Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back to knitting

Before I talk about knitting, I thought I would show you a few more flowers. I found some really cute pansies at a local store a couple of weeks ago. One set are just yellow and purple but these are orange and purple and they make me smile when I look at them. Aren't they adorable? I love pansies with faces. They are so cheerful that they make me smile every time I look at them.
This is my Eastern redbud. It is native to the East coast of the US and is glorious when it is in full flower. The flowers are close to the branch as you can see in the close-up in the next photo. It has lovely heart-shaped leaves but systematically kills off any flowers I plant under it. I've given up and put the flowers in pots.I was trying to get a close-up of the flowers and didn't realize I had such an artistic shot! The reddish tree to the left of the photo is a finger-leaf weeping Japanese maple. I love that tree. Its leaves are very delicate and it turns a gorgeous red in the fall. Lastly, the flowers of a weeping peach. It actually produces peaches, although I tend to pinch off the fruit when they are tiny. I want energy going to the flowers and growth, not to the fruit. It produces the most gorgeous peachy-pink flowers (you can see the buds in the photo) but the tree has died off on one side so is lop-sided right now. I hope it all works out in the end. I don't know why it died off but it might be the same thing that is causing spots on the crabapples. We have to spray them with a fungicide each week during the growing season and one of the crabapple trees (one of my favorites) has also died.

I also have crabapples in flower this week. One is in full bloom and three others are about ready to burst into bloom. The lilacs have also begun blooming but won't be in full bloom till next week. Did I tell you I love spring?

I worked on a pattern for publication this week so no pictures. Not much knitting either as I wrote out the pattern and worked out the kinks. I started knitting it late in the week and have barely cast on for the second sock in the Shibui.

I also bought some Classic Elite Premiere in Intense Teal for the cover sweater of the Spring/Summer 2008 Vogue Knitting. We decided to do the sweater as a Knit-A-Long in the summer. However reviews of the yarn have been mixed on Ravelry. Some people said it pills and looks old very quickly. With such an intense color, I was concerned enough to return the yarn. I am going to choose between Rowan Purelife Cotton in Yellowwood, if it arrives at the store on time, or Euroflax Linen Sportweight in Shamrock. The latter is on hold for me as a backup. The pattern in the mag is written for a bulky cotton so the learning in the class will be the re-jiggering of the pattern to a different gauged yarn. In any case, I have neither yarn in hand to entice you with visual appeal. In a week or two, I hope to remedy this situation.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The bead necklace is in time-out. I tried it on and more strands came loose. Obviously I have no idea what I'm doing with respect to knotting. I thought I had put surgeon's knots in but super glue is the answer.

I've packed it away and will take it out later and re-do the whole thing. I need more silver wire or something else as I will have to cut away the twisted loops I made. I did them so nicely and tightly that they are hard to undo.

Oh well! On to knitting...

Flowers, at last!

This is going to be a photo heavy post. My garden is blooming! It has woken up at last from its winter's slumber. I had a few hyacinths earlier but the rest of it was just brown. But we had warmer weather last week and poof! the world is alive again. Wordsworth's lines about daffodils are ringing in my ears, especially the lines:
"When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;"...
"They stretch'd in never-ending line"
It describes my forsythia so perfectly. So without further ado, here is my garden this week.

This is a weeping cherry. The only sad part about this tree is that its blooms are very short-lived. In a week they will be gone.A close-up of the cherry blossoms or 'sakura' in Japanese.
There the the glorious forsythia bushes. I love forsythia. They make spring in the Northeast arrive with a BANG! Everywhere you look, there is that lovely yellow color shouting "Spring is here". They aren't like the crocuses and the hyacinths that whisper the arrival of spring. The forsythias proclaim it in the town square, in every street and corner.There are my daffodils. Just a few at present, but there will be more soon. My daffodils bloom a bit later. They were advertised as having pink centers but as you can see, they aren't pink. They are yellow. I love them anyway.
The hyacinths are almost done. Here's one that still looks good. Hyacinths have the most wonderful scent. I' was inhaling it as I planted pansies last weekend. I will have photos of the pansies in a couple of weeks once they have settled in and are blooming in earnest.

I also finished a few things, or thought I did. Here's the necklace. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? Wait? What is that loop doing off on the side?
After I finished securing the clasp , I noticed one of the knots had come loose! I've spent much time thinking about how to fix it and have come to the conclusion that I have to undo the twist above the cone and secure the loop back into the circle holding the other strands under the cone. I tried a few fudges but nothing seems to work. There is no help for it. I am super-gluing the knots before I finish it again.

I added some pearls to the seed beads as the beads by themselves seemed a bit unbalanced relative to the big bead. I am quite happy with the result. Here's close-up of the clasp that has to be undone. You can also see the strand of pearls I added on the bottom here. I wove the pearls through the strands of seed beads to echo the glass filigree on the bead.I also finished a sock. The first of the pair from the Shibui sock yarn. It is lovely. I need to cast on for the second.
A close-up of the stitch pattern on the cuff. You can see the ribbing at the very top of the photo. The broken rib transitions very effectively into a 2x2 rib.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Beading on the cheap

Or not so cheap. The necklace itself isn't cheap but the tools are.

I made quite a bit of progress on the necklace this week. Here's a close up. There are two silver beads flanking the large bead and then 14 strands of seed beads in 4 colors all mixed up at random. I am debating if 14 strands is enough or not. I am going to do the 14 on the other side and then decide, so please weigh in. I have about 4 done on the other side and you can see them at the bottom of the photo. Here's my oh-so-inexpensive bead set up.The base is a metal thali (just the tray, no food ;-) ) with a washcloth in it to prevent things from sliding around. A plastic bowl serves to hold the beads. I tried using slip knots on coil-less safety pins to prevent the beads from sliding off but it didn't always work. So I went looking for Bead Stoppers at the local craft store that is supposed to carry them. No luck. They didn't have them. But they did have crimp beads that looked a lot like those Bead stoppers. So I bought them. $1 for more than I need. You can see them at the top of the tray. One of them was too tight to pull the beading line through. But enough of the others work. I am using a Big Eye needle to thread the beads and you can see it in the middle of the bowl.

I also made a multi-grain bread using a recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It has come out really well. I like Peter Reinhart's writing style and have bought his Whole Grain Breads which has a different technique that I have to try.

No knitting but that has to change soon. I have a contract from Interweave for an item to go in a new book coming out next year. The yarn arrived yesterday and I need to get started on the charting and knitting.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Nothing, nada, zilch

No knitting, no beading, nothing to report.

Actually, that is not entirely true. I did work the cuff of the sock in the Shibui sock yarn and am almost finished with the first sock. I am quite surprised because I am almost out of yarn. I won't run short, but I don't have exceptionally large feet - quite the contrary, and I usually have a lot of yarn left over.

Also, I am useless at winding center pull balls without a Nostepinne or a tube of some kind. I wound this on my fingers and it was a huge mess. So much so that I took some time and rewound it into a usual round pull-from-the-outside ball and life is much better. I should be binding that sock off shortly. I am going to try one of the 2x2 rib bind-offs I learned from Jean Wong.

After Ann and Barbara so kindly gave me advice on baking stones and replacements in the comments to last week's post, I went to Target and bought a pizza stone. It is small but it works. I made pizza last night for dinner and also baked the remainder of the bread dough. It came out well. Next week I am going to try a whole grain recipe from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I also found a couple of links via Ravelry that you might be interested in: Manjula's Kitchen (how to make naan in your oven) and Vegan Feast Kitchen (a variation on the no-knead recipe).

I am in a relative state of shock this weekend. A colleague of mine -my age - just passed away this week. My husband spotted her obituary in the newspaper. I had just heard from her a few weeks ago so I am dazed. The wake is tomorrow. What a fine line there is between life and death. It continues to reinforce my philosophy that we have to live each day for that day and not wait till someday to do the things we enjoy - especially the simple things. Spending time doing the things we enjoy, stopping to enjoy precious moments along the way, and making time for the ones we love is something that we have to do all the time. To balance that loss, I also heard that my friend's daughter had a baby girl. 5.5 weeks early but healthy and doing well. In the midst of life there is death but in the midst of death, there is life.