Following the Rules

When you start a game, you’re given a set of rules to follow. They help play go smoothly, so no one runs away screaming.

Knitting is a lot like a game with rules to keep, and if you don’t follow them, you’ll run away screaming.

I had one of those moments recently with the Brooklyn Bridge Cardigan I’m knitting from the book Metropolitan Knits. I’ve got the back done, the left side done, and am half-way through the right. Before I started increasing I laid them all out to see if my shaping matched up, and that’s when I saw it.

lot-matters

The shaping was great; it was the color that was off. The back is medium, the right front has a brownish tint, and the left is bright orange. How did this happen?

I bought a bag of yarn years ago. They’re all the same kind and color—Araucania Nuble. It’s a lovely wool-silk blend that makes up beautifully. Perhaps I never looked at the dye lots, perhaps I thought since they were hand dyed it didn’t matter. All but one of the hanks I’d rolled into balls for a project that didn’t materialize at the time, so I don’t have labels to check.

There are rules that I blithely ignored. Dye lot as you can see is greatly important. And when you are using hand dyes for a large project, you should knit two rows with one ball, and then two rows with another ball to help obfiscate any discrepancies in color. That sounds like a lot of work and bother, but it would save me a lot of work.

Ugg, now what? I’m going to look for the darkest balls of yarn and restart the left side. I’m hoping the disparity between the back and the front won’t be as apparent once I have the sleeves done and am wearing the silly thing.

Another good rule of thumb when you’re knitting: Don’t frog or “rippit” out late at night when you find a mistake. Wait till the next day when you’re not tired and frustrated. I’ve ripped out shoulder shaping, redone it, and gone back the next day only to realize I had it right in the first place. A tired mind can play tricks on you.

While I’m offering tidbits of advice, let’s go ahead and talk about gauge. It makes me cringe when someone says “I never swatch” or “I hate to block”. OK, that’s all well and good, but I guarantee swatching will save you from heartache and blocking will make your finished project look so much better. Believe it or not, while I enjoy the process of knitting, I also want to enjoy the end project. If my sweater is two sizes too large, or worse yet two sizes too small, I’m not going to be happy with it.

By swatching, you also get a sneak peek at the fabric you’re making. Is it going to drape nicely? Does the yarn have good stitch definition so you’ll be able to see those great cables? Does the yarn’s color pattern hide or enhance the design?

I’ve been trying to use up my stash recently; I have a lot of yarn that’s causing me guilt. So when I purchased Self-Striping Yarn Studio recently and saw the Hexagon Sweater, I had an a-ha moment. I have Sweet Georgia’s Tough Love Sock yarn just waiting to be used. It would be great for that sweater. Unfortunately, the yarn is more of a variegated rather than a self-striping. Thankfully, I had some other yarn that would work. But if I hadn’t swatched, I’d have been disappointed.

I’ve also been trying to find the perfect project for some chunky gray yarn and some cotton-bamboo in army green. While I was able to get the crocheted green to proper gauge, I didn’t like the density of the swatch. I’m not going to wear something that feels stiff and awkward. I tried the pattern in a lace-weight which has a much nicer feel, but is way too fine for the pattern.

The gray swatches are the same yarn, just different needle sizes. I’ve made guage and think I’ve found the perfect pattern. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

swatching

I know, I know, you just want to get started on your project. You don’t feel liking making some silly swatch and the idea of blocking it is ridiculous. If you want to be pleased with the end results, that bit of extra effort really makes a difference.

And now I have to carefully select the darkest balls of orangey-brown yarn, and hope for the best. Wish me luck, and happy knitting!

What are you making at your house during the rainy days of winter?

 

How’s That for Color?

Me & the MR went shopping for carpet last weekend.  We went to Haight Carpet in Woodinville where we’ve had good service in the past.

We’re not looking for anything fancy, since it’s just for the master bedroom, the guest room, and the sewing room. We made the big commitment to the faux concrete floors a few years ago, so we really don’t have much in the way of wall-to-wall carpeting.

We’re looking at a medium-gray tone for the master. We’ve chosen the top sample from below—Stormwatch.

master-carpet-samples

And then for the guest room, which is really dark, we’ve chosen a gray-beige (Morning Mist) that matches the floor color well. We’re hoping it will lighten the room up a bit. It’s the sample on the far right.

guest-room-carpet-samples

That’s the same color we’ll use for the sewing room. I’ve been in a bit of a quandary as to whether to go light or dark up there. The room gets plenty of light, so we could choose the darker gray, but darker carpet shows lint. I always have strings and threads, bits of fabric and yarn scattered on the floor. I’m not sure which would hide that the best. We’ll go with the light and pledge to vacuum more often.

Our sweet dog followed the man from the carpet store around as he measured the rooms yesterday. We could have it installed and looking bright and new in just two weeks. I haven’t made the call yet. I was hoping for a sunny day to check the colors one last time.

Cocoa also tried to help me photograph the samples. Sitting on the floor is an open invitation to dogs.

cocoa-photobomb

She hates to be left out of anything.

What are your carpet buying tips and tricks? Light or dark?

 

The History of a Fireplace Big, White House Style

I received a great email this weekend from my mother-in-law. It read:

This is our friend, the cocktail waitress in LV where you both and Baby Girl stayed one time with us, and she LOVES you blog and I thought you better than I could tell her where to best look for info on the fireplace.  I told her, but she wants pictures.  MK

 

PLEASE tell that WONDERFUL daughter in law there is a story about that fireplace. I bet it was not that nice until they improved it. Worthy of blog info.—-tell her I want to hear about IT    !!!!!!     FFQ

So this one is for MeeMee’s friend Linda. Honey, all you have to do is ask…

I was kind of surprised, because after a few years you get used to things. You forget how they were. They’ve always been this way, right? So for those of you who haven’t been with us from the beginning, we’re going to go back, back to the time when the Big White House on the Hill looked more like something out of Miami Vice, back when everything was white except for the carpet. I still can’t believe the MR talked me into moving here with the bugs, and the mice, in the middle of nowhere.

In those days, it wasn’t just a fireplace. It was a fireplace and conversation pit because everyone has to have one. A friend suggested we should turn it into a ball pit.  Our kids were 17 and 13, otherwise we might have seriously considered it.

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

It took me months to wrap my head around this space. We’ve had fireplaces in all our homes, and I’d always wanted a mantel, but now I had 10-feet of space to decorate. And with the three-foot drop, I needed a step stool to put anything on it. When you don’t know what to do—do nothing. That’s always been my MO.

A few books, a few flowers, a 2-foot-tall candle can all do wonders.

Fireplace

And while white on white was where we started, me and the MR where intent on adding color. The walls in Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige and Tony Taupe where a fairly simple choice, but what could we do with the fireplace? Would a little paint help hide the speakers and the dumb-waiter for the wood? Could we make this more of a focal point?

I did a little brainstorming in Let’s Talk Color and came up with this color scheme.

Fireplace

Adding some dark gray would help blend in the granite, and painting the stair step walls gray would set them off from the background taupe.

I was surprised to see how closely my color overlays matched the final outcome. The major difference was that we decided to have the mantel and the hearth painted in the darker color as well.

Fireplace plus background

Check out “The Big Reveal” for all the freshly painted pictures. While this picture looks green, it’s actually gray with greenish undertones.

Sadly, we still had the very uncomfortable conversation pit, but look at how beautiful the molding looks set off by the gray paint. It took another year-and-a-half for us to get Out of the Pit or at least to save enough money to fill in the pit, but we did it.

Pit Construction

Once the trusses where in and the subfloor was in, we had the carpet removed, weird orange underlay put down, and the whole thing covered with a faux-concrete flooring.

Orange floor at sunset

Yes, we have lived through a whole lot of crazy putting this house together.

floor

You can see how our fireplace changed from year-to-year.

Over the Years Fall Fireplace Collage

And now we where just waiting for new chairs to cozy up to the fireplace.

Fireplace seating

Sadly, chairs where not enough. It was looking a little sterile. We needed pillows, throws, and a rug. Can we add a little softness and color?

fireplace chairs with new throw 2

We’ve moved around the plants, and the mantel itself is in constant flux with the seasons, but it still looks very similar to Baby Girl’s rendering for one of her first college classes.

BGs Sketch

In the last year, I’ve swapped out the hexagon tables for a footstool. This made for a very cozy place for our feet while the fireplace was in constant use during the recent power outages.

It’s fun to look back and see all that we’ve done over the past five years. I’d forgotten about the old boiler failing to turn on and heat the house that first winter after installing the heat pump. I guess that was the year we were in Mexico and Sweet Miss texted that it was 40-degrees—inside. I did feel a little guilty that she came home to a cold house.

If this doesn’t fulfill your hankering for info on the fireplace, you can always go to the blog and search for fireplace or mantel in the search engine. You’ll get to see all the fun fall and Christmas mantels plus a few spring and Valentine’s ones. Maybe I should get busy with a new one for the coming holiday.

What’s on your mantel? Does it change with the seasons?

P.S. I am not perfect. I have been known to spell “mantel” mantle upon occasion—I know, I know, it’s an article of clothing not an architectural feature. I think I’ve got it down now.

P.P.S. Thanks Linda for subimitting your request. I’d never have found this great picture of the girls if you hadn’t had me looking for fireplace stories. Strangely enough, the post with this picture had nothing about fireplaces or mantels, but I sure do love my sweet girls.

The girls


 

 

 

 

Winter Wonderland 

It was snowing when we went to bed last night. The MR said he’d just work from home. I figured I’d finally sew up those pillows I bought fabric for last June. I could always write my blog on my IPad. 

Then we woke to this. 


And no power. I’m just glad we have a couple cords of wood stacked up under the house. 


That means we’re nice and cozy for now. 

The girls came to visit this weekend to surprise the MR for his birthday. We enjoyed cards, and games, and movies. We explored our little downtown, went wine tasting, and tried out the new coffee shop. I just didn’t get a lot of chores done. 

Baking, dishes, and dirty clothes will have to wait for the power to come back on. We haven’t fired up the generator just yet. 

Some knitting and a few good books are calling. The snow will melt soon. 

How do you like to while away a storm?

P.S. Next time it snows, remind me to grind up a ton of coffee just in case. A French press isn’t much good with whole beans. 

The Flurries of January 2017

When I started this blog five years ago, I had two girls in high school busy with sports, friends, and activities. Sweet Miss was getting ready to graduate. Now the girls are in gone to school and jobs in Oregon, and the MR has started a consulting business where he can pick and choose his hours.

Suddenly, our ties to home are much fewer, and we’ve been totally taking advantage of it. Just look back at the month: On the Road AgainFirst Stop MiamiRelaxing on Turks and Caicos, and The Beauty of Zihuatanejo. The first three posts share highlights of our recent trip, and the the last shares our trip to Mexico with the girls just before Christmas.

tc-beach-loungers

Each of these places had their own beauty and charm. I promised to share a photo of the stingrays we swam with. These were fun to watch from afar after I got over my initial fear.stingray

All this traveling means, I have to plan ahead to get the blog out, so I’ve been using the “Wordless Wednesday” model here and there. I shared Our Citrus Grove and Winter Blooms recently. The tiny calamondin lime, which isn’t even a lime, but a hybrid of a mandarin orange and the kumquat, and the lemon tree make up our stunted, indoor grove. I cut up one of the limes to add to a salad—it was way too tart. The three lemons on our “tree” are ripening and will soon be part of a lemon pie. It’s our little eating hyper-local experiment.

We’ve added another bloom to the winter beauty from a plant the MR’s grandmother grew. Does anyone know what this is? The branches hang down, and the clusters of white, star-shaped flowers face down as well.

grannys-plant

The blooms are even prettier when viewed from below. Maybe I showed move the plant to a bookcase, so we can see these sweet flowers at their best.

grannys-plant-from-below

When I am home, I have time to get involved in some local groups. The Knitters and Crocheters of Duvall meet Tuesdays at Quintessential Knits, and they’ve joined up with the Duvall Bag Ladies to make sleeping mats for the homeless. I hope they add some comfort to these people’s lives.

bl-bag-close-up

And finally, I took time to Learn Something New. Brioche is a challenging knitting technique with very cool results. I hope Baby Girl is enjoying her cozy cowl. I hear snow and ice is headed towards Oregon again this week and alpaca is soft and warm.

lsn-bg-cowl

I have a few sewing projects, and we’re talking carpet again, so I may have some home-centered posts for February. We’ll just have to wait and see.

What’s been going on in your neck of the woods?