Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Knitting (cont.)

Another week, and I have another cowl done. This is the Diversify cowl. The main reasons I picked this pattern were that it was just right for the small skein I had of lettuce green yarn and it looked easy. Well, I was right about one of those. I was an inch into this project before I started feeling as though the pattern made any sense or I could actually see the pattern emerging from the tangle of yarn. Once I figured out what was going on, the pattern became easy, and I like the end result. Here's what it looks like unblocked (it's soaking right now).
Whew! The yarn is the same 50% silk/50% merino blend that I used for the Duet cowls. I LOVE this yarn. Once I get the gift knitting done, I've got a couple of skeins of this yarn in bright pink with which I'm going to knit the Burberry-inspired cowl for myself.

Here is the cute cat (or, gee, why am I not making more progress with my knitting this afternoon) picture of the week.
(He's got my right hand, and my left hand is holding the cellphone somewhat shakily.) What a sweet fellow!

I hope everyone out there has a nice holiday.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Hearing the Holiday Train Roaring Down the Track

This past week, I had to set aside the crafting and focus on getting ready for this week's book club meetings. Yes. On Tuesday evening, I have book club meetings 5:30-7 and 7-8:30. Of course, just to make things even more interesting, I'm leading the discussion in the second group. Fortunately, the members of the first book club were willing to meet in a restaurant just two blocks from where the second group is meeting.

The first club will be discussing Steven Johnson's The Ghost Map, about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London that helped establish the science of epidemiology. This is a really good 200-page book filled with sociology, biology, politics, geography, etc. Unfortunately, the book is buried inside a 250-page book. I recommend this book with the caveat that one be prepared to simply skip several pages at a time in a couple of places. I am looking forward to seeing what my fellow clubbers have to say about this book.

The second club will be discussing Dorothy Day's 1952 autobiography, The Long Loneliness. This is a woman who lived one of the richest lives of the 20th century. As a teenager, she was jailed as a hunger-striking suffragette during the final years of the women's suffrage movement. She worked as a journalist, getting published in an assortment of Socialist, labor, and Catholic magazines and newspapers. In her long life, she wrote books of reflections, novels, and plays. In her late 20s, upon the birth of her daughter, she left her common-law husband and became a Catholic. A few years later in the mid-1930s, in the depth of the Depression, she co-founded the Catholic Worker movement that, 30 years after her death, is still thriving with more than 230 houses of hospitality located across this country and in many others as well. I have long considered her a challenging voice in the Church and someone who makes me very uneasy. This book very much comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. She sees the world very much as a place that can be fixed and must be fixed now. I read somewhere that someone said to her once, "Someday, you'll be canonized a saint." She is said to have snapped, "I wouldn't want to be dismissed so easily." I could hear that voice crackling through this book, and I am looking forward to reading more by her, I think.....

Having finished that book, I turned my attention back to the Christmas knitting, and this afternoon I finished #5, the Impressionist Cowl, using Malabrigo Rios yarn in the colorway Indiecita (yarn that I purchased at the Busy Hands shop in Ann Arbor). Here it is before blocking.
This morning at the coffee shop after church, I laid out all five of the cowls (this one was still on the needles), and the gals looking at them gasped at this one. "Oh, Liz! This is the one they'll fight over!" I just love the stitch pattern and how it plays with the variegated colors.

Finally, here is the cat picture of the week. Last evening, Hubby said, "Oh, look at the Big Guy!" and we both started taking pictures of our dog-like tomcat. He's 16-and-a-half years old. As far as I'm concerned, he can strike any pose he wants.
Time to go cast on cowl #6! Have a great week!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fruit Salad Quilt and more

Part of my morning, easing-into-the-workday routine is reading Melody Johnson's blog, Fibermania. (Gee, I hope my boss looks at context here....) The big danger here is that she frequently has posts that make me crazy all day to just get home and DO something. One of those posts happened on Thursday where she reminded us about this tutorial for dyeing wool in the microwave. It so happened I had some Cascade 220 wool yarn I'd bought from Dharma Trading a few weeks ago. I was going to be home alone that evening, so after making sure I had food coloring in the kitchen,  I sent a text message to the sister (who has a fabulous new blog you really should check out) and asked her what color I should do. We agreed on a deep jewel-toned purple. The results that evening were not wonderful (sorry about the blurry photo):
On the way home from work on Friday, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up more food coloring, and I overdyed the yarn:
I did a quick hunt on Ravelry this afternoon and found the perfect pattern. It's elegant, practical, and will look FABulous in this deep color.

Earlier in the week, I finished the Scrunchable cowl.
I love it! I hope the recipient does, too. I then cast on the next cowl using some yarn I had spun. Lots of bright colors, and they're all muddying together, and I think I may just give up on it. Last evening, I cast on another cowl using the leftover dark teal yarn from the sweater I finished in the summer. I promise pictures next week.

This afternoon, I got a good start on the Fruit Salad quilt. Here are the fabrics cut so far:
I was really nervous about how these fabrics would play with each other - whether they were too close together in value, tone, etc. However, as I was selecting fabric, I really focused on the scale of the print and tried to get a range of values. As I look at this picture, I see some darks - the cherries in the strip and the jalapenos in the diamonds, some mediums - most of the rest, and some lights - the white fabric with the red and green splotches. Last week, I thought the leaf fabric in the picture below would be background fabric:
I decided against it because there just would not be enough contrast. I do think there'll be places for all five of these fabrics in this quilt, and I'm looking forward to finding those places as I go along. In case you haven't noticed, I dearly love fabrics with fruits and vegetables. I don't know why, but they make me smile. The top picture has peas in the pod, pineapples, cherries (times two!), citrus fruits, jalapeno peppers, and apples. Also, the selvedge on the edge of the white fabric informs us that name of the fabric is Peas and Carrots! I love it! (The orangey-red fabric in the first picture has turtles on it - not in the theme, but the color is SO right.)

Speaking of SO right, here are a couple of guy pictures. The first one has a ticked-off cat who has just been shoved off a lap (because he'd been biting!) and wanted assert his authority over the woman who had just jilted him.
The next picture is of someone showing excellent taste, lounging on one quilt and in front of another.
Have a good week, folks! Go forth and create!