. You can always tell, because the average speed in the busy Phoenix roads gets about 10 miles faster :)
There are still a few short weeks before the weather hits 100F (40 C) and some local TV station shows a picture of somebody frying eggs in the car hood. This is a good time to empty the WIP drawer and try to finish the projects you definitely don't want to work on during summer!

And here are the contents... scary!!!

Right off the bat, I can pick out the infamous red afghan and the large white Mansweater. They are a load of Alpaca blends, and the thought of having them over my knees in summer makes me break in a sweat.

Most of the rest is lace weight or smaller projects, and the bulk of it are swatches of future projects.

So I spent most of yesterday with some large caffeinated drink power-knitting the blanket while watching the TIVO-ed Runway Project marathon. Gotta TIVO it, it has about 15 minutes of commercial per hour! (As an aside, I have managed to turn my husband to the Dark Side and watch America Next Top Model, but Project Runway is still a no-no. Of course, he is easily persuaded to watch lovely young girls rather than mostly gay men...).

And thus I came to the realization that the blanket, however lovely, needs a bit "wow" factor - otherwise it is just a large rectangular Aran throw. And I decided to go ahead with adding a sideways border. Inspired by the gorgeously constructed Yggdrasil Afghan, which has concentric layers of sideways and outward knitting. And here is a swatch of the border, not quite there yet, I needed to change the proportions on the mitered corner chart. But you get the gist of it.

And I have finished the body of the afghan! YAY!!!

Sorry, no news this week about the triangular shawl, but it is still in good shape. Unfortunately, it is morphing as we speak. One reader made the comment that she wishes it could be adapted to larger sizes, and that brought about a whole re-do of the first section, and it actually may become TWO shawls, one for easier knitting, the other more complicated. AND, I found some lovely pure silk for it... but that's for next time.

I am not the only one powering through projects before the hot weather. The husband's transformation of the side yard is well under way
But let's not talk about the rest of the yard....
That thing behind the tree is a cement mixer that we actually own, as my husband pet projects usually involve mixing cements (and lately, staining it too). Two days ago, there was an actual Bobcat  he had rented, to the delight of the kids that took turns riding on it. Of course Mom was not at home.

Here is the Yarn Porn of the week:

It is Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! in their one-time Cotton Stainer colorway. I actually expected more red, but it is quite pink. I could probably be persuaded to part with it for the right trade, since pink is definitely not one of my colors

This is Schaeffer's Audrey - yummy silk/merino single ply lace weight, and a generous skein. It is this season's Year of Lace delivery. To my chagrin, I like neither the colorway nor the pattern, so I can also be persuaded to part with this one. However, I do love the yarn, the feel of it is unbelievably soft and I believe I would love it in a different colorway. My complexion and pastels just don't go along.

Remember this guy? It is an attempt at knitted Amigurumi in frog shape. I have been planning a different head shape, and I also want to give it some clothes... a hot pink dress maybe? It is made with light worsted weight BFL leftovers on size 1 tiny DPNs to make it tight and nice, and it is barely key chain size. Great fun to make! I did write down the pattern as I was going and maybe I will release it when it is refined properly.

AND.. The Scrublets pattern is finally up in the KnitPicks site. And the samples are home just in time for a girlfriend's baby shower. All is good.

Next FrogBlog we will cover a little review of some yummy pure silk for knitting, more news on the shawl, and a little bit on the upcoming May monthly pattern!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Winter knitting, Begone!

All my knitting time seems to have been sucked up by this couch throw.
I am slowly working though what seems a never dwindling mountain of yarn and using up every TV knitting time to finish this lovely cabled throw before it gets Arizona-hot. My son loves this blanket, and has even named it. He loves to cozy up to me and burrow under it while I am working, the warm and fuzzy feeling soon degenerating into sweltering heat. I love the blanket, but I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to finishing it. Though I am mostly done with the body, I am toying with the idea of an applied cable border. The pattern will hopefully soon be up in the KP site.
And yes, I can watch TV while doing cables o_O
Yes! I can knit like mom! Just don't tell my dad.

My Wabi Sabi sock yarn finally arrived - It is lovely dandelion-y and I can't wait to play with it - however the skein was a one of a kind, and before I knit with it I need a better estimate of what my little shawl is going to need.
The triangle shawl is still in a very experimental phase, with very little daylight knitting time in the last week or so. My little underweight skein of Dragonflyfibers Squishy Lace ran out finally, and I had to hastily start on a sock remnant of Lorna's Laces in variegated blues. This too is running out. I keep looking at my remnant stash - the next one up is a bright orange Koigu KPPM - be very scared!

Color change and all, I am finally at the point where I am introducing the infamous March Windshape clue - nupps, but no beads - and the shawls seems to be finally flowing effortlessly. It actually looks like difficult knitting, but it is not! The Windshape pattern will probably change that, but I think it is going to be a showy little piece. I have a special edging planned, but i am not telling anything until I have tested it out.
Meanwhile, see this little lozenge shape right before the chevrons? It is a happy little accident during a transition from one pattern to another, but I liked it SO much that I want to extract a pattern from it and use it in another triangle - This one a really easy knit with maybe two patterns and an edging, for those too frustrated with the March pattern to revisit it.

I am lately in a strange color mood, because I really want to find a good, summer blue to do the second triangle. I am talking lovely summer sky turquoise blue. And I want to use a summer fiber, such as seacell or silk. Any enablers out there? If you spot a my perfect yarn somewhere, please, please drop me a line! You will get a free preview copy of the pattern as soon as it is ready.

And speaking of ready patterns... my Baby Scrublet pattern is up for release later this week or next at the Knit Picks site! It is a set of top and longies modelled after medical scrubs, made in sportweight cotton. I have made it for a number of pregnant friends at the hospital and it always gets rave review during baby showers! It comes in sizes newborn to 18 months.
Here is son #2 modelling it in Frog Tree Pima Silk, for 12 months size

And here is the girl/nurse version in Knit Picks Comfy Sport also for 12 months, with a crossover front - it is made with applied i-cord. As you can see, there are a couple of pocket models to choose from - heart or cross.

If you have a pregnant Doctor/nurse/EMT/respiratory therapist/PT/OT/aide/Vet/Dentist they are definitely going to be tickled pink with one of these, and you can probably embroider the baby's name in the chest if you are handy with the sewing needle (I am not).

Spring is in the air! Hurry up and finish your winter stuff! Summer knitting is ahead!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Looks Good on Paper

Today marks the launch of the FrogBlog! - I have wanted a cool, spiffy, visually appealing blog, but in the end I will just have to settle for a simple format. My talents do not include Internet skills, or photography either. Without further ado, here we go, bare bones and all!

After going through the usual process of designing, frogging, writing, test knitting and editing, the Talinay Gloves pattern are almost ready for prime time. I am very much looking forward to starting this mini-KAL at the Ravelry 2010 Lace Kalendar group.

Here they are in Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga! in a green colorway

What is special about this pattern is that its proceeds will be set permanently for charitable purposes. Long after tragedies like the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti are out of the news and out of mind, the staggering need for help remains. Once out of the public eye, the stream of donations dries up. Let's keep it coming! The income we collect during the KAL will go entirely to Doctors Without Borders. Any income afterwards will be invested in a socially responsible site such as Microplace , which offer unsecured micro loans which borrowers can invest in, let's say, starting a new business. You can choose the type of investment you want your money to go to- I favor investments that focus on women in very poor countries. After the loan term is over, you may or may not get your money back with interest (that is the meaning of unsecured - you are not guaranteed to get it back).

Do you have $20? That is the minimal initial investment you can make. That's the price of a skein of sock yarn.

The Talinay Gloves are a fun knit, which take about 1/2 skein (230 yd) of sock/fingering weight yarn. A good chance to use up one of those gorgeous skeins, too pretty to hide in your feet, and you can make a second pair to share.

Don't they look pretty in Malabrigo Sock in Springtime colorway? Variegated colorways are hard to compliment, but slip stitches and changes in direction of the knitting help take advantage of the color variations.

The pattern is written with the beginner lace in mind, as it teaches a couple of skills you will need when planning a lace border: picking up stitches and applying a knitted-on border. A section at the end full of detailed notes will help you get through the project, do some basic fudging and understand the details of the construction.

I hope you can join us for the KAL!!!

Meanwhile, I have been bit by the creative bug again in the worst possible way. I have spent most of my short Easter break planning a new pattern. I just can't get over how pretty our March pattern was, and I wanted to include it in a project to really make it shine. So I have started on a triangular shawl.

This is my work table - graph paper, calculator, pencil, lots of erasers, rulers, colored pencils, notions, and lots, lots of coffee. Did you notice? not a computer in sight.

I settled for English Mesh as my background/beginning pattern. Looks good on paper, it is a very simple, effective pattern of 6 stitch repeat. Easy, right? Lo and behold, that sucker was a major headache - it has a triple decrease that causes the pattern to shift, and adjusting to it took many charts and a good bit of frogging. But it has been conquered! the increase ratio is a bit odd and it makes the center stitch sway a little, but it is pretty minor and may be able to block out.
Six charts later, I have the bare bones for a nice triangular shawlette. Do you know about creation being 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration? Well, I still have a whole lot to perspire before this is over.

Of course, with the dandelion image in mind, I felt I REALLY needed to work this in yellow. Of which I do not have a single skein in my stash. After much surfing for the right shade of dandelion-y yellow, I landed in Wabi Sabi Yarns where a half-off sale was in progress, and found the "it" yellow. Can't wait for it to arrive! I am settling again for sock weight, and shooting to stay in the 400 yard range - about the same as an Ishbel.

And speaking of yarn, check out this lovely, from Impulse of Delight Yarn . I can't even begin to describe how soft and yummy this is - A silk/cashmere blend in colorway Purple Broccoli. A definite splurge! The original yarn is really much more purple with pink highlights, but my camera seems to be really bad in capturing purples.

How about these lovelies from the new Spring colorways from the Sanguine Gryphon?. I am a sucker for SG yarns. From top to bottom, it is Differential Grasshopper, Sea Urchin and Ruby-Tailed Wasp. Grasshopper is really a neon green with orange splashes, while Urchin is a coral pink, much more orange than the photos.

Ready for some spring time knitting??? I sure am.