colorful and free, Flax wins again

The beloved Flax has captured my heart again. It's such a well written pattern that it's hard to believe it's free. Listed as a great beginner pattern with handy tips tucked here and there throughout the pattern, advanced knitters love it too. It's sized newborn to 4XL so the entire family can have one. I made the 2-4 yr. size for Carter using oddments of Unicorn Tails left over from an abandoned project. Unicorn Tail is the charming name for mini skeins of Tosh Merino Light. It is machine washable but doesn't appear to be a super-wash. Anyway, it behaves way better than a super-wash in that when wet it does not stretch too dramatically. I have used it before and it can go in the dryer or will succumb to being patted into shape to dry in the shade. Those attributes, plus lovely colors, next-to-the-skin softness and minimal pilling make it a great yarn.

My little Flax Light started out with the gray/brown and pink color scheme above, but as the project grew it became apparent that the paler pinks in my selection didn't have a place with the brighter shades. I had to abandon about half of my colors as many of them were too pale. When I ran out of my reds, bright pinks, and purples I added a rich, rusty gold. Here's how I did the fade: Gather colors and place them in an order that is pleasing, allowing that you may have to abandon and/or add colors as the knitting progresses. Knit until you are approximately two-thirds through the first color. Then at the BOR, add color #2 alternating every other row until color #1 is done. Knit with color #2 until it is two-thirds finished and then introduce color #3. Continue as before. I did the sleeves last: take the remaining yarns and weigh each and divide them in half. In this way you'll be able to have matching sleeves. Fades and stripes are a good way to use up wee bits of sock yarn too and combined with the Flax pattern, let your imagination will soar and you'll end up with a free sweater! I'll get some modeled pictures soon.

Pick up your copy of Flax Light

Do you remember last year's Flax Fade? Same yarn, different colors, and Carter looked adorable in it. He's grown a heap so it's short and tight but still in really good shape even though he wore it often. That yarn has held up well!  

There's still plenty of beauty and color to found in the end-of-summer garden. The roses are still bravely blossoming in the late summer heat, the zinnias are holding their own, and the dahlias are at their peak.

dahlias, above and below

My husband was watering the garden this morning and I called out, "bring in any tomatoes that look ripe!"
Holy cow, I was not prepared for this!

Climbing Blaze

Just a month ago the hydrangeas were a shocking pink.


Knock Out rose
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Hello! I have a quiet morning waiting for the plumber to fix a leaky pipe, bummer, and also wait on the carpet installer to install new carpeting in two back bedrooms, yay! While I'm waiting there's chicken stock bubbling away on the stove and tomatoes roasting in the oven for sauce. So while those mellow things are going on in the background of my morning I thought I'd snap some pictures of my new and very beautiful sweater, Etude by Ririko. Before I rave about the pattern, I have to tell you about the yarn, Yoth Yarns Little Brother, a fingering weight wool comprised of 80% superwash wool, 10% cashmere and 10% nylon. The whole idea of superwash is that it is meant to be easy-care, but in reality it does require it's own type of specialty care. I've always found that superwash wools must go into the dryer no matter what the ball band says. After washing either by hand or by machine, a superwash wool ends up drapey and soupy and if you ever want it to get back into any kind of shape at all it has to be put in a dryer. Here's what I did: Gave the finished sweater a soak in cool water for 20 minutes, then scooped it up in my hands and gently smooshed out some water. Next I plopped it on a few fluffy towels and rolled it up to remove more water, gently, gently. Then I carefully laid it on a table outside in the shade and let it dry until it was almost three quarters dry. I didn't even try to pat it into shape because no way will superwash be patted back into shape ever! When I felt it was almost dry, I popped it into a dryer on medium heat with a few other clothes to add to the volume of the dryer, then crossed my fingers and checked on it every five minutes. When it was 95% dry, I was confident that I could now pat in into shape. I took it back outside to the shaded table and patted it into the exact measurements I wanted. It worked like a charm and I have in my possession a lovely sweater. The yarn is super soft and is very similar to Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Little Brother is definitely super soft and perfect to wear right next to the skin but needs its own type of superwash care. The color is Rosemary and is more accurate in the first photo. 

Now on to the pattern. Etude was so very fun to knit. I'm afraid it might look complicated, but as with so many well written lace patterns, it actually looks harder than it is so please don't let that stop you. I think a confident beginning lace knitter with a little experience could knit this successfully. It is meant to be knitted in an A-line style with positive ease. I knitted it with less ease than the designer suggested and made the smallest size a little smaller by not adding on as many stitches after the sleeve separation, made less A-line increases, and did not make the sleeves as puffy. I'm very happy with it. The lace is charted and written out row by row. Do remember to put markers between each lace repeat. 

Here is the link to purchase Etude by Ririko of Hand Knit Life.
I bought my yarn at Purl2 in Walla Walla, WA.

I purchased this yarn last year when I was visiting my girlfriend in Walla Walla, Washington. If you ever find yourself in that beautiful part of the country (it’s the wine country for Washington State) you are in luck! The downtown is filled with friendly shops and great restaurants plus there's also beautiful vineyards to visit. But for us knitters there is a fabulous knit store, Purl2, on the main street in town. They have a beautifully curated selection of yarns and the gorgeous shop is right next door to an equally gorgeous quilting shop. 

I've got a few lazy things on the needles right now while I'm waiting for a test knit pattern to be ready that I've signed up for. One knit that has my attention right now is a second Flax Light in the next size up for my grandson who has outgrown the last one, this time in grays, browns, rusty and neon pinks and some purples. Don't be alarmed at my using pinks for a boy. Luckily my kids don't care about rules of color for boys and as long as it's not entirely girly, I can get away with knitting just about anything for my little guy. It's mostly scrappy leftovers and if I run out of pinks, I'll fade it back into some grays again; I have plenty of those.

On the gardening scene, the summer garden is fading fast but our routine is the same: weed, water, deadhead. The flowers remain steadfastly beautiful but close up you can see they are past their prime. The vegetable harvests are getting smaller; I think we may pick and eat the last of the green beans tonight and the cucumber and tomato harvests have both slowed down. I made what I'm sure was the last crock of pickles and I'll be saving that for my brother's visit next month. Our summer garden is a tremendous amount of work for us at our age, and as much as we love it and look forward to it each spring, it's nice when fall arrives and the whole shebang slows down. Oh, and that magnolia blossom below is from our big tree in the front yard. Two days after picking, it turned a gorgeous mahogany color. The next day the petals were on the table. Fleeting beauty.

This is Flax Light, a free pattern from TinCan Knits. It's perfect for a fade.

Last week Carter picked the last orange. He knows he needs two oranges to make a glass of orange juice and while he doesn't show it here, he was a little sad that he could not find any more. We showed him all the baby green oranges on the tree and promised him that next spring he could have his fill of orange juice again.

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the day after the party and a new vest

When we made out a guest list for our summer party we realized we would have way too many people for us to accommodate easily, so we had the brilliant idea of slicing the list in half and having two parties. The first party was last night and now we have exactly one week to recover and regroup. But even though we are exhausted today, we will be recovered by tomorrow, and last night we learned a lot and know exactly what NOT to do next Saturday night! I did like the menu and going to recreate that exactly: BLT party! So that's a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich for those of you who aren't familiar with this most beautiful of summer sandwiches. A BLT is plain ole' diner food, served with a dill pickle and potato chips. The bacon must be meaty and crisp, the bread toasty and warm, lettuce crispy, and the tomatoes need to be fresh from our garden. Last night's group was my husband's golf buddies. I asked around, "who grew up eating BLTs all summer long?" Only the native Californians could say yes and the folks from England, Germany, Nebraska, and other states could not say they were that familiar with them. As I kid I consumed them at a high volume and still do, but only in summer when the big slicers are ripe. 

It was a fun party and I'm already looking forward to doing the same thing next week with my book club and knitting group and their guys. That will be a slightly bigger group but the menu will remain the same. I hope we have great weather again.


Beverages were wine--rose and white, plus beer and sparkling water.

Appetizers could not have been more simple:
a bowl of nuts and a bowl of cherry tomatoes on the drinks table
and this amazing Breaded Shrimp from Costco served with a store bought sweet and sour sauce.
One box was plenty for 18 people. If you are near a Costco, buy this! We all loved it.

I served dinner buffet style. After a guest picked up a plate they went through the line
where I set out bowls of homemade dill pickles, potato salad, potato chips, 
and a basket of toasted bread. 
Then they took their plate to the buffet table where we all made our own BLTs. 
In the center of the table I had a giant platter of bacon 
flanked on either side with ramekins of mayonnaise and platters of sliced tomatoes and lettuce.
We set up two breadboards with sharp knives so you could slice your sandwich in half.
Considering there were 18 people, it went pretty fast and was quite easy.
Guests came back on their own for seconds.

Dessert was ice cream sandwiches.
What I like about these, besides tasting great and being super fun to eat, 
they are made ahead and require no extra dessert plate and fork: less cleanup.

There has been knitting too. Like today--after cleaning up from last night, I sat right down and drank coffee all day and watched back to back baseball games while knitting. And since I love party leftovers, I had potato salad for breakfast and an ice cream sandwich for lunch. I finished this darling vest for Carter. (Did you see him above helping Papa with the garden chores? He came over one day last week to help us get ready for the party!)  I think vests are so nice to pop over a child’s head when they go outside to play when it’s just a little brisk--not cold enough for a jacket, but still needing something to keep neck and chest warm. I hope it still fits him come fall. I'll get modeled pictures when I can. The pattern by OGE was very quick and easy and the yarn was wonderful. I have details here on my Ravelry project page. Pictured below is my Etude sweater that is on the stockinette portion, so it's now my movie knit, and lastly the Meet Me At Midnight shawl. I have a tip for reading charts, use highlighter tape to keep your eye on track and use plenty of stitch markers.

Hazelwood Vest by OGE


Meet Me At Midnight in Kidsilk Haze Eclipse.

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