Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harvest Basket Shawlette

The Harvest Basket Shawlette and I have a long and somewhat agonized history.  You see, Harvest Basket is one of the first shawls I designed (somewhere in the first five for sure).  And while I loved it and thought it would be beautiful, every time I tried to knit it, things went badly.

There was nothing wrong with the pattern, as a matter of fact, TK said that it was one of the simplest ones she'd knit for me.

But it didn't work for me.  The first time I tried to knit it, I didn't like the yarn I'd chosen.  The second time, I didn't like the yarn/pattern combination.  So about that time I decided maybe it wasn't the yarn, maybe it was the pattern.  Thus, the next time I tried to knit it, I tried to redesign the pattern, failing miserably.  So I put the pattern on the shelf for a while.  And then forgot about the poor thing.

Until about 6 months later.  I was browsing through my old patterns (there are a surprising amount of those. Sadly, for most of them, it was love at the time they were designed, and now it's meh) and came across Harvest Basket and thought I'd give it another shot at redesign.  But when I opened the file, I realized that it really was great as is.  However, given our checkered past, I was reluctant to give it another try.  Then I remembered...

I have a test knitter!  TK! So I gave her a call and much to my joy and happiness, she agreed to take on the knitting of the Harvest Basket Shawlette.  And she finished it in less than two weeks!  (Did I mention that TK rocks?)  In Malabrigo Sock in Terracota, the shawlette is soft and warm.

Best of all, Harvest Basket is free!

And that's really the best price for anything,

Note: I originally designed Harvest Basket to be knit with variegated yarn.  I feel that the simple lace won't get lost in the variegation.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Deja Vu Shawlette

I originally knit the Deja Vu Shawlette with Malabrigo worsted, in the colorway Deja Vu.  (Hmmm, I wonder where the name came from.)

Then I realized that I still had yarn left from Butterfly Bush- Knit Picks Gloss DK.  While the first Deja Vu was knit with a worsted, Gloss DK is nearly heavy enough for this knitter to consider it a near worsted.

I had a full skein of the Gloss DK and a bunch of scraps that, when taken all together, gave me about 185 yards.  So I decided to knit up a solid version of Deja Vu and it turned out lovely.  Most of the scraps were about 5 yards apiece (they came from the ends of the skeins I had used for Butterfly Bush.) By the time I got to the bind off row I was running on yarn fumes.  I had to rip out and reknit the bind off three times to have enough yarn left over to weave in the end.  It was... um... challenging.  I had a blast!

It was even more exciting when Knit Picks contacted me and told me that they wanted to include Deja Vu in the November Catalog!  I'm not ashamed to say that I squeed!  (Hubbie's ear drums may never be the same.)

Imagine my excitement when I received the pictures from Knit Picks. There was one of their models wearing my shawl (although it had been reknit for that particular purpose, so really it was someone else's version of my shawl, but whatever, totally my pattern!)... backwards. Yes, you heard me right.  The photographer (or knitwear stylist) had placed the shawl on the model purl side out.  I may have laughed like a loon or cried. I'm not sure.  I kinda blacked out a little there.

I later realized that there's precedent for this.  The same thing happened with Miriam Felton's Icarus Shawl when the pattern was published in Interweave Knits.  So, I don't feel so bad.

There are worse people I could be grouped with,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Review - Intermission

This Honey Crisp is bigger than my hand!  Awesome sauce!

It's nearly bigger than Hubbie's hand too, and that's saying something,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Weekend knitting

I spent most of Sunday knitting and watching Netflix.  Netflix watch instantly has transformed my world.  I rarely watch tv.  That's not to say that I don't watch any tv, but with the joy that is dvr technology, I (like much of the country, I suspect) don't watch my tv shows when they're on regular tv.  I'm much too distracted for that! (Plus one comes on while I'm at work and another comes on the night of knitting group. What was CBS thinking?!?!)

But, I only watch three shows regularly.  Which means that when I want to knit a project that is somewhat complicated, I have to search for something to watch.  Netflix has come to my rescue.  They have tons of tv shows and movies that I can stream to my computer.  I will admit that I mostly watch the PBS and History Channel shows that they have available, but Hubbie and I have recently begun watching Futurama together.

Given that it has been the spooky time of year, I've been watching a lot of shows on ghosts.  I love this time of year because I get to gorge myself of ghost stories.  Reading them, listening to them, watching tv shows on them.  So much fun.  I don't actually believe in ghosts (I think), but I grew up in a family with a tradition of telling ghost stories at get togethers.  I used to love to sit next to my mom as she told stories of the house that she lived in that she thought was haunted.  I'd get chills and goosebumps.  It was awesome!

Sadly, my family is now spread over a good portion of the country, so the tradition hasn't continued.  Instead I turn to the internet and Netflix and the ghost stories of others to give me my Halloween chills.

My glut of weekend tv watching go me through a garter stitch scarf and 70% of the shawlette version of Mercia.

Winnie the wonderdog was kind enough to model the scarf for me.  He's such a cutie (but also a total spaz. The only reason he sat still long enough to take this picture was Hubbie standing behind me holding a treat.)

It's knit in an angora wool Handspun by Jamie Harmon.  It's really quite soft and lovely.

I'm knitting the shawlette version of Mercia in the Knit Picks Stroll Tonal sock that was left over from the shawlette version of Butterfly Bush.  It is the perfect amount and the yellow shows off the stitch pattern really well.

It's about time Mother Nature realized it was Autumn,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The sign was really quite insistent.  So I did.

Should I be concerned that I let inanimate objects push me around?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Apple review- Gala

The Gala apple variety is sweet with a hint of tartness.  The flesh is firm, but not very crisp.  The skin is fairly thin and detatches easily from the flesh.  I suspect that this and it's graininess (around a 3) were due to the age of the apple.  It may have been sitting the apple bin for a while. 

Darn, this means I have to do more research.  ;-D.  The flavor was quite lovely and I would definitely eat this variety again.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Butterfly Bush Shawl

The Butterfly Bush shawl was the first shawl that I charted from my design notebook.  (The others had thus far been designed using stitch dictionaries.)  The design notebook goes everywhere with me (except to the lab today which meant that I had to design my Mother In Law's Christmas shawl on the back of another pattern. Oops!)

Originally knit in Malabrigo Silky Merino in Pollen, I sent pictures to Knit Picks and requested yarn support.  Much to my joy, they said yes and sent me yarn.  (I love yarn! Sorry, got distracted for a minute.)
The DK shawl is worked in Knit Picks Gloss DK in Jade on size 8 needles.

The fingering weight shawlette is worked in Stroll Sock Tonal in Golden Glow on size 5 needles.

The pattern for Butterfly Bush is available through Knit Picks or by clicking on the button below.

GiGi laid claim to the Jade version before it was even finished, but that's only because she wanted the Malabrigo version.  But... I had to put my foot down and say no.  I know, shocking, isn't it?

It's a pity I don't really look good in yellow,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apple review - Granny Smith #1

I was all set to review the Granny Smith apple today.  The variety has long been one of my favorites.  Unlike the Red Delicious which is known for its sweetness, the Granny Smith is known for its tartness. Unfortunately, the apple that I had today was so old that the seeds inside were sprouting.  Ick!  So the actual Granny Smith review will have to wait. 
It was a pretty apple, though.  Boo hoo.

At least it didn't have a worm,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Transcending the material

As a biologist and a knitter I find the latest installation by Ben Cuevas amazing.

Although I don't think a knit skeleton would offer much support,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Letters from Hubbie

Hubbie and I have been playing hangman with washable crayons on the bathroom wall.  As of yesterday he had one letter left to win our current game.  I woke up this morning to find this on the bathroom wall. 
I think I have a new favorite letter,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apple review- Honey Crisp

OMJ!!! You have GOT to try this apple. It is truly delicious.
It's very sweet and crisp (which I'm sure had nothing to do with the name ;-D ).  The flesh is very firm with only a hint of graininess (1.5 out of 5).  The skin is thin and firmly attached to the flesh. 
Like the Red Delicious, the Honey Crisp also tastes like candy, especially when combined with lemon juice.  It may have permanently damaged my love for the Red Delicious because it doesn't have any of the negatives of the Red Delicious (thick skin and unpleasant aftertaste if not quite ripe.)
I would eat lots and lots of these apples, the only problem is that they aren't widely available in my area.  I haven't seen them at any of them in the stores in my neighborhood.  Hubbie got the one I had from the Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center.

I wonder if they're still open,

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I have recently been reintroduced to my love of  yoga.  My love for yoga started when I was 18 and a freshman in college.  My orientation class went to yoga one week.  I walked into that room on three hours of sleep and when I left I felt more awake and energized than I do on 8-9 hours. 

Oddly, I didn't take another class until TK invited me to go to a class with her last week.  It was amazing.  It's been a while since I did yoga regularly (cough cough... years... cough cough) and my practice has always been a home practice.

But the class I took (all levels Vinyasa) was eye opening.  At 75 minutes, it was gentle yet strenuous.  And I was sore for the next two days.  It was totally worth it!  TK, who has been doing yoga regularly for the past six months, claims it was easy.  Oh....

So I took myself to a beginner vinyasa class.  I figured that while my mind is not a beginner, it's been so long since I've done yoga, that the body is back in beginner mode.  I really enjoyed this one too.  The instructor was funny and really quite good at teaching the beginning yoga student.  The class was 60 minutes and strenuous enough that my muscles felt like jelly afterwards.  Still, I'm happy to report that I wasn't sore afterwards. 

I've been practicing knitting as yoga for years now, but I don't think it really counts as exercise (unless you're trying to p3tbl).  Happily, the garter stitch version of Montague's Muffler doesn't have any of those. 

Classic Elite Fresco in Rumba Red.  I love this yarn.  The touch of angora gives it a wonderful halo and warmth.  Yummy!

I wonder if I could knit in Child's pose,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple review- Golden delicious

The Golden delicious has pale green skin, usually without any red.  It is more tart than sweet with a firm, but not crisp flesh.  It's skin is medium in thickness and well attached to the flesh of the apple.  I would rate the graininess at about 2, some graininess, but not too much. 

I would eat this variety again.  I found that the flavor was overwhelmed by the flavor of the lemon juice, so I would use the ginger ale methods of keeping the apple from turning brown.

Ginger ale method: Soak for 10 minutes in Ginger Ale.  It works great and keeps the apple from turning brown overnight.  This method is good for subtly flavored or tart apples that would be made nearly inedible by the addition of lemon juice.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Test knitting

Having taught for what sometimes feels like forever (college biology, it's my bag, baby!) I've discovered that test days are the worst.  For the students (because they're taking the test) and for me (because I have to wait for them to finish taking the test.)

Hi, my name is Joyce and I'm a fidgeter.  I've been a fidgeter for 30-mumble-mumble years now.  If I'm waiting and I have something to do, I'm ok.  But, oddly enough, it turns out that staring at students for two hours isn't quite interesting enough to keep me from getting restless.  (Surprising, huh?)

This is yet another reason why I particularly like knitting.  Especially simple knitting that I don't really have to look at while working on it.  I generally call this movie knitting.  (Because it can also be pretty hard to see in a dark movie theater, and I even get restless watching movies.  I know, I'm crazy.) 

It turns out that movie knitting also makes great test day knitting!  It's perfect!  I can sit there and stare at my students, but fidget in a productive way.  (Thanks Panopticon's friend Joe for your brilliant observation: knitting = productive fidgeting.  Genius!)

So I can fidget, get some knitting done, watch for cheaters, and because the project is so simple (read: stockinette) I can set it down in the middle of a row to answer questions.  (Students for some inexplicable reason, don't appreciate it when you talk to them while knitting.  It's like they don't know the joys of yarn or something!)  It's the perfect solution to the long day of waiting that is the test day.

For today's test, I was knitting on Montague's Muffler.  It will be my next free pattern and comes in both a stockinette and garter stitch version.  It calls for 400 yards of fingering weight.

Knit one crochet too. Crock O' Dye. Colorway 250- Tomato.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Apple review- Red Delicious

The Red Delicious apple, when taken at the peak of ripeness tastes like candy, especially when coated in lemon juice to keep it from turning brown.  It has been my favorite apple since childhood (back in the days when I used to refuse to eat apples because they had that icky skin stuff on them.)

The Red Delicious has firm, crisp flesh and a minimum of tartness.  They are very sweet, but can have an unpleasant after flavor if not ripe enough.  The skin is somewhat thick, but is well attached to the flesh so it can be easily bitten.  I would give it a graininess rating of about 1 out of 5 (almost no graininess unless it's overripe).
I would definitely eat this apple variety again.

(And again, and again),

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mercia is up on Knit Picks

Mercia is up on Knit Picks. 

Knit in 800 yards of Knit Picks Stroll Sock Tonal in Gypsy (the pattern also includes a shawlette version that takes 400 yards).  I'm not ashamed to say that I love her. 

I've knit her twice.  The first time it wasn't love, but then I did that thing that designers sometimes do.  I tweaked her a little bit.  If she were a human, she probably would have slapped me (plus I'm sure that Hubbie would have had a lot of questions too).

The first version was in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool which is a lovely DK weight.

But I went I finished it, I realized that she needed to be in a finer weight. So when I contacted Knit Picks about the pattern I requested a sock weight.  (It didn't hurt that the Stroll is very soft and knits up great!)
But as I was knitting the second version, I realized that I wasn't incredibly fond of parts of the edging.
The original:

The remake:

I liked the remake much better.  It finally looked like I wanted it to look.  So Yay!  Designing score!

Mercia is named, indirectly, after TK.  Mercia is an ancient region in England, the region where her name originates.  So this dedication goes out to you, TK!

Am I the only one with Casey Kasem in her head now,

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dude! I'm in Knitty!

Yes, I've known for about a month now that one of my patterns was going to be in the Deep Fall Knitty, but I'm still ridiculously excited about it.
Meet Pretty Maids.

Knit in 550 yards of Manos Serena in Zinnia. 
The yarn is a really soft cotton/alpaca blend.  I really enjoyed working with it.  My only problem is that the skeins were a bit short on yardage. 

I designed and knit Pretty Maids over April and May of this year.  When I finished her, I decided that she would be my first Knitty submission.  Unfortunately, (given that I am sometimes an impatient woman) it was two months until the submission deadline for the next issue of Knitty.  ARGH!!!!  How was I supposed to wait that long?!?!?!?  Luckily, I had TK on hand to encourage me to hold the course and not publish her prematurely on Ravelry. (Kisses, Ravelry, I love you!) 
So I waited patiently for the deadline to arrive, and then, as per usual, life got crazy.  I started back to school which meant a research trip to Panama at the end of July.  Plus I was teaching and trying to do research.  The next thing I knew the deadline was here!  Yay, except my pictures were pretty bad. 
Happily, with the help of TK, her twin KT, and some other friends, the shawl was rephotographed and the pictures ROCKED!!!  I am comfortable saying this because I wasn't the photographer (Thanks Mike!) or the model (Thanks Kimberly!).

And thank you Knitty for publishing Pretty Maids.

Time to work on my next submission,

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NYC gardens for me

As I wander around the City, I come across beautiful late summer/ early fall flowers.  Some of these are expected.
Such as the ones in Flushing Meadows Park:

Or the flowers in Central Park:

Still others are really quite unexpected.

This Moon Flower was growing up the side of a garbage can at the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park.  I was a bit startled to see it staring at me boldly as I approached to trash can with my trash, looking at me as if to say , "Don't make me have to show you why you're happy you threw that trash in the can instead of on the ground. What?!?!"

I just wanted to say Thanks NYC! for doing the gardening for me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Speaking of Tarts

I did mention that I can't resist the draw of beautiful yarn, right?
MadTosh Merino Light... you guessed it... in Tart.

I can now understand why the Queen of Hearts was so upset,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Apple Reviews

In an effort to increase my fiber intake (and because they're just plain yummy) I've started eating an apple a day.  As a kid I didn't really like apples because they... ok, so it's really because they aren't oranges.  I know, I was a fruitist.  Because I'm more grown up now (or so I tell people) I eat things that I didn't as a child (many of which I would have found uber gross.  Tofu, anyone?)

What was I talking about?  Oh, apples.  Due to my fruitism, I've really only eaten Red Delicious apples most of my life and I feel it's time to expand my repertoire.  As I try new apple varieties, I'm going to write up a little review.  Mostly, it's to remember which ones to get at the grocery store, but if it help you out a little, yay!

Each review will include a description of sweetness, tartness, graininess (because a grainy apple can be just awful), flesh and skin descriptions, and general notes on color and such.  Plus hopefully I'll remember to take a picture (before I eat it).  Also, I'll probably be including a note on how the flavor combines with lemon because it's a great way to keep your sliced apples from going brown, plus it adds a little vitamin C. 

Munch, munch (it's too late for a picture of this one),

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I’ve recently taken up biking.  For those who know me, please stop laughing.  Let’s just say that I don’t have the best history with bicycles.  So much so in fact, when I called GiGi and told her that I was biking she laughed and asked if I remember what I’m like on a bicycle.  Apparently my sister thinks that circus bears are better cyclists than I am.  I’m afraid she might be right.  But I have my trusty helmet, a bike shop nearby for repairs (to the bike), and a hospital about ten blocks away (for repairs on me), so I think I’m ready.

On the knitting front, I finished and blocked the green shawlette.  It's called Troy's Folly.  I hope to get the pictures of it taken this weekend.  Until then, a small teaser:

Of course, once the green one was finished, I immediately cast on a purple version for GiGi. 
It’s in MadelineTosh Merino Light Magenta.  Such a fabulous deep purple and incredibly soft.  Plus it’s got a great price for the yardage.
I heard a rumor  (ok, so I read it on Ravelry) that my favorite knitting store ever, Knitty City, got another MadTosh shipment in yesterday.  I wasn’t planning on going into the City today, but given that incentive, I may not be able to resist.  Must. Have. Delicious. Yarn.

My friends and family gave me some really great birthday presents. Both fibery and non-fibery.
The non-fibery...
Hubbie got me a Kindle!

It's amazing! Since I started back to school, I've been carrying what felt like a ton of paper (mostly journal articles about weevils. Yeah, I'm one of those crazy insect people) in my bag.  It was fighting with my travel knitting for space, and starting to win!  Happily, those papers are now condensed into a cool gadget that is only the size and weight of a small novel.  Woot! Awesome!

Elle gave me a pendant that appeals to my inner (but not so hidden) geek. 

She got it from JannellyBeads' Etsy shop. The quote is from a video game called Portal.  Hubbie plays it and I love it (but haven't played it because my brain doesn't work that way).  The game is really funny.  Thanks, Elle, for helping me fly my geek flag.

Let's talk about the fiber...
TK gave me some beautiful salmon lace weight in cotton/silk/cashmere from School Products Yarn. (Unfortunately, it's not available on their website.) 

She gave it to me on the condition that I make something for my self with it (a yarn gift with strings).  She's great that way!  (The condition probably had something to do with my comment that the color would look great on GiGi. :-D ) I can't wait to make something with it!

Athie finally yielded some of her lovely handspun (fingering weight, 450+ yards of Targhee wool) to me. 

I've been drooling over her stuff for months now.  Athie is an unabashed yarn snob, and it extends to her fiber for spinning.  So anything she spins in bound to be fabulous. (Plus she's really good at the whole spinning thing.) Sadly, for those of you that don't know her, she doesn't sell her hand spun. (Booyah, score one for me!) (I'm sorry, did I say that out loud? ;-D )
Lastly, I got myself (really, everyone should get themselves a little something for their birthday) some Manos del Uruguay Lace (Ravelry link) (alpaca, silk, cashmere). 

So beautiful, so soft, so calling me to knit with it!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pequito Shawlette

Knit Picks published another of my patterns as part of their Independent Designer Program.  Meet Pequito.

Knit with 190yds of worsted weight Knit Picks Andean Silk in Chocolate, she is 42 inches long by 21 inches wide.  So cosy, so warm.  
It took me two days to knit the Andean Silk version, although I have to admit that one of those was a travel day.  I was flying to Oklahoma to visit GiGi.  I know what you're thinking, but, no, GiGi did not immediately claim it as her own.   Her daughter did that.  I'm sure that GiGi would have except the Andean Silk has alpaca in it and my poor sister is allergic. 

The colorful version is in Noro Taiyo colorway #17.  It was my first time using Noro, but it most definitely won't be my last.  The colors are fantastic.  Taiyo is a cotton, silk, wool, nylon blend.  Lovely, and selfish me, I'm keeping it!