I spent last Friday through Monday in Chicago. My dear Uncle John passed away in the spring, and his daugther and her family were bringing him home from Connecticut, where he'd lived with them for the last 25 years, to be buried near his wife. As is often the case in these circumstances, this event caused a gathering of the clan, or at least part of it. Uncle John was married to one of my mother's four sisters. There were also five brothers in her family. Those ten children produced 25 first cousins, of which I am one. While all of us were not there, it was fun being with those who were. We told all the family stories, (a few of which changed ideas I'd had in my mind for a long time,) had some nice meals together, and visited the resting places of loved ones no longer with us. All in all, despite the sadness of saying goodbye to Uncle John, it was a lovely weekend.
All of my cousins and their children are very talented. There are many artists, working in fiber, clay, paint, photography, music, and well, pretty much any area you can think of. My cousin Dawn's daughter, Kelly, just received a scholarship to attend the Rhode Island School of Design in the fall, and I really enjoyed seeing her many works of art. She's going to major in metalsmithing, with an eye to becoming a jewelry artist. Believe me, she's well on her way already. Cousin Gayle's daughter, Kari, was needle felting little animals while we visited, and also showed us some of her watercolors. She had painted a little duck that just begged to be petted, it looked so soft and fuzzy! Cousin Kim makes beautiful quilts, and Gayle is an extremely talented painter of traditional Norwegian motifs on wooden objects. Dawn is an amazing rug designer and hooker. I think almost all of us knit or crochet - when I needed a bigger needle to bind off the shawl I was making, Christine went out to her car and brought in just what I needed! Our grandmother was a prolific knitter and could sew any kind of dress, shirt, etc with no more than the idea in her head and a piece of paper to make the pattern, so we all come by it honestly. It was so much fun to be surrounded by such talented and lively people! Here they are, with a couple of husbands thrown in for good measure.
Christine, her daughter Emily, Gayle's husband Kelly, Kari, Dawn, Aunt Karyl (the last of the ten,) Gayle, Kim, and Kim's husband, Tom. I'm taking the picture.
For the trip, I chose a very easy project, the Storm Cloud Shawlette. I used a skein of Silkie Socks That Rock that was part of their first year sock yarn club. It had just the right amount of softness and drape for this little shawl. My only gripe was that the pattern called for 150 to 250 yards of yarn, and yet I was unable to do the listed number of repeats with the 360 yards I had. Nevertheless, it came out very cute, and because Aunt Karyl kept admiring it, I gave it to her as soon as it came off the needles.
Here's Aunt Karyl modeling it. I like how it can be worn with the ruffle at either the bottom or turned over at the top. (And isn't she cute!)
I'll definitely make this again, but with a bigger skein of yarn.
I got two books in the mail today. The first, "Cast On Bind Off: 54 Step-by-Step Methods" is a small spiral bound volume, perfect to carry along in a knitting bag. It has more cast ons and bind offs than I even knew existed. I like how it gives a description of the technique, along with characteristics, what is is good for, any extras needed (extra needle, crochet hook, etc.), pitfalls, photos and words for how to work it, and a box called "get it right" for each one. This one is going to get a lot of use, I'm sure, as I'm always thinking of what bind off I could use that would pair nicely with my cast on.
The next book is "The Knitters Handy Book of Top-Down Sweater Patterns." I like this series, and I've been waiting for this one, as I've decided I really like the top down method of knitting sweaters. Included are formulas for seamless yoke, raglan, set-in sleeve, and saddle-shoulder sweaters, both pullover and cardigan. Like her other books, there are examples of finished sweaters you can copy, and sizes range from child through adult. I have sleeves to finish on the sweater I started last winter, and once those are done, I'm digging into this book for sure.
So, now to the travail part of my post. I'm back to sock knitting (surprise!) and have decided once again that I want to try something other than my tried and true flap and gusset heel. I looked through all the heel techniques I have bookmarked or written down and settled on the one in "Simple Socks Plain & Fancy" by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts. It was a bit fiddly, but that is to be expected as it was new to me, and I liked it well enough, despite the purl and knit three togethers, and purl three through the back loops, but at the end there were two big holes on either side of the heel where the leg and heel joined. I sewed them up, but would rather have a method that doesn't do this. Here's a photo with the area marked.
It looks fine now, and maybe with more experience that wouldn't happen, but with the second sock, I'm going to try another heel. I have some suggestions, but send me yours and if I pick it as my favorite, I'll send you a skein of sock yarn.
I guess that's it for now. This weekend I'm going to go horse shopping with my trainer - for him, not me. In fact, he has orders to NOT LET ME BUY A HORSE. Jim says, "no!" On the other hand, Jim didn't tell me I couldn't buy a mule!!