Remember how Mom used to try to get peas and potatoes planted for St. Patrick’s Day? Well, I thought I might do that this year as it has been unusually warm and the frost is out of the ground, but I think I missed my chance. They are a cool weather crop, and it is already in the 80’s here in Minnesota. Heck, the Iditarod isn’t even quite over (as I write this, three mushers and their teams remain on the trail) and we are wearing shorts in Minnetonka. I, for one, am a little scared of carbon dioxide.
My concerns haven’t stopped me from enjoying the warmth. We headed down to the U of MN Landscape Arboretum for a day of hiking with our friends Gary and Sharon. Not expecting much beyond bare limbs and leftover leaves from last fall, we were delighted by the variety of buds in a state of rapid expansion. Flowers won’t be far behind (the maples are already in bloom).
We were delighted to have a mourning cloak butterfly join us, though he quickly left when another of his own species fluttered by. I know what they have on their mind!
Even nicer was spotting a male bluebird…
…and then his mate. We saw them flutter in and out of a bluebird house, so I know what is on their mind, too!
We did see some snow in piles in deep shade and there is still ice in the lakes, and plenty of snowdrops. They look so simple from above, but tip up their blossom and it is a lovely, complex bloom.
I don’t think I’ve ever hiked in a T-shirt to see snowdrops.
We got home in time for me to finish my Iknitarod project while there were still four mushers who had yet to make it to Nome. I made the Knit Vested and Stylish vest, a free Red Heart pattern.
I don’t like to bash free patterns, because, after all, they are free, but this was a case of you get what you pay for. The pattern left many details out - I could figure my way around them, but a less experienced knitter may have had trouble. Things like specifying what decreases and increases to use, how to make them symmetrical (and in a worsted weight, it would have been noticeable if you didn’t make them symmetrical), poor description of mitering the points, no description of how to pick up the right number of stitches… and on and on. The design had weaknesses, too. For one, the attached back belt is done in garter of worsted weight yarn, pretty clunky if you ask me. I wasn’t going to live with that.
Instead, I made a 2-ply yarn from the 4-ply Cascade 220 used for the vest. First, I reversed the final twist on my wheel until the plies were no longer twisted together. This took a few tries to get it right - I simply pulled the yarn off the bobbin and wound it on my hand then ran it back into the wheel with the appropriate twist to adjust until it was perfect.
I then separated the plies, running two to a bobbin winder and wrapping two on my hand.
Next, figure out how much twist to put back in and get a reasonably balanced yarn. How to discover the right twist? Water - it releases the set twist of the fiber and lets it relax to where it wants to be.
The damp two ply next to some that had not gotten a bath gives me guidance on how much twist to put back into the two ply yarn.
I plied it on my wheel, and then knit these little bits right off the bobbin. That was convenient, as it let me put a bit more twist in as needed.
I was quite happy with the weight and look of the little belt. That extra effort almost always pays off!
A day in the sun, the last push to finish the vest, and even some spinning leaves me ready to make the effort to get to bed early. I hope your day was as full and productive as mine was!