Saturday, June 28, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Metaphorically speaking. I don't really fish, but we are on vacation. Be back next week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Laura expressed interest in my take on this yarn. Here's my rather digressive response.

I say "this", because the two brands as so close as to be almost indistinguishable. To my fingers, the Cascade "Fixation" feels just a teeny-tiny tad heavier, but so close that I always wonder if I'm just imagining that. They both come in lots of colors. I've actually used the "Esprit" from Elann more, but I'm not sure why.

Anyway, it's amazing how springy/stretchy 1.7% elastic can make a cotton yarn. The first time I swatched with it I was grinning (practically giggling) because it felt so silly. And then I wondered "how much do I try to stretch it while I work? - and will my gauge be all over the place?" I'm normally a rather loose knitter. I ended up trying to knit firmly, but not tightly. That's a helpfully vague description, isn't it? All I can say is, experiment. For socks, I like a gauge of 6 sts/inch in stockinette. If I were ever to use it for anything else (and I may someday), I would probably go a little looser.

The texture is not smooth, is a little nubby. It reminds me a bit of "crepe" yarns (not a very current classification, but people used to knit whole dresses out of wool crepe fingering). So the stitch definition is not crisp, but pattern stitches do show up, just a bit softened.

The reason I ever tried it in the first place was 1) because I wanted some cotton socks for myself and 100% cotton is just too inelastic and if Sockotta had been invented at the time I wasn't aware of it, 2) because I wanted to make socks for Mr S, and he can't wear anything with even a trace of wool in it. I've been very satisfied with the results. I do have to watch the needle joins as I'm working. With most sock yarns I give a little extra tug there to prevent ladders. With this one, the extra tug has resulted in "anti ladders", visible strips of extra tight stitches running down the sock. And of course the socks are slightly bulkier than a fingering weight pair would be.

Our socks go through the washer and dryer - cold water wash and regular dryer cycle. If they stay in the dryer until they are bone dry, they come out looking considerably shrunken. But who wants to mess with tending the dryer until they are just damp and then laying them flat to finish? Not me, and certainly not Mr S. So we just pull out the shrivelled objects and put them on. They stretch out nicely once they are on our feet. If I ever get to the Tee Shirt I have planned in the back of my mind for the bag of 10 in the back of the closet I will probably take a bit more care. But that project is pretty far down the every growing list........

On an entirely different note: for any lace lovers out there, I suggest a peek at Bonnie's Emily's Firmaments Shawl. Definite eye candy.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vaction Knitting

I've been so busy with the swatching marathon, that up until today I've hardly thought about the fact that we are leaving for vacation on Wednesday. But this morning I packed up the submission package, ready to go in the mail first thing tomorrow, and my thoughts are turning to trip preparation and packing.

Of course, the really important question is: "What will I bring for knitting?"

I will need something that can be done amid conversation, even chaos. We'll spend much of the time in company with two extended families that include kids ranging from seven to sixteen, plus at least a couple of seriously goofy adults. The second Hudson River fits the bill.

Soothing, not too much counting, not too much thinking...but a little large to take on the airplane. And I do need airplane knitting, to help me ignore the fact that I'm on an airplane.

So I went stash diving, and found some nice pink yarn for a new pair of summer socks.

This is a "Fixation" clone that Elann used to sell before they began offering their own "Esprit." It's your basic sport weight cotton/elastic blend. The cuff won't be much longer than you see in the picture - summertime, after all. It's a little lace pattern called "Snowdrop" (at least in the old Harmony stitch collection.) Should have myself new socks by the time we get home.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cascade Heritage

I'm always on the lookout for solid color sock yarns, so the new Cascade "Heritage" caught my eye as I was browsing around Angelika's. It comes in about twenty solids and ten or twelve handpaints and it's very reasonably priced: $12 for a solid hank and $17 for a handpaint, but that's 437 yards per hank, so one will make a pair of socks or a scarf. It's superwash and has 25% nylon, both of which are important to me in choosing sock yarn. So I decided to try some. Oddly, given that I set out to look for solids, I ordered a handpaint.

This is the Dark Sunset colorway. So far, I love it. It is very soft in the hank. The base yarn seems about the same thickness and twist as LL Shepherd Sock. I'm guessing it will have good stitch definition, though I haven't swatched it yet. The colorway feels autumnal to me. I'll need some new socks for next winter.....

I have been working on many swatches this past week, for a proposal that I want to get in the mail by Tuesday. So the Heritage just has to wait for awhile.

Monday, June 16, 2008

47th Annual

Yesterday was the 47th Annual Blanchardville Father's Day Chicken BBQ. Given that we've had torrential rains almost every day for the last couple of weeks there was some concern about the weather. But the day was beautiful.

Mr S and I had signed up to work the serving line from 10:30 to 12:30, so we strolled over to the park about 10:10.

The pit crew had been busy since the wee hours of the morning. They had 1500 chicken halves to grill. When the chicken is done it's loaded into those (very clean) garbage cans and hauled over to the serving area.

Just starting to get the tables set up. The boxes of baked potatos were starting to arrive - different women in town bake them at home, wrap them in foil and send them over still hot. (Then some of the same gals show up to work the line).

The lower park was still sodden, which meant the interdenominational church service had to be moved back into one of the churches, and the afternoon Home Talent League ball game was moved to the next town over.

By 10:20 the serving lines were starting to get organized. That's Mr S on the right chatting with the school librarian. This was the first year that we had official tee shirts. Back in the kitchen, cole slaw is being poured into bowls, and the cheese trays are appearing. The crew at work down at the Legion Hall has been slicing French bread and re-bagging it. The bags are now stashed in boxes under the serving table. Milk cartons have been loaded into coolers at the end of the serving lines. Ice cream cups have been loaded into the little chest freezer. Just about ready to roll.

By 10;30, I was a bit concerned, because there was hardly a line, and some years it's out to the street when serving begins. But by 11:00 all was well. Full picnic tables and lots of carry outs.

I was too busy dishing out bread and cheese to get a picture when the Iowa, Lafayette and Green County Dairy Queens showed up, one of them in a full floor length formal. Habitat for Humanity had a display, and I was really pleased to hear that they were getting a good number of donations. Rick Fredrickson was providing his "song stylings". Lots of little kids running around and playing on the playground equipment. All in all, a good energy community morning.

But the best part was when I felt an arm around my waist, looked up, and it was Lovely Daughter, making a surprise Father's Day visit. Mr S was pleased beyond measure. We wrapped up our shift, grabbed our chicken dinners and ate looking out over the soggy ball field. Good food, better company, couldn't ask for a nicer day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Well Armed

This is one of my favorite birthday gifts, from my Mom. It's a very strong, narrow weeder, with a serrated edge that can cut through turf like butter. It works like a charm and I love it. Plus it just makes me feel tough. When I 'm packing that baby in it's leather sheath slung from my hip I feel seriously armed. Watch out dandelions.

Tradescantia a/k/a Spiderwort

More peonies. Poor things are just flattened to the ground after the recent storms - but that does give me a good excuse to cut some and bring them in the house.

Solid color version of the handwarmers. This is yarn from Rainbow Fleece farm, a gorgeous color (slightly more lavender than it appears on my screen), though not the world's softest. Will need to get them sewn up and washed before passing final verdict, though.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

On the Farm

At 1:30 yesterday, the weather was very hot and humid. It felt more like August than June, except that everything is still green and lush. The Circle M looked quite idyllic. They really have a wonderful location. The driveway joins the county road less than a quarter mile from town, but when you get back to the house it feels serenely remote.
Kriss had lots of little cuties...

(I drove past the lambs on my way in, but didn't hike back to get a picture.)
Because the wind was gusting strongly, Kriss had moved the "fiber people" into the house.

That's Linda on the wheel and "the other Chris" with the drop spindle. Chris demonstrated Navajo Plying, which I had read about but couldn't quite visualize until I saw her do it. Maggie was in the garage demonstrating natural dying. She was using rhubarb leaves as a mordant, which was interesting. I settled in near Chris and worked on my second "Hudson River".
Around 3:30 the skies opened. I don't know if I've ever seen rain come down so hard. We were lucky, though. No tornadoes, and no flash flooding. And there was a break in the weather long enough for me to get home around 5:00. All in all, a low key afternoon, but pleasant.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Who really needs a Handwarmer to pick peonies?

Well, no one, actually. It's just that this is the only new knitting I've accomplished in the last couple of days (it took quite a lot of mucking around before I found a stitch combination that worked the way I wanted - there are a couple of discarded first attempts in the knitting bag.) Doesn't feel like I've accomplished much with my week so far.

I do have to remind myself that I did get patterns printed and priced and organized into a binder for the Lambs and Lettuce festival. And dug out the sample garments and got them labeled. And found some spare needles and bits of yarn (in case anyone wants to try a hand at knitting), and then cast on 10 stitches and knit a few rows because I am not going to try to teach someone to cast on right off the top. And got things loaded as neatly as possible into two bags. All that took longer than you might think.

And I worked on designing some ads for Ravelry, which took a lot of time because I am fairly inept at working with graphics on the computer. And not a graphic designer.

And I pulled a few weeds. Funny how "I'll just pull a couple" turns into two hours.

Still, I keep wondering how it got to be Wednesday already.

Monday, June 02, 2008


.... and the livin' is easy.
An early summer event that is coming up fast (next Saturday - June 7) is the second annual Lambs & Lettuce Festival at Circle M Farm. My friend Kriss and her family moved up here from Chicago a few years ago to start a small scale, sustainable farm, just on the outskirts of Blanchardville. This year, I'll be heading over after my morning stint at the library, to provide local color and knitting advice (as well as patterns for sale). It should be a fun day (full schedule at the link above). If you plan to come from the Madison area, be warned that St Hwy 78 is under construction and may be impassible for a few miles just outside Blanchardville. The upside to this is that it gives you the opportunity to take some truly lovely county roads for the last leg of the trip. My best advice: get yourself to New Glarus, then take Hwy 39 heading west. A couple of miles past the intersection with J, start watching for Hay Hollow Road. Go left on Hay Hollow and stay on it to Cty H. Go right on H and take it almost all the way into Blanchardville. Circle M will be on your right.