Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pattern Release: Emin Cowl, Mittens, Tam Set

I have a new accessory pattern set that released this week: The Emin Cowl, Mittens and Tam Set.

The design is part of Louet's 2014 Fall Collection, and is knit in their Gems Merino Sport in the Teal colorway.

Each of the pieces features a twisted-stitch pattern reminiscent of pine cones.  The cowl is shown here in the smaller size, but there's also a longer option you could wear like a scarf, or twist once to double up the warmth around your neck.   The mittens also have 2 sizes, with a stockinette palm and gusset thumb.

The tam features the same twisted-stitch pattern, and has a set of pretty decreases on the crown for a little extra flair.

The pattern containing all 3 of these pieces is available as a PDF download through Ravelry (or you can pick it up in print with yarn if your LYS carries Louet products).  All pictures are courtesy of/copyright Caro Sheridan.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekending: 04/28/2014

We had a very unsettled weather weekend - tons of wind, and a huge drop in temps (from low 72s) to mid-40s for daytime highs over the 2 days.  We even had a smattering of snow Saturday night into Sunday.  So of course, early Sunday a.m., I had a photo shoot scheduled!  Not a huge deal for those of us not wearing pretty chiffon sundresses, but my model was C.O.L.D.!!!!!  Other that that minor detail, we had a great shoot, got a lot of wonderful pics of two shawls that are upcoming releases for my Heroines Shawl Clubs!

I finished up a wholesale order for the Happy Ewe in Austin, Texas, to ship out today, did a bit of final blocking of finished things for The Book, and worked along on several different projects, from a men's sweater to a couple of shawls.  D and I also watched a couple of movies and I did some reading.

I'm in the midst of a book right now - perhaps half the way through - and not sure whether I will finish it or not.  I have enjoyed other things from the author, but this one... I dunno.... it's not holding my focus as I expected.  I generally finish a book when I start it, no matter what, but... eh.  We'll see how this one shakes out.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


One of the things about this autoimmune diet I've been eating from is that you wind up eating a lot of fruits and veggies.  Which definitely is not a bad thing, but sometimes our local grocery store has some not-great produce.  It's usually okay for things like winter squash, but there have been times when I've gotten baby spinach and asparagus home and it's already unusable after 24 hours.  (Yes, I know we are kind of at the end of a delivery route here, but seriously... if I'm going to pay for asparagus, I'd like to be able to eat it before it rots, and I don't think 24 hours is excessive.)

Anyway, one of my docs recommended Skarsgard Farms' Harvest Boxes.  Based out of ABQ, they offer a weekly (or biweekly or monthly - you pick the delivery times) box of veggies and fruits from local producers.  I really liked the concept that you could pick and choose what went into your box.  A few days before your delivery day, you can pop onto their website and customize what you get.  So for instance, neither D nor I love beets, so while that was on the list for this week, I substituted out a butternut squash, which I eat a ton of these days.

Our first box arrived yesterday and I was really delighted with the produce.

Our small box contained:
  • 1 lb of strawberries (which are so good, they are like eating candy!)
  • 2 garlic bulbs
  • 4 yellow peppers
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 lb of new potatoes
  • 1 lb of mixed salad greens
  • 1 honeydew melon
  • 2 avacados 
  • 1 butternut squash
We ate some of the salad greens and the avacados with dinner last night, as well as the strawberries.  Everything is nice and fresh, good quality, and suits my weekly menu plan perfectly.  You can also do add-on orders of things like cheese and eggs, pizza dough and salad dressings, and meats.  

We're going to try a few more boxes, but I like having so many nice veggies arrive at the door.  I do have to supplement a few fruits for my a.m. smoothies and a few other odds and ends, but otherwise, we can happily have veggies for lunch and dinner available with what arrived in our box yesterday!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Weekending: 04/20/2014

We got some actual rain this weekend!  Not really rain by east-coast standards but rain where it rained for a good 10 or 15 minutes and actually wet the boards on the deck!  (It wasn't much, but we need every drop right now).  I took advantage of the slightly damper than usual conditions and put my garden plants in.  It's maybe a little bit early for some of them, but we've been having nice sunny days here and I've got some row covers I can put out if we get a final cold snap of the season.   Our local hardware store has the things I usually don't bother starting from seed - basil and tomatoes - but they also had some spinach plants this year, so I grabbed a pack of those and put those in as well.  I've got snap peas, scallions, lettuce, carrots, and some squash in seed form. We'll see how those do with the local varmints.

Otherwise, I mostly puttered around the house.  I finished up the sample I'm knitting for Jane Austen Knits 2014.  That's going in the mail this week.  I started the second half of the projects for The Book and I'm moving along on the current one, which is a men's cabled sweater.  I also did some swatching for new things to go on the needles and got the final formatting done for the first half of the patterns I need to send off to the editor for The Book as well.   I read a bit, watched a chick flick, and hung out with D for some quiet time as well.  Nice!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

From the Bookshelf: Blue Asylum

I finished up Blue Asylum this weekend.

The story opens with plantation wife Iris Dunleavy on a boat, being taken to a lunatic asylum on Sanibel Island.  She has been sent there after a court trial by her "caring and supportive" husband, who hunted her down after she helped a group of slaves escape from their plantation.  Iris is convinced she is not crazy and thinks she will be able to make her case to the doctor at the asylum.  The doctor, however, is convinced that she has upset the natural order of things by defying her husband in such a crazy way.   On the island, the lunatic asylum houses all sorts of folks - from an older lady who sees and converses with the ghost of her dead husband, to a very proper lady who happens to eat things like buttons and rings, to the torturted Civil War veteran, Ambrose Weller.  The story also pulls in the doctor's wife (who has her own little laudanum addiction) and his young son.

While plotting her escape, Iris falls in love with Ambrose, who is still tormented by flashbacks to his war days, and who the doctor has encouraged him to think of calming things - anything blue - blue water, the blue wall paint, blue china, blue silk - help him overcome these "fits".  Iris enlists the help of the doctor's son, who has experienced his own disillusionment with his father, to help her and Ambrose escape.

No spoilers here - You'll have to read the book if you want to see if the escape is successful or not.  

I enjoyed this one.  The writing is lovely and lyrical in places.  There are lots of things to think about regarding moral issues and what the definition of "sanity" is.  Things have definitely come a long way from cold-water bath treatments to be sure!  I liked the way the author unfolded each of the main characters' stories, just giving little bits and pieces in reminiscences and conversation, until a fuller picture of each was created.  A very enjoyable read.

Next up, I've cracked open a book my Da sent me in the last box of hand-me-down books from him,  A Dark Dividing, by Sarah Rayne.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

10 on Tuesday: 10 Things I Like to Do Outside

1.  Riding.  I no longer have horses, but there's nothing better than seeing the countryside from the back of an equine friend.
2.  Gardening.  Veggies or flowers - either one makes me happy to be outside.
3.  Walking.  Normally my walking companion, who we still call "the puppy" despite being 8 this year, logs about 4 times the miles I do.  I'm more of a stroller.  She's more of a sprinter.
4.  Spinning.  Gorgeous spring days call for dragging a wheel out onto the deck and taking advantage of the sunshine.
5.  Reading.  Ditto as for #4.  A good book read outside somehow feels more vacation-like to me.
6.  Napping.  Sometimes #5 leads to #6.  A nap in the sun can't be beat for a quick recharge of the batteries. Sunscreen is mandatory, however.
7.  Bird-watching.  My DH was originally an ornithologist.  We logged a lot of time outside watching birds at various points in his career.  I still enjoy doing that.
8.  Picnicking.  Lunch al fresco under a big leafy tree.  My idea of heaven.
9.  Listening to a great band.  Even better if you can do that while picnicking with a bottle of wine.
10.  Watching a sporting event.  Fun, of course, to view games or matches on TV, but sitting in the stands on a crisp fall day is a lot of fun too!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekending: 04/13/2014

The dog girls and Emma and I had a quiet weekend at home together.  D was away having a weekend watching motorcycle racing with some friends, so I took the opportunity to get some chores done (admittedly not my favorite part of the weekend) as well as some knitting.

I caught up on a few BBC things I'd been wanting to watch.  I tried out the series Wallander with Kenneth Branaugh, who I'm a fan of.  Interestingly filmed and definitely well-acted, but I'm not sure if the level of bleakness is something I could watch in a whole batch.  (It's a detective/murder mystery series, set in Sweden.)

I also got a TON of pattern writing done.  Several more things off to the TE for review, and I did some final tidying-up of a couple of the patterns for deadline #1 for The Book.   I cast on for the first project of part 2, and I'm down to just a couple of rows on the neckband and some darning in of ends for my Jane Austen Knits project.

And, I'm happy to announce, a brand-new pattern of mine is out in the Spring/Summer Twist Collective - Belleville.  I have been a fan of TC's design vibe for quite a while, so I was really delighted when they accepted this pretty lace cardigan for publication for this issue.  I knit it in something like 4 days while D drove us back and forth to the fiber festival in Boerne, Texas in November!

My favorite part is the floral vine and ironwork inspired lace back panel!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

From the Bookshelf: The Aviator's Wife

Last night I finished up The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin.

This is a fictious account of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  The "quiet,dutiful" daughter of the US ambassador to Mexico, Anne Morrow is introduced to the famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his transAtlantic flight in 1927.  The book chronicles their life together, from his early days as the pioneer of American aviation, through the sensational kidnapping of their first-born son, through the years of WWII (when Lindbergh was reviled as a Nazi supporter) and to his death of leukemia in the 1970s.

When I finished up the book, I read the author's several-page notes at the end.  She remarked that when she spoke to people about the Lindberghs, while folks knew the snippets of history surrounding this famous couple - the Spirit of St. Louis, the kidnapping, etc. - no one really seemed to know the characters involved. The author stated that she wrote this book about Anne since she was the one who was the glue in this relationship, the one who held the family together, presented Charles's public persona, guided his memoirs, wrote accounts of his flights.  (Anne also is an authoress in her own right, having written the book Gift From the Sea in mid-life.)

It's hard not to be interested and fascinated in the details of the lives of these two people, and I guess that's where I struggled a bit with this book.  So much of the personal details have been edited from sources used that it was hard for me to really get a grasp on either of them.  Lindbergh himself was a notoriously private person and, if the book is close to the truth, also a controlling person who found the world as black or white, with no gray at all in it.  I never felt like I actually knew who Charles Lindbergh, the person, was from reading this book, nor, in many respects, Anne - and that's why I like to read this sort of book.... to learn more about the people beyond the cut-and-dried facts of their history.   There are glimpses of Anne that are tantalizing and made me want to know more about her.  For instance, she was the first licensed glider pilot in the US - but there's just a quick mention of that and then we move on.  I'd like to have known more about her relationship with her sister Elisabeth (who died as a young woman), as well.

I'd give this book a B.  It was interesting and I certainly learned quite a bit about the lives of the Lindbergh's, but I think I would like to have had Anne step more out of the overwhelming shadow of Charles Lindbergh in this story of hers, and get a little more of the limelight.  She seems a fascinating and interesting person I'd want to know better.

Next up - Blue Asylum.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

10 on Tuesday: 10 Foods That Belong Together

This week's 10 on Tuesday topic is: 10 Foods That Belong Together.

1.  Chocolate and peanut butter.  A classic.
2.  Strawberries and champagne.  (Is champagne a food?  I guess I think so since I'm putting it in the category because really, how perfect is that pairing?)
3.  Blue cheese and pears.  Nice, ripe pears are great thrown into a spinach salad with a little bit of blue cheese and walnuts.  Yum!
4.  Pulled pork BBQ and coleslaw.
5.  Guacamole and salted, crispy corn tortillas.
6.  Steamed spiced shrimp with corn on the cob.
7.  PB&J.  I lived on that when I was a kid.  I still get a hankering for a PB&J sandwich every so often.
8.  Chocolate chip cookies and ice-cold milk.
9.  Bagels and cream cheese.  Although I do also like a bit of preserves on top of the cream cheese too.  Not mandatory tho!
10.  Beer and pizza.  And I'm not even that interested in beer, but a cold one with a hot slice of pizza tastes awfully good!

Gee - an awful lot of carbs in that list.  I think I'm off most of what I think of as "perfect pairings" except for an occasional #2 and #3!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekending: 04/07/2014

I had a lovely quiet weekend - lots of knitting time and I caught up on some BBC programs I'd been wanting to watch:  Whitechapel with Rupert Penry-Jones (not for the faint-hearted but a contemporary police drama in 3 episodes with a copy-cat Jack the Ripper) and Vera (seasons 1 AND 2) with Brenda Blethyn, who I love in everything I've ever seen her in. She's wonderful as detective Vera Stanhope.  Reminds me a bit of my gram in this role!

I don't have a lot of knitting I can actually show you, but I did knit up a cabled tam and wrote the pattern for that.  I'm working on a project as well for the next Jane Austen Knits, due out later this fall, and I'm in the final third or so of the knitting for that as well.  I'm hoping to have that project done and off the needles by the end of this upcoming week.

Otherwise, I puttered around inside, made a little apple spice crisp for breakfasts this week, and was generally a couch potato.  A nice change from the crazy-busy we normally wind up packing into the weekends!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

From the Bookshelf: The Perfume Collector

I just finished up The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro last night.   A really enjoyable read!

The story focuses on Grace Monroe and is set in 1954.  Grace is trapped in a lackluster marriage, without much to look forward to every morning, when she receives a letter from a solicitor in Paris, letting her know she's the heir to the estate of one Eva D'Orsey, a woman she's never met.  Grace sets off for Paris to learn the details of the inheritance, but the more information she receives about it, the less she really knows.  

The story unfolds with flashes back to the 1920s which tell the story of Eva D'Orsey and her life, first as a hotel maid and the characters she encounters there, including a famous perfumer, Madame Zed and her apprentice, up through Eva's move to France and the German occupation during WWII.  As Grace uncovers details of the three mysterious perfume fragrances that tell the story of Eva's life, she also finds out the secrets of her benefactress.

I will say that yes, I figured out the final secret before it was officially revealed, but the characters in the story were so interesting, I didn't mind this at all!  There are things to love and to dislike about both Eva and Grace as the story unfolds and their separate and eventually intertwined lives are revealed to the reader.  In the end, I was cheering for Grace and happy to follow her story through to her final choices (and hopeful happiness - it's nice to have a happy ending for a character you've grown to like!)

Next up in the reading queue is The Aviator's Wife, a novel about Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

WIP Wednesday: 04/02/2014

I'm busily working on a lot of projects for The Book as you might guess, especially as my late April deadline is barrelling down on me for the first half of projects to be completed and ready to go to the editors.

I'm working on the last bits of a large sweater/jacket pieces - just the front bands to finish up - and then can tackle the remainder of the grading for the pattern sizes.  I really don't mind knitting to a deadline, but I've learned that I cannot do math to a deadline.  CAN.NOT.  Frankly, I'm not that great on math without the deadline, but adding in the excitement of being rushed causes problems.

Once that piece is done, I'll have one final hat to add to the group, and then I will have the first half of the projects for The Book done!

My plan following that is to tackle two cabled sweaters - one men's/unisex and one women's.  A couple of wonderful friends and awesome knitters have each agreed to take one of the other men's sweaters (which will finish those up), plus one lace shawl and a scarf and pair of mitts.  While it does leave me with a bunch of women's garments to get finished by the third week in September, I am pretty sure I can do that.

So I'm going to just continue working along on getting patterns written and finished samples ready to go!

(I know, a boring WIP update since I have no pics I can share with you, but eventually there will be an avalanche of pretty knits to look at!)

Tour de Fleece - Week 2

I'm pretty happy with my progress for the Tour so far this year!  I've been trying to have a goal of 15 minutes of spinning a day, o...