Eye Candy

Let me start with some housekeeping before I give you scrumptuous eye candy. Or ignore me and scroll down.

For some reason when I signed up with wordpress I knew not what I was doing. So this blog ended up titled with my name. Yuck! It’s like hearing your own voice or seeing yourself in the mirror in the mornings. I will try changing that today or in the next days. If you are subscribed here I have no idea what will happen. If you do not receive notifications anymore, perhaps do a search for Gemini at Work, I will try for that name.

Old Lenin would be proud of me. Yesterday I knit 6 rows on the KAL lace shawl, tinked 6 rows and knit 2. You are wondering why I’m not hysterically throwing the thing in a far, far corner? Because now I’m the proverbial dog with the bone, I can’t let go. I will show that shawl who the master is. It can’t get any worse, so success will be mine today.

I’m not understanding what is going wrong. I knit, I count, I use pencil and paper, I cross out, I double check, I’m awake. Apparently none of those qualities are needed to knit a shawl, or at least this shawl. Breathe!

Yesterday was still a good day. I got my interchangeable needle set. The addi long lace ones. They arrived 30 minutes too late to start the lace scarf. Yes, I admit, I started another lace project. You knew it? But I had to use half a size up because I could not find the right needles. When the set arrived I immediately switched with a prayer that no one could tell I’m now using a different size needle.

I probably never showed you the yarn I’m using. Have a look, it’s from Hand Maiden. Smells a little, in a good way, but not really like the ocean. But yes, it contains seacell.


Not sure I picked the right project for this yarn. Time will tell if I frog or knit on.

Now to the pictures you have all been waiting for. Y’all know I started spinning. It will take me months to master that skill, but I’m keeping at it. Bought a few pounds of cheap yarn to practice with and waiting for the day I can use stuff I actually want to knit with.

Have you heard of Inglenook fibers? Check here. I just had to get my hands on a couple of batts and roving from Macrina. She’s an orthodox nun in Boston. But for more information visit this site. Go there if only for the picture of the craft room. I wants this.

I knew about the wool and I also knew how quickly it’s all gone. When the time came for Macrina to post the latest I was at the computer hitting refresh over and over.

And here I present you with my first batt, superwash merino, tencel, bamboo, starbright, silk, silk noil, in the color wine country:


And one more time from another angle:



Then I could not resist the bfl/silk top in the color lichen:



And apparently I have a thing for seacell, because here is the merino/seacell in the appropriate color of river stones:



And then I ran out of money and time. As soon as I learn to spin like a pro I will be going back and going crazy.

Imagine though, the nun included some crack in her package, a sample of merino/silk. Is this legal? It is the softest thing ever and had me go back to her etsy shop for another hour. A good thing she charges for shipping or I would have succumbed yet again.

My little rant of the day is about a roofer we wanted to make ours. He said he would come by to make a bid several times now and has never shown up, this morning is no exception. We had him bid a couple of years ago, but then I had a breast cancer scare and a year later the massive heart attack and bypass surgery. I think legitimate excuses not to deal with a roof. We might have to move on and find a more reliable person, sad. We kind of liked him and friends who used him were happy.


You Win Some and You Tink Some

The win: the afternoon tea shawl has the ends woven in and has been blocked. It is gorgeous and would be perfect if it was a little bigger. But there are people smaller than me on this planet and it will look stunning on them. But first: I’m not bragging about my knitting this shawl, but about the pattern and the designer Helen Stuart. OK, now that we got this straight, on to the pictures:

close up
close up


Did I promise too much? It was the fabulous knitting part of my weekend.

The sorrow came with the mystery KAL shawl I’m working on. When clue number 5 came in I was 2 weeks behind. Immediately I finished clue 3 without major trauma if I remember correctly. But clue 4 brought tears and tinking and frogging. It was not difficult but for whatever reason, I lost the ability to count, follow directions, concentrate, etc.

I kept on thinking that I know how to knit, I know how to count to high numbers, but what about my ability to follow directions? Apparently I’m a bit challenged in that department. My first attempt was fudging it. I could force the right number of stitches (now in the 200s) by decreasing or increasing in inconspicuous places. That backfired, looked shitty, and instead of stopping before the point of no return, I kept on knitting. Really Marianna, you think this will fix itself?

I was facing the music 2 rows short of finishing up the week. Now the problem was tinking or frogging. Stephen, my numbers guy, could not resist telling me that I’m looking at tinking 11,500 stitches. Thanks for that information Steve.

Apparently I don’t believe in putting in lifelines, still have not learned that lesson. So what was I to do? No way was I going to undo stitch by stitch. I saw a few rows of plain vanilla knitting and decided frog back to those rows. With fast beating heart I reached the point and was about to pick up the stitches when friends arrived. They are not knitters and most likely did not understand the situation I was in. 250 plus stitches on the lose! There was no way this could wait and they sat patiently chatting watching me herd the stitches back on the needle.

I wish I could report that with heightened awareness I managed to get caught up without problems and: the end. Not so. I would knit 6 rows be off in the count, tink 2 rows, notice I had not made a mistake after all but was reading the wrong row in the directions, huff and puff and knit on. So went my Sunday. Very late at night I found myself with one row left and one extra stitch. No, no way. I put it all down for today when I will knit 2 together and problem solved. Go on to clue 5 and be caught up.

If I have this much problems with a pattern I put it down for a couple of days, or weeks, or years. But with this I can’t. I told myself I would keep up with everyone else knitting this shawl. And I’m sticking to it. Don’t know what life lesson is in there or if I even need any life lessons as I’m heading to the end of my life, OK, the last couple of decades.

The issue is I want to start another pattern. As so often happens coincidences collide in a major way and I can’t resist.

I was reading grumperina’s blog and found the following scarf: melon scarf. Go ahead, take a look at the scarf. I happen to have one skein of said yarn that she made the scarf with. Told you, life can be coincidental. I had no project in mind, just wanted to try out some seacell. The pattern, well, guess what, the library carries the book with the pattern: Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. (This link is to Ravelry, you might have to be a member to see it. It’s free to sign up and definitely worth it if you’re a knitter, if you are not, then look around and ask the knitter in your life to make you something. Remember though, you have to be real good to this person so they will put hours and days of their lives into a project for you.)

See? Picture, yarn, pattern. What am I to do, ignore it?

I have a couple of books to recommend.

1. The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin
Being a spinner called for a spinning book in my library. It is a very informative read with lots of history and wonderful writing.

2. Sheepish by Catherine Friend
At first I thought she was trying too hard to be funny, but the book is growing on me. A light read to get out of the library.

I’m not doing major reviews here, go to amazon where others have done the work for me. But remember to get your books from your library or local book stores if possible.

What I like doing lately is getting the samples from iBooks to help me make decisions.

I also would like to include some rants today. No, let me just recommend some movies I streamed from Netflix this weekend. Wish I could say go to your local video stores. But they are gone now.

1. Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream. This link might get you to a free watching.

2. Hot coffee. here is a link to the web site. Streams on Netflix. We’ve all heard about the woman who spilled hot coffee on herself and sued MacDonalds. Now see the pictures and hear the real story without a corporation’s spin.

Better get to knitting, see you soon.





Cutting It Too Close

Finishing a shawl last night, my heart was pounding. Will there be enough to finish the pattern as is? I had no way to figure this out as the edging needed to be calculated, but how? Row after row left me with enough yarn for another, but then the moment of truth: casting off.

I made it to the last 5 stitches and then there was no way to go on. What now? This was a one of a kind skein and this was all I had. No swatch I could borrow from, nothing. I could tink the last row, or I could try to do a tighter cast off or another edging. But I was sooooooooooo close. Shock made me stare at the shawl and had me wondering how I could create a few inches more with my mind. How could I force a few more inches? Where was that replicator that could give me just a little more? There had to be a way. I could not be stranded with 5 open stitches, could I now.

Then I  looked at the cast on tail. Not as long as my usual, but I saw 5 stitches. Never having spliced before I went for the spit method. Finished casting off and cut the yarn so that I would have enough to weave in ends. I have never had such little ends to weave in, but it just gotta work.

Love the shawl! It’s the Afternoon Tea one from Knitty. I might knit another at some point and will not knit as loose as I did or get more yarn to begin with and make more repeats.

For now though I give you the unblocked shawl. Notice the tiny ends. Talking about no waste.

a quarter scarf
a quarter shawl
full size
full size, unblocked

I’m still working on the mystery KAL shawl and am less than one week behind. If you know me, yes, it’s a major accomplishment.

Next is a lace scarf from the book Victorian Lace Today. It’ll be a reward for catching up with the KAL. Already wound the yarn and eyeing and cuddling with it. Let’s see how far this willpower will get me today.

The shawl made me think that I knit very little that is meant to last. But that darn shawl better last longer than, let’s say, socks? Socks wear out, I get it. But shawls should be heirlooms. Am I getting a bit carried away here? It was late last night when these thoughts crossed my mind, 2 am, so perhaps it was the wee hours of the morning when I had this insight.

How will several generations later know who made this shawl? When we find old knitting, often no one knows who made it. Here is my idea then. Have you ever watched artists write microscopically on rice kernels? If they can do that, they should be able to write on little beads. And instead of a signature on a painting, we knit in a bead at the bottom of a project with our name.

Has that been done or suggested yet?

Another Project?

This weekend I started 2 more knitting projects. Really? (Is this what you really need? More half finished projects? Are you going for the record?) I have an explanation for this starting and not finishing business. I’m a gemini. And, it’s not winter and therefore no incentive to finish up to stay warm.

I must have mentioned that I’m part of a KAL? A mystery KAL. KAL = knit along. I know I’m making a shawl, but beyond that, I have no idea. Too late I read that this is for intermediate/advanced knitters. OK, I have knit most of my life, but never a shawl.

It takes tons of concentration to knit this shawl. So what do I do? I see another shawl I like and off I am casting on for that new shawl. How fickle is that? No commitment, no regret, and just a tiny bit of guilt. I will finish the old shawl, but I’m waiting for stretches of concentrating time.

Let me give you a picture of my situation. The top is the old shawl, the bottom the new one. Here we go:



This last shawl is in The Afternoon tea pattern found here at Knitty.

Yes, I am having fun. You didn’t think I only started one new knitting project, did you? Noooooooooooooo, I had to start another pair of socks. If I paid more attention to math in school I could tell you exactly the exponential road I’m traveling, but, thankfully, I don’t remember. All I can tell you is that if I keep up with my sock knitting pattern I will have: LOTS!

This is how it works. I barely finish a pair, notice I still need to do kitchner ending and weaving in of yarns, I eye the new Koigu yarn I always wanted to try. Off I am casting on again. And even though the Koigu starts pooling immediately, I knit on. Why I can’t tell you. Like an addict, I keep on knitting, not liking what the yarn is doing and knowing full well somewhere in my mind (at least I hope I do) that this is not working out. But I ignore the voice screaming at me to stop, rip it, and start anew. Until the next morning. And I’m happy to say I got past the unraveled yarn and am happy.

So let me show you the almost finished and the new:

Fleece Artist yarn in Nutkin pattern
Fleece Artist yarn in Nutkin pattern
Koigu sock, 2nd attempt
Koigu sock, 2nd attempt

A note on the nutkin pattern: there is very little stretch and give in the cuff and leg area. It becomes a bit difficult to put on and perhaps blocking might take care of this, and if not, well, Stephen can get them on. I feel so lucky I’m with a guy who is willing to be experimental in his socks. All colors and patterns seem to be OK with him.

Shawls? Considering I never wore one in my life and neither has my daughter and my MIL is allergic to wool, well, one has to wonder what I’m up to and where I’m on that crazy meter scale.

There was some food in my life recently. I marinated some olives in zest of lemon and orange and added some garlic and rosemary and olive oil. The idea came from a recipe I can’t find anymore, but olives are an invitation to play.


I see hot peppers in the picture. Yes, I like my food hot!

And then I had all these dried fava beans. What to do with them? One option is a kind of hummus and it works well for that but it’s a hassle to peel all those favas after cooking them. I now have an easier way with the favas. I cook them with some spices and mint and onions. I end up with a broth for bread dipping and favas that everyone can peel and pop into mouth. This recipe also came form somewhere else, did not grow on my compost pile as my grandmother would say.

Here is a pretty picture of the beans before cooking:


And now it’s knitting time for me.


Yes, the collection of dishcloths is growing, but my yarn acquisition has taken a turn for the worse. It’s all my birthday’s fault. The yarn acquisition part that is. I have already received checks for my birthday, plus I was offered a small job that pays me for the next two weeks. That’s a lot of stash/yarn money. The plans for a birthday pilgrimage are already in place. We live a little over an hour from Reno and you guessed it: Jimmy Beans Wool. This will be my first time to this Mekka and I don’t plan to leave empty handed. The rest of the birthday plans involve food and dance concert. But first stop: Jimmy Beans.

In the meantime I have been practicing acquisition skills. The other day I came close enough to a Michaels that I felt the pull of the cotton yarn. And Joann was not far away. One store matched the sale price of the other and you can see the rest of the story below:

cotton yarn

That’s lots and lots of dishcloths! If you know me and I like you, a dishcloth could be in your future. But this wonderful yarn makes much more than just dishcloths. It makes decorations that bring smiles to my face. The first glimpse of my silly grins came when looking at the following site: Attic24. scroll down and you will find lots more links for free projects. This woman knows color and surrounds herself with them. It makes me happy to look at her site. Enjoy.

Considering how I like dishcloths now, I find it amazing that I have done very few variations. Here is another ballband one and a relative, at least colorwise.

dishcloth relatives

Just found this post in my drafts. A bit late, but will post now so you can see my dishcloth addiction.

Needless to say, my birthday brought lots more yarn!

First Yarn

As promised a picture of my first ball of yarn. Most likely I’ll keep it as a reminder of the beginnings of my spinning career. I hope that pretty soon this yarn will look totally ridiculous and that progress is made. Last night was spent treadling very slowly and there was more success. Now I have to wonder if there is enough twist. Was knitting that difficult at first? I believe so, I seem to remember worrying about even tension. I could not knit uneven if I tried nowadays, just as people say that after mastering spinning one can’t produce an uneven yarn. But, for now, I’m only producing what I call art yarn. I’m seeing the silver lining. But without further ado, I present you with my first yarn:


The yarn is pretty kinky in many spots, but hey, do better.

It’s our anniversary, 33 years. 33!!! It all started in San Francisco, in the county jail. Sounds better than the real story. We were both working there and an inmate introduced us. Stephen was already a lawyer then and I was doing my psyc internship with NCSL, the Northern California Service League. I should stop here before I start drowning in memories and nostalgia sets in.

Usually I’m a fan of nostalgia, but not lately. With the massive heart attack much changed. I have no words for the changes yet, but everything feels different since then. I’m wondering if Stephen notices the changes. Remembering feels different, less relevant.

One highlight of the day was a trip to the farm. An email offering basil by the pound had me drooling, or perhaps more swooning. Next to marjoram, basil might be my favorite aroma. One had to cut the basil oneself and bending over was not good for my back. Of course I had to get lots to make into little basil pies to freeze and use in winter. All I did was mix basil with olive oil and use the vitamix to get a basil paste. Here is part of their basil patch:



and the kale patch on the way to the stand:



The kale will be turned into kale chips with the dehydrator. So why did I only buy one bunch? Now I’ll have to go to the Saturday market after all. We arrived at the farm with 2 big bags, one was going to be for basil, the other for whatever else tempted me. We left with 5 bags full. One particular surprise was fennel. I love fennel fritters. And the price? $1 each, and they were huge. We ended up with lots of basil, kale, fennel, lettuce, arugula, beets, onions, red and yellow, zucchini, turnips, radishes, chard, and whatever I forget right now.

I’m hoping to make the fennel fritters in the next few days and take pictures for you and share the recipe. I’m new to food pictures and hope I can do the recipe justice.

The zucchinis will be spiralized and used instead of noodles with pesto or a raw tomato sauce. We are already getting tomatoes in our garden, but probably not enough yet to make sauce with. I’m still using them in salads only.

And then to top it all, a package arrived. Finally received my Amish swift, a beauty. And just in time as I was contemplating starting yet another project. Don’t judge, let me explain first. I’m part of a shawl mystery KAL. KAL being a knit along, the mystery part is that I have no idea how the final product will look like. Why would I do this as there are many patterns out there I would love to try? Because I can’t say no to anything. Saw it on ravelry and just had to join. The problem is that the new clues come out every Friday and I have been long done knitting that. Now I’m in waiting mode. Of course, there are lots of other started projects, but we will not talk about them today. My browsing found this beautiful shawl in yarn I happen to have and with needles that are new to me. My new signature needles. And I have them in the right size and length. How fortuitous is that? I was meant to knit this, right?

Have a look here and see why I fell in love. And I got to use my new swift to wind the yarn. Could life be any better? Here is where I start getting worried. Life is so good, it can only get worse. I’m obviously not one on the cheery side of life. Always looking for trouble and finding it.

Before I sign off here I would like to post a picture of the two of us (Stephen and yours truly) from a long time ago in Italy on a ferry. I’m unclear about the details of the trip, but know that Denise Anton took the picture. Our dog then: Athena. Our future: wide open, anything was possible then. Lots of great and horrific times since then.



Happy anniversary Stephen, to us!


Yes, yes, I know, it’s been a while. But I have an excellent excuse and some not so excellent ones. The best: a friend gave me her spinning wheel. Need I say more?

Knowing nothing about spinning or wheels or what wool or other fiber to use to spin, it’s been quite a trip and learning experience. For starters, is the wheel functioning properly? Is it an easy wheel to learn to spin with? Heck, I don’t know, never touched a spinning wheel before this.

Click here for a picture of the wheel. The wheel I have was made in 1969 by Anthony Cardarelle, I know because his name is engraved in the wood. Apparently he died a year or so later, in 1970 (?) and the Clemes brothers who had been working for or with him, continued with the wheels.

Immediately a major problem presented itself: how to re-hook the treadle to the footman.  As you can see, the picture of the spinning wheel was of no help. But a phone call later I had the fix. Lacings from a baseball mitt. Apparently this connection had been broken and was fixed with some sort of electrical wire that was way too stiff. But the leather did the trick.

Other than that I see nothing that needs immediate attention. The thick leather coming from the maiden and holding up the orifice could be renewed, and perhaps the belt could be, too.

I’ve tried spinning and am challenged beyond anything I might have ever tried. My yarn gets twisted and twisted while I am holding on to it for dear life. I’m not letting it go to the wheel apparently. Then I let the twist go into my wool and end up almost across the room and the yarn is still not on the bobbin. Eventually….

But Houston, we do have yarn. See?!

first yarn

Yes, I know, too much twist. I told you! But this is my first attempt, not that the other attempts look any different. But the fun factor is very high! Spinning, just like knitting, gets all the good hormones flowing I am so fond of.

This Saturday is a local spinning meeting and I will go, along with the wheel, and see if others find any fault with the wheel and can spin on or with it. Can’t wait to find out. Plus some suggestions how to get rid of so much twist. I tried with tension, nope, didn’t make a difference. Tried spinning slower, I mean I have been racing along treadling like a maniac, in the hopes of getting the yarn on the bobbin faster, ha…. Also, it’s hard to go slow for me without going into reverse. You see my many problems. And let’s not forget the time I actually started spinning my hair along with the wool. Oh the disasters I’ve had already. But I am still at it.

So far I have spun my knitpicks wool (blue-green), some wool (un-dyed) I had around the house from when the children were small and we did crafts together, and then plied my two attempts at spinning together, washed the whole thing and am waiting for everything to dry.

But before you get jealous, I doubt it is knittable. But it looks nice. And yes, I did let the yarn rest a day before going on to the next steps.

My knitting has suffered a little, it’s not like I split in two and can do both at the same time. I wish. Besides looking at my started socks with my new needles from Signature (check them out here), I joined a KAL making my first shawl. This shawl has been a huge challenge for me, not as big as spinning, but right up there. It must be my age and the loss of an ability to count and never having been good at following directions.

Now the farmers market is calling and a visit with my friend who gave me the spinning wheel.