April 2009 Archives

Today I have the privilege of kicking off Donna Druchunas blog book tour for her new book Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland, and Ireland*.

Exploration is a lovely book for people who are looking to both understand a bit more about the knitting traditions of other cultures as well as those who are interested in having their own knitting adventure by creating a unique hand knit garment.  This book contains a discussion of the textures and motifs and sweater structures dominant in Iceland, Lithuania and Ireland and also has some beautiful templates to help you get started on making your own custom crafted sweater.  It's a great jumping off point for your own personal knitting explorations!

This knitting book has extra significance for me, because it's the first book written in English that I've ever found that talks about Lithuanian knitting traditions.  I'm a 3rd generation Lithuanian on my dad's side -- my great-grandparents emigrated from Lithuania, in the early 1900s.  However, because of the stigma associated with not being "American" much of the cultural heritage was not passed along and I've had very little exposure to the language, crafts or traditions of Lithuania.  When I started knitting, I spent some time looking for books that might help me understand if knitting had been a part of my ancestors lives, but found very little. 

I was lucky to connect with Donna some time ago when her book The Knitted Rug came out.  I saw her last name (if you see an "as" or "is" ending on a last name, it's almost always Lithuanian or Greek) asked her if she was Lithuanian too, and we emailed a bit talking about her interest in Lithuanian knitting and that she was hoping to travel to Lithuania to explore it further.  Ethnic Knitting Exploration  contains a section on Lithuanian motifs and knitting traditions that are a result of her first journey to Lithuania. 

For the rest of this post, I'd like to share a little "interview" I did with Donna to help me understand better how she approached this book and the knitting cultures she describes within it.  I hope you'll enjoy our discussion! 

KB: What was your inspiration for Ethnic Knitting Exploration: Lithuania, Iceland and Ireland?

 DD: Well, initially my publisher mentioned that she saw a need for a book about ethnic knitting traditions for a younger crowd and for newer knitters who might not be ready for encyclopedic books like Knitting in the Old Way. I thought that was a great idea, because many books on ethnic knitting traditions assume a very high level of accomplishment and skill from readers. I wanted even newbie knitters to be able to learn these techniques and to be able to design their own garments and accessories. My approach was to break things down step-by-step, rather than giving a high level overview of sweater construction and sizing calculations. You shouldn't need to have ten years of knitting experience under your belt before you can design a sweater for yourself.

 KB: Why did you choose to talk about garments from these three ethnic knitting traditions together? 

 DD: Mostly I was looking at the garment shapes. I wanted this book to focus on refinements in the shoulder area, and raglan, yoke, and saddle-shoulder garments all fit into this category. Saddle shoulders are most popular on Aran sweaters, shaped yokes are most popular on Icelandic designs. Raglans just fit in, but there's not a particular area where raglans were traditionally used exclusively.

 KB: What is your favorite aspect of the book?  What part of it was most fun for you to put together?

 DD: In this book I can't pick a favorite section. I love the cable section because I inherited a love of Aran knitting from my grandmother. I love the Lithuanian section because I am half Lithuanian and I have been visiting that country for several years. I love the yoke and raglan shaping because those sweaters are so fun to make, and I always get excited knitting the yoke as it gets smaller and smaller around the neck and after you bind off, there's not much more left to do than weaving in ends. I love the cardigan instructions, because I wear more cardigans than pullovers. I actually was quite surprised how much I liked the whole book after I got a final draft from my editor.

 KB: Many of the Lithuanian motifs that you chose look very Scandinavian inspired.  Did you find when you visited Lithuania to learn the language and do research for the book that there were many Scandinavian influences in Lithuanian knitting (or other) traditions?

 DD: In this book, I focused on Lithuania Minor, which was actually East Prussian in the past. Today parts of this region are within the countries of Lithuania, Russia, and Poland. Because national boundaries have moved so frequently in this area, influences have come in from all sides. In some parts of Lithuania many of the designs do have a strong Scandinavian influence. In some other areas, designs have similarities to Turkish patterns. In some places design elements are shared with Latvian and Estonian knitting. And the knitting technique traditionally used in Lithuania, Combination Knitting, has strong roots in Russia and all of the surrounding areas in Eastern Europe, and is even sometimes found in Scandinavia.

 KB:  I like that you chose not only to introduce pattern and texture traditions from the three countries that you chose, but that you also decided to look at different sweater shapes.  You mentioned that there wasn't much of an actual sweater knitting tradition in Lithuania.  What made you decide on the raglan sweater as a good format for the Lithuanian motifs?

 DD: As I mentioned above, I wanted to include these related shapes that all focus on shoulder shaping. Although sweaters were not a traditional part of the Lithuanian national costume, they have been popular in the area throughout the 20th century. In several of the old Lithuanian knitting books I have from the Soviet period, raglan sweaters are very popular. The sweaters are knitted in the round, and often from the top down (in Ethnic Knitting: Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and The Andes , I focused on bottom-up techniques.)

 KB: I know the book is about knitting not about spinning, but did you discover anything about the types of wools that each of the different Ethnic groups preferred to work with?  I know many people are familiar with the Icelandic sheep that are the source for a lot of Lopi yarns.  Are there particular sheep breeds that are more common source of wool for Lithuanian and Irish knitters?

 DD: In Ireland, Aran sweaters were made out of various colors of yarn before they became a commercial product, and sometimes out of fine gansey yarn. When the commercial product became popular, the heavy-weight natural colored yarn became the standard because it's faster to knit and easier to see your stitches as you're working the cables. The sweaters were also switched from being made in-the-round, to the flat construction that we know today. The famous natural yarn is called Bainin (pronounced bawneen). Traditionally it was spun in the grease and the wool retained it's lanolin, giving the knitted sweaters a waterproof finish.

 In Iceland, Lopi yarn is actually a thin strand of unspun fiber that's been drafted out. The yarns that are sold today under the name Lopi are mostly softly spun, giving them a bit more body and strength than the unspun fiber would have.

 In Lithuania, there are two rare breeds of sheep that both have coarse wool. This wool was spun into stiff, heavy yarns that were used to make mittens and socks and also for felting to make heavy woolen over coats. Today most of the yarn from these sheep is rotting in barns while local mills are importing merino from New Zealand. I'm hoping that I will be able to get a business started at some point to have the local Lithuanian wool spun and import it into the US. It's not nearly as coarse as it sounds, and it can also be blended with some of that imported merino to make softer knitting yarns. It comes in a variety of natural colors, too.

 I discuss each of these briefly in the book.

 KB: One thing that the book got me wondering was whether there were traditional colors for the different Ethnic tradition.  I think many of us can conjure up images of the thick traditional creamy white Aran sweater, but what about Lithuania and Iceland?  Were the traditional colors based on the colors of the sheep available or did the knitters also dye their yarns into colors that they liked to work with?

 DD: I haven't really researched colors in Iceland. (Yet?)

 In Lithuania, wool was traditionally dyed with natural dyes, and linen was normally worked in its natural color or bleached white. When I was in Lithuania last summer, I went to a festival like a Renaissance Faire, where I saw a demonstration of spindle spinning and an exhibit on natural dyes. They had many dried plants on display, with samples of wool that had been dyed with the plant material.

 To go off topic a little, while I was visiting Lithuania, I found myself laughing at American Ren Faires,  because they are really not based on history. They're really just for fun. There's some historical accuracy, but not much. In Lithuania, the annual Days of Living Archaeology festival that is held at an important Bronze Age archaeological site in KernavÄ—, is all about education and the actual history and prehistory of the region. While it's still fun, the focus is much more serious than the American events I've attended.

 KB: I like the approach in your book that encourages people to "design their own" rather than knit straight from a pre-designed pattern.  How do you help people identify which shapes and sweater structures will help them get the best fit and look for their body shapes?

 DD: There are some guidelines for what shapes look best on different figure types, and these are often the topics of articles in fashion magazines. But the best way to know what looks good on you is to go to the store and try on lots of garments. Look at the shape and construction of the ones you like best, and measure them. OK, you can buy some if you want. But you don't have to. You can also do this at home. Look in your closet and examine the garments you find yourself wearing over and over again because they just look and feel so good. Don't pay any attention to the gorgeous pullover you bought that is gathering dust in the back of the closet because you never wear it. That is a reject. Give it to Good Will and just forget about it. Use the department store fitting room -- and your own closet -- as your own design laboratory. And pay attention to what you feel good wearing.

 KB: I know (from reading your blog) that you are planning a trip to Lithuania this summer and that you have been studiying the Lithuanian language.  Are you planning another book focused specifically on Lithuanian knitting?  If so, when do you expect to see it published? 

 DD: Yes, I am working on a book about Lithuanian knitting, along with June Hall from England. June has been working with Lithuanian spinners and knitters for several years, and last summer we travelled around the entire country to do research for our book. We are hoping to get the writing finished by this fall, and with any luck a year from then, a book will be hitting the shelves. There's no actual publication date yet, because the publisher does not schedule the production until the manuscript is completed and turned in. This book will be a lot like Arctic Lace, with a portion of the book being a collection of knitted accessories, and a portion of the book being about Lithuanian culture and history and our travels and experiences visiting the country.

For more information about Donna and all her books, check her out at her website, Sheep to Shawl and be sure to check out her blog where she talks in more detail about her work and shares knitting tips and tricks from Lithuania, Iceland and Ireland.  You can also find a list of the other guests on her blog book tour if you'd like to find out more about Donna and the book as well as get to "meet" some other great bloggers.

Weaving Glass

In my day job, I spend some of my time keeping up on what is going on in the scientific world.  It's rare that I come across anything that I feel is interesting in both my worlds, but this video crosses the boundary nicely.  This link comes from The Scientist (I would post the original direct link, but I think it requires registration and doesn't provide much additional information beyond what you see in the video) showing the woven glass art of Eric Markow (a chemical engineer) and Thom Morris (a biologist).

I think their work is both beautiful and inspiring no matter whether you weave or not, but is particularly neat for anyone who likes to see a traditional fiber art translated into another medium.  And the day after my weaving class, I always have weaving on the brain, so I just couldn't resist sharing this lovely colorful work on a cloudy grey Chicago day.

Happy Weekend, All!

I thought I would start the week off with something warm and yummy -- something about snowy grey days always makes me want to reach for something sweet.

20090405_BananaWalnutChocol.jpgThese are the Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies from Martha Stewart's Cookies .  Got an extra just-a-little-too-ripe banana that you don't know what to do with?  Like chocolate and toasted walnuts?  This recipe is for you!

Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies
(makes about 3 dozen)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chococolate in 1/4" chunks
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 375F.  Blend flours, salt and baking soda in a bowl with a wisk.

Beat butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Reduce speed.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.  Add in banana.  Add in flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Add in oats, chocolate chunks and walnuts.

Drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment (Silpats work nicely as well) with about 2" spacing -- I used a little over a tablespoon of cookie dough.  Bake cookies, rotating half-way through.  Cookies should be golden brown and just set -- should take around 12-13 minutes.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks -- this is necessary because cookies will be structurally unstable until they have cooled a little bit.

20090405_BananaWalnutChoco2.jpgThe finished cookies should still be a bit on the soft and chewy side, even after being cooled. 

I made the mistake of adding about twice as much vanilla as I was supposed to and I had to supplement a little of the butter with margarine after finding out that John had used the butter I thought I had for clarified butter for the lobster tails he made the night before (I am absolutely not complaining -- any man who makes me lobster and knows how to clarify butter gets a complete and total pass on not reminding me to get more).  Even with those little issues, the cookies were quite good.  Both John and I thought that a little more banana flavor might have been nice - next time I might increase from one banana to 1-1/2 bananas or use a larger banana.  As far as I can tell, the extra vanilla didn't have much of an impact.

You might be wondering if toasting walnuts is worth it.  I'd say yes -- especially since all it entails is chopping the walnuts and then putting them in your toaster oven for 10 minutes.  The toasted flavor was lovely.  I actually wished that I'd added more walnuts than called for in the recipe.

This cookie got a big thumbs up from both John and Z* and I would definitely make it again. So we're 2 for 2 as far as Martha's recipes are concerned.  Maybe the only bad thing about this recipe is that 3 dozen cookies don't last too long around my house...

*For anyone thinking "quelle horreur! she's letting her baby have nuts!"  The answer is: definitely.  We've let her have peanut products and walnuts and pecans without any problems.  It happened by accident the first time, but when nothing bad happened, I saw no reason to maintain the ban, especially since nuts contain so many good oils. 

Finished Rivolo

Pattern: Rivolo
Yarn: Alpaca With a Twist, "Baby Twist" in the colorway "Bark"
Needles:4mm (US 6) Harmony Circular

This poor scarf has been completed for a little while, but lacked blocking because I was unable to find the long carpet runner that I use to block scarves and other long knitted items.  I'm heading to Ann Arbor this weekend so that we can treat Ms. Z to an Easter with her grandparents.  Since my aunt is also there it seemed like a good time to find where that carpet runner had gotten to and get the scarf blocked.

One of the only real decisions I faced for blocking this garment was how much to block out the lace.  This yarn is fuzzy and soft and even with aggressive blocking, the pattern is going to be more subtle.  So I opted to block it out so that the pattern had definition, but wasn't too stretched out.

20090407_RivoloPattern.jpgGiven that I had a pretty super-sized skein to work with, I knit far past the recommended number of repeats.  The scarf is somewhere northwards of 7 feet long so it's got potential for plenty of neck wraps -- which, given the softness of this yarn, it's going to call out for. 

I enjoyed knitting the Rivolo pattern.  The lace is simple and easy to memorize and it's the sort of pattern that will work well with a variety of yarns.  Most lace patterns I can knit once and pretty much be done with.  This one I could knit again.  And maybe I will, with the tencel-blend yarn from Briar Rose Fibers I originally bought to go with it!

Belated Easter Greetings

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I had a lovely holiday weekend with my family in Ann Arbor.  Very little crafting was done, but we all had a great time watching Ms. Z explore the world. The weather wasn't warm, but it was just good enough for a certain outdoor baby to get some serious sunshine time.  In particular, we had much fun with Sunday morning's not-quite-two-year-old Easter egg hunt.

Hey Mom... what do I do with this?

The Easter Egg Hunt in Full Swing

She was in a pre-Easter egg hunt a couple of weeks ago and had no idea what to do.  This time she swooped around and found all but two eggs on her own.  It never ceases to amaze me how much she processes and stores and how quickly she can pick something up.

From our house to yours, a belated happy holiday to all!    Welcome Spring!

Pillow Talk

Here is what I did with some of my recycled Banff Manos yarn: it became the warp for the "Piping Hot Pillows" in Liz Gipson's Weaving Made Easy: 17 Projects Using a Simple Loom.  It's meant to be a simple project where you experiment with varigated yarns in different combinations as warp and weft.  Because I wanted to maximize my yarn, I decided to make both pillows using the Manos (in the colorway Thistle) as my warp.  Choosing a weft yarn was more challenging as I had lots of skeins that were the right weight and would have made an interesting counterpoint to the Manos.  In the end, I decided that I wanted to find a striping yarn (i.e. Kureyon or Silk Garden) that complemented the Manos so that I could get more color into the project without having to work very hard. 

20090414_BothPillows.jpgThe weft yarn that I ended up choosing was a single skein of Big Kureyon that has been languishing in my stash.  Originally I think I purchased it to become a felted cat bed, but I could never get myself excited about knitting up Kureyon for my cats, so it sat there in it's center pull ball, looking sad whenever I saw it. As it turns out, it was just waiting for this prioject.  I had just the perfect amount of yarn to make the two 17 inch pillows.  And I think the striping worked out amazingly well.  The pillows aren't completely matchy-matchy in stripe sequence, but the striping isn't visually discordant, either. 

On each end of each pillow there is an inch of hem that I wove using a bit of Lavold Silky Wool.  This piece won't end up visible, which is almost a shame because it had such an interesting texture agains the Manos.  Just goes to show that even things that you don't think will really work sometimes turn out to be really good combinations and that you shouldn't automatically dismiss anything when you are playing with color.

20090414_PillowHemStitch.jpgEach end of the pillow weft  is secured using a hem stitch, which took me a few minutes to get the hang of, but once I did was kind of fun and made a lovely edge.  I left that tiny gap to give myself a place to cut, but the way it turned out is so nice looking it makes me want to use it in an actual garment somday. 

20090414_OnePillow.jpgI liked this view of a single pillow because it showed off not only the colors of the Kureyon (and how they played agains the dark Manos warp but also the variagation of the manos in the weft as well.  I think it has an interesting water colory effect... or like someone washed or wore away ares of color in the fabric.

The pattern suggests fulling before sewing and finishing and sealing in the pillow.  I am not sure I will full all that much, but I definitely will finish the fabric by giving it a good wash -- it's not really as soft as I might like for pillows.  But before I get to that I need to make the "piping" that's the hot part of these pillows -- from what I can see in the pattern, it looks a bit like the weaving equivalent of i-cord. I figure if I'm going to do any fulling, I should probably do both the pillow fabric and the piping together. 

For anyone who might be considering this project, after you get your loom warped up the weaving is over pretty quickly -- it doesn't take very long to weave 16" of pillow fabric when there are only 6 picks per inch.   It's an interesting way to experiment with variagated yarn and simple color combinations in plainweave -- and could be a nice way to use up a couple of solo aran weight skeins that you don't really know what to do with!

Fuzzy Pink Baby Socks

Since today is Ms. Z's 21-month-iversary it seems only appropriate that she should make it into this post. She's in a wonderful developmental sweet spot right now where she is absolutely lovely to be with.  The kind of baby that makes you want to make things for her.  And so over the weekend, I discovered the kind of yarn that I can't imagine in my own wardrobe, but is just perfect for her: Regia Softy.  Happy soft fuzzy sock yarn that knits up a fabric almost as soft and fuzzy as her blankie. 

20090416_FuzzyPinkBabySocks.jpgAt first blush, this yarn looks a lot like standard Regia sock yarn, just with soft fuzzy bits.  However, it is much happier at on larger needles than you m ight expect.  These little socks were knit on 3 mm double points and were only 32 stitches around.  I  did two stripe repeats for each sock and I think I have at least one full repeat left on the skein.  I purchased a second skein in a different colorway, but this is the one she picked, so it's the one i started with.  And a perfect colorway for a slightly-belated Easter present, I think!

20090416_FuzzyPinkClose.jpgThe texture of these socks reminds me of Muppets.  Soft, fuzzy, almost fleecy.  Ms. Z likes to pet them.  Heck, I like to pet them -- and the yarn, too, even if I wouldn't wear it on my feet.  These socks are the first pair of socks I've knit for her where I used my "adult" template that doesn't include any extra gathering in just above the heel.  She doesn't try to take her socks off any more and her little body is transitioning past the baby shaping into little person shaping. 

I had no problems convincing her to wear them, but, couldn't, for the life of me, get a decent picture (at least not in the time I had before work).  She loved them even if I couldn't capture that love well.  They aren't good for playing on slick surfaces, but they are great warm snuggies for quiet play.

Pieces of Lotus

While I haven't had much to say about Lotus, it has not been because I haven't been working on it, rather because there is only so much that one can say about largish-pieces of white stockinette on tiny needles.   Well, I can say one thing: it went much faster than I expected, because the fronts are quite tiny!  I significant portion of the width in front is made up of the crochet lace edging, so the fronts take almost no time to knit at all (and are actually kind of fun with the shaping on both sides), even on the tiny needles.

Now that I have knit three pieces, I have more insight into the Fine Milk Cotton.  If you are the sort of person who is driven crazy by slightly uneven tension here and there, this yarn is not for you. I am not that sort of person, but even I could notice the places where the tension on the yarn I was carrying was not quite the same as it was in other places.   Will this make one whit of difference to someone seeing me wear the finished garment?  I doubt it, unless the viewer is another very very detail oriented knitter.    And since I was aware of some of the less pleasant behaviors of cotton yarn before I started knitting Lotus, I'm not particularly disturbed by the little flaws I see that are of this nature.

While the yarn makes a nice fabric, knitting with it can be a bit fussy.  It defines "splitty".  I was still able to knit a lot of this by touch, but if you're using sharp tipped needles you may find this yarn more frustrating.  And if your needles have any, even slight burrs or splinters, this yarn is going to catch on it.  Metal needles may be the best call.  I ended up using my Inox needles because I just couldn't find an Addi Turbo of the right size in my needle stash.

My quibbles about the yarn aside (I provide the details more so that others will have a bit of a review of the yarn, not really to discourage the knitting of it, more to prepare) I do like the fabric.  Even if I do have to make sure my hands are clean when I'm creating it (ah, the joys of light colored yarn!) and avoid eating anything greasy or dark colored!

I'm moving on to the sleeves now -- and this is where the fun begins, since the crochet edging is created and then the stitches are picked up from the edging for the body of the sleeve.  While I've knit crochet edges before, none have been as elaborate as the one in this garment, so this should really work out my crochet chops -- especially since the Rowan instructions use the English definitions of the stitches (no surprise, given where the publication is produced) and I will have to be constantly translating back into the American definitions when I follow the instructions. 

So far, so good. I'm happy with the progress I've made, and I'm happy to report that I've run into no problems in the instructions (at least not for the garment in my size).  Now I just need to find a 2.5 mm crochet hook...

Some Wild Blues

I don't know what it is as I get older.  I just hate the grey days.  There were times that I used to like the cozy feeling of being indoors and knowing I was protected from the rain coming down.  Now it just leaves me feeling sort of blah and unmotivated.  Unless, of course, I get something inspirational in the mail.

Enter the last installation of yarn from my Sundara Yarn Seasons subscription  -- three skeins of her aran silky merino yarn dyed in "Wild Blueberries" a feast for the eyes and the fingers, as this yarn is as nice to touch as it is to look at.  Especially if you're a girl who can pick out a silk yarn at 1000 paces in a crowded fiber festival.  Silk just calls to me.  And the handle of this yarn is luscious.  Add in the rich colors of warm summer blueberries* and for me you have a yarn that is not only a winner, but also instant sunshine.

Maybe if I put it close to the window, it will coax the real sun to come out!

*And as far as I'm concerned, I was raised in the best blueberry growing state in the nation, Michigan.  Michigan blues in the summer, eaten near the farm or while picking are just about the best things ever.  IMHO, the berries that end up in the grocery store just can't compare. 

A Little Crochet Lace

One lace cuff. The lovely crocheted lace cuff that is the start of Lotus' sleeves.  Watching this cuff come together made me happy.  It took a long time, I couldn't work on it and read or watch TV, but watching the lace grow out of it just made me feel good.  It's so easy and so lovely.  Even the splitty yarn issues couldn't dull my enjoyment of watching it go from being a chain of 161 stitches to a full fledged piece of lace.

20090423_LotusCuffClose.jpgPretty, no?  And actually not that hard to memorize, in spite of how it might look.  But definitely time consuming -- or at least more time consuming that you might think, given that it's only 10 rows!

Now I'm all ready to get the knitting started for the first sleeve.  I'm beginning to feel like I might have a new sweater by June after all!

MT Upgrade

I'm now running my blog on MT 4.25 -- it updated without any obvious hitches on the back end.  Hopefully everything stays good on the front end as well.   This is a test post, but if you are reading or commenting on anything on the blog and notice any problems, please let me know!

Updated to Add: <sigh> it appears the comments are down for the moment</sigh>

Updated Again: Comments work.  Just a small permissions problem with script executability.

A Little More Lotus

The on and off rain we got all weekend didn't give me many good opportunities for photographs.  I spent most of my crafting time this weekend with Lotus and I made some small amount of progress on the sleeve.  I was thinking of not posting, but I thought a few out there might like to see how that long stretch of lace from Friday gets compressed into the most lovely frill for the sleeve.

20090426_LotusCuff2.jpgThe crochet lace in this project really has me thinking that I would like to try my hand at a crochet sweater sometime this summer.  Crochet really makes cotton and other "summer" yarns shine and in summer I love to have cotton sweaters for layering pieces in my normally chilly office.

 Is it just me or is the most recent issue of IK kind of boring?  I was looking forward to getting it and reading through it, but my reaction to it was really "Meh."  About the only project in it that grabbed my attention was the modular felted bag.  And I just can see myself doing that any time soon.  I know a lot of people complain about Vogue Knitting, but lately I've felt like it's presenting more interesting designs -- or at least designs that make me want to go back and look through the magazine again.   I know spring and summer are hard times for knitting magazines, so I'm hoping for better things from IK in the fall.

Random Wednesday -- 21 Month Edition

My dear, sweet baby girl is closing in fast on her 2nd birthday -- only three months left to go.  I think I would put everyone to sleep with another picture of an unfinished Lotus sleeve, so instead I'm going to be random, at least within the theme of what my 21 month old is up to.

  1.  Ms. Z's favorite book (and YouTube video) is Green Eggs and Ham.  She now tells us, appropos of nothing at all "I do not like you Sam I Am".
  2. She has developed some strange irrational fears.  Like umbrellas.  Open one near her and she will devolve into an instant panic and refuse to go wherever the umbrella was until it is clear that it is no longer around.
  3. She loves YouTube and has pretty much mastered basic iPhone operations.  Whenever she doesn't like what we're watching or playing she dismissively says "Different one! Want different one! I want to do that one!"  and has been known to say "No more email, Momma!"
  4. If she likes clothes, she will happily try them on.  If she doesn't she will squirm and twist like an oiled piglet until she gets away.  She's still very fond of shoes -- a new pair of pink sandals had to be shown to everyone.  And Hallowe'en is going to be her favorite holiday.  Whenever the orange and black Hallowe'en shirts that her grandma gave her are clean, they must be worn.  "Pumpkin shirt, Mamma!  Pumpkin socks!"
  5. She likes coffee and chocolate -- clearly her parents have been an influence on her.  Recently I took her to the Intelligentsia (coffee shop) down town and ordered myself a latte and her a chocolate steamer.  She sat quite sweetly in her chair.  "Hot chocolate, Mamma!" and drank her drink -- you would have thought she was a regular.  of course, I didn't get out of letting her have a taste of mine. 
She is developing so much personality of her own -- combine that with the flood of words that comes out of her mouth (some strangely random, others incredibly clear and focused) and we are beginning to really see who she is.  She loves to be able to express herself and regularly gives us full sentences "Want to read Green Eggs and Ham!" or "Where is Marco?  Nice kitty.  Pet nice!"  and more recently she even asked us "Can Daddy open this?"  It's clear that she's beginning to understand some abstract concepts.  Every day she lets us know something more about who she is and what she likes -- and doesn't like.  As we approach two, it feels like the baby is rapidly fading away to be replaced by a small and very lovely, strongly opinionated little person.

The pictures come from a recent "photo shoot" where I was just playing with my fast 50 mm lens.  I'm certainly biased, but I think these are some of the best pictures I've ever taken of her, and I think she has absolutely beautiful facial structure.  And it goes without saying that she can break my heart with those blue eyes in a heart beat.