Ba-baaai, summer! Bwah!

Published on Tuesday September 27th, 2011

Time to say goodbye, Ada style, with a vigorous kiss blown at the end, to the briefest summer in my memory. All night, dozing lightly with one ear cocked upstairs for baby sounds — the only way I seem to know how to sleep anymore — I heard rain on the pavement. This morning I put on a wool sweater (Pas de Valse), a wool hat (“Mama HA’!” exclaims my small one, reaching to pull it off my head and flop it over her face for peekaboo), and wool socks. (Darned if those aren’t still the best-looking socks in the drawer, despite having been knit in 2005. My admiration for Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock grows annually.) Ada is in her reversible brioche cardigan (blue side out today) and her new boots. The boot leather squeaks and she steps tentatively in them, unaccustomed to the stiff soles.

We replenished the bird feeders this morning and discovered a mouse had moved into the seed bin on the back porch. I spotted the evidence right away, but didn’t expect to see Mouse herself peeping up at me from a hole in the bag, all sleek fur, bright eyes, and quivery whiskers. Ada, having been recently enchanted by a pet rat at the tea shop, thought we should pick her up and get to know her properly, but we didn’t. I am tenderhearted about mice, although I sincerely hope this one’s family isn’t expecting to move in with us for the winter. (The cat should be an effective deterrent. For all his faults, he’s a competent hunter and also pulls his weight when it comes to chores like dispatching house centipedes with alarming legs. (Don’t google them. If you don’t know what they look like from personal experience, thank the appropriate deity and go on your blissfully ignorant way.) And while the dog is useless against the creepy crawlies, she’d be thrilled to go all buddy-cop with Mingus on a mouse if he wouldn’t end her for cramping his style. So I’m not too worried about a rodent invasion.) But I’ll be devising a way to lock down the bin lid more securely. In the mean time, the finches seem untroubled to have shared some of their sunflower seeds. I’ve never seen a handful of birds tuck in with more vigor. They must realize summer is fading, too.

While the featheries are plumping up for winter, I’m feeling ready to turn my attention back to the thickest and warmest projects in my knitting basket. If you’re a knitter, there’s an excellent chance you already know what this is…

MiteredCross (1 of 1)

… but don’t tell, okay? Here be secret knitting. And speaking of miters, I’ve nearly finished my Mitered Cardigan: a seam to graft, buttons to attach, ends to weave, and then I cross my fingers and block this sweater like the dickens and, if all else fails, maybe take up running in case there’s a spare inch or so that could come off my middle.

Pas de Valse

Published on Monday June 21st, 2010

Friday was our fifth wedding anniversary.  It’s ten years since I first knew I’d marry Mr. G and next year will mark half my lifetime that we’ve been friends, so I’d say we dance pretty well together by now. Not that we don’t tread on each other’s toes now and then or misinterpret the lead, but swing dancers who have come to learn and have a good time like to say a universal “I’m sorry” before the dance begins so they can jump in with good intentions and humor, and this kind of understanding works well in marriage, too. This is a busy time for us and we had my family in town for a weekend of  baby showers, birthday parties, and general merrymaking, but we slipped away to have breakfast together and luckily I had just the thing to wear to look nice for my beloved.




Pas de Valse! It was almost dry. And I’ve already worn it three more times — this one definitely goes on my list of knitting successes, and that’s a relief. For one, I started it last November, before I knew I was pregnant. I didn’t knit a gauge swatch, which is not behavior I’d recommend for a project like this. Once I got a few inches in and did bother to check, my row gauge was way off. I compensated by throwing in extra rows between the decreases. It still looked awfully short when I reached the armholes, given that it’s supposed to fall gracefully to the hips, but I just crossed my fingers that the blocking gods would accept my offerings. By this time all those extra rows had blown the stitch count to smithereens; I’m not even sure I could tell you what I did with the front extensions except that I tried to make shaping decisions that would keep them looking proportional to the rest of the cardigan.



Somehow, it all worked. The length is perfect. The sleeves are perfect (and this hardly ever happens for me). I want to marry this yarn and have its woolly BFL babies. (A note on the yarn: it’s Oceanwind Knits BFL Fingering, for which the pattern is written and on which I decided to splurge as a 30th birthday present to myself. Four 400-meter skeins were recommended for the 39″ size; I’ve got a full skein untouched and a good chunk of the third remaining, and lucky me because I’ll totally use it for something else, but keep that in mind if you’re thinking three skeins might be more within the reach of your budget. My colorway is Seabreeze, but I was sorely tempted by the Cranberry as well.) It’s soft enough not to itch my neck at all, even with sensitive pregnancy skin, yet it’s lustrous and far stronger than merino — breaking the strand will leave a mark and a sting on your fingers. Marnie MacLean’s pattern is one of the most thorough I’ve ever worked from — so thorough that you have to keep your wits about you and read ahead of yourself repeatedly to make sure you’re proceeding correctly — but it’s worth the effort for a beautiful result.

Tomorrow I have to drive to the coast, which really would have been the ideal location for a Pas de Valse photoshoot… barefoot in the sand against the plunging rocks and pounding sea… but alas, I can’t take my photographer with me. I’m totally wearing the cardigan, though. You’ll just have to imagine it. In the mean time, my husband likes this silly contrast shot to end on:


Look, our deck is now a construction area with a workbench!

(My parents never just come for a visit. They can’t stand to loll about and actually be on vacation, so they do projects and build me things — on this occasion, custom shelves for a closet so it could become a linen closet and clear a bureau for Minnow’s gear. Oh, and they painted a bookcase, too. They might come back next month to rebuild the rotten deck. Yes, they are exceptional parents.)

Sunday noon

Published on Sunday December 6th, 2009



This looks like the height of luxury, doesn’t it? But I think we’d earned it by singing for three hours in English, Latin, and Italian. I’ve managed a lot of knitting on my Pas de Valse cardigan during the 10am services (and other occasions impractical for lugging about a basket of yarn and accoutrements for stranded or intarsia colorwork).


I’m interested to see how this piece will look after blocking. It’s knit with a fingering-weight 2-ply Bluefaced Leicester wool on US #6 needles, which gives a rather pebbly stockinet fabric. I’m giving it entirely too much of my knitting time, but I’m so looking forward to having this airy, floaty cardigan ready for the very first spring weather.