My Parley was finished and worn exactly a month ago, to be honest, but it has been quite summery lately, really too warm to want a sweater, and I've been rather busy with other things as well, so haven't had the wherewithal to photograph it. But the weather dropped about twenty degrees quite suddenly this past weekend -- I kid you not, twenty degrees -- and I wanted wool, so I am wearing the cardigan again today. It is of course the Parley by Mary Lou Egan of Yarnerinas, from her book with Gale Zucker and Kirsten Kapur, Drop-Dead Easy Knits. The book is full of good-looking knits that are fairly low on the concentration scale, which is great for those of us who tend to have -- cough -- numerous projects going at once. This particular one comes in pullover and cardigan versions, with simple shaping and lots of stockinette, with a bit of twizzle at the edges to keep it interesting.
This is just four skeins of Briggs & Little Sport in mulberry, which I got from Penelope Fibre Arts in British Columbia, as it's apparently a rather small line produced in Canada, and not many US shops carry it, even online -- it's worth perusing the B&L website to see the "tour" section and how the wool is processed, from grading to shipping. Mine is a lovely purply color, with hints of blue and red and black giving it a lively depth which is very difficult to capture with the camera! The yardage on the Sport wool is quite impressive, as I still had a good-sized ball and another full skein left over -- I bought five. The wool is a single-ply, so tends to worm a little while winding and knitting, but not frustratingly so, although it doesn't feel particularly pleasant to knit with since it is rather rough in itself and perhaps it is that combined with the single-ness that makes it feel a little like wire when wrapped around my fingers. Much of the roughness does wash out, though, and so now it has a sturdy wooliness to it and a light sheepy smell which is not atal unpleasant. I am a little concerned about the alarmingly frequent thin places as I went along, two or three of which were such a hair's-breadth, literally, that I broke and spliced them on the spot. I was tempted to weave in a bit of extra wool as a reinforcement in the less-alarming places, and had at least a dozen safety pins marking them as I went along, but in the end I didn't -- although I do have so much wool left that at least there is enough for repairs if that does become necessary later on!
The buttons are La Mode no.214 (eleven, not ten, since the buttonhole band came out with that many, as it happened).
The purple is generally a bit darker than I could get in these photos --
The sizing is quite generous, and I probably could have made the next size down instead of the 42 for my US12 figure, but there it is -- it's a great no-fuss cardigan, and in this yarn is good for nicely-cool days, not too light, not too heavy. It probably does look its best with a scoop neck underneath, not a collared shirt, to play up the slightly-rolled neck, which has a gracefully curving line to it that I really like.
We had a good bit of rain this past winter, much to everyone's relief. The down-side is that all of the weed seeds that have been lying dormant for the past three or four years of drought have apparently all decided to sprout and grow now. Our backyard, which has a gigantic pine tree in it and therefore little else, has been since February or so a veritable sea of stinging nettles and crabgrass, which I have been digging up -- with a shovel, mind, not one of those mild-mannered forks -- an hour or so every morning, filling usually two trash cans a week.
Unfortunately for the butterflies, some of whose caterpillars subsist pretty much exclusively on stinging nettles, this is not good. I fully expect the nettles to come back again next year (she said, weeping quietly into her tea), but this year for the bees and other insects in our little patch of wilderness in the middle of suburbia, I scattered around a packet of California wildflower seeds in the few spots that get any sun, and a packet of shade flowers for the more woodsy corners. The photo above is the very first bloom, which is a baby blue eyes (Nemophila maculata). It looks like a little bit of everything in the sunny packet has come up so far -- I am quite looking forward to the mountain garlands and the lupines!
This is something else that has been keeping me busy, albeit indoors -- a pair of Elizabethan venetians (which are sort of ur-trousers) for David's Renaissance Faire garb. These have been a real pain in the neck, to be honest, but I am on the home stretch at last, and only need to do buttonholes and lacing eyelets now, which will mean that -- huzzah! -- David will for the first time have a complete period outfit, bar the shoes of course. More photos to come.
We took the afternoon Saturday to go and see the "Dressing Downton" exhibit at Muzeo in Anaheim. I have rather mixed feelings about "Downton Abbey", not as keen in the later seasons as I was at the beginning -- but from start to finish, the clothes are pretty wonderful. This suit of Lady Sybil's, from season 1, is probably what I would choose if they were to say, "Yes, you may have one!" although Mary's red suit from the same season would run a close second. Cora's court dress from season 4 would be my favorite of the fancier ones, I think, but, goodness, how often would I get to wear it?! More photos later of this, as well ...
The weather has been cool enough too, this past weekend, for me to enjoy again the feeling of wool running through my fingers, so last night when I had three hours in front of the television (new episodes of "Call the Midwife" and "Home Fires", and a repeat of "Wolf Hall"), I managed to get the rhythm going and finished the thumb gusset and worked over half of the medallion of the first two-end mitten. It puzzles me why this cast-on doesn't lie as smoothly as the first one, but I tried a different technique, so I guess it just does. V. glad that these fit well, to be sure!
And, yes, there is a new petit-point carpet! It's spring, how could I resist? This one is the Flower Trellis by Sue Bakker from Venus Dodge's Dolls' House Needlecrafts. I haven't yet worked a Bakker chart that was free of significant errors and this one is no exception, I'm sorry to say, and in fact has some real doozies. The chart gives symbols for "red, light red, green, gold" etc. with the materials list specifying which colors of DMC floss are used, either by themselves or in combination with similar shades -- but although there are symbols for "blue" and "yellow" there are no indications in the materials list that you need any blue or yellow at all. I had to just choose shades I thought went well with the other colors. The chart has the full border and the "trellis" in the main field, but only one each of the flowers inside each medallion, so the stitcher must decide where to put what -- this is perhaps not a serious drawback for a more experienced stitcher, but a beginner may not appreciate this, nor the fact that one long edge of the "vine" is clearly marked with the symbol for yellow, not green.
But, yes, it's a very pretty carpet now that it's finished, I must say! I worked out before I started the flowers which one I wanted where, and whether or not I would reverse it (just to make each medallion a little different). I also reversed the light and medium pink blends here and there, for the same reason. I used a partial chart for the half-medallions, leaving a one-stitch edge between them and the gold border, to match the trellis-work -- some have worked it differently, I find from poking around the internet. Mine is kind of busy as a result, but in an ordered sort of way -- quite garden-like.
I used the following shades of DMC floss (3 strands, on 22-count mono canvas) --
- dark gold = 680 and 420 (1 + 2 strands)
- yellow = 745 and 3078
- blue = 931 and 932
- pale pink = 223 and 224 (2 + 1)
- medium pink = 223 and 3372 (1 + 2)
- red = 356
- pale green = 3347
- medium green = 3347 and 3052 (2 + 1)
- grey = 646
- background = 3033 (instead of ecru)
Note that I needed 3 skeins of the background color, not 2 as on the materials list, and that the number of red stitches (the "tulip" stamens) is a mere six per medallion, so if you have a bit of a pretty red already, you really needn't buy a new skein!