Thursday, November 30, 2006

On Socialization

I've got a neighbour girl over for the afternoon. She's five, like Charlotte. They get on well but, boy, are they right when they say two's company and three's a crowd (the third being Emily, 2 1/2). There is always someone left out, and girls are so sensitive. It was a difficult day, full of drama. "She said she's taller than me!" or "She said she wants to sit by Emily instead of me!" I had to keep gritting my teeth and forcing myself to speak in dulcet tones, quelling the shrieking banshee within.

The kids had a great time watching the deer and the birds in the backyard. Animals are coming out of the woods in force, looking for something to eat after three days of heavy snow. Mr. Next Door has a late-producing apple tree that still has lots of fruit on it, and the deer have been coming around his place for two days now, reaching up into the tree to get at the apples. At one point this afternoon there were five deer gathered around the tree. They have also enjoyed my still-budding rosebush, which is now weighted down with snow and leaning over within easy reach of the ground. As far as I'm concerned, they can have it. However, when it comes to three of my four neighbours talking about actually feeding them, ("Oh, the poor things must be hungry! I always throw some apples, potatoes, onions and carrots outside for them when it snows.") enough is definitely enough. I mean, come on: they're hardly in danger of starving to death after three days of snow. There are thousands of way manlier deer in this province, who have to survive from September to April by digging down into the drifts to reach the dormant grass beneath. The deer we have around here are so poncey - this is their chance to toughen up.

But then, we all know how I feel about deer.


It's always nice to have a man around the house, especially to keep you company for a nice homemade eggnog latte. Sadly, this particular one is "not a whole man", as he kept saying to me in a sad tone, but I trust that he is happier now that he has been reunited with his missing leg.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brigid and More Snow

Okay, I have done some more work on St Brigid. I had trouble getting the model to stand still, so the two following pictures are either blurry or over-flashed, but you get the idea. Progress is being made.

And, in our continuing coverage of local weather, I present My Front Yard (with Steps).

Yes, baby, we got fun.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Omi Yoga Belly Socks

As you might recall, it's cold. I went to belly dance tonight, in a huge chilly studio, and as we were shimmying away, we looked totally foxy except for one thing -- our stiff, blue toes.

Here I come to save the day! I have decided to take a break from St Brigid and knit some of these for my teacher, my friend/classmate, and myself. I've got eight balls of wool/nylon fingering weight begging to be knit up, plus another 6 or so skeins of handpainted merino (not to be used for workout socks, that). I figure I can whip up a pair of these in pretty much no time, so I'll start tonight and hopefully have them done by next week to present to my instructor.

Speaking of St Brigid, she is coming along nicely. I have done about twelve inches on her - I've got about another six left before I divide for the armholes. This is going to be One Big Sweater. Yesterday I was trucking along, rather cockily cabling without more than an occasional glance at the charts, and I messed up one section. I accidentally knitted Chart C, then Chart D, then Chart C again instead of Chart E. Unfortunately, when I saw the mistake I immediately threaded a DPN through the offending section and ripped it back, without thinking of taking a picture. So all I've got for you is this:

This is Chart E, error already ripped out. I used 4.25mm DPNs, which work like a charm for fixing a section of knitting without frogging back to it. It is so easy to just ladder the stitches down and reknit the section, one row at a time.

Here I am, reknitting Chart E with the dangling strands of yarn from the section of dropped stitches.

It hardly takes any time at all. I almost hope I make another mistake so I can do it again, it was so fun. Takes all the agonizing suspense out of knitting such a big project when you know the fix is so easy.

* * *

Tomorrow, a bit of discussion about my stash. They tell me the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Frolic and Play, the Inuit Way

Or, as Diana Krall says, "...frolic and play the Canadian way..."

We had a great time in the snow yesterday. I am a bit busy today, so am cheaping out by putting up a picture-heavy post. But it's so pretty, I'm sure you'll enjoy it anyway.

We built a snow fort for the kids, and Mr. HSBoots even carved out a tunnel.

(Can you see the tunnel?) Charlotte and I had a snowball fight

but eventually had to declare a cease-fire for a bit of a rest.

My intrepid Emily was up to her thighs in the drifts

so by the time she got back in she was totally exhausted.

We took a walk around the neighbourhood, which has never looked better.

And tonight maybe I'll borrow a neighbour's toboggan and take them around again. It's very cold - about -11 celsius with the wind chill...apparently we can expect down to -18 in the next few days. I don't know how long the snow will last, but eventually it'll warm up and all this will be a memory.

Charlotte has just asked to go out for another snowball fight, so maybe we'll get the boots on and head out. We haven't been out yet today - too cold. But we bought new felt-pak boots for Charlotte yesterday, so I think they can take it.

Tomorrow, an "oops" and a 5-row fix on St Brigid.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ding Dong Merrily on High

I have this great book, a recent purchase, called "Instant Gratification: Ornaments". Right up my alley - mine is not a bonsai personality. There are several things I'd love to make in here. The peppermint sticks are so cool - made out of dowelling and grosgrain ribbon. I also quite like the mini-light sleeve, and am making some later tonight.

But the thing I wanted to try first - don't ask me why - was the sheet music bell. So I gathered together my materials:

- a bell template, courtesy of "Instant Gratification" page 140
- scissors - sadly, couldn't find the adult ones and had to raid Charlotte's art drawer
- UHU!!
- "Playtime Piano: Popular. 5-Finger Melodies", doomed to horrific death by snipping. But in order to make this omelette, I had to break a few 5-Finger-Melodic-eggs.

A scrap of ribbon, a 3" seam on the old Kenmore, and voila!

I really like this little bell, although I think it would look nicest if I had several of them, and sadly the well of sheet music has run dry. The book suggests "antique" or "vintage" sheet music (defunct composers and musicians everywhere are turning over in their coffins) but all I had were a few pages of "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" and "(Meet) The Flintstones". I think if I decide to make any more of these, I will beg some proper sheet music - something nice and complex and classical - off my virtuoso sister.

It has been snowing most of the day. It's been a nice lazy day, due to a sick baby last night so very little sleep. I am going to finish it off by going out tonight with Mr. HSBoots and another couple, who are bringing their kids and a baby sitter over in an hour or two. We're heading out to a pub to eat huge quantities of things with drippy sauces like ribs and Moroccan chicken wings (honey and curry - delicious) and drink some quenching beverages. Yum. Nothing like getting out of the house for an hour or two.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Slushy Magic

Tonight when we got home from downtown, there was a wet, chilly snow falling in half-hearted, icy lumps. The kids, of course, were thrilled. The whole neighbourhood was madly donning rubber boots, coats, hats and mitts in a frantic race to get outside and lob a few dirty balls of ice at tree trunks before the whole mess melted. I couldn't help but be moved by the magic of snow, no matter how paltry the amount that falls. I am 33 years old, and I will still get up in the middle of a winter's night to watch the flakes drift down (or pelt down, as is more usual in this temperate rainforest I call home).

With an inward sigh, thinking of the imminent chilly hands and puddly laminate, I bundled up my little girls and sent them outside to play with the neighbour kid in the thickening darkness. I watched them from the window for a while, with a half-smile on my face, while they waved madly at me every few seconds. It made me think of all the times my sister, brother and I would play beat-the-clock with the snowfall, scrambling into our second- or third-hand snowsuits and rummaging in the bootbox for old cracked mitts, which we waterproofed with breadbags and elastic bands, hoping to get outside in time to feel the flakes fall before they turned back to icy rain. I hated it when the grownups would glance at the promising whiteness and dismiss it with "it'll probably turn to rain before you get outside" or "it won't last - not cold enough". It always sounded like a jinx, and I resented them when, as they predicted, the flakes thinned out, to be replaced by misty wet. The skiff of white on the ground would melt into a dirty slush, and we would finally lose heart and trudge back inside, defeated by the climate once again.

I remembered all this as I stood at the window, watching my little ones brimful of excitement. They were so cute, asking me for carrot noses for the snowmen they were planning -- three-inch lumps of half grass, half ice. I took my two Ikea lanterns and two new tealights, popped on my boots, and went outside to hang the lanterns in the apple tree around which the kids were playing. They were so happy when they saw the lanterns perched on the bare, wet branches - "It's like Christmas!" cried Charlotte in delight. I have to admit that I had to blink back a tear or two, even though I knew that, in a very short time, the children would be standing shivering on the mat, magical lanterns forgotten.

It's okay...I know they'll remember them eventually.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gender Stereotyping

An Open Letter To Mr. HSBoots.

Dear Sir:

No, I will not. It is not my problem. It's your job. It is the way of things: I fill it up, cooking and cleaning to make your home a comfortable and restful place to be, therefore you take it out.

It will not magically compact into a negative-density black-hole type mystical Bermuda Triangle of trash, where one can deposit an infinite amount of rubbish. You Must Take It Out.

Your Wife.

Monday, November 20, 2006

St Brigid Begins

First of what will no doubt be many progress shots of St Brigid (a little dark, sorry).

This one's a beauty. I love the colour - that smoky blueberry is SO dreamy. Just my style. I also like the little swap I pulled for the side panel. St Brigid is a beautiful design, but it definitely falls into the Rectangle-Shaped-Tent category, and goodness knows I don't need any sartorial reinforcement of what nature has already given me. I wanted to add in some shaping, so I replaced the given Chart A (a double-moss panel) with the Rogue's shaped cable. They are almost the same stitch count at widest point. So far, I think it's working - you can see it above. The Rogue chart is the closed-loop triangular celtic cable near centre. The only thing I'm concerned about is the underarm division - I haven't completely decided what to do with these stitches, since in the original pattern the double moss panel continues up the front and back of shoulder, and meets the saddle sleeve. Since I have replaced this panel with the Rogue cable, I will have to be inventive once I reach the underarm. We'll see how it goes - suggestions would be more than welcome.

I think I may regret my choice of yarn here: the Paton's Classic Merino may be just a little impermanent for a sweater requiring such a lot of work. However, cash was a consideration here, and I just couldn't face ordering the yarn, sight unseen, from the Starmores themselves, at a price tag of about $200US before shipping. I guess in some ways I'm still kind of a novice knitter, in that I can't seem to reconcile it to my conscience to spend that much on one sweater. Maybe this sweater will be my learning experience. Still, I would hate to get the yarn in the mail, and find that the colour wasn't what I expected, or I hated the feel of it, or whatever, and be unable to return or exchange it.

In other news, I have started being creative with stash storage. What do you think?

I think it's a winner. Eventually, this whole bookcase will probably be devoted to knitting - I think it's more than reasonable, considering how much of my life is absorbed by the Craft.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lacy Scalloped.

Here's the promised FO - Sockbug's Lacy Scallops. I liked this pattern - it was really easy to follow, and the resulting sock is comfortable and universally admired. They look great in my Birkenstocks, which is most important.

I loved knitting with this yarn. I'm so glad I bought the pink striped colourway in Victoria, now that I know how it knits up. It's not as lofty as Koigu, and feels as though it'll wear a bit better. The colours are beautiful, and are truer in this picture:

The only problem I have is the amount of yarn I have left:

This would have been enough to add two more repeats, per sock, to the cuff. I like longer cuffs, so that would have been good. Since the socks are knit top-down, I can't rip out the cast off and just add another couple of repeats, so this substantial bit of yarn (my scale doesn't weigh this small of an amount, but I'm guessing it's about 20 or 25 g) will go back into the stash.

Pattern: Lacy Scallops, by Sockbug
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino, unnamed colourway
Needles: Two 2.25mm Susan Bates circulars
Tension: 9 sts/inch
Cast On: October 22, 2006
Cast Off: November 15, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Suffering in (near) silence.

Just jotting a note to stall you - I have indeed finished the Lacy Scallops socks, and the pictures are taken. HOWEVER. My husband compelled me to get a flu shot a few days ago, despite my better judgment, and I am now suffering from the most incredible malaise as a result. I was languishing on the chesterfield when he got home from work (only a little bit exaggerated) and made him go get take-out as punishment for making me get the shot.

While he's gone, I thought I'd log on quick to let you know that I will post the FO as soon as I feel better, along with progress shots of St Brigid (5 inches, people!) and a couple of other things.

Mr HSBoots tells me that when the pandemic comes I'll be thankful. I figure the pandemic will only come because of all these idiots getting flu shots every year instead of letting their immune system handle it. How do you spell "Superbug"? O-V-E-R-I-N-N-O-C-U-L-A-T-I-O-N.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Peddler's Pack

I've neglected blogging for the last few days, because I didn't want to show you a picture of 2.5 inches of St Brigid, and the still-unfinished sock (I'm decreasing for the toe, but Brigid is keeping me busy). Then I realized that I said, right up front, that this blog would also be about sewing, so:

here's some of what I've been working on for the last two days. I took this:

and turned it into this:

Aren't they pretty? I took a close-up for you, of my favourite one:

I am SO ready for Christmas. I have finished six of my 12 people, and have started the gifts for the other six. Now, normally I would be piously deploring the consumerism of Christmas, but some days I just can't help but be excited about what I'm giving people. However, I did get this, to remind my kids of the True Meaning.

(There's some irony here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.)

Tonight is Stitch 'n' Bitch, so there will be more progress to report as of tomorrow. I have pledged myself to finish the Lacy Scallops socks tonight, so there will definitely be an FO tomorrow (or perhaps I should say "soonish"), along with whatever my Knit Sibs are working on.

Here's my next project, which I'm going to tackle as soon as I post this:

Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Not So Fetching

Okay, here is the FO I promised you the other day. It is yet another pair of wristers: the pattern is Knitty's Fetching.

I knit these out of the prescribed yarn, Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I have been wanting to try this yarn for a while. It has a nice cushy softness in the ball, and pretty colours. I finally forked over the $10 for a single ball, thinking vaguely about swatching for a cardigan. When I got it to the counter, the girl pointed out a completed pair of "Fetching" fingerless mitts out of the very same colour I was buying, and I immediately decided to use those for my test-knitting object.

I cast on for these on Sunday night, and was finished by Monday noon, knitting them in between talking with my friend, meal prep, bedtime, reading stories to the kids, all the normal stuff. So, they are a fast knit and there are definitely no curve balls in the pattern. However, if you do some counting you'll realize that I have only had them for 6 days, in which they were worn a normal number of times, in normal circumstances, and they already look like this:

I don't know whether you can tell from the picture, but these babies are tired. They are sad, pilly, woebegone, slouchy, fuzzy rags. I sat gazing at them, wondering what they reminded me of, until I realized that I knit a pair of short wristers last year with Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk and those, too, look like last year's try-on sample in some discount accessory store.

I have to admit that both these pairs of limp, exhausted, wilted gaunts are soft and warm. They are comfortable to wear and were nice to knit (especially the Alpaca Silk - the Cashmerino Aran was less nice - I could feel that microfibre and didn't like the synthetic squeak) but they are utterly casual looking, very worn-in, and not at all the kind of posh, luxurious thing you think you're signing up for when you buy a designer yarn at $10 per 50g skein.

I am aware that the fibers used in both these yarns are soft and short-staple, which means they're doomed to a certain amount of fuzz right out of the gate. If they had developed a surface halo, say, or if the stitches had merely become a little indistinct, that would be fine. It's the cheap appearance that I object to.

So, all in all, I was completely disappointed by the yarn. The pattern, however, had its redeeming qualities. It is not absolutely my kind of thing aesthetically, but I really wanted a fingerless mitt (i.e., a thumb opening to keep the wristers from sliding back into my sleeve) and I thought this would be a good place to start. I did make a few modifications to this pattern. I used 3.75mm needles (lucky I did - these have stretched out like mad and I need every bit of cling I can get here). I also changed the cable from twist-every-sixth-row to twist-every-fifth. This was an accident - I glanced at the instructions instead of reading them carefully, and once I had done a repeat and realized my mistake, I also realized I preferred the ones I had done. I just added in the three missing rows to the ribbing above the cable, before the thumb opening. My only other mod was the cast off. I originally worked it as directed, with a little picot-thing every few stitches. I HATED this - it was very loose and gapey - so I ripped it out and reknit it, not only sans picot, but also with a decrease added in every fifth/sixth stitch. This was much more comfortable, fitting closer to the hand without flaring.

I wouldn't knit this again - either the pattern or the yarn. I would use the pattern as a jumping-off point, but would take so many departures that it would be unrecognizable when finished. I would do an all-over cable, to tighten it; I would use a smaller needle to make a tighter fabric; and I would lengthen the wrist portions to a more practical length. These are too short to be of real use as warmers - although they work well under a long-sleeved sweater that is in no danger of riding up. I find I am constantly tucking them back into my sleeves. I think tightening them up would go a long way towards solving this problem, too.


But I have cast on for St Brigid, since I got gauge with my first swatch (hooray for bamboo needles!) and can't wait to start. I am only on round 2, so the cabling hasn't begun yet. It's going to be a challenge - but so fun. There are 5 different charts on both the front and the back, so you knit in this order:

Chart A, Chart B, Chart C, Chart B, Chart D, Chart B, Chart E, Chart B, Chart A


Almost finished the Lacy Scallops socks - I am this close. I have rounded the corner into the straightaway, and am galloping along at a fine clip. I should be decreasing for the toe tomorrow night. (I LOVE the end of the second sock. It feels great to weave in the ends, pull the socks on, and take the pattern straight to the recycling.)

Pattern: Knitty
Needles: 3.75mm Clover Takumi bamboo DPN
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, in colour 603
55% Merino, 33% Microfibre, 12% Cashmere, 90m/50g
Cast On: Sunday, November 5
Cast Off: Monday, November 6
Modifications: see above. Cable, needle size, cast-off.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

No Faithful Hound to Recognize Me, Sadly.*

It's great to be home. I missed blogging...I didn't have internet available where I was staying in Victoria, nor did I have time to do any writing while I was there. But, for your interest, I offer you the whole fascinating story... as an old boyfriend used to say, "I laughed - I cried: it was an emotional roller coaster." (Yes, I know he was quoting.)

We started out last Saturday, boarding the train in Courtenay at 1:00 PM. For some reason I didn't take pictures of the train trip at all. I actually remember thinking "I'll take some on the trip back." We had one-way tickets.

We stayed with a Friend in Victoria. She's one of my oldest and dearest - we met in 1993, when we both joined the UVic women's rowing team. BA lives in Rockland, one of my all-time favourite neighbourhoods in Victoria. This is the view from one of her windows:

and this is the view from another one:

This is Craigdarroch Castle, where I got married almost ten years ago...the preposterous but pretty residence of this chap, infamous Vancouver Island coal baron. It's a beautiful place - more of a house than a castle, but gorgeous. Well worth a look if you're ever in the city. I had intended to visit it again during our trip, along with the Lieutenant Governor's house, but the torrential downpour made this impractical. Next time.

This is Emily, playing with what to the casual observer may appear to be regular rocks: in fact, they are Arctic Rocks (regular only if you are a caribou, a kermode bear, or Inuit). My fabulous friend and her equally fabulous (read, smokin’ hot, charismatic and sexy) roommate are both kayak guides, of the “extreme adventure” variety. During the (northern hemisphere) winters they work on cruise ships in Antarctica, leading kayak trips from the ship onto the ice cap. During (northern hemisphere) summer, they go to the Arctic and guide tours there, in places like the Svalbard Islands. Roommate Phil collected these rocks from the Arctic when he was there.

Okay, enough small talk. Let’s get to the shopping.

On Sunday I made a beeline downtown, kids in tow. I was on a mission – a Buffy mission. Yes, I got it – the entire seven season, 40-disc “Chosen One” collection. And I am a happy, happy girl. I also picked up this great little disc, and a Christmas present for my husband. The husband in question does not read this blog, so I am perfectly safe mentioning it.

And then….then I went to Beehive Wool Shop. Here’s where the whole thing kind of went sour. I can sum up my entire one-hour shopping experience there in one word: RUDE. There were about four staff members on, none of whom was over 25 years of age, I’m sure. The Beehive has turned into quite a trendy place, with lots of novelty yarn for the scarf-knitting crowd, no toys or books to keep children occupied (you should have seen the contemptuous look when I asked about it), and, as it turns out, haughty staff. One of them snapped at, then snatched from, my two-year-old little girl, who was playing with a little stuffed alpaca she had found, and harming nothing. Another was intolerably snobbish to me on the matter of yarn choice, sneering at me because I was committing the idiotic mistake of looking at an aran weight yarn for a pattern calling for 16 stitches over 4 inches… “Well, first of all, you’re looking at the complete wrong yarn. You need a bulky yarn for that. BULKY.” [The tone here was loud and slow, as if talking to a particularly stupid and slow child, or to an ancient person with complete loss of both hearing and intellect.] The rudeness went on and on, and finally ended with me putting back all the yarn I had planned to buy, except one little skein of Fleece Artist merino sock yarn, and vowing to darken the door no more.

I proceeded to Boutique de Laine (no website) in Oak Bay, and gave them the $120 I had intended to spend at Beehive. They were polite, friendly, helpful, and perfectly respectful. It’s a fairly small store, with good stock, knowledgeable staff, and (apparently) a large storeroom downstairs, whence the staff unearth sweater bags at the slightest hint of interest. They really are wonderful. (By the way - apologies for the lack of yarny pictures. I sort of forgot all about the camera until I was outside, so I just snapped the window of the shop, decorated soberly for Remembrance Day.)

One of the best parts about Boutique de Laine is the block where they are located. I could have spent an entire afternoon there. There is a charming consignment store next door, a lovely fish and chip shop called “The Galley”, a home d├ęcor place that I was DYING to go into (but didn’t have time), a wonderful toy store, and this:

I was thrilled. Despite having no time, I dashed in and grabbed a total of 3.5 meters of the most divinely drapey interlock, pictured as the backdrop in the photo below, which shows all my acquisitions posing in their new home – my living room.

Clockwise from bottom left:
- pink interlock jersey fabric, 3.0 meters, for a halter-style, bell-sleeved, flared dress.
- Fleece Artist sock merino, lovely pink candy-striped colourway
- more Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, in dark moss
- Paul Simon CD (centre)
- blue interlock jersey, 2.5 meters, for a long peasant skirt.

I did some knitting while I was away, and have a finished object to show you. Maybe tomorrow. For now, good night unto you all! I have some DVDs to watch.

* A skein of sock yarn to the first person who correctly identifies the reference WITHOUT GOOGLING!

Jiggety Jig

Well. I am back from Victoria, where I spent five days with my daughters. It was an exhausting trip, since my husband didn't come with us, so I was on deck 100% of the time with the kids. We didn't have a car, either, so it was public transit with two tired little muffins in the Utter Deluge. Yours truly slogged through the record rainfalls and the lashing wind, dragging several permutations of kindergartner, two-year-old, stroller, sling, knitting bag, backpack, raincoats.

I did have a purpose for this trip, which was largely a buying venture...Beehive Wool Shop, A&B Sound, Boutique de Laine, Stretch&Sew Fabrics, Munros Books, Murchie's Tea, Foxglove Toys. For the most part it was successful - despite being handicapped with all the baggage mentioned above, I managed to get around to most of the places I wanted to go, with minimal tears and tantrums.

Later today (hopefully), a (patchy) pictorial record of our trip.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

She's right, it IS fun.

Yesterday I went to my favourite LYS' moving sale. After I had been in the store for a few minutes and had done a bit of recon, I prudently asked for a basket. I went down my mental list of projects, and started loading up. After I had 10 balls of Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool in the basket, four Gedifra Sportivo sock yarn, and a pattern book, I got a bit lightheaded and felt like I needed a little lie down, but I just sat on the floor for a few minutes until it passed.

In case you're wondering what you can get for $240 at Fun Knits, feast your eyes on this.

Clockwise from bottom left:

- four balls of Gedifra Sportivo sock yarn: two green, two blue

- 3 balls of Lavold Silky Wool in pink, the matching dye lot of 2 balls I already had, for This

- little bitty blue sock yarn (for a friend. There is also green, but it didn't make it into the picture.)

- 10 balls Lavold Silky Wool (it's a DK weight) in brown, for ERIS. That's right, you heard me: ERIS. I swatched the SW a couple of nights ago and got gauge, and beautiful cables, with this yarn.

- sweater bag of Classic Merino (oh yeah, come to Momma) in "New Denim", for either Cromarty or St Brigid, I can't decide.

- 3 skeins Malabrigo kettle-dyed merino in Hollyhock. I saved the best for last's stunning. The colour doesn't come through in the picture above, but it's pretty true here:

The Malabrigo is destined for a self-designed vest. I've got something specific in mind but it might take me a while to work up the schematic and the construction.

In the centre is a much-needed needle gauge and ruler, and the aforementioned pattern book, Elsebeth Lavold's Designer Book One: Viking Knits Collection. It's all Silky Wool, all the time in this book. There are several designs I would knit, and I love the yarn, so it was definitely a good buy. I have my eye on a cardigan as well as the tank mentioned above.

So that's two full sweaters, a tank, a vest, and several pairs of socks, plus a pattern book and a steel needle gauge, for $240. Steal.