Thursday, December 30, 2010

Calla Lilly Pullover - Finished

I finished up my third Flower of the Month pullover.  No more in the offing for now.  I was going to make pullovers from the Ballet yarn, but it makes my hands itch when I knit with it so I stopped working on the Morning Glory Pullover and have put the other Ballet yarn that I have in my stash up for trade or sell.  The fact that the yarn was making my hands itch has me worried, though.  It is a combination of superfine Alpaca and Tencel.  Now, I work with Tencel in my weaving, so I don't think I'm allergic to that, but that means that I may have an allergy to Alpaca, which I find a little odd, as I have knitted with it before with no ill effect.  So maybe it is just this Alpaca.  Who knows.  As long as I don't develop an allergy to wool.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rivendell Smoke Ring - Chart One

Last year, at about this time, Susan Pandorf of Sunflower Designs announced a grand project - three years of knitting inspired by The Lord of the Rings.  She kicked it off with the Evenstar Mystery Shawl, a truly spectacular circular shawl design, and has been releasing the patterns that went with the first book (The Fellowship of the Ring) throughout this past year.  This is one of those patterns.  I must confess that this is only the second design by Susan that I have actually started knitting, even though I have a number of them in my pattern library.  I'm not sure why they have not shot up to the top of my queue, they are amazing.  As I knit I am in awe of her design skills and creativity.  I think that perhaps I was a bit intimidated after knitting Evenstar, which was a non-trivial task, but so worth the effort.  I think that I shall be knitting more of her designs this year.

This is also my first time knitting with Twisted Fiber Arts Yarn.  The yarn that I am using for Rivendell is Muse, 50% Silk, 50% Merino.  The yarn design is called Evolution, as you can see from the picture it is an evolution of color from one end of the skein to the other - there are no repeats.  The colorway is called Unconditional.  The yarn itself is wonderful to knit with, soft, shiny (thanks to the silk) and it knits up beautifully with great stitch definition.  I have a few skeins of their yarn in my stash, including a double skein that I bought for another of the Fellowship patterns - the Goldberry shawl.  That one has also moved up to the top of my queue.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Calla Lilly Pullover - Body Done

I am having a lot of fun with my Flower of the Month pullovers.  This is my Calla Lily Pullover, the July Flower of the Month colorway from Fiesta Yarns.  I really like the colors, they are not as electric as the Tiger Lilly colors, and blue and purple are two of my favorite colors.  I also really like the top-down raglan design, easy knitting, and virtually no finishing.

Winter Mystery Shawl 2010 - Clue 3 Done

I finished up Clue 3 this morning.  It was a quick and easy knit, not much actual lace work, not many beads, dead simple lace pattern.  I really like this yarn.  I'm going to have to make something with the leftovers, maybe some fingerless mittens, which I think would be very elegant and warm, or a cowl.  I have recently become a convert to the cowl.  They are great when you don't want to wear a scarf but you still need some extra warmth around your neck.  The beads show up well in this photo.  They are white - Beadcats stock number 2-06-012-36 white opal matte irid.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Mystery Shawl 2010 - Clue 2 Done

I spent the day watching John Wayne films on Turner Classic Movies and knitting Clue 2 of the Winter Mystery Shawl 2010.  This is another Goddess Knits design.  The yarn is a real joy to work with (a blend of Cashmere and Merino) and I love the color.  This is going to work up into a very elegant shawl, that will also be cozy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tiger Lily Pullover - Finished!

I finished this up tonight.  I have gone back and forth on this one, and even considered re-knitting it and trying to get the colors to pool in a more coherent fashion, but in the end I decided to let it be, as the Beatles said.  Some things just have to be free to express themselves as they are.  It is pretty wild and crazy, but there is an order there, there are patterns in the waves that remind me of interference patterns - maybe if we adjust the rabbit ears...This is the May Flower of the Month colorway from Fiesta Yarns, Tiger Lily.  The yarn is Boomerang, Aran weight, 100% Merino.

Athena Fingerless Gloves - Cuff

This is another of the ZenGoddess Lace Club kits.  I think that this was actually the first shipment.  The colorway and the pattern were inspired by the Goddess Athena, one of my personal favorites.  The yarn is Zen Yarn Garden Superwash Sock, 100% Superwash Merino, 2-ply tight twist fingering weight.  The colorway is amazing, with beautiful, subtle variations that the photo does not do justice to.  I actually had the first glove almost finished, but when I tried it on I realized that I would have to do a fair bit of customization to get a reasonable fit.  I have very slender wrists, but my hands are fairly broad.  So I took some measurements, noted the gauge, and ripped.  My first modification was to cast on only 52 stitches for the cuff, rather than 60.  Now that I have finished the cuff, I need to increase the number stitches.  I also am planning on starting the thumb gusset earlier than the pattern calls for.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Venus Cowl

Yet another ZenGoddess Lace Club Kit.  This one is a cowl, inspired by Venus, and knit in Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Sock - 80% superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon.  I added the beads.  I tried it on, it is soft and cozy, just what we need on these cold winter days.


This is another of the ZenGoddess Lace kits.  This one is a scarf, knit in Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 yarn.  The yarn is 70% superwash Merino, 20% Cashmere and 10% Nylon and is super soft and apparently sturdy enough to use for socks.  It would certainly make for luxurious footwear.  The inspiration for both the color-way and the pattern was the Goddess Isis.  I substituted pale yellow beads for the ones provided in the kit.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tiger Lily Pullover - Body Done

I finished up the body today.  The colors are wild, and fun.  It will be interesting to see how the color pools on the sleeves.

Winter Mystery Shawl 2010 - Clue 1 Done

Call me crazy.  Call me a lace and fiber addict.  I started another lace shawl this weekend.  This is the Winter Mystery Shawl 2010 from Goddess Knits and the first clue came out yesterday.  Frankly I couldn't resist casting on with this yarn.  It is scrumptious.  The yarn is from Spinning Bunny and is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon.  The color is Velvet Merlot.  There are beads, but they are hard to spot in this photo.  It is rather gray outside today, so I had to use the flash.  It shows up the lace pattern very well, but not the beads.  I am using white opal matte irid (Beadcats stock no:  2-06-012-36).  They contrast nicely without being garish.  I think they look like pearls, or snow, on the deep burgundy yarn.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tiger Lily Pullover - Neck and Body Shaping Done

I finished up the shaping, and the back and forth knitting and have started on the body.  You can see how the yarn has started to pool.  This yarn is interesting because the color changes are not symmetrical, and they seem to have shorter runs than the Marigold colorway.

This is my easy knitting project, good for working on while reading on my Kindle (Sharpe's Triumph, by Bernard Cornwell), or watching TV that actually requires you to pay attention (like The Sandbaggers).

The Richard Sharpe novels by Bernard Cornwell are really good reads.  Great characters, well-written, well-plotted.  They have also been made into movies starring Sean Bean, which are also worth a look.  The Sandbaggers is a Brit series that I first watched many years ago on PBS.  I am happy to say that it stands up well to time and to a second viewing.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Miss Chatelaine - Year of Lace 2010 - 4 repeats done

I am almost half-way done with this shawl.  I have done 4 of the 9 repeats.  This is the first rectangular shawl that I have done.  An advantage that rectangular shawls have over triangular and circular shawls is that the rows stay the same length, rather than getting longer, and longer, and longer, and, well you get the idea.

The lace pattern is not as hard as it looks, and the yarn is dreamy to work with.  Very soft, and the variegation helps to alleviate the boredom of repeating the same chart 9 times.  This is my "easy" lace project for when my brain gets tired from working on the Fall Mystery Shawl, which is definitely harder.

Fall Mystery Shawl 2010 - Chart 2, repeat 1

I finished the first repeat of Chart 2, I have 4 more repeats to go.  This one is a bit harder than some of the other lace that I have done, mostly because the chart is crowded.  There is a lot going on in it.  It requires greater concentration - when I get distracted by someone talking to me I tend to lose my place and make mistakes.  Fortunately I have not made many mistakes and they have been very straightforward to fix - I catch them on the next right side row.  I really like the way the pattern is turning out.  The picture doesn't really do the beads justice, though.  The only drawback with this pattern is that I have to do the same chart 5 times, and, well, frankly, I am easily bored.  The upside is that the chart is getting pretty familiar to me already, and the key to this one is being able to read your knitting and the chart so you can keep track of where you are, and if you do get distracted you can find your place again without too much difficulty. Another factor making this shawl more challenging is the dark color of the yarn.  It is harder to see your stitches, which makes it harder to read your knitting.  Good lighting is the key here, and I have an Ott light where I sit when I knit.  All the beading really slows things down too, and breaks up the rhythm of the knitting.  But the beads do look really good, so it is worth it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tiger Lily Pullover

One good sweater deserves another.  Having finished up Marigold, I cast on Tiger Lily.  The May Flower of the Month from Fiesta Yarns.  I have to travel next week for work and needed an easy airport/airplane project.

I really hate flying these days.  It was bad enough with the airlines cutting back and treating passengers more like cargo than humans, but now with all the security theater I dread walking into an airport.  I really hate being treated like a criminal in my own country, and it isn't even as if these measures are really effective.  Governments always use times of war to expand their powers, and the "war against terror" is perfect because it can never be finished or won.  The same also applies to the "war on drugs."  They provide an excuse for government to intrude into the lives of its citizens and erode our civil rights.  Rights that are enshrined in the Constitution that it seems most politicians never read.  George Orwell was right.  It appears that we are doomed.  For myself, I will opt out of the new body scan and endure the pat down.  I don't believe that the scanners are safe.  Exposure to radiation never really is.  At least the pat downs won't give me cancer.  Been there, done that, no thanks.

Marigold Pullover - Finished!

Finished this afternoon.  It was a quick and easy knit, and it fits perfectly.  This just may become one of my favorite sweaters.  The yarn is Boomerang, by Fiesta Yarns, in the October Flower of the Month Colorway - Marigold.  The pattern is a top-down raglan, from Sweater Wizard knitting software.  Boomerang may also become my favorite merino wool for sweaters.  It is wonderful to knit with, the colors are amazing, and it knits up so beautifully.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Marigold Pullover - Body Done

I spent yesterday and today finishing up the body of my Marigold Pullover.  I am quite pleased with how it is turning out.  It fits perfectly so far and I love the colors and how they are pooling.  The striping at the top of the bodice is due to the fact that the top portion is worked back and forth, with increasing row lengths.  When the yarn is joined and the body is worked in the round, the colors start to spiral.  The spiral is even carried into the ribbing at the bottom.  I wanted to finish the body before I started on the sleeves just in case I run a little short of yarn.  Sweater Wizard estimates that the pattern will take 953 yards and I only have 960 yards, but my gauge is spot-on, and my back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates that I should have enough.  I weighed my skein before I started the first sleeve, and I'll weigh it again when I finish it to make sure that I have enough.  If I'm running short, I can always turn the full length sleeves into three-quarter length sleeves.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cranberry Delight

I also started another necklace for one of my Larry Scott Byzantine Beads.  I have quite a stash of these beads as I always buy some from him every year at Bead and Button.  In the past I have usually just strung them with semi-precious stone beads, but lately I've been using seed beads.  I have been pondering what to do with this bead.  I picked out some colors a couple of weeks ago, but didn't really hit on a design until last night.  I am using size 11 and size 8 seed beads with tiny tear drops.  I'm going to do another spiral bead crochet necklace, similar to the one I did for Teal and Silver, but with different embellishments.  Once again I will do the crochet around Soft Flex to make it easier to assemble the necklace later.

The exact beads are (using the Beadcats stock numbering system):
2-11-479-02:  size 11 very pale amber transparent luster
2-08-507-90:  size 8 light olive transparent lined with lavender
DT1-198-00:  Tiny tear drops (3mm x 5mm) dark cranberry transparent

The colors are sort of Christmas colors, and with the cranberry drops and focal bead...hence the name.

Marigold Pullover

So this is another yarn that has been calling my name.  It is Boomerang, by Fiesta Yarns, and is another of their Flower of the Month Colors - Marigold.  It is 100% Extrafine Super Wash Merino.  It has great body, and feels almost like velvet.  A real joy to knit with, and who can resist those colors?!  Once again the pattern that they had come up with to pair with this colorway really didn't do anything for me, so I decided to do another top-down raglan.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Morning Glory Pullover - Update

I finished up the neck, body and sleeve increases today and started on the body proper.  I am very pleased with the fit and the way the colors are mixing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Tables Arrived!

The tables that we bought in Jordan finally arrived!  They were shipped on November 1, and arrived in New York on November 2.  But it took until November 18 before they arrived at our doorstep.  Once they cleared customs there were issues with our address.  They were left in our driveway at 4:11 in the morning.  How do I know this?  Because the diesel engine of the truck woke me up.  No, they did not knock and ask for a signature.  For your amusement, I am including the tracking information that shows their journey here.

consignment 961369350
pick up date 1 Nov 2010
destination KING GEORGE
status Delivered
delivery 18 Nov 2010
signatory DROPPED
Details:- 18 Nov 2010, 06:00, Usa Others, SHIPMENT DELIVERED IN GOOD CONDITION.

Details:- 18 Nov 2010, 02:08, Usa Others, OUT FOR DELIVERY.
Details:- 16 Nov 2010, 16:14, Usa Others, OUT FOR DELIVERY.
Details:- 10 Nov 2010, 11:57, Usa Others, SHIPMENT RECEIVED AT DESTINATION DEPOT.
Details:- 10 Nov 2010, 06:02, New York Jfk Airport, SHIPMENT IN TRANSIT.
Details:- 9 Nov 2010, 17:40, New York Jfk Airport, SHIPMENT RELEASED FROM CUSTOMS.
Details:- 9 Nov 2010, 15:17, New York Jfk Airport, SHIPMENT RECEIVED AT TRANSIT POINT.
Details:- 9 Nov 2010, 14:18, New York Jfk Airport, SHIPMENT RECEIVED AT ORIGIN DEPOT.
Details:- 8 Nov 2010, 08:41, New York Jfk Airport, CUSTOMS CLEARANCE IN PROGRESS. DELIVERY WHEN CLEARED.
Details:- 8 Nov 2010, 08:37, New York Jfk Airport, CUSTOMS CLEARANCE IN PROGRESS. DELIVERY WHEN CLEARED.
Details:- 2 Nov 2010, 09:24, New York Jfk Airport, SHIPMENT IN TRANSIT.
Details:- 1 Nov 2010, 22:01, Amman, SHIPMENT IN TRANSIT.
Details:- 1 Nov 2010, 20:56, Amman, SHIPMENT IN TRANSIT.

The wood table is especially lovely.  Here are a couple of close ups.
That is mother of pearl inlay.  One of the information requests that customs came back with was the generic and scientific term for mother of pearl.  I guess they were worried about ivory being imported.

We haven't quite finished assembling the mosaic table.  We still have to tighten up the nuts on the iron frame and make sure it is level.

Miss Chatelaine - Year of Lace 2010

This is the first shawl in the 2010 Year of Lace (the fourth and last shawl will be coming out next month).  I cast this on last weekend and finally finished the first repeat of the body chart.  One of the reasons that I waited on this one was because of the instructions for the construction of the shawl.  You are supposed to knit both edgings, then pick up stitches on one of them for the body and when you get to the other end you are supposed to graft the other edging to the body.  Well, frankly, grafting lace is not my idea of a good time, especially when you have 5 stitches on the edging for every 3 stitches on the body.

I pondered this shawl for a while, and watched what the other folks were doing before I decided to tackle it myself.  The first thing that I did was change how I started the edging.  You're supposed to knit a 2 stitch garter strip and then pick up stitches on the edge of that.  I just did a lace cast on.  I also added an extra repeat of the edging, bringing the row count up to 164, and cast off using a lace cast off.  The pattern called for doing the 2 garter stitch thing again.  I suppose that would have made the edge of the edging match the edging on the body of the shawl, but that really didn't matter to me.  I then picked up every other row for the body, which gave me 82 stitches, and added some extra stitches at the beginning and the end to get me up to 85 stitches - the pattern calls for 81 stitches - so I have 4 garter stitches at each edge, instead of just 2.

The yarn is Audrey,  by Schaeffer Yarn Company.  It is a light fingering/3 ply 50% merino, 50% cultivated silk blend.  It is wonderful to work with, with great stitch definition, and I love the colors.  I have really been drawn to these colors lately.  They just make me feel happy and warm and relaxed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Hathor - Finished!

I've been indulging in some quick projects this past weekend.  This one was a real joy to knit, partially because of the yarn - Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20, 70% Superwash Merino, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon.  The pattern was also fun to knit - another Renee Leverington of Goddess Knits design.  The kit was from the ZenGoddess Lace Club.  Every kit was a different goddess.  This kit was Hathor, an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy.  Renee chose yellow for her association with the sun, and ruby beads.  I'm not sure why she picked the ruby beads, but they reminded me of pomegranate seeds, which have their own mythical significance in the story of Persephone and Hades.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I have been wanting to cast on this project ever since I received it.  The yarn is Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in Hathor.  I love the color, love the yarn.  This is one of the ZenGoddess Lace Club shipments.

The Unique Sheep Christmas Stocking 2010

Have I mentioned lately how much I love The Unique Sheep?  They do a lot of fun clubs, which I have been joining, and the club packages that they send out are always put together so well with lots of extras.  This is the Christmas Stocking for 2010.  I thought it would be fun.  I have actually been making needlepoint stockings for the family - I average one a year - fortunately my immediate family is small.  So far I have made two.  The third one is sitting in one of my many works in progress piles.

So, today when I get the mail there is a box from The Unique Sheep and when I opened it up, look at all of the goodies that were in there.  They put everything in a plastic project bag - a red canvas project bag, the pattern, a skein of white boucle yarn, Christmas cards and soap.  Inside of the red canvas bag was the rest of the yarn, a bag of tea, stitch markers, and a clear plastic ornament that is also a needle gauge.

Summer Flies - Finished!

I finished up the knitting late last night (picot cast offs take forever, but they look nice) and did the finishing this morning.  I loved working with this yarn (The Unique Sheep Green Sheep Cotton Bamboo Worsted) and I love the colors.  The pattern was an easy knit, even if the instructions were written out rather than charted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning Glory Pullover

Of course, now that I have finished the Cleopatra Tank, I needed another easy project to carry in my work bag.  This year Fiesta Yarns started doing a Flower of the Month colorway each month with three different yarns, complete with patterns to go with.  I have collected all of the colorways but haven't done anything with them, partly because I have way too many projects in my queue.  The yarn is so beautiful, however, that it has been calling to me, so I finally broke down and pulled out the September colorway.  The yarn is Ballet, and it is 50% Superfine Alpaca and 50% Tencel and comes in 350 yard skeins.  It knits up at 22 stitches and 28 rows to 4 inches on size 6 needles.  This is the first time that I have worked with the yarn and I am liking it.  I haven't really worked with Alpaca before, and I am finding it a bit hairy (I like smooth yarns - no mohair or angora for me).  I have woven with Tencel, but never knit with it.  Tencel is a cellulosic fiber created by humans as a replacement for silk.  It gives the yarn a nice sheen.

For this project I created a top-down raglan pullover in my Sweater Wizard software.  The pattern that came with the yarn is a lace pullover that I thought was just too busy when you combined the lace stitch with the colors of the yarn.  I am letting the yarn pool if it wants to rather than working from two skeins as is usually recommended.  Frankly I feel that when you try to prevent the yarn from pooling you end up with a chaotic color effect that I find disturbing.

Cleopatra Tank - Finished!

I finished this up this morning.  It was a fun knit, very easy, but a very nice design.  I like simplicity.  I also like the yarn, Ty-Dy and Ty-Dy-Dots by Knit One, Crochet Too, it is wonderful to work with, and feels great to wear.  I will be making more things with this yarn (I already have a pattern and some yarn waiting in the queue) and more of this specific pattern.

Coincidentally, I started reading the new biography of Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff last night.  I have always been fascinated by that age and by Cleopatra herself.  So far the book is living up to all the hype that it has been getting.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Summer Flies

In the meantime I have decided to cast on this little shawl.  The yarn is from The Unique Sheep, and is the first shipment of The Seven Wonders of the World Club.  The yarn is Green Sheep Cotton Bamboo, the colorway is Colossus.  The pattern was for a slouchy beret, but I knew it wouldn't look good on me.  I've been pondering what to make with the yarn, and finally decided to follow the lead of another member of the club and make this shawl.  I love the colors of the yarn.  Lately I've been drawn to these spring colors.  I wonder if it is a reaction to the change in the season and the fact that winter is approaching.  The pattern is Summer Flies by Holly Griffin.

White Rabbit Socks - Pause

I had gotten about about half way through the clock pattern when I realized that I had messed up the pattern, so I frogged the whole thing and rewound the ball.  I have decided to take a little break from the White Rabbit Socks while I work out a few technical issues.  I still am not happy with the fit.

White Rabbit Socks - Take 2

So, yesterday afternoon after finishing the leg of the left sock I happily knit the heel flap, turned the heel and knit the gusset and started on the foot.  A few rows into the foot I tried the sock on and realized that if I continued the foot with my current stitch count it would be too loose.  As I was pondering how much to rip back so I could shape the foot I also decided that I really didn't like the fit of the leg.  It was just too tight.  I have very muscular calves (comes from exercising on a Nordic Track for a all of my adult life).  So I ripped the whole thing back (after taking a few measurements and checking the gauge) and decided to start over.

The first thing that I did was increase the initial stitch count from 68 stitches to 84 stitches.  This takes the circumference measurement from 8.5 inches to 10.5 inches (my calf is 11.5 inches around).  I proceeded to knit the requisite amount of k2, p2 ribbing.  After the ribbing, the pattern calls for switching to the set-up pattern.  It was at this point that I encountered my first challenge.

You see, I had decided to knit the cable motif on both sides of the leg, rather than just on the outside (as the pattern calls for).  The pattern is over 26 stitches.  I was working on two needles, with 42 stitches on each needle.  On needle 1, the stitches start with a knit stitch and end with a purl stitch, on needle 2, they start with a purl stitch and end with a knit stitch.  In the center of those 42 stitches I needed a run of 26 ribs that started and ended with 2 knit stitches.  There is no way to center those 26 stitches.  So I offset them towards the front of the leg, figuring that if you look at the symmetry of the leg the back tapers more than the front as you move down the leg towards the ankle.  So I set up my stitches as follows:  Needle 1 - 7 sts, pm, 26 sts, pm, 9 sts, Needle 2 - 9 sts, pm, 26 sts, pm, 7 sts.  I put split ring markers on before I did my next row, on which I would also have the first of my decreases.  Then I knit the row, keeping the rib pattern between the stitch markers and knitting the other stitches, and also knitting together the 2 purl stitches on the outsides of the markers.  The plan is to continue the decreases as I knit the leg in order to reduce the total stitch count to 68 stitches by the time I reach the ankle.  Obviously I will do more decreases across the front of the leg (5 total, for ten stitches) than on the back of the leg (3 total, for 6 stitches).

The picture shows the markers.  After establishing the pattern I removed the markers as they just get in my way.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Whte Rabbit Socks, Left Leg Done

This week I have been focusing on my sock project.  I haven't been especially productive.  I had a devil of a time readjusting my schedule after coming back from vacation.  No matter what I did I kept waking up at 2 or 3am.  My biological clock finally switched back on Thursday, and it was as if someone had flipped a switch, unfortunately that switch seems to be connected to my hormones.  For most of October, and the entire vacation, I had no wacky hormones.  No mood swings, no hot flashes.  It was really nice, but I guess the vacation is over in more ways then one.  Oh well.  C'est la vie.

I've really been enjoying this sock project.  I love the yarn, and I love the color, it is so vibrant, so alive, and the yarn knits up so beautifully.  The yarn is Luxe, by The Unique Sheep, and it is 25% Tussah Silk, 75% Superwash Merino.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

White Rabbit Socks

I started this project a little over a month ago, after I had finished up the Climbing Jasmine Socks.  I even took it on vacation with me, but only knit a few rows.  It is the first sock in The Unique Sheep's Wonderland Club.  Although this round of the club is closed, they are doing a second round and sign ups are currently open.  I've already signed up.  I really like their yarns, and their clubs.

Top with Crocheted Sleeves

I started this top over a year ago.  It is from Nashua Handknits, The North American Designer Collection No. 8.  I finished up the easy part ages ago and it has been languishing in my unfinished pile waiting for me to tackle the crochet part.  I modified the pattern to knit the body in the round (anything to avoid finishing work - that is one of the wonderful thing about lace shawls, almost no finishing) but now I have to figure out how to do the crochet, and while I am an advanced knitter, my crochet skills are still very much at the beginner level.  But I will figure it out, never fear.  I pulled out the pattern instructions today and was looking through them.  The next step was to block the body, so I wove in the ends and the body is blocking.  Once that is done, I'll start the crochet.

I was thinking about my trip and Turkey and I realized that I never mentioned the guide we had in Istanbul.  She was delightful, her name is Gulden.  I think because we only had three days there, and only two of them were really spent with her we didn't get to know her that well.  But she was an excellent guide, and a lot of fun.  Bruce and would like to go back and see more of Turkey, and Smithsonian Journeys offers some great tours there.  Who knows, maybe we'll see her again.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall Mystery Shawl 2010

I am so addicted to lace.  I no sooner finish one shawl when I start another.  But this time I had a bit of a quandary.  From a temporal perspective (release order) the next shawl in the sequence should have been Mystery Shawl 18, but I don't have the beads for that shawl yet.  I do, however, have a substantial bead stash, and I happened to have one bag of the beads that I had decided to use for the Fall Mystery Shawl, and seeing as how I have just completed the Summer Mystery Shawl, I could logically do the Fall Mystery Shawl next, even it is not the next shawl pattern released.

This pattern is a bit more complex than the previous ones from Goddess Knits that I have done.  There are left and right twists, plus beads.  Fortunately, Renee's patterns are logically laid out.  The yarn is Decadently Dark Decadent Lace in Decadent Cranberry.  The beads are gold opaque with colorful metallic iridescence (Beadcats stock no. 2-08-840-18).

Summer Mystery Shawl 2010 - Finished!

Well, I finished this shawl this afternoon.  It is another Goddess Knits.  The yarn is by Spinning Bunny (80% Merino, 20% Tussah Silk), the color is Summer Sky.

On a different note, there was a suicide bomber in Tacsim Square, in Istanbul today.  Thirty-two people were injured (15 police, 17 civilians).  If you've been following my blog, you know that Bruce and I were just in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago, and our hotel was just off of the square.  The only casualty was the bomber, whose body ended up at the foot of the statue of Kemal Ataturk.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer Mystery Shawl 2010 - Clue 4

Back in the studio, and back to my knitting.  I finished up Clue 4 this morning.  I am still trying to get my clock readjusted back to Virginia time, but it is proving very difficult.  I keep waking up at 2am, and I can't seem to make myself stay up late enough (oh, say past 6pm) to shift my cycle.  I didn't have any trouble at all adjusting when we arrived in Istanbul.  It was Bruce who was waking up at 3am.  But my tummy alarm keeps going off at odd hours, and it is hard to sleep when you are hungry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Home Again

Well, after 30 hours of travel, we finally made it home safe - at 2am this morning.  The trip was fantastic, but we were so busy that I really only had time to hit the high points in the blog, and there was so much more to the trip.

We loved Istanbul, a modern city built on ancient bones.  The hotel was not in a major tourist spot, so it was easy to wander off into side streets and catch glimpses of the real city.  There were a lot of cafes and restaurants with people playing backgammon and smoking nargile, or water pipes.  And there were a lot of cats.  Not so many dogs, but lots of cats.  Of course, I didn't see any rats, and with such a dense population you would expect to see rats.  I've seen them in Milwaukee, especially close to the river.  One of the things we liked about Istanbul was how easy it was to get around the city.  They have mass transit, plus it is very walkable.

We loved Jordan as well, but for different reasons.  The landscape is dramatically beautiful, and our guide Ra'ed was just wonderful.  On the way to Petra he had the bus pullover so he could buy us all pomegranates from a roadside vendor.  At Petra he stopped at a vendor at the beginning of the Siq and introduced us to Frankincense, Myrrh, Ambergris and Musk (he burned the first two, and applied the latter two to the inside of our wrists), all items that figured prominently in the economy of that ancient city.  On the way to the Dead Sea he had the bus stop at a little shop so he could buy some Arab bread, which he proceeded to share with the group.  The bread was flat, but not as flat as Naan bread.  I think it may have had some leavening.  It was still warm when he got it and he said that it was very special bread and that not many people make it anymore.  And after a very hot morning at Bethany he bought cold drinks for everyone.  Even the driver got in the act, buying dates for us on the way to the Dead Sea.  Ra'ed is also very knowledgeable about the history of the country and was great at contextualizing what we were seeing.

I think that the sites that I loved the most in Jordan are Petra and Little Petra, primarily because of the way the people lived in those areas.  Their homes were carved into the sandstone cliffs, and they captured virtually all of the water that fell on them with their channels and cisterns.  It is unfortunate that those systems no longer function, because Jordan needs all the water that it can get.  When we were at Shobak we heard a loud boom and when we asked what it was Ra'ed told us it was the water tank adjusting because it was empty.  It seems that a lot of Jordanians do not have water all of the time.  They have water tanks that they have to fill, and when they empty they make this booming sound.  He said that you get used to hearing it.

The hotels we stayed in while in Jordan were all beautiful, 5-star hotels.  Opulent comes to mind.  But they were also in more touristy areas, so it was harder to get a feel for the real county.  Tourism is big business in Jordan, but it is a two-edged sword because those hotels use a lot of water.  In fact they were ostentatious in their use of water, and water is probably the greatest challenge facing Jordan.  We saw a lot of building going on, but when we asked Ra'ed where they would get water for all of those buildings he just shrugged.  As you can tell from the picture of the Jordan river in my last post it is a shadow of what it once was.  Israel takes a lot of the water, and Jordan takes much of the rest.  The Dead Sea is drying up because the rivers that flow into it (among them the Jordan river) are being diverted.  The Mujib river, which used to empty into the Dead Sea, is being diverted to provide the hotels in that area with their water.  To be honest, I really didn't like that aspect of the trip.  Although it was wonderful to relax in the lap of luxury, I would have preferred a more eco-friendly accommodation - as long as it was still basically comfortable (I do like a hot shower and a flush toilet).

If you ever get a chance to travel to Jordan, take it.  It is a marvelous country and the people are very warm and friendly.  One of the things that I noticed was how polite the drivers were.  There were not many stop signs or traffic lights, instead they would use speed bumps to slow traffic at intersections, but these were not our small annoying speed bumps, these were longer and were not as tall.  They also used roundabouts a lot.  In contrast the drivers in Istanbul are pretty aggressive.

If you do manage to travel to Jordan and need a guide I would recommend our guide:  Ra'ed Hammouri,  He is a great guide and a great human being.  I would also recommend the Smithsonian Journeys.  We had 4 lectures during the trip that were interesting and informative, and the group that we traveled with were just great.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Journey's End

Oct 25 - Yesterday we drove from Aqaba to the Dead Sea, stopping for lunch at the Dead Sea Panorama, a relatively new exhibit about the area.
In the distance you can just make out Jericho (right hand side of the picture, about mid-way up).

This morning we went to Bethany to see the Baptism Site of John and Jesus.  This is a monastery at the Hill of Elijah.  You can still see some of the mosaics.
And this is supposed to be the Baptism Site.

This afternoon we are treating ourselves to a massage in the spa, and then we will take a dip in the Dead Sea.  Tomorrow morning, at a ridiculously early hour, we shall head back to the US.  The trip has been fantastic, due in large part, I think, to our phenomenal guide Ra'ed, and to the wonderful Jordanian people that we have met on the way.  It is an experience that I will treasure.  I will close with a picture of the Jordan River.

The Red Sea

Oct 23 - After tramping around ruins for a week, we are now ready for some relaxation.  We started our morning with snorkling at the Royal Diving Club.  If you ever get the chance to snorkle in the Red Sea, take it.  It is wonderful.  The water is about twice as salty as the ocean.  The water is a deep sapphire blue, that becomes more teal as you get into the shallows and is turquoise close to shore.  The surface of the waves looks like chipped obsidian. In the afternoon we had a lecture by the Jordanian Commissioner for the Environment on the marine biology of the Red Sea.  Then we had a sunset cruise.  The boat was like something out of Jason and the Argonauts.   Wooden, with a high prow (carved like a dragon head) and stern.  It had a square sail, and a rectangular awning over the main section that provided some shade for the main seating area.  There was more seating in the stern and I claimed it for Bruce and I, we reclined like Ceasar and Cleopatra.  We motored around for a little while, and then they unfurled the sail.  This was not done as efficiently as I would have liked.  After the sun had set they turned us cross-wise to the wind and furled the sail.  By this time the wind had picked up quite a bit, so this was a rather exciting (and somewhat dangerous) endeavor.  The boat pitched about a good deal during the operation.  Finally the sail was furled and we motored back to port.

Here is a picture of the Royal Palace in Aqaba.
And the flag of the Arab Revolt, flying over the old fort.
This beautiful glass sculpture/light fixture by Dave Chihuly hung in the lobby of our hotel.