Ava Tunic

You might think that because of this post and my last post, all I've been knitting is baby clothes.  But not true, it's just that I've only been finishing and photographing  baby clothes.  I'm planning a post that shows all my half-done grown-up knitting I'm feverishly working on--maybe that will be next week--and I've got some mighty gorgeous yarns on the needles.

Above is the Ava Tunic by Linda Whaley from Little Rowan Cherish, a book that I am infatuated with and a book that I'll probably end up making at least half the designs; I've already made three.  The pattern recommended Summerlite DK which I love, but I had some Rowan Wool/Cotton in my stash.  If you love this stuff, buy it and stash it as it's been discontinued.  It's so soft and cuddly to knit and wear.  It is practical too as it goes in the washing machine in cool water on a gentle cycle.  Even though the ball band does not recommend it be tumble dried, I have had luck putting WC in the dryer for a short time, maybe 10 minutes or so, then lay flat to finish the drying. 

As for the design, gah, it's absolutely adorable!  It just grabbed my heart when I saw it.  This is the 18 mos. size and I can just see a tiny girl toddling around in this wearing capris and bare feet perhaps?  Or leggings and baby-sized Uggs?  I changed the neckline a wee bit (3 rows of garter then cast off) and instead of the embroidered flowers I made these flowers.  Also, I used the "top-down set-in sleeves" technique which I use WHENEVER possible.  It's such an easy technique and it always turns out perfectly.

Ava Tunic, my Ravelry project page
All the Cherish patterns on Ravelry
Little Rowan Cherish, the book at Jimmy Beans
Rowan Wool Cotton at Jimmy Beans
The wooden hangers are from the Container Store and
there are two sets, an animal set and a zoo set.

The posies below are from my Pink Simplicity rose hedge in our frontyard.  The entire hedge is dusty, cobwebby, mildewed, and generally ratty in all ways. It's like it's begging for cold weather, a good clip and a long nap.   But every few days I can still manage to pick a tiny loving cup of buds.

This afternoon we have been invited to a picnic.  One of my husband's friends who is single and has a very large and beautiful garden has invited 50 guests to listen to some live music in his backyard.  His email said, I'll hire the band and set up some tables, you bring the rest.  Men! 

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Have a good weekend friends.


Isaac Pullover

I call this tiny fisherman sweater a gansey, not an aran.  I've always thought the distinction between the two was that  ganseys or (Guernseys) are knit with knit/purl textures and have horizontal stripes.  Aran sweaters are knit with knit/purl texture and cables and have vertical stripes.  It's just what I've thought after all my years of knitting and if any of my readers know something different, I'd love to know!  I do know that fisherman sweaters in general originated in the British Isles and were tightly knit with thick, naturally colored, lanolin rich wool that would resist wind and rain.  The texture that was created with the cables, etc, made a thick fabric which added much needed warmth, not to mention beauty. Fishing villages and families developed their own distinct patterns which often aided in identifying at-sea casualties. (Edited 9/18 to add:  A reader sent me to Gansey Nation where I read this page and found out that most of my fisherman "facts" are myths!  Now I don't want to spread misinformation, but the writer does state that they only "may not" be true!)

I'm in love with this little sweater and it was pure fun to knit.  The pattern comes from Little Rowan Cherish by Linda Whaley, a book I reviewed a bit ago, and a book that I adore.  The yarn is Rowan Pure Wool DK, a soft machine washable yarn that was recently replaced by Pure Wool Superwash DK--almost the same yarn but now made superwash.  Still, the original yarn can go in the washing machine because the one rule I try never to break is to use only machine washable for baby and children's sweaters.   The pattern is charted and very easy to memorize with just a quick glance at the chart every few rows.

I loved knitting this little baby fisherman sweater and rather than store it in my gift-stash, I think I'm going to start a new stash and call it, the baby hope chest.  Nope, no news to share, and surely we are years away from that, but one can hope and be prepared, right?

Little Rowan Cherish by Linda Whaley
My Ravelry project page
Cute infant hangers are from the Container Store,  I bought both this animal set and this zoo set.

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Look at my Climbing First Prize below!  Here we are in mid September so it's a bit scraggly up close, but from afar, it looks fantastic!

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Little Rowan Blossom

When knitting books arrive in my mailbox I drop e v e r y t h i n g and flip though quickly, then sit down and read them like a novel.  Then it goes by my bedside for bedtime reading and happy dreaming.  I can't be the only one obsessed with knitting books, right?  I have a few new publications to share in the next weeks, and the first up is Little Rowan Blossom by Linda Whaley, an imaginative and feminine collection of knitted garments and accessories for girls aged 3 to 7 years.  From the book: "Timeless, treasured designs knitted in yarns excelling in comfort, wrapping your loved ones in garments hand made with love."  And from me:  This is simply the prettiest children's knitting book I've seen. I know it will become a classic.

As for gifting to expecting parents, I almost always knit a one year size, but I remember when my aunt gave me some toddler sized clothing at a baby shower.  They looked giant to me, but she said, "Two years may seem like it's a long time from now, but it goes by quickly and you'll be happy to have these clothes tucked away."  And she was right on both counts, those two years did go by quickly and I was very happy to have them when I needed them.  So, at the next baby shower, and if I know it's a girl, I'm going to knit one of these in the three year size.  Now, enjoy these pretty little sweaters on these pretty little girls. Shopping links are at the end.

Camelia in Summerlite 4-ply

Jasmine in Wool Cotton
Wool Cotton 4ply

Cluster Shoulder Bag in Handknit Cotton

Daisy in Summerlite 4ply

Flora in Wool Cotton

Flower Carry Bag in Handknit Cotton

Gardenia in Summerlite DK

3 pretty blanket patterns are included

Hyacinth in Summerlite 4ply

Magnolia in Wool Cotton

Peony in Wool Cotton

Violet in Summerlite 4ply
If the book is not at your local Rowan stockist yet, I found it online:

The suggested yarns are Rowan yarns I have used many times and can highly recommend.
They are all machine washable, soft to wear and easy to knit. 

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boy power

We just came back from a gorgeous wedding in Santa Barbara where so many of our good friends gathered together for a weekend of festivities. I got all sentimental and started thinking how important it is to celebrate the moments, big and little, and never take this beautiful life for granted. We haven't entertained much this summer mostly due to my husband having some emergency surgery.  During his recovery time his golf buddies were so good to him--calling, visiting, and inviting him to lunch, and now that he's all patched up, we thought before summer officially says goodbye we'd have a small outdoor gathering just to get some of the buddies together.  You can tell the guys really like each other and love to be with each other, so at the end of dinner I did something I've never done:  I gave a toast.  Now first I need to tell you that I can silence a crowd in no time--people fidget while I fidget and awkwardly stammer away, so that is why I have never summoned the courage to ever give a toast.  Until Saturday night.  It went something like this, "You guys are all so sweet to each other.  I can tell you really care about each other.  Thank you for being so kind to my guy," //tears welling in my eyes--astonished looks on everyone's faces//, "it meant a lot to us."  And then I blurted out, "Yay for boy power!"--it was all very ridiculous but everyone cheered and laughed but I really did mean it.  I am often guilty of stereotyping men to be not quite as sensitive and caring as the gals, but this month I found that not to be true.  So, yay for boy power and yay to all the sweet guys I know.

Now on to the party details:  A few days before I host a party I walk around my garden to get inspiration.  I usually have no idea what I'll make until that walk and/or a visit to our local farmer's market on Thursday night.  The centerpieces and other flowers will always be gathered from my garden, and this month the faded, papery hydrangeas are plentiful; their freckled dusty pinks and grayed out limey greens are simply beautiful.  This time of year I don't have enough vegetables to feed 12, but did manage to pick enough tomatoes for the appetizer and I had the soup base in the freezer.  The farmer's market provided the rest and I decided on this menu:

roasted tomatoes with bread crisps

chicken ragout from this excellent book, Ojai's Table
roasted baby patttypan squash

orange pecan cake, also from Ojai's Table

We had drinks inside, just because it's way easier for me to set it up that way, and then dinner outside; the weather was sublime.  I hired a kitchen helper--a total treat but I almost feel like it's a necessity when we have 12 or more guests.  The next morning I slept until 9:40 and totally slept though church!  I know for a fact I have not awakened that late in decades, if ever.  Like I said, this has been quite a summer!

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