While the rest of the world seems to be experiencing severe weather, we are here in California picking oranges under a blue sky. Yesterday we picked 100 oranges from the top third of the tree and squeezed 13 quarts of orange juice. This year was a bumper crop with some of the biggest, sweetest and juiciest oranges we've ever grown. The rest of the oranges will stay well on the tree for maybe a month, but we'll be picking several every day to have fresh oj in the morning and fresh oj with our movie popcorn in the evening. Orange juice + popcorn + a movie is a match made in heaven. (I am often asked what juicer I use. I have experimented with many and the Juiceman is the best by far. We own two, a larger juicer/juice extractor that we bring out for big jobs like juicing 100 oranges, and a smaller juicer we keep out on the counter to use for smaller, daily tasks. They are both easy to use and easy to clean and very well priced. The larger one is also a juice extractor for juicing apples, carrots, leafy greens, etc.)

So here we are, March in California: the trees are blooming, the roses are leafing, the grass is greening. I don't know how the year has flown by, but we are just a few weeks away from Easter! And daylight savings starts tomorrow! Can you believe it? I cannot! 

I named this one Madison Bumgarner. 

Headed for the freezer.

On the knitting side of life, I bought some new Shibui yarn--a lovely 100% brushed cotton in a sport weight. I'll be making Mirage and joining the Shibui KAL that starts next week. I'll knit the little skirt with some Kidsilk Haze I had in my stash. The pattern is by Shellie Anderson who creates such gorgeous and simple designs that are flattering, elegant, and easy to wear. 

I also finished a few projects and added them to Ravelry. One was a fantastic test knit from Ankestrick. I'll get better pictures when the pattern is released later this month. I also finished the Sasha wrap with details here on my Ravelry page. One of my girlfriends wants to learn to knit and I'm thinking this would be a great pattern to start her off with as it's just one big rectangle. Sway is also done but needs to be photographed. Oh! I #knockedoutacarbeth! Perhaps I can sweet-talk my photographer into taking some pictures today or tomorrow. 

This week I plan to set aside my winter knit projects and will revisit them in August. For now I'll be concentrating (for the most part) on summer knits, of which I have FIVE!  

1. Finish last year's Lila Top Down in baby blue--only the sleeves to finish!
2. Cast on Hourglass in brightest blue.
3. Complete Lace Front Sweater in palest pink Mako Cotton.
4. Complete Sutton--only the sleeves to go!
5. Join the Mirage KAL. 

That't the plan, unless I get distracted by something else, and that is totally possible.

I'd love to hear what you're up to!
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I love to enhance my stash and my knitting with rare sheep breeds when I can find them. This sweater is made from a relatively unknown breed to hand knitters: Debouilett. The word is that the Debouillet is near impossible for hand knitters to find as it's mostly gobbled up by Pendleton for their ready made goods. But when Clara Parkes was offered a flock of fleeces from a Montana ranch she quickly said yes. Now, I don't usually associate Pendleton products with soft wool, but Clara has ultimate knitter's cred, and she said she had made some lovely, super soft yarn with those Montana fleeces, so when it was available, I took the plunge. But wait! If you've ever tried to buy Clara's yarn in the past, you'll know that if you want to even be in the running, you have to arrive on her website a few minutes before shopping time all the while hitting the refresh button. Know in advance what you want, and the minute you see it's live, quickly put it in your basket and hit the buy-it button with your credit card info at your fingertips. Offerings like this are rare and they are sold out in minutes. Buying rare, specialty breeds can be a ruthless business! I remember we were away at the time this was offered, I think in Las Vegas, and I told my husband before we left, "There's a special yarn I want to buy and I MUST be in the hotel room tomorrow at 2PM with my laptop open!" I didn't get much of a reaction except maybe the usual eyeroll. He's married to a knitter so he knows the eccentricities that come with it!

So, am I happy I went through all that? You bet! I love soft wool and so naturally love fine merino, but it's fun to go beyond merino and try different sheep breeds. I also enjoyed knowing that what I was knitting with was different and special, and that I was supporting smaller businesses, rancher, spinner, and dyer, within the knitting community. Clara's Debouilett was so soft it was like having spun marshmallow fluff floating over my needles. It was such a pleasure to knit that I almost didn't want to finish my sweater, except I knew that when it was finished, I would get to wear it! I love to wear it! I finished it in January and have worn it many times and it's divine, soft and warm and everything I wanted it to be. It's white so I've already had it in the washing bucket (hand washed with Eucalan Grapefruit) and it survived like a champ. It has pilled a wee bit but I never mind light or even moderate pilling--it's what soft yarn does. To tidy up my fabric I use the best de-piller on the market, the Gleener

Debouillet yarn from Clara Parkes is sold out for now, but she saved some, is dying it, and planning to offer it in the near future. You can read more about it here. The undyed yarn was a bargain at $28 for 355 yards of fingering weight yarn, but this knit up more as a sport weight for me. I could also see it working well for a DK weight pattern, but you'd have to swatch to see what kind of fabric and drape you like. If you would like to be alerted when the dyed Debouillet yarn is available, sign up for her email list. I really love the yarns that she has to offer, and they always have a story behind them.

The pattern is Raindrops from Tin Can Knits. I've used this pattern before and do love it. It comes in sizes ranging from 6 mos. to adult 4XL! Here's my Ravelry project page for my Snowflakes.

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I'd love to hear from you. Do you often knit with the rarer sheep breeds?


Sgt. Pepper, another totally free and totally adorable cardi!

I had so much fun making this cardigan and hat set. It came about after I cleaned out my stash and saw just how many teeny-tiny odds and ends I'd been saving, thus my super scrappy Sgt. Pepper was born. For a matching hat I decided to go with a solid thinking that making stripes again might be too much of a good thing. Then the multi-colored pompoms popped into my head and I love them. The set is perfect for chilly almost-spring walks with my grandson.

Both patterns are free and you already have the yarn--why don't you make a set too?

Read my tips on making scrap baby cardigans here
that includes other free pattern links for using different weights of yarn.
(The pattern I used for Sgt. Pepper was for DK weight.)

My Ravelry project page for the cardigan and for the hat.

I used the Basic Raglan Baby Cardigan, free pattern by Keya Kuhn.

I used the Debutant Baby Hat, free pattern by Elizabeth Sullivan.

This is my favorite pompom maker. Making pompoms of different sizes is a snap!

Freaked out about weaving in so many ends? Don't be! 
I have my own peculiar way of knitting in the ends as I go, 
but here is a popular tutorial you can follow.

PS: I didn't plan my colors but rather chose them randomly. If I had just knit a bright stripe, I would look for a color that was less bright to go next to it. I also tried to scatter the different shades of blues and greens throughout the sweater; the same for the reds and pinks, but honestly, did not give it too much thought. I think what helps to bring it all together is using one color for the ribbing. I used three different gray yarns for the ribbing and button bands, but they were so similar it's difficult to tell that they are different. Anyway, it's meant to be scrappy!

I made the 12 month size, but my little guy must have a big noggin because it barely fits.
He'll only be wearing it a short time.
Something has caught the eye of my little backyard explorer.
It's a flower!

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Stitches West

Good morning! Yesterday I spent several hours at the Stitches West market where I saw lots and lots of speckled and variegated hand dyed sock yarn; I think close to 80% of the yarn was just that. And while I love to look at it, and imagine would love to knit with it, I just don't see myself wearing it. I tried to put together a five, four and even three color fade that I would wear, but couldn't seem to commit. I came away yearning for gray tweed garter stitch and cream colored stockinette. Still, Stitches West is very fun, like a yarn carnival, and there was plenty to tempt me. And even though I am already very wool endowed, I came home with some pretty woolies. 

 I was not shy about color for my new knitting bag from Offhand Designs.

A bag of Rowan's Cashmere. It's lovely. It's a worsted weight so won't have a problem finding a pattern for this.

I walked by the Blue Bee booth and the saleslady hypnotized me by waving a pretty sweater in front of me, saying, "Try it on. Try it on." So I did. I LOVED IT! The swingy fit is fantastic. I bought the yarn and pattern for a one color Archer by Elizabeth Doherty using Airy Fingering in Chimney Sweep by The Woolen Rabbit.

Five skeins of Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky will become a Carbeth by Kate Davies.
But before I can cast on for anything new, I have a few things to finish up.
I have a very scrappy baby sweater with hat half-done. It's so bright and happy!
I'll soon finish this pretty test knit for Ankestrick that will be available in March. The fit, so far, is fantastic. The dark gray is Baby Ull by Dalegarn and the beige is Super Fine Merino 4 Ply by Rowan.
Sutton from Sarah Hatton using Rowan Calmer is half finished.

I'm trying out a new yarn for Rowan. Mako Cotton is a summer worsted weight and will be available in March.
It's incredibly lightweight and soft--it's divine to knit.

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Montreal in Kidsilk Haze

Kidsilk Haze--I try to never been without a Kidsilk Haze work-in-progress in my work basket; I love knitting with it and wearing it. This project, Montreal by Lisa Richardson, was made with leftovers from some of my other projects.

To a newcomer, knitting with Kidsilk Haze can seem daunting. I remember my first experience with KSH and wondered what I had gotten myself into.  The yarn is wispy, flyaway, as thin as a spider's web, and appears that it can never be tamed. But it can be tamed and here's how: She's needle fussy so play around with a few needles to find what works best for you.  I find blunt bamboos give me more control by slowing it down; if KSH is rushed and you make a mistake, it's notoriously difficult to frog. If you do find yourself having to rip out a few stitches or even a few rows, go ahead and give it a good tug, then tug again, because it's super strong and resists breaking. I know from unfortunate experience that KSH can be frogged and re-frogged and even re-re-frogged and will hold up beautifully, but just keep your eye on your project and you'll be fine.  I guarantee you are in for a first-rate knitting experience that will produce the most heavenly fabric that rivals anything you'll see in the finest bespoke shops. Also, be prepared to like your garment for more than a few years as it holds up well. My first KSH sweaters made over a decade ago are still much loved and in sweater rotation in the Knitionary wardrobe

The pattern is a snap to make, but I feel it's very oversized. I made the XS size, but ripped it out and cast on again with much fewer stitches. I didn't keep notes, but I recommend making a size or even two sizes down. The original pattern calls for Rowan Mohair Haze, now discontinued, and KSH is a fair sub as the gauge and fabric feel is similar, just fiddle with needle sizes while you swatch to get gauge.

The first two pictures above are me of course, and the last three are of my darling teenage neighbor who will often model for me when she's in town.

Montreal pattern by Lisa Richardson

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