23 May 2010

Alpaca Farm

On Saturday, North Georgia Knitting Guild took a day trip to Seven Gables Farm in Milton, Georgia. In addition to the guild, many thanks are also due to Knit Witch and Only Ewe and Cotton Too for organizing the outing. We had a lovely time both watching the animals and enjoying our outdoor picnic. There was also a lot of socializing and a lot of knitting. We were lucky, too, because the day was overcast in the morning. As it got sunnier around two or three o'clock, it got hot and less comfortable outdoors.

The alpacas share a pasture with two burros and many goats. One of the goats was clearly a male, who strode about like an emperor overseeing his peasants. When we first arrived and a few of us walked over towards that pasture, this goat came over but not too close. He was checking us out and making sure we understood that this place is his domain. (See photo at right.)


After lunch, I spent a fair amount of time out in the pasture. Most of the animals only let me get within about 8-10 feet. Then they would just quietly shift to a different patch of clover. It was a lot of fun to get even a little close to them. There were five alpacas -- one white, one grey, one brown, and a black female with a cria. I was surprised by how large the cria was. Apparently alpaca are never all that small. The alpacas had been sheared recently, so their shaggy coats are not in the pictures. But you do get a sense of how long their necks are! There is something delightful and wonderful in that alpacas are cute animals with mostly reasonable temperaments, and yet they also give awesome fiber. Enjoy the pictures of happy animals!

Mother and Child

Just let me eat in peace. (A beautiful, rich brown coat.)

Who are you? (Love the Dr. Seuss hairstyle.)

Let me just stand here and blend.

19 May 2010

Greetings from Finland

Just wanted to share two photographs Leena sent. Her book and cards arrived safely on the 18th, which was ten days after I sent them and less than the two weeks the mail clerk anticipated. I am impressed by what a talented photographer and gardener Leena must be.

This first photograph is peeking down inside the mail envelope. I never would have thought of putting the purple flower in the corner of the image.

This second photo is the congratulatory cards. I love the flowers and the play of sunlight.

:-)

13 May 2010

One Stash to Rule Them All?

The post starts:
It began with the forging of the Great Stashes. Three were given to the cats, immortal, wisest, and fairest of all beings, because, you know, it's good for hunting and batting with your little paws. Seven to the Crochet Ladies, great hookers and craftswomen of the church halls.
Follow this link to read the rest.

(Thank you, Elalyr!)

11 May 2010

Doublefun

You may recall more than a year ago that I entered a pair of socks in the Think Outside the Sox contest. I didn't win any prizes, and my socks weren't chosen for publication in the book. But I did make a friend thousands of miles away.

Leena Siikaniemi e-mailed me last year after seeing my post. We exchanged e-mails about the contest and about knitting. Because the socks came to STITCHES South, I was able to see and touch Leena's socks. And she shared with me a secret -- her socks, which appear to be circular intarsia, are actually double knitting! If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you've probably figured out that I am a fan of double knitting. I might have thought of it for a sock cuff, but not for the whole sock. The idea is true genius! So I am very excited that the Think Outside the Sox book is now out and available. You can follow the pattern to make Doublefun socks for yourself, beginning on page 120. Leena also created the very first socks in the book, the Forgettable Socks that begin on page 4.

After STITCHES South this year, I e-mailed Leena to congratulate her. She had been following the festivities online. Someone had sent a picture -- were her socks really on the back cover? Yes they were. Did she have a copy of the book? No, she hadn't gotten one yet. Not a problem -- I could easily get a copy and send it to her. So I went to the May Atlanta Knitting Guild meeting with a congratulations card for guild members to sign. Thank you to Bill from Only Ewe and Cotton Too, who was kind enough to bring a book for me to buy, thus saving me the trip over to Crabapple.

At one point in the meeting, Whit Robbins was talking to the group about STITCHES South. She talked about all we accomplished and how much fun we all had. And then she asked me to come up to the podium. Huh? She pulled out a package . . . from Leena in Finland! This was totally unexpected. I opened it in front of the group. Leena had made Doublefun socks for me! They are just wonderful! And they are in my colors too. How did she know? I believe the socks got passed around at least part of the room, as many people were curious about their construction. Leena also sent me a couple Finnish postcards depicting children knitting. I wouldn't know where to find knitting-themed stationery in Atlanta. What a delightful surprise!On Saturday morning I put a thank-you card, a congratulations card, and a copy of Think Outside the Sox into the mail. I've never sent anything to Finland before. It was only about $15, which I think is very reasonable. I am eager to hear from my internet pen pal when she finally has the book in her hands.

Thank you, Leena, for sharing a truly brilliant knitting idea with the world! Big warm alpaca hugs! :-D

09 May 2010

For Mom

My mother taught me to do cross stitch when I was four years old. That means I learned to handle a needle and thread before I learned to write my own name. My paternal grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was about ten. And between these two wonderful women, summers with my maternal grandmother, and classes with the White Rose Embroiderers' Guild of America chapter, I learned many, many needlework techniques. My mother especially enjoyed cross stitch, crewel, and eventually canvas work. Needlecraft was a hobby we shared together, a point where we could connect regardless of our differences.

But my mother does not knit.

About a decade ago I discovered knitting. Oh, there are still cross stitch kits and other needle arts tucked away in the cedar chest in my guest bedroom. But I went off and discovered a new territory where my mother had never been. I love the way I can think in three dimensions with knitting. I love how knitting can be functional. And I love how knitting can be out in the world where others will see it, unlike my cross stitch triumphs that are viewed only in my home.

In all this time I have been knitting, my mother had never asked me to knit her anything. I don't think she enjoys clothes. Like many (most American?) women, she has spent much of her lifetime fighting her weight. (The skinny genes I so enjoy came from my dad. The tall genes came from both of my parents.) It is hard to enjoy clothes when they remind you of what you don't like about your body rather than celebrating what you do like. Not only has she never asked for a sweater, but she has also not asked for socks, or mittens, or gloves, or a hat, or even a fabulous felted bag.

You may recall my after Christmas post in which I mentioned how my mother arranged possibly the best gift I have ever gotten from her -- a trip to The Mannings. This was wonderful on a number of levels. My sister, grandmother, and Cuddly Hubby came along, so it was a social outing. And I appreciate that they all were willing to step into my knitting world for just a little while to see a glimpse of why I love the knitting community and what this art has to offer. But one of the loveliest things about the trip was that my mother asked me to knit something for her.


The pattern is from Oat Couture, the "Curlicue Blanket." The full blanket has fifteen different sections, all shaped with short rows. The shawl at The Mannings was worked over sections 1-10. My mother is a tall, broad-shouldered woman; and the sample didn't quite fit her through the shoulders. Consequently, I've worked sections 1-13 for her shawl. The yarn is Crystal Palace Mini Mochi in color 107 Autumn Rainbow. I used US 7 (4.5mm) needles and less than five balls of the yarn. The only refinement I made is that I worked a slipped-stitch edge to keep the selvage neat. The sawtooth border worked great for blocking with wires. After threading the wires, I stretched the shawl out on the guest bed, pinned the wires, and spritzed the shawl. I let it dry overnight. I don't often knit other people's patterns, but this one was worth it on more than one level.

Since I finished the shawl just before STITCHES South, I wore it to the Thursday night Ravelry meet-up. The picture at top right is me wearing the shawl to "The Magic Flute" opera at Cobb Energy Center the following week. The wall behind me in the photo is backlit alabaster. I showed the shawl off at The Whole Nine Yarns knit night and knit lit, and also at the May meeting of the Atlanta Knitting Guild. Many, many people came up to get a look at it at the guild meeting. One lady said, "Oh, there's still plenty of time to buy your mother a different gift." Another, who tried on the shawl, said, "Do you want to be my daughter?" I hope somebody in town has the pattern in stock! I think the picture was up on Ravelry less than three hours before someone favorited it. I finally put the shawl in the mail on Friday morning. I hope it will please her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!