Welcome, Spring!

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Well that’s been a bit of a blogging break! For whatever reason, my knitting time’s been really down of late and most everything looks pretty much as it did to start the year. I’ve been working on Aeolian while I try to decide whether or not to make the lace insert in Rock Island deeper. I’m only 27 rows from finishing Aeolian, but right now the rows are taking about an hour apiece. I’m starting to consider beginning a new project just to feel like I’m making progress on something! At the very least, it’s time to start thinking about the next project. I still have some WIPs I could work on, and still need to knit a scarf to match my new hat and mittens, but I’d kind of like something new. I just don’t know what that’s going to be yet. Maybe a stash dive will provide a hint.

The flowers outside, on the other hand, haven’t had a problem with making progress! They’re coming on so fast, I swear you could sit and watch them and actually see them growing. I can’t really believe this weather, but it’s been so nice to sit outside and enjoy the fresh breezes.

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Today was, alas, an utter and total “Monday.” Or two “Mondays” rolled into one. Sometimes I’m not entirely convinced that the three day weekend thing is worth it – sure, having Monday off is great, but it seems like the rest of the week is all the more crammed. (Especially when you have a workaholic boss who still goes in on Monday, and thanks to a silent phone manages to produce a whole pile of work for everyone else PLUS a couple little fires that have nothing whatsoever to do with either the boss or the three-day weekend. Sigh.)

But then I look at my stash and my pictures, and the weekend was worth it. Even if I only get to pet my new yarn.

My mom and I went to the Great Lakes Fiber Show on Saturday, and did quite a bit of damage. This is normal for me, but my mom purchased a surprising bit of yarn for her – enough to make two sweaters. I’ve decided that I really only want to knit with yarns that I really, really, (really) like. Which for me means purchasing less commercial yarn and more from independent dyers. Two of my favorites, Briar Rose and Knitting Notions have been at Great Lakes at least as long as I’ve been attending. And just as in the last two years, I couldn’t resist their booths.

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From Knitting Notions, I purchased three skeins of her Classic Merino Bamboo, which I think should be enough for a lightweight sweater (famous last words?). This is the same yarn I’m using for Crocus, and I love knitting with it. I did not, however, even look to see if she had a match for Crocus, as I decided to spend my money elsewhere. Another strategy for finishing Crocus will have to do.

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Then from Briar Rose, a bit more damage. I waffled a bit about which color of Sea Pearl (a lovely, lovely tencel-merino blend–my Mare oscuro is Sea Pearl) to purchase, although they’re all so gorgeous, I don’t think I could have gone wrong. I finally settled on this pink, which is not a typical color for me. I bought two skeins, which I think would be enough for a lightweight sweater, or an extra-large shawl.

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Then there was this little beauty: a skein of a merino silk blend, indicated as a limited edition. I love the rich plum color. It’s a fine laceweight, so I’ll have to find a pretty shawl or stole pattern for it.

Apparently I missed the cashmere at her stall (which is probably for the best…), although Anne informed me that this will probably become a new addition to Chris’s store. Uh oh.

There always seems to be at least one other purchase I make each year, from a stall other than Knitting Notions or Briar Rose. Last year was a hand spun for a sweater that hasn’t made it past a stockinette swatch. This year, this little beauty:

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1600 yards of a silk/camel blend which is very soft–very nice to pet. It lists it as 7400 ypp, which I haven’t gone to the effort of “translating,” but visually I would say it’s either a very fine laceweight or perhaps a heavy cobweb weight. (Is there such thing as “heavy cobweb weight? That sounds like an oxymoron!) Based on memory alone, it’s slightly heavier than the yarn I’m using for Lerwick, which I believe would push it into laceweight territory.

As in the previous two years, after going to the show in the morning, my mom and I ate lunch and then headed over to Seacrest Arboretum nearby. As part of the local OSU extension, it’s free and open to the public, and we like walking around the flowering gardens.

This year the roses were in full display:

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But the clemetis were trying not to be left out:

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Across the street, some of my favorites, the bright red columbine, were waiting to greet me:

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I’d never seen them in gold before:

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Also favorites, the brilliant purple iris:

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This showy yellow one made quite a display, too:

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And the yarrow was just getting started:

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Secrest is one of my favorite gardens to visit. It is very well landscaped, not just for pretty flowers, but for texture and variety. Even if none of the plants were in bloom, the textures and shades of leaf color are so well planned, it would still be gorgeous. We usually just visit the flowers, but there are a couple shaded foresty paths as well, not to mention all the tree plantings (which I understand were originally planted for study purposes).

Of course, my mom’s gardens are no slouch, either. Look, the peonies are in bloom!

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Sunday Miscellany

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I think I’m beginning to actually believe that Spring might make an appearance this year. January-February dragged on so long, with such continual poundings of snow on snow–I’m not sure it would have been bearable if the Olympics hadn’t arrived to distract–that it’s almost unbelievable that it could be warm and sunny and cheerful outside again. Granted, this being NE Ohio, it is still perfectly possible that we could see snow again in the next two months, but I’m holding out hope that the worst is past. After all, the crocus are spreading their cheer throughout the neighborhood.

I think the arrival of improved weather has also spurred me to uncharacteristic  finishings–not of knitting, alas–but of just about everything else on my to-do list. I even managed to wash my car yesterday, a task I typically loathe. The upside of all of this busyness is that I’m now looking over my decimated to-do list and wondering whether I should like to start a new book or a new knitting project. Not having a big list of obligations hanging over one’s head is quite liberating! (We shall ignore the fact that a serious Spring Cleaning is in the near future for the time being.)

When I was out on some errands yesterday (how wonderful to be out without gloves or coat!), I made a brief stop at Borders and while there started browsing the knitting magazines. They happened to have a British magazine that I had only heard of in the last few months, on Ravelry, The Knitter. Several months back I was half-following the progress of a dedicated group of knitters who had decided to recreate an antique Shetland Shawl pattern and make it available to other knitters. The result of their labors is The Queen Susan Shawl. Their story is shared in Issue 15 of The Knitter, which is what first drew my interest to the magazine. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of pretty patterns I found inside.

My favorite is Loch Maree:

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Although I will freely admit that just about any sweater in this shade of blue will draw my attention, I happen to find this one particularly pretty. Maybe now that I have a little spare time…

Being a British import, the magazine itself was on the pricey side, but between the number of patterns I’m actually interested in (as compared to recent issues of IK), and the quality of the layout–not only is it pleasingly arranged, with a photo index of all patterns at the front of the magazine, but the paper is also a nice heavy weight, which I feel sure will hold up to much knitting–I don’t feel cheated of my money. However, looking around past issues on Ravelry, I’m not sure every issue would be as exiting to me. I’m just happy I stumbled upon this one!

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You would think that finishing up a major work project and being done with overtime (for the time being) would lead to a  major spurt of knitting….but then you’d be wrong.

Unfortunately, hanging over my head was still the dreaded spring cleaning. Dreaded, mostly because it takes so darn long. I don’t feel like I have a lot of “stuff”…but there’s still more than enough to go through. And of course, I’m one of those people who feels the need to alphabetize their CD collection. (I’m also one of only two people at work who can find a contact’s business card in less than 30 minutes. No, I don’t think it’s a coincidence.) I seem to have two extremes – either I’m chronically organized with everything in its place or I’m nose-deep in piles that I haven’t taken time to work through and put away. Which makes cleaning oh-so-fun. High standards and a year’s worth of failing to meet them….

So, anyway, knitting has been sparse. But the spring cleaning is finished (yea!) and I’m on vacation all of next week (double yea!), so I’m hoping to get back in the swing of things. I do have some knitting I haven’t shared yet.

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This is a very scrunched up and almost finished Artichaut, in Briar Rose Angel Face. Earlier this year Anne asked me to knit a sample for her booth with Chris at Sock Summit later this summer. Since the pattern wasn’t released until June 1 (in the Summer Twist Collective), I couldn’t share it until then…by which point I was inundated with the rest of my life, of course! It’s another lovely Knitspot pattern, although trickier than most, as there is patterning on both sides. (My simplification solution has been stich markers between repeats. Lots of stitch markers.)  The yarn is also very lovely, an alpaca laceweight. It’s actually much nicer on the hands to work with than the yarn I used for my Alhambra. But then again, I’ve yet to have any complaints about any of Chris’ yarns.

Moving from challenging to even more challenging, I’ve finally started the Lerwick Lace Shawl from Heirloom knitting.

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I’m using a cobweb weight cashmere-silk blend (from Colourmart) which is absolutely lovely to work with. Even though I’m using 1.5mm (US 000) needles. (Eek!) I have so far about 8 points finished on the edging, out of 152. I think I’ll be working on this one a while… It will make good summer knitting though – it’s very lightweight and I don’t think the fine yarn will stick to my hands quite as much as heavier, woolier yarns do in the heat of summer. I may have to find a somewhat easier project to work on for breaks from this, however. At least I have plenty of yarn to choose from!

Finally, I’ll leave you with the strawberries…

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I had to go around to the side of the house over the weekend to check if the phones not working was a result of in-the-house or out-of-the-house issues (Answer: out-of-the-house. A very naughty squirrel chewed through the lines.) I don’t usually venture to this side as it’s just a narrow strip between our house and the neighbors, so I usually miss these. However, this year the timing was just right to stumble upon these bright little beauties. I believe they are alpine strawberries, and they’re not very edible (at least, not compared to the local farm berries my mom picks every year – I’m not sure anything beats those), but they are really a cheery little spot of color.