Surprises Inside and Out

There is probably only one regular reader of this blog who will understand the significance of this color combination. Let’s just say a Valentine’s Day surprise is in the works for that individual, with photos forthcoming as soon as the surprise is complete!

The daphne buds below could not go unremarked. So much more voluminous than the normal flower clusters on the daphne bushes in my garden, I thought I was hallucinating when I first noticed it. Seriously, this is the equivalent of expecting a litter of three kittens but waking up to find that your cat has instead produced a dozen little ones, all of them adorable, and all of them with that weird extra toe on their paws. But rather than having to find homes for a dozen little felines, this prodigious cluster of buds means simply that the daphne will be all the more fragrant as we head into spring. And that’s okay with me.


Here’s a peek at a couple of things I’ve been working on this month that are not yet for public consumption.’s Lana Pura is 100% Tasmanian Wool, and has a delicious springy softness. I bought a couple of bags after Bonne Marie mentioned it in her blog, and have not been disappointed. It knits up nicely on US size 5 needles, or doubled on US size 8s. It’s available in a lovely range of colors, but I gravitated toward the natural ones; upon close inspection, each skein has delicate, tweedy color variations that are not evident from a casual glance.

Working with Sundara’s yarns is always a pleasure, and her Aran Silky Merino is one of my perennial favorites. Although I tend to gravitate toward her clear, brighter palette, this moody and dramatic crushed merlot shade:

inexplicably called out to me. I had to buy a couple of skeins even without a specific project in mind. She does such dark, complex shades particularly well. The woman is a yarn-dying zen master (mistress…). When I first opened the package containing this yarn, I literally gasped because it was so beautiful, full of depth and the subtle sheen of the silk fiber. Now, after much thought, I have designed a specific project (two, to be precise) for this yarn and am hard at work. More later.

All Right Already! Enough Rain…

It has been raining since January 16th, to be precise. Knowing how badly we need it, I haven’t wanted to complain. Kept telling myself how good the moist air is for the skin. Kept breaking out the baseball caps and my Indiana Jones felted wool hat to keep the rain off my glasses when I venture outside. Kept poking around in the garden to see what new spring bulbs are sprouting and budding. Kept brewing comforting cups of tea while working indoors. You get the idea.

But lately, early every morning when I first open the drapes to face the day, it feels as if we live in Seattle, or another equally rainy location. There has been such dense fog in the mornings that we cannot see the hills behind our house until well into the afternoon, if at all. For nearly two weeks now, the pool appears to be on the verge of overflowing, and don’t even get me started on the picturesque way the french drains around the perimeter of the house have backed up, forming small pools in their own right as they make agonized gurgling noises. So all right already. Enough is enough. Not that I can do anything about it.

Much knitting going on off-camera, but a bit here and there that I can share. Yes, the February Lady Sweater now has one complete sleeve. I may yet get to wear it in February, as I hoped. By the end of next week, I’ll have a break in the secret knitting projects and hope to complete the other sleeve then. Working this sweater has been a tremendous learning experience for me. I seldom knit garments from the top-down, and the FLS has me wondering why I don’t do it more often. The construction is almost ridiculously simple, although the absence of seams gives the finished garment – at least to my mind – a bit less structure, less of a framework for stability.

And this project has given me the opportunity to experiment with shorter circular needles to work up the sleeves. I had high hopes for the 7″ long KA bamboo circs I purchased a while back (Unicorn Books & Crafts, Inc.), but found them waaay too short to work comfortably on these sleeves. So I bought a pair of the Addi 12″ long metal circs, and found them so slippery that I eventually gave them up for my trusty double-pointed bamboo needles from Clover. Just call me Goldilocks, but the dpns worked just fine until I came within the last few inches of the sleeve cuff. Then I switched back to the Addi circs, determined to give them one more try. I don’t really understand the difference, but this time they worked just fine; my stitches were in no danger of slipping off, and the length worked well for a sleeve knit in the round. Perhaps the sleeve was long enough at that point that I wasn’t worried about the bulk of the sweater body bogging me down. Whatever it was, I am now a convert.