A Few of My Favorite Things

Some things I love this summer:

Puppy Love

I had my doubts about a dog, but Belle is really stepping up her responsibility, and Sasha really could not be cuter or more fun. She loves every single person that comes to meet her.

sasha
sasha
alert puppy!
alert puppy!

Little Library Love

photo: Little Free Library site
photo: Little Free Library site

Madison has a delightful program with tiny house-shaped bookstands that have popped up around the city in front yards, schoolyards and unexpected places over the last few years. The Little Free Library is just what it sounds like; open it up, take out a book or magazine, or put one in! We have one right on our block, there’s at least one on the way to school, and two in the school garden, so we have lots of chances to find new-to-us books, magazines and poetry.

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One of my favorite Little Free Library finds so far; the House on Mango Street, by Sandra CIsneros. I’ve heard of it for a long time and finally got to read it; short vignettes beautiful and heartbreaking. Easy to pick up and put down and worth every minute.

Kitty Love

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We had a dry spell, and Squeak found the perfect place to nap. Come on in, birdies, the water’s fine!

 Cherry Love

cherries!
cherries!

Our energetic little cherry tree is full of fruity goodness! Traditionally, our first cherry dish is sour cherry ice cream, which made last night. Tart, creamy, with sweet chocolate chunks…yum! Next we’ll probably do a cherry pie or tart.

150-g Gradient Love

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Goodness gracious, big cakes o’ yarn!

New in the Lair: a lot of popular shawls, like all of Martina Behm’s, require 150 g of fingering weight yarn, and our gradients just came in 100g skeins. You asked for bigger gradients, and we listened! I love the heft and longer color runs of these new cakes!(The Shades of Gray in the middle left shows you how much bigger they are than our usual 100-g skeins.) Grab one here.

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My newest knitting project; designing a shawl with one of these babies! Super fun.

Little Baseball Love

outta there!
outta there!

I guess this is the time of year to feel proud of my Little Buddy; his regular season Little League team had playoffs this weekend, and in their second game, he hit his first home run! They made it to our local Little League Championship, so we’re crossing his fingers for a good game tomorrow evening.

Ravellenics and the other Shaun

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It’s been about a month since Shaun WhiteO-Malley came in the cat door just before the coldest day of the decade. We already have four cats, which we all know is a lot, putting us into the realm of Cat People,  and everyone was trapped inside with the frigid temps.

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The first day, he hid so deep in the basement that none of us could find him. Finally, hours later, Little Buddy’s sharp eyes spotted orange in the furthest corner of the furnace room. He took this photo to prove to all of us we really did have a cat without scaring him too much.

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Not long after, Shaun showed his true, sweet colors by coming to the food and allowing Lil Buddy to pet him.He was so handsome and friendly we still can’t figure out where he came from, but he had no collar, no microchip and no neuter, so we felt that, if he did have a home, they weren’t taking very good care of such a handsome boy.

He yowled a lot the first couple of weeks, loudly, sometimes desperately, reminding me what life used to be like when we had infants and toddlers waking every couple of hours during the night. The first couple of days,somebody got nervous and did some peeing where they shouldn’t (I don’t think it was Shaun).

We had to take out the carpet on the basement stairs and use enzymatic cleaner on the whole basement carpet. And frankly, we weren’t sure if we’d be able to keep him for a little while there. Image

Now his yowling has dwindled to a murmur.  We let Shaun out during the day, and, on days like today, with a biting wind blowing sideways snow, he’s very happy to just duck outside and back in again. Shaun’s claimed several special spots, including the box on the cat stand Belle built and the top corner of the yellow couch. Unfortunately, even though he outweighs all the others by a factor of two, he’s a dogged beta cat, waiting until everyone else eats before digging in and putting up with bats on the head from Squeak with the dignity of a saint Bernard.

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Our handsome orange boy loves to be petted under the chin, immediately flops over for more when you scratch the base of his tail and likes to sit near people when they’re hanging out. Now vaccinated, snipped, chipped and tagged, he seems very happy to have a warm home with plenty to eat. And we’re very glad he came in from the cold.

shaun

Ravellenics

I'm a contiguous shoulder
I’m a contiguous shoulder

It took me longer than I would have liked, but here’s progress on my Argo as of yesterday morning. You know, once Elizabeth explained the general idea to me on a Sow’s Ear napkin, the whole Contiguous technique made intuitive sense to me. Basically, you cast on the right amount for your neck, then knit around a couple of times, identify your shoulder seams (which will be one stitch wide), then increase at those seams every round while doing short rows to create a higher back neck. Similar to raglan shaping, you can increase both for the body and sleeves, or just one or the other as you create the sleeve cap (shown here in stockinette stitch).

I’ll be the first to admit that my short rows are far from perfect here; I’ve pretty much thought of this as a “practice sweater” from the beginning. But I’m really enjoying the technique and really like the way the sleeve looks, more polished than a raglan to my eyes. And I plan to wear this every day around the ‘hood once it’s finished!

I had also expected the main body color to come out darker, but didn’t want to wait the extra time to re-dye the yarn given the close Ravellenic time frame.

you really just wanted to pet me, right?
you really just wanted to pet me, right?

Squeak is helping every step of the way, of course. Even though he’s six months and Shaun’s eight, he’s as always-pumped as Shaun is relaxed like a little surfer dude.

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Here’s progress form yesterday. It goes faster once the shoulder shaping is done! Not sure whether I’ll finish by ending ceremonies, but knitting this one really did challenge me and is proving lots of fun.

A Word About Sochi

This Olympics has been marred by more then one difficult situation and rough edge. I personally am very much in favor of equal rights for all orientations, but in the spirit of international cooperation, have been watching the Games and being part of Team Sasquatch. Russia’s human rights record hasn’t been stellar, but let’s face it, games host China has had some serious trouble on that front as well. But I’ve been a member of Amnesty International since the age of sixteen, and can’t support a nation that openly brutalizes its own citizens for expressing their views during the Games.

On the other hand, we always tell our kids that a commitment to your team is a commitment you keep, so this is my solution. The Ravellenics, as we know, are not officially linked to the Olympics, so I’m going to keep knitting as fast as I can to help Team Sasquatch. No more wearing of my Sochi Olympics shirt; that will be going to charity pretty darn quick. I donated to Amnesty this morning, and will be contacting Russian president Vladimir Putin daily about protecting his citizens from harm.

Finished objects:

Speaking of Team Sasquatch, sweater aside, I actually wrote a pattern, the Valentina Hat, had it tech-edited and published it during the Games. So I crossed the Finish Line in two Hat Halfpipe events for my team!

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Valentina for Belle: finished!

Also entered in Junior Ravellenics

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Valentina: finished!

Also entered in Lace Luge

Both worked in Knitcircus Pachyderm chunky and size 10.5 needles.

Stay warm and stay safe,

Jaala

Scilla Socks and a Squeak

Just released–one of my favorite patterns: the Scilla Socks! 

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Named after the blue flowers that carpet our yard in spring, the Scilla Lace Socks showcase delicate lace in a subtly-sparkly silk blend yarn. I had so much fun designing and knitting these, and have thrown my own pair into both the wash and the dryer with no shrinking or pilling!

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These fun toe-up socks use a short-row heel technique and contrasting deeper blue color for the toe and heel.  No grafting needed!

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You can see the subtle silver sparkle in this photo. It’s just enough to give you a little lift when you knit with or wear these socks, but not over-the-top.

Originally written for the Spring Sparkle Yarn Club, the pattern is now available for purchase on Ravelry!

Limited Number of Kits Available

Want to use the gorgeous blues shown? I’ll be making just 15 Scilla Lace Sock Kits, with the right amounts of Pixie Dust Merino/Silk Superwash in Robin’s Egg and Cottage Shutters, a printed pattern and a 15-yd mini-skein just for fun. These custom-dyed kits won’t last!

Meet Squeak

squeak

It’s probably too soon after poor Nico, but our family was ready for some good news. And here it is: Squeak! His full name is Squeaky McScqueakerson, and he’s seven weeks old. His mom met the same fate as Nico, so he and his siblings have been bottle-fed since two weeks, and are super friendly! Every time you walk into the room, he comes over, purring. This baby’s going to stay safely inside!

Happy weekend,

Jaala

PS If you placed a yarn order for in-stock yarn in the last week or two, they will all be in the mail this afternoon; watch for a tracking number convo!