First up, some business housekeeping: I still haven’t completed a new website. The learning curve for new software or programs can really bog me down to the point of inertia. And now I’m going through the throes of figuring out a simple, straightforward accounting register that I can input all my bank transactions without the need to input a ton of information. I’ve used Quicken 2002 since it first came out and have been perfectly happy with it. But, as with the website software, it’s on the old beast which is prone to crashing. The newer Quicken releases have lots of negative reviews so I’ve been looking at open source software. But everything seems more complex than I need. What I want is to be able to record all transactions and access category reports so I can easily get the figures for tax work. If anyone has insight, experience or suggestions, please let me know. My guts are beginning to churn at the thought that I’m so far behind in preparing for taxes and with a grandchild due sometime later this month I’d love to get this monkey off my back! Until the taxes are filed I’m not going to be spending any more time than necessary on the website and other business end of work. (By evening I can barely handle the thought of working at the computer any longer and thus the knitting, spinning, music, reading…)
Aurora had another baby shower coming up within a week. The odds weren’t good I be able to finish knitting Baby Yours in time to seam, wash and dry it. Besides, I was chomping at the bit to do some spinning.
Thursday evening I dug through the stash until the Crown Mountain Farms pencil roving, Rise of the Phoenix came to light. Aurora doesn’t want to be inundated with pink girly things for her baby daughter. With time of an essence the Louet Victoria wheel was employed as I aimed for another lofty semi-bulky yarn. A couple hours later and the yarn was hanging to dry.
Saturday morning I set about Knooking a baby cocoon.
Pattern: Eskimo Kiss Hooded Cocoon from Welcoming Baby Home the Handcrafted Way by Tricia Drake (also available at Amazon but you really ought to see the adorable pictures on Tricia’s – TrickyKnits etsy site!)
The pattern calls for US 19 / 15.75 needles and I did round up my set of #19s but a quick sample of gauge showed they were too big for my not-so-thick handspun. No matter, I’d been itching to try more knooking, so I pulled out the Size N / 10 mm knook Ed had made for me and away I went, spot on gauge!
After returning home from violin practice with the strings ensemble Friday evening I cast on and merry knooked through the evening.
The technique is similar to crochet, except the end results look like knitted fabric! The hook has a hole drilled into the other end which the white cord slips through. The cord is not knotted but remains free which allows one to go in circles. The cord hold the stitches in place until you’re ready to work them again. Flat work or round work, knit stitches and purl stitches can be mastered with a bit of time and effort. This is the second project I’ve done. The first one felt very awkward and laborious but with this one my hands were accustom to the different action and the cocoon grew quickly by the inches. As you can see from the picture, instead of hooking the yarn from underneath as in typical crochet, the hook grabs the yarn from above.
As the work goes across a row, or round, occasionally I’ll stop and pull the end of the cord through the now worked stitches of the previous row. Sorry I didn’t think to take a picture of the other end of the hook so you can see how as the stitches reach the end of the tapered hook they easily slide off on to the cord waiting for the hook to come around to pick them up and work the next row. (The white yarn with bead is the stitch marker for the back center.)
One slight modification I made to the pattern was not to decrease at the foot end of the cocoon but rather to leave it completely open so it’d be a cinch to change diapers if needed. Instead I slipped a drawcord through the next to the last row. When I cast off (super easy with a knook!) I left the white cord in the previous row to act as a guide for threading the drawcord through.
The only thing left to do was to go back to and seam the hoodie part then purl a couple rows for the face. I needed bulkier yarn so went back to the spinning wheel and within an hour had 20 some yards spun and hanging to dry.
It’s still a challenge to spin bulky but I’m getting better at it with each attempt! This averaged 3 wpi. Compare the bulky spin on the left to the original project spin at the right.
Sunday it was a breeze to finish the purl rows and set it in a warm bath for a soak then rinse.
This cocoon is exclusively for the newborn child and won’t be used for more than a few weeks – at the most, but I can imagine how cocooned a baby feels in one of these warm, soft nests. It’s not fancy or exquisite as some of Tricia’s models but it should be well suited for Aurora’s little girl. Picture of the entire cocoon, with baby inside, to be posted.
Completely different subject: Is any one else having problems getting with Blogger word verification? I’ve not been able to leave any comments on Blogger friends’ posts for almost 2 months. It’s been very discouraging. Though I’m not often leaving comments these days (bad person!) there are times I really want to leave a comment but blogger kepts wanting me to try the word again. I’ve emailed Blogger and Google about this as I’m not even able to leave a comment when I’ve logged on with my Google account.
The past few weeks have not been ordinary for two homebodies who typically do not go out in the evening, other than our one night per week commitments. And then there’s been knitting! A few late nights and I was able to finish up the Hiking Scarf and give it a wash and dry in time to pack it off in the mail before d-i-l’s birthday. The worsted, loosely spun alpaca took its sweet time drying, even draped near the wood stove. With the clock quickly ticking to closing time at the local PO desperation called for the hair dryer aimed directly at it. Whew, dry with minutes to spare for wrapping it in birthday wrappings and tucking it in a box along with a lovely shawl pin Ed purchased last month.
Finished size, 60″ by 6″. The picture is a bit washed out, the alpaca was a lovely warm gray/brown. (Actually I’m suspecting the camera has been bumped too many times in that past 3+ years – it’s been frustrating getting it to capture true colors.)
Other than knitting a pair of socks with simple cables a couple of years ago, I hadn’t done any other cabling. At first it was very slow going and felt cumbersome but as the inches began building up welding a cable needle and working the twisted stitches became easier.
Aurora has been given two baby showers, both necessitating gifts, of course. The Norwegian Baby Cap and a soft cocoon that, without a baby in it ,doesn’t look like much so no pictures until there’s a wee baby snuggled in it. Another shower is scheduled in 10 days – decent progress is being made on another wee garment. With the cabled scarf successfully under my belt I felt ready to tackle a pattern I bought several years ago that had long seemed too challenging:Pattern: Baby Yours by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill, Superwash Merino 4oz/420 yards Colorway: Jade
Needles: #2 – Ed’s needles
The back (pictured above, partially worked) is now finished and I’m about 3 inches along on the left front. While working on the scarf I discovered the perfect cable needle.An old Clover maple double-point that had been broken. I love using this slightly under 2 1/2″ needle with one end sanded into a sharp point, the other not quite so. It easily tucks under my last two fingers when not in use, but handily available when working across the cable row. On the return row it gets stuck back into the ball of yarn.
I have two more items I’d love to finish before little one is born but there’s other things also needing attention so we’ll see if they’ll be finished.
We are so blessed by lovely friends! Twice in January we were surprised at the PO with unexpected parcels.
First this beautifully knitted lace doily by Grannie Linda.
Seeing all the tiny, soft pink stitches brought tears to my eyes. My grandmother had crocheted and knitted many doilies in her lifetime and as a child my mom had some of them on the backs and arms of chairs and under her violets. I have one large one – also with pink! that I’ve treasured. I wonder whatever happened to the others. Grannie Linda’s resides in a place of honor in our living room, yes with pink frog.
A couple weeks later another very light parcel appeared in our postal box. What in the world? Ah – another familiar name – Valerie, weaver extraodinaire. What could it be? Restraining myself from ripping into the box then and there, I ran home (literally – you can ask my neighbor who is often on his porch watching the world pass by) for the scissors.
What a sweet surprise on a deep-winter day, roses!
Isn’t this the best presentation of silk hankies you have ever seen? Each roll of hankies (Matawa) is dyed with lively pinks, greens and yellows – such cheerful colors. I have yet to decide what they’ll become. Someday the perfect project will claim them.
Thank you dear friends!!!
January/February often bring a sense of withdrawing and depression. Fortunately we’ve not had everlasting grey days of rain as we do some years. January had days of sunshine and blue skies. But still, the feeling settles into my bones, marrow and psyche. I want to be around people, but stronger is the desire to be solitary. Withdrawn. Quietly doing handwork, going for long walks, reading, though in truth I haven’t managed to work in long walks, I mostly dream about them and wonder how I can fit them into the day’s routine.
Last Sunday I took the dog for a walk out to the cemetery. It’d been several months since I’d walked that way. The almost daily walks Ed and I take to the school and back have taught Lilydog to stay close by without being on a leash. She’s good about staying right at our heels for the most part, or if her nose entices her to check out the bushes a short command brings her right back. So, on Sunday when I set out with her it didn’t cross my mind to grab her leash. Spindle and wool in hand we made it up to the cemetery and had turned back when I saw three dogs gamboling at the far end of the field across the way. There was no way we could walk down the open road with out them spotting us but I hoped that they were trained to stay close to the farm buildings. We made it halfway down the hill and just past a long driveway when the terrier and golden lab spotted us. Alerted they barked and headed our way. I considered whether my Turkish spindle would make a good weapon. Deciding, no, it was tucked it in the walking pouch. Instead I put a handful of gravel into my jacket pocket and a hefted a rock in my right hand. By then the terrier was sniffing along our back tracks while the lab was charging towards us. I climbed a wire fence post and said in my sternest voice, “GO HOME!” He slowed about 50 feet away. Hesitating. Uncertain. Again I commanded him to go home. He wandered up to where the terrier was still sniffing out our earlier passing then they headed back into the field.
Lily and I continued along the lane keeping a vigilant eye towards the dog. The lane makes a sharp turn to lead past their farm and out to the main road. At the bend there is a grove of trees on the side we were walking. I found a good stout branch for the dogs had more or less paralleled our journey and now that we were coming close to their home turf they were acting more aggressive again. Near their place the lab swooped towards us then circled out around Lily dropping back only when I shouted at him. Three times he charged, the last time he came in too close for my comfort (HA! I hadn’t been comfortable since first spotting him across the way) and I brandished the stick at him while telling him to go home. Poor Lily was doing her best to ignore them but she also kept about 10 feet away from me as though she were trying to lure them away from me. I have no idea if that lab was more bravado than bite but I’m not keen to try walking past him again. Finally he seemed to lose interest in us and we made it out to the main road.
A few hundred yards farther down the road a couple men were working on a truck. They’d been there earlier when we first walked past, along with a little granddaughter. This time one of them was holding a boxer in the back of the pickup. As we approached, on the opposite side of the road, he called out not to worry that he had a hold of his dog, and even if he didn’t hold her she’d just want to play with us. Great, just hang on to that dog! We’d made it past the house when I heard barking and turned to see the boxer blazing towards us, in a non-friendly way. I lifted my stick and told it to Go Home as the owner shouted, “Sadie, get back here.” She wavered a moment then turned and went grudgingly back to him.
After being bitten by a dog six years ago I can no longer feel friendly and trustful of dogs. I need to buy some pepper spray. I should also leave Lily at home. Having a dog along with me seems to bring out dogs.
Well, this post certainly went off on a different direction! I’ll try to post again soon and tell about the showers, and the two events that Ed and I recently attended – one this afternoon.
I’m so woefully behind on blogs. I have forgotten my dear cyber friends, it’s just that , other then brief forays to FB, I’ve been pretty much avoiding the computer during my non-working hours. The weekend is coming with continuing rain in the forecast. Perhaps I’ll be able to get in some serious blog reading time.