Speedy little knit

After those last long rows of the Sunrise Circle Jacket, I needed something quick and gratifying to knit. One of the things in my Ravelry queue was a 3-6 mos Debbie Bliss baby sweater in worsted weight yarn, and I’d picked up yarn for it just recently. Perfect. I’d been expecting fast, but it really just flew. Here’s one evening’s worth of leisurely knitting (a little over halfway done):

I love those tulips, by the way. Generally, I’m much more of a vibrant tulip person, but the subtle pink and white is lovely, and I love the two layers of petals. Rather blowsy and completely the right mood for the week.

I meant to post this and then finish knitting the body, but it was too quick, and so here’s the body blocking:

Tonight, I have a bunch of seaming to do – buttons for the Baby Surprise Jacket, all of the seams and buttons for the Sunrise Circle Jacket, and then the hems , sleeves and sides of this little jacket. Then I can pick up stitches along the edges of the front and sides and knit the ribbed collar. We’ll see if I manage to get it all done?

Green and Growing

We had unusual weather on Sunday – dark clouds to the east and west, and steady sunshine overhead. Kevin took advantage of the light to take some photos.

Our pink tree is still blooming, even though more leaves grow in by the day. I love the angle of this photo, since the yard looks so green (you can’t see the spots where the buttercups and moss are dying, which I need to reseed) and you somehow can’t see the thick layer of pollen coating the table. To the right, just above the rock line, you can see all of my irises. They look so much happier this year – I’m hoping this means they might bloom. One of my coworkers said that they’re petulant flowers, and usually sulk for a good year after being transplanted. I only got one lone flower from about 15 plants last year, so fingers crossed that they’ve worked whatever pique out of their systems and will be extravagant once again this summer.

In the side yard, outside our kitchen window, the azalea’s buds are getting fuller by the day.

The next project

One of the things that I particularly appreciate about my job is having the flexibility to work at home. This afternoon was unusually pleasant, what with tulips, bright sunshine, and warm enough weather to have the windows open!

Now that we’re getting back to the warm season, I’ve recommenced mulling what to do with that big kitchen window. As you can see, it gets great afternoon sun but the downside is that the room heats up substantially, which is unfortunate because that makes it tricky to control the fishtank temperature. Last summer we spent a lot of energy doing extra water changes, making huge ice cubes, and running fans to promote evaporation (all of which cool the water). But I’m thinking that lined (and possibly insulated) curtains would probably do the trick for all but the few hottest summer days.

We spent a little while looking at fabrics last Fall, but the ones we liked on their own merits all looked pretty iffy with the kitchen counters (a pretty blue-grey corian) and backsplash tile (two very similar shades of translucent aqua) once we brought them home. Not expecting to have much luck, I did a quick pass through Joann’s yesterday and found a new fabric that I think is very pretty. It’s grey-green, has a nice sheen to it without being too loud, and has thin vertical lines of neutral speckles. I picked up two 1½”x3” samples to bring home, and while it’s certainly not a match for the kitchen, it also doesn’t clash.

We may have our curtain fabric?

Next up will be settling on a style and deciding if I can wing it or if I’ll need a pattern. I’m thinking a Roman shade will work well, but I’m also trying to figure out if there’s some clever way of pulling up the corners on the two lower edges so that if we leave the side windows open we can get a breeze. I can think of all sorts of button, loop, and drawstring methods for engineering that, but so far none of them look very attractive in my mind’s eye. I’m also trying to decide whether some sort of cornice at the top would be a good addition or not worth the extra work/fabric…

Blank slate

My knitting friend Diana is due in October, and she decided to have a sewing get-together on Sunday to make maternity pants. I’m actually in good shape for pants, but it wasn’t hard to come up with a list of other baby-related sewing projects. I ended up bringing over this fun:

A few years ago, I bought onesies to use as a size-gauge when I was knitting baby sweaters as gifts. The packs of 4 plain white onesies were cheaper than the singles, decorated ones, so now I have a small stockpile of baby clothes that could use a bit of color. I figured I’d try an appliqué-meets-embroidery mix. I don’t have any after photos yet, since the hand-sewing wasn’t terribly speedy, but it was a fun afternoon and the colors made me happy.

Slow, slow progress

The Sunrise Circle Jacket is coming together ever so slowly. I blocked the back and the left sleeve and front as a sanity check to make sure they’ll fit together when it comes time to seam. I’ll have to do a good job lining things up ahead of time, but it looks like it should work out nicely.

(The photo makes the yarn look black. It’s really purple. No idea what setting the camera was on to produce that effect, but I was running to work and didn’t have time to troubleshoot. At least you can see that lovely silhouette!)

On the way home yesterday, I found buttons that I’m really pleased with. So now, the greatest obstacle is finishing the right front. I’m on Row 53 of 104, and increasing 1 to 4 stitches every other row so it’s a bit of an uphill climb. Luckily, the Red Sox play the Yankees three times this weekend, so I’ll have good knitting time. We’ll see if it’s enough to finish off the front and switch over to seaming?

Baby updates

We had a great treat this weekend – a package arrived from California with a hand knit baby sweater from my friend Amanda! It’s so well done, and I love the offset cable and the seed stitch detailing at the edges.

As much as I love the color and pattern, my favourite part is the way it feels. I wish that you could blog texture – the yarn is a gorgeous merino/microfiber/cashmere blend and it is so wonderfully soft. It’s such a treat to have a hand knit that I didn’t make myself, and such a beautiful one at that!

All seems to be going well with the baby. He’s been kicking away with increasing intensity. Kevin felt him kick for the first time almost two weeks ago (so exciting!!), and when he was describing it to a friend later he mentioned that he could see the kick as well. I thought he was exaggerating but he turned out to be sincere – it hadn’t occurred to me to try to watch. When the baby really gets going, as he seems to in the evenings, it’s kind of like watching a lightning storm pass overhead – you’re not entirely sure where to watch for the next one, and never sure whether the previous kick was the final one of the series. Most of them you just see out of the corner of your vision, but every now and then there’s a kick that’s so obvious and exactly where your gaze fell. It’s a bizarre sight, but captivating.

For the last week or two, we’ve been sorting our way through all of the tons of baby gear out there to figure out what we think we’ll need. We’ve arrived at decisions for many of the big things (a crib, cloth diapers, breastfeeding details for when I go back to work, daycare, assorted must-haves), and are making good progress on others (a pediatrician, car seats, sorting out the zillion options available for pack n plays…). We certainly are not wanting for options. We still probably won’t start buying things in earnest for a few months, but it’s nice to have brands and rough price points figured out, and an increasingly complete list. (We both seem to be magnets for advice right now, and I’m appreciating a larger context to fit all of it into, instead of trying to keep track of all of the individual comments and data points as they’re given.)

Flowers for the counter

Sorry for the string of plant posts (usually I try to spice things up a bit more) but the plants keep being interesting whereas the sweater I’m knitting is just endless. Each row is at about 170 stitches right now, which takes me a good fraction of an hour. I have five rows left, finally, and then I can bind off, block it, and get a picture. (And then, of course, repeat the process for the second front.) Until then, though, the parade of plants continues. I cut a few sprigs from the flowering fruit tree by the back patio, and though I don’t think they’ll last for many days, the blooms are amazing in the sunlight.

Kevin was playing with his macro lens and I think the resulting photos are beautiful.

Fleeting but lovely.

Kitchen Garden

We have a deep counter in our kitchen under a large garden window, and it’s a perfect place for growing seedlings. I have one tray of edibles (strawberries, tomatoes, peas, beans, leeks, and stretching the definition a tad, lavender) and one of flowers (dahlias, zinnias, black-eyed susans, foxglove, columbine, and delphinium). I set up a lamp on a timer (with a compact fluorescent bulb) to help supplement the natural light, since that spot doesn’t get constant light and our days are still more cloudy than not. It seems to be doing the trick, as the trays are full of seedlings growing away.

The winners by far are the beans and peas, which are growing exuberantly. Each day they seem to add another half inch or large set of leaves.

We’re still debating where they will get planted – I’m torn between two competing spots for a raised garden (not sure which will get the most sun), and still haven’t entirely ruled out just setting them up in containers again.

More flowers

Our tree by the patio in the backyard is amazing this year.

Last year, we’d pruned it back hard (with Kevin’s parents’ help) in December. I’d been feeling guilty all winter this year for not getting out and re-pruning, but my guilt disappeared completely after the flowers started to appear. My new plan is to prune after it flowers, and then let it spend all year working toward the next crop of blooms – Spring is definitely its magnificent season.

For the last few weekends, I’ve been making a habit of going around the yard and poaching a few blooms from whatever’s going strong this week. This week, there were two more daffodils (perfect for the tall vase from our wedding day, placed by the sink). Also, the first of the camellias appeared! But they were on the lowest branches and the weight of the blooms bent the flowers face down into the lawn, so I decided we’d enjoy them more on our dining room table.


When we ordered a new light for the bathroom, we also found sconces to replace the ones in our living room. The old ones were small and yellow. I disliked the color of the glass shades during the day…

But they were worse when we turned them on at night, since the shades were opaque enough to block most of the light, and what got through was a dark yellow-orange that made skin look ghoulish and most colors look garish.

Lamps are such a matter of personal taste, but we found white art glass sconces that we both liked a lot. They’re bigger, so I think they look more proportionate on the wall, and the light is a much more natural color. We’ve had them up for almost two weeks, so you’d think that I’d be getting accustomed to them, but I’m still so happy every time I turn them on or walk by.

It’s hard to take a closeup of a lamp when it’s on, but I wanted to try to get some of the pattern of the glass. It’s a mixture of more and less opaque chunks, and I think it’s quite lovely, both on and off.

Yay for lighting improvements!