From Tent to Tee

I have the front and back done on Relax, AKA the Giant Pink Tent.

"Relax" pattern

The Zephyr yarn has a lovely drape, so it doesn’t look quite so much like a tent when being worn. (And remember, I went down a size from what was recommended for my bustsize.)

I still have the sleeves to add, but without them, it makes a pretty cute tee. Maybe I’ll make another one and just leave it as a short-sleeved top.

"Relax" pattern

"Relax" pattern

The neckline just has a simple rolled edging. The bottom hem was supposed to have a ribbing. I knit it, but it was way too loose. I should have gone down a couple of needle sizes. Rather than reknit it, though, I decided to just have a rolled hem instead. The top was already long enough, and adding the ribbing would have made it a little longer than I would have liked. So starting from my provisional cast-on, I joined the hem to work in the round and worked one purl round followed by three knit rounds and then bound off.


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In search of sleeves

The giant pink tent now has a front and a back.

But no sleeves.

"Relax" in progress

On the other hand, Shauna has sleeves, but no body.

Shauna sleeves

Cause yeah, that’s how I roll.



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Poppy it is.

I finally got out to my LYS to look at yarn for Holbrook. On Susan‘s suggestion, I decided to give Shibui Staccato a try.

Although it’s a solid, the silk/wool combination and the tight twist of the yarn give it a subtle sheen so that it doesn’t look flat. The silk will help give it nice drape, and of course it feels delightful. How can you go wrong with merino and silk?

There were a few colors I was considering, but I needed four skeins in the same dyelot, which helped me narrow the field. I also didn’t want to go with a really dark color, or anything too neutral, which eliminated a few other options. There was a very pretty blue that was tempting, but not in a color range that I usually wear, so I wouldn’t have much to wear it with.

The winner is “Poppy”. Not as orange as you might think – it’s almost more of a light terra cotta.

Shibui Staccato in 'poppy'

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Mystery Thyme

While waiting for the chance to visit my local yarn shops for an appropriate yarn for Holbrook, I’ve gone ahead and cast on for a shawl with the madeleinetosh yarn.

Mystery Thyme

After I use up the first skein, I’ll figure out what to do with the shawl edging. So for now, it’s a mystery. In madeleinetosh “thyme”, of course.

Project notes here.




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A plan.

I’ve decided against trying to use the madelinetosh yarn for the Holbrook shawl. I think it’s too risky with the sideways border.

But that leaves two problems:

The first is what else to do with the madtosh that won’t be an issue with the color changes. I’ve decided to make a half-circle shawl in garter stitch, finishing it with either a pleat or lace. The pleat will take a lot more yardage – probably as much as the body of the shawl, so I’ll only do that if the first skein gives me a large enough shawl. If I need to use part of the second skein to make the shawl bigger, then I’ll have to go with a lace border. First problem taken care of.

The second problem is what yarn to use for Holbrook. I’d prefer it to be solid or heathered, unless I can find a semi-solid yarn that would be reliably nearly-solid. Since I’ll need multiple skeins, though, there’s still always the risk of one skein being noticeably different from the next.

I’d prefer wool or a wool-silk blend. It can’t have alpaca since that makes my neck itch. I think the lace would look better with a smooth, plied yarn rather than anything fluffy or hairy, so a sock yarn would be nice. But on the other hand, it can’t be a really springy sock yarn that won’t hold the blocking.

Any yarn suggestions are welcome. If it’s something I can get locally, that’s even better, since I like to support my local shops when I can.

Thanks to those of you who’ve already given me some suggestions. I plan to check out the local stores next week.



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con•flict (kŏnˈflĭktˌ)
n.A state of open, often prolonged fighting; a battle or war.
n.A state of disharmony between incompatible or antithetical persons, ideas, or interests; a clash.
n. Psychology A psychic struggle, often unconscious, resulting from the opposition or simultaneous functioning of mutually exclusive impulses, desires, or tendencies.*


Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

After seeing a lovely Holbrook Shawl in person, I was excited to start one right away, and began searching through my stash. I knew the pattern would look better with a solid yarn, but I really didn’t have anything in my stash in fingering weight that would work. The closest I could come was this madelinetosh tosh merino light, which is a semi-solid:

madelinetosh tosh merino light - Thyme

The skeins looked very well matched, and I figured the semi-solid would probably be OK. I wound one of the skeins and did a little swatch. A bit more variegation than I’d like, but not too bad. I figured it would work, and was chomping at the bit to start. But then I wound the second skein.

Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light

Can you tell from the photo? The cake on the left is definitely a little darker than the one on the right.

The darker skein is lighter in the center and gets darker as towards the outside of the cake – so if I knit with the lighter skein first, then started with the lighter end of the darker skein, it might transition OK. Or not. Since the border is knit on sideways, if the yarn suddenly gets darker, it could create a weird patch.

I definitely wouldn’t want to alternate skeins and have it look striped.

Le sigh.

I do have some laceweight yarn in solid red that I could use, but I really wanted to do this shawl in fingering weight.

Do I forge ahead with the madelinetosh and hope it turns out OK? Use my laceweight? Buy more yarn, despite having overflowing stash? And if so, what to buy that’s truly solid? I do have some sportweight yarn in solid dark brown and solid natural (light beige), but they’re both in a rustic wool that I’m not sure I’d love as a shawl.

I feel much too conflicted.

I guess I’ll have to just make eat cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

*Definitions from Wordnik

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Violets and more Violets

I’ve been viciously yanking out handfuls of violets from my front planting bed. Not that I dislike violets, but they’re taking over and choking out some of my other plants. When they first started showing up, I thought they made lovely addition to the garden, so I let them multiply. Now I’m seeing the error of my ways. Did you know that violets not only spread by their root system, but also explosively shoot seeds for several feet around them? Most references say 3 to 4 feet, but some say they can even shoot up to 9 or 10 feet.

I was tempted to leave them until after the spring blooms died down, but by then the other perennial foliage will have grown enough that they’d be much harder to pull. So sadly, I’m disposing of them in the prime of their beauty.

But fear not, violet lovers. I have left the violets alone on the side yard, where they’re welcome to fill up all the space they want. And they do. In two colors.

Sweet violets

My daffodils are in full swing, and the very early species tulips have opened.


I think it’s time to go gather some flowers for vases. I think I even have a tiny vase to hold some of those violets.

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Not outdoors yet – so far I only have daffodils blooming.

But I have these lovely pink tulips indoors:

Forced tulips

They’re a set of forced bulbs I bought at Costco.

Forced tulips

I bought some for my mother last weekend for her birthday, and couldn’t resist another set for myself.

Maybe I’ll be clever enough to buy some bulbs this fall and chill them to force again next year.



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Another Fabulous Meal

After making that delicious lasagne earlier in the week, I browsed the frugalfeeding website for more recipes. One of the many that caught my eye was a simple recipe for Red Pepper and Sunflower Seed Pesto.

As luck would have it, two days later I was at the grocery store and saw beautiful large red bell peppers on sale. Remembering this recipe, I bought one.

Red Pepper Sunflower Seed Pesto

Wow. We were so impressed by this sauce. What an amazing flavor! The seeds give it such a nice richness and depth.  We practically licked the bowls clean. The Pontiff declared it not only worthy of a restaurant special, but thought it would be delightful for guests.

Only four simple ingredients for the sauce: a sweet red pepper (roasted), some toasted sunflower seeds, olive oil, and salt. Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and budget-friendly as a bonus.

It would also be great as a sauce for a lasagna, or it could be used over many gluten-free options like rice, quinoa, or cauliflower. I think it would also be a nice sauce for fish or seafood.

For those of you without a kitchen scale, I weighed 30 grams of sunflower seed kernels and then threw them in a measuring cup. It was a little under 1/4 cup, but with the extra used for garnish, I think 1/4 cup (or just slightly less) is a good estimate. The pepper I used was pretty large – I’d guess 5 to 6″ long.




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The Aviary

Less than a mile from my house is Tracy Aviary, the oldest public aviary in the U.S., which opened in 1938. It’s definitely had its ups and downs, but since receiving a large bond in 2008, it has undergone a wonderful transformation.

I hadn’t been inside the aviary for a couple of years. Since my last visit there, they’ve made a lot of changes, including adding the Owl Forest and opening the new visitor’s center. Since Wednesday was such a beautiful spring day, and there was a special price ($1 admission on Wednesdays through the end of March), we decided to take a stroll through it.

It’s definitely a pleasure to go now. The birds have much nicer habitats, and the park has a much more open feel to it.

Most of the birds are still in cages, of course, but they’re much nicer – like Andy the Andean Condor’s big new habitat (you can’t see him in the photo, but he’s on the platform at the upper right). Andy gets to go for daily walks around the aviary, and I love how he bobs around – he’s my favorite. Andy has an 11-foot wingspan, and is one of only about 10,000 remaining Andean Condors in the world. In January, he celebrated his 55th birthday. There’s a cute video of him opening his presents at his party here.

Tracy Aviary

I also love to see the Hornbills. I get such a kick out of their huge eyelashes. Yesterday one of them was having fun playing with a ball. I didn’t get a photo of that one, but this guy was checking out the visitors:

Tracy Aviary

The Owl Forest has paths wandering through evergreens, to give the owls a woodlands environment:

Tracy Aviary

But there are also exhibits where the birds are not caged, or where they’re in large enclosures that you can enter, like the South American “backyard” exhibit, where we were entertained by this cuckoo. I love his wild hairdo.

Tracy Aviary

And some are evidently escape artists. While walking along a path, a large green Macaw flew over my head. I’d noticed one earlier on the arm of an employee, and figured it was probably the same one. Oops! Then a few minutes later, it flew overhead again, and landed on top of the cage I was standing near. (It looks like it’s in the cage, but it’s really on top of it.)

Tracy Aviary

An employee was trying to call it, but the bird was having none of it. We moved on, so I don’t know what happened – but hopefully he came back inside, as it was very cold that night.

One of the most amusing exhibits is this one of the Seriema birds, which evidently like to sunbathe while stretched out flat on their backs:

Tracy Aviary

Unfortunately, the birds were not sunbathing while we were there, except in an upright position. Apparently they like to hunt snakes and lizards, killing them by slamming them on the ground. Here’s a video of the snake slamming technique (at a zoo with a rubber snake).

And last but not least was the colorful Larrycan:

Tracy Aviary

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