The crocus sweater was growing steadily, right up until the beginning of the week. I was sailing down the home stretch to the cuff on the first sleeve, and went to get my last skein of yarn to start working two balls together to blend the colors. Except there was no last ball. Or, rather, there is a last ball, and it appears that I’m on it.

I was sure I had only used four skeins so far, but I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find the 5th. I’ve counted ends in the sweater, but since I was working two balls at a time for most of the sweater it’s hard to tell for sure how many are in there. So here I am:

And there is only a half a ball (about 100 yards) left. The sweater is already pretty well fitted, and any tighter would be too tight for what I wanted. I could bring the hem up an inch maybe, but no more. I have a tiny bit of unspun batt left over (in case there was a need for some creative color blending at the end), but it’s only a fraction of an ounce. I don’t really want to increase the width of the colorwork in the sleeves and body, and I’m not sure how much yarn that would save, anyway. I could pull back and reknit at a looser gauge, hoping to stretch the yarn just a little bit further. I could try increasing the colorwork band at the neck, or I could spin up and work in another colorway to help stretch the yardage. But as of right now, no matter how you cut it, I don’t have enough yarn.

For now, my plan is to stall and hope that extra ball shows up. I’m pretty sure it’s not here, but hope springs eternal. I’m not 100% in love with the yellow band near my face (yellow has never been my color), so maybe this is simply an opportunity to redesign the sweater into something that I’ll like even better. Fortunately, it’s on big needles and hasn’t taken long to knit, and I’m a process knitter at heart anyway. Before I rip, though, I’m going to let it sit in time out for a while and see what comes up.

In the meantime, I’ve been playing with this:

That’s the yarn I bought at Steven Be’s in Minneapolis earlier this summer. That crazy neon yarn cried out to me, and then I chose the green and purple to balance it out and tone it down. The pictures today are horrible, but you get the idea (we had a rainy day and I didn’t have time to futz with the camera and lighting…it was a post today or post in 2 weeks kind of deal, so ugly pictures it is). I’m playing with a wide slipped stitch motif  for a hem decoration on a striped/two-tone stockinette ground. The two ends of the swatch are the slipped stitch pattern with a forward-crossed stitch; the one in the center is a simple fairisle. I like the sharpness of the slipped stitch version, and the dimensionality that the slightly raised slip stitches give to the fabric. It looks like the neon is peeking out through a lattice of the darker yarn, and I like that effect a lot. I’m currently planning on a linen stitch derivative for the hem of the piece, since it won’t roll easily and should be firm enough to stand up to the slight pull of the slipped stitch pattern at the ends of the rows.

Combining linen stitch, stockinette, and a twisted slip stitch pattern in one piece is a bit tricky in terms of gauge, though. On the left end of the swatch, I used the same needle throughout, and the gauge varied markedly from one section to the next. Even after a fairly firm blocking, the fabric has a tendency to pucker and curl at the transition from one stitch to another. The pattern on the right was worked with three different needle sizes; the larger size 1 (2.5 mm) for the linen stitch, the smaller 2 size (2.75 mm) for the stockinette, and larger 2 size (3.0 mm) for the slipped stitches. (I’d like to say here that I find it absurd that there are six different needle sizes between 0 and 3 in my knitpicks harmony sock needle kit. I love having a series of closely spaced needle sizes, but the metric naming system makes so much more sense!)

In any case, the final effect with the three different needles was much better, and the final fabric is much more even in the later part of the swatch, though the stitches are a little loose for my liking. I preferred the slightly tighter look of the slipped stitch pattern worked on the smaller needles, so I think I’ll probably shift the whole series down one needle size to get a slightly firmer gauge. Since I’ll also be switching to Addi circs for the final garment, this calls for yet another swatch to see if their size 0, 1, and 2 are similar enough to the Knitpicks size 0, 1, and 2. (Or should that be 0, little 1, and big 1??)

More soon, hopefully, but so far I’m liking how this is coming together!

You know that moment just after you finish weaving in the last end where you lay out the project to admire your handiwork? The one where you notice a mistake right in the middle of the project? Well.

Turns out a blog post can do that, too. I went to post on Sunday about how much I liked the new colorwork decreases (I do really like them very much).

They look like flowers in their own right, don’t they? I am very glad that I decided to go down to two stitches in the decrease pattern instead of 4, because 4 stitches along the decrease line made pretty prominent stripes that I didn’t love. I’m calling that change worth the ripping and reknitting, even if it wasn’t voluntary.

In preparation for writing my blog post, I went to take a picture of the decreases. Except instead of the flowers above, what I saw was this:

Not quite so flower-y, huh?

It turns out that my colorwork pattern is off by 2 stitches on two of the decrease lines, and that’s enough to move me from little flowers to something a little less exciting. Sadly, I  was apparently consistent within each sleeve but not from sleeve to sleeve. This means that I will have one set of decreases with flowers and one without in the front of the sweater, and a matching mismatched pair of decrease lines in the back.

I think this happened because I decided to mirror around the center, and it’s a 4-stitch repeat, which shifts everything over by two. Perfect symmetry at the button band = broken symmetry or a different stitch count across the two halves of the sweater front.

I’ve decided not to pull back again because I don’t think this will matter much in the grand scheme of things. A very detail-oriented person will notice it, but from a few steps away the difference kind of gets lost. (Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.)

I was apparently spoiled by the slip stitch pattern that I used in the Seafoam sweater. There, I paid no attention whatsoever to the decreases, and they just worked. Next time, I’ll have to remember to swatch my transitions, too!

(Note: the title of this post is sadly apt, in a different context. Our backyard chipmunks have reappeared this year, and they have dug up and eaten each and every one of my crocus bulbs, and most of the hyacinths and snowdrops, too. Now, instead of the row of green shoots that I had a couple of months ago, I have a neat row of little holes where the flowers used to be. Apparently we’ll be re-planting this fall, and installing some chicken wire. It won’t be much use against the marauding rabbits, but at least it will protect the bulbs!)

A weekday post! If that’s not a sure sign of summer, I don’t know what is.

Of course, the reason that I’m posting in the middle of the week is that I have been (to borrow a phrase from the Twinset podcast) bitten by my knittin’.

I cast on for the crocus sweater on Monday, and worked an inch or so on the train on Tuesday morning. Tuesday night knitting got me well into the colorwork, which I then decided to tweak and ripped back about 2 inches to start over on Wednesday. I got back on track quickly, and things were going along just swimmingly until last night at around 11, when I looked down and saw this:

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a twist in my cast on. A twist that I did not notice for 4 inches and 3 days of knitting, including laying out the fabric to check that it was the right size against another sweater. I checked for a twist twice at the cast on, once at the 1 inch mark, and even had Branden check at the cast on to be extra sure (I often have him double check me when I’m casting on this many stitches. A second pair of eyes is worth it to avoid ripping back.)

And yet somehow, we missed it. Either that, or it magicked itself into being when I wasn’t looking. Knitting can be tricksy like that. There’s no getting around the fact that the twist is there now and it’s plain as day, even if two people could swear that it wasn’t there two days ago. It’s a mystery.

Just moments before I discovered the twist, I happened to be thinking of one more tweak I should have made to the colorwork decreases, but decided that it wasn’t worth pulling back again. I am taking the twist as a sign that that change really was meant to be. I am also taking it as a reason not to break the yarn on long colorwork repeats until after finishing the yoke next time.

We’re down to yarn fumes on the mink scarf, so I’m scrambling a bit to get the next project lined up. I spun up the 2 oz of fiber that I picked up at Steven Be’s in Minneapolis, which rounds out my collection of colors for the crocus sweater.

Now, all I have left to do is to choose a stitch pattern. In wandering through my pattern books, the multi-color slip stitch patterns have been catching my eye, so I started out with one of those. I didn’t love the way it worked straight out of the book (the first few rows of the colorwork pattern in the swatch), but have been working in some modifications and am liking it much better now. The top three repeats (close to the needle) are my favorites so far, and with some careful color sequencing I think we have a winner.

Of course, me being me, I knit those last three repeats with no idea of what it was that I was actually doing. I slipped into my usual knitting trance, and just kind of let my hands do their thing. I knit with one color when it felt like the right time, and knit with the other when I felt like it. I slipped some stitches with yarn in front, and some with yarn in back, when the pattern seemed to need only really paying attention to what was happening in the row below. This worked just great until I decided that I liked the pattern and wanted to write it down, at which point I promptly lost all sense of what I’d been doing. Then, I spent about 3 hours figuring out how to knit the next 4 rows.

I decided to chart the pattern out, partly for future reference, partly because we haven’t had a process-y post in a while and I thought it might be fun, and partly so that I could play with my colored pencils.

(That last one might have been the factor that tipped the scales in favor of documentation.)

So, now that I’ve figured out what on earth it was that I was doing, let me explain it as though I knew what was happening all along.

Here is the original slip stitch pattern for the Flecked Tweed from the 3rd Walker Book (p 229):

It’s a very simple pattern; you slip with the yarn in front for a horizontal bar, and with the yarn in back for a vertical bar. You work two rows in each color (knitting with only one color at a time). Here’s the color version of that first chart. The squares with a front-slipped stitch are colored with the working yarn, and with the color from the previous row, since the float looks like it cuts the slipped stitch in half in the actual swatch. The key at the right end of each row shows the colors of the working yarn(s) for that row.

That gives you this:

Like I said, I wasn’t in love with this version. I thought it muddied up the colors too much, but I loved the tiny little flower that were peeking out of the pattern (in green for those first few rows). I played around a bit, with the next repeat, and suddenly the green slipped stitch turned into little stems (orange flowers in the second pattern repeat). In this pattern, though, all of the flowers in the motif ended up stacked on top of each other, and I liked them better staggered, like in the original pattern. I wanted the stems, but I didn’t want them to shift my flower pattern by a full repeat each time.

Next, I tried adding an extra row of background color in between, and shifting the flowers. That didn’t work at all, and I frogged it.  I looked back at the original pattern, and realized that I really didn’t like the green flowers - I only wanted the stems. So I started thinking about ways that I could keep the green slipped stitches in the fabric without the rows of three knits and a front-slip. In the end, I decided to knit one row with two colors, stranding the green and knitting and slipping with the purple background color. That meant that the green got incorporated into the purple background rows, which maintained the stagger in the flower patterns, and it gave me a single green knit stitch to become the slipped-stitch stem. The new chart looked like this (squares in the key with two colors indicate rows where I used stranded knitting in addition to slipped stitches):

And the new swatch looked like this:

Up close, they look like little flowers with tiny green stems. From further away, they look more like an abstract triangle motif, which I also like. Of course, my flowers aren’t purple crocuses as I had hoped, but I think that this gets pretty close to what I’m looking for. I blended three different shades of purple for the colorwork band, so the background can fade from one to the other across the stripe. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how this is shaping up.

The one drawback to this design is that the flowers face in the direction of the knitting, which means that I need to knit the sweater from the bottom up to make them face the right way. That’s kind of a problem because I am close on yardage and would rather be able to stop and assess yarn usage along the way. I haven’t quite decided how to deal with that one, but I’m thinking I might use a provisional cast on, knit the yoke and shoulders, and then unpick the cast on and pick up stitches to finish the body. That way I can knit the yoke with the flowers facing upward, and then knit the rest of the body in the direction that I prefer. I’ve never done a piece-wise sweater in quite this way before, which would make it an interesting adventure, and it means that I’ll start with the widest part of the sweater and decrease my stitch counts from there. It’s always nice when the row count goes downhill. The only challenge is figuring out how many stitches to cast on around the widest part of the yoke…

I have a bad habit of showing up at real-life fiber events and taking no pictures. This trip was no exception. I arrived in Minneapolis last Sunday, and Ellen whisked me off to a day of fiber fun at Shepherd’s Harvest, Minnesota’s sheep and wool fair. We had absolutely perfect weather, and spent a good bit of time outside enjoying it while we watched the sheep dog trials. Some of the dogs were very good, many were a little rough, and there was one very cute Samoyed puppy who clearly thought he was out on a play date rather than working a job. He was such a friendly little guy (and so clearly proud of himself) that it was hard not to love him, even if he didn’t seem to know the first thing about sheep herding. I bet he’ll be great next year, but this year it was really funny to watch him trot around the arena making friends with the sheep, completely oblivious to his trainers’ commands.

After the dog trials, we took a walk through the show barns and the fiber market. This is my favorite size of festival; about three barns of fiber. Plenty to look at and enough to keep you busy, but not so much that you slip into fiber overwhelm and miss most of the show. We stopped by the Briar Rose booth, where I picked up a couple of skeins of Sea Pearl for a to-be summer weight work sweater.

Then, Ellen and I cooked up a semi-secret project that allowed us to buy another skein of yarn that we wanted to try. We also managed to do it without adding to either of our stashes, and we co-knit a quick little project that is destined to bring someone a little joy to offset a loss. That project kept us busy for the rest of the two days of my visit, and Ellen continued working away after I’d left. It was one of those projects where everyone wins, and was really fun. If you’re ever in a knitting slump, split a small project with a friend…it just flew off the needles, and it made us both happy.  The yarn was a new Targhee yarn base, and boy was it nice to knit with! I don’t recall the name of it now, but it was super soft, and light with a lot of bounce. As always, the Briar Rose colors were fun to knit with, and we were both pretty enamored with the fabric. In keeping with my trip tradition, I completely failed to take a photo of the project at any stage, so we’ll have to rely on Ellen for the documentation.

Ellen also introduced me to the wonders of sous vide cooking and fresh garden asparagus…it was quite a visit!

On Monday, we made a stop over at Steven Be’s to look at his shop samples and see what was going on. (Steven is one of those people who always has something going on. Going into his shop is a little like playing dress up in Grandma’s attic…except with yarn and feather boas.) I skipped the feather boas, but I did find some beautiful lemon-cream colored top to finish off the colors for the crocus sweater. I’ve managed to wind the first ball of the purple now, and am busily spinning up the yellow yarn for the yoke.

I didn’t manage to make it through Steven’s collection completely unscathed, though. Contrary to all sense and reason, this skein of neon yarn kept shouting out my name. I compromised by toning it down with some dark purple and teal, and I think it will make a nice accent yarn for something special, though I haven’t quite figured out yet what it will be. A shawl or scarf of some kind, I imagine, but I think some serious swatching is required.

From Ellen’s, it was off to the conference that brought me to Minneapolis in the first place, and then home again on Thursday night. I’ve spent a couple of days crashing post-conference, but was back on my feet enough to spend a couple of hours out in the garden this morning. With Branden’s help, we’ve now planted almost all of the new herbs for the summer, with just a few things left here and there. The garden is mostly perennials, so the second year is a lot simpler than the first, though we’re adding in some new groundcover and I had to replace a few herbs that didn’t overwinter well. It’s looking good out there, though, and it’s nice to have a yard we want to spend time in.

Hope you’re all having a good Memorial Day weekend!

It’s hard to photograph black, but the mink scarf is growing rapidly. I’m most of the way through the second ball (of three).

At first, I didn’t really see how the mink yarn was any different than a very fine wool, but as I’ve been carrying it around in my bag it has begun to form quite a lovely halo. I’m glad that I decided to go with a stockinette-based fabric rather than a lace. The staple is quite short (I’d guess about 3/4 of an inch), and the yarn is slightly fragile as a result. (Now I’m hoping that the halo isn’t a sign of it disintegrating completely; I did notice fibers all over my light-colored shirt one night after knitting. The knitting should give it some extra stability, though, and it does make a beautifully soft fabric.) Definitely a sensitive luxury yarn, but overall nice to work with.

Not much else has been happening on the knitting front. Now that finals are over we’re deep into end-of-year evaluations, day-long “retreats,” and course prep for the fall. It’s a different pace of work, but there is still a lot of it to be done! It is nice to switch to a different kind of project for a while, though.

We had an all-day curriculum development meeting on Friday, which got out a little earlier than I generally leave. I didn’t have a brain cell left that was ready to think, so I took myself to the Museum of Fine Arts to check out their current quilt exhibition. I only had my phone camera on me, but it’s enough to give some idea of what was there. I really liked the motion in this one:

And the diagonal border really makes this one pop out:

The light and dark squares-on-squares pattern is interesting in this quilt:

Actually, there were several in the collection where a very simple pattern had been worked in highly contrasting fabrics to make a complicated-looking or visually interesting piece.

(I think that last one is one of my favorites…there are endless patterns within patterns to look at.)

And then there were the quilts with an intentionally less-regular appearance:

I don’t think I’d be inclined to put any of these on my bed, but it was fun to see how simple colors and pieces can be used to make very bold graphic designs. It was also interesting to see how different designers had played with light and dark to compose a more dynamic quilt. In all, it was a nice way to spend an hour at the end of a long day.

Tomorrow, I’ll be flying out to Minneapolis a day or two early for a conference. Ellen lives out there, and we’re going to spend a couple of days playing before I have to get back to work. It just happens that this weekend is their Shepherd’s Harvest festival, too. It was on my list of festivals to attend while I was in Madison, but never quite worked out. I really like the smaller festivals, especially the ones that are equally split between the knitting/crafting  and the farming communities. I hear that there are sheep dog trials at the festival this year, too…those should be fun!

I think this might be my longest blog hiatus ever. The last month of this semester has bogged me down like finishing a thesis or organizing cross country move (on top of a temporary international move) couldn’t. It’s been rough.

But! I finished the grading over the weekend, and minus some decisions that are currently outside of my control, all of my grades are calculated and submitted. Which means that I am now back to the usual level of work that must be done, rather than the craziness of the past few weeks. Thank goodness for summer.

Besides finishing the scarf that I was working on in the last post (which I finished a day or two after I posted about the hat, if I remember right), I have had no knitting on the needles since the last time I posted. That’s at least 3 weeks and possibly 4 with no knitting. At. all.

On Thursday night, a fit of insomnia gave me time to fix that. I cast on for a scarf with some of that mink yarn that I bought at Coveted a couple of months ago.

It’s nothing fancy; just a 4×4 rib on size 0’s, but it should be insurance against empty needles for quite some time. And, of course, it is mink. The yarn is very soft, but hasn’t started to bloom in the knitting yet. If I hadn’t seen this very yarn knit up in person in someone else’s project, I might be wondering what all the fuss is about. As it is, I’m pretty confident that it will bloom beautifully with the washing and wearing.

I wanted to make  a plain stockinette fabric, but settled on a rib pattern instead to reduce curling. I thought about beads, and then decided to just cast on, already, rather than adding extra delays. (I would have to go buy the beads, you see, and right now that level of personal decision-making is just not likely to happen for another week or so.) The scarf is narrower than I’d hoped because I had to reduce the width from my original plans, but I expect that the fabric will relax significantly with blocking, since even on size 0’s I’m knitting it at a pretty loose gauge.  I don’t have a black scarf in my collection, and have wanted one a few times lately. I think this will be just the ticket.

I doubt that I’ll be needing scarves much for a while, though. Spring has definitely come in full force. We drove into Boston for an appointment on the 23rd, and all of the willows on the Esplanade had gone yellow with new leaves. The fruit trees are flowering now, too, and the maple outside my window is unfolding its very first, oh-so-shiny new leaves. The garden has been exploding into life while I’ve been tucked away in my office working.

The hosta are up, and some of them are already half-unfurled.

My peonies are shooting up in the center of the garden bed; we moved them a month ago, and they seem to love their new location. (Hopefully that means that they’ll bloom this year…)

The clematis is greening up nicely, and I’m pretty sure it’s even started to set buds. Last year it barely flowered at all, so that’s exciting.

The bleeding heart all came up this year, even the plants that failed to emerge when we planted them last spring (Home Depot apparently doesn’t temperature-treat its bulbs well, and they probably just needed a real freeze-thaw cycle to wake up). A few of them even have tiny flowers showing up, hidden under the leaves.

The Solomon’s seal was completely invisible on Friday, but it’s off and running now.

And the front yard is a carpet of violets.

Looking at the pictures, it strikes me that the yard needs to be raked yet again, and that some of the beds are in serious need of mulch. There’s always something to be done when it comes to yardwork!

After a solid two weeks of 10-16 hour days and no weekends, I am declaring today a guilt-free day off. (By which I mean I worked from 9 until 12:30, and then decided to knock off and write a blog post…we professors are hopeless work-a-holics).

I’m thinking I might grab the nicer camera and head out into the yard with a macro lens. Or maybe I’ll just sit in the garden and knit. Who knows?

I’ve been spinning away on the yarn for my crocus sweater, and have added a few more skeins to the mix. There’s about a batt and a half (~6 oz) left to go, and then I’ll have another set of bobbins ready to ply.

Happily, though, spring isn’t waiting on me to knit this sweater. We narrowly missed getting another foot of snow a couple of weeks ago, and since then it seems (dare I say it?) that winter has given up for this year. The days are getting longer and longer, and the temperatures are rising, too. I raked the front yard last weekend and found tips of tulips, daffodils, and irises poking out. It won’t be long now.

Branden went out to do some yard work earlier, and caught the crocuses having a party:

Our neighborhood bunny is apparently among the critters on the stir again, and she made short work of many of my hopeful little flowers, but it is still early spring and there isn’t much else out there to eat yet, so it’s hard to blame her. At least she left the big clump nearest to the house alone.

With all of the spinning, I haven’t been knitting much lately. I did finish the new version of my beehive hat in the Mad Color yarn. Can I just say how much I am loving this yarn? The base is nice (50/50 merino-silk…it’s hard to go wrong), but the colors are spectacular. That photo is pretty close, but it doesn’t do them justice. They just shine. The more I knit, the more I love them.

Every once in a while I run across a dyer who manages to capture light and dark in a way that just makes the yarn shimmer. I’ve really enjoyed watching all the depth and variety play out in these colors. Even though it’s a subtle blend of greens and blues, there is a lot of variation that makes it interesting without getting overwhelming. It is also one of those wonderful yarns that doesn’t seem to pool. I remember the first time I saw a project knit in Sundara yarn; I had often wondered what the fuss was about, and the shawl I saw took my breath away. This yarn is like that. It has been really fun to watch it develop into knitted items (which helps, because reknitting things and writing patterns is not where I tend to shine.)

Yes, I did just say the word pattern. I’m working on it. Thinking about trying to get back on that band wagon again; I’m crossing my fingers, and we’ll see how far it goes. For now, I have instructions written for the hat, and am almost finished with instructions for the scarf. That means the pattern can’t be far behind, right?

I’m considering using this pattern as the basis for a short rows and beaded knitting class, which is also helping to keep me going. I heard back from Coveted Yarn this week, and I will be teaching some classes there over the summer, though we still need to work out which ones. I’m thinking of ways that I could modify the project to teach the techniques that you’d need to make the hat and scarf without having to knit on such a large project in class, and I have some fun ideas. I need to do some swatching and talk more with Coveted first, though, to decide what direction to take.

I’m also thinking about tablet weaving as a fun summer project, especially for kids who happen to be vacationing in Gloucester (an old maritime town and a popular tourist spot in the summer). To that end, I’ve woven up some friendship bracelets to use as samples. They still need to be blocked, but it’s a start:

Again, we still need to work out what classes will best fit the shop schedule and their customers, but these are the two ideas that I’m playing with first. There are so many fun directions to explore!

Also, do you see the light in those photos? I took them at 4:30 this afternoon…I am so happy that spring is here!

The last two days have been warm enough to wear a sweater instead of a jacket outside, and all of a sudden the whole world is coming to life. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting back to normal after this cold, but I swear I can feel nature’s pulse quickening every day. It’s amazing how a little bit of sunshine is all it takes to make it smell like spring. My garden is starting to emerge from underneath the snow, and I like to imagine that the herbs are yawning and stretching in preparation for their first burst of new growth.

Those lonely few crocuses from last weekend are now accompanied by an army of companions, all laid out in a straight line and growing fast. At the end of the column, there’s a whole crowd of them, shooting up from the ground.

I love that these tiny little plants have been hiding there all week, waiting patiently under their mantle of snow and ice.

Branden helped me finish up the fiber blending for the crocus sweater last night, but I am not quite to the point where I have enough yarn to start knitting. To avoid another weeks’ gap between knitting projects, we took advantage of a local shop hop to pick up some things at Coveted while they were on sale. I bought a couple of skeins of merino-silk from a local indie dyer Heather from Mad Color Fiber Arts (colorway Delirium).

These are destined to be a second version of my Beehive hat and scarf, and will be a good quick project to sneak in while I’m spinning for the sweater. (Or so I tell myself…we’ll see how much time there is to knit this week!)

I also picked up another skein of the Plymouth Gina and Cascade 220 in a dark eggplant solid to make a slightly different version of the Diamond Tesselations hat.

And then, I noticed that the mink yarn I’ve been eyeing for a while was half off (!), so I grabbed a few of those. On a whim, I also threw in a dark red metallic called Mesmerize because I’ve looked at it a few times and thought it could be fun. (First bright colors and now novelty yarn…what’s to become of me??)

I’m not sure if the Mesmerize will make its way into this project, but the color is right up my alley, so I’m sure it will find a home somewhere.

I brought all of my finds over to the couch to show them off to Branden, and we somehow struck up a conversation with Leslie Wind, a metalworker who was doing demos in the shop for the day. I had been eyeing the shawl pins while talking with Branden, but hadn’t quite gotten over to look at them yet. About 5 minutes later we were well on our way to becoming good friends, and I think we chatted for about an hour. (Branden, very patiently, went back to his game. At least they have comfortable couches at Coveted.) While we talked, I picked out my favorite shawl closure, a silver one with a spiral at one end that holds it closed to keep it secure.

This is perfect for me. I have a couple of shawl pins, but I seldom wear them because they tend to fall out, and I’m afraid they’ll get lost. That clip at the end will hold it securely in my knitting, and I won’t be afraid to wear it!

When I asked how much the pin cost, Leslie gave it to me as a gift instead, so I picked out another to buy (I’d been dithering anyway, and if one’s free, you might as well get two, right?) The second is in bronze, and has a different type of closure (I think she called it a tab closure). You hook one end in the knitting, stretch to put a little tension on the pin, and then catch the other in the fabric, too. The tension also helps to hold the pins in place.

I love the size on both pieces; big enough to be noticed, but not so big that they’re clunky or get in the way. As a “uniform” dresser, I really like having one bold piece of jewelry as the focal piece in an outfit, and I think that both of these will do a beautiful job. When I went to pay for the second, Leslie foiled my plans by gifting me that one, too! I was kind of blown away by this generosity, but will take it as an extra reason to be sure that they get good use. When we got home, I pulled out the dress form and played dress up.

I love how strongly both pieces stand out. I am always drawn to curvy, organic shapes, but these really grab me. Doesn’t that bronze one look like a wandering river, or maybe a snake? It has a nice, hammered texture that really catches the light, too. The curves on the silver one make me think of pea tendrils, just after they unfurl.

I can’t wait to use these as part of my wardrobe, and there are several on Leslie’s Etsy page that I’m eyeing as well. Between new shawl pins and more knitting, today was definitely a good way to wrap up Spring Break!

Look what we spotted when we left the house on Saturday:

Do you see them there? The snow hadn’t been melted for more than 24 hours before the crocuses started to push up through the ground. We still have about 6 inches of snow over most of the yard, but it’s been warm this week and it’s melting fast. In the sunnier spot we even have a (small) patch of bare ground. And as far as those crocuses are concerned, it is spring.

There hasn’t been much progress on anything this week. On the second day of break, I got felled by a cold. It’s not even a bad one, but I’ve been so tired from work lately that it didn’t take much to land me in bed all week. The timing was perfect (in that I don’t have to work while I’m sick), but it also means that none of my grand plans for break have come to be.

I did get those braids carded into batts, which now need to be blended. It occurred to me, though, that the accent colors didn’t need to be carded, so I went ahead and got started with those:

Since Saturday when I took that picture, I’ve also added one small skein (75 yards) of the dark purple and need to ply a small skein of the light. Those will also be accent colors, and then the rest of the purple will be blended together to make the yarn for the sweater body.

This project has been kicking around in my brain for quite a while. I dyed these colors for the Greencastle show, back in 2012.

As soon as I saw them together, I realized that they would be perfect for crocuses.

It’s taken me two years to figure out how I could possibly wear those colors. I think I’ve got it now. But will it be ready for crocus time?

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