Tuesday, February 19, 2013

steamed coasters

Last time I was at A Verb for Keeping Warm, I picked up a remnant of yarn.  They sell these little bags of remnants so you can take a taste of them.  I went for a rustic silk yarn, Shibui Knits "Heichi," in a beautiful, tweedy persimmon.

What was I to do with this taste of yarn?  Well, what I really needed in my new cottage was a set of coasters.   I wanted something clean and minimalistic, and this is what I improvised. I cast on 17 stitches and knit 24 rows of stockinette.  Can't remember the needle size -- maybe a 7 or 8?  Enough to make a square roughly 4.5" wide and tall.  And then I knit another one, and another one.

They rolled up, of course. Stockinette does that.  I tamed them with a quick steam blocking, following the sensible guidance of Annie Modesitt.  I only have a tiny travel iron, not a steamer like she has, but it worked just fine.  I steamed one side, gave it a stretch, steamed the other side, gave it a stretch, and steamed the front side again. It went from lumpy and stubborn to satisfyingly flat and limp.

The textural effects of the steam blocking are even more apparent when you put an unblocked coaster next to a blocked one.  I can't believe I've been spending all this time wet blocking things over the last decade when I could've been giving things a quick steam instead.

I've been using the coasters every day.  They're cheery and serviceable, and they make this cottage feel more "mine."

Little things, big difference!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

sunset in my new stomping grounds

Life keeps moving on.  This is where I live now.  A land of hills and bay views and glorious Pacific sunsets. 

Over the past month and a half, I moved from Boston back home to Arizona and then onto California to start a post-doc.  It's been a whirlwind transition.  Good thing I have the beauty here to sustain me. 

Above shows the sunset one evening from Cesar Chavez Park, looking over the San Francisco Bay to the Golden Gate bridge.  I'd gone on a run, exploring my new neighborhood, and happened on the sunset.   Below is the sunset from another evening, when Mountain Man was visiting and took me up to Tilden Park for a walk. The soft glow of the sunset over the bay was breathtaking. 

And here's the citylights on our drive back down into Berkeley.  

Another upshot of this move is that it brings me close to a yarn store that for years, literally years, I've been wanting to visit. A Verb for Keeping Warm.  I've admired their natural dyeing and read their blog for ages.  What a treat to finally visit and have this be my local yarn store.

I picked up a remnant of yarn in rustic textures and earthy orange tones.  New little project to come soon ...