A Yarn For Eleanor

When our now teenaged daughter was born, I wanted to find a way of including her in my garden.  We had just moved that year, and I spent much of my time on maternity leave planting while she napped.  Although I am not an experienced Iris grower, I love them.  My Grandmother always had a wide variety of Tall Bearded Iris in her garden, and a little bit of research on The Google informed me that the 1961 award winning Iris was named "Eleanor's Pride," which seemed perfect for my tiny Eleanor.


Tracking an older, obscure Iris down was another matter, but I managed to find an eclectic Iris fanatic in Tennessee, and I ended up with five rhizomes.  They've flourished over the years and grown into two large patches.  Although they bloom briefly, they are well worth the effort.


After a lot of experimentation, I managed to get a lovely representation of Eleanor's Pride on Seasilk yarn by layering on the color in repeated pale baths that seem to capture the fragility of the tint on the flower petals.  Seasilk is a wonderful yarn to work with — part silk and part Seacell fiber from seaweed.  It's perfect for shawls and scarves, as well as for light lacy sweaters.  I haven't decide what this yarn will become yet, but I am really looking forward to knitting with it.

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Filed under Dyeing

Black Bean Soup & Pretty Yarn

It's started again, but a little bit early.  Every summer, my obsession with dyeing with herbs from my garden kicks in.  I experiment, I over dye, I fall in love, I knit.  Just a skein here and there as time and research on the best way to get the colors in my lovely plants leaves and roots to stick to my beloved yarn.  It all started with black beans, and I return to dyeing with them every year.  Plus, as a bonus, the beans themselves are discarded once you've soaked them for a day or two to extract their pigment, so you are free to use them for delicious soups or stews while dyeing your yarn.

Black bean collage

This go round, I wanted to do two things, I wanted to replicate (as much as is possible with this very imprecise mode of dyeing) the very soft gray I was able to get on this silk blend yarn on an all wool yarn.  I like how it's not quite white, but makes you think of snow and quiet woods.  It's dyed on Bulky Blue Faced Leicester in the photo on the left.  I also wanted to push the range of color I could extract from black beans.  They yield a little more color on super wash yarn, so I used Elliebelly's Pixie for this experiment, and was finally able to achieve a soft brown, to add to the range of grays, blues, and greens I've dyed with black beans over the last few years.


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Silver Spoons: My Pick For Best Shawl Ever

I'm pretty sure you all got a sense of how happy I was about Silver Spoons while I was knitting it.  Cables & Cashmere.  That's pretty much all it takes for me to be head over heels about a project.  The Plucky Knitter, who writes really sassy patterns that work perfectly with her yarn really outdid herself with this one.


Knit in a worsted weight yarn, this is a quick and easy project.  Although I really like it in cashmere, and have worn it almost constantly since finishing it, I would also like to see it knit in a summer cotton/linen blend and I think it would knit up nicely in a variegated yarn.


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Filed under Newly Finished Knit Projects

My Life: The Edge of Chaos

It's been a busy few weeks here.  Work has been crazy.  Family has been crazy.  Life has been crazy.  All in a very good way, but still, CRAZY TOWN.  So it only seemed appropriate when I got on the elevator for a meeting I was scheduled to attend late last week, and the floor where I was headed had been renamed.


That more or less summs up how my days have been going.  So, with huge apologies for not blogging and doing a horrible job of staying in touch with all of my favorite knitters the past couple of weeks, I'm back.  Back with my %$#@& KAL sock.  I love this sock.  Love the pattern.  Love the way the colors are laying down.  It practically knit itself with all of the flying I've been doing.


Is there some trauma associated with the Kitchener stitch and late nights?  If there isn't, I must be cursed.  I love knitting top down socks, and a big part of the reason is that I enjoy Kitchener stitch.  It's like magic — you weave a little and the toes line up perfectly.  There was no magic with this sock.  It looked awful when I finished.  I ripped it out, and you'll never guess, but that bad 1:00 am lighting in my living room combined with tiny size one needle stitches was really not a thing.  I sort of got them back on the needles.  I tried it again while driving (I was the passenger, not the driver — I'm not that close to the edge) on an overcast day with bad lighting, and it came out even worse.  And ripping it out made me sad because, as you all know, sometimes, you're loose track of where you are when all those tiny size one stitches pop right off the needles as you go over a bump.


My stitches are on, but not in the right order or on the right needles.  It's going to take some sorting out to figure when I am, so I'm going to gently and lovingly place this sock in time out, and cast on for its mate.  I'm pretty sure my Kitchener mojo will come back, but it's going to require a serious combination of all of my favorite comfort foods — and some bright lighting.

While I was out of town and away from the blog, some really exciting things happened.

April collage
I visited my College, which I hadn't done in over a decade, and found out that all of the things I loved about it were still there, but even better.  Sometimes, you actually can go back.  Even better, on the return drive to the airport, I discovered a B&B/Alpaca Farm.  I was concerned about being the crazy lady who stopped on the middle of the road to take pictures of the Alpacas, so you just get this one sneak peek, but it's definitely on my shortlist.  The online reviews say to make sure you visit with Brutus, who is a very friendly Alpaca. Oh my heavens!

The sense that I was living in a surreal fantasy world where all of my dreams came true continued when I got home and realized that for my husband's birthday, I could order his favorite cake.  It's a day long adventure to make it, so I was delighted to reduce it to a 15 minute pick up detail.  Although we had friends over, there were leftovers.  The cat with the cake is Bob.  I was definitely much more restrained and lady like than that.

And finally, the square of concrete is my long awaited fire pit.  We have a small, urban yard with a strong down hill slant, but as we've lived through our six months of hell deck reconstruction and landscaping, I've persistently insisted that we include a fire pit in the project.  In anticipation, I dragged kids out to World Market, and snagged some fabulous outdoor chairs on sale last weekend.  As soon as the pit is dry, I'm christening it with S'mores.  But, I'll make sure I leave my socks and needles behind.  Because It's been that kind of month!


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Filed under Adventures in Knitting, Elliebelly Knit Along, Travel

The Wonderful Virtue Of Knitting Socks Top Down

image from http://joycevance.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ce9cd53ef01b7c830a239970b-pi

As someone who occasionally shirks swatching before casting on to knit a pair of socks (TSA was complicit in this little misadventure, as one of their agents, trying to be helpful while searching my bag, mangled my swatch), I really appreciate the ability to try on top down socks while knitting them. This pair is for my daughter, and so far, they are a perfect fit.

The pattern is Zigzagular and the yarn is Elliebelly’s Juliet Sock.

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I’ve Got A Heel Flap!

The Adventurous April 2016 Knitalong started on Friday. Although I wasn’t quite done with Silver Spoons, I did cast on for my Zigzagular Sock. But then I set it aside to finish the shawl.

image from http://joycevance.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ce9cd53ef01b8d1ba1852970c-pi

Now I’m sock knitting in earnest. I’m almost through with the flap on the first sock. I’m knitting them one at a time on double pointed needles.

If you want to KAL along with us, head on over to the Elliebelly Ravelry group. You’ve still got plenty of time and there are lots of beautiful socks in progress.

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Filed under Knitting

Food and Knitting

We are back from a successful spring break/college tour exercise and as you would expect, my house is a disastrous mess (college son left in charge of dogs and cats).  There is a veritable Mount Denali of laundry to be done, spring plants arrived while we were gone and need planting, and, with work starting back up tomorrow, I've got A LOT to do today.  All of those have-to-do's compete with my want-to-do's: hanging out with family and knitting.

Almost done(Silver Spoons.  Almost done.  Incredibly gorgeous.  Must finish today.)

The chore that takes up the most time for me is menu planning. I love to cook, but I've got one child who is Pescetarian (I had to look it up too, when she announced this was what she was four years ago, no meat, only fish), one who is an avowed red meat eater, and a husband whose tastes are rather whimsical.  In other words, I really can't win here.  So I try to offer a balanced diet of what can be cooked after getting home from work at night and ignore those who are critical of what I think are my outstanding efforts given all of the constraints.  Seriously, planning for all of this is a chore, but if I do, Hubs does the grocery shopping.  I consider it reclaimed knitting time.

I thought I would share this week's meals, for those of you looking for a short cut of your own on this chore for the week.  I've devoted an hour to picking out some weight conscious recipes (we over-ate on spring break, it was amazing.  Hen of the Wood.) that are reasonably quick or can be prepped ahead of time. I hope having these handy will help you get in more knitting time today!

Tonight, Sunday, we're having Parmesan Chicken Breasts.  I'll upscale the recipe a little bit by using Panko Bread Crumbs and just a little mist of Olive Oil on the chicken breasts to help the crumbs stick and promote a little browning.  We like authentic Greek Salads — the version without lettuce.  I'll use this recipe and also serve some steamed Broccoli on the side.

Monday night we are having an old favorite, from a Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook.  You can love her or hate her, and her idea of what's in the typical pantry is insanely crazy, but we love her recipes.  I'm not typically a fan of canned tuna, but her Brown Rice Pasta with Tuna and Capers is a huge hit in our house, and with a simple side salad, it's a meal all on its own.  You can leave out the anchovies if you think you don't like them, but consider trying it out and not telling anyone.  They'll never know and they add a lot of flavor!  I'm adding a simple Watermelon with Feta Cheese and Mint salad as a side dish. It's too early for watermelon to taste summer ripe, but I think I can fake it with the hint of mint in this recipe.

Tuesday: We're having Sandwiches with Beet Hummus and Greens.  They will make the vegetarian crew happy.  The meat eaters may end up at Five Guys, but that's their problem! These Lemon Pepper Vegetables are great too.  I'm going to steam mine and add seasonings, and serve them on the side.

Wednesday is the last night I'll be cooking this week, as I've got a combination of work commitments that will get me off the hook for the rest of the week.  The New York Times recipes are reliably good and usually pretty interesting. I'm going to try their Braised Lamb with Egg and Lemon.  It appeals to me because it's best if made the night before, so I can cook it Tuesday evening while, um, knitting, and have it ready to go for dinner on Wednesday.  I'll probably braise some carrots and parsnips in the pot when I reheat it and serve it with a side salad.

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Filed under Food and Drink, Knitting Update: Works in Progress

Cast On!

It’s day one of the KAL. Adventurous April is here and even though I’m off in Vermont on spring break, my socks are officially a work in progress.

image from http://joycevance.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ce9cd53ef01b8d1b779a1970c-pi

It’s fun and it’s hard to put down because of the anticipation of seeing how the colors will stack up on each successive row. The yarn is a Paintbrush Colorway on Elliebelly’s Juliet Sock Yarn.

I’ve got to return to college viewing activities with kids, but I’ll be back to show your more sock when I get through with the ribbing and move onto the pattern.

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Filed under Knitting

Knitting on a Plane, Again

I’m on a quick trip with one of the kidlets to look at colleges, so yet again, me, knitting on a plane.

image from http://joycevance.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ce9cd53ef01bb08cf18d3970d-pi

This is Silver Spoons (in bad plane lighting) and you can see I’ve just started the third chart. I love the way the M5’s and K5 tog stitches work into the spoon shapes. This is an incredibly fun knit!

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What’s On My Needles?

Silver Spoons is on my needles at the moment.  And I've been singularly devoted to it, which is unusual for me.

Spoons in progress

It's so beautiful that I'm hoping to finish it up quickly, even though it's gotten quite large.

Each row is taking me a L-O-N-G time.  Have you noticed the hoard of videos cropping up on knitting blogs and Instagram lately, where knitters are taking video of themselves knitting up close? And, fast!  I look at these videos and they look like light speed to me.  I am not a fast knitter.  But this cashmere feels so lovely as it moves through my fingers, that I will try not to bemoan my slow knitter status and devote myself to enjoying the process.

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Filed under Knitting Update: Works in Progress