Storm light

Published on Sunday April 21st, 2013

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Fitful spring weather is all the more exciting when you’ve ventured out in your socks to count the blossoms that have formed on the blueberry bushes and to check whether the carrots are sprouting. (They are!) Down comes the first spatter, but isn’t that a hint of rainbow forming? Where? Why? We shelter on the neighbors’ porch, improvising seats among the firewood, the six of us crafting silly sentences of words that rhyme with stump, talking about sun and rain all at the same once, squawking odes to the plush fur and convenient stature of Corgi dogs, speculating on the pleasures of Meyer lemons in cocktails. (They make a splendid whiskey sour, it turns out, and simple syrup made with coconut sugar is a perfectly good idea. You want an ounce and a half of whiskey, an ounce of Meyer lemon juice, and less than half an ounce of the syrup. We don’t own a shaker so we just dropped in a couple of ice cubes and stirred. You won’t be sorry if you do the same.)

This was Monday. We didn’t talk about the tragedy with the littles amongst us. (Ada happened to have selected, that morning, a beautiful shirt with ABC’s on it from a new batch of hand-me-downs: BOSTON RED SOX.) But in the face of all that’s been wrong with the world this week, that convivial moment, happenstance in the golden light amid the raindrops, was especially good.

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Deco on camera

Published on Wednesday April 10th, 2013

And sadly, I really mean “on camera phone.” The logistics of a proper shoot for a deserving handknit aren’t really that staggering, but the alignment of husband-photographer + decent weather + compliant wee kiddos hasn’t really presented itself. And since I’d like to prove that I finished something for myself to wear before next autumn, out came the phone.

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This is Kate Davies’s Deco, and I mostly love it. Neither of these photos reveals its chief flaw, which is that my hips are either not where I think they are or they aren’t shaped the way I imagine or both. And as a result I’ve got a hip-shaped pooch of fabric several inches above my actual hips. This is despite having lengthened the body of the cardigan by a couple of inches, anticipating that I have a long torso and wanting coverage to the tops of the jeans I usually wear. And it’s happened to me before… my much-loved-anyway Amanda cardigan has the same problem. What I should be doing for a cardigan this length, apparently, is either to cast on fewer stitches so I don’t have to decrease more than a couple of times to reach the narrowest circumference or to begin the decreases immediately and just space them farther apart. Lesson learned. (Maybe.) I could also use a couple of hook-and-eyes at the bust, but I’m waiting until my post-nursing days to see if that’s still necessary.

But I am in mad hot love with the design, this color, and the yarn itself, which I snatched up at the Madrona Retreat in 2012. It’s from a little shop in Port Gamble, Washington called The Artful Ewe. Heidi Dascher owns the shop and dyes on a number of lovely and unusual bases. Her batches are small… I think I bought all there was of this color, and as you can see by the shortened sleeves, I could have done with a sixth skein. Artful Ewe doesn’t have a web presence for sales, so you pretty much need to visit in person or find them at a show, but this is a base yarn called Argentina, a blend of Polwarth wool and silk. I could knit it every day for the rest of my life. And worked at the tight gauge Davies calls for in this pattern, it should wear very well.

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Deco was done in time to wear to Madrona this year—I sewed the vintage glass buttons (from the awesome selection at Happy Knits) on the train to Tacoma—and has been in steady wardrobe rotation. (It’s surprising how many colors hot coral red goes with.) If I knit it again, I think I’ll do a standard button band with button holes. I won’t deny the flash of bright ribbon facing is fun, but sewing that sucker so that both sides came out even was a bear. I did one side three times to get the rib to match reasonably well without bunching in places, no matter how well I thought I’d pinned it. Elizabeth Zimmermann was opposed to ribbon facings on the grounds that they won’t stretch with the knit fabric, and although I can see a way to use this to one’s advantage—to stabilize the back of the neck and shoulders, for instance…my Blue Thistle could use a dose of this treatment—I think I stand with her (as on so many other points). And stitching on all those snaps as well as the buttons…it’s a good thing I had a hard deadline and a lot of motivation to finish for Madrona, or Deco might languish yet in the work basket, all but done.

For the hard-core knitter looking for details on the experience of working from this pattern, I’ll refer you to my Ravelry notes. I’m really happy with my defeat of the slipped-stitch rib’s tendency to row out, and I did encounter an oddity in the sleeve-cap shaping, both of which I discussed in my notes.

Wee hike

Published on Tuesday April 2nd, 2013

powellbutte

Hiking with small people is hilarious. How, oh how, did the pioneers cross the continent with their little children staggering off into every clump of stickers because the tufty grass is such unpredictable footing? We didn’t make it very far along Powell Butte before the troops sat down on the track and demanded lunch, but what a glorious adventure it was all the same. Thanks to my friend Robin for the picture and the company. Thanks to the weather gods for the gobsmackingly lovely spring. Thanks to the city of Portland for the huge backhoes and to the Department of Defense for the fighter jet fly-by and to the horseback riders for sharing our trail. The day held everything a couple of two-and-a-half-year-olds could want.

Construction zone

Published on Monday April 1st, 2013

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It hasn’t been as quiet around here as you’d think from the blog activity. Lightroom went on strike because it was feeling so outclassed by my fast new computer; I finally caved and bought the upgrade so I could unearth these pictures from a month ago, when my eight-month-old was making his first real headway under his own steam. It’s tough to capture a crawling boy in low light with a fixed lens! (And sorry about his slimy nose. Poor guy is finally feeling better and there are now days when I go a whole five hours without wiping someone’s drippy snout. Don’t let the door smack your @$$ on the way out, Winter.) But perhaps these shots are particularly apt for the lack of focus I’ve been feeling across realms of late. It’s time for Blue Garter to go into the chrysalis and emerge as something better. The content won’t change a lot, but I’m feeling out a new name—Blue Garter began as a play on words when I was schooling my fingers to the craft of knitting and also planning my wedding, eight years back down the road now—and a new sense of purpose that I hope will freshen up this log of my life for the next decade. I want to be my own handywoman in the construction and maintenance of the new site, so my progress may be a bit like Jolly’s at first. (Though if I can move on to the equivalent of balancing on my knees and reaching for the high shelves just one month on, I’ll be chuffed!) Blue Garter will stay up for a while as I work, and I should be able to feed you tastes of the extraordinary Portland spring and a couple of comical shortlegged people in knitwear now that the camera-computer relationship is off the rocks. I’ll smash the champagne over the nose of my new vessel with the publication of the Pomander cardigan. And now that I’ve written all that in public, there’s nothing for it but to plunge in and swim, right? Here we go!


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