June 23, 2015

17 Sticks and Silkystones Won't Break My Bones, Oh No!











Silky what?!  Ok I know, "Silkystones" is an odd name for a yarn, but let us discuss. This yarn was released back in the Spring of 2014, and I was intrigued because it resembled nothing I had ever seen before...


Worsted weight, 52% tussah silk and 48% linen.


Crazy texture, looking like it was put in a crimping iron and slathered with pomade, am I right? Well maybe it did resemble something:






Well I'll be, the yarn isn't so far away from pebbles on the shore! Naming yarns must be hard, so I'm going to put this one in the WIN category for creativity. (Sadly, the trend for Rowan these days is to name yarns by fiber content and weight, like "Pure Wool Worsted" and "Alpaca Cotton").

I wanted an edgy modern pattern to showcase this interesting yarn (the Silkystones Collection is lovely, but didn't have any long sleeve pullovers). It's not variegated in the sense that it changes colors, but it's definitely 'marled' -- so it wasn't easy. I decided on something risky with a lot of eyelets and a very up-to-the-moment ribbing from a Bergere de France book.




I loved it to death once I started knitting it. I didn't realize that the diamonds had so much texture going on. Look at how beautiful this yarn is, seriously.




Let's just put it right out there: I don’t think I’ve EVER had more pleasure physically knitting with a yarn than Rowan Silkystones. It’s so smooth and silky… I don’t mean slippery. It’s like a well-oiled drawer, the yarn just glides across my Addi Turbos in the. most. satisfying. way.

If you haven’t played with it, it’s worth experiencing how totally unique it is. The colors are mixed like a marble cake and make a fascinating fabric.

However -- it is a very “organic” yarn, you will find slubs and thick/thin sections. Just accept them as part of the Silkystones landscape if you will. Knit those suckers right in.




I NEED TO GIVE YOU A REAL WARNING THOUGH: not all Silkystones are made the same. I ran out of yarn to finish this sweater and ended up buying skeins from 3 different stores to try and match the coloring. All of them were totally different. One had tons of what looked like straw coming out, one was dry as if it needed oiling! The original batch was a dream, so I really recommend that you try and go to a store with Silkystones to make sure it has the shine and feel it is really capable of.




The pattern was great, easy to follow (in French for me, but the book is available in English online) and with a nice fit: close to the body on top and loose at the bottom. Well, maybe it wasn't supposed to be that loose. Truthfully, it must have stretched, as it is longer than it originally was, I swear! Not surprised as silk is a heavy fiber. Knit a little shorter, you won't be disappointed.




You may have noticed that I screwed up changed the ribbing at the bottom! I don't know WHAT came over me, I just was picking up stitches and knitting along and the thing was TOTALLY WRONG!!  I didn't even notice until someone mentioned my "mod" on Ravelry, lol!




I decided to keep it, but it's really too loose. I'm going to tighten it up with this "Latvian braid" technique from TECHknitting:
This is just slip-stitch crochet, but I would use only one color.

This is my first real photo shoot at the house in full greenery.  Here's a spruce we trimmed all of the bottom branches off of to secure our view.




I found this in the yard, and when I hold it I am Maine Pioneer Woman.  For a second anyway -- until I check my e-mail.




The garden has revealed many of her secrets, but there are definitely more coming still.  Thank you, oh previous owners!


The first fuschia peony.

The white one has almost no petals, but is raging inside!

The Siberian irises came out.  Or are they Japanese?  I never got that straight.

I still don't know if they are anemones, but they are amazing and open and close every day faithfully.

The things I thought were weeds are some kind of foxglove?

And the scary hollyhock doth bud.

We have tons of the cat mint plants with bajillions of long-lasting blue-purple flowers.  I discovered a nectar insect that I have never seen, which I can only describe as a SHRIMP WITH WINGS.




Amirite?  It's totally a fuzzy flying shrimp.

Also, we finally had a couple of people come to see about building a rather simple screened porch that we want under this deck.  Well I thought it was simple.





The first quote was ridiculous, so now I am wondering... I mean, if I pay $25,000 to make it, it won't add $25,000 to the value of my house, I can assure you.  We don't even want those screens to switch out to windows!  Not to mention we want to build a real structure for a mud room and this was supposed to be the smaller project.

Just to dream though and end on a happy note, here's a Houzz find (that would never work in our space but this is a DREAM... dreaming dreaming lalaalalalala).


http://www.houzz.com/photos/7592065/Woodstock-Retreat-contemporary-porch

I'll tell you a secret though, I finished this sweater in mid-November, that's how long it's taken me to tell you about it!  Luckily it's Summer and it's the perfect yarn for you to knit with RIGHT NOW.  I hear it's on sale everywhere too, hint hint.


See my Silkystones Rocks on Ravelry





June 9, 2015

16 "Dayana Crochets" Sometimes, Too! The Scheepjes CAL 2014







I haven't crocheted much in my life, but I might surprise both of us when I say that I really truly enjoy it. I find it terribly addictive actually, and I can prove this by monitoring my Sip Of Wine Rate while crafting. With knitting, I am known to stop in the middle of a row and sip.  With crochet -- especially if it is in the round -- my glass is always neglected and full!

This was my first crochet project, from the wonderful Japanese knitting/crochet magazine, Keito Dama.




Pretty BUT it was essentially the same motif over and over, so I got mighty sick of it in the end. I dropped the idea of crochet for a long time after that, until I noticed a growing menagerie of mystery and non-mystery CALs (crochet-alongs) that change-up the patterns weekly to keep you amused. That was tempting me enormously.

And then I saw this lovely package for sale...  who could resist this?  You mean I would have to do no work sourcing the yarn?  You mean it even includes a cute label for my project at the end?! And it was cheap, to boot... Rowan, please do this for your KALs!!!






Scheepjeswol is a dutch yarn company, and they teamed up with Marinke Slump from the blog A Creative Being to create a mystery CAL afghan kit with a free pattern.  I didn't really care much what would result, and I knew I'd never keep up with the 6 square a week pace for 10 weeks -- I just wanted to learn crochet and fix my awful technique.

I mean seriously -- for the tee shirt above, I was wrapping the yarn with my right hand like I was knitting.  Not streamlined, let me tell you.  I actually had to drop the hook down every stitch to do the wraps, it was crazy inefficient!

In true I Don't Really Crochet form, my first clue started with a bang.




The larger one was, of course, my first one. As I improved my technique everything got smaller and smaller. There was really no way that all of these squares were going to be the same size. Sometimes I re-did the last row as tight as I could to get it smaller, sometimes looser. In the end, I kind of just gave up and had fun with it.

There are some great squares in this blanket.  My favorite was the lacy flower:




And I appreciated the little flower in relief, and some of the cool "cut-outs":




Also, I can't praise this yarn enough for crochet.  It's a terribly inexpensive cotton called Cotton 8 that is not only a dream to handle, but really wonderful to wrap inside of!  I don't think the price for quality can be beat.






(These pictures were taken before the tree had leaves.  That's all filled in now!)

I should warn you (if you'd like to tackle this blanket) that I don't find the instructions very clear as to how you are supposed to use the colors in the kit. I actually ran out of yarn and had to omit a whole clue and some squares of others to make a smaller blanket. I thought the choice was to do solid squares or colorful ones -- but it was actually supposed to be half solid, half variegated! Here is the designer's version on Ravelry :


Oops.  See the alternating solid and colored squares of the same motif?

Also, while I may be an inexperienced crocheter, I'm not that off all the time.  Some of these squares are just going to be different sizes.  A nice hard block is essential.  I used blocking wires and stretched them like mad.  In fact, they're all bent now, oops.





Truth be told, I don't really like this blanket.  It's the first time I've done something this big and let someone else pick the colors.  Remember my recent KAL afghan by Kaffe Fassett?  I loved it because they were all MY colors out of MY head.




Well, these colors are a tad frightful in this CAL afghan, so I've come up with a plan.  The I Need A Cotton Beach Blanket To Watch My Husband Swim plan.  You see, on the island there is a swimming lake called Echo Lake -- and I'll be hanging out there a lot, I hope.


Photo from the blog "Our Acadia"



Did someone gasp and say, "But it will get dirty, all that work!"  Pooh pooh -- if I won't use it in the home, it might as well be getting dirty in a garbage dump, then.  I'm off to find my swimsuit (I STILL DON'T HAVE A CLOSET), the window of opportunity is finally opening!

If you want to tackle a different CAL, I suggest the free Sophie's Universe by Dedri Uys:

ks21703's version

Ivislife's version

OR the Rowan 2015 CAL which I should be finishing up shortly.  The pattern is free and written for the new soft as butter 100% Giza cotton (extremely high end Egyptian cotton) Summerlite 4-ply.


Heute strick ich's shawl in the pink colorway

My cushion cover version -- not done, I need to make an insert!



See my First CAL on Ravelry




-----------------------

And now for some garden updates!  Well, there is a teeny bit of news about the house, too.  We finally had two people come by to see about building a screened porch and a mud room.  It's been so cold though that we wonder if anyone ever uses a screened porch in Maine?!?!?!  And that's really all the news about that, grrrr.

Many of you were right about the garden, some plants are becoming clearer:

I cut the sticks from the hydrangeas as suggested.  The leaves seem to be over the old sticks now.




I've definitely got day lilies!




A few columbines, pink and deep purple.





A giganticly stunning iris (she gave 3 paper white blooms off one stalk, and there are no more around it!):




The creeping phlox is going strong, but the planted one is solid colored... this candy striped one I found randomly by the garage!




The peonies will be fuschia I believe:




The plant I thought was a weed and is everywhere gives the loveliest paper white flowers!  Someone said woodruff -- any one have a new guess?




Something else has appeared next to them... is it a purple iris?


'



The "azalea" is a small-leaf rhododendron, you say.




2 of the 3 holly bushes have flowered.  They are labeled Blue Prince and Blue Princess, so it's promising I'll have some berries.




My "catmint" is purple now!






Some wild purple loveliness that turns all scratchy found a piece of my garage.






These sweethearts grow all over Acadia it seems.




This bush no one could identify does too apparently, oops!  INVADER!




Here's another invader, they are ALL OVER the plants I called "tiger lilies", but nowhere else.




The thing you called Russian Sage is leafy now.




And what you called Burdock or Hollyhock is outrageous and looks ominous:




You know what else is ominous?!  My freaking lawn.  I was procrastinating the push vs. riding lawn mower choice.  I settled for a "Personal Pace" self-propelled Toro.  It's a lot of work, even when it's pushing its darn self, ironic.




Well, I'll stop here and save the new unknowns (where "in" earth did they come from??) for next time.  If you'd like to see them, just subscribe to my blog or Facebook Page to keep in touch!

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