Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mom's Sweater

Almost a year ago, while I was visiting my mom in CT we talked about me knitting a sweater for her.   We must have looked at a zillion patterns and she chose this one
 Kimono Cardigan to Knit
 The pattern comes in many many size options.  I took her measurement then went home and dyed some merino/bamboo DK yarn in a tonal silvery grey since that is what she wanted after looking at this pic.  I also thought it would be a simple fast knit.  

HA! It sure was simple.  So simple I was bored after 10 inches plus the color put me to sleep.  Add some stitches, knit a row,  knit a row,  knit a row,  purl a row, etc.   This is not to reflect badly on the designer.  The pattern clearly stated "Easy".  I just thought it would be a great social knitting item.  HA.    

For several months I tried to keep knitting on it.  It would come with me to Knit Night each week, get taken it out and sometimes an inch or two was added before I just had to knit on something else.  Then it languished in its carry bag at home for many months.  Finally I had to admit that this item was never going to be completed.  All these months my mother kept asking how her sweater was coming along and I'd say something like, "OK, but slow". When I realized it was not to be I had to think hard.

Finally it dawned on me that maybe some color would help.  I thought and thought about what colors my mother wears and dithered around with ideas until I came up with one I thought might work. The two silvery hanks still unballed were overdyed to denim blue and a variegated red.  These I liked very much.  Ahhh now there could be progress.  

Then I realized that even striping this sweater/jacket would not alleviate the knitting boredom.  (I am easily bored which gets me into many new ideas to keep myself amused -- that's for another day).   Finally, into the frog pond it went. Gosh that action takes a lot of decision and courage.  About 8 ounces got unknit and reballed.   The silver next to the red/blue yarn looked good.  Not really red, white and blue, more casual, at least I hope so.  

Since the pattern my mother picked had a kimono look I wanted to retain that feel and went searching on Ravelry.  Gosh I love the pattern section there--- I can look at what other people made and their comments too.  It's one of my favorite areas.

Finally after several afternoons of not working ummm searching, this Crystal Palace number won out -- wondrously called Kimono Jacket with Stripes.
Perfect.  Stripe with the silver, then the rest with the multi colored yarn.  It is put together rather oddly in a semi modular mode (On Ravelry I was warned about this odd construction) which kept me interested and also let me see progress. 

After the 4 sections were completed I asked Ruth A, of In Stitches, to sew it all together for me. She's a great seamstress and knitter and loves doing those kinds of things while I could have a sweater languishing for years while I avoided the seams. Ruth doesn't have a website but if you live near Ithaca and want your item finished I can pass her email on to you.

Next were the neck and edgings. The bottom was easy.  BUT the one thing my mother insisted upon was a shall collar. I took the sweater to Knit Night but no one there had a good idea so I did some Elizabeth Zimmerman research. Sheesh the shawl collar vest in Hand Knitting with Meg Swansen I am working on right now has a Shawl Collar! So Meg Swensen, instead of EZ but they are certainly close. When I was picking up stitches along the edging I made an invisible diagonal line and proceeded to pick up stitches along it. I really enjoyed all the short rows too.

Next were the buttons and holes.  I don't like making button holes no matter what they are in.   Again, Meg to the rescue.  In the very same booklet as the Shawl Collared vest is an Icord button thingie.   Pick up 6 sts, knit for 3 ridges, then on one side dec 3 to 2 and proceed to Icord until the cord is long enough to go around the button, then kitchener the remaining sts to the 3 on the needle.   Very simple, very good use of Icord too.

The buttons are hand made by Bonnie at Joyful Adornments. Bonnie has many glass buttons and recently has been creating them to match my colorways. I do believe bobbin earrings are in the offing too. We will have them all at the RI Fiber Festival.

I was going to wait until I saw my Mom Mother's Day weekend to finish this but just could not so here it is all blocked and ready for wrapping.  I sure hope it fits.

Monday, April 13, 2009

First Brushings

And I just cannot bring myself to do anything more with these bits than reverently pet them.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Welcome Keeper and Gumdrop

It's been almost a year since SmokeyBlue passed on.  We needed the break from diapering, intensive care and the space to leave for a day or two together.  SmokeyBlue taught me so much about love and getting on with life happily despite limitations. 

 This time we decided to get TWO bunnies so they could keep each other company when I am not able to do that myself.

Charlotte Sharkey of Caravan Farm, (no website yet but if you want her email, please let me know) grows the sweetest animals around.  All her farm kids are friendly - sheep, ducks and rabbits.  We also liked that she keeps her French Angoras in an unheated semi-outdoor space as we do too.  I was vascillating and Jim was still not ready for another buns when Char just happened to bring a basket of bunnies to visit.  Basel was instantly happy and in love.  Jim picked up one and just did not want to put her down.  I fell for the runt of the litter.
This time around I wanted girls as they don't spray and we did not want to neuter.  Turns out the runt, now known as Gumdrop is a girl so Jim picked a pretty girl in champagne to get bonded to her.  He kept calling her a Keeper so that has become her name.

We already had the Palace ready from Smokey Blue.
That's Carl, several years ago, helping with the painting.

And the jumbo dog crate transformed into a bunny condo. Isn't Jim creatively clever?

And SB resting right after a 4 hour trip from his previous home in the Catskills to just south of Ithaca, NY.  SB eventually had the run of the deck with chicken wire on the edgings.  However he was a French Angora and they are great jumpers and climbers which is how he got himself paraplegic.
So not this time.  I am not a caged animal fan but Jim is mildly allergic to fresh angora fluff so these buns cannot live inside.  We decided on a compromise.   Some time inside every day and then a secure run outside that is integral to the Palace for lots of exercise and air.

The hole is cut in the back of the Palace.

WaiLin is Jim's apprentice and a fantastic carpenter in the making.  He just completed the framework for the run.

Notice that this run is secure from raccoons and any other predator that might venture onto the deck. It also opens from the top so I can get at the buns if needed.

OK.  We are ready for the newcomers now.

On Friday Jim and I spent a pleasant afternoon getting reacquainted with our newest family members, drinking tea and enjoying Char's rabbitry.  Then we brought the babies home.

Gumdrop, the 'runt' will cuddle for a few minutes but then wants down.  She is a great explorer.

Keeper could cuddle for hours and does not really want to explore yet.
They both love kale, dill, raspberries, seeds and hay.  Sweet babies that Basel is adoring already while Sparkles is still watching.  These buns are too big for prey so remind him of SmokeyBlue who helped educate him in his kittenhood.
Jim is more than pleased and I am delighted to have some fuzzies to love again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Honeymoon At Last

When we finally got married last November, after 22 years of vascillating, we requested no presents.  We said that if anyone felt the urge to give, then please give to Heifer International.  Most folk did donate and generously at that.  However Jim's choir ignored our request and gave us a gift certificate to The Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles.

We debated going in December but our lives were just too busy and we know that Skaneateles has some fierce windy snow storms that we did not want to drive through.  The envelope was put on our fridge with a strong magnet.  A few weeks ago Jim mentioned that we had better use the GC before it expired.  After so many months I didn't even see the envelope any more. 

I was hesitant to go.  Jim says I'm such a homebody and only leave the house at the drop of a knitting needle.  I love where we live -- the views, the comfort, the animals, the ease of the house and all we have made it in to.

So we went online and chose rooms, 1st choice, 2nd, 3rd - all with lake views and whirlpool. Then we called for reservations and found out only our 3rd choice was available for last weekend.  Good enough.  Wai Lin, Jim's apprentice, agreed to house/animal sit.  That made leaving so much easier.

We decided to drive up on Friday afternoon, getting to Skaneateles in time for dinner.  It's a pretty drive through rolling hills which are still farmed.  The parking lot was almost full but we found a spot near the back.   3/27 was the third Syracuse NCAA game so we knew folks would be in the Tavern early.   We planned to eat, then go upstairs, get into our jammies and watch in the comfort of our beautiful room.

This is our suite (from the outside).
One window to the right of the chimney and 1 window to the left plus the 3 around front.

Dinner was delightful on the Front Porch which has a great view of the lake right across the street, very similar to the one from our roon.  It was leisurely, delicious and low key.  Our wait staff told us that we could order up coffee and dessert right from our room later so we opted to have dessert at half time.  

By the time we finished eating the game was due to start.  Up in our room we put on the TV while putting our things away and got comfy. (Did you notice that WHITE bedspread? At home we would be nuts to have one as it would be covered in dog and cat hair in about a minute, but here, on our honeymoon it was another one of the treats.)  We tried the channel we were told it was on but that was very snowy and full of static.   No other channels would come in.  Finally we called down to the desk and they confirmed that the game was on channel 5.  uh oh.  A woman came up to see what she could do with the cable.  She fiddled for a while, doing most of what we had done, but also played with the cable out on the roof.  Actually that made it worse since when she left we could not see any of the game.

Jim was more into the game than I.  I really wanted to be in jammies knitting and listening more than watching.  Jim went down to the Tavern to join the crowd.  Alas Syracuse did not do very well but he stayed for the entire game.  Meanwhile another person came up to fiddle but got no further.  Oh well.   We are not TV watchers anyway.  When Jim ordered some iced teas to take up to our room and was asked which room, they said they were free since our TV did not work.

The next morning we delighted in not needing to get up to feed animals.  What a treat.  We love our guys but a day or so without responsibility is soooo refreshing.  Our room came with a nice breakfast buffet of bagels, scrambled eggs, ham, croissants, cereal, fruit, coffee, juice, etc.  Again we sat on the Porch only today it was sunny and relatively warm.  We watched joggers and walkers and families out for strolls.  Upon check out we were told they were taking 20% off our bill because of the TV.  We blinked and said thank you.  Now we have a new GC worth enough to come back for another delicious dinner.

Once we checked out we too went for a walk along the water's edge.  Skaneateles is about 55 miles northeast of Ithaca so their lake was still frozen on the northern end.

Skaneateles is really a summer resort area.  The Clintons have summered there and the Rockefellers had a house on the lake which is now Stella Maris, a retreat center.  It was quiet, sunny, and delightful to be walking around with no schedule, no laptop, no meetings.  We stopped for coffee and at a small place that makes its own donuts.  Then we drove down the west side of the lake for a while and then turned toward Moravia, Groton and Ithaca, getting home in the early afternoon.