Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sniffle, sneeze...

We interrupt the nothingness that has been happening here to assure you that we are still alive, however we are sneezing like crazy and sniffling and have watery eyes and kind of feel icky. We assume we have a cold, however we also went out last Saturday and spent a good many hours at a very smoky bar, which we haven't done in a long, long time, and we think that might have something to do with our current sinus issues. And we are not sure but somehow it seems this current head situation has impinged upon our ability to write about ourself in the singular. So. Hm. More later, when we can function without a box of tissues at our side.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The start of something beautiful...

The lovely Malabrigo from the last post is becoming...

...Cosima, a Berroco pattern I've been ogling for a while now. It's on the cover of the Fall '08 Cuzco & Peruvia Quick booklet, and I just think it is so pretty. It's simple but not too plain, and it looks like it could be worn with a lot of things.

I hadn't been able to find Cuzco (for which the pattern calls) at any of my local shops. I did find it at one shop in Florida last November, but they did not have enough of any of the colors I liked (natch). I wanted something very soft, and Malabrigo is definitely that, and I'm apparently still in my teal phase, because of all the colors I could have chosen, I landed on this pretty blue-green (why it is named "Emerald" is beyond me, because I think of emerald as being far more green, not so much blue.)

Anyway, Malabrigo is a little lighter weight than Cuzco (aran versus light bulky), but its close enough for me (she says in her usual caution-to-the-wind way). I'm knitting it on US10s, which is larger than I'd usually use for this Malabrigo, and it is creating a lovely, drapey fabric while still maintaining the integrity of the lace pattern. I'm making a size bigger to make up for the gauge discrepancy. I think I'll be fine. (She says hopefully, her face bright with the optimism only a stubborn determined knitter can muster.)

I am hoping this sweater redeems my Berroco-pattern-knitting experiences after my less-than-stellar experience with Paley last year. Argh. Now that I think of it, I took similar caution-to-the-wind liberties with Paley as I am with this sweater, at least with regard to yarn choice and sizing. But Paley was of a completely different construction than Cosima, and I think that will make a big difference. Huge difference. All the difference in the world. (Please just nod and smile.)

In FO news, we have the February 09 Charity hat...

I enlisted the less-than-enthusiastic 14-yr-old boy child for modeling duty this time, as I think this could pass as a man's hat, even though I used the leftover yarn from my mother-in-law's sweater.

Pretty much my usual, basic hat recipe. Nothing fancy, but it will keep someone's head warm, and that's what counts!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Oh, lovely Malabrigo worsted in the Emerald colorway...how beautiful you are! May your finished product be equally enamoring!

What will the Emerald become? I'm casting on today...stay tuned!


Before they get lost in the detritus that accumulates on my computer, I wanted to share the photos of the yummy things I picked up last weekend at the Pittsburgh Knitting & Crochet Festival...

This is a milk protein/sea cell/merino roving from Creatively Dyed, and it is without a doubt one of the softest things I've ever felt in my life! It reminds me of the white, downy fibers in a milk weed pod. I've never spun with milk protein or seacel before, so it will be a new adventure!

This lovely fiber (also very soft) is from River's Edge Weaving Studio and is a merino/seacel blend (part of their collection that they lovingly refer to as "surf & turf"...LOL).

I wasn't going to buy yarn, just roving, but...well...you know how that goes...

These four skeins of hand dyed yarn come from Brooks Farm Yarn and were purchased for the specific purpose of making this very cool shawl that they had on display. It reminded me of an old-fashioned granny square afghan in its design, and I am a sucker for a good, old-fashioned granny square. LOL (The pattern is knit, not crochet, just to be clear.)


Cashmere. Need I say more?

Monday, February 16, 2009


Here she is...my finished Rivolo...

I am so very pleased with how this turned out! I wasn't sure how well it would translate in this handspun yarn (the rather overspun handspun, if you recall). All the way through it, I just kept doubting it would really show off the pretty pattern as much as it should. But after a good blocking, the pattern just opened up and...well...I'm thrilled with it! I feel like this is a major accomplishment. :)

This picture shows very well, though, how the one end of the scarf is more green and the other is more reddish brown due to my inexperience in dividing up the fiber for spinning. That also had me worried, thinking it would look funny, but I'm actually pretty pleased with it. Now that it's blocked, the color changes seem to flow much more subtly than they seemed to when I was knitting it. (Who'da thunk blocking could work such miracles? LOL)

Between the coloring and the texture of the yarn, the scarf seems to me to have sort of a rustic look about it, which I think contrasts in a complementary way to the elegance of the pattern.

And speaking of handspun, here are the finished hanks of the mohair/wool I spun from slowCOLOR...

This started out as a "sampler" box of fiber (my "roving sushi"), if you recall. There was only 1/8 of an ounce of each colorway, so my big plan was to just spin each one, alternating light and dark, and using some undyed roving between each colored segment. I had no idea what I'd end up with, but I can say with assurance I did not think it would end up looking this cool! The colors are just so crazy fun the way they went together...total serendipity. (The only color combo I'm not wild about is that green/yellow segment in the far left hank...it just doesn't seem to go with the rest of it, but we'll see how it plays out in whatever I decide to make with it.) It is not a particularly soft yarn...well, it is soft but a little scratchy, thanks, I think, to the mohair, maybe? It's definitely got a rustic look and feel to it (are we detecting a theme here? LOL). But I like it! There is just over 200 yards, so I'm thinking...scarf? (How many scarves does one person need? Really? But they are so much fun to make!)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What day is it?

Today is Saturday, but it's felt like Sunday for some reason. I think the power being off for nearly two days messed with me, mostly because I spent so much time at my in-laws' house, and I'm usually only ever there on weekend days, not mid-week.

Anyway...the power is back on here at Chez Beamer, to which we all shout a hearty huzzah and woohoo! The power company's recorded message promised it would be on by 6 p.m. Sunday, so I wasn't really expecting it to be on much before that. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to have it return mid-afternoon Friday. 

So life is mostly back to normal. Whatever that is.

I finished knitting my Rivolo scarf yesterday. It's soaking now and I'll block it overnight, and then I'll hopefully get a decent picture of it. 

Today I went to the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival. I've never been to it before, and going this year was kind of a last minute decision. I swore to myself that I would not buy yarn, only roving. Of course, I lied to myself. I bought some of each. But oh my...there was so, so much pretty stuff there! I'll take some pictures of my goods soon and share. :)

Also today, I finally plied all of the wool/mohair that I'd spun a couple of weeks ago. I'd been procrastinating on plying it because I wasn't 100% sure I knew what I wanted to do. Since it was mainly a collection of little spun color samples interspersed with natural-colored wool, I wasn't sure what it would look like if I plied it together, mixing the colors together. It had the potential to be, well, weird and/or ugly, I thought. I considered spinning an equal amount of white roving and then plying the wool/mohair with that, but honestly? I wasn't into putting that much time and effort into this particular spinning project. I thought of Navajo plying the whole bunch of it to try and maintain the integrity of the colors as I'd spun them, but the fiber was fussy in spots and spun rather lumpily at times, so I wasn't sure a three-ply would be a good choice.

In the end, I just plied the bobbins together, letting the colors randomly meet up, and...wow! It looks awesome! The color combos look far more subtle than I thought they would, and the natural color mixed in helped soften it all even more. Its still a wild, rambly collection of color, but in a good way. And again, pictures will be forthcoming soon!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Checking in from the dark abyss...

Thanks to the crazy windstorms we had two nights ago, our power has been out since 1 a.m. Thursday. We live in an all-electric house. That means no hot water, no heat (other than what our wood stove can produce), no light (other than what candles and lanterns can provide -- and man, let me tell you...those pioneers? They had to have horrible eyesight after a lifetime of doing anything by lantern light!), and most notably -- no computer!!!

I've been updating my Facebook status via text message (my little lifeline to the world), but otherwise I've been disconnected until now when I brought the kids to Panera so a) we could eat something (since all food in our house seems to need to be cooked in some way, and I haven't broken down and pulled out the Coleman stove yet) and b) I could download e-mail/look up addresses for two things I needed to mail today/get a brief Internet fix. 

You know, it's amazing how much we rely on electricity but don't realize it until we don't have it. And the computer! I can't believe how often in a day I just automatically get online and do things without even thinking of it, and then when I can't, I'm left at a loss for how to satisfy my brain. LOL

So...at last check, the electric company acknowledged "many outages" in our area, saying they are in an "emergency situation" and that they hope to have power fully restored to our area by "6 p.m....Feburary 15th." 

Sunday. Goodie! Two more days of having to run to the in-laws' to shower. Guess I should be thankful to have that option!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Projects...

Once, there was a knitter who was working on two projects at once: a pink afghan square and a mossy green scarf. The afghan square was being worked on 51 stitches, the scarf on 50 stitches. Both projects were lace, and each had an eight row repeat. Neither was particularly difficult. In fact, the scarf pattern was easily memorized.

It was this knitter's habit to end each knitting session of either project after working the eighth row of its respective pattern, making it easy to know where to pick up the next time she sat down. One day, however, the knitter was running short on time, needing to leave for an appointment and thus had to finish after row six instead of finishing the full eight rows. Knowing how easy it is to forget where one has left off, the knitter had the forethought to jot down a note, "Start on row 7," and sat it on the table next to her project. It seemed a foolproof way to avoid an error.

It was the next day before the knitter finally got back to her knitting. She picked up the afghan square and remembered her note, so she prepared to knit row 7. It was the wrong side row of the lace pattern, so she purled the whole way across. Then she moved on to row 8 and worked it from memory. But as she got to the end of the row, she realized she had a problem. There was an extra stitch. She held up the square for inspection and noticed that her lace pattern was suddenly looking very wonky -- clearly an issue beyond an extra stitch! After unsuccessfully discerning her error, she dinked back the two rows she'd just done and set out to begin again.

Suddenly, she glanced at the table next to her and saw her scarf. And she saw her note. Her note was sitting there on the table, next to the scarf. The afghan square had been sitting on the ottoman, not on the table next to the note.


The knitter learned a new lesson that day. When working on two lace projects, each with eight row repeats, be sure to specify WHICH project you need to begin on row 7 instead of assuming the difference of one stitch per row will be enough to clue you in to the fact that not only are you starting on the wrong row of the wrong project, but you are working it in with the wrong damn pattern! 


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunny and blue...

I kind of hate this song, but 1) it's funny when Chandler sings it, 2) it ties in to this blog post...kind of, and 3) the video provides some visual amusement since my post-related photos don't show up until further on down in the text. Just trying to keep you, dear reader, engaged. ;)

It's been a delightfully warm weekend here in the 'burgh. Temps in the 40's and 50's are a veritable heat wave here at this time of year. Yesterday and today both started out sunny, though clouds inevitably moved in. Still...it all hints of spring, which is nice to see. Still a long way to go, though...it is, after all, only February in Pittsburgh!

My son and his family are home for a couple of weeks while he's on pre-deployment leave, so I got to see him and my grandson yesterday for a little while. That was a brief little bright spot in the my day. And last night I had dinner with a high school friend I haven't seen in close to 20 years...we recently reconnected through Facebook, learning that we've only lived about ten miles away from each other for the past nine years! It was a fun little reunion, hopefully to be repeated before another twenty years pass.

So, that's the sunny. The blue I refer to, however, is not the sky (clouds, remember?) but my mood despite the warmer temps and seeing family and friends. I also missed going to the gym yesterday, but that was so I could see my son, so it was an acceptable trade-off, though I'm realizing today just how much my gym days do to help my mood...who'd've thunk it? Anyway, I won't go into details of what's taken place to put me in this definitive blue funk...suffice it to say there always seems to be bad that comes with good and sometimes it can outweigh it. That has been the case since yesterday, and I'm sad and tired and feel helpless to change any of it. :::sigh::: I know it will pass and I'll get through it and the sun will come out to-MOR-row! Betcher-bottom-doll-AR--er, yeah, nevermind. 

Anyway...always a bright spot in life is the knitting, and there has been some knitting...

blackberry jam

I finally finished the first Blackberry Jam sock, yarn by NummaNumma in the Blackberry Jam colorway. It's a simple 3x1 rib using my usual sock pattern. It's been my carry-around projects for ages now, and so it has taken much longer to complete than it otherwise would have. Need to cast on its mate so I can start carrying it around. There's nothing like a simple sock to knit on the go!

I also finished the first afghan square for the extended afghan swap I'm in...


I'm trying to kick the patterns up a notch for this next batch of seven squares, as some of the ones I did for the original swap were more simple and while they turned out nicely, I feel like I'd like to do a little more this go-around. I used the Openwork and Twist pattern from Harmony Guides 440 More Knitting Stitches, Vol. 3. (Am I the only one who just loves stitch dictionaries? I never get tired of perusing them!) The "twist" part of this pattern isn't showing up real well in this picture, but it is very pretty. I'll have to try to take a better detail picture before I send it off to its recipient (who hopefully does not visit my blog, or at least not until she receives her square!)

And now I intend to spend the rest of my Sunday drowning my sorrows -- or perhaps tying them up -- in yarn while watching comfort movies (some people have comfort food...I have comfort movies...fewer calories, just as effective). I'm thinking maybe an indulgent viewing of a Lord of the Rings movie...maybe two. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Ok, so the Steelers won their 6th Super Bowl. Life is good in the 'burgh. While I am a big fan of the team and the town, it is doubtful that I will ever willingly refer to our city as "Sixburgh." I mean...really? Must we? 

I continue to go to the gym and enjoy kickboxing and martial arts. This week featured exquisite pain in the form of bruises on my chest, arse and arms, as well as the practice of techniques that required a level of physical intimacy with my two young, male classmates that was previously reserved for my husband. Fun times! LOL

Went to the doctor this week to follow up on my too-high cholesterol results from six months ago. The doctor was appropriately enthusiastic about my recent weight loss. I'm anxious to see how the exercise and weight loss of late has affected the cholesterol numbers. They damn well better be going in the right direction is all I can say!

And in the she-looks-so-grown-up category, the girlie's first pair of glasses came in. We picked them up today. She likes them and is very excited about how well she can once again see!


Lastly, the knitting continues (though I have no new pictures to back up that assertion, sorry). I'm up to the toe on my first Blackberry Jam sock (lots of waiting room knitting this week on my designated portable project). Am about one-third done with the Rivolo scarf in my handspun. I'm on the second ball now, which is decidedly more green than the first...no idea how this is going to look when it's done, but I'm enjoying knitting it. Very fun and easy to memorize pattern. And I'm about two-thirds finished with the afghan block I'm working on for my swap. It's taking much longer than anticipated, but hopefully I'll get it done this weekend. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And now it is February...

Ok, so it was February when I posted my last post too, but the Steelers' Super Bowl win took precedence over commentary on the changing page on the calendar. Now that the initial six-pack hoopla has died down (at least here in my world...here in the 'burgh? Not so much. But at least I think the stupid college kids in Oakland have quit flipping cars and setting things on fire.) 

So, after my dedicated thirty-one days of finishing work in January, allow me to recap my success. At the height of my WIP count (as chronicled in my Dec. 16 blog post), I had 17 active projects on the needles. As of midnight, February 1, I was down to eight. I'm pretty happy with that! I cut the WIPs in half with knitting, plus one project relegated to the frog pond.

Now the question is...can I keep the WIP list from getting outrageous again? Heh. Time will tell. So far I've only added one new project to it, my Rivolo scarf that is for The Loopy Ewe Spring Fling KAL. The theme of this month's KAL is Knitspot/Anne Hanson patterns (as Anne will be one of the teachers at the Fling this year...cannot wait to meet her! I love her designs, and her blog is always enjoyable to read, too.) 

I decided to use some handspun for this project, and the brown/green BFL from Briar Rose seemed the perfect choice, especially as it is the only handspun of my own I have enough of for the project. And so...


Bias much? Oy. You'd think I just took the picture lopsided, but no. Thanks to my hyper-ly overspun yarn, this puppy is biasing like...something that really biases a lot. (Ahem.) The fel of the yarn actually reminds me a lot of the Ellyn Cooper Fine Merino I'm using for my Ribbon Lace scarf (although without the major spinning inconsistencies), as that is also a very highly spun yarn with a lot of bounce. I had the hardest time finding a project that yarn would work for. The Ribbon Lace scarf is biasing a little as well, but not nearly as bad as this. However, hope springs eternal as the plan is to give it a good soak and block the crap out of it when its done. Either way, it's my first project being made entirely out of my own handspun, and of that I am proud! I do love the colors...it looks so mossy. The texture is making the pattern a little hard to discern at the moment, but again...a good blocking should help that out in the end. 

I decided to rip the (whole two rows) of that other two-row scarf I was tempted to make. My main motivation for making it was that someone I see occasionally commented enthusiastically on my two-row scarf, and so I felt instantly compelled to make one for her. The thing is? I hardly know this person. I see her now and again, and while I'm all about being generous with the knit goods, I have no way of even knowing if I'll see her again while it is scarf-wearing weather. So. No scarf. I didn't have good colors for it for this person anyway. 

So, in addition to Rivolo, I've been working on my next afghan swap square, which is due out by 2/14 (no pictures of that yet as it is a surprise), and during the Super Bowl, since I needed mindless knitting so I could concentrate on the game, I worked on my Swiftly Turning Afghan, which has been languishing in the corner for quite a while.

swiftly turning afghan

I do love this afghan, just a simply garter stitch, back-and-forth thing, but it is that same simple garter stitch (on big needles) that gets old fast, so I don't end up working on it a lot. Plus, since it is so long and it takes so much time to get through one row, it feels like I knit and knit but it never grows! I did probably add three or four inches to it during the game, but there's still a long way to go. Still, I look forward to the day when it is done and I can curl up in it because I love the colors and it is so soft and warm! (And for the record, I'm using some of my own handspun as one of the yarns in this, too!)

Sunday, February 1, 2009




We are very, very, very, very, very, very (is that six yet??)