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Finally Some Knitting - My Hitofude Cardigan

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Finally Some Knitting - My Hitofude Cardigan

It seems to me that interesting sweater construction is very much a trend in modern knitwear design. I'm grateful for this, as knitting the same sweater recipe with different numbers over and over can get a little dull. The Hitofude Cardigan by Hiroko Fukatsu is anything but boring, and has a new-to-me construction that provided a fun challenge.

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The whole point of Hitofude is that you can knit the entire thing without breaking your yarn. It begins as a rectangle, morphs into a shrug, gains a border, and then grows a gorgeous flared skirt, all while maintaining a simple but gorgeous lace pattern. It's a pattern that requires a little trust on the knitter's part, but pays off with a lovely reward that is part sweater, part shrug and part shawl. 

I used Swans Island Merino Fingering in the Beetroot colourway. I couldn't have asked for a softer, lighter yarn or a better match for the garment. The yardage required by the pattern is quite low, while the yardage provided by the yarn is surprisingly high. I had three skeins, and despite making a sweater that comfortably fits about a 2X, I have the better part of one left over.

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I'll be the first to admit the style of the sweater doesn't make me look thinner. If that's a concern for you, take it into account. It's very drapey and looks its best on a more willowy figure. It is, however, a gorgeous item of clothing, and I'm going to wear what I want, regardless of whether it makes me look like I've lost five pounds.

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My only complaint about the whole process is that the yarn, which is naturally dyed organic Merino wool, bleeds like a stuck (blue) pig. It's indigo based, and unfortunately indigo is a dye that comes off on your hands and needles as you work. This is just a part of the nature of indigo, and no fault of the dyer, but it's distracting and irritating all the same. I did some research on indigo to see if I could reduce the mess, and the short answer is no. If you want to hear more of what I learned, check out episode four of my podcast, towards the end of the recording.

  I wish you could buy a single pair of shoes in two different sizes. Come on left foot, why you gotta be so short?

I wish you could buy a single pair of shoes in two different sizes. Come on left foot, why you gotta be so short?

Isn't it a pretty thing? I love this whole outfit, actually. The shoes, which I bought a week ago for a whole $19 at Target, are the first purely pretty sandals I've owned in years and years. I feel like there need to be more pretty shoes in my future. And possibly a pedicure of some sort - my feet look grumpy.

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While I was taking outfit pictures I also grabbed a shot of our lilac tree. Isn't it a beauty? It doesn't have the same distinctive scent as a purple lilac, but it's lovely all the same. Thank goodness for spring.

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Plants Need Mothers Too

Happy Mother's Day to you ladies who nurture children. The world is better for your dedication and effort. You know what else needs nurturing? Plants!

One of my less exciting works in progress is my veggie garden. I don't have a yard, but my sunroom is essentially a greenhouse, so I am trying my best to grow a few food-producing plants. The planning stage was full of wishful thinking and high hopes.

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I started the plants from seed (which yielded way fewer sprouts than the germination percentages on the seed packets suggested) and within about three weeks I had wee plants! My attempt at sprouting sweet potato slips failed though - I got impatient and we ate the host potato. One can only be so nurturing.

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I have cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, and peppers. Rei is also growing a sunflower, because they pretty much grow themselves. Things are coming along nicely!

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I have had a few minor neglect-related setbacks (who knew they needed water on hot days?) and one of the beans is in intensive care because Rei tried to make two plants hug.

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Hopefully the plants that survive yield tasty veggies, but for now they make a nice backdrop for my yarn. Let's be honest, it's all about yarn here.

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Are you growing anything right now? What are your thoughts on container gardening? Any advice is appreciated!

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Here Comes the Rain

If you're not from around here, you probably don't know it, but up until Thursday we were having a real beast of a drought. It was beautiful and sunny almost every day from late July onward: streams started drying up, fire hazards soared, and yours truly got a bit of a tan. But now, now it rains. I really looked forward to this rain, and other than the whole dog-walking thing, I'm enjoying it immensely. It does mean that I have had to make a few shop changes - in the cloudy months I can't get enough natural light in my light box to get true colours in my product photos. I've decided to just scrap the box for now, and take pictures on our back stairs. They look a little less professional, but the colour is much better and it works, rain or shine. I do have to stand with my back out of cover, which means I got sopping wet taking pictures today and the ass of my jeans is still soggy. The things I do for the love of yarn....

I got some nice rain pictures though!

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Rhapsody in Green

I have spent most of the past week wiping snotty noses (both mine and Rei's) and living under the fog of what I can only pin down as a really terrible cold or a really fantastic flu. My usual blogging method  involves dumping a bunch of pictures in my "To Blog" folder and then dealing with them later - when I went to peruse them today (my first day of mental clarity since Tuesday) I realized the last week's photos are all green! Bingo, said I! A theme!

This is my latest skein of handspun. It's 214 grams, and 605 metres (662 yards, but I'm trying to do my patriotic duty and move in a more metric direction) of fingering weight 2ply. The fibre looked like this:

And was purchased from Hummingbird Fibre Arts - a local-ish vendor. It's organic Romney (wool), alpaca, and silk. I'm not sure how I feel about it - the spinning experience left something to be desired what with the vegetal matter and second cuts falling out hither and thither, and the colour isn't really saturated enough for my tastes, but it is shiny and drapey and rather pretty. It'll be good for a lacy somethingorother.

Next up, the garden! We weren't getting ANY sun in the back yard/patio/thing because of our overzealous tree, so nothing was growing. We live in a great co-op that welcomes families of all income levels, which means that there isn't a lot of money floating around for things like professional arborists. So, with Jake's help (well ok, he did all the physical cutting, I just dragged branches around and shouted orders), I gave the tree a haircut. A terrible, sloppy looking, jaggedy haircut that I am sure it is totally embarrassed of.

This is what came off:

Which is a lot. Particularly considering that that pile is what it looks like after we cut it into more stackable chunks. But now the sun shines fully on my planters for several hours each day! So I finally planted tomatoes:

Look at all the little baby lettuces! And the strawberries! And my zucchini is flourishing! Yay for gardens.

My final bit of green? A PSA for all you yarn-lovers. Please, for the love of all that is good and fair and right, do NOT store yarn with mothballs. A friend bought this gorgeous yarn in a destash, and when it arrived it reeked (through three layers of plastic) of noxious chemicals. I was doing some dye work for her, so she asked me to wash the deathly smelly yarn while I was at it. It now only smells a bit musty, but do you know what it took? Two washes with dawn soap, a 6 hour vinegar soak, a long wash in Eucalan, innumerable rinses, and a week (A WEEK) hanging up outside between washes to blow around in the wind. The mothball chemicals burned any broken skin on my hands (I have a semi-psychotic cat, broken skin is a necessary part of this lifestyle choice) when I put them in the soak water. I really though that the smell wasn't going to come out. And look what was nearly ruined:

It's impeccably dyed, and a luscious merino/cashmere blend. It would have been a crime against yarn-kind. So please, please - no mothballs. They're toxic and terrible. The best way to prevent moths is constant vigilance. Take out the stash every once-in-a-while; shake out the skeins and get them some sun. Store them in ziplocs and then in plastic. Throw in lavender or cedar, if it makes you happy, but they're mostly useless. Light and agitation are your friends. I'm through with mothball yarn.

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Vegetable Babies!

This year's veggies are (almost all) in the dirt! I still need to put in a few tomato plants but it keeps raining. I don't garden in the rain. There's commitment, and then there's wet, soggy misery.

Planting Day

Sage, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano

Thai Basil, Garlic Chives, Sweet Basil

Zucchini

Baby Beans! So cute and green...

Before that we had spring flowers, which were lovely. They're all but gone now, and many of the flowering things don't look like they'll bloom at all this year, but that's OK because they're new and small and not well established. Give them a year and I'm sure they'll be fabulous.

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