Posted by: mick | October 17, 2009

FO: My Little Toasty

fo: toasty

Pattern: Toasty by Leslie Friend

Yarn: My own handspun, 3-ply merino  (used to be this 4 oz. bunch of Laura Ingalls Wilder from Sheepish Creations )

Needles: US 4 DPNs

Began: October 15th, 2009; Completed: The same day! (Raveled here.)

liw merinoNotes: My garter stitch mitts get a lot of use.  I love to wear them in the fall when driving to protect me from the cold, morning steering wheel, and then they keep my fingers toasty in chilly classrooms all fall and winter long (aka most of the school year here in SWMI).  The Kureyon I used is starting to felt from so much wear, however, and I’ve been craving another pair.

Then I saw Lisa’s and Amy’s gorgeous, handspun toasties and I was sold.  So I took my bright, soft fiber, spun it into my first ever 3-ply, washed it and cast on as soon as it was dry.  This was quite a process; the colors were very bright, and so I thought the 3-ply would help break that up as well as make the merino a bit sturdier.  I then used my trusty kitchen scale to divvy the hank equally into two 60 gram balls, wound them up, and cast on.  I was home sick on Thursday and, after two movies (My Cousin Vinny and Aliens, if you’re curious), I was done.

My only mods were to add length to the mitt cuffs.  I wanted them longer because I wear a lot of 3/4 sleeve shirts and could use the warmth and, more importantly, wanted to use every bit of my soft yarn.  I did some math and it worked!  I added 1.5 inches in length to the cuff, resulting in a 12.5 overall mitt length, and ended up with only a few yards of yarn leftover.


The pattern is simple and is a great way to show off some lovely yarn in a small quantity, and is also a great project to break the knitting doldrums.  There has been a LOT of garter stitch and stockinette going on here lately, and these mitts were great instant knitting gratification.  I think they will get lots of use, and will definitely brighten up my somewhat dreary winter wardrobe (I call them “my little toasty” because the colors remind me of My Little Pony.  I’m okay with that.).  The yarn is uneven in many places, but for my first time spinning merino (which was TOUGH at first) and my first 3-ply, I think it turned out quite well.

Posted by: mick | October 9, 2009

FO: Gnomey Sleep Mask


Pattern: Eye Mask by Amy Butler from In Stitches

Fabric: Blue Gnomes by Heather Ross and some of the coordinating dots fabric

gnomey sideNotes:  I made KV a pillow with this fabric last year for her birthday, and I had big plans to make this eye mask with the remnants for this year.  This was a pretty big step up for me, as my previous sewing practice basically entailed making rectangles.  Badly.  This project involved quilting in straight lines, sewing around curves, and sewing on straps.  While my stitches aren’t perfect by any means, I think the end result turned out rather well.  KV likes it, and that’s what matters.

I learned new skills, had lots of fun, and discovered just how difficult it is to take a photo of yourself while wearing a mask.  D’oh!


Posted by: mick | October 1, 2009

The Magical Mail

This post is shamefully overdue (as are most of the posts I’ll be doing this week).  I’ve had this to write about for weeks but life kept getting in the way of my writing it.  And now, onward with the post!

Back in July, Saffron posted that she had a few projects she wanted to knit calling for laceweight yarn.  She wanted to cast-on soon but, alas, was on a self-imposed yarn-buying hiatus.  I messaged her with an idea: I had two skeins of gorgeous Alpaca with a Twist Fino that I bought years ago, just languishing in my stash.  While I still love the color and the softness of this yarn, I now know that I just can’t wear alpaca against my skin.  So I proposed a swap, and she accepted, agreeing to send me four balls of Sublime cashmere/merino/silk blend (swoon) in a lovely navy and a gorgeous, muted purple.

So we both shipped off our packages and, a few days later, I was shocked to learn that my package had made it to Saffron quite speedily.  Yippee!  So I left for the east coast for 3 weeks, knowing that I’d have a lovely package of yarn waiting upon my return.

battered mailIt wasn’t here when I got back and, when it still hadn’t arrived at the beginning of September, Saffron very generously sent me some PayPal money for the yarn.  I felt so bad about this: the swap was entirely designed so that we enhanced our respective stashes without spending money!  I went and treated myself to some new spinning fiber and hoped that that, too, wouldn’t get lost in the mail.

I received the fiber on a Monday and, on Tuesday, wouldn’t you know that this showed up on my door.

The box is bruised and battered, but the lovely goodies Saffron gave me made it safe and sound.  She included a ton of school supplies from Blackwell Publishers, all packed in an awesome re-usable bag (perfect for small knitting projects!), in addition to the gorgeous yarn.  I was so excited!  And then I promptly sent back Saffron’s money via PayPal, which she plans to use for some yarn.  So…we started off with the best intentions, but ended up buying ourselves some treats just the same.nerdy swap goodness

Thanks again, Saffron!  I’m hoping to make a Koolhaas hat with the yarn, and possibly an Inga.  What are you doing with the yarn I sent you?  I can’t wait to see!

Posted by: mick | September 27, 2009

FO: Handspun Baby Blue Belle

handspun baby belle

Pattern: Baby Belle, by Cosy (Raveled here.)

Yarn: My own handspun, hand-dyed Corriedale, and some scraps of Valley Yarns Northampton in Lavender

Needles:  US 5s Addi Turbo Lace

Notions: 2 flower buttons from Hobby Lobby

Began: September 2, 2009;   Completed: September 10, 2009

Notes:  Cosy put out a call for handspun versions of her adorable baby sweater pattern, and I couldn’t resist.  I really wanted to spin up something special but, with Patches’ illness and the start of the semester, I had to use my handspun stash.  I’m happy with the way the Corriedale knitted up, and the little random bits of blue make me happy (though I do wish there were more of them; I’ve got to keep that in mind for my next foray into dyeing).  I call it the Baby Blue Belle because I feel any baby wearing it will look like a blueberry.  An adorable, well-dressed blueberry.

There’s not much to say about this pattern; the sheer adorableness speaks for itself.  I’m happy with the project in every way: the pattern is clearly written and easy to knit, and features the garter row color changes that I love in many of Cosy’s designs, and the final product is quite adorable.  It was a fun knit, though I don’t have any good photos as we’ve had bad weather lately.  And now I just need to find someone who will give it a loving home!

On a side note, thank you all so much for your kind words about Patches.  We are making our way without her, though we feel her absence terribly.  I’ve got a lot to catch up on, and I hope you’ll all bear with me as I complete a parade of posts.

Posted by: mick | September 24, 2009

Patches mow

Patches mow

Originally uploaded by ms. mcgee

I’ve been saving this post for a few days now, unsure how I could find sufficient words to write a tribute to my little mow girl. Patches came into my life a few weeks before my tenth birthday. She was a tiny little barn kitten, fighting and hissing at the big, scary dogs around her. We took her home because, hey, we love spunk. I have never regretted that day, as she quickly became an integral part of the family.

My little girl had been fading fast the past few weeks, ever since I returned from my trip back east. She ate very little (a big change, if you knew her), and eventually we made the decision to have her euthanized this past Sunday.

These past few weeks have been some of the hardest of my entire life. I loved this cat with every fiber of my being: she was my best friend, and got me through many challenges and broken hearts. She looked out for me as much as, if not more than, I looked out for her, and I was happy to be able to return the favor while she was ill. I truly feel that she clung to life until she saw me happily married, and then felt she could leave peacefully knowing I would be all right.

We lived together for 18 years, and every moment with her was filled with joy. Jason and I are choosing to remember her as she was before her illness: happy, healthy, ornery and downright sassy. Patches had a personality much larger than her tiny frame, and our apartment feels quiet without her. She was the best little mow I could imagine, and I feel so blessed to have had her in my life.

Posted by: mick | September 11, 2009

FO: Handspun Lacy Baktus

lacy baktusPattern: Lacy Baktus, Terhi  Montonen’s variation of Strikkelise’s Baktus pattern (Raveled here.)

Yarn: My own laceweight, handspun, Crisp Morning Corriedale from Cosy’s hand-dyed fiber

Needles: KnitPicks US Zeroes

Began: July 21, 2009 ; Completed: September 2, 2009

Notes:  I don’t think I could love this scarf any more if I tried.  The handspun was my first ever attempt at both a single and a laceweight, and I wanted something to show off the subtle color changes that first drew me to this fiber.  I originally cast-on for the non-lacy original, but it wasn’t working; instead, the simple eyelet lace pattern of Terhi’s version really made the color shifts stand out.  (The first picture provides a better idea of how I’ll wear it, but the second is more accurate as to color.  Don’t mind my non-smiley mug, I just wanted to hold still to get the photo done.  Love the random, brown end.)

This pattern was easy to memorize, quick to knit, and quite addictive.  I immediately wanted to cast on for a second (in the non-lacy version) with some KPPPM oddballs I have, but I’m forcing myself to wait.  In the meantime, I cannot wait for fall weather to hit SWMI, when I’ll wear this scarf pretty much all the time.  It’s a great way to use up all of a special yarn, as it’s easy to measure your quantity and know when you’re hitting exactly the halfway point.  This was my original plan but the scarf was getting pretty long, so I ended up with about a half ounce left, enough to do the edging on something lacy and light.  This simple, gorgeous item will definitely get a ton of wear this season.  Can’t wait!

baktus colors

Posted by: mick | September 6, 2009

FO: Feather and Fan Wedding Shrug

my first custom garment

Pattern: My own! (inspired by the Feather and Fan Shrug by Sólveig Sigurðardóttirand the Posh Wedding Shrug by Cecily Glowik MacDonald) (Raveled here.)

Yarn: KnitPicks Merino Lace in Bare, about 1/4 hank

Needles: Addi Turbo Lace #5s

Began: July 9, 2009 ; Completed: August 31, 2009

Notes:  When I got married in May, my old friend Lauren was an enormous help.  She yelled at the innkeeper when he was wildly inappropriate, kept the “older women” in check when assembling/hanging decorations, and kept me in Pinot Grigio while getting ready for the ceremony.  Now that she’s getting married next weekend, I knew I didn’t want to get her something off of her registry for her shower.  Hers is an outdoor ceremony, and I thought a shawl or shrug would be perfect in case of rain or chill (something I learned on my rainy, chilly wedding day).

Lauren is quite petite and so wanted a shrug, something that would cling to rather than drown her, and I happily compiled a sampling of lacy, pretty shrugs appropriate for a wedding.  Her response was one I hadn’t anticipated, however: she liked the Feather and Fan Shrug’s lace pattern, but the shaping and fit of the Posh Wedding Shrug.  Could I design something to combine them?

Wait.  She wanted me to design something?  I, whose sole designing experience spans the odd generic hat/sock and one lone camera case?  I was terrified: this is for her wedding!  If I screw up, she’ll hate me.

flower detailBut I dug in, got her measurements, and swatched away.  She wanted ivory, and the laceweight KnitPicks Bare was the perfect color and the perfect weight; I also wanted merino or something equally springy so the shrug would hug her in the right places.  I then knitted what was essentially a rectangle in Feather and Fan that was the length of her arms outstretched and across her back, from elbow to elbow, and the height of the base of her neck to the top of her dress in the back, with a 6 stitch garter edging on the sides.  I used a provisional cast-on, and then did a 3 needled bind-off on each end as long as her arms from armpit to elbow.  I then picked up the live stitches around the circumference of the neck/back and knitted 3 garter rows and finished it with a picot bind-off.  Then, I picked up and knit stitches around the garter edging of each sleeve, increased evenly across the row to get a multiple of 18 (for the F and F stitch), knitted two repeats, did 3 rows of garter, and bound off loosely.  A nice wet blocking and some pinning out of the picots later and I had a lovely, custom-designed shrug.

I’m quite pleased with the way this turned out: it’s my first design of a garment, and my first shrug.  I took some of my blue laceweight handpsun and embroidered a little flower at the bottom center of the shrug for her “something blue,” and I really love that little touch.  Lauren received the shrug and gave it her stamp of approval, too, and I can’t wait to see her in it next weekend Congratulations again, my friend!

Posted by: mick | September 2, 2009

Catching up to do

I’m back from my 3 week long trip back east, and a lot has happened since we left off.  Before I fill everyone in, please let me extend my deepest gratitude for your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes for my mom.  She is doing spectacularly well and, most importantly, has been declared cancer free and will not need to undergo further treatment.  Go team Basia!

And here, in no particular order, is what’s new with me:

  • I ran, and completed, my first 5k ever this past Saturday.  I’ve been working through the Couch to 5k training program all summer long, and I’m so happy with the results.  While I haven’t lost any weight, my clothes are fitting differently and I’m really enjoying running.  If running is something you’ve ever considered but you’re not sure where or how to begin, give this program a look.  I can’t recommend it enough; the gradual, interval based training made me feel empowered and never discouraged.
  • J and I did our first “real” hike in the Adirondacks with his mom and step-dad.  We had a great time (despite my taking a pretty major spill and hurting my knee/ankle on the way down.  Heavy rain plus tree roots equals me covered in mud).  The climb was difficult, I’m not going to lie, but the view from the top was well worth the climb. the peak
  • I came home to find two new magazines and Made in Brooklyn waiting for me.  I really like the designs in the new IK as well as a few in Vogue Knitting (a shock for me), but goodness gracious Made in Brooklyn is beautiful.  I have been bitten by the colorwork bug.  I think this fall I’ll be tackling my Endpaper Mitts, for which I’ve had the yarn for about two years now.
  • One of my photos from Prague was chosen for the Schmap virtual tourguide of the city.  It’s an Iphone app, but you can see the link with my photo here.  Pretty neat to see my name in (virtual) print!

I do have some knitting (and designing, yikes!) to report, but not nearly as much as I intended.  I lugged tons of yarn and books home, but I definitely overestimated my free-time.  I spent most of my time hanging out with mom and keeping her busy and occupied; she didn’t need nearly as much sleep as I thought she would!  This made for a very social, lovely time helping her recuperate.

So I’m back to my life here in MI, and am spending my time cuddling with the kitties and husband whom I missed so much, knitting, running, reading, taking a daily photo and building my syllabus for the fall.  Classes start one week from yesterday!

Posted by: mick | August 2, 2009

A brief hiatus

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a month now, but have been waiting both for more facts and until the emotional dust settled a bit.  On July 2nd, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time (she survived her first bout in spring of 2002).  The news was pretty upsetting at first, but since then she’s received a very positive prognosis: she most likely won’t need chemo and is expected to make a full recovery.  The lack of chemo is due to a surgical option which, while not as physically draining as chemo would have been, will definitely prove a challenging ordeal nonetheless.  My mom (or Basia as most of you know her on here) is one badass woman, and is meeting this challenge with strength, courage, humor and grace.  No one expected any less from her, as she’s always inspired everyone she knows with these qualities, which she possesses in abundance.  I debated whether or not to post this info on here, but in the end I know both she and I will appreciate kind thoughts, prayers, and all around good vibes sent her way over the next few weeks, and in the coming months as she undergoes reconstructive surgery.  I knew I could count on my blog buddies for all of these things.  Thanks, in advance, for all of your support.

The surgery she’s having (this Thursday the 6th) will require a 3-week healing period, during which Basia will be pretty limited in terms of physical activities.  I’m lucky that I’ve got time off this summer, which means I can head home and be with her for some of her recovery time.  I’ve got lots of plans for good, homemade, healthy cooking, gardening, cleaning, and quality time on the sofa with mom.  I’m so lucky that I can be there to help wherever I can, and I know that time with her  family will do mom worlds of good.

This means that I’ll be taking a break from blogging and posting on Flickr for a while.  I won’t be taking a break from knitting, however, as lots of quiet time at home means lots of knitting time.  I laid out my WIPs for packing today, and here’s what I came up with.

WIP packing

(Head on over to my Flickr page for details).

And lest you worry that I’m slacking, never fear: I’ve got 5 comps books already packed in my bag.  So take care, thanks again in advance for your kindness, and I’ll catch up with you all in a few weeks with some knitted FOs to share.

Posted by: mick | July 26, 2009

A little late

crisp morning roving

So I originally claimed I’d be spinning this fiber on May 26th.  I was a little late, but I blame that on a research project, the move, and some knitting and reading that got in the way.  When I lost my knitting mojo last week, though, I decided to take a day off and spend it with my wheel.

crisp morning laceweight

J and I had a movie day last Saturday, and I spun up all of this fiber into a lace weight single.  I ended up with about 665 yards in all, and pretty much immediately cast on for a Lacy Baktus.

lacy baktus wip

This picture is shamefully out of date, as I’ve been knitting on this while watching tv/movies or taking little breaks from reading.  I’ve always found it addictive to see stripes knit up in yarn, and I’m finding it even moreso when it’s yarn I spun myself.  I can’t wait to finish this, and I can’t wait for fall weather.

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