It's been busy times around here, with much finishing of things, starting new things, undoing other things. Lots of starts and stops, for all kinds of reasons. It all feels a little bit hectic, which I guess is kind of standard for this time of year; at least it is for me. I always make an effort to get things done early so I can have Christmastime feel easy and relaxed, but instead I'm always barreling into the season with wild hair, a growing sense of panic, and a fistful of to-do lists. I wanted to put up the tree on Saturday, as we always do, and so we ran all our errands and came home whistling; Doc made eggnog, and I put some festive music on the old hi-fi...the boxes came down from the attic, and when we opened the one containing our [cheap, old, plastic, white] vintage-y tree, we saw that it had at some point during its deadly-hot summer slumber under the eaves, boiled itself into a sort of salted caramel color that could not be hidden or denied. So we put the eggnog in the fridge, shut off the soothing holiday tunes, and went out to buy a tree. Of course it was raining.
I finished that sweater up there, and I've been wanting to tell you about it. Listen, I could not love that sweater more if it had furry ears and tasted like chocolate. It fits me totally perfectly. It is so soft and so warm, and so dang fancy! I'm proud to say I made it up myself, much inspired by Heidi Kirrmaier's North Sea Nostalgia pullover and Tin Can Knits' Cartography pullover, and also by a most beautiful DIY design by Orlane Sucche. Most of all, though, the inspiration for this sweater came from the yarn itself: Jill Draper's Mohonk in "Ocher" and my own handspun, made from one of Debbie's orphan flock fleeces and dyed by me with madder root, which I used as the contrast color. It is a very soft, warm pink, and it looked so perfect beside Jill's yarn that I knew they were meant for each other. I made it in my usual way, adding four alternating stitch patterns--I think those are mostly from this book. I really, really love this way of doing things, and I was reminded again, and hard, just how much when I had to unravel almost an entire sweater knit from someone else's pattern because I missed an important instruction at the neckline, causing fatal damage to the project. Well, memo for next time: read the pattern. It sounds obvious, but apparently I need reminding.
I also finished this sweater; you'll all I'm sure recognize it as Humulus by Isabell Kramer:
This one flew by so fast, it felt like it hardly touched the needles at all. I used a wonderfully wooly farm yarn from Romney Ridge that I bought last year at Rhinebeck, and it made such a good fabric--sturdy and properly knit. It will last a long time, I think, and will keep the weather out, which is the true work of a good handknit sweater. You'll notice the contrast color is also Mohonk "Ocher"...well, sometimes whatever is in the front of the cupboard is what gets used. These two yarns are pretty different, but they worked beautifully well together. Those hand-dyed yarns from Jill Draper are really great for colorwork. Anyway, I've been wearing this one a lot, too.
In Learning New Stuff, my friend Deb has been listening to me idly blather on about wanting to learn to do paper piecing long enough. She has tried to explain it, and has tried to demonstrate it visually by using what was on hand at the time, and I am just so thick on this subject that I couldn't figure it out. She showed me her quilt project in progress, all done in paper piecing, and it was so gorgeous my eyeballs bugged out of my head. I whined some more about wanting to learn to do it, so she brought me this little kit and sent me away with firm instructions to find a youtube tutorial and make this little Christmas tree square.
I don't even want to tell you how long it took me to make this. It was hours. I picked it apart countless times. This thing is two inches square. I watched ten different tutorials and tried so hard to follow the directions, but I just couldn't get my head around it. The pieces were numbered and everything...okay. Here's what I don't understand, and maybe somebody out there can help me with this. The tree up there: the green tree and the two triangles beside it are pieces 1, 2 and 3. Got it, no problem. Now. The three pieces at the bottom are 4, 5, and 6. If I were piecing this the usual way, I would obviously sew those three together as a set and then add the whole thing to the bottom of the first set, done, easy. But how is that done in paper piecing? I could not figure it out. Help. I finally just did it the usual, non paper-piece-y way and threw up my hands in despair, but I still really want to know how. If you know, please tell me? There's a Lone Star quilt just waiting to be born, and I'd like to do it that way.
Time for some egg nog. See you later!