Sunday, December 30, 2012

I have had a hard time motivating myself to write a blog post 
when so much more important happenings deserve our collective attention.  
I feel for all the fellow New Yorkers still left homeless by hurricane Sandy 
while they await desperately needed help.  
I feel for those who just wanted to escape into a movie, 
do some holiday shopping or go to school and lost their lives to violence.  
I feel for the parents, siblings, children, friends and other loved ones who will miss those smiles.  

As this year winds to a close I appreciate my life more then ever.  
I give thanks for all that is good in it.  
I am grateful to be able to hug my son at night and ask him about his day.
 To sleep next to a man that loves and cares for me.  
To be alive.  

I look forward to this new year with hope and optimism.
Happy New Year - now go hug somebody!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Little Holiday Knitting

     I am down to the wire.  Trying to finish up those holiday gifts before the holidays can be a little stressful.  I love knitting gifts.  Finding the right yarn and picking the right pattern to match the recipient helps make the gift more meaningful for me.
     My favorite projects this holiday season have been for the newest member of our family - Delphine.  She arrived on Thanksgiving Day.  Here she is in a Baby Surprise Jacket made for her by her Auntie.

This cute Baby Bonnet is from Jane Austen Knits Fall 2012.  I made this adorable little bonnet out of Shibui Knits Staccato Sock.  Its 65% merino, 30% silk and 5% nylon and the prettiest color pink.
     It only needs a ribbon to call itself finished.

     And just so she wouldn't be cold this spring I made her this equally adorable little sweater coat called Helena  by Alison Greene Will (available as a free download).  It is made from very soft Ultra Pima Cotton by Cascade in white.  I modified the pattern by using a smaller needle (size US 4/3.5 mm) with the thinner yarn. I made the 6 months size.  I wanted it to be a little bigger then newborn so she can wear it this spring and then into the summer.  The only other modification came at the end in finishing the front.  Instead of doing 7 rows of garter stitch I did 8 rows of reverse stockinette and then sewed the edge down to the picked up stitches.  I still have to figure out the closing.  I'm thinking hooks (either invisible or decorative) or double buttons with loops.

     Next week I'll head over to M&J Trimming on 6th Avenue to see what they have for me and to get ribbon for the bonnet.
     I still have a couple, three, four things left to knit.  I hope I make it before Christmas!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

 From My House to Yours
Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Birthday Socks

My Mom was born in 1926.  She turns 86 on Dec 3.  
She wears sandals year round.  In the winter she adds socks.  
I am working on a pair of socks for her birthday.  
I've been making her socks every year since I started knitting socks.
one sock down . . .
This year I am making her the Simple Skyp Socks by Adrienne Ku.  
This pattern is a free download on Ravelry.  
It's knit on size 2 (2.75mm) needles with medium weight 
Socks That Rock by Blue Moon Fiber Arts.   
Larger needles and thicker yarn make for a very easy and fast moving knit.
and one sock to go
My first pattern using a "skyp" stitch as a design element.  
A skyp is - slip 1 stitch purl wise with yarn in back, knit 1 stitch, yarn over, 
pass slipped stitch over the last two stitches (k1 and yo).
Very simple really.  
It transforms an otherwise plain winter knit sock 
into something with more visual interest yet still warm and toasty.  
I think she'll love them.
skyp close up
By the Way - I don't know if you've noticed but I secured my domain name and changed my blog url.  It's official.  I'm now!  It was so easy I have to wonder why I didn't do it sooner.  As they say - better late then never.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Etsy Name Change

I've decided to change my blog name to my Ravelry and Etsy names.  
Round links
A few things are changing for me right now,  I've been hard at work listing my first items on Etsy as Backward Knitter. I opened my shop when I first heard about Etsy in January of 2010.  It took me until this past October to list my first item.  Its all at once exciting and scary.  There's no going back now.
Right now there are stitch markers in the shop.  Jewelry for your knitting.  
Oval links 
I hope to add more of my creations every month.  I make jewelry for your body too.  That will be coming to the shop soon.  Have a look - maybe you'll see something you like for yourself or that special knitter you now.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Knitting in the Dark

Hurricane Sandy is over.  Here in New York City we are picking up the rubble, cleaning, getting our lives back in order.  We live in lower Manhattan and our power went out Monday night at 8:35.  It didn't come back on until 7:30 Friday evening.

When my husband heard the storm was coming he insisted on going upstate and getting the generator from our house in Ulster County.  I was laughing at him the whole ride home.  And I happily ate crow all week as we had power for a light and the fridge 10-12 hours a day.
My husband is the building Super and used our generator to power lights to our buildings hallway, power strips for phone chargers for our neighbors and he kept water out of the boiler room as the pumps were off.  We had wires running through our apt to the hallway and through the yard to the boiler room.  He left for a few hours everyday to hunt for gas to power the generator.  As the temperature started to drop he started the process of figuring out how to power the building boiler.  Luckily the lights and power came back on.  We had heat and hot water within 10 minutes.  He is my hero.

My mother is 86 years young and lives in the East Village.  Everyday I walked hot food and freezer packs down to her since she could not manage the stairs to get out of her building.  Her Super also had a generator going.  Since she is in a smaller brownstone type building, she had heat and hot water for a few hours each day.  Jose (her Super) is also my hero for helping me worry less about her.

My sister in law and her husband live in Long Beach, LI and didn't fair as well but still better then others.  They had fish swimming in their basement but they are grateful for still having a house, fish and all.  We worry about her because she is eight and a half months pregnant.  As of today they still have no power.  They are coming to stay with us for a few days until power is restored to their part of the world.  I'll feel a lot better when I can give them an in person hug later today.

My house and neighbors in Ulster County faired way better with Sandy then Irene.  There was no water flooding out roads and neighboring towns weren't washed away this time.  Just trees down including a very big one from my property.  It took out my neighbors porch.  We are so grateful to have such great neighbors that I am so relieved that the downed tree didn't hurt his family or do major damage to their home.  We'll go up this coming weekend and help cut the tree out.

Knitting helped carry me through this whole week.  Knitting a Derecho in the dark.  And as I wrap myself in its warmth this winter I will continue to be grateful that everyone I know and love is safe.
And that my hometown has once again shown its True Grit.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rhinebeck Report 2012

As usual Rhinebeck (or the NYS Wool and Sheep Festival as it is also called) was Yarntastic!
My husband has come with me every year since I told him that there were lamb chops and wine.  
We left our house as the fog was lifting
Fall colors everywhere!
The stars of the show are all sorts of animals that produce fiber - 
alpaca, rabbit, goat and several kinds of sheep.
and of course Wool.
And the fiber they produce . . .
Dyed roving's
Felted gnomes 
Sky blue fleece
And of course YARN!
(sorry for the fuzzy photo)
The Crowds are very easy going and filled with good natured knitters.   
Knitters in general are the kind of personalities that should rule the earth.  

We come for the yarn but are more then willing to wait on line for the food. 
Pictured here are the Fried Artichokes everyone loves.  
We also had the plate of lamb chops with lamb ravioli and sauteed spinach. Yum.  
One of the pavilions is filled with food vendors.  
So we had to sample many cheeses and take little bits of about 6 different kinds away with us.  
And then wash it down with very tasty wine from Hazlitt Wineries.  So good we got a case.
Fried Artichokes - Gluten free!
But an odd thing happened.   I went through my stash and sorted it the night before the festival -
sort of like stepping on a yarn scale and putting back that extra yarn cake -
it put me on a yarn diet! 
I bought just 4 skeins of yarn (2 each in 2 color ways) from Ms. Babs.  
My first purple purchase ever and my usual (can't have enough) blue.  I'm thinking scarf/shawls.
Yummy 2-ply Superwash
I'm thinking "I wish a food diet would work this well!"  
Even though I didn't purchase a lot of yarn my husband and I had a ball.
And there is always Rhinebeck 2013 to look forward too!

Blue Ribbon Winner

Monday, October 15, 2012

I love fall

I love fall for many reasons . . .
     Wonderful knit sweaters
          The trees are full of color
               Warm wool socks
                    Crisp air
                          Knit shawls and scarves
                               Apples and cider donuts
                                    The smell of wood burning in the fireplace
                                          Yarn doesn't stick to my fingers
                                                But the biggest reason I love fall is . . .

The NYS Wool and Sheep Festival at Rhinebeck
This years dates are Oct 20th and 21st
at The Duchess County Fairgrounds
     I have been addicted to this festival since I discovered it a few years ago.  I feel like a child in a toy store at Christmas.  Yes it can get crowded.  The lines can be very long at which ever vendor has a buzz about them that year.  Saturday is busier then Sunday.  There are buttons and baskets and sheep dogs.  The food and wine round out the entire festival beautifully.  It is so much more then just yarn.
     Every year I go with a different strategy in  mind.  I have gone and focused on Alpaca.  Another year it was sock yarn for socks.  The next it was sock yarn for things other then socks.  Last year it was a particular vendor.  I have collected a good size stash over the years and spent most of this year happily stash busting for various projects.
     I don't have a plan yet for this year.  I was thinking of maybe picking a pattern (or two) and shopping for that.  We'll see how I feel when the day is here.  Stashing is always an option; one can never have enough stash (in my opinion).
     My husband comes with me and volunteers to stand on the lines.  He is very good about my wool hobby year round.  I appreciate that so at the fair I feed him lamb chops and ply him with wine.  All in all we have a good time. We are both looking forward to this year as much as ever.  We already have our tickets!
     Maybe I'll see you there - I'll be the one with the wool and the wine sharing a plate of lamb chops with my hubby.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Daybreak by Stephen West

I just finished knitting another Stephen West pattern.  I think its safe to say I like his designs.  
This pattern also involves 2 colors and stripes.  
I am so glad I participated in WestKnits mystery shawl KAL 
because it opened me up to a style of design I wouldn't have considered before. 
Stripes?  Colorwork?  Me?  Now - yes me!
I used Elann yarn.  
I have gotten emails from them many times over the years 
and this is the first time I've ever ordered from them.  Nice yarn.
This is a very soft blend of 80% alpaca and 20% silk, loosely plied.
The dark burgundy is called oxblood and the light pink is called seashell pink.  
Knitted up it has a lovely drape and is so soft
I could wrap myself in a blanket made of this stuff.  
This shawl will be a holiday gift for a luck someone I know.  
If I can bring myself to part with it. . . 
I'll just have to knit something else to help with my separation anxiety.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Running Out of Bomber Worm

     Recently I participated in a Westknits KAL named Rockefeller.  My second KAL - ever.  I wanted to go outside the box and thought a mystery KAL would do it.  And I like Stephen West so when I saw his Mystery Shawl KAL I was all over it.
     I bought and printed the first clue of the pattern.  I looked over my stash to find a color combo I would like together.   In my head I played with all the possibilities that the finished project might look like.  I went back to my stash twice because I didn't have enough yardage.
     Not having a blue something and my favorite color being blue.  I wanted a blue something.  A dark and light blue.  Minneapolis by JKnits and Bomber Worm by Sanguine Griffon.  I had my colors and wound my yarn.
     I started knitting clue 1.   I waited by the mail for the next clue to "ding-in".  Clue 2, clue 3.  We were up to clue 4.  I finished one wing.  I started the other wing and half way through I ran out of yarn!   What happened?  Usually I make sure I have enough to finish whatever I start.  But this time I miscalculated and wound up short.  Way short.  Like half a wing short.
     To make matters worse this was no ordinary yarn.  This was an indie dyer named Sanguine Gryphon.  Not only was it an indie dyer - it was an indie dyer that no longer dyes under that name.  And even though the one company became two neither of the two companies (Cephalopod and Verdant Gryphon) are dying this color now.  I went into full on panic mode.
     I needed about 15 grams or 60 yards to finish.  First stop Ravelry.  I tried a post on a destash page - nothing.  I moved onto looking for it in other Ravelers stash.  I found one - in Norway.  I think the distance over an ocean and the distance of $55 for one skein of yarn quickly squashed that idea.
     I spoke to Susie (aka KnittingKnoobie), who Tweets, and she offered to help.  She tweeted - no chirps back.
     PinkLemonTwist suggested I look at project where the wanted yarn was used and I might find a little left over bit.  So I did and whatta know? A few projects where I could imagine my yardage being saved in a mini skein pile.  I was hoping that whoever also bought this yarn thinks it is as special as I do and wouldn't possibly throw a little bit away.  I kept my fingers crossed and contacted 2 people.  I got responses from both!  RiverPoet had 20 grams.  A week later I had my yarn in hand and was finally able to finish my Rockefeller Shawl.
     I would like to thank KnittingKnoobie for the Tweets, PinkLemonTwist for sharing her brilliance and RiverPoet for her generosity.  An honorable mention goes to DizzyBea for her offer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tale of a Baby Bunting

     I have made a few baby buntings over the years.  
The first one was over 23 years ago for my nephew Chris.  
The next one was 20 years ago for my son Morgan.  
Then 5 years later for my nephew Michael, shared by his sister Amanda.  
The last was 9 years ago and made for my niece Maia 
and shared with my nephew Nathan and their sister Sabine.
     In the past 20 years my knitting has improved with every bunting made.  
The first one sort of followed a pattern.  
The second and third morphed the pattern into something that was totally mine.  
Improvement in skill yielded improvements in the pattern 
and the garment (yes a bunting can be called a garment).
     The most recent bunting has not met my niece yet but it awaits her arrival.  
I had a lot of fun making this one.  
I took my time and worked it like the kid would be wearing it until she leaves for college.
But I don't think she'll fit into it after her first birthday.  
And yet I would knit it all again, with the same care and in the same way.
     Because babies are wonderful and deserve to be 
kept warm in the most wonderful woolies an Auntie can knit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I did on my summer vacation.

     When I was in grammar school we didn't get reading lists for summer vacation but we did get the same essay every year on the first day of school - What did you do on your summer vacation?
It had less to do with travel and more to do with time spent away from school.  I have long left school both as a student and as a parent yet I feel a school type essay coming on.

     I spent part of my summer vacation visiting family in Oregon. We enjoyed their company and hometown greatly.  First, I found out that Multnomah is the name of a county in Portland Oregon.
It's also a rather famous waterfall in the same county and a fabulous and simple shawl inspired by the magic that is Portland.

     Portland is also a yarny place.  I developed a stiff neck from all the times my head whipped around at the sight of another yarn store.  It seems that every neighborhood has a yarn store.  We visited 3 (hey we only had a week).

     Twisted is my favorite of the 3.  The vibe, the people and the yarn selection were all great. They have a lot of indie dyers here.  I found Socks that Rock, Trillium and Hazel Knits - all right there on the wall - in living color!  The store is very laid-back and homey.  I had fun. I could have hung out here for days - its that inviting.

     KnitPurl was in the Pearl District.  Another great store.  They carry Jared Floods' Shelter and Loft lines as well as Habu. I purchased a nice pink skein of Shibui and a nice blue MadelineTosh lace there.  Very nice selections of yarns and books.  The store has a little more polish in its decor but the yarn love is just as evident throughout the store.

Honorable mention goes to Yarn Garden for having the best selection of commercial yarns I've seen anywhere.  There are 4 or 5 storefronts all joined together.  Malabrigo, Blue Sky Alpaca, Cascade, Classic Elite, Rowan - the list just goes on and on.  Also a place I could see myself in often were I a resident of this beautiful rose city.

BTW  This is Multnomah Falls

and this is my Multnomah Shawl

What did you do on your summer vacation?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Vacation Achievment

So we went away for 10 days and I packed enough projects to carry me through to next year.  
I didn't really expect to get them all done, I just like having a choice. Or rather many choices.

So on my vacation I managed to finish, block and wear my Aestlight shawl. - Love it!
Second I finished my little summer sweater called Seville - more of a bolero then sweater.  
I didn't think this would fit as well as it does.  Love it too (or is it two?)
I tried my hand at Wingspan with On Live (a german yarn) but I wasn't feeling it. 
 I know this yarn is not for this pattern but I also think I may not be for this pattern so on to the next.
I knit the left front of the baby bunting I'm working on - I am using Cascade Superwash worsted.
It's coming along nicely in spot number three.
I cast-on for a pair of Hedgerow socks in Cascade merino and mulberry silk also in dark grey.  
These are being made by request for the sweetie that cuts my hair.  
We barter - both thinking we got the best part of the deal.
I've decided to save my Multnomah Shawl for a trip my hubby and I are making to
Portland at the end of July to visit family.  It is wound and ready to go.
I think it fitting that I see the Multnomah as I knit a Multnomah - No?
I am working on an "invented" something from my Japanese stitch dictionaries - 
And last but not least I didn't even look at the yarn for my Moth Shawl let alone the pattern.
Now its back to real life and a little less knitting time - I miss my vacation already!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

East Light KAL

Susie asked me to do a KAL with her.  She picked Aestlight Shawl.  
I am using an old favorite, a skein of Little Traveller, stash busting.  
This pattern starts with a center triangle of garter stitch, 
a border of a very open lace and 
an edge that is knitted on as you go around the perimeter. 
At first I was a little lack luster about this pattern
but as I knit this project I began to like it more and more.
Just as the garter stitch started to wear on me the lace section began.  
So nice and open.  Understated for lace yet just enough.
 I like the star points the knitted on border add to balance the entire shawl.
It reminds me so of a Victorian Lady -
from Scotland of course!
Thanks Susie.
PS - I wore this shawl to Cooperstown yesterday and received the nicest comment.
It really is very pretty.