Thursday, June 23, 2016

Alpaca for a summer day

 

Apparently, while I was away having an open mouthed love affair, complete with happy sobbing, with San Francisco, summer came and went here in my neighborhood. It was hotter than a mummy's tomb for about a day and a half, and that was it, and now it's chilly again. Hi, New York! I'm trying so hard to love you! Don't make it such a project! Which means I can wear this alpaca sweater I thought I was folding neatly and tucking away for some time maybe in October.

This is Friday Anew by Ankestrike, knitted in Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light, in the beautifully named colorway "Moonshadow"--there's your ear worm for the day, Cat Stevens fans--I can't even tell you what a pleasure it was to have that lovely soft yarn in my lap and on my needles, and now on my goosebumply body, too, in this freezing and fall-like summer we're having. It's the best sort of cozy sweatshirt I ever had. This pattern starts at the neck hole and makes you use your brain really hard for the first few inches, but then the sleeves and body are plain and soothing and go on forever, which is great fun for me. So much more to come from me with this designer.

It's got a few simple details, and a really excellent fit. Perfect. But I don't want to wear this anymore right now! Come on, summer, let's get it together.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

San Francisco casts a spell on me

 

This is the sort of thing that gets me all misty-eyed. Just look at that bridge, will you? With that pink sunset going all ombré in the distance? San Francisco, oh my goodness, I loved you so much.

At home now, my ordinary coffee tastes so, I don't know, bland and disappointing? We sat in the back corner of this cafe in North Beach and my cappuccino brimmed thick with foam. The tiny spoon, the mosaic tables, the reek of art and culture and rich conversation. I swooned.
We walked until our calves bulged with misery, and then we walked some more, climbing hill after hill. I simply could not stay indoors; there was magic around every corner. I think Doc would have enjoyed a rest now and then, but I walked us half to death, and he'll thank me for it when he's recovered. Me: "You can sit down when you're dead!" Him: "So, soon then?" He bribed me with coffee and tiramisu, which totally worked.
There is the famous fog, creeping in over the Bay Bridge at the Port of San Francisco. I really could have stood there and watched that happen for hours. I might have.

A penny bracelet, purchased in a pop-up market and hand-stamped--while I waited--with the word "Peace", which is what I want more than anything for this beautiful little world.

I could not have loved that city more. I traveled with a journal, inspired by the always wonderful loritimesfive, who I narrowly missed having a chance to meet and say hello; we were two passing ships coming and going to and from San Francisco on the same day--I have such a lot of lovely memories to write about and to draw and doodle, leaves and feathers and other natural treasures fallen and foraged from the ground to press and identify, and now I have to go figure out how to enjoy ordinary coffee, what with having seen the promised land and all.

 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Shawl, dress, garden

Let's see: a lacy shawl, a fading peony, a volume of poetry--yup, take the picture. Well, I love those peonies, that fuchsia color just makes everything look better, even if some of the petals are turning brown. Their season is so short, and there's always a gusty rainstorm just as they open their heavy blossoming heads, and I've barely had time to notice them before they're all lying in the dirt. Peony scent is so divine--does anybody out there know of a perfume that features peony? I can't think of one. Maybe it can't be captured.

This shawl is finished. This is the Simple Lines Shawl by Maanel (free pattern here) and it would have been a delight to work on if I had begun with the right needles and if the third ball of yarn hadn't fallen apart. Since my shawl wardrobe already includes at least three pieces in pretty much this same grayish blue color [too predictible? Everything matches? What's the point, really?] I had already made the design decision to use a different color for the lacy border, and I love the way this looks sort of Civil War Era, but also kind of modern. My dear friend Carolyn some years ago made a capelet of her own clever design in these two colors to great effect, and I have been thinking about it ever since. Let me tell you, it was a relief to get to that lacy border, too--coming to a cut yarn end every ten minutes was getting old. It looked like that skein of yarn had been bitten by a vampire; two uniform holes, cleanly sliced, going all the way to the center. Anyhoo.

Because it refuses to be summer here, and if I start in on that I will never stop, the wind was hollering and flapping the shawl for the photos and blowing my dress around too--thrifted chambray, in my own pattern, I really love those dresses. They fit like a dream, and feel like a nightie. Soon my closet will be filled with them and nothing else.

There's always one photo where I'm talking. Ha! Bossing the photographer around, no doubt, art directing the whole thing, trying to figure out which weedy patch of yard looks better. That back there is my mostly abandoned garden. I realized recently that even though I want to love gardening, and I think I am the kind of girl who should love gardening, and that I am living the kind of life that really should involve a bunch of gardening, that I do not enjoy it. I love a beautiful garden, but I actively hate gardening. So I'm buying this year's tomatoes from the farmer down the road, and will spend my weekends doing something else. Relief! The rabbits will be so disappointed.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Unfinished Objects

Oh my goodness, hi! Hello. I feel all breathless, in a rush, trying to do everything--knitting All The Things while attempting to be slovenly on my new porch, being all chill with my little prosecco, pretending it's summer and that the porch is actually finished and I'm not just sitting there amidst the construction chaos, a circular saw and sawhorses and jigs and cords and levels and hammers. Strategic photography becomes impossible, because there is stuff everywhere and I can't even crop it out, but sitting there in my new comfy wicker chairs with a chilling glass of something and a strangely improbable pile of alpaca on my lap is increasingly happening. I dream it will be finished one day. Maybe soon. Meanwhile, I lounge.

Also, I fail to finish things because of my continuous starting of other things.

I had both of these on my lap the other day, at the same time, as though I had enough hands to work on them both at once. I mean, that's the dream, right? Two-fisted knitting. The Blue Thing is on the last border, and the Olive Green Thing has already commenced. I am undeterred by huge piles of unfinished items.

This thing, a cute little shawl that has some really simple name like "Simple Shawl" that I can't remember right now, is kind of on hold because the last ball of yarn (Berroco Folio) turned out to be completely shredded inside--it looks like it was somehow stabbed by a two-pronged sharp object, see the two cut areas up there?--and has been coming apart in handfuls. Which makes me mad and which makes me set it temporarily aside in favor of something slightly less exasperating. The pattern, whatever it's called, is great and easy and free and I love it, but the collapsing yarn somewhat tempers the joy of the experience. Anyhoo.

This. Is. Almost. Done. I knit a sleeve and a half in the car on the way to Cleveland to see my beloved Monkees [Monkees! I am forever young with you. Keep playing, boys, and I'll keep showing up. My love is strong!] and if I weren't so inclined to start ten new things, this would be finished by now, and I'd have something to show you. Must. Somehow. Focus!

 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Etc.

 

Darling, beautiful, gorgeous May. I sit beside the open window, breathing lilac. Songbirds trill. Even my neighbor's lawnmower is evoking happy, nostalgic reveries of pastoral life. Summer! How I love you. There is the giant crochet granny, slowly growing (though I am, as always, torn between putting a few rounds on it and dropping everything to read this book.)
It grows, I swear. It's one of those things that is fully about the process, because probably in the end I will just fold it neatly and put it on a shelf. Maybe not. Maybe I will paint one room completely white and take everything out of it except the perfectly-beat-up thrift store bed, a stack of books. I'll hang one perfect piece of vintage art slightly off-center on an otherwise empty wall, and then I'll throw this blanket artfully across the rumpled white linens. Maybe a plant. Goals. Meanwhile, I just really do love to crochet, and I really do love to choose the next color; something about that is so satisfying. Watching the colors pile up next to each other is a thrill, every time.
I finally swapped out the (beautiful but waaaay tooooo looooong) turned wooden needles that are such a joy to look at and to dream of using but which are annoying in the extreme for this much more efficient slippery circular needle, and now this project is finally clipping along at a decent pace. Using the right tools for a project makes all the difference in the world. Knit? Crochet? Read? I can't decide. I also want to sew, embroider, paint, spin, bake a pie, hook a rug from wool I dyed myself using plants from the garden, learn to make wine, write a novel. Etc.
 
 

 

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Gigantic Wrap for Spring

 

It just may finally be too warm to wear this, but that is never guaranteed. This is Stephen West's Boneyard Shawl, knit in Malabrigo Rios (three skeins) in a beautifully stormy colorway that just seems like spring. I love a giant, shoulder-draping, fully neck-encasing wrap in all seasons, really. It it something that can totally transform whatever you're wearing. A wrap like this can turn a plain gray pullover into an outfit, and it warms and comforts, both in the wearing, and in the knitting of it, too. There is much to love here.

Look at that green, green grass. Oh, my happy bare feet.

 

Friday, May 13, 2016

What to do with a rainy day

 

It is raining today, and chilly. It occurs to me that it is not yet summer; that spring is a season too, and May is still spring, so I'm not sure why I keep expecting hot weather to show up. It might not, just yet. It might rain for awhile, and be cool and murky, and all the buds might just continue to hover on the verge, full to bursting, on pause, greens glowing like neon against the churned up sky. I am enjoying the seasons as they come, and this damp, gray weather is perfect for enjoying my finished Lala's Simple Shawl in Seidenstrasse fingering weight, color something like antique rose velvet. Blush. Soft. Blossom-y.

In still more seasonal knitting, in progress is a Boneyard Shawl in Malabrigo Rios, and they're calling this color "Niebla" which I think means "That color the sky turns right before a huge thunderstorm knocks out your power". Mixed dirty grays, shot through with streaks of ochre. Ominous, luminous, slightly sinister. Malabrigo is such a glorious feast.

I have some mending to do today. That's such quiet, simple work.

And I'm determined with this pattern. All eighty-jillion of you can't be wrong. I'm cutting into this piece of [thrifted] chambray something or other, and I think it's going to work out. I believe.

Tea, knitting, sewing, black and white inspiration. Possibly a nap. Continuous drizzle pattering against the windowpanes. Is that the perfect day, or what?