Posts Tagged ‘family’

GAL and Small Business Saturday

So my Knit Picks order finally arrived:

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And after a bit of fondling the alpaca that came in the box, I cast on Eloina for the GAL. To be totally honest I bought the pattern purely because it’s pretty, and I have no real need for it. That’s lucky, because when the yarn arrived it was not remotely the same color it looks like on my computer. I really should have known better, because purple is always a tricky color and Knit Picks colors tend to run warm compared to what my computer shows. Nonetheless, it turned out to be a shade of “purple” (pinkish purple) that will look fantastic on my sister, so now she is getting surprise socks in addition to her other Christmas gift.

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Yes, that really is my standard for unsolicited handknits. “I have the yarn and the pattern anyway, and even if you hate it at least I got to knit something really fun and you got something else too”. Seems like a pretty fair standard to me.

Last Saturday Hubby also suggested going out shopping for Small Business Saturday, which he insisted should include a stop at our LYS (God I love him). So I came home with a gorgeous new hunk of roving from a trunk show Flying Goat Farm was having, and some Berroco Vintage for remaking the Irish Moss Gloves Hubby has worn out. This one isn’t an unsolicited knit; he actually specifically requested it when he suggested LYS shopping. Have I mentioned what a smart decision I made in marrying him?

2015-11-28 15.45.26

In any case I will cast on the Irish Moss golves and a Brumby Jill as soon as I finish the Eloina socks. Add that to the  scrumptious alpaca design still on the needles and I certainly won’t run out of stitchwork anytime soon!

A Sweater for My Man

I promised last week that I’d share the whole sweater-picking process Hubby and I went through, and I am absolutely a woman of my word. First we talked about the sweater he’d seen on vacation and I tried to figure out what it was he liked about it. Eventually we came up with a gist – he wanted a light weight sweater with “not too much” texture, especially on the lower half, and a “thing” near the neckline that could have been a shawl collar or modified shawl collar or even a henley neckline. He also definitely wanted a pullover and not a cardigan.

With that in mind we went to the miracle that is Ravelry’s advanced pattern search. I keyed in fingering weight, since that seemed to be about the heaviest of any of the things in our closet he thought would be acceptable, and I’d really rather not knit a man’s sweater in anything lighter than that! Then I checked “pullover”, “male”, “adult”, and “has photo”.

options

While 105 options is significantly fewer than the same parameters would’ve given me for a women’s pattern, it’s still a rather overwhelming number. Luckily Hubby was feeling brave and plenty patient, not to mention totally unembarrassed to eliminate most of them out of hand (honestly I’d have done the same). We eventually discovered that he has a taste for Brooklyn Tweed patterns, which helped narrow down the choices significantly.

brooklyn tweed

There are 7 men’s tops currently published by Brooklyn Tweed, but the Husbeast has Strong Opinions about appropriate sweater weight and the acceptability of things like ribbing on sweaters, so none of them was quite right. We decided we would use a few of his favorite features from the sweaters for inspirations and I would design the perfect husband sweater just for him. Then I dragged him out to multiple yarn shops and craft stores to fondle yarn. I swear I had no ulterior motives. 😉

It is frequently difficult to find sweater quantities of a yarn in an LYS, especially man-sizes, but I wanted him to at least see colors and touch fabrics in person before we ordered the necessary amounts. He was still surprisingly hard to impress, as everything was too bright or too fuzzy or too “They want you to pay what for that tiny little ball?” for our purposes, especially in sock weights. Much to my surprise, in spite of his initial “Ew, acrylic” comment we wound up with a synthetic yarn. It turns out Woolike is much softer and nicer than his original conception of acrylic. The fact that he won’t have to worry about hand-washing or accidentally destroying it was appealing too.

woolike

It helps that it also comes in a nice, deep navy that we both liked. It’s almost unnervingly inexpensive as well. Good thing, because it turns out you really need a truly stunning amount of yardage to make a fingering weight sweater in a men’s large! I spent most of my (very limited, sadly) free time this past week doing up the math for the pattern, and may actually be able to get to knitting in the next few days if I find some time between yarn shipments for my actual paid knitting (and of course, the day job). More details to come!

Vacation Part 3: London

This has been the most fun part of the series to write, not because London was so much more fun than Norway, but because I’ve been back at school for over a week now and all the positive effects of vacation had worn off until I started writing and remembering. Sadly London was also the end of my vacation.

Because we had some time between when the boat got in and when we had to be home, and we didn’t know when we’d be able to afford to come to that side of the world again, we decided to take a whirlwind tour of London before we went home. And I do mean whirlwind. When we got in we dropped our suitcases at the hotel and immediately hopped on the Tube. We set out for Picadilly Circus first.

picadilly circus

 

It really was reminiscent of Times Square with more interesting architecture. After that we fought our way through the crowds to get a peek at Buckingham Palace. It was really pretty absurd trying to get any decent pictures of any part of it, because there are always 700 other people trying to get the same exact picture, and they’re usually closer. Then of course there’s the fact that to get the whole palace in a photo, you have to be far enough back to also get the crowds and the traffic lights and street lamps in the photo! I was actually a little surprised not to see a huge green in front of it like you get with old plantation houses(the closest thing to a castle we have here in Virginia)!

buckingham beefeater

 

Since we were there, we decided to hang out in St. James Park for a while afterward and try and regain a little peace, so to speak. We quite enjoyed the famous pelicans and the fuzzy adolescent swans. And yes, that is September Storms in the photo. London was chilly!

st. james park fuzzy swans

 

Our next big visit on the list was Westminster Palace/Abbey and Big Ben. Getting there was just as crowded as Buckingham, but thankfully the area around it wasn’t quite such a zoo. We were also excited to discover Parliament just down the street. I’d never realized just how centralized a lot of the Big Stuff is in the “City of Westminster”, which was another term I’d never heard used before.

big ben westminster

 

We were unfortunately unable to visit the Royal Mews (people who know me in real life will know what a horse nut I am and how disappointed that was) because there was a rather large horse show going on, and the line to get in was so long we couldn’t even ask about ticket prices or we may have gone to the show instead. Instead we took some photos of the iconic London Eye across the Thames (I was too chicken to go up in something that high) and then went to the Portrait Gallery.

london eye portrait museum

Imagine pretty much every picture of a historical figure you’ve seen on Wikipedia in one building. That’s London’s Portrait Gallery. It really puts D.C.’s to shame. I was particularly in awe of the Tudor wing.

We also hung out in Seven Dials (how’s that for a neighborhood name?) for a while enjoying their poetry and art festival, and then did some more nothing in Trafalgar Square, because how can you not?

seven dials 383

Later that afternoon we wandered into the Theatre District, but sadly did not have time to actually see a play. Instead we enjoyed seeing what was playing where, and then had the most stereotypically British dinner we could manage in one of the nearby pubs. It was pretty crowded, so we wound up sharing our booth with an awesome pair from Scotland who’d come down for a girls’ weekend/ play marathon. That’s Speckled Hen we’re drinking, if you’re interested.

national theatre pub dinner

 

You want to know the really amazing part of our stay in London though? Hubby asked for a sweater. Not a store-bought sweater, thank goodness, but for me to make him a sweater. Hubby never wears sweaters, and barely wears hand-knits. But he saw a sweater he actually liked in a store window, looked at it and literally said, “Ew, it’s made of acrylic. You could probably make something like this, right?” Then he asked if we could go yarn shopping for it soon. I about fell over dead. So excited!

Thirsty Thirty

The Husbeast turns 30 today, and has requested we spend the day at the local microbrewery. Since the weather is gorgeous, he has deigned to also visit one or two of the local wineries. Naturally I’m bringing socks.

socks

Yes, those are indeed the self-striping comfort socks. As you can see, by the time I got up the energy to cast them on I didn’t really need them anymore, but they will certainly serve me well for a day of buzzed outdoor knitting. Off to find the sunscreen!

P.S. This is why living near wineries is awesome:

winery

Messy Stress Knitting

My life is the messy bit right now, between having surprise-hosted Easter yesterday, the exhausting family dramas that caused and resulted from surprise-hosting Easter yesterday, the surprise late frost last night (poor garden!), and a bit of serious yuck at work today. Unfortunately, the main knitting projects I have going right now are both my own design, and thus nowhere near mindless or comforting. What’s a stressed knitter to do?

package

Can you hear it? It says, “Christinaaaa…come and knit meeee!”

There’s a responsible part of me that doesn’t want to cast on yet another project, even if that awesome self-striping sock yarn in my stash is calling my name. There’s another part of me that knows if I don’t have something mindless to knit on at times like this, I won’t knit at all. Maybe spinning. That could be mindless and meditative. If the wool cooperates.

What’s your go-to stress craft?

Snowy Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! We got such an epic (for this region) snowfall yesterday that Hubby actually took his first snow day since high school and stayed home. Being a teacher, I also got to stay home. So, since Hubby is back at work today, we actually got more snuggly couple time together yesterday that we probably will tonight. See?

sunrise

This is what we woke up to just before sunrise, and the fact that the plows had not been through yet (and in fact didn’t come through until about 4 pm) is why we stayed home. As a nice bonus, it meant we got to watch the first U.S. men’s hockey game of the Olympics live instead of having it ruined before we could watch it that evening. It continued to snow, and by the time the dog wanted to go out it was pretty absurd out. We took a nice family walk down to the pond, although Athena really did more of a bound than a walk. The snow was a bit deep for her to be able to walk, but she persevered enthusiastically nonetheless.

snow leap

The short walk took much, much longer than normal and by the time we got home Hubby had gotten a call from his mother begging him to go dig out her driveway so she could get home. Apparently she had worked overnight and even once the major roads were clear she had no way of getting to her house/shovel because of the foot of snow blocking the doors! Of course that meant we had to dig ourselves out first. Again, this is what we were facing:

midday

It took about an hour to dig ourselves out, and then Hubby valiantly insisted I go inside to knit and warm up while he dug his mother out. Awwww. After not really a whole lot of persuading I agreed, put on some black bean chili, and produced this:

sock

By the time he got home he was quite ready for cuddling in front of a fire. So that’s what we did. Pretty much the rest of the night. We did save something special for tonight though. Behold the delicious that has been taunting me allllll day:

yum

Yep, still gonna be a good night.

Knitting My (Eastern European) Heritage

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I did a Knitting History post! Here are my previous heritage posts on Ireland and Germany, for those (not so) new to the blog.

I can claim a significant amount of Eastern European heritage, from a number of different nations and cultures. Unfortunately, several centuries of political instability in Eastern Europe has limited the amount of written records available on “insignificant” things like knitting, particularly if I try to narrow it down to, say, just Czech knitting history or just Slovenian knitting history. So for the sake of practicality, I’m am doing a more generic “Eastern European knitting” post.

dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia

First, like English and Continental style knitting, there is a style of knitting generally referred to as “Eastern European”. There are really several sub-styles here, just as English and Continental are both sub-styles of Western knitting. Eastern European knitting is distinct from Western styles because of the angle of the stitch. The side of the loop facing the knitter leans left on the needle, rather than right as in Western styles. You also insert your needle in the back of the stitch rather than the front.

eastern kntting

Photo by Maja via Cloopco

One of the earliest examples of advanced knitting techniques was found in Estonia – a partial Votic mitten with beautiful color work. Archaeologists have determined that it was knit in the Eastern style, and while it was found in the 1940s it was most likely knit in the 13th century. The fragment was found in a Votic woman’s grave. Charmingly, they even found one teeny little mistake in it – a twisted stitch.

votic mitten

Votic Mitten Fragment via strangelove.net

Elsewhere in the Baltic region, plenty more mittens and eventually gloves have been found which date between the 12th and 15th centuries. Tradition in the Baltic region stated that a young woman would be judged by the quality and beauty of the family’s worth of mittens she brought with her dowry, so mittens were often one of the first things a girl would learn to knit. It makes sense that so many of them, then, have survived til today.

baltic mittens

Kids’ mittens photo: Estonian National Museum fund number ERM A556:23//ab

The Balkans can also lay claim to very early examples of knitting, which makes sense if you consider that many scholars believe knitting originated in the Middle East. The Balkans were invaded by the Ottoman Empire well before most of Europe had regular interaction with the Muslim world. Bosnian sock knitting is a more recent trend inspired by the traditional patterns of the Balkans. These were traditionally knit in black and white and used more like slippers than boot socks. After all, why would you want to hide all that color work?!

bosnian socks

Bosnian Socks by Donna Druchunas via Knitty

You could tell a lot about an Eastern European by the socks they wore. Muslim men in the Balkans and Southeast Europe knit their own white stockings, whereas the fashion among Christians in Slavic parts of the Balkans leaned toward elaborately floral stockings. Bridal socks from Macedonia and other parts of Southeastern Europe showed a strong Turkish influence with bands of horizontal color work. Kind of makes me wonder what my socks say about me.

This is just a small collection of info I managed to piece together from various books and websites. If you have more info or clarifications, I would absolutely love to hear it. Please share!

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