So maybe this should be a garden blog…

*tap tap* Is this thing on?

Good Heavens, it’s been over a year.  I have been knitting, in stolen moments here and there.

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Vitamin D in Malabrigo Sock

But, truth be told, I haven’t been knitting much.  Vivian is one and a half and is an absolute joy, so I spend as much free time as possible with her.

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My primary outlet for creative energy has been my garden.

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So maybe this should be a garden blog, for awhile.  I have been trying to keep my garden journal in a Facebook album, and it just isn’t enough.

I’m not sure where to start, frankly.  I guess I’ll start at the beginning of this season!

I started some seeds in a tub (“winter sow method”) in January, and indoors under grow lights in February.  The winter sown seeds were a disaster, I think in part because we had such a cold spring.  The brassicas and chard did not do well indoors at all (far too leggy) but the hollyhocks and Ping Tung eggplant did well, and are still doing well now.  The fennel was a mixed bag (more detail to follow later, I guess).

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Brassica fail – so leggy!

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Faaaaail

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Ping Tung eggplant about to blossom

I started more seeds outdoors in April, and many of the plants in my garden now were sown then (including some more successful kale, and broccoli that has potential). In particular, the cosmos and zucchini have been quite successful. The onions, basil, delphiniums and herbs were a bust.

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Cosmos

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Our first zucchini of the season, harvested and eaten today.

So, is there a gardening blogosphere? Is there still a knitting blogosphere, for that matter?  I guess I’ll find out!

Log Cabining

I’ll begin by highlighting my Vivian, my most important and consuming WIP.

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She’s awesome.

She’s also not the only baby in the family, my cousin had baby Ryan three weeks later. I started a simple log cabin baby blanket for him (based on How to Log Cabin in Mason-Dixon Knitting) shortly after Vivi was born. It is excellent maternity leave mindless knitting.

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The floor tiles are 12-inch squares, so you can see that it is about 2 1/2 feet to a side now. I feel like I should add at least one more strip to each side. That would make it a small but respectable stroller blanket at 32ish inches to a side. I’ll see them at Easter, I can finish it by then.

Meanwhile a good law school buddy had baby Andrew, and I started a Moderne Baby Blanket (also log cabin style) for him. I’m thinking this as a color scheme.

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Vivi is starting to sleep for longer stretches, and a couple hours of garter stitch and stupid TV after she goes to bed does wonders for my outlook.

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How to Induce Labor

At the end of one’s pregnancy, one hears all sorts of stories about how to induce labor. Eat Chinese or Mexican food, I was told. Take a long walk. Engage in other activities I won’t discuss on the blog. Well, I am here to add another story to this long tradition.

Finish the baby’s blanket.

On December 13 at about 10:30 pm I finally finished her baby blanket. My water broke at 2:00 am on December 14. Here I am at about 4:00 am, as we are heading to the hospital.

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Vivi was born just after 8:00 pm on December 14, two days before my due date and less than 22 hours after the blanket was finished.

She’s the best Christmas present ever.

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PS: Since this is a knitting blog, I’ll mention that the blanket is a classic feather-and-fan in 10 colors of Berocco Comfort DK, on #8s.

Rhinebeck 2012

Yeesh, has it been two and a half months? And I never posted my Ravellenic Games shawl? In a moment you’ll understand why.

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I’ve been hard at work on another project, with an estimated completion date in the middle of December.

I had an awesome time at Rhinebeck with the gals this year. My Ravellenic Games shawl won third place for small knitted item from handspun!

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Here are a couple more pictures, since I never did a proper FO post back in August.

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I have been knitting, as you can see from the modified Harvest Moon you see there, knit from the berry yarn I spun this summer. As you may recall, I bought the fiber at Rhinebeck last year. I returned to Spinners Hill, and you can expect to see me in a dark purple sweater (with mini-me in tow) next year.

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Purple was the color of the year for me:

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In the front row we have Fiber Optics Footnotes in Jelly Jelly #5 (baby sweater!), a Fiber Optics wool-silk blend in lovely autumnal colors, an Into the Whirled wool-silk blend in Targaryen (light purple-gray), a Gale’s Art blend of purple silk and brown alpaca, three colors of Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply for Color Affection, and Miss Babs alpaca lace in leaf green (another favorite color of mine). I can still knit after the baby… right?

Ravellenic Gradient

I have spun 16 lots of yarn. This is my favorite.

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The color gradient is perfect, and it is a fairly even 360 yards of heavy fingering. I Navajo plied onto my giant Bosworth spindle that I got at Rhinebeck last year. All 4.6 ounces fit!

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I finished Sunday at 11:30 am. For a few hours I considered submitting the finished yarn to Rhinebeck. Then I decided that the yarn would shine better in a half-circle shawl that showcased the sunset colorway.

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I cast on for Shattered Sun less than four hours after I finished plying. Yes, I washed it. Yes, it was (mostly) dry. Hey, the Olympics end in a week, I don’t have forever!

Ravellenic Spinning

I am super excited to make my Tour de Fleece yarn into a Harvest Moon Cardigan for Rhinebeck. But that’s going to be a fun, relaxing pattern. Cramming it in to 16 days would ruin it, and wouldn’t be true to the Ravellenic spirit.

Instead I decided to reprise my Winter Games 2010 victory with a fleece-to-FO challenge. For some reason the 2012 games do not have such a category, so I’ll enter both the spinning and the shawl categories.

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I got this beauty from Into the Whirled at the 2011 New England Fiber Fest. I have never spun from a batt, and I have never done a gradient yarn. My goal is to Navajo ply the singles to preserve the color progression, and ideally wind up with fingering weight.

I watched the Opening Ceremonies with Jacie, and had made good progress by the end of the night.

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Per Jacie’s suggestion, I tore the batt into strips. I pre-drafted and rolled into roving balls like I always do, so it was not that different from spinning from top.

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By the end of a rainy weekend watching the Olympics (am I allowed to say that?) I had finished the singles.

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That tiny bobbin is there because one of my little roving bundles rolled under the couch. I’ll try to find where it should have gone in the sequence and splice it in.

It went well, but for one issue:

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When the first bobbin was about 2/3 full, the yarn stopping winding on evenly and started kinking up. I fiddled with the band tensions and it did not seem to help. When I switched bobbins the singles wound on evenly again. Experienced spinners, what is causing this?

Tour de Fleece – Victory!

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Huzzah! I have succeeded in spinning all of that berry-colored fiber into just under 1100 yards of slightly variable worsted-ish yarn.

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I am pleased with how it turned out, both the weight and the marled coloring.

In particular, I am astonished at how well my plan of plying light with dark worked out.

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When all was said and done, this was all that remained of unplyed singles. I very seldom wind up with a bobbin that small at the end, even when only spinning 4oz!

One thing I was not thrilled with is how many times I had to wash to get excess dye out.

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I had expected this, given how the fiber turned my hands pink and left a nice pink streak on the left thigh of my PJ pants (it washed out fine). But still, it’s annoying. I rinsed four times and the water was still pink, but I was starting to worry about agitating the yarn too much.

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So now the yarn is drying. I don’t think I felted it. Should I try to knit my sweater during the Olympics or would that be dumb?