Transcending Time

Last week my husband surprised me with a trip to a semi-local art museum, the Chazen Museum of Art. It holds a special place in my heart as I spent the last two years of school working & studying in this very museum. A lot has changed since that time — the museum went through a pretty major expansion project and was renamed (it was the Elvehjem Museum of Art in my day) — but as with most things in life, even with major changes a lot remains the same. The collection, of course, still houses the same pieces along with numerous additions. It is certainly a trip to walk the halls and remember how I studied so many of these pieces in such detail, writing term paper after term paper on them. I am so thankful my husband thought to take me.

20131126-095826.jpgI love looking down the corridor and seeing art ranging from modern to ancient sacophagi. It gives a person perspective — not only are we but a blip in history, but humans have been creating for a long time.

20131126-095902.jpgI saw this painting and had to share it with you. Sadly I did not jot down the artist’s name, but check out the spindle!

Like many things in our life, my husband and I don’t overlap very much in our tastes for art. He tends to like paintings of tall ships. Realism. Paintings of landscapes & nature. While there is definitely realism I like, I tend to get more excited about things like this…

20131126-095850.jpgBlack Jack by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle

and…

20131126-095842.jpgLuke Jerram’s Large E. coli in glass.

I don’t know why I’m drawn to works like this, but I am. My husband is accepting of my ‘weird’ tastes… I think. Or amused. Or something. In any case, he seems mildly entertained going through the modern sections of museums with me. At the very least, it means a lot to me that he goes even if he isn’t super fond of it.

Did I mention I wore my own little work of art? I finally took my Deco cardigan out on the town.

deco with sculptureIt fits wonderfully & as it is knit at a pretty snug gauge it is quite warm – perfect for our early winter this year. And really, there is no better knitwear designer to wear while perusing a museum than Kate Davies. All her designs are steeped in history and have such a connection to place & time that each is — dare I say it? — as much a work of art as the items on the walls of a museum.

deco frontish

Wearable art, that is. The best kind.

After the museum, we stopped at our favourite sushi restaurant.

deco misoYum. What a perfect way to end our little day trip!

Now a few days before this, I did snap a few more photos of Deco in good light for you to see. I am quite smitten with how it’s turned out.

deco closed flatEverything came together so nicely with this sweater…

deco detail buttonsFrom the very lovely Sweet Georgia Superwash DK in Riptide to the set of beautiful handmade wooden buttons from anthonyswoodshop on Etsy. These are rosewood and really just a perfect fit for this sweater.

deco detail buttons and ribbonI also managed to find a really fun, amazingly well-matching ribbon for the inside detail at my local craft box store. After a few speed bumps at the start, I perfected my blind stitch installing it.

deco flat, openHere’s another photo to show you where that ribbon is placed…

foldedAnd a little pic of the back.

As always with Kate Davies’ designs, this sweater was a bit challenging to knit as it uses some more advanced techniques and requires more from the knitter as far as knitting know-how and understanding the big picture of the sweater. Thanks to her background, like all her designs, Deco is inspired by historical stylings & has a classic, timeless quality.  With an undeniably impeccable fit and beautiful details, this sweater will be used for years to come. In my mind, I look down that corridor in the Chazen and see how this lovely piece could flawlessly transcend time just as the works displayed.

 Now the only question that remains is which of her sweater designs will I knit next? Maybe this one… or this one… or this one?

Thank goodness they do indeed transcend time, for it may be a bit before I get to them. I will, however, continue to look forward to the chance to begin… hopefully soon.

To see my notes on this pattern, you can check out my Ravelry project page.

Oh, I Just Can’t Wait!

This week I managed to get a lot done. I finished up an exterior painting job, some deck weatherizing, got some amazing buttons for my Carter Cardigan (hopefully I will be ready to share those with you next week!), wrapped up another month of the Merry KAL and kicked off another, got my kids to the dentist, and a whole laundry list of other odds & ends. It all wrapped up with a post-bedtime scurry to the basement when a tornadic storm blew through town last night. Luckily we only saw some high winds and heavy rain, but it was disruptive nonetheless to an otherwise quiet night. I tell you, never a dull moment here.

In between all the stuff of life, I have managed to get some work done on my Deco by Kate Davies. I kicked off the week tackling the aspect of this sweater I was most intrigued by — the short row sleeve cap. While it took me a good long while to wrap my head around this maneuver, I have to say that now that I’ve got going I’m really impressed. Once I got the gist, it was actually really fun to work. More importantly, the fit is phenomenal. Having spent my early years in & out of wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and pretty much resigning myself to the fact that my arms were going to take me farther than my legs ever would, I have some pretty large upper arms. While swimming has trimmed nearly 2″ off each arm circumference (so long excess arm meat, hello toned upper arms — whew-hoo!), they are still muscle-ier than the average ladies’ arm.  It’s something I always check on sweater schematics and check rigorously during each knit. This sleeve cap has a great shape though & is really very comfortable for me. I think the great fit has more to do with shape than size, so it’s not that someone without my mammoth arms would not be comfortable. On the contrary, I think it simply has a fantastic shape.

Would you like to see a few snapshots?20131004-092332.jpgThe sleeve cap — almost a triangular shape. It’s so innovative!

20131004-092318.jpgThe short rows use Carol Sunday’s method — according to the pattern this is like a Japanese short row. Oh. My. Goodness. This was a first for me with this technique & I LOVE it. Previously I had used the wrap & turn method for short rows usually, but I think Carol Sunday’s method is much cleaner & easier. Having taught wrap & turns many times, I would hands down rather teach this one. True, there is a learning curve involved, but once you get going… it is so simple. That paired with the neatness of the appearance, it’s just a win-win.

20131004-092306.jpgJust look at that lovely seamless pick-up at the sleeve cap! As you can see I’m magic looping the sleeve. I have only three decreases left on this one.

20131004-092345.jpgNot too far to go now!

I have been in the habit of knitting my sweater sleeves two-at-a-time, so it is kind of daunting to know that I have a whole other sleeve to knit up when this one is done. BUT I do have the novelty of the short row sleeve cap to knit again. I am hoping that lessens the blow a bit. And then all that is left are the bands — so only a hop, kip & a jump to wearing this sweater.  I love this moment in knitting a sweater — when you can see that it is going to get done, that it is going to fit well, that all the hours of work are going to grant me a beautiful new garment. The anticipation is the only problem… Oh, I just can’t wait!

Slippery Slopes

I find weeding the garden to be a very slippery slope. It all started earlier in the week when a playdate for my daughter resulted in the acquisition of some sedum plants that my friend wanted to be rid of. I planted them immediately — so excited to speed the landscaping project I’ve been slowly working on as my own plants get big enough to split. This led to added garden ambition yesterday.  I started by removing a diseased apple tree that had to come out. Then I had a big hole in the bed it was at the edge of so I transplanted some native flowers from the back yard to fill the space. Then I started weeding out the grasses that had been overtaking that bed. That made it look empty (there were A LOT of weeds), so I transplanted an echinacea. While walking the weeds back to the compost, I saw that hosta I’ve been meaning to split on the side of the house & the Russian sage I’ve been working on wrapping around the corner. So I split the hosta and spread it out to where I have been intending to move it. And monkeyed with that sage a bit. Then I started thinking about just diving in and doing a bit of a big wildflower transplant I’ve been planning. Thankfully it was dinner time, so I managed to step away from the shovel.

Another slippery slope – of course — is knitting. While I didn’t knit a ton this weekend, I did check off some big items from my to-do list that have been on said list for much too long.

First, I finally  worked up a small test swatch for my Sixareen Cape to be sure the bright pink would not bleed when I wash & block. I have had this project finished for well over a week, but it has sat. I have been dragging my feet on blocking not wanting to know if the pink would bleed, terrified that it would. This project definitely needs blocking and I have been kicking myself for the last month knowing I should have done a test swatch early on — you know, like back when pre-washing yarn would have been an option — to know if bleeding would be an issue.  Hindsight is 20/20 though, isn’t it? Especially when I have the ‘new project’ goggles on. This weekend though I finally worked up a small test swatch made from the pink (rosa rugosa) and white (egret) figuring this would offer the clearest indication as to whether or not I would have a problem. To my delight, there was absolutely no bleeding. I am officially set to wash & block this big project. I will probably throw in a good glug of vinegar just to be on the safe side, but I should block it within the next day or so, so it’ll be ready to share soon.

Next, I rewound & weighed my odds & ends leftovers from the Sixareen Cape. I was happy to discover I should have enough leftovers to knit up Kate Davies Peerie Flooers with them. Yay!

Then, of course, I finished up my Shalom Cardigan.shalom close-upWhile I certainly have the yarn left to do it & I have been considering adding sleeves since I began, I decided it would be much nicer as a vest. Perfect to just throw over a long-sleeved shirt to run the kids to school this fall. It is just a smidge more snug than I would have ideally liked, but I am fairly certain I will gain what I am looking for in washing & blocking. If for some reason I don’t, for a vest, it is just fine.

shalom-1I will share more photos once I get it washed & dried.

Having finished this sweater, I started another. Partly because that was the plan & partly because I couldn’t find my US1 to start a pair of socks (I found the needles this morning while cleaning my desk).

beginningThis is Rusted Root by Sarah Johnson (or Sarah Moore — the pattern says ‘Johnson’, Ravelry says ‘Moore’). This is a new designer for me & so far the pattern is just fine. I am a little bummed at the lack of a chart with the lace portion. I find charts make lace work much easier for me. Written instructions take me at least 3times as long to work from because — as silly as it sounds — I very easily lose my place with written instructions. I definitely prefer having a visual. I realize I could write my own chart from the written instructions to use, but I am apparently not that desperate to use a chart. But I digress.

This project is also my first time using yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery. Not normally available to me locally, I acquired this yarn in the find of the century at a thrift shop a few years back. Normally sold for almost $15/skein, I bought this yarn for $0.60/skein — the thrift shop’s designated price for a skein of yarn.  Yes, this sweater should cost me about $3 to make whereas if I bought the yarn today it would cost $72 + tax & shipping. Having spent some time with it now, I would gladly pay the $72! This is Mountain Mohair in the Raspberry colorway. This yarn is very comparable to Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride worsted  as it is a single wool/mohair blend.  The difference is how the color is blended. The best way I can describe it is to explain via pixels — if we were comparing pixel sizes, the Mountain Mohair would use larger pixels than the Brown Sheep. Instead of relying on the dye to create the raspberry color, I can see the blending of purples, mauves, pinks, white, and bright red. The resultant color is just lovely — rich with variation to add personality, but masterfully blended. I am not sure if this is blending is characteristic of the yarn or just the colorway, but I will definitely be looking closely when I can see it in person at the WI Sheep & Wool festival where Green Mountain Spinnery is slated to be a vendor.

Finally, I popped in at my local yarn shop, FIrefly Fibers to pick up supplies for two upcoming projects.

henrie's yarnFirst, some Cascade Pima Cotton. My in-laws will be visiting later this week & I have promised my mother-in-law that I’d help her get started on a Capitol Square Market Bag. The plan is that I will work on the bottom before she arrives so she can dive right into the openwork section.

riptideSecond, I picked up an extra 2 skeins of Sweet Georgia Superwash DK. I’ve had 2skeins sitting in my stash since earlier this year & have started two different projects with it. The reason I failed? Really, I just want to make a particular sweater, so nothing else is measuring up. So, I finally just succumbed to the reality of the situation, bought the pattern & extra yarn necessary (while the same dye lot is still available) and am ready to go with it. I’ll tell you more about this project another day though.

For now, I must go as there are many preparations which need attending. Cleaning, washing, scrubbing, and — most of all — trying to avoid starting a monster gardening project 3 days before house guests arrive. It’s all a slippery slope though and the temptation to just keep tidying EVERYTHING is strong…  Wish me luck!

Oops! I did it again!

So, today Alisa from Firefly Fibers posted up a photo of  her new shipment of Sweet Georgia yarns. It was like zero to drooling in like 0.02 seconds. I stopped in. I looked (read: ogled). I left. I came back.

And then….

20130510-190300.jpg

Oops! I did it again!

In my defense, I did leave behind a gorgeous skein of Tough Love Sock in the Boheme colorway so it could have been worse.

Happy Mother’s Day to me? Yes, let’s go with that!