Will it ever be winter?

Mvc003f I can’t believe I actually asked that question.  I hate the winter, it’s depressing and dreary and there’s not enough sunshine and I hate being cold(that would mean anything below 70 degrees).  Today it was almost 80 degrees.  On November 27th.  Perfect weather for finishing the Four Seasons Cable Coat, right?  I started this sweater on or about November 3rd.  I think that’s pretty fast for a cable sweater.  I didn’t mean to rush, really.  It’s just that I ordered some Peruvian Collection Highland Wool for Twist and then there’s the Perfect Sweater that I need to be ready to start as soon as there is a pattern to follow.  And then I really want a Rogue.  Mvc002f There are just so many things I want to knit, that I am completely obsessed with production.  Not a very Zen attitude(sorry Margene, I am not the best student), and it doesn’t feel very Zen either, but I like finishing.  And I love all the sweaters that I am cranking out.  And my goal is to have enough of them to be warm this winter and for many winters to come. 

You see, it really does get cold here, just not for as long as it does in say, Vermont, Utah, or Toronto.  So, I confess that I have already started Twist and the back is finished.  It’s my first time to knit with Peruvian Collection and it’s nice.  And I love the color, it’s Redwood and when I see daylight again, I will try to get a photo.  And yes, I am going to do the fringe on the collar, why not.  What cowgirl doesn’t like a little fringe?

Giving Thanks

I don’t usually gush, but holidays tend to make me a little more um, emotional. Besides the usual things I am thankful for this year, like beautiful, intelligent and healthy kids and a loving and supportive spouse, I am also very thankful for this wonderful community of knit bloggers and visitors that I have become so dependant on for my knitting inspiration. Having no one in my daily life that I can honestly talk to about all things fiber and knitting, I really appreciate all the comments that come in and all the blogs that I visit and the relationships that have developed from participation in this community. I don’t post as often as I would like, but the outlet for expression has been helpful and the feedback has helped me grow as a knitter and a person. I hope everybody has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and if you live outside the US, I appreciate you too, so feel the virtual hugs that I am sending around today.

I love you guys!

Because I just feel like sharing, here is my recipe for Banana Walnut Bread. This is more of a cakey than bready treat and it’s something I make often and definitely at holiday time. I have been making this recipe for over 20 years. Bon apetit!

Banana_nut_bread Banana Nut Bread

3-4 over-ripe bananas (I accumulate them one at a time and freeze them till I have enough)
2-1/4 c. Flour
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
3/4 c. vegatable oil
1/4 c. milk
1-1/3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. finely chopped walnuts (or nuts of your choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, sugar, salt then add eggs and oil.  Dissolve baking soda in milk and add to mixture.
In a separate bowl, mash bananas well, then add to mixture and blend well.
Add nuts and vanilla.

Pour mixture into 2 greased loaf pans.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and the tops of the loaves crack open a bit.  Cool in pans until pan can be handled, remove from pan and continue to cool.
The cooled loaves freeze well for future use.

Cold Weather, New Hat

Newhat Abby wore her new hat today – it was 43 degrees F outside this morning.

It was a quick knit, my pattern, using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky on dpns. 

Big sister is now jealous and I’ll be making her one also.

Progress on the Four Season Cable Coat: finshed back and right front.  This thing is moving along at a break neck speed for a cabled pattern, especially since the finished length is something like 30 inches.  Maybe it’s fast because everything else has been back-burnered.  I don’t even have any socks on needles right now – amazing! 

Alpacas, Weddings, Strep, Nature and more

Suri_1Alpaca_2 It’s been a busy few days.  I went to the Kid N Ewe and Llamas Too show in Boerne and met up with Christine, but somehow managed to miss Judy.  I had a good time even though the show was a little on the thin side.  It was such fun to spend the day with other knitters (who blog).  And who doesn’t love alpacas?  I am thinking about fencing off part of my yard for a new pet or two.  Of course, the llama guy tried to convince me that llamas are better than alpacas and cheaper.  Anybody have good things to say about llamas for fiber?

W_jenn_1 Dancing_flowergirl_1 Then Abby was a flower girl in a friends’ wedding.  She really liked dancing in her fancy dress. 

Then I came down with strep (which she had the week before) and then she got it back, so now we are all on antibiotics and I have missed 3 days of work.  Wanna know what all you can get done while you’re home with strep throat?  Here is the progress on the Four Season Cable Coat by Kathy Zimmerman from May-July 2005 Cast On and it’s about 12 inches.  Cable_coat_1Not pictured are the 2 fronts of the Cropped Cable sweater from the Fall 2005 Vogue Knitting.  Oh and I finished a pair of socks. 

I also went outside because the weather has been in the upper 80′s and I have no idea why.  But I found fungus, and flowers and friends

– the friend is a juvenile Eastern hognose, only about the diameter of a pencil.  They are perfectly harmless and very common toad-eaters.

Fungi_1Yellow_flower_1Baby_hognose_1

Modeling and My First Meme

Kepler1 First things first: Kepler, designed by Emily at Fathom Harvill. I changed virtually nothing about this pattern, exept I used a yarn with a different row gauge and had to adjust the sleeve caps.  That’s it.  Now if it will just get cold enough again to wear it.

Emily has just finshed a new design she is "thinking about writing the pattern for".  I love it too.  You should run over there and help her out by letting her know what you think of it.  It’s called White-out and it reminded me of a Texas connection that I thought might be appropriate trivia here.  White-out, the original liquid paper was invented by a woman in Texas.  This woman had a son, his name was Michael.  Michael played in a band.  Called the Monkees

I have been tagged with a meme for the first time.  Teresa had the honors and I must admit I have dreaded some of these things, some are just too long and silly, but this one was okay.

What is your alltime favorite yarn to knit with?

Gosh that is hard to say, I love so many and prefer natural fibers. I love knitting with Patons Classic Merino, and almost anything with alpaca in it. There are lots of great sock yarns, Lorna’s Laces is lovely and of course, Koigu feels great, I just have issues with it’s priciness versus it’s skimpy skeins. I have not yet knitted with Karabella Aurora 8, but I have been trying to work myself up to committing to a sweater project with it, but it will have to be a great sweater I intend to wear for years in order to justify the expense. There are lots of great yarns I have felt up at the stores that I have not been able to afford. That’s just the reality. So, I guess it’s safe to say that I am still looking for the perfect yarn, perhaps to make the Perfect Sweater.

Your favorite needles

I have tons of needles. All kinds. And I can’t honestly say that I have a favorite. I can say that I don’t like circulars in general, I only use them when it is really called for. I think it has something to do with the way I am most comfortable holding my needles. When using long straights, I usually tuck the right needle in a fold of my clothes or brace it against my hip. All the action is in the elbows and shoulders, very little wrist action. With circulars, you can’t prop an end against something, and so it’s all about using your wrists. It’s just a little awkward, but I persevere. I am very comfortable with DPNs, so long as they are on the small side. I’ll use large ones for small projects, but after knitting socks for so long, tiny dpns in my hands feel quite natural. Brand-wise, I have no faves. I have tried all of them and they all work, some are better with some yarns than others. I will buy the least expensive if given a choice, but you don’t always get a choice.

The worst thing you’ve ever knit?

This isn’t hard for me, mostly because I have always tended to be conservative in my choices of knitting projects. It’s boring as hell, but if I am going to spend my time and money on a project, I intend to wear it (unless it’s a gift) and I do not want to waste either one, so, I lean towards the classic. When I was about 15, I knitted a Poncho. It was the thing after all. I was young enough not to understand the long term implications of certain fashion decisions. It was fringed and buttoned up the front. It had wide stripes of brown, rust, and gold, yes, it was the 70’s. It was hideous and I think I wore it once because it was out of style almost as soon as it was finished. That was my lesson in knitting trendy articles. Since that time, I have been careful not to repeat my error. I did knit a poncho for Kandis last year, but that was a request I couldn’t turn down.

Your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don’t like wearing it…but it was the most fun to knit

I don’t know if you’d call it a favorite pattern, but I have to admit to being profoundly impressed with the design and instructions for the immensely clever Fiber Trends Felted Clogs
They were very challenging to knit because you had to pay attention to each and every stitch and row (attention to that level of detail is challenging in our household) but then they turned out so perfectly that I can’t help being amazed at the genius that went into creating that pattern. And it has such a universal appeal. Who doesn’t need or love a pair of wool clogs? I loved making the Must Have Cardy (did you hear that Norma?>I loved it) and I wear it a lot. I also loved knitting Mariah and the Eyelet Cardy. I also love making the little top down baby sweaters that are so quick and so cute. I guess I love any really clever pattern that makes me look like a good knitter.

Most valuable knitting technique?

Well, after knitting for so many years, around 37 if we’re counting, I have to say, that I think my most useful knitting technique is crocheting. Yeah, I do that too and I can’t count how many times that has come in handy while knitting. In small ways, knowing how to crochet can simply help when trying to do certain knitterly things. After all, crocheting is so much like knitting, just making loops in yarn. Anyway, I love to learn new techniques, but I have to wait till it’s required to complete a project before I will attempt it. I need the incentive to learn a new thing. I don’t just sign up to learn stuff I don’t know. I need to want something bad enough. Then it’s more fun. That’s how I learned to cable, turn a heel, kitchener a toe and do entrelac. I have not learned to cable without a needle. Using a cable needle has just not been a burden to me yet, but perhaps some day.

Best knit book or magazine?

I just love being a knitter right now. Right now with knitting being so popular and the internets being such a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, we have more resources available to us now than ever before. Trust me, I have lived through the drought years (the 80’s and part of the 90’s) when the magazine options fell to one or two and nobody was writing pattern books. I know a lot of people have decried Vogue Knitting as lame because they don’t think they’re designs are wearable by real people, but I have knit several things from Vogue. I love Knitters, Interweave Knits, and Cast On. I think Debbie Bliss’ How To Knit is one of the most helpful how-to books and references.

Your favorite knitblogs?

Eww. Like Teresa, I think this ain’t no fair question. I love reading knitblogs and finding new ones. I have to limit myself because there is a finite amount of people that I can keep up with and still feel a connection to and that’s what I really enjoy. I try to keep up with the regular bloggers, the ones who have made some kind of commitment to blog almost every single day, which I admire and wish I could imulate them, but it’s just not possible in my world right now. My blogroll is a partial list of my favorites because I never seem to get around to adding to it. I know some bloggers have simply removed theirs and that’s a real possibility, but when I read Rebecca Blood’s book, the Weblog Handbook, I took to heart what she said about building a relationship and a reputation with your blogging peers. I use my blogroll every day to visit the people I have listed. AND I use their blogrolls (if they have them) to find new blogs, and so on and so on and so on. It’s a tool I can control. I know about the other aggragating tools (i.e. Bloglines, etc.), I use them, but I prefer not to rely on them entirely. I love the knitblog community and am thrilled to be part of it. I can’t possibly pick beyond what I have explained.

Your favorite knitwear designer?

Well, I am really learning to love some of the blogging designers, and I am loving some of the free patterns out there and I know I’m cheap, but these designs are great Bonne Marie Burns, Jody Green, just to name a couple. I also love Nancy Bush’s sock patterns. I love Alice Starmore’s designs even though I have not yet attempted one, I have yearned to do Inishmore for some time now. I think Debbie Bliss makes some incredible designs for babies and children. I love a lot of designs by Kristen Nickolas and have a couple of books of her designs.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)

Well, I suppose it would have to be my socks, but actually, I have a couple of sweaters I made over 10 years ago and no, I don’t have a photo today. I made a silk top out of Katia using one of their designs and I wear that thing every year, over and over. It’s a natural color and goes with everything and it still fits and I still love it. I also knit my first aran about the same time and I still wear it every year, though it’s not really stylish anymore, it’s a bit oversized and frumpy, it is warm and I like to be warm.

I wouldn’t want to impose on anyone who wasn’t agreeable, but I think I’ll tag Judy and June. How about it girls?

I leave you with this photo. Abby wanted to be in the picture with me when daddy was shooting the Kepler photos.

Menabby_1

It’s Dryin’ Time Again…

Kepler_block At midnight in the kitchen, the lighting’s not so great, but she dries.  Kepler.  I loved this pattern.  And the yarn, Artful Yarns Jazz (50% wool/50% alpaca).  It was a very fast knit, and the only ripping I did was the sleeve caps which had to be enlarged just a tad.  I didn’t kitchener at the braid joins (like some in the KAL) because my row gauge was not spot on with the pattern, but I don’t mind just having seams.  Modeling pics when she is dry and there is adequate daylight for a photo shoot. It’s a very good fit.  I have no idea why it looks enormous on the blocking board.

Our very own Texas sheep and wool show is happening this weekend!  The Kid N Ewe and Llamas Too in Boerne, Texas.  It’s not as big as Rhinebeck or Maryland, but it’s ours and it’s just a short drive away.  I’m going on Saturday.  I am hoping to meet up with Christine and anyone else who might be going.  Judy, will you be there?  Chris, I know it’s a drive, but you can stay with me if you come.  Let’s all go pet some sheep!