Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fire Opal Finished!

I finished the Fire Opal Tee! After all my concern that it wasn't going to fit, it does!

Fire Opal Tee (mine ravelled here), 
knit in Cascade Yarns Venezia Sport in colorway 120 Paint It Black


The sweater is written to be sleeveless, but I knew I'd wear it a lot more with sleeves. I went with 3/4 sleeves. I can pretend this was a carefully thought out design decision, but honestly it was because shaping within the sleeve was going to be more of a pain than I wanted to mess with. Sleeves this length don't have to have the shaping, but they would need it if they were wrist length (in my opinion). My ravelry project page has all the details of how I knit the sleeves.


I also lengthened the whole sweater. I know shorter sweaters are more popular now, but you cannot convince me that anyone needs to see that much of my bum.

I can't believe I'm able to wear this in July, but we're in the midst of weirdly cool weather. It's supposed to be in the high-70s here today! I love it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Happenings in the 'Hood (2014 Part One)

Happenings in the 'Hood updates from 2013 are here and here.

We had a fairly cool and rainy spring, and the summer has not gotten to the unbearably hot stage. I'm not sure why it hasn't, but I'm not going to complain. Neither, apparently, are the plants.

My first ornamental oregano died. I'm really glad I tried again. It's beautiful. After the blooms die back, the plant is still interesting because of its striped leaves. 

Kent Beauty ornamental oregano

I could easily become someone who collects different cultivars of echinacea. Better than a crack habit.

Echinacea (Coneflower) among some purple sweet potato vine

Balloon flower

We have tried to plant sunflowers several times. They never make it, which seems impossible. Who can't grow sunflowers? Apparently, we just needed to have the birds scatter some sunflower seeds from their birdseed. This gorgeous thing showed up in a flower bed.



Crazy pretty, right?


A friend gave me some Japanese anemone. She had finally pulled all hers and pitched it because the plant was very aggressive. I can see it spreading, and I'm excited about watching what happens when it gets to the daisies. It's going to be the floral version of a cage match.


I lost one of the wild gingers I bought this spring, but the Brunnera is still doing well.

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'

The hellebore (Lenten rose) did make it an entire year! I now have two cultivars that have survived. I can't help but love a plant that still has a bloom in July when it started blooming in February.

Hellebore 'Ivory Prince'

My little vegetable garden has been growing like mad.


The peppers are doing well. I rarely have good luck with plain old bell peppers, but so far they look okay. This is one of the poblanos.

These have me thinking about spicy tomatillo soup!


Red tomatoes! I am eagerly awaiting my first veggie sandwich of the season with homegrown beefsteak tomatoes.




Yellow Jelly Bean, Black Cherry, and Sweet 100 small tomatoes
The larger one might be a Marglobe.


I put a few houseplants outside, and they seem to be thriving. I've definitely killed one of these plants before, but this one is producing gorgeous new leaves.


My shamrocks seem thrilled with being outside as well.


Yesterday I pruned a few plants. Emboldened by the heady use of hand pruners, I attacked a hanging basket. It looked awful. It was leggy with brown leaves, and I thought I might have to pitch the whole thing. A friend suggested that perhaps it was just spent for the season. Realizing that perhaps the plant's appearance wasn't my fault as I had assumed, I decided there was no harm in cutting it way, way back to see what happens.

Apparently, there's some healthy lobelia in there. It had been covered by leggy, brown supertunias. I'm excited to see what happens next with it.


I am so grateful for the weather we've had so far this season, and I will try to remember how nice it's been once it does become a more typical Midwestern summer in the humid 90s. I hope my plants will be kind enough to do the same.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Knitting and Gray Quilt Square #1

One day (actually, two days) last week I had a headache. After work, I wasn't up to anything but stockinette, so I picked up a sock that I'd started and then abandoned.


I showed it to my mom on Saturday, and she said my niece would love it. I didn't believe here, so I texted my niece a picture. It is "totally cute." I think I'll give them to her for her birthday in October, which means I'd better knit the second one while I have some momentum.

Yesterday, I wanted to check my math and see if the fabric I cut into quilt pieces were actually the right size. It worked!


One down, 55 more to go. Now that I know the pieces are the right size, I have no anxiety about the quilt. I'll get around to it whenever I get around to it.

I also went back to the Fire Opal. I measured the circumference of my upper arm, measured the width of one full stitch pattern, and figured out I'd need 5 full stitch patterns for the sleeve. I made a lot of progress on sleeve #1, but I had to take a break yesterday when Nocturne found the yarn and decided it was her pillow.


She fell asleep with her head on the ball of yarn immediately after this picture was taken. I decided I'd do something else so as not to disturb the queen.

This weekend also included chocolate chip pancakes, a playground, a surprise visit from a friend, and lots of baseball. I don't think it could have been any better!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day Trip

Unbeknownst to me, Rachel snapped this picture of me while we were shopping at Simply Socks Yarn Company in late June. It makes me smile.


Huh. Did I not blog about this trip? Why not?

We took a random Tuesday off, drove to Fort Wayne and had a lovely day. We went to Simply Socks, four or five different thrift stores, and DeBrand chocolate.

Our favorite thrift shop was the Dove's Nest Thrift Shop. It had fabulous things, like this hat and scarf:


and a selection of books that had not been approved by the staff.


I bought a small green glass vase for 50 cents, a couple Avon cologne bottles in the shape of a Mustang and Thunderbird, some presents, and two vintage purses ($7 total for both purses). I'm quite sad I don't live closer to that store. I don't particularly enjoy shopping, but I enjoyed that place a lot... except for the purse area which had a CD on loop singing a horrible song over and over and over--something about "spirit to spirit." I wanted to roundkick that stereo until it died and then smash the CD into tiny pieces. I'm fairly sure that was not the reaction the artist was hoping for.

I've said it before, but if you're anywhere near Fort Wayne, Indiana, go to Simply Socks Yarn Company. You'll need to check their website to see when they're open for visitors, and you'll need to plan on spending an hour or two. Then head over to the Dove's Nest Thrift Shop and finish the day with chocolate. Perfect!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mini Mania and Cashmere

There's been much discussion about the Fire Opal Tee recently. It hasn't been frogged yet. I may try to put sleeves on it and try it on again to see how I feel. I'll let you know. Right now it's folded on a counter at home staring at me whenever I walk into the room.

While I ponder it, I've been knitting a couple other things. One is a Mini Mania Scarf for a friend. As I've noted before, I'm not particularly good at random. I've done several scrap yarn projects though, and I don't mind as long as I know I'm giving it to someone else--someone who doesn't believe all filing systems should also be color coded.

Mini Mania Scarf 2 (mine ravelled here),
knit in All The Yarn

The pattern offers the suggestion of knitting to the end of the row, then cutting the yarn and starting at the opposite end again. This means the right side is always facing you and you're knitting instead of purling. I didn't do that on the first one, but I've been doing it most rows on this scarf, and I like it. The scarf is done in a linen stitch, so it's k1, sl 1 wyib all the way across. For this scarf, all the way across is 500 stitches. It takes awhile. The next row is sl 1 wyib, k1 all the way across. It makes a very pretty, woven-looking fabric.

When I got tired of long rows and random colors, I started a pair of socks.

Conferva villosa socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label, Deep Sea colorway

As you can see, I'm not far in the sock. I really like the pattern so far though. It's from Hunter Hammersen's new book, Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, Volume III, and I'm knitting it as part of her KAL on Ravelry. I think I'll like it in this colorway, too. I definitely like the feel of this yarn! Mmmm, cashmere.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Gray Quilt

We had a fantastic weekend! We ate grill food (steak, veggie burgers, pineapple, peaches, and homemade pizza--we believe in grilling All The Things), had a date lunch, read, napped, and watched baseball. Andrew worked on entering his comic collection into a database, and I started the gray quilt!


I had intended this to be for the guest (read: yarn) room. Then I decided I loved the fabric so much I wanted to make it into another quilt for our bed.* I'll probably get around to making a quilt for the guest room someday, maybe.


The inspiration for this quilt is this photo, which I found on Pinterest. I printed it out, drew all over one of the blocks to figure out how many pieces I'd need for each block, and did math.


Where's the petition to sign requesting all weekends to be three days?

*It is a sad truth that there are a few spots in the other quilt where squares of the same pattern are too close together. It's a sadder fact that I am OCD enough that I haven't been able to get over it. They stand out like they're neon. I'm working on it. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trees and Tees

We had bad thunderstorms last night. They woke us up around 2:00 a.m. This morning, we saw some of the destruction. One neighbor lost half a tree:



and another lost an entire tree:


Thankfully, we still have power, although lots of people don't. I'm grateful for buried electrical lines.

That level of destruction puts my most recent knitting disaster into perspective. The Fire Opal Tee is finished except for the sleeves. The pattern calls for a few rows of ribbing, keeping the sweater sleeveless. I'd planned to put 3/4 sleeves on it.


The problem is that it's too big. I think this sweater needs to be fairly tight so the dropped stitches really show. Here's the sweater with a pillow stuffed inside it:


Pretty, yes? When I'm wearing it, you can't see the dropped stitches well because of it being so loose.

My mom talked about putting a dart in it, but I have zero confidence in my sewing skills, and I worry that the cables would make a dart too bulky anyway. I think I'll frog it and reknit it later. I like knitting. This isn't a tragedy. It's... an opportunity for me to knit more. Yay?