Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Knit one...

While my studio table seems to have become a repository of everyone's stuff-that-doesn't -have-an-official-home (I confess, most of it's mine) I've been indulging in other creative pursuits (AKA things to keep my hands busy while lounging in front of the TV so I don't destroy my cuticles with that horrible habit I've developed lately.) (New Year's resolution #1?)
Fortunately my knitting has resulted in a few nice gifts so it also helped the Christmas budget... theoretically...
that is it would have if I wasn't so easily seduced by all the gorgeous (read "expensive") yarns in our local specialty yarn shop. Wool & Wicker, right in the middle of Steveston Village, just to warn you so you can stay away if you're as weak as I am - it's a very dangerous place.

It all started with the desire to knit a nice scarf for my MIL for her birthday.
I'm quite a few years behind the times so I jumped on the 'striped Noro scarf' bandwagon' long after it had passed. I saw it on the Yarn Harlot blog so it had to be good.
Noro's Silk Garden is a yummy Japanese silk & mohair blend yarn that changes colours as you knit. If you alternate rows between two balls you get a wonderful stripe that is addictive to knit. All the colours are to die for and I recommend just closing your eyes & grabbing a couple of balls or you'll lose hours out of your day trying to choose.
I don't have a picture of my Mother-in-Law's scarf but it was the most beautiful jewel-tones and I was hooked.

That day that it snowed (you know you live in Vancouver when you can say that & everyone else knows which day you're talking about) I found myself unable to get to work within a reasonable time so took the day off and stopped to visit my Mom on my way home.
I was raving to her about the lovely scarf I had just finished: how much fun it was to knit and how I'd love to knit one for myself but with Christmas coming I couldn't justify spending that much on myself. Especially since I would like a nice long one that would take 4 balls of that rather pricey Noro.

Mom took out her wallet, handed me some cash and said " here, go knit yourself a Christmas present."
I was thrilled and, after finally escaping from the Silk Garden colour-choice black hole, went right home & started knitting.
The phone rang shortly after. Mom calling to apologize. She realized after I left that she got her math wrong & had only given me enough to buy 2 balls of yarn.
I told her not to worry, being given the money for 2 balls was enough of an excuse for me to splurge on the other 2.
She said "But it's bad enough that I'm making you make your own gift without making you pay for half of it!"

Here is the finished product in all it's glory. Thanks Mom!

To be honest I'm not as thrilled about the colours as I could be. I was drawn to the colourways that were predominantly greens and black but I'm not too crazy about those pale pinks and salmon bits that were hiding inside the ball.
Oh well, that's what's exciting about knitting with this yarn - it's always a surprise.
It hasn't been blocked yet so it's a little skinnier than it will be. Although it remains to be seen if I get it blocked before I wear it out. Or get tired of it and unravel it to knit something new.
These colours might look better in a non-striped something.
Like maybe one of these lovelies.....
This scarf is also unblocked but I have incentive to do it soon because it's destined to be a birthday gift - along with that trio of skinny bangles.
Here's a preview of what it'll look like blocked.
The yarn is a beautiful hand-painted sock yarn I bought at the summer market in Whistler a few years ago.
The woman I bought it from takes pictures around Whistler, then uses her photos as inspiration for the colourways of her yarns.
This one is called "Thimbleberry". In my scarf shots the colour is a little washed out but this pic of the yarn is much more accurate.
I like to include the yarn label with the finished product when I use a special yarn like this but I can't find this one. At least she can see a picture of it.
The Thimbleberry scarf was inspired by a sample I saw in that aforementioned evil yarn shop. I escaped without opening my wallet (that time), went home to my trusty "Vogue Knitting" book, found the instructions for the 'seafoam' stitch and made use of that sock yarn that I still had because I was having serious doubts about anyone needing socks the colour of thimbleberries.
Much more appropriate as a scarf.

Among the 'gifted before they were photographed' items were a matching pair of incredibly soft "baby alpaca" simple single-rib toques that I hope are keeping my In-Laws' ears toasty warm on their winter tramps through their new neighbourhood parks.

I'm considering starting some socks as I received some good feedback on some of the ones I gave away a few years ago when I was on that big sock-knitting jag. Still have two neglected pairs that only need the toes sewn up. Some for me this time? (Resolution #2 - sew up sock toes while it's still cool enough to wear socks)

Still on knitting, I took a big leap of faith today and bought enough yarn (at Michael's, on sale; I'm being responsible) to knit myself a very cute lacy cotton cardigan. As it's been many years since I've committed myself to anything larger than a pair of socks I figure that my timing is probably pretty good for me to have it finished in the right season for wearing.

As for that scary picture of my workspace up there, I'm happy to report that that's what it looked like yesterday and I have made considerable progress since then.

Enough that I'm heading up there right now to have a little clay-time before knit-time, before bed-time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Christmas Victory

Against the odds, this year I finally got my way when we picked out our Christmas tree.
And it only took 20 years.

Kim and the boys have always liked a big, thick cultured tree. You know, the puff-ball hedge-like ones with branches so thick and close together that the ornaments lay limply all over it, rather than swinging gracefully from the branches. They've always turned their noses up at the natural, un-butchered kind with long thin branches and lots of room for tucking presents and ornaments in against the trunk. "Those are Charlie Brown trees." As if that's a bad thing.
Every year they got their way. Not because they can all out-arm-wrestle me (which they can, even when they were pre-schoolers) but because it's always been 3 against 1.

This year Kim & I went tree-shopping alone and Kim must have been in a charitable mood because he didn't even hesitate when I hopefully pointed to a tall 'natural douglas fir' and said what about this one? Or maybe it was because it was a good 3 feet taller and 1/3 the price of the cultured ones he gravitates to. And we have a vaulted ceiling that fits a 9' tree. Anyway, I got my tree this year, but boy, did I pay for it.

I have to admit, it didn't look like much when we first set it up but I remained optimistic, trying in vain to convince my family that it would look good once the branches relaxed and we got it decorated.
Cole showed his diplomatic potential: "no offense Mom but that tree looks like crap."
As we decorated it, Shea, my tree-trimming partner, grudgingly admitted that he "could see the appeal of a tree like this." Not that he actually liked it, but he could see how some people might. He's a very empathetic fellow, my Shea.
I like it, especially with a Grandma in front of it, lots of presents underneath, family gathered around and the smell of Christmas brunch in the air.

And I think my boys have come around to appreciating its quirky beauty.
Although I suspect we'll be back to a fluffy cultured one next year.

I hope everyone had a Christmas as wonderful, warm and family-filled as mine was.