Posts Tagged ‘afghan’

Let It Be Autumn

Last night was deliciously cool and I got to use the Cape Ann Afghan. I sandwiched it between the sheet and the quilt so Yarn Rascal wouldn’t be tempted to shred it. Whether he sensed it was on the bed or not, I don’t know. But he spent the night in his own bed, which is unusual. He likes to sleep under the covers and as close to me as he can. When not sleeping he spent his evening tearing up an empty shoe box.

His other strange behavior is rocking in the rocking chair before coming to bed. The rocking chair is in the work room next to the bedroom. Before he comes to bed he jumps in the rocking chair and rocks. You can hear the creaking of the chair as it moves back and forth. For some reason, the sound reminds me of Hitchcock’s movie Psycho. Just a little unnerving. I tell myself it’s just Randi, but didn’t the character played by Janet Leigh think it was okay to just take a shower? All in all Yarn Rascal is not in an energetic mood today. Too much shoe box the night before?

If this cool weather signals the end of summer, I will welcome it. The Skipper has harvested enough tomatoes to fill a small dump truck. They are sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for me. I’ve run out of the containers I use to put my tomato sauce in, so off to the store to get more and then the tomatoes on the counter are toast, I mean sauce.

I have released a sock pattern.

socks autumn splendor 1

Autumn Splendor. They are a toe-up design. Provisional cast on with short-row toe, lace, round heel and a really cool bind off that works beautifully with 1×1 ribbing. Circumference is 7.5″ (19) cm.

socks autumn splendor knitted 2

I actually wrote the pattern about a year ago. I like to let time elapse between the creation and the release of a design. If I still like the idea then I publish it. I’ve worn these socks almost everywhere and they never fail to get complimented.

The idea for the design was the moment in Autumn when Summer’s fullness falls away and the structure of things begin to show again. Vines, stems, limbs, trellises, all that upheld Summer’s richness reveal themselves. I think the pattern, captures that. Here is where you can find out more about them.

Have a good weekend.

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Yes it is ready for its moment in the spotlight.

cape ann afghan 1

My Cape Ann Afghan.

acape ann afghan edge 2

Looking at it gives me such a feeling of accomplishment. Memories of time and place are woven into these stitches and forever entwined with them.

cape ann afghan cu edge

cape ann afghan 2

The free pattern in pdf form can be found here on my Ravelry page for download now.

Have a good weekend.

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The Afghan Survives

The afghan and I have survived. It is safe in the closet from little teeth and paws. In order to help it dry quicker, I took it off the door, rolled it up in towels, and did a little dance on it squishing out most of the water. I never realized just how many towels we have.

It was suggested that I use the washing machine for soaking and then spin dry. Yes, that makes so much sense, which is probably why the idea never occurred to me. I don’t normally knit or crochet large projects because I find them unwieldy. I fight them during the creating phase, I struggle with them in the blocking phase. My usual projects are portable, so I can take them with me and work on them.

Nothing soothes my nerves like having a pair of socks in the works. I love everything about making socks and love designing them. I love wearing them. Yarn Rascal will be a challenge when sock season comes, but I have hopes that he will learn to live with them without eating them.

I’ll have pictures of the afghan on Friday along with the pattern in pdf. It will be a freebie.

For now I have a great little picture of a hummingbird moth that frequents our butterfly bush. The Skipper took this shot of it.

hummingbird moth 1

I love the picture he caught of the evening sky during those nights when it got chilly last week.

evening sky 1

To me, it just sang of cooler weather and bye-bye summer. I was fooled. The warm and humid weather you can wear is back. But I like to look on the bright side, at least I’m not trying to dry an afghan in it.

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Start by making sure that any chance of sanely laying afghan out to block somewhere in the house is not an option. This can be achieved in many ways. The most sure fire way is to have a pet that is attracted to yarn and anything knitted or crocheted. It doesn’t matter whether the pet is a dog, cat, guinea pig, or iguana, as long as it has a strong, destructive pull to yarn.

Next step: Accept the idea of blocking the afghan in an unconventional way, outdoors. Fresh air, wet wool what could go wrong? Put afghan in to soak in the basement sink. The sink is nice and deep, the stairs are nice and steep. Fill sink with water and leave afghan to soak thoroughly, letting wool become heavily saturated.

At same time as afghan is saturating, set up saw horses on patio. Lug old door from garage to patio and unload onto saw horses. Realize for umpteenth time that old door is not wide enough to support flat blocking of afghan.

Next step: Accept the idea that some of the afghan will be hanging over the edge of door. Ignore screaming little voice inside that says this may not work.

Return to basement, pull plug in sink to drain water. When water is drained try and remove afghan from sink.

Next step: Accept the idea that afghan can and will be removed from sink. Grandmothers and great-grandmothers made beautiful afghans that were soaked and blocked.

Next step: Accept the idea that they were in better shape and had techniques that are unknown now. Those grandmothers and great-grandmothers did laundry for families of eight at a time when there were no washing machines.

*Wring and wrestle afghan expressing as much water as is humanly possible. Stop just before collapsing. Try to lift afghan. Rest. Take deep breath repeat from * until afghan can just be lifted.

With wet, dripping, heavy afghan resting in arms and against chest, climb steep basement stairs. Do not pause for breath on steps, momentum is everything: A body in motion tends to stay in motion. Hope that saying is right.

With afghan dripping water like a leaky bucket, make it to top of stairs, run through living room, dodge snapping, leaping, yarn loving pet, kick open screen door in kitchen, and collapse with afghan onto door on saw horses. Catch breath.

Lay afghan out, patting into shape. See that door is too small for afghan to block properly. Walk away. Close self in bedroom until weeping subsides.

For rest of day, walk into kitchen and stare at afghan dripping over old door.

Next step: Accept that this may not work.

As evening approaches, notice there are an abundance of moths in the area. Do not connect the dots between moths and wool, that way madness lies.

At 2 a.m. wake from sleep because of strange smell. Recognize smell as Eau de Pepe Le Phew. Spring from bed to see if Pepe has sprayed afghan.

Turn on flood lights and spend next 15 minutes smelling every inch of afghan for skunk. Sniff nothing but wet wool.

Stand and see clouds of fluttering moths. Turn off flood lights, return to bed.

Next step: Accept that this may not work.

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The Yarn Rascal is in top form today. Wednesday he had his traumatic bath. The howling, he’s a Bichon and not a Beagle, began the instant he and the water met. I told The Skipper to close all the windows or else the neighbors will think we’re finally killing the little imp. The howling is accompanied by repeated, unending attempts to jump out of the bathtub. Soap suds and water go everywhere, and in the end the bathroom tiles resemble a Jackson Pollock painting, if of course he’d painted in water and suds.


Thursday the Yarn Rascal got groomed. We groom him ourselves. I had 16 years experience clipping my first Bichon, Sport. Sport was a groomer’s nightmare, which was why I had to learn how to take care of him. Yarn Rascal is quite a bit easier. So easy in fact that he tends to fall asleep. But once the weight of the hair is off him the only speed he knows for the rest of the day is full tilt. He rips around the house, rips through his walks outside, he’s crazy. Both The Skipper and I stay as active as we can at our ages, but we are no match for the Yarn Rascal. By bedtime The Skipper and I were falling asleep in our respective chairs, and the little monster was still ripping from room to room.

Today is food shopping, running to the vet for heartworm medication for you-know-who, making tomato sauce (will this summer ever end?), baking zucchini bread, and worrying that all the knitting books I have on loan from the library are overdue. I can’t find the slip of paper that tells me because you-know-who shredded it and ate it. I could go online to check, but I don’t know my library card number off-hand.

This weekend I am blocking the Cape Ann Afghan. Yes, I decided that since most of the birds have migrated out of here, I will set up the saw horses and block it on the patio. It will certainly be safe from Yarn Rascal, and hopefully not be target practice for bird poop. Stupidity and hope forever spring eternal.

And now a word about knitting baby sweaters with collars. Collars on sweaters should be reserved for the 12 mos to 24 mos old set. At the older ages the baby spends more of its time upright. Babies 3 mos to 9 mos spend most of their time on their backs in a car seat, stroller, crib, or lap. A collar on a sweater at these ages just ends up bolstered uncomfortably behind the base of the baby’s skull. The front of the collar ends up in baby’s face, and the caretaker is continually having to smooth it down. A collar at the 3 mos to 9 mos age also makes bibs fit tighter around the throat of the baby. Bibs are crucial during the drooling stage when the baby is cutting teeth. My nephew drooled so much I worried he’d dehydrate. I knew St. Bernard’s that drooled less. So, while baby may start sitting up on its own around 9 mos, the drooling stage is in full swing and collars on sweaters are a nuisance that can be done without. 12 mos to 24 mos can handle collars better. Their necks are distinguishable enough to keep the collar out of their face and where it belongs. Bibs are not being worn by this age group around the clock.

A baby at 3 mos to 9 mos is developmentally different than one at 12 to 24 mos. The 12 to 24 mos are upright, walking. The 3 mos to 9 mos spend a significant amount of time lying on their backs, they twist and turn when supine. They crawl, rock back and forth on hands and knees. The types of movements between the two ages groups is significantly different. Dresses, matinee coats, tunic sweaters are not for the 3 mos to 9 mos group. The lengths hinder their twisting, turning, crawling, rocking movements that are essential developmental skills. Dresses, matinee coats, tunic sweaters can be worn by the 12 mos to 24 mos group. They are upright, walking. Since the types of movements between the two groups are so different, not all patterns are necessarily appropriate for all age groups.

Next up, a moment of calm. The water lily in our Serenity Pond in bloom:

water lily

I don’t have any idea how the ant got there. Do they swim?

Have a good weekend.

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There is no way of saying it other than just saying it: The Yarn Rascal had a Gold Paw weekend. Yes, the Cape Ann Afghan is done, thanks to The Skipper who kept the Yarn Rascal in another room while I completed it. No, it is not blocked. I fear it may never be blocked, but that may be just my hysteria rising. I looked in the garage, where I planned to block the afghan in safety. Truly, it’s the only place in the house that is Yarn Rascal proof. He has no way of gaining access to it. As I said, I looked in the garage ready to move the saw horses into position and realized there’s a ton of heavy stuff all over the space.

Every heavy object The Skipper owns is in the garage but the car, and the car definitely wouldn’t fit even if for some apocalyptic, super-storm reason we needed to get the car in there the task of making space is so monumental that the apocalyptic, super-storm would hit long before we could make a dent in the “stuff”. I can’t move any of it by myself. The standing band saw weighs upwards of a 1000 pounds and would need to be moved with the tractor which is also in the garage. The industrial band saw isn’t the only heavy piece of wood working equipment calling the garage home. In short, there is no way to eek out a space of 60 x 60 inches (152 x 152 cm) without engaging tractor and straps and strategic planning on the level of a major construction job.

So I thought I’d try Plan B. I knew it was risky. I knew in the pit of my stomach that it might just send Yarn Rascal over the edge. Block the afghan in the living room in the space I have already set up for blocking, but which hasn’t been used since Yarn Rascal arrived. Not wanting to wantonly subject the afghan to the wild and unknown, I thought I would do a trial run with a shawl I made during Super Storm Sandy. I’ve written up the directions and plan to offer it as a free pattern this Autumn.

The one thing the Yarn Rascal hates is water. He can’t stand it when his feet get even minimally wet. A full bath is traumatic for him. I reasoned (lied to myself) that once the shawl was wet and laying out to dry that it would be safe. To ensure its safety, I employed the equivalent of a medieval moat around a castle: I wet a few towels and placed them that if when he got up on the table where the shawl was blocking he would have to step on the wet towels before he could get to the prize.

I’ll omit the lurid details. Let me just say at dinner time on Sunday evening the Yarn Rascal reached the pinnacle of his version of Mt. Everest. Dinner went up in flames (literally), the shawl recaptured. To my amazement, it weathered the onslaught quite well.

In the meanwhile, we have a brand new older buck in the area. The Skipper took these pictures. The buck’s antlers are still in the velvet. His coat has already turned to the gray brown Autumn coloring.

deer cu

deer ls

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Friday and things are hopping here. The Yarn Rascal who was MIA for the last 15 minutes just jumped into my lap all happy with himself. He’s done something dastardly, I just know it, and it has to do with yarn. It’s wet and rainy so it is not his kind of day. He hates being wet on any part of his body, including his feet. From the weather, it looks like today he won’t get his requisite number of walks to help lessen his puppy energy, which means yarn disasters, shredding, and gnawing on cables and electrical wires. When he is tired, he doesn’t have the energy to do these things, although you can see it in his eyes that he wants to.

The Skipper shot these three pictures of a yellow warbler who is frequenting our Serenity Garden. I think it has such a cute face.

yellow warbler c1

yellow warbler c2

yellow warbler c3

We specifically designed the Serenity Garden with birds and butterflies in mind. Year after year, it doesn’t disappoint.

The Cape Ann Afghan is 75% complete. I am crocheting the border and plan to block it Sunday. I’ve settled on a large plywood board over two saw horses as the blocking table in the garage. The garage is a complete out of bounds area for the Yarn Rascal so the afghan will be safe there. I’m going to cover the plywood with towels. It will probably take a few days to dry. I was worried that I might not have enough yarn to finish but the fear was unfounded. Yeah, something finally worked out right!

I’ll spend the rest of my day tech editing the Victorian Baby Coat pattern. I completed the schematics yesterday. The plan is to finish editing the fronts today and then edit the sleeves tomorrow, all the while being aware of the saying about how plans of mice and men go astray.

Have a great weekend!

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sunswt 2

The weather here has a hint of Autumn in it. Last night was cool enough that the heat came on just before dawn. The sound of the pipes clinking along with the occasional bang woke me. Hearing the pipes gave me such a comfortable feeling and I snuggled down deeper into the quilt. The Yarn Rascal was already underneath the covers, it’s where he likes to sleep, curled against my body.

I must admit I am not a lover of Summer. I much prefer Autumn and Winter. Spring is so allergy ridden for me that I endure it rather than enjoy it. But Autumn is my very favorite time of the year. I love the slant of light, the coolness in the air. The structure of things in the gardens begin to reappear as the lushness of Summer falls away.

>sunset a

Most of all I love wearing my knitted socks. It is such a comfort for my soul. Of course this year, sock wearing will be slightly less serene. The Yarn Rascal goes crazy over feet that have socks on them. He nearly did in a pair last night.

Lately, he has found great glee in tearing the paper bands from around new skeins of yarn. He shreds the bands beyond recognition when I don’t immediately catch him. If it is a single skein, then the information on the band is lost. Truth is, most of the wool in my stashes I recognize, so the offense is not exactly on the scale of a felony, yet.

When I remove a band from a new skein, the minute he hears the riiiiiiiip, he dashes from wherever he is and starts jumping around trying to get the band. I’ve taken to keeping an old band nearby so when I want him to come out from wherever he is and he is ignoring me, I just riiiiip and like magic he appears. Yes, he is in a crazy state when he arrives, but at least he’s where I can see him.

I continue with the afghan. My work sessions usually start by tearing motifs out and putting them back in the right place. I don’t want to even mention the fact that all this reworking might leave me short of yarn for the finishing. Allow me my illusion that all will turn out okay.

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I should be knitting. I need to start the sleeves of the baby sweater.
I should be knitting. Socks are waiting to be knit. Shawls are waiting too.
I should be knitting.

Instead, I am crocheting;
The last 12 motifs and border of the Cape Ann Afghan.

Yarn Rascal is close by watching, waiting for a chance to steal a skein. Sometimes he cuddles up close so he can secretly hold the yarn in his mouth. The yarn is wet when it reaches the hook to be worked into the afghan. I look down and he looks up at me, all innocence, except for the yarn going in one side of his mouth and exiting the other.

I should be knitting.

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The poetry of the earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead…

John Keats On the Grasshopper and Cricket

I can’t recollect the sound of grasshoppers, having not seen one since I was young. But the sounds of the Cicadas fill some of the quiet times of these heat heavy days. Our baby birds grow bigger each day. The parent purple finches are doing round the clock feedings and when they are away from the nest two purple finch aunts guard the wee ones. One of the babies is already flapping its wings, a prelude to leaving the nest. In a way, I will be sad to see them go because I know there won’t be more babies this year. In another way too, I will be happy to see them fly for the first time. I can only imagine the freedom and joy in such soaring. My hope is that they remember their little home and come back to have babies of their own next year.

purple finch feeding babies

purple finch birds babies

The other item growing fast is the baby sweater I’m knitting with the MadelineTosh yarn. The right front is started and hopefully will be complete this weekend. Then onto the sleeves.

baby sweater madelinetosh yarn

I’ll block the fronts and backs before I sew them together. I like to block the pieces before sewing because it makes the sewing easier. I have a clearer view of what to stitch together and where.

Despite the knitting progress, I admit I’d rather be crocheting. I have an afghan design in mind for Dad and am searching for the yarn and colors.

tranquil color palette

Including the light blue book, count 4 to the left and that is the color scheme. The afghan will be called Tranquil. All the while I am knitting, I am thinking of this afghan. I need to work on staying in the moment.

To all: Have a happy weekend!

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