Passiflora Errata

It has come to my attention that there is a problem with the lace charts in my Passiflora pattern, and I wanted to let knitters know how much I appreciate the feedback.

Something got lost in translation between submission of the pattern and its publication, and instead of stacking the yarn-overs and the ssk/k2tog repeats one above the other throughout the lace charts, the published versions show these stitches offset by one stitch place. What a perfect example of how one tiny error, repeated over the expanse of any lace pattern, will result in a complete inability to reproduce the lace correctly.  A few clever (and fearless and perhaps more experienced) knitters have been willing to experiment and discover the correct stitch placement on their own. As a proponent of trial and error myself, I am in awe of these intrepid individuals since my own efforts don’t always produce the desired results.

Please rest assured that the fine people at Twist are all over it, and that the pattern updates with corrections will be published shortly. Your patience is much appreciated, as well as all the kind feedback about my debut pattern. My post with further details about it appeared on the Twist blog here, for those who crave more information about my inspirations and intentions for Passiflora.

For those wishing to substitute yarn for the tunic, I was pleased with the performance of Sundara’s Aran Silky Merino. I used it to swatch the lace motifs, and found that it had both the soft drape and the lovely sheen to bring the lace motifs into beautiful relief. Another good option would be Sublime’s Bamboo and Pearls DK. Again, it has both the drape and the sheen to pull those lace motifs into sharp focus, but will require careful blocking to prevent it from growing too much.

Many thanks to Twist for publishing this pattern, and to Caro Benna Sheridan for her lovely photographs. Her work highlights all the best features of my design.

Twist Collective Spring issue: Passiflora!

I’ve been looking forward to the launch of Twist Collective’s Spring issue for quite some time, and here’s the reason:

The Passiflora tunic is my debut design for this wonderful magazine. I couldn’t be happier with the photography, the styling, or with the way the editors highlighted the various lace elements of the design. In creating Passiflora, I designed a reversible garment because I appreciate that kind of versatility in my own wardrobe. It can be worn as shown in the Twist photo with the modest single lace panel in front, or with the more revealing, repeating lace panel facing the world, depending on how much skin the wearer is comfortable showing off. I’d probably wear it with a camisole in either case, but I’m also thinking it would look adorable with a fitted teeshirt underneath.

Here’s the back-to-front option:

My other goal with this design was to create a simple garment with drape and ease in all the right places; the kind of tunic you wear out to dinner not just because it looks pretty (although that’s an awfully good reason right there!), but because you also know you can make a total pig of yourself   lick your plate clean  eat a proper meal and not worry about whether your Spanx investment is up to the job. Sometimes we just can’t stop ourselves from overindulging, and Passiflora makes those occasions a lot more comfortable.

Counting Down

I’ll pick up my knitting needles again this weekend for the first time in a month. PT is helping with the flexibility in my hand, and I prefer to believe that knitting will only supplement the progress I’ve made despite all indications to the contrary. First up, finish the last sleeve of my February Lady Sweater, which did not get completed in February after all.

Although Spring is fully underway here, I should get lots of end-of-season wear out of it in the evening when the temperatures still dip down into the 40’s. I may need some votes on the button choices, however, and will post photos of the options.

Next up is a secret project that I’m excited to start on, as well as a couple of other projects that have been languishing in my WIP pile for far too long considering how close they are to completion. Another cardigan is one of those WIPS, and it’s still in the WIP pile because I got discouraged at how small it seems in its unblocked form even though I made a few sizing modifications. It’s the Mr. Greenjeans pattern from Knitty’s Fall 2007 issue. Now that I’ve taken another look at it, I am hopeful that my yarn choice (Elann’s Peruvian Sierra Aran in a luscious bottle green) will block out nicely. Again, just one sleeve to go!

A Wave Is As Good As a Salute

I’m not sure what’s up with the military references the last post or two, but I’ve been pre-occupied with hands lately because of my recent surgery.

I got the stitches taken out of my right hand today, so I couldn’t be happier. In two weeks, with any luck I’ll be knitting again – once the physical therapy has had time to kick in. Even now, my hand feels better than I expected. I can bend and flex the two fingers that were operated on and although it hurts to make a fist, I’ll be working on that exercise to re-build my flexibility. What a relief!

More recent appearances in the garden:

I’m always amazed at how tenacious the California poppies are. The seeds scatter in the fall, and rebloom reliably each spring – but ONLY in the sections of the garden where they get full sun. They are concentrated in the front, and have (so far) never gotten a toehold in the back garden. The hostas return every spring. This is when they look their best, actually – before the snails and slugs get to them.

All-Volunteer Army

An all-volunteer army of flowers blooming, that is. Now that the rain has stopped and the sun has come out, the garden has exploded. Much of what I’m finding was planted years ago… gotta love those perennials.

Each year the mounds of low-growing blooms spread more widely across the ground.

The daffodils and narcissi bulbs divide themselves underground so that every year the clusters are more heavily populated.

These black callas are always among my favorites, despite the fact that they smell like elephant dung and bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain human anatomical feature…

Not that I’m complaining. For melodrama in the garden, they really can’t be beat. Plus, that chartreuse and deep merlot color combination is a visual thrill.

The Sap Is Rising

It doesn’t look like much, but the plum tree is budding out. I’m encouraged, since last year it nearly succumbed to a strange infestation of what looked like tiny aphids, resulting in leaf curl much like that which occurs on the peach tree if it doesn’t get all of its sprayings during the dormant season. These fat little buds seem promising, although I won’t really know for sure how healthy the tree is until it begins to leaf out a few weeks from now. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, the double hellebore never fails to wow me! Unlike the single-flowering hellebores with their cascades of blossoms, it may have only three flowers on it, but I’m grateful even for those.

Mellow Yellow

While I’m out and about visiting family this week, let me share what’s happening in the garden. All the knitting will be accompanying me in my travels, so expect to see more knitting content upon my return.

I’m just mad about yellow… especially when it appears in the form of spring’s first daffodil.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Looks like a daffodil to me!

Gardening in February?

Well, uh… yes! If you happen to live in northern California, gardening is pretty much a year-round pursuit. Besides the cool weather veggies we grow (that would be Kale, lettuce, radishes, sugar snap peas, and chard), there are the flowers. They actually require little effort from me other than twining the occasional rose cane around its fence support. Mostly, what they seem to enjoy is my appreciation… lots of oohing and aahing at their reliable show of color, scent, and ability to perform on command.

What I realize is that many of these winter bloomers are the colors of my favorite yarns as well. For years it was nearly impossible to find a really “good” yellow. Yellow seemed to be out of favor, and the yarn shops were limited only to insipid “baby blanket” shades or – at the opposite end of the spectrum – truly obnoxious, day-glo yellow that was more reminiscent of a traffic sign than of anything one would care to knit up into a garment (unless you happened to be a school crossing guard, for example). But for a while now, yellow has been having a moment. There is every tint out there from palest buttercream to squash blossom to sunflower to mustard, and every shade in between, and they are all perfectly smashing. Forthwith, I give you Crocuses:

Back in the 1980’s, a very popular color scheme in interior design combined two revolting, putrid, thoroughly appalling shades of mauve and gray. Fortunately, knitting had not yet undergone its renaissance in popular culture (which meant the craft was far less tied to the fashion world and to current color trends than it is today), and thus we knitters were mercifully not subjected to yarn-y incarnations of these heinous colors. Now, though, when one sees gray yarn, it may be anywhere in the spectrum from fog to thundercloud, and every skein is gorgeous. But the color family that includes “mauve” has stepped far more dramatically into the 21st century. From the most delicate shell pink to the richest, most saturated cabernet, mauve is enjoying its turn in the limelight. My own preferred version includes, not surprisingly, Hellebores:

For the last year I’ve been perplexed to detect in myself a growing fondness for the color purple. And I’m someone who NEVER liked purple. I absolutely did not wear amethyst jewelry, would not deign to own a single item of clothing that could be called ‘purple’, and would turn up my nose at any and all yarns that included a single, even vaguely purple strand. But suddenly (and maybe this is attributable to hormones, like every other unexplainable thing that has happened to me for the last two or three years), I LOVE purple. I adore lilac (oh, swoon – those slightly dirty, grayed-down lavendars are divine, are they not?), and can’t get enough yarn in the color range I refer to as ‘orchid.’ I must accept that deep, mysterious eggplant tones now monopolize an obscene amount of shelf space in my yarn stash. But let us not forget my favorites, the sweetest of all, the Violets:

Happy Birthday, Jenny!

Happy birthday to my lovely and loving, compassionate and spirited, age-defying baby sister.

Here is a little birthday bouquet, especially for you:

It is a privilege to know you, let alone to be related to you. I hope you have made wonderful plans to celebrate your day!

Pruning is Good

Especially when it yields a bouquet of this magnitude. The coral bark maple by our front walk achieved truly stunning growth over the last year, to the point that it was considerably taller than the roof and needed to be taken down a few feet (if only to keep squirrels and the rest of the local rodent population from using its branches as ladders). These cuttings demonstrate how the coral bark maple tree got its name, don’tcha think?

Fabulous February

Yes, I know that in many parts of the country February is bloody cold, snowy, windy, etc. Here in the Bay area, if we are lucky it will continue to rain. The forecast is promising… because we really need it. But February is a wonderful month, too, in my estimation. My father, a sister, and my aunt all have their birthdays this month (Dad is turning 89 – you rock, Dad!). My anniversary is this month (13 pretty terrific years).

Knitting magazines ask for design submissions for their FALL issues this month – planning six months in advance is the kind of challenge I relish, even though it means I can’t talk about any of the ideas I submit.

 I’m going to see family this month, including a detour to visit my daughter at college. Since I’ll be on the east coast anyway, it was pretty easy to justify the trek to see my only offspring in situ. Since my dad has a rare form of cancer (and an appointment with his oncologist is the main reason my trip is scheduled for that week), and my mom has what we euphemistically refer to as “memory issues” (which get more severe by the week), I try to get out to see them as often as possible, and now that my little girl is a mere four and a half hours away by car… you get the picture.

Meanwhile, I picked the first navel oranges from our tree. Just a few; there are about a dozen more left on the tree, which is, I say in its defense, a very small navel orange tree. In fact, it has been relocated twice over the years to progressively sunnier areas of the garden, and was nearly given up for dead at one point. Thankfully it rallied, and these oranges are among the sweetest I’ve ever eaten!

Where Have I Been?

Make that: Where have I BEEN? Amazing how easy it was for me to get out of the habit of blogging when nearly three weeks of travel are thrown into the mix. I know, I know, for some bloggers that would be an opportunity to post copiously from far and wide, but I am clearly not one of those bloggers. However, when both of my two readers (OK, there are probably more than that, but you know who you are, R and V!) send me concerned emails wondering where have I been and why haven’t I been blogging, it’s time to get back on the horse. My daughter was home from college for a week, and then we all took off to visit family for both Christmas (New York):

 and New Year’s (Ohio).

 We celebrated one very big birthday (my sister’s):

Who really appreciated the sentiment expressed on her cake (“Don’t Ask”):

And made the astonishing discovery that all three of us have the identical black down coat – and on a frigid night in New York City, naturally we all wore it:

And we saw a few movies; Avatar (yes, in a 3-D theater – worth the extra few bucks for that experience), Up In The Air (never saw it coming, George), and It’s Complicated (I’d watch Meryl Streep doing her laundry, if it came to that). Since returning home to my “normal” life, I’ve also seen A Single Man and The Young Victoria, and this totals up to more movies – in a movie theater, with popcorn and all – in the space of a month than I saw in all of 2009. This makes me a good representative of the average American who has been seeking out little entertaining respites from all the bad news in the world.

You’ve undoubtedly noticed a distinct lack of knitting content in the entry above. And here’s the reason: I’ve been knitting like a demon (and have the sore hands to prove it), but it has all been secret knitting. Three projects the details of which I cannot share until their publications come out for the world to see. What I can show is that my long-suffering February Lady Sweater now has most of one sleeve. I’m tellin’ ya, that sweater may actually be completed in February, and no one will be happier than I.

I also attended a full-day machine-knitting workshop so I could begin to learn the electronic component of the knitting machine that is supposed to save my hands. It was great, but a bit too much information. By the time we broke for lunch, I was already on information overload, even though the information we’d been given was just the tip of the iceberg. But one of my classmates is far more competent than I with computer-aided design, and she gives tutorials… my savior!

This past week, I’ve also been plunged into the edits for my forthcoming book, Brave New Knits. It feels great to be moving forward with the project, and I’m getting excited all over again as I review the projects.

And then there’s the earthquake in Haiti. My heart breaks for every one of them. Knowing that all I can do from here is give money to one of the many relief agencies that have rushed to assist that island country, I made a donation through Yarn Harlot’s Knitters Without Borders, which gives the money to Doctors Without Borders and has done an amazing  job of raising both awareness of the needs and raising generous donations from always-generous knitters. It’s little enough to give when I sit here warm and well-fed, well-sheltered, and with all my loved ones safe.

Jetlag, Sweet Jetlag

It’s so good to be back home, even though I woke up super-early this morning because of the afore-mentioned jetlag. Even though I spent close to a week in NYC going to bed fairly late at night and wakening late-ish the next morning, my body acclimated nonetheless to east coast time (darn it!). And by the time my internal clock readjusts to Pacific time, I’ll be packing up to visit family for the holiday. No rest for the weary. But my daughter will be making her first visit home from college in just a few days, and I cannot wait to see her.

While attending to my recuperating sister, I made a lot of progress on a big secret project, and none whatsoever on my February Lady Sweater (unless you consider taking it out of its project bag to stroke the fabric and look longingly at the sleeves-in-waiting progress), so I have no photos to share this time. Also got tapped for another secret project, so the FLS may have to stay on the back burner until after New Years. Curses! I am so looking forward to wearing it!

Soldiering On

My February Lady Sweater just might be done by February if I keep working at this pace. Now that I’ve completed the body and picked up the sleeve stitches, I’ve allowed myself to do a little button-dreaming. And that is infinitely more complicated now that I’ve discovered Green Ray Productions’ Button Division. Jodi’s site on Etsy has turned into a sneaky, addictive little habit;

Bad mood? I know! Let’s check out Jodi’s latest fabulous buttons!

No chocolate in the house? No problem; some of Jodi’s buttons will be an equally wonderful treat!

You get the idea. So I have some pretty amazing options in my button box. Playing with those possibilities is not only a seemingly harmless but insidious form of procrastination, but a continuing source of inspiration and encouragement to complete the darned sweater so I can sew on the buttons already. 

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 See what I mean? 

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On the machine knitting front, I’ve mastered striping! My favorite orange-striped, V-neck Noro sweater that I adore is being reincarnated in the colors of an oil slick on a windy day; sludge greens, overcast sky grays, and oily, oozing purples and blues. My, doesn’t that sound attractive? And yet, it is – at least to me, and I hope, to my daughter, who professes a love of these colors and is the intended recipient of this particular garment for Hannukah.

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All the pieces are done, so I am using precious spare moments to weave in the ends and will soon block and assemble it.

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Turkey, Anyone?

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the holiday!!

My contribution to the dinner we’ll attend at the home of friends tomorrow:

Pumpkin cheesecake with bourbon-caramel sauce (no photo, regrettably)

Steamed green beans with lemon zest and those crunchy little fried onions that Trader Joe’s carries at this time of year

Mmmm… I’ll cook a little turkey for us on Friday, mostly for the left-overs. We have a family tradition of making “turkey carcass soup” (I know that sounds disgustingly carnivorous but, well, that’s what it IS) after the holiday, as well as turkey chili and, if there’s still any turkey left beyond that, I’ll make a turkey curry (this year’s will be Mark Bittman’s NY Times version from today’s paper, with baby spinach.). Of course, when I say I’m cooking a “little” turkey, that’s understating the size of the bird, which weighs 14 pounds. It was the smallest I could find already brined, which saved me some work and ensures the availability of those all-important leftovers.

I already made our stuffing (cornbread with sausage and fennel, for anybody wondering), and am prepping the mashed sweet potatoes tonight. So when Friday rolls around, I’ll be ready with only the bird itself remaining to prepare.