Life proceeds apace, and I realize I have been MIA for a couple of weeks, after doing so well for almost a full month!
So to tide you over, because I am working on many things (including the recipe for artichoke dip that I was asked for by everyone at the Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking potluck), here is a teaser of the peacock inspired shawl I am designing/knitting for a zoo fundraiser.


I, like many knitters, have been dabbling in a little design work here and there for awhile. Just small things, like panels for baby socks, tiny people and animals, and the occasional somewhat short-waisted baby sweater.

So when I was asked to design and knit a half-length shawl for a fund-raiser my zoo is throwing in June, I was both excited and horrified. I have never attempted to design anything as exciting as a lace shawl, and I’m not the fastest knitter in the world. And there is one more thing you should know about my typical knitting designs – but if you are a knitter, you might want to sit down first.

I don’t like to do knitting maths.

That’s right, my typical design method is to just start knitting and eye-ball things. Little or no swatching. Definitely no calculator. Occasional rip-backs because I fouled it up too badly to fix on the fly. This is making the shawl project (using tiny yarn, tiny needles, beading and lace) more difficult than it should be. But, as per usual, I will just continue to knit until I either have a disaster or a shawl. I will be taking it to the Caribbean next week (because lace-weight alpaca LOVES the beach), and hope to have some lovely pictures of it for you soon.

For those of you who might be interested in doing something similar – I recommend getting in touch with your favorite local non-profit organization. I have noticed that many organizations and schools hold silent auctions, and are often very excited to be able to offer one of a kind items by local artists.

In case you live in the Philadelphia area and are interested in obtaining this monstrosity work of art, it will be auctioned off at Elmwood Park Zoo’s Beast of a Feast on June 4th. Proceeds go towards funding the zoo so it can continue to educate and promote conservation efforts, as well as towards a conservation project in South America.

Might be a little obsessed with beaded lace right now.

Specs: Unique Sheep Chasca in Justin Gradiance; Unknown succulent house plant; Size 3 needles; Silver-lined Cobalt beads.

I met some young boys on the train awhile back, and I have to share the exchange, because honestly, it still makes me giggle.
I have to admit, I was not excited to see them when they arrived – there were twin (approximately 6 yo) boys and their grandparents, and there were only 2 more places to sit, in the outer two seats of the 3-seater I had scored for the ride. I’m not quite sure why no one else had sat with me, but I WAS crocheting, so clearly I looked intimidating.

For the first half of the trip they mostly kept to themselves, discussing the adventure they had had during the day. I noticed, however, that more and more often, I would see one or the other of the boys sneaking looks at what I was doing.

“Grandpa, what is she doing?” “She’s knitting.”

While normally I would have made this a teaching moment, and told them about the differences between crocheting and knitting, I let this one go, figuring it wasn’t worth it.

“What’s she making?”

At this point I stepped in – “I’m making a blanket!”

“A nice warm blanket to keep you warm and happy in the winter?” No lie, this is how these two talked – enthusiasm++.

I explained that yes, I wanted a warm blanket, and they discussed my color choices (they liked them) and their feelings on warm blankets (they were both pro-blanket, too).

And then, it happened – one of the boys turned to his grandmother and said “Can you teach us to knit when we get home?” I tried to hold in my triumphant laugh, feeling that I had perhaps planted a seed for these boys to become fiber-addicted artists themselves (or at least make them snobby about knit-goods). Their grandmother seemed a bit non-plussed and admitted that she might be able to show them a little bit about knitting, but “weren’t you going to go dirt-biking when we get home?”

Curses, foiled by dirt-biking!

“Maybe we can learn AFTER dirt-biking!”

Huzzah, hope is not lost!

The train-ride ended soon thereafter, with us going our separate ways – though they both yelled goodbye to me as I walked away, waving as hard as they could. I’d like to think they didn’t forget about their blanket plans – but it was, frankly, the best knitting conversation I’ve had!

1 – Crocheting a baby blanket. This was my first attempt at reading crochet charts, and my first finished crochet project! (Ignore the granny blanket’s whines of neglect, babies are trumps to all other projects)
Cabled Baby BlanketView 2 of the cabled baby blanket
This is Sólás Caomh crocheted in Naturally Caron Country, in Charcoal and Green Sheen.

2 – Finding these sweet buttons at a local art show. I have plans for these beauties, to be told once I actually start the project. I’m a little concerned that I don’t have enough of them, but I literally bought all of this type that the artist had!
Not my gumdrop buttons!!

3 – Having my mother be a bad influence on my knitting. Remember this lovely lace knit-along shawl?
yay, beads and lace!
Well it still isn’t finished, but now it has a friend!

I was going to forgo the second shawl, but I accidentally got my mom addicted to lace shawl knit-a-longs and then couldn’t resist when she signed up! I totally had willpower to avoid knitting 2 shawls at once. Totally. Maybe.

4 – Knitting for Christmas – including these little beauties:

The hair was the most fun, and is only slightly realistic.

Which I adapted from the “Human Bean” pattern in this book. Yes, they are based on real people (Kaela of Local Kitchen, and her hubby), and they were incredibly fun and fast to make. And I cackled about making them for months before hand, because they were such a goofy idea.

I knitted some other stuff which I neglected to take pictures of, and one surprise present which hasn’t been delivered yet, so it might be more of a mid-winter gift instead.

5 – Generally doing lots of random Christmas things, like trimming the tree, and baking my husband a gingerbread TARDIS.

It's bigger on the inside.

6 – Considering whether I should take up spinning and quilting. Because a girl cannot have enough hobbies.

…of DNA baby socks.

Curious cat foot included for size comparison.

Note that I had to make it through 2nd, 3rd and 4th sock syndrome to complete these, as these are for a set of twins! It required many episodes of Torchwood. The mother of the twins LOVED them, because they were adorable and geeky – seriously one of the best reactions to a knitted gift ever, she just had pure glee over them, especially the wee little base pair purls I put into the pattern:

zoom in on the base pairs!

The yarn is Crock-o-dye in Sage and Pewter (I think). The pattern is modified from this one, with a DNA top panel designed by me. Stitch pattern forthcoming for those of you geeky enough to want DNA-wear.

So…I have not made much progress, but…I’m finished clue 2 finally!
Isn’t it pretty?
yay, beads and lace!
So now that clue 9 (of 9) will be out this week, I’m finally ready for clue 3. Apparently this amount of lace/beadwork really gives my tendons a workout, so it has been slow going. Well, that, and…I may have cast on and worked on some other projects (some of which are super-secret projects and therefore are only partially visible):

memo to me: learn to take better blog pictures.

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